Jimmy Shergill continues to excel in comic as well as intense roles in Hindi films. In this interview with Murtaza Ali Khan, he talks about his recent release ‘Family of Thakurganj’, his friendly appearance in ‘Judgementall Hai Kya’, and the importance of health and fitness:
Tell us a bit about Family of Thakurganj and your role in the film. How did you get associated with the project?
Family of Thakurganj is a masala entertainer. It is about a family based in the fictitious town of Thakurganj. Now, some members of the family like to live in a lawful manner. But my character Nanu is absolutely lawless. He has his own beliefs and style. Now despite their ideological differences, there is great affection between the different members of the family
It is an interesting blend of action and humour. The writer is Dilip Shukla and the director is Manoj K. Jha who has been with Tigmanshu Dhulia since Haasil. I have known him for long. I have also known Dilip Shulka for quite some time. When he narrated the story to me, I liked it a lot and so that’s how things materialised.
It has been well over two decades since ‘Maachis’. How do you reflect upon your journey as an actor?
I am having a great time doing all kinds of roles. A lot of the times people compliment that I have carved out a niche of my own, that I have managed to steer clear of getting myself slotted in any category.
I just hope that I keep on getting these interesting roles and this journey continues like it has for the last many years. I think one should keep on trying new things from time to time. I still tell people that I am busy preparing my profile. Maybe one day I will bump into some producer or director whom I can show what all I have done in my career and what else can be explored.
You are a leading star of Punjabi cinema. At the same time you have kept on reinventing yourself as a character actor in Hindi films. How do you achieve this fine balance?
Well, I usually do one Punjabi film in a year and rest of the time is devoted to Hindi films. These are exciting times for Hindi cinema as we are witnessing a lot of interesting directors, refreshing scripts and performance-oriented roles now more than ever before. So when roles like Mukkabaaz or Sahib Biwi Gangster come to you and you work on them, it’s really fulfilling as an actor.
When I start my preparations, I like to begin with the script. After reading the script, there are a lot of thoughts that come to you and that’s when you sit with the director and try and understand the vision at large. Subsequently you start discussing the minute details at the scene level and then you break it down even further. Sometimes it is during the shoot itself that you end up understanding the different nuances associated with the character you are playing. Every character has a journey of its own.
How do you choose your roles?
For me, the script is the most important thing. I like to see what the script has in it for me. Whether it’s offering something that I haven’t done before. Or if it’s offering something that I have done previously but there is a scope to do it differently. It’s important to have a discussion with the director in order to understand the kind of film that it is intended to be. That’s how you say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.
Even after all these years you still exude the same energy. How do you keep yourself so fit?
In 2011, I suffered a spine injury. It made me realise the importance of health in life. I remember people used to advise me all the time to do yoga and all but I never really paid any heed to them. But when I had that injury I finally began to realise my mistake. Since then I have been following a regular fitness routine and the results have been very good. I say this to everyone that discipline with respect to one’s health and fitness is of utmost importance.
The trailer of Judgementall Hai Kya has a few glimpses of you. What is it all about?
Yes, I have a few scenes in Judgementall Hai Kya. You can call it a friendly appearance. One of the film’s producers, Shailesh R Singh, is a good friend whom I have known since Bas Ek Pal. We have also been associated in Tanu Weds Manu. Now, Judgementall Hai Kya was getting shot in Europe and coincidentally I was around. So Shailesh called me up and asked me if I was available. And so that’s how it materialised.