Jimmy Shergill has been around for some time, and his acting has received the recognition it deserves. However, he has not been able to carve a place for himself, although he has his own fan following. He will be seen in a different kind of role in his new film, 'Strangers', directed by Anand Rai, and also starring KK Menon, Sonali Kulkarni, and Nandana Sen.Q. How excited are you about 'Strangers'?
A. Very excited. This film is one of the best films in my life.
Q. Tell us more about it.
A. 'Strangers' is in the thriller genre, although I would not call it strictly that. It is an intelligent film, made for intelligent viewers. People, who have watched a lot of mystery-thrillers, will still be stunned by this one. The story is about two people who meet on a train. One talks a lot, and the other opens up only after a while. As their conversation progresses, the story takes a different turn. Both become quite close, and the conversation continues. They realise that both of them are unhappy with their wives and love lives, and therefore decide to murder each other's partners. No one will suspect them, because no one knows that they met on a train.
Q. What is so special about this film?
A. This film is not just a great concept; it is full of creative imagination. It is a thriller, but it is also humourous. The suspense is so strong, that you have to watch it twice to understand it. Even I was left guessing the first time I read it. The plot is very unpredictable. The second time will probably help you understand why such-and-such happened. You may miss out on certain details the first time. I personally believe that the best thrillers are those that you understand only after you watch the second time.
Q. What do you think of your first-time director, Anand Rai?
A. His first film proves that he is a great director. His style of shooting is different. He does not show location, he makes the film on the location. The train in the film is no longer functional; it is a museum open for a few hours daily. We shot the train sequences in three days. Anand shot so quickly that we never realized that the three days were over. 24 scenes, with twists and turns. Anand was very particular about details because mistakes in thrillers are not forgiven.
Q. What was it like, working with KK and Nandana?
A. I have known KK for some time now. We had worked together in 'Silsilay', although we did not have a single scene together. I think he is one of the most brilliant actors I know. The story required two actors, who complement each other, in their dialogues. KK was perfect for the role. It was fun working with Nandana as well. She is very choosy about her roles in Hindi films, and I am privileged that I am in a film she chose to do. Sonali has also played her part perfectly.
A. Yes, and Naseerudin Shah and another actor are also a part of that film. We have finished shooting for the film. It was great working for this film. When Anjan Dutta narrated the story to me, I knew I would work in this movie. Even Naseerji signed the film because of the script. The entire movie was shot in Kolkata, and some scenes were shot in old studios that are now no longer functional. I play Vinay, who is a Bengali, and becomes an actor after he comes to Kolkata from North India. When he reaches Kolkata, something unimaginable happens to him.
A. I am open to all kinds of roles, whether it is that of a comedian or a villain. I don't want to do a movie just for the heck of it, and where nobody notices my work. I am fortunate to get such interesting roles, like the one in Raj Kanwar's 'Raqueeb'. I had never tried melodrama before that. A lot of people appreciated my work in the movie.
Q. How much have you changed since your 'Maachis' days?
A. As I take up more films, changes happen. I now have a lot of self-confidence. I am lucky that I always got roles that required acting, for which I was noticed, whether it was a 'Haasil', 'Yahaan', or 'Bas Ek Pal'.
Q. You are taking up more offbeat films than commercial ones. Is that a deliberate move?
A. Not at all. In fact, my next release is a commercial film – Sanjay Gupta's 'Dus Kahaniyaan'. I act in a story titled 'High on the Highway'. This is one of the best roles in my career. Although we shot for just three nights, I felt dizzy after every shot. I have never played a character who is always tired, with no clue about what he is doing, but he has a strange energy in him.
Q. Why do you think you are not yet considered a star?
A. I like it when people think that I have not got all that I deserve. I do not want to get roles by publicizing myself, or attending parties, or by playing games. I want to be known because of the films I do, and I would want to get roles based on that alone.
Q. You had mentioned that if you had the opportunity, you would do Bhojpuri films along with Punjabi films.
A. Not now. If a director like Tigmanshu Dholia directs a Bhojpuri film, I would love to be in it. As a Punjabi, it is my duty to act in a Punjabi film. I do not have the same pressure for a Bhojpuri film, although I was born in Gorakhpur, and studied in Lucknow.
My forthcoming films include 'Bachelor's Party', 'Dus Kahaniyaan',
'Wednesday', 'Hanste Hanste', 'BBD', and 'Mumbai 11'. 'Bachelor's
Party' is a hardcore comedy, and will release in January. It has been
directed by Shaan Trivedi, who also made 'Saare Saath Phere'. Both my
films, 'Strangers', and 'Dus Kahaniyaan', are releasing on the same
day, December 7. 'Wednesday' will release in February. Then there is
'Hanste Hanste', a romantic comedy. 'Mumbai 11' is a Sahara
presentation, in which 11 directors have directed 11 stories. I act in
Rahul Dholakia's movie.
-Rajnee Gupta (SAMPURN)