staying true to himself.
In the city to shoot for a film, actor Jaaved Jaaferi says being a dignified professional is more important to him than success. Keshav Singh/HT
Talking about Besharam, in which Jaaved gets to play the bad guy, he says he is glad he could break away from his comedian image.
“I met Abhinav and told him I was keen to work with him. And so, he gave me this role,” says Jaaved, 50, as he takes in the relaxed atmosphere of Chandigarh, which he feels is “a chilled-out place with the right kind of pace.”
It is evident that Jaaved relishes experimentation. After debuting in a negative role in the film Meri Jung, the actor made an impact with his dancing excellence, going on to co-create and judge one of India’s first dance reality shows, Boogie Woogie, which was aired for a record 15 years.
“It is not with pride, but with the happiness of having contributed to the film industry, that I can say that I have been a pioneer,” says the man who is credited for incorporating the use of Hinglish (a mix of Hindi and English), puns and impersonations as an anchor. “The best compliment that I received was from Javed Akhtar saheb, who said, ‘You have done for TV what Ameen Sayani did for radio,’” recalls Jaaved, whose father Jagdeep was a legendary actor-comedian in the early years of the film industry.
In the realm of acting, Jaaved’s experience has been bittersweet. “I am an entertainer. There are times when I feel that I deserved more. But then, respect and appreciation from my fans matters more to me than fame or money,” says this dancer-choreographer-VJ-voice-over-artiste, adding that when people tell him he didn’t receive his due, he prefers to believe he perhaps made mistakes. “Instead of complaining, I have been working hard for the past 28 years.”
The actor, who dreams of turning a director and being cast in a lead role in a film, expresses hope for the change in the industry. “Stereotypical characterisation in Bollywood hinders an actor’s growth. In Hollywood, even character actors get lead roles. But now, even films without big stars do well, such as Vicky Donor and Kai Po Che,” observes Jaaved, who will next be seen in a film titled Calling Mr Joe B Carvalho.
On other changes in films, such as inclusion of bold scenes and skin show, Jaaved is candidly uncomfortable. “Taking one’s clothes off doesn’t mean liberalisation; the mindsets need to change. My values are traditional, so on-screen sexuality makes me uncomfortable. I once had to do an intimate scene in Deepa Mehta’s film Fire, where I felt quite awkward. But, being an actor, I had to give it my best shot,” he says.
In the meanwhile, Jaaved sticks to his own rules. “I don’t smoke and neither do I drink. So, I don’t endorse them. I believe that if one has a wrong habit, encouraging others to take it up is not a good idea.”
However, in the case of his three children, he says he can only advise them. “I don’t impose my ideology on them, they are in tune with the times while being cultured,” Jaaved signs off.