Persistence pays. It's not often that stars yield to scribes' not-so-stereotypical story ideas. But Jimmy Sheirgill makes an exception with his exceptional charm.
"Uff! I cannot commit, I have a very tight schedule. You must understand, I have many commitments and I am busy with the promotion of my latest production, Taur Mittran Di [which released on May 11]. I am also shooting for Saddi Love Story," the star tried to wriggle out of the maze on phone.
"But I want to have a chit-chat with you in office," I insisted, yet again, well understanding his position. The idea to interview him differently was irresistible. After arm-twisting the beefy guy into a phone conversation, I was still not sure if he would keep his word.
He did keep me waiting, and for long before all anxious moments became worth it. Jimmy - with his dark glasses, upturned moustache and slightly haughty handsomeness - walked in HT office with élan on Friday.
"Where are you," he called, and bowed dramatically - almost chivalrously - to seek forgiveness for his delayed arrival! And that was only the beginning of a real story whose hero - unlike his stern reel image - swept people off their feet with his humility and humour.
Here are excerpts from an interview with the actor, who has made a mark in Bollywood is now being called the Shah Rukh Khan of Punjabi cinema…
The next top cop
A Wednesday, Dharti, Dangerous Ishq… the list is long. "It will get longer. In fact, a few more cop movies and I will surpass all cop-players in the industry. Since childhood I wanted to be in the armed forces, now I enjoy the role-playing."
Most cherished role
"Difficult to single out, but the role in Maachis  is still quite fresh in my memory; it was the first time I faced the camera."
The game-changing film
"Be it Haasil, Munna Bhai MBBS, Yahaan, A Wednesday, My Name is Khan, Tanu Weds Manu or Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster - each film was important and brought out different characters effectively. But, yes, it would be right to call Mohabbatein as my first commercial break."
Roadblocks in journey
"Minor challenges come from roles one has to play such as working in harsh conditions. But over all, the biggest challenge has been working against the tide and not really following the 'trend'. I believe in working on my own terms and conditions. What is satisfying is the fact that my hard work has made me what I am."
On being experimental with looks
"When I entered the industry, I was clean shaven, and thus given the title of a 'chocolate' boy. But eventually, my roles started demanding a different look. You will see me in this moustache look in the sequel to Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster, and Special Chabbis where I would be playing a cop again."
"It is a big responsibility. Right now we are not in a position to experiment much in regional industry, as the priority is to set stage for Punjabi cinema, and when that's done, we will have more and more corporate houses to pitch in for bigger budgets. The aim is to get not just the youngsters but also the elderly audience to theatres."
What is Punjab to you?
"Motherland. I was born in Gorakhpur, UP, so that can be called my 'fatherland'."