Vidhu Vinod Chopra Productions is family to him. After all, he has starred in three of Vidhu’s directorial ventures — Parinda (1989), 1942 — A Love Story (1994) and Mission Kashmir (2000) before Eklavya —The Royal Guard that releases this Friday.
Meanwhile, he didn’t do any of the films that Chopra produced post Mission Kashmir — Parineeta, Munnabhai MBBS and Lage Raho Munnabhai. Jackie’s return to the Chopra camp also comes with the return of Chopra the director.
“The USP of Eklavya is Vidhu Vinod Chopra,” Jackie showers all his love on his director. And as in Chopra’s last directorial venture, Mission Kashmir, Jackie plays a negative character in Eklavya.
“It is unique from all my previous roles with grey shades. He is a great technician and sees to it that I have a very significant presence in his films,” says the actor.
Jackie plays Rana Jyotiwardhan, brother to king Rana Jawardhan (Boman Irani), the brain behind the chaos in the kingdom. “He is a selfish man and somebody who puts his own priorities above his kingdom’s,” adds Jackie who terms his role in the film as “something that I can show my great-grand children and which I can keep in my archive”.
Why is Jackie playing so many negative roles one after the other — Mission Kashmir, Farz, Antar Mahal, Apna Sapna Money Money, Naksha and so on? The actor has no regrets and emphasises that “I would like to play more negative roles in the days to come”.
He says jokingly, “All villains are great human beings off-screen, so what’s the big deal?” Eklavya may have an ensemble cast — Amitabh Bachchan, Sharmila Tagore, Saif Ali Khan, Sanjay Dutt, Vidya Balan, Irani and others — but Jackie stresses that it’s not about cast but about the way Chopra has managed to get the best out of the actors.
“We have seen a lot of ensembles going down the drain on the first day itself. The cast is not formidable anymore. It’s the director and the story that sell. Vidhu has made each actor the character, ignoring the star factor,” adds Jackie.
How was it working with Bachchan (he has done films like Boom and Akela with him). “There are some confrontational scenes with him. Off the sets I have a lot of respect for him, but when on the sets he is just another actor for me,” he says. His favourite Vidhu Vinod Chopra film? “Khamosh, where I didn’t star. It’s difficult to pin point.”