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This is how an accidental video made TVF’s Jeetu a big internet star

The Viral Fever’s Jeetu alias Jitendra Kumar is a superstar of Indian web series world. He talks about his early days at the IIT and what it meant to be an engineer.

tv Updated: Aug 26, 2017 15:35 IST
Rohit Vats
Rohit Vats
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Jitendra Kumar,Jeetu,TVF
Jeetu came into limelight after the Munna Jazbaati video.

“Please treat me like a friend.”

One of the most known faces of The Viral Fever videos, Jitendra Kumar alias Jeetu, is as soft-spoken and courteous in real life.

He explains how he left engineering and joined TVF, which started as a group of engineers. He says, “Many were engineers when it started, but it’s a diverse team now. There are close to 150 people now. Because Arunabh (the founder of TVF) was from IIT and he was interested in films. He even assisted Farah Khan in Om Shanti Om. He wrote some scripts and was making small videos with a group of friends. Then Biswapti Sarkar, who plays Arnub in the sketch Barely Speaking, joined him. I met them when Arunabh came to my college.”

Jeetu’s story is similar to many engineers in India. From small town India and belonging to a family of engineers, his future was more or less decided for him. “I am from Khairthal in Alwar, Rajasthan. Later, I went to Kota to prepare for IIT. I am from IIT, Kharagpur.”

Breaking the middle class dream must have been tough, “My family had seen that I was not putting enough heart and soul into studies. I started failing too, but they were sure that I will eventually end up doing a job. They thought what else could I do? After all, it was a family of civil engineers.”

He adds, “They were of the opinion that I will work for some time and then they will help me getting into a business. All their dreams broke.”

However, fate had other plans. One of his initial videos in which he played Munna Jazbaati made him a web star. He narrates the story behind it, “I came to TVF for 3-4 months after college. That was my internship time. So, I wrote a small script and we shot it in 5-6 hours. Then I left Mumbai and shifted to Bangalore where I did a job. Meanwhile, the video was released and we saw a really good response.”

Soon, his shows started getting popular and ringing a chord. “I have a friend who left his job for a start-up. His investor asked when is he going to leave his job? My friend explained why leaving the job then wasn’t easy for him, and then the investor replied, ‘Achcha tum Pitchers ke Jeetu ho.’ Such things kept happening.”

Jeetu now wants to try hands in films, so what are the kind of roles he is looking forward to? “I am looking for lead roles (laughs). Nahi yaar, I am looking for good roles. Favourite directors ke naam bol doon? Sriram Raghavan, Kashyap sir, Raju Hirani, Martin Scorsese ka bhi naam chaap dena.”

He has been mostly doing roles of a jovial young professional though. “Pehle kuch videos aaye, fir Permanent Roommates aaya, usme bhi bahut funny aur cute sa character tha. Fir Pitchers aaya jisme thoda sa serious character tha. Actually actor ka lost role hi yaad rehta hai.”

I remind him how Robert De Niro said the same thing in one of his interviews. He replies, “Main unke saath bhi kaam karna chahta hoon (laughs).”

Jeetu didn’t go for formal training as an actor. “I applied for NSD, but couldn’t get through. They said, ‘you’re engineer, why do you want to do this?’ This was very disheartening. Unke muh se ye sunna ki ‘tum nautanki kyun karna chahte ho’ was very disappointing. I didn’t go for any formal training, but I have attended a couple of workshops. The idea was to be comfortable in front of the camera.”

He doesn’t talk about TVF’s business part. “It’s like any other start-up yaar. Salary pe nazar lag jaati hai na, isiliye main nahi batata (laughs).”

Jeetu was recently seen in Airtel Connected Live in which he lived in a house alone for three days. “Bina phone ke life kitni takleef me hoti hai. Isiliye humne ye idea develop kiya. Maine suna hai ki is se pehle sirf Katy Perry ne kuch aisa kiya hai. Humara teen din continuous live tha.”

Interact with Rohit Vats at Twitter/@nawabjha

First Published: Aug 26, 2017 08:29 IST