The Curious Case of jim sarbh
Meeting JIM SARBH at a local eatery on a windy evening was quite unforgetful. Since his debut film Neerja, he has ensured in his own inimical way that he doesn’t fade away from the spotlight and public memory. And he did that for the interview too. Throughout the interview, he completely ‘roasted’ the interviewer. From points where decible levels were given a damn to discussing about his white pants and hairstyle, to telling me how to write my piece and making me swear on my unborn child, this man spoke and how! Presenting to you Jim ‘eccentric’ Sarbh. Read on…
Can you share five interesting things that the world doesn’t know about you?
Why would I want to? I don’t care yaar. I like to act, I am an actor. Who gives a f**k about my personal life. Watch my films and theatre, that’s what I care about. I hate this idea that an actor is judged by their personal life. My personal life is my stupid personal life. You don’t know who the f**k I am? So how does it matter? It is my true concern, I am not trying to attack you.
I have read your interviews, done my research and I know there are things which you want to show the world and some which you don’t. So why do you feel the element of intrusion?
What happens in the world in general and also in Bollywood, the characters become a big deal. I am like why? What if the most interesting thing is that I like to sit in one room with one yoga mat on the floor and sometimes, I sleep and then stare at the
wall for hours. But if my performance is good, who cares!
There are a lot of big stars in B-town who have roles tailored to their personality off screen. As an actor, what do you think is your USP?
I don’t know. You tell me what is it? What are the normal standards? I feel you should be flexible and take the mould of the role. Make sure you write the complete question and then write my answer. Otherwise, I’ll publicly disapprove of this interview and say she is lying! I want you to write all of this in the interview. Swear on your life, on your unborn child.
You’ve earlier said that you don’t believe in binaries. But the industry has proved that it does. Does this make it difficult to get diverse roles?
I don’t know yet. I don’t think I am bankable in the same way yet. Until I am at that point, I won’t get roles which I can choose from. I can only hope to get the kind of roles that I am interested in and in the meantime, as my bankability increases, I’ll try. There have been a lot of times when the main role is very interesting but I am not considered for them.
How did you start doing theatre? How is it different from acting onscreen?
I’ve been doing theatre since I was a kid. There are many differences. You journalists are asking me the same questions again and again (irritated). I’ll forward you my previous answers. There are many similarities as well as differences.
How did Neerja happen?
I have answered it thousand times! I got cast by Kanika. She called me for the audition. I auditioned, she liked it. I came back for another audition with Vinod Rawat. He also liked it. They originally thought of me for the character of either Mansoor or Fahad. Then in the workshop when Vinod and I were working together, Vinod thought that I could do Khaleel. I read the script and worked towards Khaleel. By the end of the workshop, I was Khaleel.
Did you ever think that you would start your Bollywood journey with a negative shade?
No, I didn’t think anything. I’ve been auditioning for four years. I was just never cast.
Which genre are you interested in doing next?
I am interested in all genres. There isn’t any genre that I like. I want to work with great scripts, great films, great directors.
Is there any other aspect of filmmaking that you would want to experiment with?
I would love to direct but not this soon as I have more to learn. I think that’s because I’ve directed theatre and I like being in charge of the whole thing and also writing. Because then you are not at the mercy of waiting for your scripts. It’s just to take some amount of power back into your life.
Do you have any success mantra in life?
No. Just work hard and keep trying. But this is not the success mantra you want it to be. I don’t wake up in the morning and do a head stand.
Do you think Bollywood connections matter?
Connections always matter in all fields.
Do you have any dream role?
Do you have a Bollywood bucket list?
What’s a bucket list? No! I don’t.
In a short span of time, how is it working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali in Padmavati and Raju Hirani in Dutt?
You have asked questions I have answered before 10,000 times! (pissed) It’s fine, I ‘ll answer them all now. But I always feel like there is an opportunity here especially with someone like me who will answer different kinds of questions. Then you don’t utilize. I don’t understand why no one asks me about the state of terrorism in the world after Neerja came out. I am not going to answer that now. Everyone asks me how was it to work with Sonam, there are bigger issues in the world! You just said, do connections matter and then you ask me how is it to work with Sonam, and Rajkumar Hirani? Arey, but that’s the same principle na? There are questions you can ask about
Everyone asks me how was it to work with Sonam, there are bigger issues in the world!”
being in a biopic, about historical accuracy. Why do you all journalists ask only these questions?
People are interested in knowing certain aspects about you…
How do you know? Has an article come out till now? Did you think I would be like this in the way I look and be? If I talk to any of my PR agents- when I used to have PR, they would tell me to take off half the pictures I have uploaded on Instagram. But people like it and respond to it. How do you know what people like? You are only going with the safe journalistic practices and you are only complaining about the jhoom naam of Bollywood.
Should we call it off? Do you want me to stop this interview session?
No, I am really curious. If you all don’t ask more interesting questions, who will? Who will make better films then? No one will. They’ll keep saying that this is what they want. My Instagram profile is a proof that you don’t know what people want. If you look at any other stars Instagram profile, they’ll never upload the things I upload.
I am keeping this (questionnaire) aside then…
I feel you are missing out on an opportunity like we could be discussing what it means to make a fictionalized version of something or the ruthless structure of Bollywood. We could be discussing 1,000 different things. Instead, we are talking about how it feels to work with Hirani, how did you get cast in Neerja (mocking)? Obviously, Rajkumar Hirani is a good director and he knows what he wants out there and he, very clearly gets it. He knows the power of the scene and he has a very keen eye towards what works and what doesn’t. Sanjay Leela Bhansali has a great eye for details. You get spoilt looking at his frames. You go to some other web series and you’ll be like what the f**k is this? His each frame is so intricate and beautiful.
Would you ever like to do a web series?
I’ve already done Smoke. I am probably going to do another one.
What do you think is lacking in Bollywood?
I don’t want to answer that question (visibly irritated). Who am I to answer that question? I am still an outsider. You write an opinion piece on Bollywood and I’ll give my opinion to you. Don’t shoot off my shoulder. What do you think is lacking in Bollywood?
I think acceptance of the people who come from outside.
You write this in the interview. I want this. You write Jim instead of answering turned it on me. He made me answer.
How is a film like ADeath intheGunj different from a commercially marketed film like
I think it is just the amount of money people have for promotions, that’s all that matters. As an actor in the movie, my job ends there. I don’t care if it is an Indie or commercially successful or anything. I want to do good roles, bas khallas.
Do you think an actor benefits by the kind of roles that he/she does?
Yes. The role is now a part of you and lives inside you. I have learned so much about cinema. Neerja, Raabta and Death… were shot in extremely different ways. Neerja was like a steady cam. Raabta was acting for the camera. Death… was like do what the director has told you to do.
Which would you prefer: filled coffers, content-rich projects or undiluted fame?
I want it all.
You’ve started from theatre to be a film actor now. How does it feel when you are asked questions which make you uncomfortable?
I go la..la..la…la.
Was there any moment in your life when you wanted to give up acting?
Yes. This was in 2011. I just thought, ‘oh it is narcissistic, stupid’. I left and went to the Bihar School of Yoga for five months. Then I was walking around the Himalayas for a while. Eventually, I felt like I would regret if I would die up in the mountains, and I came back.
If not an actor, what would you be?
Deep sea diver, ocean explorer.
If there is any story which you would like to present to an audience, what would it be?
Why should I tell you? I haven’t thought about it. And anyway why would I want to share it with 10,000 people who will know my secret story.
Do you attend Bollywood parties?
Not really. I don’t get invited.
Who Gives A F*** About My Personal Life?”