By Jyothi Venkatesh
In this exclusive and intimate interview, JIMMY SHEIRGILL opens up after a long time and speaks to Senior Journalist JYOTHI VENKATESH about what attracted him to say yes to the offer when writer-director-editor Shravan Tiwari approached him with the offer to play a strong part in his film Azam.
What exactly is your film Azam all about?
The film Azam exposes the dark side of the Mumbai underworld and dives deep into the underworld to show the ruthless faces of the mafia. People who are fond of watching crime thriller films will definitely like Azam. The best thing about the film Azam is that it is not an over-the-top film but a realistic film.
Who are the other actors along with you in the film Azam?
Directed by Shravan Tiwari and produced by Patel, Azam also features Govind Namdev, Raza Murad, Sayajirao Shinde, Ali Khan, Anang Desai, Shishir Sharma, Sanjeev Tyagi and Mushtaq Khan in strong roles.
What is your role in Azam?
In the film Azam, I play the role of Javed, who is closest to the most powerful don of the city, Nawab Khan. I had a lot of fun projecting the mindset and mood of this character on screen. A new and unseen style of me will be seen in the explosive film Azam.
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Is it true that you had said No to the role when you were offered the film?
Yes. It is sad but true that I declined to be a part of the film when the director told me that it was about what happened in one night as I did not want to shoot almost 25 to 30 nights for the film and get exhausted and be deprived of my sleep.
What made you change your mind and agree to do the film?
After a week after the director Shravan Tiwari who is also the writer and editor of the film had left the script with me, I happened to browse through it one night and I realised that it was very detailed, and a lot of homework had been done by the writer-director and I was zapped and wanted to be a part of the film.
I asked my manager to meet the producer and tell him that I was ready to be a part of the film even though I had declined to do the film earlier. I asked him to cast me even in a smaller role if he had already finalised the leading man.
Your director had earlier directed a film called Kamathipura. Did you see the film to know more about his style as a director?
No. I feel that if I see an earlier film by a director, I may end up judgemental and I did not see the film. In any case, I now feel that the screenplay written by Shravan Tiwari is nothing but a masterclass on screenwriting.
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Can you describe what the film boils down to?
The film is all about politics, the establishment, and the police system. It is a film that is treatment-oriented, and it is rooted in the soil and very realistic.
What is the USP of the film Azam?
You may not believe it but the fact remains that the film Azam does not boast of even a single heroine and is a very clean family-oriented film. The characters, though rooted, have some sophistication of their own, which will appeal to the viewers a lot.
What do you have to say about your director Shravan Tiwari?
All that I can say about my director is that he is very talented, and he was very prepared as to what kind of character he needed me to portray.
Which are the five best films of yours that you can count on your fingers in your career?
In my career of over 27 years, my five personal bests according to me are Tanu Weds Manu, Munnabhai MBBS, Maachis, Mohabbatein, and last but not least Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster.
As an actor, do you bank on every film of yours when you set out to act in a film?
Once when I was acting in Maachis, Gulzarsaab who directed it had told me that as an actor, I should not bank on any film and not to get depressed when the film does not do well at the box office but to move on in life.
What next, after Azam?
There are a few films like Naaraj Pandey’s next, Anand L. Rai’s next, Ajay Devgn’s Auron Mein Hain Dum, and Phir Aayi Haseen Dillruba.