Photo Credit: Jayesh Sheth
Almost four decades into the industry, with films like Hero, Ram Lakhan, Khalnayak, Gardish and more – Jackie Shroff is one of the rare success stories that refuses to move past his modest beginnings. Jaggu Dada, that’s how he is fondly called by most of the industry insiders but today, he is best known as Tiger Shroff’s father. How fast life has been changing for him, and yet he has always been at the top of his game. When life was bleak, he was selling his artworks and furniture but still he was the most loved man in the industry. How did he do that? How does it feel to have each of his triumphs now being superseded by the fact that he is Tiger Shroff’s dad? With many more questions, Shubarna Mukerji Shu brings you the man Bollywood loves to love – Jackie Shroff.
When I told my kids (aged 8years & 4years) I was to go meet Tiger Shroff’s father, they were so excited, I had to physically stop them from following me out. Do you realise for the new generation, that’s your identity?
How sweet! What more can a father ask for? He (Tiger) is my child. I am thankful that the nation is giving him so much affection and love. He is protected by everybody who gives him good vibes. Wherever I go, when people say ‘Oh, your son and his films…’ I feel so happy. Respect is everything. Nothing else matters. And my baby is being loved by little babies (laughs). So, it feels great.
When Tiger entered the film industry, he was nervous about being compared to me, I have been known to have a different swag, it is not right for one to be compared with others but Tiger felt he would be compared. He felt he will fall short, I told him even then, there will be a time when people will know me as Tiger Shroff’s father. He has done it in such a short while, I am immensely proud of his accomplishments as an actor.
How much of you do you see in him?
Actually, he is exactly like his grandfather, Air Vice Marshal Rajan Dutt. His discipline and everything comes from Ayesha’s father. I am trying now to get there. He is right when he says that if I am taking care of my health, he can concentrate on his work. His mind is at ease, when we are healthy and well.
Do you remember how it was when you were his age?
We needed a different kind of work ethics. None of the actors were as fit as the actors are today. We used to do some 5 or even 6 films at a time, most of the time we couldn’t say which one is which. Can you imagine how difficult that is? Times have changed a lot.
But you are going right alongside with it, seeing some of the work you have been doing on the digital platforms, are really different from anything we have seen Jackie Shroff do before…
I keep joking, I am doing more work now than I was doing at the peak of my career. But it is true in a way, I certainly have more projects on. Now since there are so many varied mediums, the options just multiply automatically. It is nice for someone my age to get the chance to do so much.
You are liking the change?
Loving it! Not many actors of my era have made the transition so successfully. Today, one has to be big, but relatable. You cannot do larger than life, unrealistic acting. You need to spread across the frame in a quieter way, it needs inherent style. And an ease of being in your own skin. I have always been like that, so for that reason, I think this change is easier for me than most.
Wasn’t the OTT platform a cultural shock to you in anyway?
I think it was liberating, apun pehle se hi censor nahi karta tha (from the very beginning, I never censored my words). I was a cultural shock to people when I started off in the film industry. People didn’t wear jeans here. They didn’t even know what Woodstock is! They had never seen a bandana! I got a certain kind of style to Bollywood
The word has now got popular, but I was the definition of it.
Do you think that sometimes, the filmmakers are going too overboard with the language and sexual content?
Yes, of course! The reins are lost. That’s why films are important. It is the only thing you can come together with your family and see at the theatre. Like a family thing to do. These web series isolate people. You cannot see it with your parents or your children, you mostly find yourself seeing it alone on your phone.
When you hear about the Sushant Singh Rajput case, what is the first thought that comes to your mind? Leaving aside the debate on nepotism and such, what do you think as a parent?
I come from a very humble beginning. I have stayed in chawls, I have seen death and more, very closely. I have buried my near and dear ones, and I have learnt to be thankful for what I have, I have learnt to take a punch on my chin and move on. I just wish everyone learnt to do the same.
We all fall down, but it is important to get up and move on!
How do your children react to your such statements?
They have grown up hearing me speak like this, so I don’t think they have much of a reaction to it.
You have always been a very involved father, what are your dreams for your children?
I have no dreams for them, instead I just hope and pray that they can always follow their own dreams. I don’t think a parent can ask for more.
We have already seen a lot of Tiger Shroff, but Krishna Shroff is still a mystery… what are her plans?
She is an awesome kid. She wanted to study cinema, she went abroad and learnt. When she came back, she started teaching kindergarten kids. Do you realise the kind of patience that girl has? It is most amazing. She then started teaching teenagers fitness/ martial arts. She has done so many varied things, she is like our jack of all trades, what’s amazing is that she is master of it too.
What is the one thing you would like to tell our readers?
I would like to say thank you for keeping me alive in your hearts. I believe my greatest strength is in the fact that I have always enjoyed doing everything that I have had to do. I just enjoy life, I enjoy every breath I take. I live every moment that God has given me, the strength and love of people for me, to my children, to my family. I feel blessed when I see around. There is so much grief around us all, so we should always thank God for keeping us alive, taking care of us and our loved ones.