He can make you laugh, smile, cry, dance and sing with his unmatchable talent. A complete package unto himself, Jaaved Jaaferi, son of popular comedian Jagdeep, creditably created his own brand of comedy, distinct from his Dad’s. Not just that, he went further and introduced a new brand of dancing in India, leading to his being called India’s first break-dancer. An actor, voice artist and impressionist too, Jaaved is fondly remembered by the 90s’ kids for his mentoring on the TV show ‘Boogie Woogie’ along with younger brother Naved. For our #BigInterview this week, we reached out to the actor who speaks here about his Bollywood journey, and the bond he shares with his father. Excerpts:
From ‘Meri Jung’ to the remake of ‘Coolie No. 1’, how will you sum up your Bollywood journey?
I have a lot to be thankful for. It was eventful, uplifting, disappointing, but encouraging as well.
How did you bag your first film?
I was in the last year of my college and did not know where I was headed. I had taken psychology as a major but I had also become quite famous in the dancing circle across the country after winning two national dance championships and had done a few advertising films too. So, I was quite popular by then. One day, a friend told me Mr. Subhash Ghai was looking for a dancer. She took the All India dance championship video and sent them to his office. Soon, I was called to meet him and he narrated the character to me. They wanted a bad guy who was also cool at the same time. A villian who dances, is stylish, and good-looking didn’t sound like a typical Hindi film antagonist at all. So, I asked for a day to revert, which shocked him. He was the topmost filmmaker at the time and couldn’t believe a newbie he was willing to give a chance to, wanted to ponder over it. But he told me to go ask my dad, who assured me that they were a good team and if it was what I wanted to do, I should go ahead.
When did you decide to make a career of it?
When I got this (Meri Jung) offer. It made me wonder if this, indeed, was my calling. On the other hand, I was anyway popular. I had acted in plays, hosted a few shows, put up a few fashion shows, and was known as a dancer across the country right from my college days.
Did your father’s fame help you in any manner?
I was popular as a dancer and not as my father’s son. Not many people knew that I was Mr Jagdeep’s son. Mr Ghai, too, didn’t call me because I was his son; he called me because he wanted an excellent dancer and I was a perfect choice. But wherever I went, they gave me extra respect and that was due to my father, as they respected his work. Your father made us laugh a lot through his films.
How was he at home?
No, at home there was no filmi influence. If my father was shooting outdoors and we had school holidays, we would accompany him. He never took us regularly on shoots, nor did actors visit us at home. He kept his personal life private. At home, he wasn’t that funny guy. Though he was known for his comic roles, he was a person of deep thoughts, which was perhaps because he didn’t have much of a childhood, having lost everything during the Partition. But he used to take us for dinners and films to ensure he gave us what he thought was best for us and what he did not get.
What’s the one thing that you miss about him?
Our conversations and spending time together. He used to regale us with stories from his life whenever we used to sit down to talk to him. Your comic timing is impeccable too…In college, I was an outstanding student. I was so funny in class that I was always made to stand outside (chuckles). My father was a very natural actor; he used to perform extremely emotional scenes with such ease. He could cry at the drop of a hat, which, any actor will tell you, is the most difficult thing to do. Comedy, actually, happened much later. He had a flair for ‘ tukbandi‘; he could put everything into a rhyme in a very funny way. Probably, all these things inspired me. Some things have also been passed on genetically. I have immense respect for my father as an actor.
Are you a strict father or an easy-going one?
I don’t know (chuckles). My children thought I was strict but I was only particular about one thing–that they stick to their value system. Respect is extremely important and they should respect their elders and the people they work with. And for certain things you need discipline. I have taken them to the best places I could and provided them with the best education. I could have probably been a little more relaxed as a father. Also, I was quite busy, so one of my regrets is that I could have spent a little more time with my children.
What stops you from taking up more leading roles in films?
I don’t know, ask the producers (laughs). How can I answer that? If I was Yash Raj Films and making my own movies, probably, I would have made some films for myself like Eddie Murphy and Adam Sandler did. But, I didn’t have the resources to produce my own films. The 1996 film, ‘Fire’, directed by Deepa Mehta and featuring Shabana Azmi, Nandita Das, and me, was an international project that was highly appreciated around the world, especially for my performance. But I didn’t know how to build on my success or market myself. I was probably weak in my public relationship department; maybe that was the reason.
What advice did you give to Meezan before he made his Bollywood debut?
How I can give advice to my son when I myself lack in certain things? See, for me, values and respect are the more important things, as they form the foundation; based on them, you have to give your 100 per cent. I told my son his effort has to be the same no matter his remuneration. He should be just as dedicated to a Rs 5000 film as he would to a Rs 50,000,000 film, as I have done the same. Even after delivering 100 per cent, the returns are not always the same but that’s on an individual’s talent and luck. Finally, it is the voice of the people, the audience, that decides how good or bad someone is.
Your role Manav from ‘Dhamaal’ fetched a lot of accolades…
You know everything looks very easy but it is not. If you look at Manav, there is nothing of me in him. I am very particular about my dressing sense. One day, Indu ji (Indra Kumar) told me I had dressed too well and I figured that he didn’t want that, so, instead of the costume department, I designed Maanav’s clothes, another time, he felt my voice was too ‘nice’ and I changed my strong voice to weak. Manav walked in a very ‘ dheela‘ way so I took inspiration from Laurel of ‘Laurel and Hardy’.
Your character from ‘Salaam Namaste’ got you awards...
Two of my characters Manav and Jaggu Yadav aka Crocodile Dundee are the most celebrated ones. Even today people go, ‘You are so smart! and ‘Eggjhactly’ in my style wherever I go. For ‘Salaam Namaste’, director Siddharth Anand told me that though it is not a big role, it is a very important and funny character. I didn’t want to do special appearances but he was keen on taking me on board, and asked me to meet Adi (Aditya Chopra) once. So, Adi narrated the character and explained how he was not looking for a comedian to play the role but rather a strong actor. Finally, I was convinced. I remember, before going to Australia for the shoot of the film, I was in the USA, where I bought a few things like cowboy boots and a hat. When I landed on the sets, I suggested we do Feroz Khan s aab’s take on the character and to make it a caricature. I wanted him to speak in really bad English since he is just a man from Bihar who has made it big. Many of the dialogues were spontaneous; everything was improvised on the spot. After the shoot, Sid told me it was going to be a cult character and it turned out to be true. In one of the scenes, where I meet Saif and Preity’s (Zinta) character, Saif (Ali Khan) was as generous as an actor. Despite being the lead, he stayed in the character without thinking that he should get all the punchlines, he played his character well and I think that was the beauty of the scene. That just lifted the entire scene and even the character. It is one of the best I played!
You are a phenomenal dancer! How, according to you, has Bollywood dancing evolved or changed so far?
I was the one who brought the transition in film dance as Mithun da. Govinda and Prabhudheva came much after me. I kick-started this athletic, technical style of dancing which involved doing kicks, spins, and jumps. My kind of dance required slightly more skill and precision. People got a glimpse of it in my film, ‘Meri Jung’. In fact, I asked Subhash ji, why don’t they add a bit of rap in the song, ‘Bol Baby Bol’. And that was the first time, rap was used in Indian cinema.
The famous track ‘Gabbar Singh’ with Madhuri Dixit from the film ‘100 days’ comes to mind…
That was a fun track! Madhuri Dixit was quite a busy star at the time as she was at the peak of her career. So, we didn’t have much time to rehearse together. Chinni Prakash ji choreographed the song. My costume was very funky and it was designed especially for me by one of my friends from London.
How did you start dubbing?
I have dubbed for Mickey Mouse, Sherkhan the Tiger, Don Karnage, and a few more characters. Dubbing happened as I was into advertising. For an actor, his voice is also an integral part. When you dub for an animation film, the voice is key and one needs to change it as per the character. Now from Mickey Mouse’s voice, which is a very high-pitched voice, to Sherkhan-the Tiger, which is a baritone, I managed both, which was an achievement. There was hardly any money in dubbing but I did it to expand my horizons. And then ‘Takeshi’s Castle’ was a cult.
You were always away from controversy. How did you maintain such a clean image?
(Laughs) Because I never did things that were controversial like having an affair, getting drunk and hitting someone, being unprofessional, landing up to shoot very late. So, I never got into any controversy. But now even if you say something on social media, it results in a controversy; that was not the case earlier.
Your son is in the news over his alleged relationship with Big B’s grand daughter Navya…
People want content. Being good friends with somebody is considered to be something else always. These children have grown up together; my daughter and Navya have been friends since school. They have a common group of friends. Even Sara Ali Khan and Meezan were in the same school. They used to come home, hang around till 3 am. It is convenient to link them up as they are always together.
Source: Click Here