Jackie Shroff, who has been around the block for several decades in Hindi cinema, experiences a deep sense of reflected pride about Salman Khan, the titular hero from his latest Eid release ‘Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai’.
The self-made actor revealed he was one the first few people to discover that ‘spark’ in Khan, when the superstar was an obscure film hopeful.
“A little spark that I saw back then has become a shining star right now. I saw that spark when he was my assistant director in this movie called ‘Falak’. He used to come to give me my lines or call me when a shot was ready. He used to read my entire opposition’s dialogues with me. But I knew that boy was going to be a big star someday,” said Shroff in an interview with Gulf News.
The year was 1988 and Shroff — the more established and popular actor during that time — made it a point to circulate Khan’s pictures to all Bollywood directors he was familiar with. This was an era when publicists and managers of Bollywood stars didn’t exist and casting was a matter of recommendation, destiny, timing, and luck.
“One of those directors that I showed the picture to gave him a film before he got ‘Maine Pyaar Kiya’ and that was truly his opening in this film industry. I am glad that I was that person who kept him in this film industry. There’s no stopping that spark now. I am happy for him always and he’s like my little brother,” said Shroff. Khan’s breakthrough romance ‘MPK’ catapulted him into an instant star in Bollywood.
Cut to 2021, the power dynamics between the two have changed dramatically, if we observe their career trajectories.
Khan at 55 still enjoys a good spot in the sun, while Shroff’s sheen at 64 has worn off a bit over the years. But their camaraderie is still intact and they are just happy to be working together.
Not surprisingly Shroff continues to be Khan’s biggest cheerleader.
“I am so happy to be working with him. They always have a role for me and this time they wanted me to do comedy. They always take good care of me and his family loves me. My role is short and sweet in ‘Radhe’,” said Shroff.
Return to cinemas
The veteran star plays brother to actress Disha Patani in this festive release. Incidentally, Patani is rumoured to be dating Shroff’s son, actor Tiger Shorff.
‘Radhe’ is directed by Prabhu Deva who known for his bombastic, action-filled entertainers, and co-produced by Khan’s family production house.
In the UAE, this film enjoys a theatrical release while the spike in COVID-19 cases in India has forced the makers to opt for a hybrid release in their own native country. Shroff is proudly old-school when it comes to his personal preference of watching a film. The appeal of munching popcorn in a darkened cinema hall and giving your undivided attention to a film on the big screen is far greater than watching it alone on your computer screens, believes the actor.
“Watching a movie at a cinema hall is a pleasure that you can’t get at home. And, ‘Radhe’ is a wholesome entertainer. It has emotions, romance, fun moments, songs, and fights … You will see Jackie Shroff in a light comic zone. I have usually done tough cop roles in films like ‘Ram Lakhan’ and ‘KhalNayak’, but here you will see me take it easy,” said Shroff.
One of Bollywood’s most amiable and laid-back stars also believes that a film like ‘Radhe’ is the perfect antidote to the grim times dominated by the pandemic.
“There’s so much pressure for all of us. But we are all fighters and we have survived a lot of things — be it the World War or the plague. This too shall pass … I promise you that this will be a fun film which will be relief to watch after this year of intense pressure,” said Shroff.
In his experience, content is always king no matter which platform you choose to enjoy it from.
His broad perspective also extends to not taking fame or success too seriously.
“No way boss! A lot of big people who took themselves too seriously have disappeared. Nobody remembers them except their family and few friends in Bollywood. We have lost incredible legends like Dev [Anand] saab, Vinod Khanna — who I used to admire — Rishi Kapoor and my favourite Irrfan Khan … So let’s learn not to take ourselves too seriously. If we have come to this world, we need to leave it too. Never mess up your brains by taking life too seriously.”
“If I stand, I will be seen, and if I choose to speak, I’ll be heard. And, that’s enough for me,” Shroff on life philosophy and why he never lets insecurities of the acting profession affect him adversely.
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‘Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai’ is out in the UAE cinemas on May 13.