You have hated him for offering his brutal self on the screen in Neerja but you have also loved him equally for showcasing all the nuances that went in while portraying every character in his films. He is Jim Sarbh and he will talk to you about anything and everything if you ask him the right questions.
In an exclusive conversation with Bollywood Life, Jim spoke at length about his role in Taish, his process of bringing the characters alive on the screen, getting chances to improvise on the sets, portraying his deep emotions and why it is important to discuss and debate on subjects that will bring change in the society as a whole.
Talking about his yet another complex and layered character in Taish (is like the rage that bubbles up and takes over your emotions, he explains), Jim told us, “I play this guy named Rohan Kalra. This is my first Bollywood commercial kind of film as a protagonist. The story in general is about two families. In my family, my younger brother (Ankur Rathee) is getting married and I’m a bit nervous to invite my girlfriend (Kriti Kharbanda) to the wedding. And I can’t wait for my best friend (Pulkit Samrat) to show up. Meanwhile, there’s another story of another family is going on diagonally where Harshvardhan Rane plays Pali. The two worlds eventually collide where one is a very normal family of normal people who don’t know this other side of the world. The story sparks off from Rohan, which is a kind of revenge and I really like my character. He is someone who is able to control his emotions, his otherwise problematic desires and let the truth prevail. Even though the film is being promoted like an action, thriller, bang bang, tough guys, but it is the story of males’ weakness, the inability to control their emotions. That’s why I really loved my character because he is the strongest one who can control all these emotions.”
When asked the reason that made him say yes to the project, Jim said, “I have worked with Bejoy Nambiar before in a short film. In addition to that, I loved the other aspects of the film that are less explored. I can’t really talk about the first occurrence because that might reveal the entire plot. It’s a very occurrence of traditional masculinity that people don’t talk about it and are ashamed of it. Actually, I think it should be discussed more openly. The other idea that drew me is the friendship. Some people have the deepest connection for which you always go beyond the boundaries. It isn’t always true but I like when that topic is explored.”
Revealing the secret behind bringing authenticity into this characters, he explained, “I think actually you don’t really have to do much. As long as you are being interested in the moment and trying to understand your own life and find out your deep connection with yourself and the emotions on stage, I think it becomes a lot easier to explore that same possibility in films. I think, people are not interested in dealing with their more complicated or I would say ugly emotions that they are ashamed to talk about. Like feeling guilty, or weak, or lame, or incapable, or lost, or hurt, or jealous – all these feelings people try to stay away from. So you just need to figure out these things and you can only get it through rehearsals and the time spent with your character. Because if you read the character for 5 minutes before taking the shot, you may just present the surface of the emotions. You won’t completely get into the skin of the character. You should be interested in each moment and see how each moment it can possibly offer you.”
Sharing an anecdote about working in Neerja, Jim said, “One of my favourite moments, the bit that I got in Neerja to improvise because the director was open to me adding things. Right before I am about to scream something while making an announcement, the character realises that he doesn’t know the English word for announcement. He asks another guy, ‘Can I speak alarm?’ And you go see for a second that the guy doesn’t know things and he wants to do his best in what he’s doing. He has his own problems.”
When we asked him if gets the freedom to experiment with his emotions while taking his shot on the sets, he said, “It depends on the director but usually, yeah, a good amount of freedom was there for me. For example, Gafoor Malik, I didn’t get the freedom with lines, they were as they were written. So the freedom to explore, to developing and the blocking of the scene and add dynamic aspects and change things around, Sanjay Leela Bhansali was very giving and encouraging of that. When you arrive on the sets, he will be like ‘what magic can you add to the scene today?’ It wasn’t with words but movement and interpretation. So even on Taish, Bejoy was very open to improvisation. There was this 4-page scene where I am smoking in a car with characters played by Ankur and Pulkit, talking and joking around. And we just kept going and improvising and messing around and turned it into a 6-7-page scene and we were like, it was really fun. I love all of that stuff where you can really bring around new ideas you suddenly get and just play with it.”
Speaking about the joy that comes with such freedom of building and adding small nuances to the characters, Jim said, “It’s like you are taking the responsibility of the character and for the creative aspects of it. And if the director is supportive of it, you want to just keep finding things you know. You’re just hungry. I love this way. I don’t know about other people.”