Actor Jimmy Shergill, whose real name is Jasjit Singh Gill, made his acting debut in 1996 with the critically acclaimed film Maachis, directed by Gulzaar. However, we remember him from Aditya Chopra’s Mohabbatein, where he played the role of Karan Choudhary, a shy schoolboy who falls in love with Kiran, played by Preeti Jhangiani. The complicated romance struck the audience, making him popular among youth in the early 2000s and paving a way to a successful acting career. He has since appeared in numerous films, both in Bollywood and Punjabi cinema.
Born into an aristocratic family of Punjabi Sikhs, Shergill’s paternal great aunt was the famous avant-garde artist Amrita Sher-Gil. He started his career as a theater artist and attended director Roshan Taneja’s acting classes.
Known for his versatile acting, Shergill has essayed a wide range of characters in different genres. Some of his notable films include Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai, Dil Hai Tumhaara, A Wednesday!, Tanu Weds Manu, and its sequel Tanu Weds Manu Returns. He has also worked extensively in Punjabi cinema, where he has delivered several successful films such as Yaraan Naal Baharaan, Mel Karade Rabba, and Jatt James Bond, among others.
In Shravan Tiwari’s upcoming crime-thriller Aazam, Shergill plays the role of a dreaded gangster. The movie revolves around the succession battle of crime lord, Nawab Khan, who controls the syndicate of those who govern the city.
Patriot talks with Shergill to know more about the movie and his journey in cinema
Q: Tell us more about Aazam and your role in it.
A:Aazam is a crime-thriller that focuses on Mumbai’s underworld and the many incidents that take place during the night in the city. In the plot, a man suddenly becomes a ghost which leads to the whole system becoming upset. Since it is a suspense story, I do not want to reveal much and want the audience to watch the film.
To speak about my character, I am playing the role of Javed, a blood cancer patient whose life is too short. The shooting is completed in Mumbai and my co-stars include talented actors such as Raza Murad, Inderneil Sengupta, Abhimanyu Singh, Sayaji Shinde and Govind Namdev.
Q: How did you connect with Shravan for this role? What led you to accept the movie?
A: I have my manager who helps me in researching whether a particular film director or production house is genuine or not. He checks all the information regarding the project and obtains the script after he is satisfied with the information. He is someone who knows the profession well and lives in Mumbai.
I read the script of Aazam and liked it. When I came to know that the director had not shortlisted any other actor, I accepted it. I was in two minds earlier. However, once things got clear, I said yes to the project.
Moreover, Shravan is young and a brilliant director. He has also written and edited the film, which makes him extremely talented.
Q: Bollywood seems to be having a rough ride. Many south Indian films are becoming popular among Hindi-speaking audiences. The recent hits such as RRR, Pushpa, and Bahubali suggest this trend. What do you think might be the reason?
A: Firstly, I don’t think that Bollywood is lagging behind and that [only] south Indian films are being appreciated and doing good at the box-office. As an actor, I think when a particular film is doing good, one should appreciate it because a film is a film – be it south Indian or Bollywood – as they are all Indian.
I feel bad when the media use phrases like Bollywood toh ab piche reh gaya hai (Bollywood is left behind) in order to make big headlines. I still remember when newspapers or magazines used to print good articles about people’s appreciation of a film. Now, it’s not there. It’s not their [media] fault either; they are doing their job. They need masala to add in their stories. But I believe that this is not a good trend.
Q. A lot of content on OTT platforms could be deemed as “vulgar’ that uses language not preferred by many and may affect children and teenagers. What do you think about it?
A: I don’t act in films that you are referring to. Things have changed over time. You cannot stop children from consuming a particular kind of content. If not at home, they will watch it at their friend’s or some other place. They will anyway see what’s happening around the world one day. Moreover, a lot of films and web-series give a disclaimer about age-bracket or parental guidance.
Q: You have essayed a wide range of characters. What are some of the challenges you have gone through while acting? How has the journey been since Maachis?
A: As an actor, I think I don’t face any challenges. I am always learning new things and hungry for new roles. One has to change with time and I am trying to give my best to the audience. In essence, I am happy to say my career is shaping well and I am always busy with work. I read a lot to learn about new ideas and I have enjoyed my journey since Maachis.
Q: What do you prefer more, a film or a web series?
A: I love both the mediums, whether it’s a Bollywood film or web series. They may be different but serve the same purpose of entertainment. The only difference is that a film is two-and-a-half hour long while a web series is divided into multiple episodes. However, the directors shoot them in the same manner.
For instance, apart from films, I have also worked in the webseries Your Honor and Rangbaaz. Both of them were received well and I am happy to say that they got popular among the audience.
Q: Any message for upcoming artists.
A: My only message is that those who want to join Bollywood films, they should first get trained in a professional film institute or attend some acting class to equip themselves with the basic and technical knowledge of cinema.
Q: Any upcoming film-projects in the pipeline?
A: Yes, there are some film projects I am working on. For instance, Anand Rai and Neeraj Pandey’s films but I will not be able to disclose much at this time. You will have to be in suspense until the films are completed.
Q: Would you like to share your connection with Delhi?
I have lived in Delhi for some time and many of my relatives are from Delhi. My wife is also from Delhi. So, I am familiar with places like New Friends Colony, Chattarpur, Nizamuddin… I often meet my friends and family whenever I am shooting in Delhi.
I remember how much I enjoyed my meal at Bengali market while I was there for a shoot. Moreover, I love visiting Khan Market too.