With his canny sense of style and insight to characters he has prudently lived in his reel life, has been undeniably seen, watched and appreciated. Meet Jim Sarbh in an exclusive interaction with Kartikya Arora about his choice of characters, theater, style and more.
How would you describe yourself you as a person? How do you manage to play a variety of characters?
I would prefer someone else’s description of me rather than self-describing myself. It would limit me to the way I am if I do it myself. Each circumstance brings out a different version of a person. While playing different roles, I turn the volume on different aspects of my character. The more you look inside, you are constantly shifting gears with your malleable self. One of the biggest problems I find is that we become stiff as we grow up. The more we get stronger, we turn more firm and avoid molding our-self in situations.
How do you perceive the current state of ‘theater’ in India?
The theater will always be the run-of-mill form of art that people may or may not connect with. Every generation has a segment of people who try things differently. Exactly what is happening here too. For example, Sheena Khaled and Pooja together are doing great work. Atul Kumar is working on interesting plays. Sujay Saple is pushing boundaries of contemporary movement and dance theatre with two shows. Mohit Takalkar is doing fascinating plays in Marathi. In spite of being an alien to the language, I can sit-through a three-hour show he does. I have been trying to work with Mohit since last few days, it just doesn’t work out on dates. These are certain things happening in and around Mumbai. I am sure there is much more happening at national level.
You began your career with big banners but negative characters. What was the reason to go the other way?
I must tell you I am getting a bit tired of it now (•sighs•). When I began my career, everyone around asked me if I was afraid of getting stereotyped which I denied. Here I am, a couple of films later putting my heart out. There are certain major commercial projects in the same category but with different people and defined projects. At this point, I would like to do a character for whom the audience would look through my characters’ eyes. They must not look at me playing the role simply because of ‘quirk’ it carries, but also because it is written like that. I can be a bit more reactive than being dominating the scene. In my real- life too, I like to react rather than provoking the person in front of me. In most of my projects, I have been a ‘provoker’. While doing Padmavat, Ranveer was already doing so much as Alauddin Khilji and I had to react to him. The audience seemed to enjoy that. I hope to continue with more of such roles.
How do you prepare for period-film characters?
For any film I do, I simply read my script as much as possible. I rehearse the same in different ways I can. For period films in specific, the costume and dialogues are inspired by the era on which the script of the film is based on. Doing a period movie did not need any additional preparation. I had to act normally. There are no pieces of evidence found for people’s actions in a certain manner during that time. Like the old saying, ‘How would you act like the pope?’ You got to walk on the stage wearing a pope’s robe and leave the rest for people to believe, ‘here is the pope!’. You can act like anything or you feel like.
What do you think when people who are not connected with a project or a film dislike it in a manner?
Anyone can judge anything. People may see a painting and say, ‘Oh! I could’ve done this. It’s so easy’. If ever I hear this, I ask them to – do it, make it. It is okay to have an opinion but only after you watch it. Entire conflict ends there.
What is your thought on ‘Nepotism’?
If my parents were in the film industry and I got more roles through them, I would take those. I can’t pull down people who do it. I would have loved it to be that easy. Like I keep saying, Picasso’s father was a painter, Mozart’s father was a painter. All of this is a ‘truth’. It surely is frustrating to lose your chance as an outsider. Such is life’s struggle.
What is the secret behind your experimental yet edgy looks with which you never fail to make a statement?
Genetics and a great amount of rebelling against my parents.
How powerful is the social media? What is your responsibility as a celebrity while voicing an opinion?
I don’t really feel social media is sticky. It does connect us with the world. If you are not kind of person who would interact, you would not become outspoken on social media also. There are people who become violent, but somewhere that part of theirs is kept hidden inside them. I feel it is for each individual to decide their place in the world and how they shall strengthen their existence. With great power comes great responsibility. My particular opinions can be quite extreme in certain cases. I don’t know if people are ready to ‘hear’ those, or I, I am ready to ‘voice’ those either. It doesn’t concern me in a conversation, but would surely matter if I am speaking about a ‘cause’. I must really know what I would be talking about. For instance, a few days ago a set of people connected with me to post something on saving elephants on my social media handle. I told him I would not do it until understand and volunteer and understand the objectives of the organization. Once I am convinced, I shall surely post as much as you want because I will have a backup.
What is your take on web content gaining strength at present?
Web content is ‘cool’. It is a good format where short films, novel or feature film formats have been quoted as a passe’. Now we have ‘Sagas’. It is a promising platform for people to start exploring. I hope writing continues to become better and succeeds to encapsulate and embrace the long-form method of story-telling.
What kind of roles would you like to play in future?
All kinds of roles. I would be a part of a fresh new script that is modern and local. My strong liking for all genres would open my scope to sign socially relevant, hard-boiled thrillers, loud comedy projects apart from what I am doing these days.
Your Favourite Cuisine: I enjoy all cuisines
An unexplored destination in India: Andaman and Nicobar Islands
A midnight dance song: ‘Tightrope’, a song by Janelle Monae
Neerja or Padmaavat: A tough choice
A social cause you would like to stand for: Saving the Elephants
The comfortable outfit would be: T-shirt and Jeans
Most prized possession: Too many. It changes with time.
A fictional character you would like to portray: I can get excited about almost anything or be completely apathetic about it.
A message to all newcomers: Keep acting.