Interview By: ANKITA R. KANABAR
He’s undoubtedly, one of the biggest action stars of the country – considering not many can do what he can pull off. Vidyut Jamwal has created a niche for himself in very little time. With ‘Junglee’ hitting the theatres, the tough guy is back with bang and this time with lots more on screen, having trained in animal forms. Always fun and honest to speak to, we catch up with Jamwal to speak about the film, his success and more…
How was it working and training for ‘Junglee’?
I’ve been very excited about the film. We made it for the kids and family. It teaches you things we have no idea about and we are not aware of. I was telling someone that, my real sister gets scared if she sees a cockroach or rats. She starts shouting and because of that even they get scared. So, with animals, what I learnt was, if they feel safe, secure and if they don’t feel you’re attacking them, they won’t harm you. So, it’s not difficult working with animals if you know how to conduct yourself. After many years, we’ve got a film with a human-animal bonding. We’ve got Chuck Russel – he knows animals so well and knows how to work with them. I was very touched when he told me I would be the next big thing in the world and he’s said the same thing to Dwayne Johnson who is the biggest action star in the world. I was just happy to work on the film, because there was someone who believed in me, he found me. I’m so proud of the film because it teaches you so much. It teaches you that if you don’t harm animals and if you conduct yourself well, they won’t harm you. I’m an army officer’s kid and for me, talking to a film-star used to be a big thing when I came here. And when you talk to them, you realise, they’re just like anyone else. Similarly, you learn about animals and how to deal with them.
How satisfied do you feel about the fact that in a way you’re irreplaceable. Not many can do what you bring on board?
First of all, I’m a Mamma’s boy. I’m everything because of my Mamma. I’ve grown up in an Anath Ashram, I’ve grown up with 800 women around me all the time. I was telling her, ‘I came to Mumbai to be an action hero and I become one, the moment ‘Commando’ released. It didn’t do 100 crores, yet I became an action hero and now people recognise me. I’m very satisfied and I work on myself even more now because I have the infrastructure now. Earlier I used to think, I will go to the gym, but now, I have my own gym. I have used my success to better myself and I am working very hard now. The producer can falter, the director can falter but I won’t. I wont’ give any less than 150 per cent. That’s what happens when you’re an outsider. There’s no chance to fail. Someone asked me, ‘why aren’t you doing so many movies?’ But I will only do what I feel will be right for me or what I will be able to do amidst what’s offered to me. I don’t go out for parties. People asked me, why don’t you go for Karan Johar’s parties? He is my friend, he complimented the trailer of ‘Junglee’, but I can’t afford to go to a party. I have to work hard. If I go to a party, I won’t look good in the movie, I will look tired. Yes, it’s a different route and I’m very proud of it.
You also research a lot to improvise on your action, don’t you?
I’m a martial artist and the form has been there for more than 300 years. There’s a saying – try and be in my shoes. I have been trained in different animal forms, apart from weapons, I’ve done Monkey, Leaopard, dragon, and imbibed their qualities. Once you do that, you get the courage. It’s not just about physical fitness. So, I’m the first Indian actor to do it in a movie, but it’s not new, it’s always been there since thousands of years. For me, doing action is just a high. People feel good after drinking or eating, I feel good doing this.
Do you ever get scared then?
There was a scene in which I spontaneously just ran in between animals and I was so scared. I just thought I did a wrong thing, but there was not much time to think. I did the scene and came out. Everyone was so blank and scared, I could see their reaction. The producers specially were scared, but not many people can do what I can do. What I can do with my physicality is different, so I jump into it. Once I saved the life of a fighter, he fell off the cliff and I jumped after him. Tigmanshu Dhulia was the director, he came and kissed my cheek. Then I went back home and I was like, ‘I didn’t do it. It was just an instinct.’ Later I was like, ‘what were you even thinking!’. Even if I see someone fight, I have to go there and stop it. It’s just a natural instinct for me.
Would you like to play more negative characters?
Why not? But some directors get it right, some don’t. Nishikant Kamat got it right. I have done many negative characters in the south also, some directors didn’t get it right. But then sometimes, they don’t allow the hero to beat you up. I got a lot of love for ‘Thupakki’ though.
How’s it working with Mahesh Manjrekar for this next?
He’s too good. He’s coming to Hindi cinema, after a long time, after ‘Vaastav’. He’s trying to do something and I like it. He’s a great guy.
Did you come here, dreaming to be a Hindi cinema hero or an action star?
That’s a long answer (smiles)! I wanted to be so much while growing up – a table tennis player, a squash player – but I wanted to do action. And if I didn’t do this, then I’d be doing small roles in South India. But I’m not ashamed of it. Whenever I got a chance, I did it. I didn’t miss any chance of working on anything. I went to Jaipur a while back, and you meet people who ask you ‘sir hero kaise bane? Humko kuch sikhaao, tips do.’ I told everyone, ‘the looks or body won’t matter. You just need to have talent which only you have.’ It could be anything. So, yes, I always wanted to do something with action.
Which are the action heroes which have influenced you?
I can’t deny Akshay Kumar. When I saw his poster of ‘Khiladi’, I was like, ‘Martial art wala bhi hero ban sakta hai!’ For me it was inspirational to think I was on the right path.
Now is it more difficult for you, with the benchmark raised even higher?
I’m trained to deal with all kinds of situations. I come from a family where we’ve not seen this kind of success or money. But I’m not lost the plot. I’m enjoying it and I make sure everyone who has been a part of my journey enjoys it but I have not lost the plot for sure. I don’t get nervous at all. Infact, I enjoy my success and it’s a big deal for me and people around me. My mum makes sure she tells everyone, she is Vidyut Jamwal’s mother and asks people, ‘Aapne Commando dekhi hai? Main uski maa hoon.’ Even if I feel low, I motivate myself, I know how to do it.