Jackie Shroff’s Most Heart-Touching Interview | Bharathi S Pradhan | Timeless Superstars

Actor Jackie Shroff talks about his parents, children and 40 years of Bollywood journey in a heart-to-heart conversation with old pal and journalist Bharathi S Pradhan.

Jackie, you turned 66 this year.

Oh! Is it so? Oh God, my mind is still 19. (laughs)

Apart from being grateful, blessed etc, what are your real thoughts when you are 66?

Nothing! No thoughts! Living for the day. Wake up in the morning, check your nasal passage, breathe in and breathe out and just feel happy that there are aches and pains, everybody has, but you can bear it. So, it is a sweet pain. Just keep going on.

You are the product of a Gujarati man named Kakubhai Shroff and a Turkish lady called Rita. How did they meet?

I have exactly no idea. But I feel my mother came to sell something. She came from there with a lot of things and she wanted to sell maybe a shawl or something. And my dad must be the buyer, I feel. And they fell in love.

You have never hidden the fact that you used to live in a chawl, that you used to share the washroom with other people. You have never-ever hidden your background.

There was no need. People liked to watch who I was. There were 7 kholis in the chawl. For 7 Kholis, we had three washrooms and 10 people used to share each of them. Early morning I had to go shooting and we had to stand in line to attend the nature’s call. So, I was in films and I stood in the queue for the washroom. Oh, what a pleasure it was! I miss my house so much out there! In fact, I am trying to buy a little kholi there. I have spoken to the landlords.

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You have a very different take on a lot of things. I know you are somebody who doesn’t like to talk a lot because even on stage you don’t like giving speeches.

I don’t know what to say. But when I open my mouth, I just keep talking and I don’t know what I keep saying. I just like to work and keep myself busy with my work. Now I have time to do gardening. Every time there’s someone’s birthday, I am finding good seeds and planting. I am nurturing it and watching it grow. These are the things I really enjoy doing. I like my films, I like my friends, I like to do farming and sit back and enjoy life. I like to watch my family grow.

You have a very interesting DP on your WhatsApp profile. You have a big foot and there’s a hand that is stopping that foot from stamping a sapling, which I think tells everything you feel about nature. Isn’t it?

They say a picture tells a thousand words. That’s what it is!

When did you find yourself so environmentally conscious?

Firstly, my chawl was in front of a jungle. So we used to pluck mangoes from the trees and eat them. We had access to bananas, guavas etc in the jungle. So, as a 10-15-year-old, I have grown up watching these things and eating them at the same time. I was fascinated to see a seed becoming a plant.

40 years after “Hero” what are your thoughts about your career? Because I always remember you as someone very good-looking and a very good person. But did it hurt you that people used to not call you a good actor?

I loved it because I was nothing and then people atleast knew about me. A lot was spoken about me and a lot of bricks were thrown at me, but it was fun because my film was running. Subhash Ghai said, ‘Don’t you worry. You have become a hero.’ I asked him if people are talking badly about me, so wouldn’t it matter? He said that ‘it doesn’t matter to the masses. If they like you, they like you’. People keep writing about you, it’s their job. They are critics. Critics are supposed to criticize.

When I see something like “Total Dhamaal”, it was only your voice. You were the GPS voice.

I thought nobody noticed it.

So, you have come a long way that just your voice on the GPS and the entire audience knew this is Jackie Shroff. So, despite all the criticism you have survived and made a mark for yourself.

I don’t know. I just go with the flow. I don’t know how.

You are the kind of person who can wear formal tuxedo, you can wear a lungi or dhoti and you look great in everything.

You are being kind to me today. So sweet of you to say that. My wife says the same thing, you know. The thing is, I feel comfortable in what I wear. When dogs bark, I know that I have arrived.

We used to love Khaadi Bhandar and purchase clothes from there because it was sasta, sundar aur tikau (good, budget-friendly and long-lasting). We used to get curtain material between Rs 4 to 7. We used to buy that and make jeans out of it. We used to paint our ganjis and we wore boots of 4-inch heels. So, when we used to walk on streets wearing that, dogs really used to go bananas. And we used to know that we look different.

Then came the era of all our Indian dressing, you know that Band gala Nehru, Sherwani, Churidar and kurta. Later, in the 70s, the hippie influx was there where they wanted peace and love. So, there was a union of different styles, of easy Western and beautiful traditionally ethnic Indian. So, these two joined together and it became me. I could wear boots on my dhoti. I have done it and I love it.

In your chawl days, what was your ultimate goal? Was it to be here, to be what you are today?

My dream was to give a big home like this to my parents. I was very comfortable in that chawl. When I saw my mother or father standing in line, I found it normal, but I always thought that they should get a big house. That was all.

And what did you want for yourself?

I am happy where they are happy.

Your son Tiger, on the episode of Koffee With Karan, said the same thing about you. Karan asked him the ultimate definition of luxury and he said ‘Whatever luxury I can give my parents is the ultimate luxury for me’. I thought that was a fabulous thing for a child to say. And you are saying the same thing about your parents.

Yeah! God has been kind!

When your mother passed away, you had shut yourself off from everybody and you emerged a few days later. And after that, I feel you have turned a little philosophical about loss.

I saw my brother drowning. I was 10 year old. I still remember it. How can one forget that? That trauma is still inside. I don’t want to dig it out. A lot of people go through tragic things.

He went in to save somebody!

Yeah, for friends, he was all out. We have learned the same thing. We can burn our house to give warmth to someone else.

Can I say that your brother was your first hero?

For sure. He was 17 and I was 10. Obviously, he was the hero. He gave his life for a friend which is huge. That’s guts and loyalty.

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When you lost your father and mother, I heard you say things like ‘you have to take it in life. These things are a part of life and there is a balance. I lost my parents but I got my children.’ Is that how you feel?

Yeah because everyone loses someone in their family and you can not do anything about it. There isn’t a single house where they haven’t lost someone. It is a normal thing. I always say that I love my mother the most but I can’t go with her. I could have cried my lungs out. I could have been devastated. She was my mother after all. I realised the journey of life. I loved my mother and I couldn’t go with her because I have many left behind. I have my kids. I feel that my father, mother and my brother are all around. Where will they go? I wonder where will they go. In my heart, I feel them. If I think of my mother, I dream of her.

What are you like as a father? Are you strict? If Krishna has a basketball player for a boyfriend or Tiger has Disha Patani or anybody else. Are you the kind who sits and asks questions or do you just let them be?

They have a mother to do all that. It is the duty of their mother to ask questions. My son talks to his mother, daughter talks to mother. And whatever she is comfortable with, I am comfortable. I am not the one who goes and say that I am the decision-maker. No way! Nobody did that to me right from the time when I was in Teen Batti.

In fact, when you were going around with Ayesha, she used to come to your house.

Yes, she used to stay at my house in the chawl. She even used to stand in the queue for the washroom.

How did you meet Ayesha because you always said that she came from an upper-crust set-up and you were a chawl boy from Teen Batti? So what was the common ground?

There was no common ground. I was riding a friend’s bike and I was on my way home. There was a bus ahead and Ayesha was standing in a school uniform. I was like ‘Ooh!’. So, I stopped by. I said, ‘Hey, my name is Jackie and I come here to play.’ She said, ‘My name is Ayesha and I am going to my friend’s house.’ I said, “Hope to see you soon’. She said the same. Then after three days, her friend came and said that ‘she has seen an ad in the paper and thinks you can be an actor.’ So, I took my photographer according to the ad she sent. I took 20 bucks from my mom. So, I tried it for the first time because my wife (then-girlfriend) asked me to. Not even my girlfriend, she was someone I had just met. So, I took my photograph and asked her to come with me. So, I left the money and my photographer in the office and we walked till home. we ate peanuts because I didn’t have money. We walked through Marine drive where we talked. I didn’t get that film but I got her. That’s more important.

Then modeling happened. You got “Hero”.

Yes, it just happened. I never planned. Even today I don’t have a plan. How can I plan for tomorrow? What happens, God knows! Who knows if I’ll wake up tomorrow even if I have set up the alarm? There’s so much happening around.

You are a vegetarian. How come?

I don’t know. Maybe I don’t like the smell. Maybe someone made me eat a fish once and someone made me eat Kebab. I just don’t like it. And there are so many vegetables to eat. I am happy being a vegetarian.

When Tiger was born, you tried to give him vegetarian food but then your mother-in-law stepped in and made him eat non-vegetarian food.

Yes. Even when I was small, my mother fed me non-veg. I don’t know why I didn’t give it to my child.

Tell me about your farm. When did you get it and what is it about your farm that draws you so much towards it? Right through the pandemic, you stayed there.

I like farming. We grow vegetables there.

You are popular among females of all ages, but on-screen you are known for your bromances. You are friendly with Shah Rukh, Ajay Devgn, Salman, Anil Kapoor etc. One doesn’t hear about you and any heroine.

I am friendly to Amrita, Dimple Ji, Tina, Meenakshi Ji, Juhi. They are all lovely. They love me and I love them. I respect them.

I have never heard any story of you messing around outside of marriage. You have never done anything to an extent that would upset Ayesha.

She knows me inside out. She has trusted me. I have traveled outside with the best of leading ladies. But Ayesha was never bothered. She wouldn’t even ask. She would never call and check. She knew that I was out, working and I’ll come back home.

You have never been romantically entangled with any heroine which almost all the heroes have been at some point.

Each to their own.

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Tiger is settled now. Is there anything you want about Krishna or let her be?

Exactly! Let her be! She is into mixed martial arts. She talks about health. She is aligning with people who come out with beauty products. So, she is doing her things.

You don’t want her to become an actress?

Whatever she wants to be! I have never thought about it.

Even with Tiger, it’s not like you wanted him to become an actor.


Do you enjoy any scenes that you do with Tiger? Is it different from working with any other actor?

The first time that I shot with him, I didn’t know how to behave because he was my son in the film and he is my son in real also. So, I had no idea. My instinct and my on-spot thinking fizzled out. My son took control of it totally. He held me because I was knocked out. But now I am waiting to work with him again and show him. I am waiting for a good role.

You have come a long way. What does fame and fortune mean to you? Does it mean that I can buy whatever I want and do whatever I want?

This fame and fortune, I have gained a lot, lost a lot and then gained and lost and gained. So, it is something that is a part of a job that you do. If you are a great agriculturalist, you get a Padma Shri. We are entertainers, we like to entertain. People like to see us. So now when I talk about any disease, a disorder, or the need to plant trees or save soil, people listen to me. I have come from Teen Batti where people won’t listen to anything I say. Now I have the privilege to speak about things that I do.

At this point of life, when you have everything, what is left in your ambition?

Nothing, just to see my family happy. I just want my children, my wife and my friends happy. No ambition.

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