He had a disastrous debut but followed it up with a successful film like ‘F.A.L.T.U’. In his nine-year old career, Jackky Bhagnani has received both acclaim and brickbats for his work. After being away from the big screen as an actor for a while, he is back with ‘Mitron’, which also happens to the first film he has done outside his family banner Pooja Entertainment. Here are edited excerpts from an interview.
When I watched the trailer of ‘Mitron’, I felt the film depicts the ambition of today’s youth in the country. Would you agree to that?
Absolutely! It showcases the ambition of today’s youth and also their frame of mind. Every young person is fighting a battle in his or her head. Everybody has a certain quality which makes them different from the rest but you need somebody to tap into it and encourage you to explore the talent you have.
The film is a remake of the Telugu film ‘Pelli Choopulu’. How similar are the two films?
The essence is the same, of course. That is the whole point of adapting a film. ‘Pelli Choopulu’ was set in Andhra Pradesh but our film is set in Gujarat, so the milieu and the cultural references are very different. Nitin sir has a distinctive voice and the film is a result of the way he has adapted the written material.
It is your first film outside Pooja Entertainment, your family banner. When you work in a home production, you are expected to shoulder more responsibilities and look into other departments apart from acting. Did you have to shoulder lesser responsibilities this time around as you were working in an outside production?
There were lesser responsibilities off the camera but as an actor, I was more cautious and careful about how I was performing. I was working with people who had put their money on me. I had to make sure that they were satisfied with the quality of work I was delivering.
But I guess, you love to take responsibilities. Apart from acting in the film, you have also worked as a music curator and helped in putting together the music. How did that happen?
It was more of a choice rather than a responsibility. I love music and I wanted to be involved in the music making process of the film. Most of the times, when you want to want to do something like this, the producers or the director say things like ‘you are an actor, just do your job. Why do you want to get into other people’s work?’. But, I am grateful to Nitin sir and Vikram Malhotra for giving me a free hand and letting me curate the music for the film. It was a great experience working with the composers and the entire music team to put together the music of the film.
You are also an active producer now. How do you strike a balance between your responsibilities as an actor and a producer?
I guess today is the day and age of multi-tasking. When you are acting, you just need to act and give your hundred percent to it. Similarly, when you are producing, you have to be completely invested in it without getting distracted. When you work in the production department, you get a know-how of things and start respecting the work of the people who put so much hard work behind making a film. Sometimes, actors start believing that they are carrying a film on their shoulders. But, the truth is that every single member of the cast and the crew is working hard to put together a film.
Your last film as an actor was ‘Welcome 2 Karachi’ in 2015. Though you did a short film called ‘Carbon’ and produced a couple of films like ‘Sarbjit’ and ‘Dil Junglee’ in the meantime, one did not get to see much of you in the last couple of years. Was it a conscious decision to not to act for a while?
Yes, it was a conscious decision to take a break as an actor. What was happening was that I was only acting in films produced by my company. I felt I was in a certain comfort zone and was not really growing as an individual or as an actor. Also, the industry is completely perception-driven. People thought nobody was interested to work with me outside my own production house. That is when I realised I should take a short break and take up a project only when I feel it is something that will propel my acting career forward.
One saw you deliver that fantastic monologue in Gujarati in the trailer of the film. Was it a little easy to speak Gujarati in the film as you had already played a Gujarati character in ‘Welcome 2 Karachi’?
I played a very caricature-ish Gujarati in ‘Welcome 2 Karachi’. It was a comedy, so we went a little over-the-top with the whole thing. That is not how Gujaratis speak in real life. ‘Mitron’ is a very real film, so I had to undergo training to learn how to speak Gujarati properly.
What are you doing next?
I have got a couple of offers but have not signed anything yet. I have just shot for a single which should be out soon.