On the prowl

Bollywood buzz

On the prowl

For an actor who is just two films old, Tiger Shroff certainly seems like he has got it all figured out. RAJIV VIJAYAKAR talks to the youngster about his latest release
‘A Flying Jatt’, his fans & more

He’s been in the industry for well over two years, his prey, the audience including a huge chunk of kids, who are paradoxically and metaphorically eating hungrily out of his hands.

Tiger Shroff is the complete package: with stardom in his blood (his father Jackie Shroff), an intriguing charisma, a tremendous goodwill generated by his affable nature, and a unique character to his personality that stands out amidst his admiring contemporaries Varun Dhawan and Ranveer Singh. Add to the mix the two solid hits as his first two films, Heropanti and Baaghi, and there is no stopping the man.

But before we discuss his new film, A Flying Jatt, I quickly ask him about his latest assignment, Karan Johar’s Student Of The Year 2 — Tiger has had the rare honour of Karan tweeting about signing him before any other formal announcement.

“That’s my good fortune,” he says with a gentle smile. “I am lucky to be taking the franchise forward, and will try not to let them down.” Knowing Tiger, I know that he will not sign a film blindly, and so I accept his explanations of his having no clue about the subject of the film, or details about the two new girls to be cast as leading ladies, and that the script is “still being worked on”, at face-value! According to the grapevine, the candidates are Jhanvi, Sridevi’s daughter, and Sara, Amrita Singh’s girl.

His other forthcoming film is Munna Michael, being directed by Sabbir Khan, the man who directed the actor’s first two films. “It’s a dance-based film and I play a die-hard fan of Michael Jackson,” Tiger says.

His superpowers

In that sense, Tiger’s A Flying Jatt is way different from his other films. “I can openly say I am quite proud of this film. I play a different kind of superhero, in fact, a reluctant one. He is a Jatt but is scared to use his powers and doesn’t really want to fight. He also suffers from vertigo, so he cannot fly high.”

Tiger explains with a smile, “He is also scared of his mother (played by Amrita Singh) who exploits his superpowers, making him clean his home, do all the chores, and also shop for vegetables in his costume, thinking that no one will take money from him.” Tiger adds that in real life too, he is quite scared of his mom Ayesha.

Does he go shopping in real life too? He nods his head and says, “Yes, I used to, but now it’s not possible,” he says with an abashed smile.

What was his prep for doing the role of a Jatt? And what did he think of the Sikh community protesting against the film? “I followed everything that Remo-sir (director Remo D’Souza) told me — he had done all the prep. We want to make the Sikh community feel good, and it’s only fair that we cleared all their doubts. They only wanted to be reassured that the community was not shown in any wrong light. Remo-sir showed them the film and they are happy about it.” 

A Flying Jatt and Tiger also evoke memories of his father, who was the Indian screen’s first A-grade superhero in Shiva Ka Insaaf, Hindi cinema’s first-ever film in 3D. Animatedly, he replies, “That was one of my favourite films as a child.” He also adds that it remains one of his all-time top superhero films, along with Spider-Man and Krrish.

Tiger is certain that as of now, he will always do such positive characters. “I am lucky to so many kids as fans, and I cannot do roles or films that influence them negatively. Smoking, alcohol and drugs, for example, are out. I have to keep my choice of films clean, and my characters noble.” However, he does intend to experiment with different characters after about half-a-dozen films. “By then, there will have been a slight overdose of such roles, and I can make my loyal audiences wait for a year while I try out something different.”

A well-planned path

The clarity of approach is remarkable for someone who is just two films old. I ask him how he has managed to seamlessly blend two distinct genres — action and song-and-dance roles. “Even before my first film, I was aware that I had no acting experience, and that I would have to be different to be liked. I did not want people to think that I was like my father, or that I had got a break because of him. So, I deliberately took a different route that allowed me to express the talents I did have.”

He goes on, “The things I do well are those not many people can do, so I automatically got an identity. Sabbir-sir kept all my strengths in mind and gave me such roles in Heropanti and Baaghi.”

How was it working with Nathan Jones, who plays the villain in A Flying Jatt? Raving about him, Tiger says, “What a down-to-earth man he is! Having been a wrestler, he was so professional that he knew exactly what to do by way of expression, body language and reactions to show that he was battling a superhero in me — and I am actually like a makkhi (fly) in front of him! When I found out that he was on board, I was actually scared. He has taken the action scenes to another level.”

Tiger has just done his second music video. The first, ‘Zindagi aa raha hoon main’ was inspirational for youngsters, but what was the aim of the second one? “I feel that music videos are a new platform to show talent as well as satisfy fans with what they like to see me do,” he replies. “They are important, as fans can see me between my movies too. I would rather do music videos than shoot for ad films.”

Tiger is also acquiring a reputation of performing several kissing scenes in his films. Is he planning to be the next “serial kisser”, a tag reserved until now for Emraan Hashmi? He laughs and says that someone at Balaji Telefilms (the producers of A Flying Jatt) is doing some over-the-top PR. I also remind him that his father had mock-complained that he too had kissed a lot of his heroines on-screen, but it was never written about it in those days. And Tiger has a hearty laugh.

Finally, what does he have to say about the hyperactive film promotions that happen these days? “They are important, but extremely tiring. I thought that an actor’s job was over after the shoot and dubbing sessions. I really wish I was Rajinikanth-sir, who just announces the release date, launches the trailer and does not need to do anything more!”

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