#LivingLegendsOfCinema: Jackie Shroff Has A Career Spanning Decades

Jan 4, 2022, 10:47 IST

jackie shroff

He’s the quintessential ‘Bhidu.’ Our very own Jaggu Dada. We know him as Jackie Shroff, but he was born Jai Kishan Kakubhai Shroff in Latur, Maharashtra.

Who can forget Subhash Ghai’s 1983 blockbuster Hero, with Shroff making his entry with his back to the screen? When he faced us, his lean frame and fiery eyes flashed both strength and vulnerability. While he debuted in Swami Dada (1982), Shroff turned superstar overnight with Hero. But, even as producers lined up for him, Shroff continued living in his chawl in Mumbai’s Teen Batti. It’s that rare humility and down-to-earth attitude that continues to show in his laid-back vibe to date. In between shots for the Healthntrends cover, Shroff tells us how fame to him still feels like, “wind and water.” He adds, “You know, when you’re surfing, sometimes you’re high, sometimes low. Just never give up when you hit the lows, and never take the highs for granted.”

jackie shroff

In a career spanning almost four decades, Shroff has worked in over 250 films in 13 languages. His first Filmfare Award for Best Actor came for his role in Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Parinda (1988), a critically-acclaimed movie that won two National Film Awards and five Filmfare Awards, and was India’s official entry as Best Foreign Language Film at the 1990 Academy Awards. The same year, Shroff also shone on the silver screen in the epic Ram Lakhan, a movie that was considered a major critical and commercial success, and is a bonafide cult classic even today. Shroff went on to slay with his acting prowess in super-duper hits such as Khal Nayak (1992), Agni Sakshi (1996) and Gardish (1993). He won the the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor in the 1994 patriotic romance 1942: A Love Story, and the 1995 critically-acclaimed major box office success, Rangeela.

His movies, outfits, songs and attitude are iconic in their own right but, when I ask what being iconic means to him, he says, “I swear on my mother’s life, I have no idea. I mean, you’re calling me an icon when there are icons and living legends all around. Thank you for calling me that. But I have no idea and I think it’s best not to know what you are.” Could this humility be what distinguishes him from his contemporaries? Besides his box-office success, through the decades and across his rolodex, Shroff has also imprinted himself on the national consciousness as a beloved star – one for the people. Stating how his fans still share their excitement and love for the actor after all these years, he says, “Wherever I go, they keep requesting me to call them, ‘Bhidu’. Bhidu means buddy, bandhu, dost, mitra. They say, “Baba, Bhidu bolo na ek baar!”

jackie shroff

Shroff’s success also lies in the fact that he’s never shied away from taking on roles his contemporaries turned down. Take, for example, the role of Chunnilal in the 2002 Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Devdas or that of a gangster suffering erectile dysfunction in the 2010 Tamil language movie, Aaranya Kaandam. While many of his stature would rest on their laurels, or rely on heavy PR activities, he has silently been doing what he loves doing best – expanding his breadth of work across genres and languages, exploring all forms of storytelling, whether feature films, short films, or web series. Given the star’s long-standing career in various verticals of the entertainment industry, we wonder if he would do it all over again in the era gone by or be born to become an actor in this decade. Putting an end to our curious thoughts, he says, “Wherever I am today is great. One should be thankful to God for getting them to where they are and stop wondering if what they have is good enough, or if something else would have been better. Whatever you have is great. At least, that’s what I feel.”

Before he gives his final shot, looking intensely towards the camera through his coloured glasses, we quiz the actor on the one thing he’d want people to remember him for, considering the all-encompassing career he’s had. “Nothing,” he says with a smile. “Just as somebody who came, maybe spread a little happiness, a little unhappiness, and left. I just want to be known as someone who respected trees, plants and the environment, who was concerned about the health of children and little puppies and kittens on the road. I need to keep my name on these shelters so that the coming generations see it and at least plant a tree on their birthday or protect a little puppy on the road, feed the puppy, you know? Those are the things I should be remembered by.” He smiles again and strolls across to chat with the crew about the restaurant across the street that makes the most delicious puri bhaji. This, then, is Jackie Shroff.
By Priyanka Parmar & Kalwyna Rathod

Photographs: Charudutt Chitrak, Videography: Vaibhav Nadgaonkar, Photography assistant :Jacob Dileep; Makeup: Anjali Verma; Hair: Basant Jha; Styling: Krishna Mukhi
Trench coat and scarf, Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla

Trench coat and scarf, Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla; bracelet, outhouse; boots, jimmy choo; jeans and anklet, his own

Trousers, blazer and shirt, Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla; accossories and boots, his own