The more than two decades of experience in Bollywood has helped Jimmy Sheirgill devise his own tactics to ward of filmmakers who offer him bad scripts or scripts that are ‘potent’ enough to make him sleep. “Whenever a script fails to excite me, I often use a line that I’ve devised for such situations: Samajh mein nahi aaya (I didn’t get it).”
The actor often keeps a coffee mug handy to keep him awake during such occasions lest the boredom make him snooze. Jimmy also reveals another scheme he employs when he is subjected to narration of below par scripts: Telling the narrator about what could happen next. Thankfully, the script of Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi didn’t give him the chance to resort to any of his tricks when Mudassar Aziz was narrating.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if Jimmy is dubbed as the soul of Happy Bhag Jayegi, the film which offered ample doses of laughter when it released in 2016. The actor is all set to reprise the role of the jilted lover cum failed politician in its sequel, Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi. Though this time, the happenings are rooted in China and not Punjab. Has the actor developed some affinity towards comedy? “It’s always fun doing light-hearted roles and HPBJ was another great experience. But comedy apart, any role that’s sketched out and written well on paper, is always fun to do. If it’s not written well then however hard you may try, you simply can’t do anything to enhance it. Even if the role involves just four or five scenes and is well written, it’s bound to leave an impact,” says Jimmy.
The decision to make a sequel to HBJ was serendipitous for the film’s director Mudassar Aziz. The go-ahead for the initial idea of a sequel, apart from its producer Aanand L Rai, also came from Jimmy. As per the actor, Mudassar, after the release of HBJ, was busy working on another script and would often meet Aanand L Rai for jam sessions.
It was during one of those sessions that Mudassar came up with an idea with China as the premise and told Rai that if the thought were to be sketched further, it had all the potential to become the sequel of HBJ. Later on, the director also met Jimmy to get his views and it was only after Jimmy showed his excitement, more than the producer, project HPBJ was greenlit.
There have been instances in the past when sequels have failed to work as much as the original. When the plan to make a sequel of HBJ was being mooted, were there any voices that said that it should be left at the first film only? “Well, the most difficult thing about sequels is that they are often compared with their previous films. To be honest, there were no such voices but there is always this nervousness. With a sequel, you want to reach out to the same people and yet maintain the same integrity with which you brought the first film alive. The minute you try to tell them that just because your first film was a success, you are giving a bigger canvas to the second film, it starts to depict dishonesty.” Jimmy emphatically mentions that if the producers were really trying to make the sequel big, so to speak, then there would have never been a trailer that’s so heavily based on the antics of Bagga and Afridi.
The mention of dishonesty also reminds one of the box office debacle of Jimmy’s last flick Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3. It was a film that tried to milk the persona of Sanjay Dutt rather than telling more about the world of Saheb and Biwi. “The biggest flaw that transpired with SBG 3 was the fact that in part one and two, there was this world of Saheb and Biwi which could ensnare any outsider. The evil world of the couple was the biggest attraction for audiences and it was hardly there in part three,” admits Jimmy.
Jimmy has often been part of films when his character has fared better than the main protagonist, often played by a bigger star. Most of the reviews for SBG 3 said that he was better than Sanjay Dutt in the film. “I have no interest in overshadowing any star. It’s only the final goal, that a picture should run, counts. I have been hearing such things for years. I am just a normal actor and when the result is reflected in box office figures, then it gives us hope that something new will come along.” Jimmy recalls of a conversation he recently had with Luv Ranjan, director of films like Pyar Ka Punchnama and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety. “He had told me that giving a 100 cr film with established stars is no big deal. The real fun lies in achieving the same figure with newcomers or good actors. Whenever the idea of me getting the better of other actors is mentioned, most of the producers either take a U-turn from my home or pull me out of their film,” he concludes.