Not everyone is born with a silver spoon. Some get baked under the sun, rub their toes and step by step try to get where the silver spoon is gettable. By the time they reach there, they realize that their complete body is shining like gold. A silver spoon does not go with their persona now. They have become more than a silver.
Jitendra Kumar is no different. Our very own ‘Munna Jazbaati’, ‘The funny Kejriwal’ (However, these days even the parody is a failure against the original in terms of making comedy), and the most popular ‘Jeetu’ from Pitchers.
Not denying the fact that Jitendra has not reached the best period of his life. But even this period is no less than gold. When you know how tough it has been for him to reach here, you feel he deserves all of this fame and recognition. When you realize how bulky a talent he is, you feel he deserves a lot more than this. Hopefully, he will go on and take that one day.
Meanwhile, we are here and we have Jitendra with us. Let’s start discovering him.
Q: There are many questions. Many of us don’t know where you come from. Your background. Just take us through your journey.
A: I come from Khairthal. It is a small town near Alwar in Rajasthan. I did my studies mostly from there but because my father is a civil engineer in PWD, we had to travel a lot as he got transferred from one place in Rajasthan to the other. In this way, I did my schooling in different cities in Rajasthan. But mostly in Khairthal.
Q: You always wanted to be an actor or was there some other plan?
A: There was no initial interest in acting. I liked watching films but there was no such inclination towards cinema. I had actually opted to study civil engineering. I went to IIT Kharagpur and there I took part in the drama, theater and all. Even then, there was no such intention that I will become an actor one day. I used to love acting in different plays that we used to do there. I was only exploring that there are such art forms available where an actor can express himself.
I met Biswapati Sarkar in Kharagpur only. He was one year senior to me in college. He said let us do something together. We then did many plays together, made a short film as well. Arunabh visited Kharagpur during this time. He met us and talked. Bisso (Biswapati) then started his internship with him. Bisso used to do an internship in Mumbai whenever he had time on his hand. When he used to come to college, he used to tell us about it
Q: Which time period was this?
A: This was 2010-11. Youtube was not much of a fascination then. Arunabh then initiated the idea of making something quirky on Youtube. Bisso wrote Rowdies from college. The show was made and then it got an amazing response. It had got viral on the internet. Rowdies was the first hit. More spoofs and parodies followed.
After college, Bisso asked me to join him at TVF. Lack of job made the decision easier. Also, he convinced me that I will be getting a house to live and food to eat. So, I joined it.
The new videos, of which I was also a part, were not doing well. Some of Arunabh’s friend who were from filmy backgrounds used to comment, “What kind of show is this?” I used to listen them speak all this, standing behind. I used to think my acting is not being liked. It was more of a reality check for me only. I was not sure about my acting.
To be honest, I had come to Mumbai just because I did not have any job in hand and Bisso forced me to come with him. Also, I wanted to give acting a try for once.
Q: Okay, what after that?
A: We shot ‘Munna Jazbaati’. This was also not liked by many so they decided not to upload it on Youtube. I was a bit sad after knowing this. The family back home also started exerting pressure.
By then I had decided that I will go back to the searching job for myself. A friend in Bangalore asked me whether I was looking for one and I, instantly, said yes to him. I left for Bangalore after my 4 months stay in Mumbai.
I had left TVF in September 2012 and they uploaded Munna Jazbaati in November. It became an instant hit on the internet. I was in Hyderabad at that time when Bisso called me and told that Munna Jazbaati was doing very well. Everyone was asking for me. I was also not liking the job. I, again, left the job and called my father to say him that I was leaving the job. He thought I was quitting it to get another. When I went back home, he asked me about my future plans. I told him I am planning to study further and there is a school called National School of Drama in Delhi where they teach dramatics. He was always cool with the idea of studying. I filled my form at NSD and reached till second round but got rejected. Papa was very happy that I failed as he wanted me to do a proper job and get settled. When he came to know that I was again going to Mumbai, he got upset. He was worried about me. He could not see any logic to me going to Mumbai again after having failed massively earlier. My whole family came to convince me not to go to Mumbai. My uncles, maternal uncles, everyone.
One day, a news article came in the newspaper about one of the videos I had acted in. I showed it to my mother and she showed it to my father. There was a photo of mine in the newspaper. This gave me a reason to convince them. A few days later they allowed me to go. They asked me how much time would I need to become a settled actor? I told them I cannot tell you that, you either send me or don’t send me. They wanted to know how much money I would be needing so that they are also mentally prepared for it. But I had made a decision that I won’t be taking a penny from them and teach to get my daily expenses going in Mumbai.
Q: And you came to Mumbai with the surety of becoming an actor?
A: Yes. In June 2013. I joined a coaching center in Mumbai and taught Physics. That took care of my expenses. The remaining time I worked at TVF.
Q: When did the big role happen?
A: We did many videos. And then came up with the idea of doing something with Arnab Goswami. We were doing random research and in the process, I saw Arnab’s interview with Arvind Kejriwal. I really liked it. I discussed the idea with Bisso. He liked the whole concept of Arnab against Kejriwal. He liked it so much that he wrote the whole script in just three days. I watched more videos of Kejriwal because the script was fantastic but it was really important to speak like Kejriwal. The way he speaks, the way he behaves. I came very close. But I don’t know how it happened so beautifully.
Q: It was unreal to believe that was not Kejriwal!
A: I know but I don’t know how I did that. I had done all the hard work but even then I had not expected to deliver it so well. Some magic had happened that day. It was just the moment.
Q: How did Pitchers happen?
A: It was Arunabh’s idea only. He and Amit Golani (Director) were doing research in Bangalore. They met a lot of people who had come up with a start-up or were coming up. It was during this time that Biswapati Sarkar and Sameer Saxena were working in Permanent Roommates. During its making, we were really happy with what we were doing. This was something fresh, new and innovative. It was made quietly. PR made ground for Pitchers. People received it really well.
A: My character was very clear to everyone since its formation. This was one character which is very close to us. All of us have faced such situations in our lives. We have convinced our fathers, left jobs. So, this character was very crystal clear in our minds.
Q: Did you think that Pitchers will become so big?
A: When the first episode of Permanent Roommates came out, we were really happy after watching it. We did not know whether it was going to work or not but we were sure of the content we were producing. When that worked, it gave us confidence with Pitchers because this was on a larger scale and plus it was different.
Q: Which one is your favorite character among all the characters done by you till now?
A: Many of these characters have been really important for me. Munna Jazbaati was the reason why I came back to Mumbai. People started investing confidence and faith in me that I could pull off any role after I did Kejriwal. Whatever work that I was getting, I was loving it. During Pitchers, I was unsure and had my own insecurities as an actor. Most of the times, I wasn’t aware that how it’s going and how it will come out on screen. It was only after the release of the episodes and the appreciation that followed made me feel happy about my work.
Interview By: Shubham Pandey