Jaideep Ahlawat imprinted his marks on Indian cinema with his portrayal of ‘Shahid Khan’ in Anurag Kashyap’s cult Gangs of Wasseypur. After that, he did not look back and is carving his own way to the glory. Like many aspirant actors, he stepped into the world of Bollywood with short roles in films after graduating from FTII. After working and learning with renowned actors, he has created his own place in the tinsel town. He is no more just a good talent in the industry now. He is the talk of the town again with another gangster film ‘Meeruthiya Gangsters’, which is directed by his good friend ZeishanQuadri.
In this interview, he speaks about his friendship with Zeishan, how happy Anurag Kashyap was after watching the film, his experience while working with Akshay Kumar and Why FTII needs a man with a vision!
Q: Congratulations for your film Meeruthiya Gangsters! How did this role come by your side?
When Zeishan was writing the story of Meeruthiya Gangsters, he used to give me some idea about the story every now and then. He told me that this is a story about some boys, who have got nothing to do and have no idea about where their life is heading. He narrated me some lines too. It sounded cool to me. We know about his writing genre. He loves sketching the edgy character. I got excited after the 5 minutes of narration. I motivated him to write it, as it was a really good story. Every time he wrote a new scene, he narrated it to me. Slowly with time, I started to get inclined towards the story.
I understood the character very well, as I was brought up in a very similar socio-culture environment. So, I thought of asking him to take me in the film too but I never showed him my interest, as it was his first film and I wanted him to have all the freedom while deciding the actors. One day, after completing the first draft of the film, he himself called up and invited me for narration. After listening to the script, he asked me to do Nikhil. So, that was it. I said, “Yes I am doing this.”
Q: Do you think that you and director Zeishan Quadri were selling points of “Meeruthiya Gangsters” because you two have an association with Gangs of Wasseypur?
I think , yes. Both of us are associated with a film which is a cult in Hindi cinema. I believe that Gangs of Wasseypur will be there in the list of all-time classics. So, definitely our association with the GoW would have definitely attracted the audience.
Q: Talks are doing rounds regarding the third installment of the Gangs Of Wasseypur series. Are we expected to see you in that as well?
(smiles) You better ask this question to Zeishan Quadri. But let me tell you that Anurag sir was very happy with Meeruthiya Gangsters and he wanted to come on board and he is so humble that he asked us if he could edit the movie. We were more than happy to get this appreciation from him. We told him that this movie is inspired by you. So, it was him only, who told Zeishan to start working on the third part of Wasseypur. But the story is still at a very initial stage.
I believe the research work has been done and he has started writing it, but it would be too early to say if I will be there in the film or not. One thing is for sure that I will be associated with the film as an actor, or in whatever way possible, but I will be there.
Q: Do you see it becoming as brilliant a movie as the earlier parts?
I am sure about it. I am pretty confident that this would be as good as the last two. Zeishan’s writing has that magic. Zeishan is passionate about making films and I will be there at any point of time he needs me. Why I have belief in him is because I have seen him working. He used to work for 18 hours a day while suffering from high fever.
I know he will give his best and come out with flying colors. And somebody who has made those cult films has put his faith in Zeishan, then it means that he must have seen something in Zeishan. And I have already told him that I will be there for whatever you ask me to do. I can do research, I can even become your assistant director (laughs)
Q: You have recently been praised for you role in Gabbar is Back where you shared the screen space with Akshay Kumar for the second time. Tell us something about working with him!
It was awesome. Akshay Kumar, again, is someone who is passionate about his work. He works very hard. He cares about his work, his fitness and one thing which is really good about him is punctuality. He puts his heart into his films. Also, he is a Punjabi and I am a Jaat, so an automatic association is developed with him (laughs). Also, he is one of the funniest guy, I know in the industry.
Q: Any such moment you would like to share with us?
He does anything and everything to keep the atmosphere very light and peaceful. Despite him being such a big star in the industry, he makes sure everyone is in a light mood. He keeps playing pranks. I remember this one prank he played on the set of Gabbar is back. He was hungry as it was lunch time, but everyone was still working. He did not want to disturb anyone by shouting about it. What he did was very funny and intelligent at the same time. He called the art direction people and told them to write ‘Mala bookh Laagli’ on t-shirts of the spot boys. Now, our director Krissh sir is from the South and is not well-versed in Marathi. He noticed everyone with this line written on their t-shirts. So, he asked someone what does this mean. He was answered that it means “I am hungry”. He smiled and told everybody to take a break. Akshay Kumar has no vanity about him and handles everything very coolly.
Q: And what about Vishwaroopam 2. Let’s talk about that as well. Working with Kamal Haasan again! Excited?
It was awesome. I am very very excited about it. I hope it will release very soon. This part will be more grandeur and exciting. Working with Kamal sir is like working with an Encyclopaedia. Kamal Haasan is a fantastic man. He gives you a lot of space to be yourself. With him on the set, you know you are going to learn great things.
Q: How much chance does ‘Court‘ has at Oscars?
I hope it gets the Oscar. It is a very good film. It has that potential. Even if it doesn’t get the Oscar, I am sure people over there are going to appreciate and praise it. And my best wishes are with Chaitanya Tamhane and team, and I am sure they are going to do well.
Q: Last question, Your comment on the recent controversy related to FTII!
It has been more than 3 months now and there is nothing left to be said. Students have stated about it to the government. Students were on hunger strike, I too went there a month back. These are students who have come to FTII to pursue their dreams. They are asking for few normal things which are very logical. I don’t know how our government is perceiving this. I have no idea about it. But I believe they must look into the matter as soon as possible. I have studied there for two years. FTII is one of the finest institutes, not only in India but in the world. Everybody knows about FTII.
The students coming there have the greatest of potential. So, my urge would be to nurture their talent. And this is the only one in the country. This is one institute working to nurture the filmmaking talent and develop an environment where art could prosper. And the students who are in front of this battle have nothing to lose. They have just 4months or 6 months of course left and they will be out. So, for whom are they fighting? They are fighting for the coming generation. Even me, I have got nothing to do with it. I am out now. But we know that FTII is very close to us and some way we have a part of us left there.
This battle is not about a particular person, it is about a vision. If there is someone with great vision and someone at whom students could look up to and follow him then there will be great results. Students always need inspiration at all stages. But do they have someone like that?
Main Image Courtesy: Timesof India