When director Tigmanshu Dhulia decided to cast Jimmy Sheirgill as his ‘Saheb’ in ‘Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster’, people were sceptical to the point of disbelief as to how an actor like Jimmy – who has mostly been seen in softer roles – would be able to step into the shoes of this man. After all, the Saheb in Dhulia’s film was one whose day began with a gunshot and ended with another. But when the film was out there, in front of the audience, Sheirgill proved – yet again – what potential he comes loaded with. As the sequel to ‘Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster’ is almost at the end of its gestation period, Ananya Bhattacharya of Zeenews.com, in a candid conversation with Jimmy Sheirgill, tries to gauge the fathomless depth of Sheirgill the actor. Snippets from the conversation:
A decrepit kingdom and a king who is not ready to let go of his royalty. How easy/difficult is it to strut around as Saheb?
The second part, ‘Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster Returns’ was tougher for me to play as an actor. When Tigmanshu had narrated the first part to me, I’d found it very exciting. Working with Tigmanshu made half the work easier. In the second part, Saheb is confined to a wheelchair and Biwi (the character played by Mahi Gill) has taken total control over the situation. Tigmanshu has used this man on a wheelchair to portray Saheb’s frustrations, how at times he gives up – it was a tough job doing all of that from within a wheelchair! The first one itself was pretty difficult for me – the sensual sequences, for example. I wasn’t very comfortable with the sex scenes there. In this one, Saheb’s physicality is a totally different one. And all of it was pretty tough.
Given the type of films that are consistently being accepted by the audience now – the rustic, back-to-the-hinterland ones – do you think Tigmanshu Dhulia is a director who does justice to the genre?
The first time I’d met Tigmanshu, we’d clicked. When I was doing ‘Mohabbatein’, Tigmanshu had narrated the script of ‘Haasil’ to me and I did it totally based on my instinct. I did ‘Haasil’ for no money but that film was about a different experience altogether. Working with Tigmanshu and Irrfan again is like homecoming for me. I enjoy working with him; he is the only man who stood by me and told everyone that I could play Saheb. That man deserves a lot of credit for believing in an actor. He’s the only director with whom I feel as edgy and nervous as I did when I was doing my first film.
You’ve worked with Randeep Hooda in the first film and you’re working with Irrfan now. Who would you say you were more comfortable with?
Randeep and Irrfan – I’m totally comfortable with everybody and we’ve had a great time working together. With Irrfan, I’ve worked earlier in ‘Haasil’ and he’s an actor who can do any kind of role. For me, there’s no bigger actor than Irrfan – he’s a complete actor. We’ve had a lot of fun and excitement working with each other. In the first one too, with Randeep, it was a lot of laughter and a great time overall.
How would you rate Mahi Gill as an actress and as a co-star?
Mahi is a brilliant actress. I’d seen her before and always felt that she had much more to deliver. Then I saw her perform in ‘Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster’; saw her finding her ground. The ease with which she can carry off such a powerful character on her shoulders is fabulous. I and Randeep always shared a laugh saying ‘She’s our Tabu!’. Mahi is a very down-to-earth, sweet person. She’s one of the nicest persons to work with.
How was the experience of working in a sequel?
‘Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster’ had thrown a seed for the second one. The basic story was always there in Tigmanshu’s mind. ‘Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster Returns’ is something that we were already expecting by the time the first one released.
What expectations do you have from ‘Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster Returns’?
I expect a lot from this one; the film has all the ingredients necessary to make it a brilliant film. The first film had been made so interestingly that because of it the second one has a different charm. It is very important to be able to convince the audience to come in and watch the film and ‘Saheb, Biwi aur Gangster Returns’ might be able to do that. It has been made very intelligently and is very powerful in terms of its dialogues. Also, it doesn’t really make a difference whether you’ve watched the first film or not. But the story is on a much bigger scale, it has a lot of twists and turns, a lot of drama in it and along with all of that, an utterly shocking climax!