Jimmy Shergill and Tigmanshu Dhulia go back a long way. It’s an association that started in 2003, when the latter decided to venture into direction with Haasi Since then, Shergill has been an integral part of all of Dhulia’s films (except Paan Singh Tomar) and the actor likes to call Tishu (his pet name for the director) his ‘4 am friend’.
Their next biggie release together, Bullet Raja, with Saif Ali Khan playing the title role, is a buddy film, a testimony to their long standing friendship. “On the face of it, it’s a complete masala entertainer, peppered with enough song and dance. He has attempted something different. Having said that, it will be given the usual Tigmanshu Dhulia treatment with hard-hitting dialogues and superb characterisations,” says the 41-year-old actor. One can sense an evident chemistry between the on-screen brothers, played by Khan and Shergill. He adds, “Bullet Raja is Saif’s film all the way. Though I have worked with him previously in Hum Tum, the interaction was more in this film and we had a blast shooting in Lucknow. It is impossible not to warm up to Saif’s great sense of humour.”
Behind the mask
In principle, Dhulia’s Saheb Biwi aur Gangster (2011) was an epiphany for the actor who till then was struggling to shrug off his do-gooder image on screen. Out of the 35-odd films he’s done, save for his notable debut in Vishal Baradwaj’s Maachis and a brilliant Yahaan (2005), the Punjabi-born actor never really could make it big in Bollywood. He was either side tracked as the hero’s good hearted best friend (Hum Tum, Meri Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai) or the eternal loser (Munnabhai MBBS). With Saheb Biwi aur Gangster, Shergill rediscovered the actor in him while portraying the amoral and wealthy saheb. “That was when I realised that it is not difficult to portray a villain. I was tired of being slotted and this was what I needed. Post Mohabbatein, I consciously tried to break free from a romantic image but finally I could do it only now,” confides the actor.
In 2005, Shergill went back to his roots and did a few films in Punjabi. Ask him about being called the Shah Rukh Khan of Punjabi cinema and he laughs, “Not really. Punjabi cinema has really come a long way and I am happy to have played a part in that. I do a Punjabi film once in a year.” His next Bollywood release is Traffic, a remake of the Malayalam film by the same name, where he plays a Police Commissoner. For now, it’s Bullet Raja in the big picture.
Bullet Raja is scheduled to release on Novemeber 29.