By Ruchika Kher
Mumbai, Dec 10 (IANS) Once Bollywood's reigning star and now rapidly fading into obscurity, Jackie Shroff says with unusual candour that his weakness has been his inability to say no and remembers with some regret the many emotional decisions that cost him plum offers.
Often known as Bollywood's real slumdog for having risen from the slums to the dizzying heights of stardom, Jackie is now 50 and views himself as different from his contemporaries and friends who have made their career decisions based on money and script.
"I don't have any fixed criteria to choose films like my friends and contemporaries in the industry. They are very clear - they will first see the money, then the script and will then make the decision," Jackie, who was once called the best dressed celebrity in tinsel town, told IANS in an interview.
"Unfortunately, my thinking is not like that. If someone comes to me and says he wants me to do a film for him, I'll do it even without a second thought. I won't think about how much they are offering me. That is my weakness, I can't say no," said the actor who made some disastrous choices like "Boom", "Kisan" and "Ek - The Power Of One".
"Unfortunately, I'm very emotional when it comes to professional decisions. Because of that I don't get time when a big banner or a big producer approaches me as I'm already stuck. I've lost out on many plum projects because of that," he added.
One of the sought after stars of the 1980s, Jackie has acted in more than 150 films. He made his acting debut with a bit role in the 1973 hit "Heera Panna". Dev Anand played main lead in it, while Jackie featured as a villain.
Nine years later, he acted in another Dev Anand starrer "Swami Dada", which couldn't do much to boost his acting career.
A year later, filmmaker Subhash Ghai's hit film "Hero" catapulted Jackie to stardom. Then followed a string of box-office hits like "Karma", "Ram Lakhan", "Parinda", "Khalnayak", "1942: A Love Story", "Rangeela", "Agni Sakshi" and "Devdas" among others.
But the hero roles and the powerful cameos slowly dried up. Jackie, who grew up in Mumbai's Teen Batti slum according to industry folklore and was known as Jaggu Dada, began doing character roles in a series of mediocre films, most of which bombed.
But he hasn't given up. At the moment, the actor is excited about his upcoming venture "Bhoot And Friends", a children's film slated for a Christmas release. The action adventure film has been directed by Kittu Saluja.
"I'm playing a Rajput warrior who dies protecting his king's treasure. After his death he becomes a ghost and with the help of four children, he takes the treasure to its rightful owner."
He says he doesn't believe in method acting.
"I don't believe in all this preparation thing. When I played a terrorist in 'Mission Kashmir', I didn't go to any terrorist camp. I feel all those people who say that they go out of their way to prepare for a role are faking.
"If you have a good storywriter, a good director and a good team, then you will never face any problems. Anyone can act, even a rock."
Apart from "Bhoot And Friends", Jackie is also busy with other ventures, including regional movies.
"I'm working on a film called 'Interview', where I'm playing a war correspondent who is forced to interview an actress. The whole film is about these two people. It's also directed by Kittu Saluja and we are looking at a March-April release," he said.
His regional projects are a Marathi comedy, Tamil movie "Aranya Kandam" and an untitled Telugu film where he is playing a villain.
(Ruchika Kher can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)