Looking forward to your debut film and it is backed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali? Yes that’s quite a dream for many but not with the case of Meezaan who didn’t just have the pressure of living upto Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s expectations but also had the pressure of coming off good being the son of the extremely talented dancer and comedian actor, Javed Jaffery. ‘Malaal’ is a quintessential dream debut for any actor and Meezaan Jaffery is living this dream in the true sense of the term. In an exclusive conversation with CineSpeaks, Meezaan shares his journey from being a ‘body double’ in ‘Padmavaat’ to becoming Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Shiva’ in ‘Malaal’. Read to find out more.
Q) Tell us a bit about your character and the film.
Meezaan – As you know, the film is titled ‘Maalaal’ and my character’s name is Shiva More. He is a lower middle class Marathi boy who is extremely loud and rough and doesn’t have much of compassion. But at the same time, he is extremely loyal to the ones who love him and whom he loves and he appreciates their presence in his life. It is majorly about how this girl called Astha in the film falls for him and appreciates him just the way he naturally is and how she sees things in him which nor he nor even his parents see and Shiva is extremely aware of this feeling from Astha’s end and he values it to the core. He respects Astha and loves her very very much.
Q) You are pretty much the opposite person in reality to what it has been shown in the film. So how difficult or easy was it to adapt?
Meezaan – Well it wasn’t really easy. First of all, he is exactly opposite of me as a character. Shiva doesn’t have a filter whereas I think twice before saying anything (Smiles) Besides, he is a lower middle class Marathi boy. Although I have lived my entire life in Mumbai, I am not ‘Marathi’. I am a ‘Maharashtrian’ but not Marathi. And it’s not just about being a Marathi. I have friends who are Marathi but they are of the higher society. Here is a lower middle class Marathi boy who lives in the chawls. So I needed to get that culture in as well. And that could only happen if I visited chawls and had seen the life there. So I did it. I spent a lot of time in the railway stations and traveling in train thereby observing how the lower working middle class operates and works. Usually people look at the ‘physical’ aspect of it. But the only way I could make people believe that I am Shiva is by getting deep into the character. So it was not really easy but it was something worth cherishing.
Q) You were a body double for Ranveer Singh in ‘Padmaavat’. So do you think that’s your actual screen debut?
Meezaan – I will tell you. That happened really coincidentally. It was actually just that I happened to be there that day because I had gone to wish Sanjay sir happy birthday. And then he told me that due to some important reason, Ranveer sir wasn’t available that day and he asked me if I would come and do the body double work. I instantly said yes as how can I refuse him. I came and did them. They gave me 1 hour to prepare big lines.. And then as I prepared, the continuity AD suddenly came and told me that these are the gestures and you need to remember these. I said that oh God, I am trying hard to remember these lines and now I have to remember the gestures as well. And for somebody who has never faced the camera to kinda do all that in front of 600 odd people, it was difficult. It was like thrown into a fighting arena without being ready for it. But it taught me a lot and I credit Sanjay sir for it entirely as I feel confident enough to do nice things from here on especially because of that difficult experience.
Q) Where do you see yourself some years down the line? Also what about the stardom? Nobody beats the 3 Khans in that segment.
Meezaan – Well, it would be a dream come true if one day I get I that kind of love. But the 3 Khans came at an era when things were pretty different. Personally, I don’t think anyone can have as much of a fan following like the 3 Khans. I mean Ranbir Kapoor, Varun Dhawan and Ranveer Singh, these are my favorites and one day they can get it. I don’t know. I just want to focus on the work I am doing now. If I focus on that, what has to come and follow will come automatically. So focusing on only my present work at the moment.
Q) ‘Malaal’ is actually a remake of the original tamil film 7G Rainbow Colony. How is it different from the tamil version?
Meezaan – Yes it is a remake that way but then to be honest, the script has been rewritten to adapt to today’s time by Mangesh sir and also keeping in mind the Mumbai and the Marathi culture. And when it came to Sanjay sir, he changed it again. So it is almost totally different and I hope the original actor and director feel happy and proud about the way things have gone.
Q) Would you want to work on a biopic?
Meezaan – I would love to. Nowadays people are making biopics of even those who are alive. It is a little weird for me but yes, they are indeed challenging so I would love to.
Q) Do you carry any baggage of being Javed Jaffery’s son?
Meezan – Well, I think more than baggage, it is about responsibility. Obviously that’s there in the back of your mind but for me, I was more nervous of keeping up with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s name and reputation rather than a Javed Jaffery because he was the one who believed in me and gave me the opportunity. And with the kind of actors that he as always worked with in the past, they are all big stars. So it was more of a responsibility rather than a baggage.
BY SUBHOJIT GHOSH.