Jeetendra: I don't want to act again
If there were one actor in India who is truly ageless, it would be Jeetendra.
Dressed in his trademark white clothes and white shoes, the 71-year old star was present at a five-star Mumbai suburban hotel to unveil his hand impression tile, which will be installed at the Walk of the Stars, an initiative by UTV Stars.
Talking about the imitative, Jeetendra said, “I am glad to be honoured. I am happy that UTV stars have taken this initiative of honouring the work of those who have contributed to the film industry. It will mark the remembrance of senior actors in the industry.”
In a brief conversation, the veteran actor tells us why he enjoys the films that are being made today, why he would not like to return to acting and why his children's marriages are not on his mind.
Tell us about your first film Navrang. You were cast as actress Sandhya’s body double in the film.
We were shooting in Bikaner (Rajasthan). Mr V Shantaram (the film’s director) was very particular about timing.
I arrived late for dinner and he got very angry and told the production team to send me back. They told my make-up man not to get me ready for the next day’s shoot.
The next morning, I got up at 5 am and requested my make-up man to get me ready. I went to Mr V Shantaram’s room in tears. He saw me all dressed up and was impressed.
Since then, I left no chance to please him. I would do his chamchagiri and did whatever he asked.
So I even became a body double for Sandhya. (laughs).
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Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar
'When I was working actively, I used to be in the studios for 12 hours'
Most of your contemporaries are still acting. Why aren't you?
I decided almost 20 years ago that I will not visit a studio again.
When I was working actively, I used to be in the studios for 12 hours. I didn’t have any time for my family.
I decided to hang up my boots and spend time with my family.
I never thought my kids would join the same industry and somewhere, I got dragged back.
I did a cameo in one of Ekta’s television series on her request. I don’t think I would want to act again.
What keeps you busy these days?
There are lots of things that keep me busy.
I have Ekta’s production house. Although, I am not involved in day-to-day decisions, I oversee things.
Image: Tusshar Kapoor, Bappi Lahiri, Rakesh Roshan, Jeetendra and Prem Chopra
'This is the best period of Indian cinema'
What do you think of the films being made now?
When I was a kid, (yesteryear actress) Kuku was said to be a great dancer, who did some great moves.
She was praised a lot for the Raj Kapoor song in Barsaat, Patli kamar hai tirchi nazar hai.
When I came into the industry and revisited the song, I realised Kuku did the entire song dancing in the same place. I wondered how you can call that terrific dancing.
When I see myself dancing today, I feel like a Kuku (laughs).
A lot of things have changed. Earlier, the dialogues had meaning. The lyrics had depth and were melodious and they had some meaning.
Today’s lyrics are not the same. There is less emphasis on words and more on rhythm and beats. Sometimes I wonder how actors can do lip sync.
A lot of people in the industry are saying that with so many different and interesting films being made today, the golden era of films is back. Do you agree?
I do follow today’s cinema and enjoy it.
We see different kinds of films being made today and there is an audience for every film. I think this is the best period of Indian cinema.
Films of stars as well non stars are working at the box office. People look out for content driven films.
We had only masala and revenge films which would work. I think it’s a good change.
Image: Jeetendra and Sridevi in Himmatwala
'Ekta and Tusshar don't have time to think about marriage'
How do you view the work of your children, Ekta and Tusshar?
According to fathers, their kids are always good.
As a father, I will only have good things to say about them or else they will not feel good (laughs).
What is your biggest worry as a father?
There are a lot of worries and they will remain till I go to my grave.
What about their marriage?
I can’t do anything about that. Today is not the time for arranged marriages, so my kids will have to find someone for themselves.
They are both so busy and happy with their work that they don’t have time to think about it.
Image: Tusshar, Shobha, Jeetendra and Ekta Kapoor
'Hrithik Roshan is a very good dancer'
You have always been known for your dancing skills. Who do you consider the best dancer today?
I think Hrithik Roshan is a very good dancer.
He has a lot of rhythm in his body and is also very good looking.
Tusshar said in an interview that Himmatwala should have never been remade. What are your thoughts about it?
I have not seen the remake version of the film, but I think Ajay Devgn and Sajid Khan are very competent people.
I am open to the idea of remakes as I think no one can stop anyone from making anything. One should explore all the possible opportunities.
Image: Hrithik Roshan and Jeetendra