'Being a chocolate lover boy, I wouldn't last long. So I decided to get rid of the tag as soon as possible.'
'That's why I started doing films like Haasil and Munnabhai MBBS.'
With films like Yahaan, A Wednesday and Tanu Weds Manu, I was trying to break an image.'
Photograph: Kind courtesy Jimmy Sheirgill/Instagram
Jimmy Sheirgill is one under-rated actor.
In his career, Jimmy has played it all -- lover boy and terrorist, rake and invalid.
"I am always looking for a film that I have not attempted before," Jimmy tells Rediff.com's Patcy N.
What made you join films?
I was born in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, but I am from Patiala, Punjab.
I had never decided to be an actor.
After my graduation, my father wanted me to pursue an MBA degree, but it was destiny that brought me to Mumbai.
I had nobody here, and yet, I came...
I joined Roshan Taneja's acting classes. After watching people perform, I wanted to go back to my MBA!
But Roshan Tanejasaab told me not to get disheartened.
He said his students were good because they had been acting for the past two years, while I was just starting off.
Those kind words stopped me from going back.
I worked hard and got a role in Maachis.
Tell us about Maachis.
It was a year-and-a-half into my acting classes. One day, there was a discussion that Gulzarsaab was starting a film.
I asked his team if I could join them, not for a role, but just because I wanted to meet or assist Gulzarsaab.
I met him, and he asked me why I wanted to assist him, when I was taking acting classes.
I asked him who would give me a role?
So he asked me to read the script, which was with his assistant, and to meet him after two days.
When I met him again, he asked me how I liked it.
I told him I became really emotional when I read it because I had seen all that in front of my eyes.
I ended up getting that role in Maachis.
IMAGE: Jimmy with Preeti Jhangiani in Mohabbatein.
After Maachis, we saw you in Mohabbatein. It was such a big film. Why didn't you cash in on it?
After Mohabbatein, there was a phase for one-and-a-half or two years when I was working day and night.
I got a lot of offers from Yash Raj Films and Tips Industries. There was also (Mahesh) Bhattsaab's film with Ameesha Patel, Yeh Zindagi Ka Safar.
There was a lot of stuff happening and I had to live up to all the commitments.
I was really new to the industry, but I was working day and night.
In fact, I was a guest at my wedding (in 2001), that's how hectic it was!
After doing so much, the only thing that would come out about me was the lover boy and the chocolate boy image.
I realised that if this would be my image, I would not last long. So I decided to get rid of the tag as soon as possible.
That's why I started doing films like Haasil and Munnabhai MBBS, which required a certain amount of intensity.
With films like Yahaan, A Wednesday and Tanu Weds Manu, I was trying to break an image.
At that time, I would wonder if I had made the right decision.
Today, I am glad I chose that path because I have my own identity now.
IMAGE: Jimmy in Munnabhai MBBS.
Directors repeat you in their films, be it Tigmanshu Dhulia, Raj Kumar Hirani or Aanand L Rai.
I am happy that most of these film-makers made their first films with me... Tigmanshu, Shoojit Sircar, Aanand Rai, Rahul Dholakia, Neeraj Pandey, Raju Hirani... all the top names.
Having known them for such a long time, they have become friends. They are almost like family.
If they have a script with a role that will suit me, they approach me. But there is no pressure from either of us. I never ask why am I not in your film.
In 2005, you started working in Punjabi cinema. Now, you have moved into production.
I started doing Punjabi films with Manji (Manmohan Singh) film. He was the cinematographer for Maachis and Mohabbatein.
I met Manji at a function and he asked if I would be interested in doing Punjabi films. I told him I was in; I didn't even listen to the script.
Still, he insisted in narrating the script of Yaaran Naal Baharan.
After the film released, the kind of response we got... that is when it struck me that this is a huge industry. So I decided to do a Punjabi film every year.
I would shoot for a Punjabi film and then take three months off to travel the world.
Our biggest blockbuster was Mel Karade Rabba.
IMAGE: Jimmy will be seen next in the Punjabi film, Daana Paani.
Did the shift to Punjabi films happen because you were getting smaller parts in Hindi films?
I don't think so.
Earlier, people felt that I had moved base from Mumbai to Punjab, but not anymore. They also thought I was producing 10 Punjabi films a year, and making money. But that's not the case.
I am very much here, working on Hindi films. I do only one Punjabi film a year.
Yes, I did produce some Punjabi films like Taur Mittran Di, Saadi Love Story and Rangeelay, along with Eros International. They did really well. Dharti also did record-breaking business.
But I realised production needs full time attention. You cannot be shooting in Lucknow for Bullet Raja while producing a Punjab film.
Unless you are on the sets overseeing everything, it is not the right way to do things.
Unless I have the time to oversee everything personally, I will not produce my next film.
My film Daana Paani will release on May 4.
My last Punjabi film Jindua released last March. I was supposed to shoot my next film after that, but it got postponed.
class="rbig">Which genre excites you most?
I do too many intense things, so when I do a light-hearted film like Happy Bhaag Jayegi or Veerey Ki Wedding, I enjoy it because after a take, I can sit down and check my missed calls.
When I am working on stuff like Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster or Mukkabaaz, there is a certain continuous thought process in your mind, like how you will do the next scene.
Even though you have ace directors who are in control of the situation, as an actor, you still tend to think.
IMAGE: Director Aanand L Rai shoots Jimmy with the Mukkabaaz team: Co-stars Ravi Kishan and Vineet Kumar Singh and Director Anurag Kashyap. Photograph: Kind courtesy Jimmy Sheirgill/Instagram
What do you look for in a script?
Various things... a great script, a great character, or if the team is good... or it could be for a friend or a promise I made years ago.
I am always looking for a film that I have not attempted before. Like Mukkabaaz.
You have been associated with wedding films like the Tanu Weds Manu movies, Happy Bhaag Jayegi, Veerey Ki Wedding.
Ayushmann (Khurrana) se toh kum kar raha hoon, Ayushmann ki toh har film shaadi waali hoti hai (I'm doing fewer wedding films than Ayushmann). (Laughs.)
Photograph: Kind courtesy Jimmy Sheirgill/Instagram
But you never get the girl.
I got the girl in Veerey Ki Wedding, so that joke should stop with Happy Bhaag Jayegi.
Have you been dumped by a girl in real life?
I have been dumped quite a few times, but that was a long time ago.