'I never took advantage of being Jackie Shroff's son'
'My parents changed my name to Tiger because when I was a kid, I would bite people.'
Tiger Shroff gets endearingly candid.
There’s yet another star kid on the block but this one is so, so different. He is shy and down-to-earth. No tantrums, no attitude.
He is Jackie Shroff’s son, Tiger.
Tiger comes out to greet me, calls me ma’am and sees me off after the interview.
He is very clear in his mind about what he wants. At the same time, he’s extremely shy.
Not bindas like his father at all.
With his first film, Heropanti due to release, Tiger Shroff speaks to Patcy N about how a sportsman got attracted to the film world.
You did not want to act...
Yes, that’s true. I never wanted to act.
I was more into sports, especially martial arts and gymnastics. I was interested in football and dance.
I was never interested in studies. That’s sad, but true.
After I completed the 12th standard, I started getting film offers.
Heropanti was one among many offers I received.
I got a chance to show off all my talents in Heropanti. In this film, I have done action and dance.
Heropanti is a love story. It’s a full package film.
Please click Next to see more.
Image: Tiger Shroff in Heropanti
'I don't have any qualification or degree so I would have not done anything but acting'
At the age of four, you started martial arts training...
Yes. The first time I saw a Bruce Lee film, I was just three. I was fascinated by him. I knew that I wanted to do the same thing.
So I started practising. I went for classes, started practising by watching videos and Bruce Lee’s films. I would pause and rewind and watch how he does his stunts.
About six years ago, I started practising gymnastics too. I use gymnastics in my dance and fights. It is a nice way of expressing your body.
After training in gymnastics and martial arts, what were you going to do? What career did you have in mind?
Main bhatakte rehta, sach main (I would be wandering, really)
I don’t have any qualification or degree so I would have not done anything.
So you already knew you wanted to act?
All my friends and my parents’ friends teased me since I was a child and asked ‘when is your launch?’
When people say something so often, you start believing in it and that becomes the truth for you.
Image: Tiger Shroff in Heropanti
'I did not want to be compared to my father'
Did you consult your father about the scripts you were getting?
No, not at all. My family doesn’t interfere in my career.
My guide in my career is Sajid sir (Sajid Nadiadwala, the producer of Heropanti). My director, Sabbir saab (Sabbir Khan), is my guruji. Whatever advice I want I take from him.
So I decided what script I want to work in. My father is not going to act in the film, right?
Is it true that Subhash Ghai was remaking your father’s iconic film Hero, with you?
Yes. Subhashji told me that the day I was born, he had given my father a signing amount and had signed me for Hero.
But that did not materialise. We did speak about it once. I did not want to be compared to my father. I want to make my own identity.
I am very different from my father as a person and I want that to come across on screen.
Image: Tiger Shroff
'I look better now'
Once you signed the film, what training did you do for the character?
I did six months of training after signing the film. I did workshops, and photo shoots to get the look right.
I used to wear long hair so there was an important grooming phase.
I changed my exercise routine and diet; I changed my physique. I look better now.
When I see my old pictures with long hair I feel yaar, main janwar tha (I looked like an animal). People would get scared looking at me.
I did a few days’ workshop with Kriti (Sanon, his Heropanti co-star). The writer of our film, Sanjeev Dutta, would take my acting classes. He himself is a good actor and teacher. I also did a month’s course at an institute called Creating Characters.
Image: Tiger Shroff in Heropanti
'I never behaved like a star child'
You have said in interviews that your father is your hero…
Of course he is. Every son’s first hero is his father.
I look up to my father because he is down-to-earth. He has not forgotten his background, where he has come from and what he is today has not changed him.
He connects with his audience. No matter how big a star he is, he is still the same person he was when staying in Teen Batti chawl in Walkeshwar.
He is ekdum bindaass and that’s what I like about him.
When you were growing up, your father was hardly there...
Yes, I missed my father always. When I was young he was very busy because of his shooting.
He would travel a lot, but he did make some time for me. He would try to see that most of his film shooting happened in Mumbai.
Because I am his son I would get special treatment sometimes. But I was a very normal child; I never behaved like a star child.
My parents kept me very grounded. They taught us to treat others equally. I never took advantage about being Jackie Shroff’s son.
I was busy with my sports activity and busy with my friends.
My father is a very generous person; he does so much charity work.
If we are going out for Sunday lunch and our car stops at a signal and people gather around my father’s car, my father will come out give autographs, click photographs with his fans. He will give money to poor people.
I have heard your father is very short-tempered?
Oh yes. My father got his name Jaggu Dada because he used to do dadagiri in his younger days.
But I think that was because of his upbringing. His lifestyle, all those things were reasons why he is short tempered.
What is your mother Ayesha like?
My mom is just like me. She is very sensitive and shy.
Image: Jackie Shroff with Tiger on the sets of Comedy Nights With Kapil
'For actors, rule number one is that they have to be shameless. But I was very shy'
If you are so shy, how did you manage to act in front of the camera?
Initially, it was difficult. For actors, rule number one is that they have to be shameless. But I was very shy.
Thanks to Sajid sir and Sabbir saab, they trained me, they gave me a lot of practice so that I opened up in front of the camera. I want to prove myself as an actor more than a dancer or an action hero.
Tell us about your character in the film.
I play a character called Babloo Sharma. He is a simple man. He is always happy; he loves life and lives it to the fullest.
He is a city bred youth. I have stunts and dances in this film. I got to showcase all my talents.
Image: Tiger Shroff
'After my film releases, those guys who hate me will be my big fans'
After Alok Nath, there were lots of jokes floating on social networking sites on you. Did that offend you?
No, not at all. What is our job? We are entertainers. We have to give our audience a good time.
If my name serves that purpose, if that brings a smile on your face, then I think it is good and my job has been done.
Did it upset your parents?
My mother is very emotional and over-protective. My father is bindas. He has been in this field and he knows about all these things.
Shah Rukh sir, Salman sir all these guys also get hate mail and some negativity. So if I get it, who am I? I am no one.
The fact that they are making fun of me says that I have already got their attention.
I never look at things negatively. After my film releases, those guys who hate me will be my big fans.
Image: Kriti Sanon and Tiger Shroff in Heropanti
'My parents changed my name to Tiger because when I was a kid, I would bite people'
Your real name is Jai Hemant Shroff.
Yes. My parents changed it to Tiger because when I was a kid, I would bite people.
I am happy with my name. It is such an attraction and it makes people laugh.
I read that you trained Aamir Khan during Dhoom 3?
No, I don’t know how that got published. But I have not trained him at all.
The truth is that he is very close to my father. Aamir had heard from my father that I am also into gymnastics, so he invited me to his house to work out with him when he was training for Dhoom 3.
A foreign trainer was training him and I got to work out with him.
What was the most difficult stunt in the film?
The stunt in which I had to jump from a 20-storey building was difficult. It was mentally challenging.
I was physically prepared to do it, but just when I had to take the leap, that drop seemed difficult. But once the director says ‘Action!’ I am totally engrossed in the scene.
Your most memorable moment...
The most memorable moment was when I had to sing and dance to Whistle Baza.
The whistle sound is my father’s tune from his film Hero.
Every time I had to play the flute, I would visualise my father playing the flute and give my shot.
Have you signed any other film?
I have been getting offers but I haven’t signed anything yet. I have a two-film contract with the Nadiadwala group.
Image: Aamir Khan and Tiger Shroff
Photographs: Abhijit Mhamunkar