'Some people thought my father Jagdeep's comedy was loud'
Veteran actor Jagdeep turns 75 today, March 29. His son Naved Jaffrey looks back at his father's illustrious career.
We would go to the premiere of my father's films.
People would come to talk to him and pose with him for photographs and take his autograph. They would follow him.
We have seen dad at the peak of his career.
People, who are in the limelight, often have attitude problems. We don’t have an attitude problem because our father trained us. He taught us to be down-to-earth.
Every weekend, we would watch a film with our father. People would gather around him.
In those days, photographs were not as popular as autographs. People would flock around him at restaurants where he was eating.
I have gone for shoots with dad to Kashmir and Bangalore. During the lunch break, we would sit with stars like Dharamji (Dharmendra), Mithunsaab (Mithun Chakraborty), Shatrusaab (Shatrughan Sinha) and have lunch together.
Stars did not have hang ups in those day. Everyone would sit together and eat and chill out.
My brother and I went to Kashmir for the shooting of Suraksha and Wardaat (both starring Mithun Chakraborty).
I remember going on the sets of Bhai Ho Toh Aisa in Bangalore. Jeetendra and Shatrughan Sinha were starring in that. I went for the shoot of Partigyaa, starring Dharamji.
My father has done more than a 1,000 movies. I love all his movies. My favourites are Sholay, Bhai Ho Toh Aisa, Pratigyaa and Ustaadi Ustaad Se, Nagin.
I love my dad’s comic timing. He is very good at comedy. I don’t think we have any actor who is as good as him then or now.
Some people thought my father’s comedy was very loud; he makes lots of faces...
But my dad would say ‘Beta yeh Hindustan hain, aur Hindustan main kitni bhasha hain, aur itne logon ko samjhana aap kya keh rahe hain, South main log Hindi nahi samjhte wo hamare expression dekh ke haste hain’ (Son, this is India and there are many languages here. It is difficult to make every person understand what you are saying. In the South, they don’t understand Hindi; they look at my expressions and laugh).
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Photographs: Abhijit Mhamunkar
'It is difficult to eliminate kids in Boogie Woogie'
On judging Boogie Woogie, which sees its grand finale on March 30:
We are the oldest dance show on television.
Boogie Woogie started in 1996. Then we took a year off and started again.
We took another break because there was no proper time slot.
When we pitched the idea of a dance show in the beginning, most channels were not open to the idea.
Sony Entertainment Television was just launching, so we approached them. They were very happy to take our show.
We had auditions then too, like we have now, but now we can announce the auditions on air and people come for them. Back then, it was just word of mouth.
We would call friends and dance classes in Mumbai and Delhi and ask them to find dancers for the show. They would send us the recorded tape and we would shortlist people from that.
After two years, things got streamlined. We started calling people for auditions by announcing it on television, and holding auditions in different cities.
Now it’s a different ball game.
We have just one criterion: if a child is performing, his/her performance should be like a child’s. If the gestures and steps look vulgar, or the costume looks cheap and skimpy, we talk to the child and the parents. We want children to look like children.
Ravi (Behl), a school friend, my brother (Jaaved Jafferi) and I started the show together. I have directed and produced the show for the past 17 years. We are in the seventh season now.
Now I have other directors helping out because I’m tired. I edit the show myself. In the initial days, I would write the script and host it too. The concept was mine, but now after so many years I have help.
The three of us were dancers. We danced at college shows and inter-college programmes. I have performed in an all-India dance championship also.
When the new satellite channels came in, there was only one music show, Antakshari. That’s when I thought that since we three are dancers, we should make a dance show.
The name of the show was given by me because I liked the songs of the 1970s Boogie Woogie dancing shoes by Claudja Barry.
I was told that no one will understand what Boogie Woogie is. I thought it’s a very easy name to remember plus if you like the show, you will remember the name.
When we were in college, one would boo other colleges that performed badly. ‘Boo’ was a very negative word. We made it positive by making it our signature line.
I never wanted to be an actor or choreographer, I was happy being producer-director and choreographer of Boogie Woogie.
This year’s strongest contestants are Mohammed Mumtaz, Sachin Sharma and Abhishek Sinha.
It is difficult to eliminate kids. They become very sad, but what can you do? You have to eliminate.
We are not harsh with the contestants. We never insult them on the show. We respect everybody.
If a kid is injured, he or she can rest for the next episode; we don’t make them dance with the injury. We directly take him to the next week’s show.
There are lots of things that we do on the show that is different from other shows.
Image: Boogie Woogie judges Naved Jaffery, Jaaved Jafferi and Ravi Behl
Photographs: Abhijit Mhamunkar