It is rare to find a star who's net savvy, and rarer still to find one who's polite. Jackie Shroff is both.
He responds to email, writes back to check whether you've got answers to your questions, and even tells you to keep in touch.
But, to start at the beginning, why did Jackie Shroff go online in the first place? For purely practical purposes, he says. What with constant outdoor shootings, he turned to the Internet in order to see his family through web cams that his director, Shashilal Nair, had got him. Today, the actor who was amongst the first to have his own site is well and truly addicted. "It's even better than spirits or drugs!"
Like all addicts, he carries the Net with him wherever he goes. "I get online anywhere, at home, in the car, at a shoot…my laptop follows me and I connect using my Nokia phone card." And, like the many roles he experiments with, Jackie lets his mouse follow his fancy. "Cars, clothes, music, space, news papers, web casts…. And yes, I am hooked to the news, which I check very often."
No matter how busy his schedule, Jackie manages to squeeze in time for his surfing. "On my way to shoot in the car is the best way to begin my day. That's where I usually catch up on my mail, chat during lunch breaks, get on to music sites and loads of auction sites like eBay Motors. A typical night spent surfing usually winds up at around 3 a.m and then, it's back online at 8 the next morning."
Being addicted to the Net also means his website is updated regularly. "I wanted everybody to know me and everything about me through the right channels. They should get it straight from the horse's mouth, which is why I put up my site. I reply to everybody who writes in. In fact, I get enough responses to keep on my feet continuously, as I keep mailing them all the time!"
What's his favourite activity online, apart from downloading and surfing? "Chatting," he replies. "I like to chat either at my site or, sometimes, through MSN and ICQ. And even if I do reveal my identity, there are a lot of times when no one believes me. Typical responses are: 'Yeah, if you're Jackie, I'm Madhuri.' Sometimes, I use web casts to convince them that it is me in person!"
The Internet still surprises Jackie, in terms of what it has offer. "Everyday online is a new discovery. I am still getting over what hit me four years ago," he admits. When asked for his opinion on the future of film on the Net, he thinks that Video on Demand will be hot soon, "but not in India, at least not till we have fibre optic cables laid out."
What are his favourite sites? He laughs, says, "My own, to begin with," and continues, "I also visit TeenStation, and Real.com, and look up science downloads." Then, he diplomatically adds, "Setindia.com"
For those dying to have a peek at his contact list on MSN and ICQ, well, we did and, yes, apart from some names we didn't recognize, there was Shashilal Nair, Poonam Dhillon, Tabu and Pooja Batra.
Though his kids are not addicted to surfing, Jackie says that he is concerned about other underage kids who get online. "I am worried about the amount of filth that is so easily available these days. They have to know about the birds and bees some day, but I still feel that kids should be monitored while surfing, or else there should be some filters for porn sites."
Any last words, Jaggu Dada? "I've got more than half of Mumbai addicted to the Internet," he rounds off, before moving on his next shoot, and maybe another round of surfing…
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