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The unusual experimenter

The versatile Jim Sarbh does not believe in compartmentalising talent. He was in town to be a part of IFFI’s ‘In conversation session – Unmasking character actors’. NT BUZZ caught up with Sarbh



His surname may be a little tough to pronounce, but the 31-year-old Jim Sarbh has earned repute in the film industry for essaying characters of ‘Khalil’ in Neerja who terrorised the passengers on the flight, or the more recent ‘Malik Kafur’ in Padmaavat and ‘Zubin Mistry’ in Sanju. Having being spotted while on stage as a part of a theatre work, he tries to do full justice and balance his first love – theatre and his newly found love – films. He wants to break away from stereotypical roles, and be the director’s actor wanting to bring versatility to his roles. In a conversation with NT BUZZ


  1. In your first film ‘Neerja’ you played the role of ‘Khalil’ who was the cold-blooded terrorist, after which you did films like ‘Padmavaat’ and ‘Sanju’ where again, you played negative roles. How has your journey been so far as an actor? What have you learned about yourself?

The journey has been brilliant so far and definitely a good one. I always try and understand myself. Evaluate where I have to improve and better it, therefore I keep trying to understand myself.


  1. How was your experience working for directors like Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Rajkumar Hirani?

I worked with Bhansali for Padmaavat after which I worked for Sanju with Rajkumar Hirani and both have been very good. They are focused when it comes to work and have a style of their own. They have a broad vision and idea of how to go about with things and they are clear when it comes to work. I always enjoy working with bosses or leaders who know what they are doing and in turn try to push you in order to bring out the best in you.


  1. In the film ‘Sanju’, you played the role of ‘Zubin Mistry’, a drug peddler. How did you go about with it? How did prepare yourself for the role?

It was quite easy actually. I was just messing around and one day I did a lisp and they found it to be funny and I kept going with the lisp and that’s how I prepared for the role.


  1. Having worked on a periodic film and a biopic, what is the kind of film that you are looking out for next?

I am ready for all kinds of films. It could be any comedy and fun. I have done serious kinds of roles so far but I have tried to add comedy to it. I think there are moments in the film ‘Neerja’ where he asks how you say ‘ehlaan’ in English to an Arabic boy and he doesn’t really know. Then he asks an English-speaking person and he responds ‘announcement’ and I was ‘hmm….’ the way ‘Khalil’ practices before he has to say anything to everyone; I like all of those details. These are the funny moments that I have tried to add in my role.


  1. How was it working for the web-series ‘Smoke’ directed by Neel Guha?

The series is set in Goa; they explore the dark web of drugs, mafia, power and much more. It was totally great. I lived on the beach; I would eat at Burger Factory and go swimming at the beach and in between shoot for some time. I love Goa for its beaches. I haven’t explored the interiors but if I get the chance to swim in a nice warm sea then that’s all for me.


  1. Where will we get to see you next? Which are some of your upcoming projects?

I have a lot of things coming up like a web-series ‘Made in Heaven’ which will be out soon. I have worked for two international films and some others projects have also been lined up.

In conversation – Jim and Chitrangada

Indian actor Jim Sarbh and actress Chitrangada Singh were invited at the 49th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) to be part of the ‘In conversation session – Unmasking character actors’.

Speaking about the concept of character actors, Jim Sarbh said that it has become easy for people to generalise actors. “It is sad to see how today we are making a clear distinction between a hero, a villain and damsel in distress. We all are these three people at some point of time in our life. There is no point in generalising them because each of them has its part to play and it all does hold importance.”

He then spoke about how he got the role of ‘Khalil’ for Neerja. “A person who saw my advertisement approached me to give an audition for the role of the hijackers. We went through intense training and workshops and prepared ourselves even before the film shooting had begun.  I was quite excited for the role as it was an intense role of a person who was very brutal, red-eye guy; to him what he was doing was justice as he had lost his parents and it was a revenge for him,” he said.

Chitrangada Singh has worked for films like ‘Yeh Saali Zindagi’, ‘Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi’, ‘Desi Boyz’, ‘Inkaar’, ‘I, Me Aur Main’ and ‘Baazaar’. She spoke of her journey and said that films have always been a great platform. “In between, I had taken a 6-year break but it was a break wherein I got to learn a lot about myself and understood the importance of what films are in my life and learnt to value it. In this time I got married and had to focus on my family to,” she said.

For many who think career is the only important thing, Jim advised that it’s not only about making a career but giving importance to family and other things as well.

“I think it’s important to have some people around you who keep you grounded and tell you the truth. I found out this year how important it is to get out, travel and meet people who aren’t connected to the industry,” said Jim.


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