Jackie Shroff on his first hit-Hero
MUMBAI MIRROR (June 1, 2012)
Before I became an actor, I was a ruffian who spent his time out on the streets. In fact, my mother felt I’d never make much of my life. Not that I cared. I was a model and happy with it.
Hero just happened to me. I never had any expectations, so I never went through any struggle. I had approached Subhash Ghai a year earlier for a henchman’s role opposite Sanjay Dutt in Vidhaata but he turned me down saying the role had been given to Gautam Sarin. Then someone took me to Saawan Kumar Tak for a role as Anil Kapoor’s friend in Laila. But Saawanji wanted me to shave off my beard. And I couldn’t do that because I was sporting a stubble for Dev Anand saab’s Swami Dada, where I played a henchman.
Asha Chandraji, a famous star trainer suggested I join her classes and I thought, why not? It was while attending her classes that I met composer Usha Khannaji’s brother Ashok Khanna, who was very close to Subhash Ghai. When I went to meet him, he asked me if I’d like to play the hero. I laughed it off and left. I think he’d seen my Charminar ad and liked my look. Some days later, I was loitering with my friends at a café called Gaylord when the phone rang. I don’t know why but I knew it was for me. Subhash told me I was on for his film Hero. My reaction was… okay. Like I said, I had no expectations from myself. I don’t know why Subhash chose me. Maybe because my real life personality was close to the hoodlum I play in the film.
In real life, I was known by three names; Jaggu Dada, Jaikishan and Jackie. Interestingly, Subhash used all three names for my character.
The Friday Hero released, I was fast asleep. Everyone was shocked. How could I sleep at such a time? My logic was simple. Jo hona tha so ho gaya. For three weeks, the film didn’t run. Subhash told me to go back to modelling. But from the fourth week onward, Hero became a rage. It saw me through 170 subsequent films. It ran for 75 weeks. Today, if a film runs for 75 days, it’s considered a superhit. –As told to Subhash K Jha
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