Jim Sarbh on ‘Raabta’: “The main appeal of the film is the struggle”

Amrita Tanna

Senior Editor


As Dinesh Vijan gears up for the release of his directorial debut, audiences themselves can’t wait to experience the magic that Sushant Singh Rajput, Kriti Sanon and Jim Sarbh will create on screen in ‘Raabta’.

BizAsiaLive.com caught up with Sarbh who, after winning accolades for his performance in ‘Neerja’ last year, steps into the antagonist’s role once again.

‘Raabta’ is on the verge of release. How do you feel?
I get extremely annoyed coming up to the last two or three weeks before release. I just want it to be done. It’s like needing to go to the bathroom (laughs).

It’s nice that you’ve compared it to the bathroom instead of something like an exam(laughs).
I mean bathroom… there are more x-rated metaphors which could be said out of this conversation (laughs).

We have to congratulate you for your performance in ‘Neerja’. Do you think taking on more negative characters is something you want to continue doing?
Thank you.  I mean I very confidently, after ‘Neerja’, said “Listen, I’m not going to get stereotyped. I’ll do all kinds of roles.” However, so far, I only get cast as that guy. I hope that we get to a point where it’s more about interesting, complicated characters who are like all of us, often teetering between ideas of good or bad. So, no, I hope I don’t always have to play that (negative roles).

How did ‘Raabta’ happen?
I signed up with Bling to represent me, the talent agency. One of the heads of the company knew Dinesh Vijan very well. She knew of the script and that they were still looking for this one particular part. I remember I had just come back from shooting another film ‘A Death in the Gunj’, and there was ‘Neerja’ and everything came after that. I was going through a little bit of a break out of the country. I remember going to the audition with my bags for two weeks packed and ready, and I said I had to go straight to the airport after this. I gave an audition that I thought was appropriate for the part even though it was written kind of for your typical tall, dark and handsome straight man. I thought, “Well that’s no fun” so I did it slightly differently. And the actress that I was reading lines with was really responding and giggling and what not. I thought I was on to something. I kept pushing it because it was getting a response. And Dinu (Vijan) saw it and I Skyped with him from where I was on holiday, and came back to an audition the next morning with many more scenes to have to learn. I learnt all the other scenes, I came in and did the audition, with Kriti (Sanon). That same evening they called me back and said “We’ll do it, let’s do it. You’re our man.” The next day we had a table reading of the entire script, and that evening Dinu left, and they started shooting in a week. It was all like dominoes.

Is there any kind of personal appeal that you have with the character?
Well, you always have a connection with the parts you play. If I played Shiv (Singh Rajput’s character) I would have had a connection with him. If I played Saira (Sanon’s character) I would have had a connection with Saira. Very honestly, if I did Saira in drag, I’m sure there are parts of me that are as much her as there are Zak, to be very honest. I still think that her part is the best in the whole film. She’s a really cool part, both in the present life and the past life. She’s the sought one, she’s the fought after one. It’s fun.

How would you describe your connection with Zak?
I don’t know. It seems like Zak is the kind of guy who, in the past life… It’s like the Rock, or like an old tree that wants to play with fire that’s like slipping around. And then in the present life Zak decides that he’s going to be the fire. He’s tired of being the tree. But I as a person often get what I want. Not to sound whatever, but I do end up getting what I want, 9 times out of 10. And Zak does not, and he has no idea how to let that go and say “It’s fate” or “It’s out of my hands” or “I need to simply flow with what is happening.” He’s always trying to control and shape his destiny. He’s always trying to control and shape not only his own destiny but also the destiny of people around him, which is impossible. So what’s my ‘Raabta’ with Zak…  I guess as I started to play around with the character and to improvise new lines and add a kind of quirky madness to it… That’s specifically because I thought, in this lifetime, Zak wants to be the exciting part. Or not even exciting he want to be the madness. He doesn’t want the sit back and watch the madness take his girl. I mean, I have no experience of being haunted by dreams of the past life (laugh).

Did you have to prepare for the role?
Yes. I had to become double my size physically and straighten my hair. I had to learn all my lines (laughs). I mean I didn’t sit in a room for two weeks, under sleep deprivation drawing pictures of Kriti Sanon (laughs). I did the very normal actor’s preparation which is try to look big enough for the past life sequence where I have to be a warrior, and try to retain the parts of me that can be charming and in control and whimsical at the same time.

After ‘Neerja’, having played such a disliked character, when you’re out and about and people recognise you, do you get negative reactions?
No. No, they’re all very nice. In the beginning, there were these jokes, like “We want to kick you” or “We want to kill you.” Every now and then people in the street would go “Oh terrorist!” But it’s all just to get attention. I went to this place to buy a beer and this little kid came up and said, “You were very scary.” But he was so nervous to talk to me and he was fiddling but he was so sweet.

What is the main appeal of ‘Raabta’?
I would describe the main appeal of the film as the struggle between what is meant to be versus what you believe you can make it.


BizAsiaLive.com thanks Jim Sarbh for taking the time to talk to us. ‘Raabta’ is set to hit the big screens on 9th June.