Jackky Bhagnani: I didn't get work despite commercial and critical success
The actor speaks about his upcoming film Mitron and his struggle for validation
“Oh yes, I am a hungry actor. In fact, I haven’t eaten all day,” jokes Jackky Bhagnani, as he settles down for an interview about his upcoming film, Mitron. A remake of the Telugu blockbuster, Pelli Choopulu, Mitron is propped as Jackky’s comeback film after a gap of three years — his last two releases, Welcome To Karachi (2015) and Youngistaan (2014), were both critical and commercial washouts. With Mitron, Jackky hopes to revamp his perception and establish his merit. “After my last few films, I am determined to earn back my credibility. Although I tasted some success with F.A.L.T.U and Rangrezz, I was constantly being writing off as a performer. One of the reasons, of course, was my lineage.”
Mitron is Jackky’s first film outside of Pooja Entertainment, his family-owned production house founded by his father Vasu Bhagnani. “It was a conscious effort to venture out and see if I have it in me. Working for my dad’s production house was benefitting neither of us, and I felt responsible. There was a time when I’d grown bitter due to my failures. Everyone wants validation and growth in life, so do I. It has taken three years but I have finally found a good film.”
Mitron is directed by Nitin Kakkar, whose debut film, Filmistaan, won a National Award for Best Feature Film In Hindi. “After Filmistaan, everyone wanted to work with Nitin sir. I feel very special that he picked me for his next film. He is incredibly talented and at the same time, humble and encouraging. I was shocked when he offerted me the lead role in Mitron. It has boosted my confidence tremendously,” Jackky shares.
Throughout his career, Jackky has tried his hand at a variety of genres, from comedies to rom-coms to sci-fi (he starred in the futuristic short film, Carbon, alongside Nawazuddin Siddiqui). “When I came into this industry, I thought that delivering a super-hit film would get you work. So I did F.A.L.T.U, which earned decent money at the box-office, but no offers came my way. Later, I decided to get better at my craft, with films like Rangrezz and Youngistaan. Critics praised my acting, but I still didn’t get any work. So I was extremely confused about what to do. Thus I decided to keep exploring until something clicked. Personally, I’m neither interested in plain masala or in some pseudo-intellectual stuff. The definitions of ‘commericial’ and ‘art’ have become redundant. What audiences care about these days is engagement, no matter how you present it. That’s all I want deliver.”
In an industry with a fair share of egotistical celebrities who are often easily rattled, Jackky prides himself on his honesty and sense of humour. “I have no qualms about telling you that I didn’t understand Inception the first time. I’m aware of the jokes and memes that get shared about me. I am totally cool with them. I was made fun of in school because I weighed 145 kilos and suffered from asthma. So I’ve been dealing with taunts all my life. However, people should be prepared for my comebacks. Recently, I carried a rocket to a radio channel since they described Mitron as a ‘re-launch’. I thought it was quite funny.”