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Verve Trendsetters
March 07, 2016

All You Need To Know About Jim Sarbh

Text by Huzan Tata. Photos courtesy Shivaji Sen

Meet the actor who’d love to play the role of a ‘badass with a heart of gold’

“I’m good at hanging things on walls,” Jim Sarbh says, when asked how hailing from an illustrious family passionate about art – the Pundoles – has shaped him. He’s a looker with a sense of humour. He scared the world with his act as the volatile terrorist in the February release, Neerja. But the 27-year-old theatre actor is, in reality, anything but. The young performer, who impressed with his breakthrough performance talks to Verve about theatre, his bucket list, and a dream role he’s still waiting for writers to pen….

Acting for the first time was…
“Forgettable.”

If not an actor, you would have been…
“A marine biologist. Can you put me in touch with that cute Indian girl who just invented a deep sea probe please, Verve?”

The best part of being an actor is…
“Irresponsibility.”

On love and relationships…
“Love is like a shout in the street, it has its own rules and comes and goes as it pleases. A relationship is an action; you can make the rules and decide when to come…and when to go.”

A dream role…
“Badass, but with a heart of gold. Funny, without being ingratiating. One who indulges in his feminine side, without losing a drop of his masculinity. Romantic, but without being lame. All at the same time? Yes. Come on writers!”

A myth about theatre that you’d like to break?
“‘It’s all over acting.’ That depends on the production.”

When you’re not working you are…
“Walking about, watching movies, swimming, reading, sleeping, and if I have the money, finding my way to a lake or a beach or a mountain.”

Most cherished compliment for Neerja…
“From Ram Madhvani (director) – ‘Jim has what I hold in high esteem for an actor and that is…interiority. Where you wonder what is going on in the inner whirrings of the actor’s mind in such a way that it’s mesmeric and as an audience you find it seductive and surprising yet real. The greatest actors have this quality and Jim is blessed that he does too.’”

Working on Neerja
“I liked how similar it was to theatre, actually. We ‘workshopped’ hard, I knew all the lines for the entire film before starting, so I knew the complete journey of my character before any particular scene, the long takes, the fact that I had an audience (the passengers), the fact that we shot in the order of events. Most of all, Ram trusted me. It makes you feel like you have creative control of your character, it makes you want to do better and better, to achieve exactly what the director wants, to not let him down. Instead of feeling over directed and straight jacketed, I felt free.”

On your bucket list…
“This means things to do before I die? Act in everything, save the animals, help the poor. I guess I’ll take it one step at a time.”

A recent movie or play you saw that you wish you were a part of…
Deadpool – it broke the rules while indulging in them. Love it!”

You in three words…
“Heart. On. Sleeve.”

Three actors you admire…
“Joaquin Phoenix: he doesn’t have to be in crazy situations to be surprising or engaging. He can do it in ordinary, subdued scenes. Irrfan Khan: Hello, power. Kristen Wiig: she’s the best tragic-funny I’ve ever seen.”

Favourite performance of your own…
“When we opened What Is Done Is Done in Kolkata. It’s a Rajat Kapoor directed clown show of Macbeth, and I play a janitor called Julio. There’s a  part near the end of the play that we had never tried in front of an audience: it became my favorite 5 minutes on stage of all time.”

Looking forward to in 2016…
“It’s all looking very exciting, on all fronts. Right this second however? Two days to sleep.”

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