It’s been 4 years since Padmaavat released, but I haven’t been able to forget Jim Sarbh’s Malik Kafur act, because that’s just how good he was in the film. Cut to the promo of Rockey Boys, I wondered, is he the same guy playing Dr. Homi Bhabha? Now that the show is streaming on SonyLIV, he’s been getting immense appreciation and when I interviewed Jim I enquired how it is for him to move from character to character so effortlessly. Does he have to learn and unlearn?
Jim responded to that, saying,
“For me, it’s about turning the volume up on certain things and turning the volume down on certain things. For example, I don’t know what it would be like to be inaugurating a nuclear reactor, but neither did Homi Bhabha know that. It was the first time it was happening in India. So, I don’t have to know how, I just have to built it with the approach I built for the character and feel that. I don’t believe ever that there’s an unlearning, I always believe that there’s only a learning. I cannot stop being Jim Sarbh, what I can do however, is make Jim Sarbh’s approach, the one that will feel authentic to Homi Bhabha.”
The actor also loves to prep extensively for his characters. Ask him how much time did he need to prepare for Rocket Boys and here’s what he has to say.
“I was very adamant with Nikhil Advani and director Abhay Pannu that I wanted every single line at least 45 days prior to the shooting which didn’t happen obviously (laughs). I love the prep, especially for some roles. Some roles are not hard, but some are, and this was one of them, because this required enormous amount of work. First of all, this man’s approach, in a simple and complicated scene. Then of course, you are ageing – you are going from 30 to 65 which is another challenge. After that, you are doing scientific jargon in English and then you’re adding scientific jargon to Hindi and I was like, ‘Homi Bhabha didn’t speak so much Hindi!’ And they were like, ‘Jim this is a Hindi show, so shut up and learn your lines (laughs).’ But, despite all these challenges, it all needs to sound really slick! This is a person who again thinks faster than I do. He knows it all – whether it’s Shakespeare or Ramayana or anything under the sun. Also, he has a photographic memory. He could paint, he could play the piano. This was an articulate person so you want to make him sound that way. So, it was an extra-ordinary amount of work and I couldn’t have done it without Abhay Pannu who I drove insane.”
Clearly, it’s been immense hard work but all of that seems worth it looking at the accolades the show is getting. An actor like Jim, is certainly a treat to watch on any medium.