“I couldn’t care less.”
+ Photographed by Pretika Menon
currentMood: When you were a kid, did you always want to act? What got you into it?
Jim Sarbh: Really don’t remember. I enjoyed lots of things as a kid. I don’t remember getting into it. I don’t remember a point where it wasn’t already there.
currentMood: Tell us about your first audition (theatre and film).
Jim Sarbh: I don’t remember, or I guess I don’t care to remember the first one. As a kid you audition for the heck of it, for the fun of it, happy to get what you can. As you get better and more deeply in love you begin to audition with desire with expectation with
powerful hope. So the ones I remember through the years are the ones where this desire or hope was either fulfilled or not, and the first one would be: 12th grade. The Annual high School theatre production: a theatrical adaptation of the film “Shallow Grave” by Danny Boyle, which featured a very good Ewan McGregor and a not-bad Christopher Eccleston. I wanted Ewan McGregors role.
It was no longer a flight of fancy audition: there was one particularly good contender for the role, in addition, of course, to the kids auditioning whose skills I had never encountered. More than just the role, I wanted to work with this particular director. He was the Theatre instructor for IB Theatre, a class I had been taking since the 11th grade: he was the coolest fucking guy. Whip smart, really bitingly sarcastically funny, easy to get along with: revolutionary really. Anyway, I got the part.
“Padmavat stretched on for ages with very complicated schedules, but the pleasure of working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali eclipses that.”
currentMood: Was it a struggle to get roles in films?
Jim Sarbh: After Neerja? No. Before Neerja? Yes. I auditioned for films for 3-4 years, never being cast. I was doing a lot of theatre. I never felt a lack of acting opportunities. It’s just a matter of scale. I’ve always loved the medium of film, but I liked acting more, so I took what I got.
currentMood: What has been the most challenging role you’ve played so far – in both, films and theatre?
Jim Sarbh: Each have their own challenges: Khalil (Neerja) was intense, but for a short time; Padmavat stretched on for ages with very complicated schedules, but the pleasure of working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali eclipses that, in some projects you are on a different page regarding the character than your director and that has it’s own pain, despite the shoot and character being relatively easy.
Back in the theatre days, the hardest role I did was that of Tinker in a play called Cleansed by Sarah Kane. Why? Read the play.
currentMood: The roles you’ve taken up are interesting and offbeat, was that by chance or is it a conscious choice?
Jim Sarbh: You can’t get what you can’t get. It’s all a complicated cocktail: but I’m not ready for a discussion of my bullshit acting fate and free will as I drive along the Western Highway back into Mumbai, where Dalits, who have been persecuted and attacked yet again, are blowing off some steam and demanding that their voices be heard.
There are stone pelters waiting down the only road I’m on, I hear, and frankly, I’m on their side.
* footnote: I encountered no stone pelters. Just the usual mass hysteria.
currentMood: Do you think Indian cinema and theatre is changing?
Jim Sarbh: I couldn’t care less.
currentMood: Who/what creatively inspires you?
Jim Sarbh: Houdini.
currentMood: If you could have dinner with any actor/director..who would it be and why?
Jim Sarbh: I don’t want to have dinner with directors or actors I admire. I wouldn’t have anything to say, I would just watch them awkwardly and wish I was at another table so I could be a more sneaky voyeur. I want to act in their films. I don’t want to have dinner with actors. I want to have dinner with wildlife conservationists, and jiu jitsu masters, and trackers, and scientists, and musicians, and rainforest curators, and scuba divers, and the wild blue sea.
currentMood: What advise do you have for aspiring actors?
Jim Sarbh: Act.
Interview by: currentMood
Text: Jim Sarbh
Image credits: Photography and Creative Direction: Pretika Menon – @howtostayinsane
Styling and Creative Direction: Vrinda Narang – @vrinda_25
Fashion Assistant: Nikita Letitia – @nikitaletitia
Make up: Nitti Goenka – @nittigoenka
Last modified: April 16, 2018