Dashingly Flammable:- Meezaan Jafri

Walking into a party three years ago, I saw this stunning, tall, and handsome man standing in front of me. I approached him not knowing who he was and he turned out to be Meezaan Jafri – young, fresh and an absolute star in the making. Well, one of the most prominent filmmakers, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, thought the same, and offered him the lead in Malaal. Being a friend of his father Jaaved for nearly 30 years now, I know that Meezaan was fabulous as a child and has grown up into a complete gentleman, well-versed in terms of language and etiquette. Speaking about his craft – from action to romance to comedy – he can own all the genres. A brilliant and versatile actor, there’s no doubt that he is made for the film industry. I look forward to watching him take over the silver screen!

It’s almost a year since Malaal and your performance has been appreciated by a lot of movie critics and loved by audiences as well. You look beautifully natural on screen. Do you give credit to your genes or is it something you’ve learned watching films all these years?
I think it’s a bit of both. There was a lot of guidance given by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and my director, who enabled me to perform the way I did in the film. Also, it helped that my father (Jaaved Jaaferi) and grandfather (Jagdeep) passed on those genes onto me. As a kid I grew up watching their films and was always surrounded by the craft. So I feel this subconsciously got me inclined towards acting and helped me pick up things from their work. Another important factor was being on sets and watching others perform, which guided my performance and made me want to do better.  

From shooting an energetic song like ‘Aila Re’ one day to filming an emotional one like the title track ‘Ek Malaal’ the next, how challenging is it to switch moods for an actor and set aside their personal life on sets?
Nobody shoots in a linear fashion; anything can be thrown at you anytime. I had an idea how it worked but it was a completely new experience for me. Standing in front of the camera and performing, I realised how difficult it is! Moreover, that is what the craft is – to be able to switch on and off the emotion and master it. I’m sure as you progress, you become better at that.

Your first movie was Malaal and the second was Hungama 2. What’s your thought process when choosing a film? Do you take advice from your dad or your family, or is it completely your call?

When it comes to advice in this business, everyone has something to tell you. But at the end of the day, you have to go with your instinct and gut feeling. There have been times when the people who have been managing me said something and my family said the complete opposite; that way you will always be stuck in a dilemma.

Coming from a film family, the industry and audience expect a lot from you. Do these expectations ever scare you? Are you concerned about being compared to your father or grandfather?
Since Malaal was a romantic drama, I was not compared to my father as he is known for his comic style. However, in Hungama I think people are going to expect some comedic timing as my dad or my grandfather. But I never get scared of that thought; rather, I try to go with the flow. I have my own identity, style, and comic timing, and that’s what I am trying to get across to the audience.  

Tell us about your character in Hungama 2.
This character is in complete contrast to what I played in my first film. He is a well-to-do young, rich Punjabi boy. I am glad that I went through this transformation with short hair and no beard.  

Ranveer Singh, in an interview, said that he is more of a method actor and he prefers to take the character home from sets. Do you have a similar approach or is your process completely different?
I am not sure about my process yet; I am still learning. I have seen Ranveer Singh work and he does take the character home. On the other hand, I don’t think I’ll be able to do that. Definitely it’ll be playing in your mind but I have to be Meezaan, I can’t let the character take over me or my life. I am investing in it 100%, but I am doing it my way and switching on and off accordingly. Everyone has a different approach depending on what they’re comfortable with.  

What does it take to survive in the industry and what are the challenges you’ve come across?
With so much competition, social media exposure, and expectations, it is a challenge to survive in the industry. People are always experimenting, and the audience wants more, so you have to keep giving something new every time you’re on screen. I entered this industry with my craft but the audience is also looking for a star. Being an introvert, it is a bit difficult for me. So I am working on it for now and keeping that smile alive.

What is more important to you: your character, or the story as a whole? Are you open to playing supporting roles in films, or do you want to stick to the lead in the long run?
To be honest, it is a hand-in-hand thing. The character is definitely important, but at the same time it is the story that’s going to make an impact. One thing alone can’t make the movie excel. I appreciate if my character is interesting, but the story has to be strong as well, or else the character will fall flat. I don’t think I would like to play a supporting role. I want to play the lead and be there in most of the film; I am greedy that way (laughs). I want to do more and more films, but of course as the lead.  

Any upcoming projects besides Hungama 2?
Right now I have two other projects in the timeline. I am trying to finalise them; they’re still in talks. The project that I am really looking forward to is an action film. It’s a genre that I have always wanted to explore and show people what I can do. Once things get finalised, I can’t wait to start shooting and also for the audience to watch it.