Jeetendra, the ‘Jumping Jack of Hindi screen celebrates his 73rd birthday on April 7. The ever youthful star of many a hit films like 'Farz', 'Judai', 'Himmatwala', 'Jeene ki Raah', etc. may not have won the critics, but he remained a big star for many years thanks to his indisputable commercial appeal. Rajesh V. Gaur and Suneel V. Gaur met the affable Jeetendra for a free wheeling interview. Excerpts:
Why not face the camera again?
I do not want to act just for the sake of acting. And I know no great roles are waiting for me. I am busy enough anyway as you can see. Shobha and Ekta are running Balaji, our film and TV company, with great acumen and success, and I take all the macro level policy decisions.
With so many different and interesting films being made today, is the golden era of films back?
I think this is the best period for Indian cinema. Films of stars as well as new comers are working at the box office. People look out for content driven films.
You have always been known for your dancing skills. Who do you consider the best dancer today?
I think Hrithik Roshan is a very good dancer.He has a lot of rhythm in his body and is also very good looking.
You had a special relationship with the South all through.
Yes, the two films that bailed me out after dark patches were L.V. Prasad-ji's 'Bidaai' in 1974 and 'Himmatwala' in 1983. Prasad-ji was a like a father figure to me - he taught me so much about life, work ethics and principles as well as cinema during the many films we did together.
'Himmatwala' was remade. What are your thoughts about it?
I have not seen the remade version of the film, but the film was made by competent people. I am open to the idea of remakes as I think no one can stop anyone from making anything. One should explore all the possible opportunities.
Which films have satisfied you as an actor?
There are many. Rather than films, I would mention directors – V. Shantaram-ji, L.V. Prasad-ji, and J. Om Prakash. I loved working with K. Vishwanath-ji in 'Sanjog' and my friend Rakesh Roshan in 'Khudgarz'.
Any recent film or films that have impressed you?
There are amazing films being made like 'Kahaani' and 'Vicky Donor'. But I do not respect the pseudo-intellectual brand of cinema, which existed in my time too. It is very difficult to make any kind of commercially successful films and it's high time that this is recognized.
How do you analyse your own career?
There are three reasons for my long innings - first, God, second, God and third, God. But I would also say that though I have not been rated very high as an actor, I have explored every kind of role and genre. I guess I was lucky (laughs).