Interview

James Bond cannot do what I do, says Vidyut Jammwal


Commando 2 actor believes in being inspired by the best, finds no problem in desi action heroes displaying Bond traits.

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Mayur Lookhar

Men with brawn are usually a hit with the ladies. Vidyut Jammwal’s chiselled physique, bright smile; and long silky hair can make most women go weak in the knees. Jammwal’s looks have drawn comparisons with Hollywood star Sylvester Stallone.

After rising to fame playing the antagonist in his debut film Force (2011), Jammwal played the macho man in producer Vipul Amrutlal Shah’s action thriller Commando: A One Man Army (2013). Four years later, he returns as Captain Karanvir Singh Dogra in the sequel, Commando 2: The Black Money Trail, which is set to be released on 3 March.

As the title suggests, Captain Dogra is out to bust the menace of black money. The actor spoke to the media this evening, sharing his thoughts on the film, his idol Jackie Chan, and why it is all right for Indian action heroes to be inspired by Hollywood stars. Excerpts:

The movie seemed very relevant at the time of demonetization. However, the mood was different then as opposed to now. What did you experience when the government first announced demonetization of large currency notes and what is your take on it now?

Firstly, I don’t have any black money. When this was announced, I only had Rs15,000-18,000 in cash. I was shooting in Los Angeles then. Personally, it didn’t affect me.

True, somebody will be affected if there is a change. I don’t know whether it is good or not, because the final results of this move are not out yet. Six months are not enough to force a change. However, most people whom I meet are of the opinion that this was a good move.

Just looking at the Commando 2 trailer, and other Hindi films like Agent Vinod (2012), Force 2 (2016) and Dishoom (2016), the protagonists in all of them have traits of a James Bond. Like Bond,  the hero cares two hoots for rules and order, loves his wine and women. Aren’t we going a bit overboard with the Bond persona?

There is no harm in being inspired by the best. You wouldn’t want to be inspired by someone average.

Agreed, but what about creating one’s own identity?

Well, that’s our new identity. A James Bond cannot do what I do in this movie. That is the newness in my movie. There is no emulation. It is just that the character sounds like [Bond].

What I was essentially referring to was the Bond-like traits of our protagonists in these films.

War films usually pit two nations together, or it’s a war against terrorism. When you make an action movie, the guy in the film has a vision. You can’t call him James Bond or Jason Bourne or Jackie Chan. The movie is clearly about a commando who is on a mission.

The scene in the trailer where you go through a little hole in the wall is reminiscent of stunts by Jackie Chan. For a big-built man like you to do it is commendable.

It’s a good observation you make, but what Jackie Chan can do, I can do better! Though I must say I idolize him. I’m creating a benchmark. With Commando (2013), what he did was never seen before. You may have no idea that as part of the contract, the action had to be real. So, when they hit me, they hit me hard. Not sure whether James Bond does that.

Each person has their own skills. In a short career so far, you have made a name for yourself as the quintessential action hero. Are you happy to keep doing just action roles or, down the line, would you like to do something that goes against your image?

If Michael Jackson was stereotyped and called the King of Pop, was that a good thing or a bad thing?

But music is different. As an actor, you have an option, wherein if you are lucky you could play versatile roles.

If Michael Jackson is stereotyped as the King of Pop, it’s a great thing. Similarly, if one thinks that I am good at action and I am being stereotyped, then I am very proud of it. Coming to your point, well, I did a film called Yaara (unreleased), directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia. It has action as well as great drama. As actors, we need to do different things, but we need to stick to the core.

Do box-office numbers make a difference to you?

At this stage of my life, I don’t understand them. It’s my producers' and director’s stress. I was supposed to do great action, churn out one of the biggest action films in the country. I have done that with Commando. Now [box-office numbers] aren’t in my hands.

It came as a surprise when we learnt that Deven Bhojani, who has made a name for himself as a comic actor, was helming Commando 2. What was your reaction when you heard that he was going to be the director?

If Vipul Amrutlal Shah believes in him, then I believe in him. Vipul believed in me when nobody else did. So, I believe in everything that he believes in.

Bhojani is a great director. If you are a good actor, then you can do everything. He is a great comic actor, but he has also helmed an action show on TV called Pukar. Trust me, Commando 2 will be a big revelation.

Can you tell us about the experience of working with him?

Yaar, woh accha aadmi hai [he is a good human being]. It is always great to work with such people. He is sweet, smiling all the time. Look, I have done lots of films down South. I have even played henchman to a henchman. So I have realized that if you are on a set and you enjoy working there, that movie can never go wrong. I have enjoyed myself working with Bhojani.

Someone had earlier asked me how I pass through small holes. My answer to him was that when you are not from the industry and you get a little opening, then you make sure you break into it. So, I’m not scared of anything. I will break into it and make sure that I become what I am right now.

I wouldn’t call it competition, but veteran actor Govinda is also releasing his film on the same day. Your thoughts. Are you a Govinda fan?

Well, I wasn’t aware that Govinda is releasing his film on the same day. I thought his film was releasing earlier. Nevertheless, it’s all fine. Yes, I am a Govinda fan. I might have seen Hero No 1 (1997) about 15 times. I had told Ajay Devgn that I have seen Gangajaal (2003) about 25 times and he wondered whether I am psycho.

What about your childhood action heroes from both India and Hollywood?

Ajay Devgn and Akshay Kumar were two action heroes I admired. From Hollywood, without a doubt it has to be Jackie Chan.

You are also shooting for an action film with your hero Ajay Devgn in Baadshaho. What is the action like in this film?

It is going to be very different. Not like what you will see in Commando. When there are two actors, then you have to mould the action according to what looks nice with them. The film is shaping well.

Finally, a word on your co-star Adah Sharma. Watching her speak in that Telugu accent had us in splits. Was it fun for you to watch it first hand?

She is a great co-actor. I feel in these eight months, I have found a good friend in her. It is really difficult to speak in that Telugu accent. I struggle to mug up my own lines, so I can’t really look at others. All I will say is that she is much better at acting than me.