By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: Jharkhand-born Sanjeev Jaiswal, who is in hiding, has been ostracized by his family and friends in his hometown in Jharkhand for playing Kasab.
After playing the most hated man in India in Ram Gopal Varma’s The Attacks Of 26/11, Sanjeev Jaiswal has understandably been flooded with hate-mail and brickbats.
When one tracked him down, Jaiswal spoke in whispers. “I am going through very mixed feelings. On the one hand I am proud that my 9 years of struggle as an actor has finally ended. Today I’m being recognized. But it’s a recognition that brings no triumph to me. Because audiences react to me as Kasab,the most hated man in this country.”
Jaiswal has not even been able to see the film with the public.
“I’m not allowed to go out. My friends who saw the film saw shoes being thrown on me. There are threats in the theatre with angry audiences vowing to tear me limb to limb if I am ever seen in public. My family too in Jharkhand has not reacted well to my screen debut,” says Jaiswal who has been in Mumbai struggling for a foothold since 2008.
Voice falling to a whisper, Jaiswal confesses, “My mother broke down when she saw my hanging scene. My father didn’t like what I’ve done. He feels after all these years of struggle playing Kasab is not what he hoped to see from his son. My brothers and other family members also feel humiliated. You’ve to understand we come from a very conservative humble family in Jharkhand. We have a small business in Jharkhand. My four brothers are far removed from the film industry. So was I until now.”
Jaiswal says he worked hard to keep himself as distanced from Kasab as possible. “I studied him and his twisted interpretation of religion and Jihad minutely. I read books including Rodrigues Rommel’s account on Kasab. By the time I was ready to shoot with Ramu I knew Kasab inside-out. And I despised the man. I also began to despise myself for thinking and speaking and acting the way Kasab did.”
Finally, Jaiswal had to put an end to the character’s hold on his psyche. “I regimented my mind to respond to Kasab’s mindset as soon as I wore his Versace teeshirt and put his bag on my shoulder. The minute the shooting was done I was done with Kasab. I became Sanjeev Jaiswal and I went home. It was important for me to distance myself from the character. Otherwise I’d have ended a wreck.”
Jaiswal, who worked extensively in theatre in Delhi, says he worked hard to achieve a high level of credibility. “I put me soul into playing Kasab. It took me 13 years to get this part. In between I did a small role in a serial Sasural Gainda Phool, nothing else. I was a hungry actor. There was no way I would allow my interpretation of Kasab to remain incomplete. Now I am waiting to be recognized as an actor beyond this role. Before playing Kasab I didn’t even know I resembled him. Now that I’ve played him no one wants me to forget that I look like him.”