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His own food, his own jokes

Jaaved Jaferri...Ready with his one-liners and grub at Le Meridien in New Delhi. Photo: Sandeep Saxena.

`MY MOTHER nourished me with lots of bones during my childhood perhaps that is why my funny bone is over developed.' Enter the jolly good world of Jaaved Jaferri, where one-liners are a rule but etiquette and morality defines one's personality.

As he enters the Le Belvedre, the roof top restaurant at New Delhi's Le Meridien, there is a hush in the air. Suddenly an old lady breaks the silence, "Arre yeh to apna Jaaved hai, How are you son? Jaaved wishes the lady with folded hands, "Mataji main theek hoon aap baithiye, mai aap se bahut chota hoon." By now his presence becomes a part of the menu of the buffet and kids surround him for his signature, not only of the pen kind but the rib tickling ones as well. "This apna feeling gives me greatest pleasure. When people associate with you as one of your family, you feel, you have done your bit as a public personality."

The restaurant staff offers to bring the buffet to his table but Jaaved refuses to accept, "Just bring me some vegetarian soup to get me started, then I will manage myself." In comes the soup and Jaaved gets off the block in a flash. "I am from a very traditional family. We used to have food only at home, you know the traditional dastarkhwan and all. I am still uncomfortable with five-star menus, cutlery and the confusing names of the dishes. There are no special choices. Whatever mother used to cook, we ate without questioning, as it was an unsaid ruling of Abba." You mean that hilarious Jagdeep, the Soorma Bhopali of Bollywood? "Yes, he is a disciplinarian father. One should not speak while eating. One should not eat outside like hanging out for chaat, there are many dos and don'ts." So, we are breaking a fiat. "Of course, but his teachings really helped me in carving a distinct identity of my own. He never pushed me. Whatever I have achieved it is on my own. I took my own decisions, right or wrong. All this gives a lot of fulfilment."

Time to groove on the buffet table. Jaaved takes a deep look at every dish, exchanges pleasantries with all the chefs and suddenly comes up with a query, "Is it halal meat?" "Yes, Sir," pat comes the reply. "Are you sure, you would be held responsible, if it is not," quips Jaaved with serving spoon pointing towards the blushing chef. Thus, Jaaved's journey on the course makes a tentative start. "I love chicken, almost every kind and yes pickles as well aur kuch bhi chalega." He fills the platter with Kashmiri pulao and some cheese curry besides his premier choices and makes a retreat to relish.

With "Jajantram Mamantram" finding a decent response is he still expecting resurgence in his celluloid career? "You mean that blue film for kids. I spent so much time standing against the blue chrome screen that I have started calling it a blue film. Seriously speaking, industry never took me seriously. First after the success of `Meri Jung', they expected me to do only dance numbers. When I refused to do those pelvic gyrations in the name of dance, offers subsided gradually. Then Channel V offered me `Time Pass' and I provided some healthy humour, industry tried to turn me into a comedian. So industry has never looked at me as a hero material and I still don't know what is lacking in me."

But a man who is tall, has a good voice, knows how to dance and times comic shots to perfection, isn't this an irony of our film industry? "Maybe that I refused to imbibe the party culture, the boozing habits or the backbiting traits, but I am a satisfied man. Every morning when I get up and find my morals intact, I feel contented."

Jaaved picks Pasta too and hopes that perhaps now with industry experimenting with subjects, things might turn for him. "I am busy with `Grooves' for Sahara besides `Boogie Woogie', which is actually Naaved's baby and my own dance troupe. I want to give something back to the young generation."

His own steps, his own timing.


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