Subh subh tumhari tasveer dekhi aur shaam mein tum mere saamne khade ho. Tumhe main role zaroor doonga!
These lines by Dev Anand changed the life of Jackie Shroff, who went on to become one of the most loved heroes of the Hindi film industry after his debut film Swami Dada (1982) with the veteran actor.
Recalling the legend, he says, “He made it very easy for me. He would never sit ideal, and would act out for everybody. He was the perfect example of someone who is absolutely on the toes all the time. I have done four films with him and for every project, I got the opportunity to shoot for 15-30 days. The time that was spent on set was the time I spent with him, because he was always working.”
While he was an exceptionally hard working and enthusiastic artiste, Shroff recalls the love he would hold for everyone around him. “You would not see him being harsh or rude to anyone at all. He had so much of love that you would have no other choice but to love and respect him back. Whenever I would talk to him about my past, he would always say ‘Aage ki soch’. That’s the kind of positive person he was and his positivity would make me and others feel good about ourselves. When I was struggling to do a certain action sequence, that one sentence from him – ‘Naya Ladka hai seekh jaaega’ – made me feel that someone has my back. It stayed with me for life. That’s why, I look after everyone new in this industry like my own son Tiger. He taught me to be kind in the very first film,” Shroff tells us.
Anand had described his connection with Shroff as ‘spiritual’. When asked to elaborate on it, Shroff tells us that he has no idea why he said that. “All I know is I have been blessed to have been accepted by the industry because of his blessings. Dev Anand is my God. From my mom making my hair like Dev sahab, to me watching his morning shows, to becoming a part of his autobiography, it’s been an unbelievable journey for me and I am grateful for it,” he says.
Remembering the last meeting with his idol, Shroff shares, “It was Dev sahab’s birthday and he was in Aamby Valley and I had gone there late night. There was Sandeep Patil sahab, his son, me and a couple of people and heard Dev sahab shouting ‘Jackie, Jackie Jackie…mujhe pata tha tu aaega.” He goes on, “Every moment spent with him was something to cherish. May be the beginning… may be when he shot with me for the first time… may be when he narrated the script… the first token he gave me. There are no many things that I can’t decide which memory holds the highest place in my heart,” he ends