Raazi has several takeaways. Be it Alia Bhatt’s performance or the message it imparts without being preachy, this Meghna Gulzar film has everything that a regular patriotic Bollywood film has failed to give in recent times. But for me, Raazi also stands out for its stellar supporting cast. And one out of them is Jaideep Ahlawat. Jaideep has been around for eight years in the industry, being part of some good films. However, it is his character of Khalid Mir in Raazi that has struck the right chord with the audience. Is it because of the mystery of his character or his unspoken bond with Sehmat? In a candid chat with indianexpress.com, Jaideep helps me decode Mir and how it was playing a RAW agent onscreen.
“I designed it (Khalid Mir) in such a way that Hidayat (Sehmat’s father) must be his colleague or maybe his trainer. He’s just there and he has been an agent for some time, but Mir is now the head of it. He respects him very much and that’s the way he looks at the entire family. Sehmat is like family to him. When Hidayat dies, Mir sneaks into the house and meets Sehmat and says he now realises why his father was so proud of her. When he leaves, he just pats her on her arm and not on head just so that it does not show any emotional vulnerability,” Jaideep said while explaining how he conceived the back story of his character Khalid Mir in Raazi.
“Mir is someone who knows everything – the system, the training, the agency and people, and if emotions come in between the job, what harm can they do to the nation. He has been there and seen all this. He must have been a Sehmat sometime in his life. My preparation was more on getting into the zone of Mir’s psyche just to be there and hold on,” he added.
Jaideep is quite an outspoken man in real life, very unlike Mir, who kept his emotions at bay. So are the two any close to each other? “(Laughs) I don’t have any idea. I am different person to different people and that’s what Mir is also. I am in a very humble mode nowadays post Raazi. It’s amazing to see people connecting with your character and I am humbled to see this response because I know what Mir is and what the journey has been. Everybody has contributed to Mir – from Meghna to the spot boy – and I am just accepting the praise on their behalf,” he shared.
Raazi is one of the sleeper hits this year. The film, which also stars Shishir Sharma, Rajit Kapur, Arif Zakaria, Soni Razdan and Amruta Khanvilkar, is on its way to entering the Rs 100 crore club, giving tough competition to other new releases, even in its third week.
And considering Jaideep’s part is getting a lot of accolades, how is the actor taking all of this? “I am just trying to be unconventional. The response I have received has been really good. It’s great when your work reaches people and you get the appreciation,” he said. I asked him if he is finally getting his due, and he gave a quick reply, “In a way you can say that, but it’s just a start. It’s a good feeling now that people are noticing me.”
I asked him again, pointing that his journey towards recognition has been long, and he asserted, “Not exactly. But yes it does take time for good things to happen, for good stories to take shape. Earlier I did Gangs of Wasseypur. I got nominated for Commando. Still there was some lack of reach out to the masses and classes. It is an interesting feeling to be appreciated within the industry and from the audience as well.”
Sharing how it was to work with two of the most talented women – Meghan and Alia in Raazi, Jaideep had an interesting reply. “There is a line in the film A Few Good Men – ‘There is nothing sexier in life when you wake up and salute to a lady officer. So, I take the liberty to say that it is so amazing to work with two amazing females. Someone recently asked me, ‘How is it like working with a female director?’ and I said a director is a director. When we don’t say ‘male director’, then why call them ‘female directors’. Meghna is just amazing to work with. She used to tell me about the relationship between Mir and Sehmat, what’s beautiful in it and then I figured out that Mir is somewhat of a father figure to Sehmat and not just a trainer or an intelligence officer. And the same thing is with Alia. She is so vulnerable, so hardworking, so charming. It’s amazing to work with such people who have so much love to give.”
And what does he think about the way Raazi depicts patriotism which isn’t about shouting from the rooftop in the cliched manner, but a very humane and neutral depiction? “It’s one of the most beautiful things in this film. Everybody is doing it for their country. A terrorist for one man could be a patriot for another. You need not bash your chest and say ‘Hindustan Zindabad’ to feel like Hindustan Zindabad. Just feel it. Every time the line comes ‘Watan ke aagey kuch nahin’, it shows you what great patriotism they share. That’s the beauty of it that nobody is the villain,” the actor explained.
Jaideep, who aspired to join the army, ended up as an alumnus of FTII, Pune. “It was amazing. In a way, I even thought sometimes that he is a man without a uniform. That was a good feeling that you are representing something that you really wanted to do,” he said.
Jaideep’s body of work boasts of films like Gangs of Wasseypur, Vishwaroopam, Gabbar is Back, Khatta Meetha, Chittagong, Commando and Raees, to name a few, all with varied roles including some with grey shades too. So, does he have any favourite character? “When you are on a journey, every pit stop is your favourite. Today is one character, tomorrow there will be another. It is for someone who watches from outside, they have their favourite moment or character. But for me, every moment is my favourite. But if I have to say a few names I would say Gangs of Wasseypur, Vishwaroopam, Commando and now Raazi,” he shared.
Jaideep also stars in anthology film Lust Stories, where he shares screen space with Manisha Koirala and Sanjay Kapoor. His short has been directed by Dibakar Banerjee. “It’s a very interesting, deep down thinking of these two emotions (love and lust) and about its understanding between relationships and how these two can change things objectively and subjectively,” Jaideep said keeping the mystery around its story intact.
Jaideep, who will also be reprising his part in Vishwaroopam II, concludes that he never takes any sort of pressure. “I have left pressure behind long time back. The same thing goes for industry also. Don’t get too emotional about it. Like Mir’s character, emotions don’t really help. I am just in the moment and whatever comes it will be great.”
Here’s wishing him all the best!