Actor Saurabh Shukla has once again proved the mettle of his acting prowess with Jolly LLB 2. His Justice Sunderlal Tripathi is the best you could have asked for in this Subhash Kapoor directed courtroom drama. Humour is just one side of his character, the kind of depth and the ‘read-between-lines’ moments that his performance create on screen add a lot to the narrative.
Jolly LLB 2 is a fine film. A film driven by good content and very good performances. However, in between the slightly dramatic plot and weight of a star’s presence, Saurabh Shukla shines like he did in Jolly LLB, four years back. He got a national award then for the best supporting actor, and it won’t be a surprise if he gets one again this time. Talking to InUth over the phone and accepting wishes from us for yet another terrific performance, Saurabh Shukla talked about his experiences, life as a ‘non-hero’ and more. Excerpts:
Much like Jutice Sunderlal Tripathi in Jolly LLB 2, does even Saurabh Shukla has that ‘no-nonsense’ attitude?
I don’t think I can tell you that completely. I think people around me who are talking to me, observing me will be able to tell you. But I know one thing, that in all your characters as an actor, you carry a part of you. Yes, it is a bit of Tripathi in me. Also, it is very much the vision of the director who has conceived my character in a certain way. So that ‘no-nonsense’ guy is also constructed in the script.
So, as shown in the film, if you’re having an argument with somebody and the person goes on dharna. Would you, like Justice Tripathi, indulged in the same and revolt or would you let it go?
I would love to do it (go on dharna) for the right reason.
Are you expecting another national award for your performance in Jolly LLB 2?
(Laughs). It’s not a question of expecting. It is not my part. It is when the audience feels, when the award givers feel, you get an award. If I get an award yet again, I will definitely feel more than honoured.
But do you believe in awards whether national or film awards?
Yes. Awards are actually the recognition of your work. One likes it when he receives an award. Awards have their own value. But, I think that it’s a by-product. The first thing is that you do your job, and if you are enjoying your job, it is rewarding enough. Like in the first part (Jolly LLB), I completely enjoyed performing my character. In Jolly LLB 2 as well, I have enjoyed what I have done. If I get an award, it gets recognised. It is very humbling then.
What is the best part about being Justice Sundarlal Tripathi?
Sundarlal Tripathi is completely human and that’s the best thing about him. His heart is at the right place. He is not a superman. He lives life of an ordinary man and has all the problems but he is all for the justice. He loves his job.
So how do you make sure that your Sundarlal Tripathi conveys both humour and seriousness of a situation through your performance in the film?
I am a firm believer that humour is something which is your protecting shield. Humour is there in every situation. If you are angry, even then you say a lot of funny things. When you are blabbering, you end up saying things which are bizarre, sarcastic and funny in some way. If you look and observe life in that way, you will be able to catch it very easily.
‘Log aaj bhi bharosa karte hain nyayepalika par…’ this is how you sum up the film. How much Saurabh Shukla relate to this statement in real-life? Do you also believe that people have a strong faith in the judiciary?
These lines from the film are the best lines I believe. It is such a truth. I completely believe in this. Otherwise, we all will just fall apart. We all go through some problems including myself. We do get frustrated at times but we have a ray of hope. That ray of hope is this. If there’s injustice, there’s this one institution which will ensure justice to you. Yahi baat Sundarlal Tripathi kehta hai:
“Log aate hain, hataash ho ke chale jate hain. Lekin, phir bhi kahin jhagda hota hai toh aaj bhi kehte hain ki ‘I’ll see you in court.’
We have not become savages. We can’t kill each other in the name of revenge and justice. The beauty of this institution is that it is holding the country together. It is holding the societies together. Your plea will be heard you know.
When you utter dialogues like ‘bhare court me thappad maar diya, ab kya RDX lagane ka irada hai’, is there any improvisation you do or is it entirely the work of the dialogue writer?
It’s like marriage. The writer and the actor work together to deliver such scenes. It’s actually very difficult to figure out where you have improvised and where have you not. But, if the script is not written in a certain way, the actor can’t improvise at all. Any actor who loves the script will always enhance it by adding his/ her colours to it.
Did you also love the script of Jolly LLB 2 enough to ‘enhance it by adding your colours to it?’ If yes, please share an example.
(Laughs). Of course, I did love it. So there was the scene when Jolly slaps Mathur (Annu Kapoor’s character) and there happens a lot of chaos in the court then. Now, Mathur being the local lawyer has his followers, those who enter with the guns seeing the violence. And there’s a bigger chaos. Now, in this situation, since Tripathi is the judge and not a cop, he cannot handle this violence. He gets scared. Like all who are running to save their lives, he also tries to save his life and hides under his own table. Now this scene was written in the script. However, it got extended and the camera kept running. I had a gabble in my hand, and turns out that I am constantly beating the gabble on that gabble. This shows how even though the judge is being human and thinking of saving his life, he is also maintaining the dignity of the judge and trying to ensure the law and order in whatever possible way he can at the time.
When that scene got cut, Subhash came and hugged me. He said ‘it’s such a big statement on the character of Sundar Lal Tripathi and on the judge’s seat.’
Much like Sundarlal Tripathi, are you an Alia Bhatt fan in real-life as well?
Yes, I am. It wasn’t because of my contribution though. It was originally there in the script. Alia Bhatt is a fabulous actor. She is a wonderful performer.
But, as you said in the film, do you see a combination of Madhuri Dixit and Madhubala in her?
I have been a fan of both Madhubala and Madhuri. Though I don’t compare Alia with them. But I think the writer had that idea, and I believe it blended very well with the character of Justice Tripathi.
In one of your previous interviews, somebody had asked you about how despite being an actor of a great caliber, you never really got the role of the main hero in a film. Do you think there’s any concept of ‘main lead’ that still exist in cinema when a lot of things are already changing?
I believe no body is the lead and all of them are lead. Content is the main hero. I never had that complex of being the ‘main hero.’ I have always followed as an actor that whenever I do a film, the scripts have always been shared with me. So I have first liked the script and then the character. So, Jolly LLB 2 says a lot of things. It makes a point. If the film doesn’t have any point to make, my character would be nowhere, whether I am in as so called ‘lead’ or anywhere in the film. Judge Sundarlal Tripathi is a hero in its own right. And so is every character because what’s more appealing than any character is the story of the film.
What if I tell you have outshined Akshay Kumar’s performance in Jolly LLB 2?
There’s nobody who can outshine anybody. When you give a good performance, it’s not alone yours. If I didn’t have good performances by Akshay Kumar and Annu Kapoor, I would not have delivered the same kind of performance. When we make a film, we are a team. We have to win together. It’s a team effort. It’s like a match where you support each other and enhance each other’s performance to get success.
How would you sum up the entire experience of working in the Jolly series?
The experience of Jolly LLB has exactly been what I had expected when I left my Masters degree to come into films. This is the dream that I wanted to live.
So what is in the pipeline now?
Jagga Jasoos is the next. Then is Shabash Kundu which is Kamal Haasan’s new film. Sudhir Mishra’s Aur Devdas is next and two more films. I am also travelling to the USA with my play.