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Birthday Special: “I had a crush on Shraddha Kapoor in school though I was shy as far as girls were concerned” says TIGER SHROFF

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When Hero was released with Jackie Shroff as the leading man, I was lucky enough to have been among the first few to interview the hulk and herald his arrival in Bollywood. However, I was not so lucky to have been singled out to interview him when Jackie Shroff’s son Tiger Shroff was launched with his film Heropanti. His other films followed in quick successions like The Flying Jatt, Munna Michael, Baaghi, and Baaghi 2 but I was not called at all to interview him. However, recently I caught up with Tiger at the shooting of an ad film of his at Film City and I managed to talk to Tiger Shroff. At the outset, Tiger greeted me warmly as I had met him earlier during a couple of occasions when I had reminded him that I was a good friend of his dad for the last 38 years since Hero was released.

A plate of oily samosas was lying on the table in front of us. Tiger roars, “Yeh Samose Le Jao.” Looking at me, Tiger says, “I just have to smell these samosas and I feel I have eaten a lot of junk food because it works on me. It is part of my work to be health-conscious and look a certain way with 6 pack abs because I am an actor and have got to be very health conspicuous.”

The talk veers around his dad Jackie Shroff. Tiger asserts that he is still often being compared with his father. “When I began my career, people did not at all take me seriously as I was Jackie Shroff’s son. I have seen dad’s journey at close quarters and because of that I have too much insecurity about myself to ever let success go to my head. I have to struggle hard to seek attention whereas my dad has got to just stand there to grab the attention of his fans. Right from the time I entered films, I knew I’d be compared with my dad. I have no complaints. I’d not have been here if he were not an actor. Isn’t it?

Getting in to the skin of his character of Ronnie in Student of The Year 2 was not difficult at all for Tiger because as he puts it, I have always been into sports and for me it was a breeze to do the role because the film is not like War and I am actually played a character which is very close to my age. Also the fact is that dance has always been my first love, especially because action can be at times very dangerous too. It was a romantic film with a little bit of sports thrown in it for all my fans from 4 years to 60.”

For the first time in his career, Tiger says that he played kabaddi in his film and had to work a lot to learn the game properly and also to bring what he calls Tigerism into his character. “It was a very enjoyable experience because I had to focus not only on sports but also on girls. (Winks).  The film sets out to tell that sports should play an important role in grooming every one’s life and you will walk out of the film with a smile on your lips. I love kids a lot. I feel that in schools too, they should promote sports like kabaddi to help the children go through a holistic experience. You should do some outdoor activities and get Vitamin D.”

Student of The Year 2, Tiger says, was a different film from Student of The Year. “Action films have a lot of mass appeal. I keep my fingers crossed, because last year a lot of small; films made good business while big films with big stars tanked. After the phenomenal success at the box office of Baaghi 2, expectations have gone up for me and people have started looking at me in a different light as a bankable star and I guess I have got to live up to all those expectations. When I walked on the sets of Student of The Year 2, people gave me a lot of respect even calling me Tiger Sir. In Dehra Doon when we were shooting, over 2000 people called me out as Ronnie and it was a different high for me because that was the character that I played in  Student of The Year 2.”

Tiger confesses that he did not at all expect that his film Baaghi 2 will do a business which crossed 165 cr. “Frankly , I did not expect it to touch more than 50 cr, because it was pitted opposite the top grossing Marathi film Sairat. In retrospect, I feel that the last 15 minutes of the action in the film had done the trick. I feel that it is very important to get emotion with action. It is very important to show the hero fighting for what he feels is important.”

“I have not yet signed for any crossover film though I feel that there is a void for action heroes from India in the West and there is a possibility of me filling in that void.  I had not danced with Hrithik. Though we shot all the action portions, the dance portions in War were shot later in winter as it is too hot for comfort during the summer. It has been an amazing experience working with Hrithik Roshan. Sometimes I used to go blank just looking at Hrithik Roshan in the same frame as me. I could not believe that I was working with Hrithik Roshan.”

Tiger confesses that he does have a sweet tooth and on Sundays he loves to indulge in cheating a lot like eating vada pavs, samosas, because on other days he does not eat anything that tastes good. “If I am not shooting, I take three hours in the morning to dance and three hours in the evening to go to gym. Dancing is a form of cardiovascular exercise for me and is fun, as you do not even realize how many calories you are burning.”.

Tiger is humble enough to say that he is not at all versatile as an actor though at the same time in the same breath he adds that when people talk about action heroes, since his name also crops up as one, he feels happy that he also has an identify of himself as an action hero, like say Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, Sunny Deol etc do. Action heroes like Sylvester Stallone are aspirational heroes. My goal is to let my life have some meaning. I want to inspire people through my work. I do not want to preach. Michael Jackson, Bruce lee etc speak with their action. I also want to touch people’s lives with my brand of action. My mission is to serve the world rather than just be a part of it.”

Tiger confesses that when he was in school when he was shy as far as girls were concerned, he had a crush on Shradha Kapoor but could not approach her or any other girl. Jackie Shroff has gone on record that if Tiger is seeing his girlfriend Disha Patani, it is well and good because he has grown up. Says Tiger, “If I am being touted as seeing Disha Patani, it makes me feel good, because let’s face facts, the truth is that Disha is a damn good looking girl and I am quite comfortable in her presence.”

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