Every son’s first hero is his father, and in my case, my father is actually a hero. I’ve always been fascinated with him, and I was in awe of everything he did. Everywhere we go, my father is always surrounded by fans, and I feel so proud. Nowadays, when we go out for lunch, it has become a 50-50 situation. The competition is increasing at home as well. We often joke about who has more people running after him. I keep telling him, “Dad, give me one more year. After that, things will begin to change.” When I began working on Heropanti, my first film, my father wasn’t there for a single day. Thank god for that. I would have frozen if he had been around. He knows I’m very intimidated by his presence in certain situations. When he saw the film, he was happy with my performance. Since it was the first time he was seeing me on screen, he did show some emotion. I could see that he was the most tense, even though he acted all macho and bindaas. Until the film’s numbers started pouring in, he was the one not sleeping at night.
My mother used to constantly tell me about my father’s life before he became an actor. She had been with him much before he became a star. He used to stay in a chawl in Walkeshwar, in Mumbai, in an area called Teen Batti, with his family. Even after becoming an overnight superstar with his first film, Hero, he continued to stay there for a good five to six years. Chawls have public bathrooms, and he used to wait in line to do his business in the morning. I remember him telling me that after becoming a star, the only advantage was that the other residents used to let him cut the queue. He’d request them to let him go early, because he would be getting late for a shoot. I’ve heard so many such stories about him. It is amazing to hear about his humble background, his beginnings in the industry and what he’s accomplished. Growing up, I don’t think I went to the set too often with my father. My parents have given me a very simple and normal childhood, just like anybody else’s. The only time I would feel like my father was different was when we would go out for a meal together, or when he’d come for any of my school functions. He was a very hands-on father and very involved in our lives. There were times when he would fly to Ooty for a shoot in the morning, fly back at night to see me and then go back again the next day. I think he did that for almost 30 days continuously.
My grandmother (my father’s mother) had tapes of all of my dad’s movies. Every night, before I went to sleep, I’d watch one of his films. I think Gardish and Parinda are two of my most favourite performances by him. In fact, the year I was born, he won the Filmfare best actor award for Parinda, and he carried me on to the stage. He had the black lady in one hand and me in the other. We still have a photo of that moment. My dad and I don’t discuss films or my career too much. We don’t even share too many common interests. I think we are as different as the North and South poles. I’m into sports and fitness. I live a disciplined, army kind of a lifestyle, and he is more bindaas and cool about his fitness. He’s not a person who likes to be pushed around, so I’ve never forced him. He likes to do things his way. The best part about him is that he has remained absolutely the same. I think he is that same Jackie dada or Jacky bhai that people know. His mannerisms and his style of talking have remained the same. On set, he treats everybody equally. I’ve noticed that he always chills out with the light guys and the spot boys, even more than the director. He’s such a cool guy that way, and that’s why he has such mass appeal.