Parodies are the toughest to create – Jitendra Kumar
You may know him as Arjun Kejriwal, Munna Jazbaati, the confused groom from Permanent Roommates or the very famous Jitendra Maheshwari from TVF Pitchers, ranked #21 in IMDb’s list of top rated TV series in the world. Jitendra Kumar or Jeetu, as he is lovingly called, is one of the very famous names from the TVF (The Viral Fever) family. Known for his natural and effortless acting, this civil engineer turned actor has become a household name.
Jeetu is currently enthralling audiences with TVF’s latest sketch comedy How To Train Your Son – Arranged Dating. The boy who hails from Khairthal and loves acting, ‘anytime and anywhere’, gets candid with Pandolin.
Your first stint with acting happened by accident, what was it that made you pursue it further, making it a career?
I don’t believe that an acting career can ever be planned because an Indian middle-class parent can never think of it as a career, providing a good and continuous salary with a retirement pension. So it was incidental for me. During college, I was introduced to dramatics, which I thoroughly enjoyed. But I needed a normal job post IIT, which I didn’t get. And that small wish of becoming an actor led me to joining TVF.
My start at TVF was so rough that I left Mumbai and joined a construction company in Bangalore. But this stint assured me that I suck at engineering. It was this very moment that gave me a scary thought that I suck at every other thing too! A dramatic event back home became my incident, which made me pack my bags and head off on the path of uncertainty.
That small wish of becoming an actor led me to joining TVF
You’ve had a long-standing association with TVF. When and how did it all begin? What makes TVF home today?
It was my third year in college when I met Biswapati Sarkar who used to write plays that I acted in. We even shot a full length feature film, which never got edited. It was demotivating, yes, but was a really good learning experience. You can say that it was my acting school with him as my coach. He was interning at TVF and through him, I was introduced to Arunabh Kumar, the founder. Together, they created YouTube videos, with a few of them having me as an actor. One of them was Munna Jazbaati, which was highly appreciated and became the catalyst in providing me the confidence to resign from my engineering job. TVF was creating content continuously and I was going with the flow, without giving it a second thought. It was tough as TVF then was a very small team and we were working 16 hours a day to create content. This brought us close together and yes, you can call it my second home.
You have played various characters so far – from Munna Jazbaati and Arjun Kejriwal to the lead in Pitchers etc. Which one have you been able to relate to the most and why? Your favorite character would be?
I feel that I relate most to Jitendra Maheshwari, my character from TVF Pitchers. The others are like caricatures in a relatable situation, in which I have tried to perform genuinely, with a tinge of nervousness. My favorite character definitely is Arjun Kejriwal that allowed others to have confidence in me and that in turn made me confident about myself.
I just have a craze for acting and nothing comes naturally to me
Parodies seem to come naturally to you. What is the trick to getting it right?
Trust me, I just have a craze for acting and nothing comes naturally to me. Every acting project has its own pressure and challenge, which makes it really hard to act convincingly. Sometimes I fail at it and sometimes I achieve the way that I really want to portray the character. Parodies are the toughest to create. We do lots of research about the characters to write a good nuanced parody and it’s that very writing which makes the portrayal natural.
While making content for the Internet, how important is spontaneity and timing? How do you prepare for your characters or do you go with the flow?
Acting in any medium requires spontaneity and timing and honestly, every actor has that of his own. Observations help an actor to be spontaneous, and I keep trying that in the different things that I do. For example, I try to catch the writer’s tone while they narrate the story and sometimes I imagine situations which happened to me in the past. By the way, I am just trying to come up with an answer (laughs). What really matters is a good rehearsal leading to an on-time completion of the shoot.
What really matters is a good rehearsal leading to an on-time completion of the shoot
Do you also write your own gags / content?
No, not at all. Getting good acting projects and doing justice to them itself is a big task and that’s enough for me. Writing in itself requires a different expertise all together, which is not my cup of tea.
Tell us about your latest outing How to train your son – Arranged Dating and what should one expect from it? It seems to draw from real life situations that most youngsters face. Could you also relate to it?
Yes, I can relate to it. I think our writer Chandan Kumar tried to capture the real life scenario in it, which is naturally humorous. Watch it for fun.
This, like any other business, can never have a complete surety of always being a hit
You are paired alongside your favourite co-star Akanksha Thakur. That surely must make the on-screen chemistry easy? Do popular pairs also assure instant recognition and popularity?
Definitely, a comfortable environment helps me to perform freely. Good co-actors make things comfortable, it looks easy and hence good on screen. We only try to entertain our audiences, which is always unpredictable. This, like any other business, can never have a complete surety of always being a hit. And she has always said to me, “we are just good friends” (laughs).
In your personal experience, what is it that the web, as a medium, offers actors which other mediums may or may not? Is it an experience that you recommend to every actor?
Web provides a much easier access to the audience as compared to the traditional mediums, wherein distribution is more tedious than making the film. Here, on the web, we just need to focus and work hard on filmmaking. I would definitely recommend this medium of storytelling to actors and storytellers.
I would definitely recommend this medium of storytelling to actors and storytellers
Several actors from the TVF family are also exploring Bollywood. Do you think the web has also become a stepping stone to films, like TV and ads?
I think it’s the other way round. People from films and TV are exploring the web more. I think you can make working for the web a full-time choice. If you ask me personally, I would love to act in any medium and any role if I find it interesting.
What other projects are you currently working on?
For now, I am busy with TVF sketches.
Lastly, what would you say has worked in your favor and what is it that you would like to keep doing ahead as well?
If I am excited about any project, it will usually look good to the audience and it works well for me more than the audience. But if I am not (excited), then it surely doesn’t work for me. No matter how it goes with the audiences. So basically my excitement towards any project has played out well so far.