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Jim Sarbh | 27
Category: Art & Culture
Do you get to work from here?” he asks, trying to roll himself a smoke as best as he can in a bumpy autorickshaw on the way to the nearest railway station. “You know, that is something I never feel like I am doing.” Working, you mean? “Yes. I never feel like I am working.”
A chat at Prithvi Café in Juhu with Jim Sarbh (prior to the rickshaw ride) generally gives that impression. The 27-year-old actor, director and producer moves around with a backpack full of scripts. “That’s my next one,” he says, pulling out a sheaf of stapled pages of Vikram Kapadia’s adaptation of The Merchant of Venice. “I play Gratiano. And then there’s Kalki’s [Koechlin] play called [he looks at another stapled sheaf]… It does not have a name yet. And then there’s The Maids, which I am directing.” Between theatre rehearsals, there are the odd advertisements which bring in the bread. That too, he says, is hardly work. “It’s just a day’s shoot, and they pay me enough to cover my expenses.”
Over ‘cutting chai’ and sandwiches, he flits through the characters he has played and directed, and plays he has produced. We do not talk about him being from a family that was one of Mumbai’s earliest promoters of art in Independent India: The Pundoles. His grandfather, Kali Pundole, started the Pundole Art Gallery that was one of the pioneering galleries in the city. We also don’t talk much about him going to Emory University in Atlanta for a degree in psychology.
Sarbh played Romeo in class 7 or 8, followed by several other plays, some as varied as Grease, The Importance of Being Earnest and Danny Boyles’s Shallow Grave. Acting continued while he was in Atlanta. “And there was a time when I gave it all up, thinking there was something very narcissistic about it all. And people were too busy trying to stick a finger at people, instead of trying to get better or exploring human conditions.” And now? “Now I am not concerned so much about what others are doing.”
Back in India for three-and-a-half-years, Sarbh has built an impressive repertoire of work. “In 2013, I worked, acted in, eight plays. And in 2014, I made three plays,” says Sarbh, whose career graph started with Purva Naresh’s OK Tata, Bye Bye, and went on to include Sunil Shanbag’s Stories in a Song, Alyque Padamsee’s version of Death of a Salesman, apart from his own directorial ventures like Mike Bartlett’s Cock. His latest act is that of Tom Wingfield in Rajit Kapur’s production of Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie.
Theatre director and producer Raell Padamsee says, “Sarbh is a sensitive, intuitive actor who straddles the myriad roles he has essayed with ease. He has a great stage presence and there is trueness to his performances.”