EXCLUSIVE: Jim Sarbh on Khilji-Kafur's relationship: Only a snake can understand the love of another snake

In an EXCLUSIVE chat with PINKVILLA, Jim revealed the complexities of his character and his experience working with Ranveer Singh and Sanjay Leela Bhansali in Padmaavat. The movie hit the theatres on January 25, 2018.
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Padmaavat starring Ranveer Singh, Shahid Kapoor and Deepika Padukone has finally hit the theatres on January 25, 2018. The magnum opus has got everyone raving. While there is no dispute that every single character in the movie performed their best, Malik Kafur's character played by Jim Sarbh stood out. Jim as the Aghani gift to Alauddin Khilji was wicked yet a confidante who loved his master too much to endure any pain for him. 
Jim puts forward a class act as Kafur. Not just that, the relationship between Malik and Khilji was so beautifully explored in the movie that it wouldn't be wrong to call it one of the highlights of the movie. 
In an EXCLUSIVE chat with PINKVILLA, Jim revealed the complexities of his character and his experience working with Ranveer Singh and Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
Here's an excerpt from the interview:
1. Everyone has been raving about your character Malik Kafur. Has it sunk in yet that the film has finally released and people are going gaga over your character? Did you expect the kind of response you are receiving?
I don't expect too much. You know it is such a huge film and I hadn't seen the film so I was as nervous and excited as anyone else. I was waiting to see how the entire thing had come out because I did not particularly shoot with Deepika or Shahid. With Shahid for just one day so I did not know how their side looked like and how ours fitted with it. I did not know what was edited and hence, I was very very excited. Now that it is out, I am overwhelmed with the response. My mind can't just comprehend, just how many people are watching the movie. I guess the other four people (actors) are used to this but I am really not, so my head is just reeling with pleasure and gratitude and it's like heaving a huge sigh of relief that all the hard work has paid of. 
Working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali is said to be an experience in itself. What was the best and the worst part about working with him, according to you?
It is definitely an experience which is very instructive, fulfilling and makes you learn a lot of things. The best part about working with Sanjay sir is the number of things I learned. I learnt about the beat of a scene, that every scene has a beat and you have to come in on it and slightly play around it but until you know and get the beat, it is impossible. 
I enjoy that he really pushes you deep, to go and find the potential and hidden layers in the scene. I think his eye for details does not just have to do with the backdrop and the costumes and sets, it also has to do with the quality of the performance and I think if he sees that you are capable, he will push you till you do your best or he gets the thing he wants and I love that. 
What was your state of mind when the script was narrated to you? 
I had auditioned the part without having read the script and then they told me that Ranveer had suggested me for the part. I got really excited and eager to read the script and then when I finally read it, I was very excited to play this character. To me, the character had so many beautiful interesting qualities to sink your tooth in as an actor and to really find a way to express all of them. He [Malik Kafur] is a deliciously wicked, sultry big black panther kind of a character and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Alauddin is a huge tiger, a lion and Malik Kafur is like a panther who slicks around by the side. 
I felt like Malik Kafur is the only one who understands Khilji. Like it is said that only a snake can understand the love of another snake. 
Your chemistry with Ranveer Singh is one of the highlights of the movie. How will you describe your camaraderie with him? 
I really enjoyed working with Ranveer Singh. I think he is, as he puts it, an absolute delight to work with. As a co-actor, he is extremely reactive and responsive. He always brings energy and ideas and new ways to do a scene and often I would leave the sets after a gruelling long day, after having waited for a long time and many retakes but I would still leave the sets feeling alive which can only be felt when two actors (you and your co-actor) are in perfect symbiosis and are striving to reach a kind of peak that you know the scene has potential for. Ranveer Singh gave me that opportunity and I don't think a miracle always strikes but with Ranveer Singh as your co-actor, I always thought we were creating a hospitable environment for a miracle to come and stay with us. That to me is rare and beautiful quality in a co-actor and if u get it, you should hold on to it. He is a superb, superb guy. 
Did you have any inhibitions or reservations on how the audience would take the relationship shared by you and Khilji?
I had no reservations. I think that this question is unnecessary. The way we played it without thinking much, the same way the questions must be. Not emphasizing the risk but instead emphasizing the normalcy. 
What is it about a character which really drives you? In Neerja you played this terrorist, then Raabta, a villain and now Kafur... each character are completely different than the other.
Nothing, it completely depends on the character. 
Speaking of Kafur, your character spoke in Afghani accent. What was your reference for the character?
Well, I think, Sanjay Sir wanted him to be like a foreign Afghani gift so I had a dialect coach in addition to an Urdu dialect coach. 
Was picking that accent difficult?
The first time I heard it I almost had a heart attack that I had to do that kind of accent but I am glad that I stuck to it. 
How difficult was it to lip sync on Binte Dil song?
Arijit Singh has really done something special with the song and I was just trying to sing it with the same power he was singing it with. He did all of the work, I was just trying to follow it. As it is I never lip-synced a song in a Bollywood movie before, so I was already nervous. (laughs) I remember Sanjay Sir hearing the song after Arijit sang it and walking around humming it and he saw me and turned around and said 'actor's nightmare', lip-syncing the songs and I was like 'Oh My God'. 
Memorizing the song and singing it are two different things. Whenever there was cut to take and the music would cut out and I tried to sing it loud and oh, it was horrible! (laughs)


Jim Sarbh was AMAZING! By the way..for anyone who is interested in history..Malik Kafur was NOT AFGHAN. These guys are playing with history as if it was some kind of a game lol

I watched it for RANVEER SINGH only but came out pleasantly surprised by JIM SARBH. They both saved Padmaavat

Amazing amazing acting by him

Jim, you were so, so terrific in the movie! Such a highlight. I'm so glad you didn't play Kafur a stereotypical, caricaturish, OTT gay man. You did a wonderful job humanizing him. I really empathized with Kafur's longing for Khilji. Can't wait to see more of your work!

Jimbo, you were the best thing about Padmaavat! Leaving a lasting impact even in very few scenes. Take a bow man!

I loved the ranveer and jim track! Their chemistry was electrifying on screen!

he and Ranveer saved the movie

Ranveer and him had amazing chemistry! two great artists

Bollywood is not for you. Here, the main lead ( Shahid actually as per Bollywood history but in this movie Ranveer since he was main lead in 3 hit movies) has to look larger than life and hog all limelight. They ruined your character at script writing and Editing table

That song was cringe worthy. Totally out of place, when the guy breaks into a song randomly. I found the placement of the song very bizarre.

Jim's a good actor though and I hope he gets more great roles to play! He can do better than being a side actor. I hope he doesn't get typecast in villainous roles only.

But Ranveer was seriously a feast to the eyes! He ate up everyone around him.. he has amazing screen presence. No one can touch him, he commands the screen. I can only think of Amitabh as able to do that.

Binte Dil was such a tastefully done sensual song. I mean there was the obvious sexual references to Khilji and that woman, but the tension between these two men, w/o any overt gestures or displays of affection, was incredible.

Also, Ranveer looked hot as hell.

I was talking about the placement of the song, if you see the movie, it begins very suddenly/unexpectedly. Chemistry between them is great, no doubt! And I don't like the song itself, will change the radio frequency if it ever plays.. just my opinion :-)

Jim is talented. Him and Ranveer really played off one another well. I hope they work together again,

Seriously what a tasteless attempt to distort the history; so biased the way they have portrayed khilji. The version the director picked up to show is so biased propaganda to put down another culture. Most of the people don’t even know that this whole movie is based on a poem and mix of fiction with very little reality. This was so wrong .

I think you are right but regarding the circumstances in India and that Khilji was an invader Mr. Bhansali had no other choice. Nobody in their right mind can deny that the film was based on the poem. Khilji was not some barbarian. He was a cultured man even though he did some major mistakes. History is full of bad decisions. Nobody can change fact. Next time Mr. Bhansali should just write a fiction with fictional characters.

He is more handsome than sahihd n ranverr combined

He was better than ranveer in the film. Ranveer is a great actor but here he was ott which is the directors fault. He was amazing in Lootera as bajirao

He was great in the movie. Better than Shahid

Superb actor and hottt too

He is a superb actor.He justified his role completely

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