Shahid was all praise for team ‘Jersey’ when he said, “It was the most collaborative and understanding team I have worked with in a long time. When COVID happened, our film shoot was about 50 per cent through and Aman Gill decided to stop shooting because it was not safe. We didn’t want to risk it. There was a kid and my dad, who was on set and many others too, there was no vaccine at that time. It took us longer to complete the film so it has been a long journey.”
He added, “We are finally here and during this time we often spoke to each other about not releasing the film unless the theatres opened and we actually waited for two years. I want to thank Allu Arvind sir and Dil Raju for having the heart and being the producers that they are. I must say they are lovers of cinema in the true sense. They wanted to share the story the way we had conceived it. I am happy that the film is coming out on the big screen, the way it was supposed to. I don’t think i would have liked any other way to share this story.”
Shahid revealed that he had heard the story of ‘Jersey’ just before the release of ‘Kabir Singh’. He added, “I cried buckets. I saw it (the original Telugu film featuring Nani) with Mira and my manager and they both stared at me and asked me why did the meltdown happen. I told them, something deep down had connected with me on this film. Then ‘Kabir Singh’ happened but this story stayed close to my heart. I wanted to play this character.”
He also said, “I am doing things that excite me, but I am conscious of the fact I must try and do films that are more accessible especially after Kabir Singh since there is a wide audience, that has seen the film. I am not chasing the same kind of character again nor the same story again. That doesn’t excite me. The old wine, new bottle bit, I don’t understand that. I am not here to make the bottle, I am only interested in the wine. ‘Jersey’ is a strong story with a new, original and fresh character.”
With ‘Kabir Singh’, Shahid made an entry into the 200 crore club, but he admitted that it was an alien feeling to him. He said, “After ‘Kabir Singh’, I went like a beggar to everybody. I went to all these people who’ve made 200-250 crore films. I had never been a part of this club, so it was completely new to me. I wanted to know how would I be able to make another film like that. Having spent 15-16 years in the industry, I never had such a huge grosser. So, when it finally happened, I didn’t know where to go, it was all new to me.”
When asking for advice from others Shahid got a variety of suggestions and he revealed that it wasn’t easy making a choice. He said, “People told me play a college guy, someone told me play an aggressive character like Kabir Singh, another guy told me work in an action film. Honestly, I didn’t know what to do, but thankfully, I got Jersey and I liked it and doing it made sense to me.”
“You could also say, I tried my best not to do this film (He was offered ‘Jersey’ before he worked on ‘Kabir Singh’). Credit to Gowtam (Gowtam Tinnanuri, the director of ‘Jersey’) for working with me and waiting for me. I’m so happy I did this movie. I can safely say this is my best film yet,” Shahid added.
Finally, speaking about the pressure of returning to the 200 crore club with ‘Jersey’, Shahid said, “Arre! The theatres have just opened up, I am human too, don’t put such pressure on me yet. If I don’t get to enter the club this time, I will go back to where I started. The important thing is to keep getting good work.”