You know him as the ever so amazing Jeetu Bhaia from Kota Factory, the beloved doggo dad in Cheesecake, and the exasperated son in Tech Conversations With Dad, and the star of Shubh Mangal Zyaada Saavdhan. One of the most versatile internet faces today, Jeetendra Kumar has surely come a long way since his theatre days at IIT.
We had a casual conversation with Jeetu and got to know a few things about his life before stardom and more.
You’re a big celebrity now. How do you handle all the fame?
I’m literally always awkward. I’m still learning how to deal with this. It’s still very overwhelming for me. (laughs) I still don’t know how or what I should talk about. I’m learning to be comfortable around people. Like this one time, someone comes up to me and asks where I live. I told him the general area but he started asking me what’s my flat number and all. One person asked me what’s my real height, because he said I look taller on screen. So one can never be prepared for the kind of things people ask. It’s still a learning process. I’m very grateful for where I am but whenever someone approaches me, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they just take a selfie with me. Because if they start asking questions, my awkwardness will get exposed.
Who’s the best co-actor you’ve worked with till date?
I would say Aryan — the dog I worked with on Cheesecake.
Out of all the parts you’ve played, which is the one character you identify with the most?
I think Jeetu Bhaiya from Kota Factory. I’ve been a teacher myself and I’ve also been around supportive teachers like him all my life. I got a lot of freedom to interpret this character in my own way. So I took a lot of inspiration from teachers around me as well from my own experience. So that is one character who’s very close to my heart.
How did your family react to your decision to be an actor?
My whole family thought I had gone mad. All my aunts and uncles had gathered to knock sense into me. Each of them sat me down to let me know what a mistake I’m making. It took a few fights and a lot of banter to finally make them agree to it. They asked me to give them time, but I was like I can’t say how long it’ll take and I don’t want to leave my dreams midway. So they were finally convinced and said okay follow your dreams.
If not an actor what would you be?
I’ve studied civil engineering and worked in a civil engineering company for a while. There I realised this is not something I would want to do long-term. I didn’t know much other than this but I was passionate about acting so I thought why not give that a try. While I was learning and struggling to make it in the industry I started teaching in order to keep myself afloat. I taught Physics at a coaching centre. I was initially scared but I actually turned out decent at it. So if not an actor I’d surely have been a teacher.
What is the story behind your monicker ‘Farji Gulzar’?
This is an old story. So at one point everyone was choosing clever names for their Twitter handle. So I was like even I want to be a part of this. I used to write poetry at one time. But it wasn’t really great. My friends found my poems particularly weird and used to tease me with the name ‘Farji Gulzar’. So once when we were brainstorming names for my Twitter handle, at once everyone came up with this name for me and it just stuck.
What was your time like in IIT?
Being in IIT was like a rollercoaster ride full of ups and downs. Sometimes I would fail at some subject, other times when I would be performing theatre I would be treated like a star. My time in Kharagpur really taught me how to deal with life in both the good times and the bad.
What advice would you give the youth today?
If there's one advice I would give, it would be to complete your graduation. Complete your education so at least you will have a degree which will be your safety net. You’ll be fully secure and be able to focus on your dream as well as have a backup. Once you’re done with your studies definitely try to follow your dreams — if it does work out great. And if it doesn’t then at least you have something to fall back on.