I first saw Kota Factory after the show had already created a buzz about being one of the most relatable and honest representations of the entrance exam pressures, first love, and everlasting friendship.
Of course, by then, Jeetu Bhaiya had also become the crowd favourite. And rightfully so. After all, his performance was exemplary and his monologue is one of the best summaries of the 'Kota experience'.
But, what struck me the most about Jeetu Bhaiya was how he represented those handful of teachers in my life, who became not just a mentor, but also a friend.
Jeetu Bhaiya is, without a doubt, the 'cool' teacher. He is the professor you respect and admire in equal measures. And more often than, you seek his advice on topics that are most definitely out of the syllabus.
As a teacher, Jeetu Bhaiya calls you out when you step out of the line. But, unlike most teachers, he scolds not just to establish his dominance and authority, but to actually ensure his students are on the right path.
And he never stops looking out for his students, encouraging them to excel not just in studies, but also in life.
Just like the time he told Vaibhav to gift him something, but on his own caliber and not on his parents' income. Or when Vaibhav is reluctant to leave the coaching institute, it's Jeetu Bhaiya who reminds him that moving on is important for growth.
It's a testament to the writer and the actor that Jeetu Bhaiya reminded so many of us of those mentors who are still, just a call away.
The teachers who didn't look at teaching as 'just another profession' but as a way of actually bringing about a change in their students' lives. And whose advice became a guiding force for so many students.
Like my teacher from my MBA coaching days who was the only person outside of family who I bought a gift for with my first salary.
Because, had it not been for his advice over good food (he'd take his students on food drives across the city), I'd still be struggling to accept my differences, and turn them into my strengths.
So here's a thank you to those teachers who cared for their students, who understood that as teenagers we had a mind of our own and respected our opinions, and who never stopped guiding us, even though we became 'adults' ourselves. Oh, and who remain, to date, the 'coolest'.