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Unknown stars: Jai Singh Nigger, stunt director

By: Riddhi Doshi

ibnlive.com

Last Updated: December 01, 2010, 21:02 IST

Unknown stars: Jai Singh Nigger, stunt director

The daring story of Jai Singh who has worked as a stunt director for movies like 'Golmaal' trilogy, 'Apaharan', 'Phool Aur Kante' among many others

Sportsman

An athlete since childhood, Jai Singh was even selected to play hockey at the national level. He recalls the eventful day when the team was just about to leave for the tournament. “I was the only one selected from my college. My coach then told me that as I was the only one from my college they have selected someone from another college that has many other selected players, to make it easier. I was heart-broken. I had always been one of the best hockey players in my home town, Jalandhar, Punjab.” He adds, “I learnt later that a minister’s son was chosen instead of me. I was angry and disappointed and in my fury I broke the hockey stick and took a vow to never play hockey again.” Soon after, Jai decided to get to Mumbai and work in the film industry.

Entry into films

Jai started his career as a stunt man and has worked in about 500 films till date. “I came to Mumbai in 1974 and met the great stunt master (director), Veeru Devgan. I was very fit at that time. I could do about 300 squats easily at any given time. Veeruji selected me to work in his team.” Jai started training under Devgan and bagged his first film ‘Warrant’ that starred Dev Anand and Zeenat Aman. “At that time we used to train at Juhu Beach in Mumbai. Veeru Devgan taught me different kicks, punches, sword fighting and also a few techniques of Kung Fu and karate.”

In limelight

For a Shashi Kapoor film, director Tinu Anand wanted to shoot an action scene at the height of 30th floor of Air India building. The scene had to show the villain and the hero in a fist fight with each other mid-air, hanging from a wire. Jai recalls, “Tinu Anand wanted to hire a foreign stunt director to execute this scene. Then somebody recommended him to try out Veeruji. Veeruji and I went to the venue – The Air India building in South Mumbai. He explained the shot and nobody said a word thereafter. Even Veeruji was silent. I told Veeruji that I will get this stunt done.” After days of searching, Jai managed to find a man who agreed to make a long wire that could connect the Air India and the Indian Express buildings that are almost 50 meters away from each other. But the challenge was to move the two men hanging from the wire. I hired two pulleys to do that. Back then, there were no harnesses available in India. To convince the stunt men that it was not a very difficult stunt to pull off, I first hung two bags that weighed about 20 kilos each, from the wire. And thereafter I held the rope in my hands and moved from one end of the wire to other. I made a sturdy harness for both the stunt men with ropes and shot the scene.” This scene won Jai the reputation of being a daring stunt co-ordinator.

Promotion

Veeru Devgan’s son, Ajay encouraged Jai to take on the responsibilities of a stunt director. He says, “I had handled many independent projects. Back then we used to work on 5 to 6 movies every month. If Veeruji was handling on one project I would take care of another one. Many actors like Amrish Puri, Dharmendra, Jeetendra adviced me to be an independent stunt director and finally I agreed. My first movie for which I got the credit for being the stunt director of was Amitabh Bachchan’s Lal Badshah.

Overview of the last 35 years

Jai claims that in his career as a stuntman he has never gotten seriously injured on the sets. And also there have been no accidents under his supervision as a stunt director. He says, “God has been kind. And also I always think and strategise my stunts before actually getting them done and that saves me trouble. When getting a stunt done I am completely focused on the stunt and safety of my stunt men or actor or actress.”

Jai has worked with the likes of Ajay Devgn, Abhishek Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Madhuri Dixit, Sridevi, Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra, Kareena Kapoor and many others. He says, “All the actors and the directors have been kind to me. I don’t care what others think about this industry but I have received loads of love and respect from the industry. I would like to work as long as my health permits.”

Awards

Jai says, “I have been nominated several times. But I am not among the ones who would want to pay money to win. I was surprised when I got an award for my film Apaharan.”

first published:December 01, 2010, 21:02 IST
last updated:December 01, 2010, 21:02 IST