Jitendra Kumar has broken out into the big league. The actor, lovingly known as Jeetu Bhaiya after his characters in TVF web series like Pitchers and Kota Factory that first shot him to fame, will soon be seen on the big screen across Ayushmann Khuranna. Titled Shubh Mangal Zyaada Saavdhan, the film is the latest small-town comedy from the Aanand L Rai stable and is based on a same-sex love story.
Ahead of the film’s release, Kumar spoke to Film Companion’s Sneha Menon Desai about how he came to be known as Jeetu Bhaiya and the origins of the character in both Pitchers and Kota Factory.
I know you had a problem initially because people weren’t recognising you by your name because your characters had become so popular. But suddenly now it’s all about Jeetu Bhaiya?
The first sketch I did for TVF which became popular was Munna Jazbaati and people started calling me that and I got annoyed wondering why people called me that instead of my actual name. That’s why in Pitchers I intentionally kept my name as Jeetu. If Pitchers wasn’t a hit, then trust me no one would call me Jeetu. So it always really depends on the script. People will always refer to you by your character’s name of the last good thing you did. Which is what you want, you want your work to affect people so that they remember you.
But you do get annoyed sometimes and wonder why you’re stuck with that name for a show you did 5 years ago. And then now after Kota Factory Jeetu became Jeetu Bhaiya and now when something else comes along I’m sure that’ll also change. In 1-2 years I’m sure I’ll start wondering why they’re calling me Jeetu Bhaiya, and I’ll start looking for a new script which changes my image and perception.
How similar are you to Jeetu Bhaiya and your other characters?
I think professionally I’m the most like Jeetu from Pitchers, where it’s about the pressure of what will people say and what will my dad say. When I was in college, I wasn’t very big on studies and people used to tutor me. But in my second year, I started tutoring some of my friends and then when I came to Bombay I taught physics for two years on Sundays as a part-time job back when acting didn’t used to pay. And those experiences eventually helped create Jeetu Bhaiya.