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Actor Jim Sarbh doesn’t buy into the productivity contest this pandemic has unwittingly created. His goal this year is simple: “Keep the plants alive, keep Mimi [his cat] alive, keep love alive.” But really, it’s more than that. Because for him, the concept of love itself is expansive—and it includes giving back.

Since early July, he’s been part of Chat for Good, an initiative that offers video chat experiences in exchange for donations towards COVID-19 relief. He also discussed “the sad state of affairs regarding conservation, the encroachment of green cover, and the terribly polluted water” with the co-founder and CEO of Wildlife SOS, over a Zoom webinar.

Jim Sarbh

Mostly, though, he has spent this lockdown the way most have: “TV, love, cat, exercise, food, music, repeat.” Because Jim Sarbh, an award-winning actor known for his consistently powerful performances—’Neerja’ (2016), ‘Padmaavat’ (2017), ‘Sanju’ (2018), ‘Made In Heaven‘ (2019), ‘Yeh Ballet’ (2020)—is not a ‘star’. When we reached out to him for this feature, he personally answered his email—a rarity in a world of managers and publicists. And he showed how his happiness lies in the little things: “I have enjoyed waking up late, staying in bed with some loving company, and watching the rain wash the trees and the crows watch the rain.”

Lifestyle Asia India caught up with Sarbh to understand how the lockdown has changed his idea of ‘the good life’ –

What would you call ‘the good life’ today?

An entirely fluid concept. Some days it’s a great new project to work on, some days it’s Mimi and the plants, some days it’s pizza and beer and movies, but most days it is some movement, a beloved to fall asleep next to, good friends, and music. Sure helps if you have some money and an apartment/room to yourself.

How has this idea changed for you over the past four months?

I have been more interested in strengthening the love I had but had been neglecting, and refocusing on shifting priorities. I am eager to work on things I have always wanted to, to explore things I have always wanted to, but had temporarily lost my way from. I directed and narrated a little video you can watch on my Instagram, which was a visual representation (visuals done by Gaurav Ogale) of the poem Danse Russe by William Carlos Williams. It is a fine and accurate summation of quarantine. Solo, but part of a household.


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colab with the talented (and patient 😂) @patranimacchi. ❤️✊🏼 visually interpreted by him, directed and narrated by me. Danse Russe by William Carlos Williams If I when my wife is sleeping and the baby and Kathleen are sleeping and the sun is a flame-white disc in silken mists above shining trees,— if I in my north room dance naked, grotesquely before my mirror waving my shirt round my head and singing softly to myself: “I am lonely, lonely. I was born to be lonely, I am best so!” If I admire my arms, my face, my shoulders, flanks, buttocks against the yellow drawn shades,— Who shall say I am not the happy genius of my household? ————————————————— ‘Danse Russe’ by Tchaikovsky.

A post shared by Jim Sarbh (@jimsarbhforreal) on Jul 14, 2020 at 4:33am PDT

What are your daily routines or recommendations for…

Wellness: Move your body.

Fitness: I have a trainer, he says, do these things, I say, ok, mostly.

Grooming: Wash face, sometimes remember toner, usually forget to put on most of the other things, eventually shave, facepack?

Food: Kuai Kitchen, Leaping Windows, Bombay Salad, The Bombay Canteen, Punjab Sind.

Jim Sarbh

How has the lockdown made you reassess your priorities?

I feel I was reassessing my priorities leading up to the lockdown as it was. I was sad and confused, and, worst of all, in denial about being so. I remember, a high-spirited evening at Eddie’s with Gomber [actor and producer Vivek Gomber], prior to the lockdown. We discussed a focusing in general, not necessarily on new things, but instead a deeper look at what you already have, what you have always wanted, what you want now. Over the course of the lockdown, I think it became clear that I was operating from a certain set of priorities—related solely to my career, and acting—that had resulted in other things, crucial, important things, being ignored. Long story short, I want to know myself and the people around me and the world better.

All images: Avani Rai

Esha Mahajan

Mahajan is the former deputy editor of Harper’s Bazaar India. She holds a masters degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and has written extensively on art, culture, and the intersection of the personal and political.