He gained recognition as the romantic hero in "Mohabbatein" but Jimmy Shergill says he decided to opt for strong characters as he realised the shelf life of a lover boy was not long.
The 45-year-old "Traffic" actor, who made his debut in Bollywood with Gulzar's directorial venture "Maachis", believes his decision play roles like 'Raja Awasthi' and 'Saheb' made him sustain in the industry.
"After I made my debut with 'Maachis' people would not recognise the clean-shaven me. But then 'Mohabbatein' happened. It got me a lot of work. However, in my mind I wanted to do something which makes me stand out. I couldn't have survived with lover boy image.
"It was a conscious decision to choose films like 'Haasil', 'Munna Bhai MBBS' and 'Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster'. This is what has made me sustain for approximately 20 years otherwise that lover boy would have been lost somewhere," Jimmy told PTI in an interview.
The actor shares a great bond with all his directors, who tend to repeat him in their films be it Neeraj Pandey, Aanand L Rai or Tigmanshu Dhulia.
Jimmy credits the emotional connect he has with all these filmmakers behind this. "The directors repeat me because most of them have done their first film with me. We are friends and there is this emotional connect.
"Even if we are not doing films, we meet over a cup of coffee. We share memories and it is very nice on their part that even after becoming top directors they have not forgotten me."
The "Tanu Weds Manu Returns" actor will next be seen in Irrfan Khan starrer "Maadari".
"It was nice on his part to think that I am apt for the role. When I heard the script, I was blown away and I wanted to this story to be told. There is a huge emotional attachment to the story of the film," says Jimmy.
The duo have worked together in five films including their upcoming release and for the actor it is a pleasure to share screen space with him.
"I share a very nice rapport with him. Even if he is not shooting he will come to the set and help you give a better performance. There is definitely a director inside him. Working with him is always a pleasure. He is my favourite actor ever since we worked together in our first film."
Directed by Nishikant Kamat, "Maadari" will hit the theatres on July 22.
Jimmy, who ventured into production with 2011 Punjabi film "Dharti" and went on to two back four projects in the language, is planning to take a break as a producer as he wants to focus more on his acting career.
"Producing a film takes a lot of time. You have to be involved since the beginning and then there is shooting plus promotions.
"I now want to do one or two films a year and focus more on my characters. Till now I have worked day and night. Now I want to do something which will make me stand out as an artist."