Coming from a family of action directors, it was obvious for Jeetu Verma to get into stunts but he chose to be a choreographer. After winning an all-India dance competition, this boy from Dausa learnt Bharatnatyam from Veeru Krishnan and made his Bollywood debut with his brother, Pappu Verma’s home production, Vansh, in 1992. Vansh was the Hindi remake of Mani Ratnam’s 1988 Tamil film Agni Natchathiram. Incidentally, it was also the first film in which Jeetu appeared on screen.
“In the song, Aake Teri Baahon Mein, I appeared as a shepherd, playing flute,” he said during his recent visit to Jaipur. “My brother was looking for a shepherd. I use to keep a gamcha during those days. He said, ‘why don’t you only play the role,’ and I agreed.”
Jeetu later dabbled into stunts but after several injuries, he shifted to comedy. “My brother [Pappu Verma] has been my godfather in the film industry – I learnt everything about films from him. It was on his suggestion that I started doing comedy,” Jeetu said. “And now I realize that I love doing comedy the most.”
He was last seen in the Amazon Prime Original series, Mirzapur Season 2, as the gutkha-chewing henchman of Munna’s gang who kills Lala.
Commonly known as Jojo, for his screen names in ‘Humraaz’ and ‘Taarzan: The Wonder Car’, Jeetu is youngest among seven siblings, six of whom are in the film industry. The Vermas belong to a small village in Dausa, about 60km from Jaipur. Jeetu always visits his village during the festivals.
During his last visit, Changing Tomorrow caught up with him to talk about films and his family.
“My father [Badriprasad Jaidev Verma] supplied horses to film crews during the 1960s and ‘70s. He was also a stunt double. Bhiku Verma, the eldest of us seven brothers, did action for films such as Karan Arjun, Border and Refugee. Pappu Verma did action for all Amitabh Bachchan films; Mahendra Verma did it for Govinda and Salman Khan films; Tinnu Verma, besides being an actor, did action for Sunny Deol films, and Manohar Verma was the action director for both seasons of Mirzapur,” he said.
One of the Verma brothers, Narendra Verma, is a politician in Maharashtra and runs the famous Janakidevi Public School in Mumbai and Jaipur.
Jeetu has worked in films like Humraaz, Soldier and Bol Bachchan. He played Jojo in the 1998 film Soldier from which the nickname stuck to him. After that in two 2004 films, Humraaz and Taarzan: The Wonder Car, his characters were named Jojo. Even in his village, people love to call him Jojo.
The Vermas are an illustrious lot. Manohar Verma is known for his work in Madras Cafe (2013), Mardaani (2014) and Airlift (2016), and Tinu Verma is seen on the Colors TV mega serial Karmaphal Data Shani, playing the role of Daitya Guru Shukracharya.