Randeep Hooda has just finished a gruelling schedule of shooting SARBJIT. He was last seen in the critically acclaimed MAIN AUR CHARLES based on the life of the infamous criminal Charles Shobraj. Among the meaty projects in hand is his role as a coach of Salman Khan in the much-awaited SULTAN. But for now, he is all excited about his work in SARBJIT, a biopic made on Sarbjit Singh who was imprisoned in Pakistan on spying charges. Hooda spoke to the correspondent on his choice of films, acting and other passions.
Excerpts from the interview:
You just finished shooting for Sarbjit. How did it go?
Oh, it was one hell of an experience. But I must say that I enjoyed every moment of it. We finished shooting in 52 days and you can understand how hectic it could have been but overall it was almost like a life-changing experience for me.
You are known to be a choosy actor and after MAIN AUR CHARLES this is another biopic you are doing…
In fact, I won't say that these are typical biopics but definitely both the films are based on two real-life characters and both are equally interesting because after a point, not too much in known about the lives of both Charles Shobraj and Sarbjit Singh. The lives of both of them are shrouded by mystery to a great extent and both the characters are quite appealing because people want to know more about them. As far as choosing characters is concerned, I only do a film or choose a role if I believe in it. Not all roles appeal to me.
What attracted you to this role then?
Again, it was the character that appealed to me the most. We all know about Sarbjit Singh and what he had to go through for so many years in a prison in Pakistan after a Pakistani court convicted him of spying. But actually he was just another person like you and me. He spent more than 22 years in the prison and efforts by the government to bring him back failed. And finally he was beaten to death by some of the inmates inside the prison. The most important person who fought endlessly for all these years was his sister Daljit Kaur, who is being played by Aishwarya Rai in the film. The film is not only on Sarbjit Singh but the continuous struggle of his sister and other family members. When the film's director Omung Kumar approached me and narrated the script, I was simply blown away. I felt it should be told to the world. It's not about the sufferings of one person but his entire family.
In fact, you completely changed your lifestyle and shed a few kilos to get into the character of the role…
That was what was required because I needed to look like a prisoner. I had to shed a lot of weight. I weighed 94 kilos and had to shed 18 kilos in 28 days. The entire process was grueling. I almost starved during that period and in the last few days, I even reduced my water intake. That was quite a difficult job but there was no other way I could get into the skin of the character.
"SARBJIT is not only on Sarbjit Singh but the continuous struggle of his sister and other family members"
That certainly was quite difficult…
Yes, I have a habit of overdoing things at times and this time too I crossed the limit (smiles). I was told that Sarbjit was a pehelwan in his village and then he was arrested and became a prisoner. So I felt I should go on a zero diet to get the look of a prisoner who was earlier a pehelwan.
What was director Kumar's reaction when you arrived on the set with this look?
(Laughs) Oh, he didn't recognize me. In fact, I didn't tell anyone that I was coming. And the security guys failed to recognize me first and didn't allow me to enter. Then Omung who was sitting in a corner, kept staring at me for awhile and then he finally realized that it was me. So, I think I was able to make him happy. But I must say that the idea behind my look was Omung's and I followed his instructions to look my part.
What are your expectations from the film?
I am sure people will like it because the audience loves good stories when told in an interesting way and Omung has done that earlier in his debut film MARY KOM.
You also play Salman Khan's coach in SULTAN…
That's another interesting role and it was equally tough. You must watch that film because Salman Khan has done a terrific job in the film.
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