Irrfan prepares for steeplechase | bollywood | Hindustan Times
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Irrfan prepares for steeplechase

Actor Irrfan Khan trains rigorously to play athlete-turned-dacoit Paan Singh Tomar in upcoming biopic, is upset with the lack of information available about the sports icon.

bollywood Updated: Apr 20, 2011 12:42 IST
Priyanka Jain

Irrfan Khan has "never been into bodybuilding or outdoor sports". However when long-time friend and director Tigmanshu Dhulia approached him to play a role that required rigorous physical training, Irrfan didn’t wince. For his part as the protagonist in a biopic about the award-winning athlete-turned-dacoit Paan Singh Tomar, the actor is hard at work. "I have never trained for so long," he says, "Paan won numerous awards for his steeplechase runs. I’m working to perfect it, as it requires agility of a different kind."

The obstacle race, which is part of the Olympic games, required the actor to train for weeks. "We shot in Chambal and Roorkee, at the actual barracks where Tomar lived. To run in that terrain was hard. The place is beautiful, but harsh for physcial activities. I even broke my ankle during one of the runs."

IrrafnBut what really upset the actor was the lack of information available about the sports icon, who won the steeplechase event at the Indian IrrfanNational Games for seven consecutive years. "We’ve been working on this subject for eight years and we didn’t find much information. Tigmanshu met his wife, sons and other people, who knew him, including the athlete Milkha Singh," he says.

Today, thanks to the director’s research, a lot more material about Tomar’s achievements is available online. "People can now read about him on the Internet," says Irrfan, adding that those who watched the film at the New York film festival recently were taken aback by its emotional content. "Paan was a very endearing and passionate man. Yet, he was simple and straightforward."

According to Tigmanshu, Paan was forced to give up his job in the Army and his athletic career after his family began facing land trouble. "Paan went around trying to buy credibility showing his medals, but no one heard him. Eventually he gave up everything and became a ‘baaghi’ who created havoc in the Chambal Valley."