Randeep Hooda, a recognisable face on the Hindi film screen is known as much for the different roles he essays in his films as he is for the controversies he keeps getting into. Not many know that he has a management degree from Australia tucked under his belt and that it was his Australian drawl that got him his first role in Mira Nair's 'Monsoon Wedding' in 2001, where he played the part of an NRI who comes from Australia and is the love interest of Neha Dubey.
Randeep, takes us through different moments in his life, sharing what travel means to him in a candid chat with Aamit Khanna.
Q: What are your early memories of vacations and getaways?
I have spent most of my growing years in boarding schools and I head for home, Rohtak, whenever I get the opportunity. Catching up with family and friends has always been an important part of my 'vacation time'. Good food definitely contributes in making a trip memorable along with an opportunity to get to know the local community, culture and cuisine and food habits. Once you start asking questions and observing people you would be surprised at the kind of fascinating tales that can emerge.
Q: How do you plan your holidays?
Shoots and my passion for sports keep me busy and on the move most of the time. I don't really get the time to go on a planned holiday. But once I am at a location I like to get to know the people and make friends. I am not a person who picks up a travel guide to make a decision on what I want to see or experience, the enthusiasm of my local reference play a key role in helping me discover the location.
Q: Are you a foodie and any interesting anecdote that you recall relating to eating out?
I do not have any food allergies, and my foreign trips have been uneventful on that front. I remember our outdoor shoot for "Rang Rasia" at Jaisalmer. It was very hot and our local guide suggested we try out 'chaas'. We ordered from a local vendor and 30 minutes later everybody was rushing for the toilets. We tried to shoot despite that, but eventually the shoot had to be put off.
Q: Which is your favourite place where you can keep going back?
Apart from home, New York tops my chart. The cosmopolitan feel is an endearing factor and to me it represents the peak of human evolution in terms of lifestyle, people and their attitude and aspirations. The laid back, outdoor and sporty lifestyle of Australia, makes it another hot favourite.
Q: Which place according to you is highly over rated?
I believe no place is ever over rated, most of the time we fail to appreciate the place and what it offers.
Q: Most embarrassing travel moment
I see nothing productive coming out of media's interest in my embarrassing moments. All I would say is don't do what you are not supposed to do in a certain place.
Q: Which place do you recommend for a weekend getaway in India?
Being based in Mumbai, Pune tops my list. I like to spend time with my friends there and it's a great place to chill out. I am not sure if absence of cell phone connectivity is deliberate at the farm house but it works in my favour and helps me unwind during my weekends.
Q: How do you think the travel scene has changed in India in recent times?
Indians have more money now and one can see a clear shift in preference over domestic destinations. Most foreign tourist destinations acknowledge the shift and have made the visa norms less stringent. I personally feel domestic destinations have so much to offer and there is a lot to discover in terms of diversity in nature, culture, cuisine, etc., within our own country.
Q: Which are the five places that are there in your 'must visit' list?
I would love to visit China, go backpacking and discover the country. I love locations that offer sunshine and warmth and I had the opportunity to spend time in Spain during my shoot for Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara and would love to explore South America, Mexico tops my list.
Q: Any tips on how a young couple can make a vacation truly memorable?
Most memorable vacations are in each other's heart, a destination can offer you something to look at but then how it is seen and felt is unique to each individual. Holiday destinations in cold places offer an opportunity to come closer to each other, and I would recommend destinations in Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.
Q: A monument that you have seen and which had some impact on you?
I am not a monument person, but then this incident stayed on in my memory; i was in Rome and was leaning over something, a by-stander approached me and asked me if I knew what I was leaning on. It turned out to be a work of art by Michael Angelo.