India’s Wushu athletes go from real to reel

  • Vinayak Padmadeo, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Feb 11, 2016 14:34 IST
The sport of wushu may not be as popular as boxing, but it’s giving its practitioners a passage to tinsel town. (Getty Images)

Many martial arts experts have cashed in and launched successful film careers. Two of Wushu’s famous exports to the film world are Jackie Chan and Jet Li, who is a former Chinese national champion. In India, Wushu may not be as popular as boxing or karate, but it’s giving its practitioners a passage to the film world.

“You can ask anyone in Jabalpur, he will lead you to my house,” says Anjul Namdeo, who won a bronze medal in the taolu-changquan male category at the ongoing South Asian Games. Taolu means forms and Sanda is sparring.

Namdeo played a minor role in a small budget Hindi action film titled ‘Ranviir The Marshall’. “The film, and the fact that a few of my team mates and me appeared on Entertainment ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega show, has made me famous, people recognize me,” the Indian Air Force airman said.

Y Sapna Devi may be a long way from matching Mary Kom, the best known sportsperson from Manipur, but she has also had her moments in front of the camera. Sapna, who won the individual gold in taolu-changquan female category at the SAG, spent a month in Cyprus last year with teammates to shoot the action sequences for the female lead in the Hindi film ‘Boomerang’.

“Before the Cyprus trip, we were in Mumbai for training. It was good fun and we got paid too,” she says. Recently, Sapna got the chance to act in a Manipuri film, but turned down the offer. “I wanted to concentrate on the camp for this event. Movies can wait for now as I want to do well in the sport,” Sapna, 23, says.

If Wushu was the path Sapna and Anjul took to hit the big screen, Sweccha Jatav had appeared in the TV programmes, ‘Entertainment Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega’ and ‘India’s Got Talent’ last year.

“My parents are thrilled, they feel proud their girl is on TV. It’s a big thing here as I have done all this on my own,” Swechcha says, after winning her maiden international medal, silver in taolu-nanquan category at the SAG.

Swechcha will get to show off her talent with nine of her team mates from Jabalpur once again in India’s Got Talent this year.

“We have been called to Mumbai for a shoot in March. These appearances are important for us but we all know Wushu is the most important thing in our lives.”

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