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Hooda packs a punch

Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai ended Randeep Hooda’s two-year hiatus from movies. Now he’s getting ready to enter the ring as a boxer in his next movie.

bollywood Updated: Aug 03, 2010 14:34 IST
Roshmila Bhattacharya
Roshmila Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times

His ‘special appearance’ in Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai is getting him "overwhelming:" reactions and Randeep Hooda couldn’t be more surprised. "I was preparing for the Asian Games trials, approaching a jump on horseback, when suddenly I wondered if this was what I had come to Mumbai for?" he reminisces.

Director, Milan Luthria, had offered him the role of the cop, Agnel Wilson, in his don drama. At the time, Hooda who was riding horses and winning national medals, wasn’t too keen on returning to the movies. "Milan asked me to trust in him and once epiphany struck, I decided to fall in with destiny’s plans," he smiles.

Role play

One of the last actors to be signed, his role as narrator developed with the script. "I grew older when Milan decided to incorporate the 1993 bomb blasts," informs Hooda, who had played a cop earlier in Risk and a gangster modelled on Dawood in D.

Randeep HoodaWas he offered Shoaib Khan’s role too? "No, by the time I was lured out of my hiatus, Emraan (Hashmi) was already playing Shoaib, he’s brilliant, different from my don," says Hooda who admits to getting calls from strangers after D’s release telling him that bhai had liked his work.

Hooda will now get started on his boxing movie, Bhiwani. Along with director Tigmanshu Dhulia and writer Abhishek Chaubey, he has been visiting the rough, dusty town in Haryana that has thrown up several boxing greats, including Akhil Kumar, Vijender Singh, Jitender Kumar and Dinesh Kumar.

“I was born in Rohtak and spent 18 years in Haryana. You can take the boy out of Haryana but you can’t take Haryana out of the boy,” he laughs, insisting his Haryanvi is still impeccable, and after eight months of rigorous training with former national coach Chiranjeevi and Akhil Kumar, his punches will hit home.

He’s met with several boxers but not World No. 1 Vijender Singh whose own life story, Patiala Express, will roll soon. Shailendra Singh of Percept has been hyping Singh as the Indian Rocky while Dhulia says a boxer can’t be an actor.

“Acting is not easy but then neither is boxing,” Hooda says diplomatically. “Our movie has nothing to do with Vijender and his life story. We’re not fighting a war, I wish Vijender well.”

He was at the National Games and plans to be at the Commonwealth Games too and watch some bouts live. “Boxing in Haryana is as popular as cricket. Anyone can pick up a bat and a ball but not everyone can pick up a boxing glove and punch,” he points out. “The World Boxing Series should bring money into this poor man’s sport but boxing doesn’t need rich boys.”

Hooda now plans to divide his time between movies and theatre. “I learnt a lot working with Naseer saab (Naseeeruddin Shah) on Waiting For Godot,” he says.” My diction improved after he started throwing chappals at me.”

First Published: Aug 03, 2010 13:03 IST