Randeep Hooda: 'Was chasing Salman Khan in Kick, training in Sultan, now testing what he has learnt in Radhe'
Actor Randeep Hooda admits that in his 20-year-long journey in the Hindi film industry, he is "guilty" of doing less work but is glad filmmakers still find him interesting as a performer.
It was director Mira Nair who gave Hooda his big break with her critically-acclaimed 2001 movie Monsoon Wedding and gave the world a glimpse into what he is capable of.
Over the years, he spent time working in theatre with veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah's troupe Motley, while also straddling cinema courtesy D, Darna Zaroori Hai and Love Khichdi.
Critics' praise and audience's love started coming his way when he featured in films like Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai, Tigmanshu Dhulia's Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster, Jannat 2 and Main Aur Charles.
Reflecting upon his journey, the 44-year-old actor said it has been a "truthful" experience where he witnessed both ups and downs.
"It has been full of failures and successes, disappointments and excitement. There have been lots of hits and equal number of misses. I have learnt a lot. So all in all, a very truthful journey and I look back at it with a lot of gratitude.
"Even though they say 'Jo dikhta hai, wo bikta hai', I have been guilty of not being seen very much. But still after long breaks, I get interesting work. My biggest achievement would be that after 20 years also, filmmakers find me interesting as an actor," Hooda told PTI in an interview.
According to the Rohtak-born actor, he has an "underrated" potential that remains to be tapped by filmmakers.
"I do believe that I'm still unexplored, which is a great thing when you have worked for such a long time," he added.
The actor considers his 2020 Netflix action movie Extraction to be the "feather in my cap". Extraction, directed by Sam Hargrave and backed by Anthony and Joe Russo of Avengers: Endgame fame, was headlined by Hollywood star Chris Hemsworth and also featured Golshifteh Farahani and David Harbour.
"Every project kind of adds to your repertoire and Extraction is definitely a feather in my cap. People in the West have taken a notice of me. Also, I had never done physical action in my career and I'm glad that I got to do that with Extraction."
Things have definitely started looking up for Hooda post the summer blockbuster, which was a huge hit in the country and world over, he observed.
"It was a big step for me vis a vis my future prospects. A lot of avenues have opened up for me post Extraction and I'm getting a lot of varied work than what I was doing earlier."
The actor now reunites with Bollywood superstar Salman Khan for Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai. They have previously starred together in hits like Kick and Sultan.
"We have shared a friendship for many years, it has gone through ups and downs, working and not working kind of relationship.
"I was chasing him in Kick, training in Sultan and now I'm testing what he has learnt in Radhe. That sums up our professional journey. It is always a pleasure working with him," said Hooda, who plays the antagonist Rana in the movie.
Radhe, which will start streaming on multiple platforms, including OTT and DTH services, from Thursday, features Khan as the titular encounter specialist tackling drug menace in Mumbai.
The film was earlier scheduled to arrive in theatres on May 22 last year but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Hooda noted that it was a similar situation with Extraction, which was released last April, when many countries were under strict lockdown in the wake of the pandemic.
The actor said he hopes that Radhe is able to bring some solace to the audiences during the second wave of coronavirus in the country.
"When Extraction was released, the whole world was under lockdown. We felt relieved that we were able to take people's mind off the pandemic for two hours and entertain them in their homes.
"Now the whole world is not under lockdown but India is having its second wave and it is worse than before. So, now Radhe is releasing. My hope is that once again people take their minds off from the depressing situation, even if it is for two hours."
Backed by Salman Khan Films and Reel Life Production Private Limited, the film is produced by Salma Khan and Sohail Khan.
Written by Ravi Bansal