Had Randeep Hooda been theJulia Roberts of ‘Notting Hill’, he’d been delighted to haveHugh Grant interview him for the Horse & Hound. His face beams with happiness and heart swells with pride when he’s at a SoBo racecourse, way past sunset, spending some peaceful time with his gorgeous horses. It’s meditation time not only for him but also the ones privy to the sight of watching him train the majestic species. With much hesitation, we whisk him away from his favourite activity for a while to chat about his upcoming reel-life love story — ‘Do Lafzon Ki Kahani’ and much more.
With three back-to-back releases, 2016 is turning out to be extremely busy for you.
Yes, it’s turning out be as busy as 2015, but in a less joyous way. My favourite part of doing a film is the preparation, rehearsal and exploration that go into studying a character. That gives me immense joy. For me, that’s the only artistic part of the filmmaking process, and the rest is execution and promotion. I have been promoting three films in a row this year, and I try to do as much as I can, but sometimes it is a bit too much.
And it’s non-stop. For someone like you, who prefers to take frequent breaks from films to pursue other things, this must be quite demanding.
It is demanding. I do feel a bit empty to tell you the truth bit it’s okay because I have worked really hard on all these films. Bulking up for ‘Do Lafzon Ki Kahani’ was probably harder than losing weight later for ‘Sarbjit’ in many ways. Playing around with your body by gaining and losing 30 kilos in the same year is no cakewalk. (I shot ‘Do Lafzon Ki Kahani’ before ‘Sarbjit’ so I gained weight and then had to lose it). It’s not easy for a male actor, especially a Jatt. Attaining a rippling physique with internal strength and then letting it go for ‘Sarbjit’ was a tough decision. But the problem is I first decide upon what I am going to do and then I am hit by the repercussions. “Oh s***, this is required for this role!” (Laughs) But by that time it’s too late. I trick myself into commitment.
But more work is always better than not having as much on your plate, right?
Yes, of course. In the first phase of my career which didn’t go well, I did lesser work. But over a period of time, I’ve realised that I like my work and should do more of it. The films that come to me are also getting interesting.
How would you describe ‘Do lafzon Ki Kahani’?
It is a heartfelt story about two lonely souls who fall in love. A former fighter meets a girl, who’s full of life, despite being visually impaired. It changes his life. If I was not a MMA fighter and she (Kajal Aggarwal) wasn’t visually impaired, this film wouldn’t have acquired that larger-than-life feeling which is important for cinema. This is one of my most commercial ventures. It has great love songs, story, action and a beautiful actress.
Is your character brooding in this one as well? When we think of Randeep Hooda, it’s always this ‘brooding sexy guy’.
This is one of the most brooding characters of mine (laughs). He is shy and hesitant to speak as he is unsure about himself. That’s the best part about this role.
Is this the reason we don’t see you doing light-hearted love stories too often?
Brooding for me means that I am thoughtful and involved. You might not classify ‘Sarbjit’ as a love story, but there was a love track between him and his wife Sukhpreet. There were letters and romantic songs. One of my most romantic roles was in ‘Jannat 2’. I get drunk and make a call from a public phone to hear my wife’s voicemail after she has passed away. That’s pretty romantic.
But well, that’s romance with a shade of tragedy.
Conflict completes the story. People getting married, having great children, living happily ever after won’t make for a great story.
When will we see you in a romcom?
I’ve experimented with a lot of genres, and I will get there as well. I am not looking for a comedy script. When the time is right I will get it. I am not dying to show my versatility. I tried doing that in the first innings of my career and it didn’t work.
Your film’s tag line says ‘love never hurts … Love heals’. Does it?
It does heal after it has hurt you. This story is a fantasy. Every young man wants to be a fighter and protect his woman. Likewise, every woman wants a man who lays down his life for her. These elements are a part of this movie. In this world of what’s app, snapchats and breakups on social media, this film will make you appreciate love more.
Has technology made us a tad cynical about love? Taken the charm out of it?
Nowadays, communication is so fast. You don’t have to wait for somebody. The beauty of waiting adds to the mystery of love. Things are so instant these days, that’s where the problem arises.
Have you broken up with someone over a text message?
No, I have never done those stupid things; will never do in future as well. But these are the times that we live in.
What were your fantasies about love while growing up?
It was quite similar to what I just spoke about love in the film. I was very idealistic about love and I still am. The concept of ‘ever-after’ is possible, but the fact is that you were born alone and you will die alone. You will have better love stories if your love story with yourself is sorted. You have to love yourself a little more for other people to love you more.
Falling in love or staying in love. What’s more difficult?
Staying in love is more difficult. Falling in love is easy. I fall in love all the time.
Our concept of love changes with time. Doesn’t it?
Of course, our idea of love is ever evolving. My romance with my work today has taken precedence over everything else.
Your passion for horses, work and women? How would you rank these?
They all have to go hand in hand. There’s an old equestrian saying among riders, “When I die make my skin into a saddle and gift it to a beautiful woman, so that I am in between two of my favourite things in life even after death.” (laughs!).
Is marriage important or is companionship enough?
Companionship is the basis of marriage. It is indispensable. I have not gotten close to marriage yet, so right now marriage can go take a hike. If I get married, that could be my priority.
What is it that the woman in your life must know about you to be with you?
That I am married to my work as it gives me immense joy. I also love doing different things, and if she doesn’t understand that it will be miserable for her to be with me.
And many believe you are moody as well.
I am gaining and losing 30 kilos in one year, you think I won’t be moody? I am either eating too much or eating too less. These things will affect you. Besides, everybody is moody, some express it, and some don’t. I think it’s okay to be honest. You have to be considerate of others but everybody goes through this.