In a league of his own

In a league of his own

There is a certain freshness that hovers around actor Randeep Hooda’s performances. He has been transforming himself with each role, many a time, playing the ‘enfant terrible’.

The question is as to where the character ends and where the actor begins. In the soon to be released ‘John Day’, he plays a cop, complete with all the sinister elements.

“‘John Day’ is full of surprises, full of intrigue. It’s a thriller drama with ample doses of crime, violence and pretty much everything. It’s been packaged differently,” says Randeep. While psychologically complex roles come easily to him, he has picked up unconventional roles that most stars won’t. Randeep explains, “I do conventional roles in unconventional ways. It is to bring your own individuality to the role.”

“I see in these roles what others don’t. I have played the supporting role, the protagonist, the villain. Even when I played cop in different films, I have played it differently,” he is content.

The film will see Naseeruddin Shah play John Day. Was there a competition between the two? He laughs, “I have known him for a long time. He is my friend, confidant and guru. He has told me ‘Be true to what you do. It’s somebody else’s job to balance it out’.”

For an actor, especially in Bollywood, it’s tough to sail away from stereotypes. But Randeep says, “You can be stereotyped only if you allow yourself to be. My one role is not similar to another. I try to play each with panache.”

“In ‘John Day’, I play a dark character, an orphan, who is from a good family. He has been wronged and he has taken upon himself to avenge. There is an underlying thin line between good and evil. Circumstances can blur that line,” he says. The actor has always tried to bring in humanity to his characters – good, bad or ugly. Does he get room for improvisation? “I am a director’s actor. Usually, the director gives me room to interpret the role. I also believe that he knows the best because he knows the whole picture,” he avers. The actor, who had also dabbled into writing, is happy about the new wave of film-making in Bollywood. “But it’s the writing that sucks. Writers are not paid well, not respected enough... And even for good films, right packaging is important. If I watch a film and a character impresses me, I go home and try to enact that character... I’m optimistic. I love the film industry.” Well, he wouldn’t have it any other way!

The actor has been associated with Shah’s Motley Theatre Troupe for a long time now. Has it honed him? “In this medium, you have to be truthful. I started doing theatre in school and during my darkest of times. Theatre is an actor’s medium, where communication is important.” He says those who come to watch his plays are not there to see the actor but the character he is playing. “I don’t think they care about the actor,” he says.

His best role, he informs, is yet to come. “Right now, I am doing a good balance of things and there are certain things I aspire to do,” he goes on.

In the meantime, his affinity for all things equestrian is just growing.

“My horses don’t know about my movies, whether they are going to be a hit or not. They don’t know about the turmoil you are going through,” he laughs. Well, he sure is riding high and comfortable in the saddle!

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