On the road not taken

On the road not taken

There are actors, and then there are actors who give intelligence the full rein. With ambiguous roles as his forte, Randeep Hooda falls into the second category. His career has been punctuated by highs and lows, nevertheless, the varied approach to acting remains undimmed. With ‘Highway’ round the corner, the actor unravels his more contemplative side and the colourful journey that took him through six states. 

“It was very engaging. Every morning, you get into the car, drive on and shoot in different places. We went across Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir. Travelling to Ajmer Sharif, Sambhar Salt Pan and Ferozepur, a desolate place in Punjab, was incredible,” he explains.

The film was shot in a chronological manner and the sequence was followed in the film. “We travelled to Himachal Pradesh, upto the Chinese border. Drove through the hills, where there are just rocks, and where it was difficult to judge the roads. There was Kashmir too, which is indeed the paradise on earth. There is so much to explore in the country, it’s so diverse,” he explains.

He’s going places, literally, and that included ‘Berlin Film Festival’, where ‘Highway’ was premiered. “There, one got to dress up and walk. There is not too much to it,” he says. 

While on ‘Highway’, did he get to drive the truck? “Yes, 4,000 km. This role required me to be different. I had to roughen myself up to get the leathery skin look. I look much older than I am. I also learnt a dialect. The film is a statement on the haves and have-nots. I have tried to represent the have-nots in the best manner,” he says.Doesn’t Imtiaz Ali’s films have women under the spotlight? “Yes, ‘Highway’ is the girl’s story, but without the man, there is no story. And I am the man in the story. Even in the past, I have stood out even if it was just a scene,” he’s confident.

His repertoire speaks of an earnest representation of inner turmoil or angst. “I really imagine myself in a situation. Nobody knows how I’ll react. Sometimes, there is a burst of emotions. Because of the dark roles that I have played, I’ve forgotten to smile for a long time,” he adds.

Now, with his plate full, he has reasons to smile. He is playing Charles Sobhraj in Main Aur Charles. “The film is just a part of his life, in 1986, when he escaped from Tihar Jail. The script is based on the charge-sheet given to us. I am also doing ‘Kick’ with Salman Khan,” he adds. And then there is ‘Shooter’, ‘Fanne Khan’ and Ungli. 

Clearly, there’s no shying away from challenges. “I try to make my work interesting for film-makers. I am open to everything. If worst comes to the worst, what’s going to happen? I might fail. But I’ve seen failure. So that is alright,” he’s candid. But is there a downside to fame? “It should not affect your existence. If it does not, it’s a joyous ride,” he philosophises.

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