Mukkabaaz has arrived already. And with it, Vineet Kumar Singh. Not often does a character in a film, made on a journey of a struggle actually details about the journey of the actor who played that part. Vineet is that brawler who came to Mumbai to make a big name for himself. 17 years of struggle and finally, he has delivered a punch. Here is a doctor, who studied medicine for 5 years, but the dream of acting in films never stopped coming. Before these dreams became a nightmare, he became Mukkabaaz.
He chats with Bollywoodirect about it all – the journey, the struggle and of course, Mukkabaaz.
Q: How did this journey begin?
A: I loved acting since my childhood. I was in sheer love with the art. But I never thought that I would choose this as a profession. I did it because I loved doing it. I wanted to go to National School Of Drama but you need a graduate degree if you want to apply for NSD. I took admission in medical college and thought that when I will go to NSD, I will tell my father that I did my studies and now I am going to NSD.
When I got into the college and started participating in the cultural functions, I realized that this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to take acting as a profession. I used to wear apron and stethoscope around my neck but these things never attracted me. These things were my life. But acting attracted me more.
In college, I made sure that I managed the minimum attendance required. I had a register in which I used to count the number of lectures I had attended. I was very careful with it. As soon as I was sure that the minimum attendance is manageable, I used to focus on acting completely.
Q: Did you complete the education?
A: I completed studies because I had promised my father. Everyone in my family is highly educated. My father is a mathematician. My uncle is a statistician and another uncle is a teacher. Choosing acting was a very out of the box idea for them. My father thought that after studying so much I will forget acting. But it did not happen. One of my brothers used to say during undergraduate days that if you are able to top the class in the finals, you can get a good Post Graduate college in Worli in Mumbai. He told me then you can do what you wanted to do in Mumbai.
Q: Is this how you came to Mumbai?
A: No. My sister called me and informed me that an acting reality show called Superstars was happening and I should be participating in it. My sister and my brother were my biggest critic and motivators. They used to see me act in a locked room and then give their suggestions. She told me about this acting talent hunt. This was in the year 1999-2000 when I was in medical college only. I went to give the audition in Mumbai and got selected and the journey has not stopped yet?
Q: Did you approach any other director to make Mukkabaaz for you apart from Kashyap?
A: I finished shooting for Ugly in January 2013. The roles I was getting were basically the blueprint of the roles I had done in Ugly, Gangs of Wasseypur, Bombay Talkies et al. I was meeting directors, giving auditions all this while. However, nothing major was happening. Whatever roles I was being offered were the same. I was frustrated during this period. I was confused whether I should do these roles or say no to them and fight for better roles. I kept on asking myself why I came to Mumbai. Whether I came here just for survival or to do something big. I knew that if I wanted to just survive, I was better of as a doctor. It was then that I decided to write this film with my sister and a friend. We wrote many drafts together.
Q: How did you come up with the idea of doing a film on boxing?
A: My sister and I were national basketball players. Her study area is sports only. We have seen many things in sports about which no one has talked about ever. We talk about a sportsperson when he or she gets a medal. A sportsperson needs attention before he or she gets the medal, not after it. He or she needs nurturing when he or she is nothing. I have seen a sportsperson dying because he or she cannot manage his or her fitness, diet and everything.
A sportsperson’s career starts very early and also ends very soon. At such an early stage in life, nobody knows about many things in life. He or she does not know in whose good books to be in, what to do when. The song that I have written ‘Paintra’ asks such questions – The lyrics go like – Kiska dhyaan baantega, Kisko salaam thokega, Kisko mukke se rokega.
This song came from these same questions. As soon as they find answers to these questions, the train had left the station. There are many sportspersons, who are from a weak section of the society. The family tells them to do a job. Father says you are busy the whole day, go get a job and earn bread for the family. It is a different war altogether. The pressure is huge. The balance between personal, family and professional life of a sportsperson is very tough to keep and no one talks about the same.
Whatever I have seen in my life came into play while writing. I have seen my seniors sleep on the carpet during tournaments. I have seen them going to play tournaments with a mosquito repellent as they knew there will be many mosquitos and no one will be arranging that for them. And these are not small problems. For a sportsperson, it matters a lot. If a mosquito bites you and you are ill the next day before an important game, then your career takes a backstep.
I would have written on basketball as well because I know the sport but I chose to write about boxing because I was selfish. I was writing for myself. Basketball has 12 players as it is a team game. Shravan Kumar could have been lost there. The other thing is that boxing is a sport where the winner is decided on the basis of many things and not just knockout. There are lots of things.
Q: Why Anurag Kashyap?
A: I was not going to Anurag Kashyap because he had told me he won’t be taking me in his near future films anymore. I had no courage to approach him. I was training to prepare for the role. I had thought something will happen for sure. However, this struggle continued for 2-3 years but nothing happened. People used to like the script but due to some professional issues, things never went ahead. Some people wanted me to do some other role, some wanted me to come on board as a writer only. Some people told me to wait for 6 months. I was not ready to sacrifice any of these things. I did not want to stop. I used to tell them that this film has been written by me and this role of Shravan Kumar will be done by me. I don’t have any other condition or demand.
I went to Anurag sir because I wanted to pitch the script in his company. That is why I wanted to get a feedback from him. I never imagined Anurag sir calling and telling me that he wanted to make the film with me in the lead role. He told me If you won’t become the boxer, the film won’t be made. He also said that he will make changes in the film. I was very happy that the film was in safe hands. I packed my bags and left for Patiala for training.
Interview By: Shubham Pandey