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The Dark Horse

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He is more than your average Hindi film hero; not only is he incredibly good-looking, but he also has the acting chops to back it up. Mostly known for his unconventional film choices, Randeep Hooda is truly one of the most underrated actors in Bollywood today.

Born in a village Jassia in Rohtak, Hooda was raised by his maternal grandmother as both his parents lived in different countries due to their professional commitments. He woud visit his parents during school holidays and travel alone. From the age of six, his mother would stick a bib on his chest saying ‘unaccompanied child’ on a flight back to India.

“My first crush was probably on one of the many air hostesses who used to take me as an unaccompanied child”.

Monsoon Wedding, where he played the role of a non-resident Indian from Australia. The film was a critical and commercial success and Hooda’s performance was well received. Despite this, he chose to wait four years before signing his second project, Ram Gopal Verma’s D in 2005. The gritty gangster film received positive reviews. His career would have reached new heights had he not gone on to do a string of critically and commercially unsuccessful films like Darna Zaroori Hai (2006), Risk (2007), Ru Ba Ru (2008), Mere Khwabon Mein Jo Aaye (2009), Karma Aur Holi (2009) and Love Khichdi (2009).

Hooda’s career picked up in 2010 when he appeared as ACP Agnel Wilson in Milan Luthria’s Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai, a period action drama portraying the rise of organized crime in Mumbai.

“Things have really changed for me professionally because before Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai, I did take a hiatus from acting, but that film brought me back in a big way. Now other directors and production houses look at me as an actor, who can carry bigger parts and a longer screen presence”.

THIS WAS FOLLOWED BY HIS PORTRAYAL of a gangster who falls in love with a married woman while working as her driver in Tigmanshu Dhulia’s romantic thriller Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster. His inspiration for this role, he claims, came from his roots in Haryana. His performance was widely appreciated and also earned him a nomination at the IIFA Award for Best Supporting Actor.

2014 seemed to be Hooda’s year. He starred opposite Alia Bhatt in Imtiaz Ali’s Highway where he delivered a nuanced yet controlled performance. He perfected his Haryanvi accent to add authenticity to the character of Mahabir Bhati. Alia Bhatt may have walked away with all the awards for Highway, but it must be remembered that Hooda’s performance was just as powerful, if not better.

Highway was followed by Sajid Nadiadwala’s Kick, which emerged as one of the biggest blockbusters of the year. While the character might have seemed nothing out of the ordinary, Hooda added his own element of charm and performed beyond the audiences’ expectations. His performance in Main aur Charles last year, which was based on the life of Charles Sobraj and the jail break of 1986 was also received positively.

“Juggling between the two [theatre and films] does get difficult, but I don’t see myself ever give up theatre. It’s got a deeper connect with who I really am. So, if films give you the wings to fly, theatre is a reality check, it keeps you grounded. Films can give you the satisfaction of feeling like a hero, but theatre gives you the real satisfaction of being an actor”

In addition to acting in films and being a part of theatre, Randeep Hooda also regularly participates in equestrian sports, including polo and show jumping. Riding, he says, is his passion.

“I feel very meditative when I ride. A horse does not know whether my movie is a hit or a flop or what is happening in my relationship”

The film is based on the life of Sarbjit Singh, a farmer residing in Punjab, near the Indo-Pak border, who crossed the border by accident. However, he was mistaken to be an Indian spy and was sentenced to capital punishment. The film, will however, present the struggle that his sister Dalbir went through while fighting for justice for her brother. The gorgeous Aishwarya Rai Bachchan essays the role of Dalbir in this upcoming biopic.

WHEN THE FIRST LOOK OF THE FILM WAS revealed audiences were shocked to see Hooda’s physical transformation. He shed a whopping 18 kilos in 28 days for the role, which is a long way from his usual macho physique.

We at Saffron, can’t wait for this one!