Vineet Kumar Singh has created a niche for himself by playing characters that stay with the audience even after moving out from the theatres. Raw characters, films based on lives from rooted India & working with the most celebrated teams, he worked with them all. Although Vineet began his career as early as 2007, he was popularized by his presence in Anurag Kashyap’s films. The actor has finally found his ground by playing the lead boxer Shravan Singh in ‘Mukkabaaz’ which has already garnered appreciation at national and international film festivals. We sit down to chat with the rising star about his journey with Anurag Kashyap, the transition from a scriptwriter to an actor for ‘Mukkabaaz’ and more…!
Q: You’re essaying the role of a Boxer in ‘Mukkabaaz’. Let us about the boxing journey you’ve gone through filming this movie and what all phases you have gone through for the same?*
Vineet: Post films like ‘Gangs Of Wasseypur, ‘Bombay Talkies’ and ‘Ugly’ whatever roles I had been getting were mostly on the similar lines of the films I had already done, the titles would change and the films would change but he characters remained identical. Although there were filmmakers making different films but those weren’t being offered to me somehow. That’s when I decided to commence writing ‘Mukkabaaz’. My friend, my sister and I started pitching the concept to people. On the way, my friend got busy with something and then my sister and I started writing a few drafts. We expected to take only 6 months to one year in stating to film it but it didn’t work as we expected. I was getting a feedback that I should play a different role than the lead or give away the script settling with the credit of a writer and take the amount for it. It had been 3 years then, and I finally had gone to see Anurag Kashyap just to get a feedback of his on the script and even try to pitch it to his production house. After that meeting, I got a phone call from him where he expressed his desire to not just direct the film but also to cast me in the lead. I couldn’t believe he was saying this. That phone call will always remain special to me. However, he kept two conditions infront of me, which were; until and unless you become a boxer I shall not let you be ‘Mukkabaaz’ and that he would develop the script according to his capabilities. I was even happier on hearing this. I surrendered the script to Anurag Sir and was glad that I could act in it. That night I sold everything that I had and went to start my boxing training in Patiala. Initially I thought the training would be a cake walk but that wasn’t the case. I was training under Coach Harpreet Singh, the coach for the National Boxing Team and Anudeep Singh Sir as well. I had requested Harpreet Sir to guide me as boxer rather than an actor since I wanted to train as a true boxer. In the beginning they used to laugh at me thinking even if I learn the craft, what will I do playing district or state level championships at an age of retirement? They used to laugh at me even more looking at the way I would pack my punches, I hardly had 3-4 months training. It took a lot to finally understand the boxing, I would imagine I could save myself from the opponent’s punch then move to the side and punch but while I would still try to figure everything, I would have 3-4 punches directed my way. While all this happened I would realize I was getting all wet, upon checking I would find blood all over. This procedure carried on for a while and gradually the defence mechanism of my body started taking its course in the right direction. You’re at a stage when you don’t want to give up, yet you are not confident to fight the opponent, that’s when your body reacts. I could identify with my neuro muscular reflexes now. And slowly, the coaches could see the changes in me. I thank Harpreet Sir, Anudeep Sir and all the boxers who train at the academy for the help that led me to what I have showcased onscreen.
Q: Is the film based on a real life character? Did you do your research on the person to develop your script?
Vineet: The initial thought wasn’t this. I have been a National level basketball player myself. There are a lot of aspects about sports that I wanted to communicate to the audience. Noticing all of those things which are out there but aren’t talked about through cinema, especially at a stage where a person I going to become a promising player in his career but hasn’t achieved much yet, all these elements I wanted to bring forward. I have also had friends who were good at their game but for some reason couldn’t come in anyone’s good books, so I have tried bring out the situations that arise in that phase through my personal experience. When Sir (Anurag Kashyap) took over the script, he did his own research on the coach there and so many things came out of his life that were similar to the boxer’s character we drafted. That’s when the script started getting a new direction which was working really well. As an actor I was already difficult for me to train for 8 hours and survive it.
Q:Do you believe that ‘Mukkabaaz’ is a more commercialized Anurag Kashyap film? A detour from his regular dark films? How is this character different from the other films you’ve done?
Vineet: For me, Anurag Kashyap’s films have been distinct from each other. Be it ‘Ugly’ or ‘Bombay Talkies’ or ‘Gangs Of Wasseypur’ but yes this film is very unique because firstly it has no abusive word in a dialogue, there are no cigarettes or even alcohol and it is a film that you can actually go watch with your entire family. Take your grandparents or even your 8 – 10 year old, I’m sure they’ll be left inspired.
Q: What are your future projects?
Vineet: I have finished filming Reema Kagti’s ‘Gold’ alongside Akshay Kumar Sir and Sudhir Mishra’s ‘Dasdev’ which will release next year. Also there are other things in pipeline and I hope ‘Mukkabaaz’ does wonders to my career.