It’s been a rocking year for actor Randeep Hooda whose John Day hits the screens today

What happens when one gets knocked out not once but twice in a game? If you are Randeep Hooda, you simply spring back. The actor, whose performances have always been applauded, has had to prove his mettle time and again. “What can I say? At least I have had my chances!” he says with a laugh that seems to come easy to him, but is very difficult to fathom.

Randeep made his debut with Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding in 2001, but it was followed by zilch work for the next four years. He resurfaced with the cult hit D in 2005, directed by Vishram Sawant and produced by Ram Gopal Varma and Ronnie Screwvala, but hit rock bottom again with a series of non-performers. In 2010, however, his career took a turn for the better. After Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai (2010), he’s had a series of successes — Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster (2011), Jannat 2 (2012), Jism 2 (2012), Heroine (2012), Murder 3 (2013) and Bombay Talkies (2013). The year 2013 has been especially rocking with five films — besides Murder 3 and Bombay Talkies, which have already been released, there’s Ahishor Solomon’s John Day, Imtiaz Ali’s Highway and Vishram Sawant’s Shooter coming up. Randeep is also shooting with Sajid Nadiadwala for Kick (slated for release on Eid next year) and for Prawaal Raman’s Bad (releasing in early 2014), while Dharma Productions’ Rensil D’Silva film Ungli is also slated for an early 2014 release.

“I am glad I am finally getting work — the kind I want. I am also grateful that my six or seven successive outings have been successful. Not only does that help boost an actor’s morale, but the presence of the actor is also a signal to fans that he is around. If you ask me whether I get to choose the role I want, yes, I do. Am I paid the kind of money I think I deserve, I’d say yes again!” he says.

An edgy thriller

Randeep’s upcoming John Day is with his friend, guru and mentor, Naseeruddin Shah. The film is an edgy thriller that’s a face-off between good and evil. “If Naseer’s character epitomises decency, goodness and family values, then my character is an antithesis of his. The evil in this character stems from a loss of faith which he developed in childhood. He is power hungry and enjoys inflicting hurt. The film’s crux is that given a change of circumstances, what does it take to unleash the beast that lurks within each of us? What I like regarding the movie is that while the subject is unique, it does lend itself to entertaining cinematic trappings.”

Randeep’s on-screen kisses also make headlines and the actor is unapologetic about this. “See, I rarely, if at all, talk of my personal life. So, something has to be written and this seems to be the best bet. If you make a montage of all the ‘kissing’ scenes I have had so far, each of them is done in a unique way, and in each of them I am emotionally charged,” he says.

While emphasising that he cannot glorify his relationship with Naseeruddin Shah, Randeep says he is his guide when the storm hits. “He once said to me, ‘Don’t try and plan your career.’ That has stayed with me. Whenever I am lost and hungry for work, I turn up at his doorstep.”

His love for equestrian sports overrides that of his for films. “Given a choice, I’d rather be with my horses. In the past, I’ve given up films because I wanted to compete. But I’ve learnt that riding horses does not feed them. You just need films. Else, you need more money in equestrian sports.”