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Blow by blow!

ANUJ KUMAR
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The face saver! Gurbachan Singh.
The face saver! Gurbachan Singh.

O ne of the popular character actors, Gurbachan Singh started his career as a stuntman. A common feature in Dharmendra's films, he will now be seen in “Yamla Pagla Deewana”.

Excerpts from an interview:

You seem to be one of those Punjabi boys who used to throng Dharmendra's household in the '70s.

Exactly. I came to Bombay from Gurdaspur in 1970 with aletter of recommendation from my father, who was a tehsildar, and Dharamji allowed me to stay in his house. I used to wrestle and had a decent body. There were many like me and his mother used to take good care of all of us. I started as a body double when Dharamji introduced me to Ravi Khanna, who was a big name in action direction those days. He in turn introduced me to Veeru Devgan, who was starting his career as an independent action coordinator with “Roti Kapda Aur Makaan”. I assisted him for many years.

Which are your landmark films as a body double?

Playing body double to Dilip Kumar in “Kranti” and Dharamji in “Kahani Kismat Ki” were the highlights of my career. I jumped from the forts, ran through the glass, I did it all.” (shows the injury marks on his hands)

Must be very risky?

I feel the biggest risk is of the jawan who protects the country on the border. The government pays him few thousands and expects him to be ready for the bullet every day, every hour. Ours is a much calculated risk to save the star from every minor scratch. After all millions ride on his face!

How things have changed in the action business?

A lot! Earlier they used small balloons for blood shots, now they use condoms! They are much more reliable and effective. Things have become much safer with the use of wires but I believe they can't give the raw feel of the flying kick that I tried on Amjad Khan in “Inkaar”. These days actors seem to glide.

How did you take to acting?

Observing actors from close quarters gave me confidence that I could also act. I believed I was good looking and should be seen in front of the camera. I requested Dharamji to give me a break. I started with bit roles in “Kuchhe Dhaage” and “Patthar Aur Payal” and was finally noticed in “Mr. Natwarlal” where I had an elaborate fight sequence with Amitabh Bachchan. I also did many Punjabi films. After “Yamla Pagla Deewana”, I am looking forward to “Tell me O Khuda”, where I have a significant role.

ANUJ KUMAR


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