Bombay Showcase

The return of the karate kid

Shraddha Kapoor (left) stars opposite Tiger Shroff (right) in Baaghi —Photo By: Rajneesh Londhe  

he room is abuzz with impatient press waiting for India’s newest action-hero to step out of the green room. A suave, young man eventually steps out, ready to face another interview. Tiger Shroff, at first glance, gives off a relaxed vibe and has the casual appearance of a college-goer, quite unlike his on-screen rugged veneer.

Having waited for the interview for what seems an eternity, we begin the interaction light-heartedly talking about how he is a superhero figure for the youth. He goes bashful, breaks into a wide grin and fumbles as he offers us a packet of peanuts. Reticent, with his almost monosyllabic responses, Shroff leaves a journalist asking for more, but his diffidence is also oddly endearing.

Known for his expertise in performing arduous action sequences and stunts, he plays the action hero to the hilt in his forthcoming film Baaghi as well. Action is what has helped Shroff carve a niche for himself in the competitive world of Bollywood. “In the industry, you constantly have to prove how you’re different from the rest. I think martial arts is definitely one of my strengths, and a significant part of my identity as an actor,” he says.

Not just the identity, Shroff thinks martial arts have contributed to his discipline and work ethic as well. “Martial arts is what pulled me through tough times, and it is one of the reasons for my happiness.” No wonder his focus on action cinema is unequivocal. “I would like to first establish myself in the industry, and build a certain identity, before experimenting with other types of cinema.” Shroff has trained in the martial arts since the age of four, inspired by the legendary Bruce Lee and the film Enter the Dragon. However, despite having trained for 22 years, he still can’t see himself as an expert, but would rather be called a life-long student of martial arts. “The day I think I’ve achieved everything will be the day I fail. There is no end to learning, and I want to continue being a student.”

He calls the action in Baaghi “notches above Heropanti. It isn’t just the action sequences but the conditions in which they were shot that made it tougher. “One can never be too prepared for what will happen on a film set where action scenes are concerned,” says Shroff. They had to shoot in unfavourable weather conditions for Baaghi. “A lot of scenes were shot in Kerala, and it was raining almost all the time.”

Baaghi incorporates five different types of martial arts, including what Shroff calls the ‘mother of all martial arts’ Kalaripayattu , which originated in Kerala. Then there is Fusion Kung Fu, Krav Maga, an Israeli martial art form, and a little bit of Shroff’s own style. What comes as a surprise though is how for even an experienced practitioner like him, not all forms of martial arts come naturally. “For me, Kalari was something alien. Luckily, my master (Shifuji Shaurya Bhardwaj) in Baaghi , is also my real-life guru, and it is he who trained me in Kalari .”

For Shroff, sharing screen space with his guru was an emotional, yet fun journey. “Every time we had a scene together, we just had to be ourselves,” Shroff says. He speaks just as fondly about his mentor and director Sabbir Khan, with who also directed his first film. “Sabbir is like an elder brother to me, and we have only grown closer since Heropanti ,” says Shroff, hoping to do more films with him in the future. However, the bigger desire is to be a real-life superhero for children, someone the youth can look up to.

The writer is an intern with The Hindu

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 6:41:56 AM |

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