Actor Vineet Kumar Singh is not new to the industry. While Vineet’s performance in Bombay Talkies, Gangs of Wasseypur and Ugly got the recognition he needed as an actor, but it didn’t bring him the kind of work he wanted to do. Today, the Mukkabaaz actor is finally satisfied because his “struggle has shaped into the kind of work he wants to do.”
In this interview with indianexpress.com, the actor talks about his struggles, the work he wants to do and what does his film Mukkabaaz mean to him.
Q. People are finally paying attention to you. Do you feel like ‘you have arrived’?
I came to Mumbai in 1999-2000. I came here to become an actor. My parents and sister had more belief in me than I did. I came and auditioned for a talent hunt competition. After winning the competition, I got my first Marathi film with Mahesh Manjrekar. This is when I thought that this was my big break and now I would become a star. But that film flopped and all my dreams just shattered with it. After that, I struggled for 10 years before I got some good work.
I knew Anurag Kashyap personally but never asked him for work. Kyuki kis muh se unke pass jata? (With what face would I go and ask for work?). Both of us have the Benaras connection but nothing else. I didn’t want to be one of those guys who has been rejected by him.
Luckily when I first met him, he was casting for Gangs (of Wasseypur) and then I worked in two other film with him – Bombay Talkies and Ugly. But after Gangs, I realised that I was getting similar work, which I was not happy with. I don’t want to repeat my work.
Q. You have struggled for ten years. For Mukkabaaz, you even went and became a proper boxer. Tell us about that.
I had struggled a lot and my family also sacrificed so much for me. I was in a dire state. I was getting desperate too. I had to use my sister’s savings to survive. I didn’t want to play similar roles again and again. I thought that one day life will be worth the wait and struggle. This is why I decided to write a script for myself.
As I had a sports background, I decided that I would write a script on the struggles of a sportsman. I played basketball on national level. But didn’t want to make a team film as I felt that the focus will not be on me alone then. So I chose boxing and I wanted to tell a story of a sportsman. His struggles and condition in the Indian sports arena.
Whenever I pitched my script to anybody, l had one condition that I would play the lead character. People liked the script but they couldn’t see me as the lead. Some even asked me to choose another role but I was adamant. After roaming around with it for three years, I decided to ask Anurag for his suggestions. I can never forget the phone call I received once he read the script. He said that he will be making the film, but I will have to become a boxer for it. He said otherwise he will not make the film. That night I packed all my bags and left the city. I returned as a boxer.
From lifting tyres and weights, runs, grueling workouts, I did it all to become a boxer. I went through training to become a professional boxer. I can punch like an actual boxer.
After a training of two years, according to my coaches, I am capable of playing at the national level. Now I even think like a boxer and understand the game like a professional.
Q. Anurag Kashyap almost reworked your script to make the film. Were you okay with that?
I was constantly showing the script to people and rewriting one draft after another. Anurag Kashyap changed many things in the film and made many additions too. This time it didn’t matter to me and I also trust this man. I was only focused on acting. I had included the politics and the way sportsmen are treated in our country. I just wanted to unlearn everything that I knew and do as Anurag sir asked me to do.
Q. The film opened MAMI and was received well. What does that feel like? What are the new projects that you are working on?
Just as the film was out, messages from various directors filled my message box. I was overwhelmed with the response I received. It was all surreal. The feeling is only just starting to sink in.
I have been offered a lot of roles now. I have just completed Gold with Akshay Kumar and I am also a part of Dasdev. There are a lot of things happening right now. I am prepared for it. I have been preparing for a long time for this.