Call Randeep Hooda an intense actor, and he retorts, “I’d like to use the word involved, rather than intense. I get involved with every character I play.” You can’t help but believe that, because the serious, angst-ridden characters that Hooda is known for, are far from the funny, charming man that he is. He jokes around and is anything but politically correct.
Hooda is happy to have done a film like Highway, which gave him a chance to work on the nuances of his character. “I enjoy roles that require me to prepare, because it gives me the feeling that you’re doing something worthwhile. Challenges are a must, because if it’s easy, then you’re not doing a good job,” he says. In the Imtiaz Ali film, the actor plays a toughie, sporting the colloquial dialect of the Gujjar community. “The way I look in the film was a task. I stopped shaving, stopped washing my hair. I used to make the ‘Om’ tattoo myself, and also tattoo my name on my arm. To maintain a consistent look throughout was difficult. Moreover, I had to get the accent right. There’s this community called Gujjar who are found mostly in areas like Haryana or Rajasthan, so I had to speak their dialect and modify my tone. Initially, it was very essential to bring out the contrast between our characters, who belong to two different worlds—that of the haves and the have nots— in order to make it believable. Although, this is not the leitmotif of the story, still, we had to vividly portray these two worlds.” explains Hooda about his character, Mahabir Bhati. As the duo do not interact with each other, initially in the film, just to add authenticity to their scenes together, Hooda refrained from talking with Bhatt for 20-25 days while shooting. He started talking to her only when their characters start interacting in the film.
While the actor is slowly plodding ahead, choosing his films with care, he remains unaffected with the success and failure of his past films. “I’ve always approached my characters with a lot of honesty. I think as an actor you’re considered successful only if you associate with the right kind of people. For instance, if an independent producer is making a film, it doesn’t have good distribution, there’s no promotion, so obviously nobody will watch the film. That’s what was happening with my career. But that changed after I did Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai because my association was bigger in terms of working with Balaji Motion Pictures or Ajay Devgn. This, however, does not mean that I’ve not worked hard in my other projects,” clarifies Hooda.
Acknowledging a lean phase in his career when despite his sincerity and hard work, the actor did not have any films on hand. Undeterred by failure, he changed tracks and dabbled with theatre, continued…