In many ways Mukkabaaz, the story of a boxer trying to make it big in caste-ridden Uttar Pradesh, mirrors Vineet Kumar Singh’s struggle in Bollywood, for 17 years, but the actor, ever an optimist, says he is not bitter.
The story is based on a script that Vineet wrote and tried to get the film made for years before turning to his mentor Anurag Kashyap, who had cast him in “Gangs of Wasseypur” for the first time.
Vineet said he kept telling himself that he always had the option to go back home whenever the situation turned bleak.
“I prefer not to complain because it becomes harder to survive. I would not have survived for 17-18 years if I was bitter. I am still here… Trying,” the actor said.
“I studied in a medical college but then decided not to take up the profession. I chose this (acting). In the worst phases of my struggle, I would talk to myself, ‘You have decided to come to Mumbai and become an actor. No one has asked you to do this’,” he added.
Vineet also featured in films such as Bombay Talkies and Ugly but the actor said there were chances of being typecast as most of the parts offered to him had a similar tone.
To break the mould, the actor decided to take Mukkabaaz forward, which was eventually directed by Kashyap.
“The offers which were coming to me were similar to what I had done before. What people were expecting me to do was different from what I wanted to do. There was this dilemma. Then I decided I will do ‘Mukkabaaz’.”
Vineet said when he approached filmmakers with the story, they praised the script, but things couldn’t materialise due to innumerable reasons.
He said the fact that producers met him with a lot of respect and appreciated his efforts gave him the strength to keep on trying.
“Whenever I used to come out of these meetings, I never felt disheartened. I always felt there is something good in my script because of which people are willing to put in their money. My confidence was high throughout as people were showing an interest in the script,” he added.
Vineet said it took him a while to approach Kashyap as the director had already worked with him in three films.
“I did not approach him as I thought he would feel I’m after him. When I initially went to Anurag sir, it was not because I wanted him to direct the film. I had gone to pitch the project to Phantom Films. I thought if I would get some feedback from him, I would incorporate the changes in the script and then pitch it to his company.”
The actor said he was stunned when Kashyap expressed his desire to helm the project with him in the lead role of ‘Shravan Kumar Singh’.
“I was waiting for his feedback and when he called me, he immediately said that he liked the script and is directing it with me in the lead. I couldn’t believe my ears when he said this as I had been going to people with the script for the past three years. I was so happy,” he said.
The sports drama, which also features Jimmy Sheirgill, Ravi Kishan and Zoya Hussain, has been promoted as a “true story”.
Vineet said the film is tagged as inspired by real events as it focuses on the actual struggle of sportspeople before they become stars.
“What happens in our country is that we start talking about a sportsperson when he or she wins a medal in some big tournament. The people then get interested in writing and reading about their lives. But nobody is interested in knowing that what they went through before winning the medal,” he said.
Vineet believes more than the victory, it is the journey of a sportsperson which needs to be highlighted. “I believe sportspeople require exposure the most when they have not won a medal. That journey needs to be highlighted,” he added.