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SRK,Hrithik,Aamir: Bollywood heroes’ attracted to action

Thrills or getting a professional edge — what lures a Bollywood star to do high risk stunts in a film?

Written by Geety Sahgal | Mumbai |
July 26, 2013 2:09:10 pm

Actors may not always action stunts it because of the thrill factor,but because it is the requirement today. The audience today is very clever and can spot a duplicate,especially if the

physique is not correct

– Rakesh Roshan,film-maker

Nobody really knows when action sequences went high octane,but most attribute it to the time when Ajay Devgn,Akshay Kumar and Suniel Shetty came into the industry in the ’90s. While Devgn strode into the industry atop two speeding bikes in Phool Aur Kaante,Kumar went on to establish his brand of action with action-oriented Khiladi series; he stunned everyone,including the action co-ordinator Abbas Ali when he jumped from a plane onto a hot air balloon 1000 feet below in Khiladi 420.

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Many heroes now aim to include one or more high-risk stunts on their roster. Shah Rukh Khan,who started his career as a romantic hero,had no qualms to be set on fire for a stunt in Koyla or stepping out of car that blows up in a blast in Don. Salman Khan did some breathtaking drops in Ek Tha Tiger. Other dare-devil attempts include Hrithik Roshan atop a speeding train dodging bullets in Dhoom 2,Aamir Khan’s dicey sprint on a railway track in Ghulam,John Abraham deadly fight sequences in Force and Vidyut Jammwal’s 800 feet fall from a cliff in Commando. These were a far cry from the action sequences made popular by action heroes like Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan,which involved more of fight sequences than stunts.

The high risk factor of modern stunts in films came into focus when Hrithik Roshan suffered a clot in the brain due to a head-on dive into waters that went wrong while shooting for his film Bang Bang. The actor,who’s currently recuperating from a brain surgery for the same,has not ruled out doing stunts in the future.

So,what motivates the stars to take on dangerous action sequences and avoid using a double,despite the fact that it could turn out to be fatal for them? Is it the adrenaline rush that one gets from having achieved the impossible?

Director Rakesh Roshan,who’s shot his actor-son,Hrithik doing stunts like jumping from one building to another and flying sequences in the superhero film Krrish 3,says that more than the thrill,it’s the requirement of an action film that an actor tries to meet. “Actors may not always do it because of the thrill factor,but because it is the requirement today. The audience,today,is very clever and can spot a duplicate,especially if the physique is not correct. They are usually disappointed to see that kind of discrepancy in the movies they come to watch,” he explains.

Doing death-defying stunts,however,also gives a professional edge to an actor,points out Dilip Ghosh,who directed Vidyut Jammwal in the action thriller Commando. He elaborates,“Vidyut’s action sequence in Commando where he is thrown off a cliff from a height of 800 feet was extremely risky,even though we used a harness for it. My heart was in my mouth when we shot that sequence. But Vidyut wanted to prove a point and got a huge professional edge after doing a sequence like that.”

Ask the actor about it and he says that doing a stunt can be thrilling and scary,it helps to break boundaries that are created in the mind. “After achieving the impossible,it gives you a sense of reassurance. It’s about taking that leap mentally,and then physically,” says Jammawal.

But if,as Roshan stated action,stunts are a requirement of today’s films,what are the safety measures being taken to minimise the risks?

Action director Sham Kaushal,who has been directing action sequences for over two decades and is currently stationed in Bangkok working on a Akshay Kumar starrer It’s Entertainment,feels that 99 per cent of all action sequences in films which involve gun fights,hand-to-hand combat are more physically demanding than dangerous.

“But sequences involving jumping from heights,blast sequences,body fire,glass breaks and other fire sequences can be termed dangerous stunts. A little miscalculation of the timing of the blast or putting off the fire can be fatal. An actor can hurt himself on landing while doing jumps,” says Kaushal,citing the example of Kumar jumping off a cliff in 8X10 and landing in water as one such risky stunt. While Akshay Kumar is known for his love for high octane action,John Abraham,whose action thriller Force gave a boost to his career,got attracted to doing stunts in film. “I can see that the audience want to see me doing such roles,so I will be taking up such projects,” he had stated in an interview.

But Hrithik’s injury seems to have got actors like Arjun Rampal,who has also been part of some blast sequences in the recently released D-Day,got him thinking about doing such stunts in the future. “We like to do our own stunts because we feel good,but now it seems scary. And today unless an action stunt is 100 per cent safe,I would not attempt it. And even if I wanted to,my wife would not allow me to do it,” he says.

Considering the industry is working on new,corporatised ideas of promoting their films with action stunts as a bait,all measures are taken to make sure that everyone,including the actors are safe when shooting such scenes. “A doctor and an ambulance are always available on the set. Moreover,stuntmen work on a sequence and rehearse to see its feasibility before an actor is asked to attempt it. Earlier actors did many films at a time and did not have time to rehearse,but with most actors now doing one or two films at a time,they have time to prepare for their stunts. Harnesses and cables are used freely as they can be easily deleted through VFX,” informs stunt co-ordinator Abbas Ali,who has worked for two decades in the industry. .

Ali,who is currently working on Vikram Bhatt’s Creature,says that utmost care is taken when doing action sequences in films. “Besides the precautions,the actors too are cautious when it comes to doing stunts,” he says,citing examples of a stuntman called Vikram Dahiya being taken on as the double for Aamir Khan for the dive in the lake for the water sequence in Talaash,but the underwater shots were done by Aamir in a controlled environment. “Dahiya also did the sequence in Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai,where Devgn is shown near the rail track with a train passing by extremely close to him. He also doubled for Ranbir Kapoor in the water jumping sequence in Barfi!” he adds.

Whatever the reasons that motivates an actor to take on action stunts,it pays to be prudent to take on take necessary measures than just giving in to the thrills of it.

Medic on the sets

Deepak Satpal of Sai Baba Ambulance who provides doctors,nurses and ambulance for film and television shootings,says that most reality shows like KBC and Jhalak Dikhla Ja have ambulances on standby in case of emergency. In the case of film shootings,70 per cent of production houses especially when filming outdoors,have a doctor and keep an ambulance with facilities like first aid,emergency medicines,oxygen cylinders.

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