RAN­DEEP HOODA

A RA­ZOR SHARP FO­CUS ON STAR­DOM

Mandate - - Front Page - By Nairita Mukher­jee

PHO­TO­GRAPHS: RAJ CHATURVEDI; RAN­DEEP’S OUT­FITS & STYLING: AR­CHANA KOCHHAR FROM COP­PER­STONE AS­SISTED BY: BRUNO JEYSON; MAKE-UP: RENUKA PIL­LAI; HAIR: PERRY PA­TEL; MOD­ELS’ STYLING: ANIKET SATAM & RIZWAN SHAIKH AS­SISTED BY: MEL­LISSA DESSA, HI­MANI MIT­TAL & AZHAR MULLA; LO­CA­TION: COURT­YARD BY MAR­RIOTT, MUMBAI

ven though Ran­deep Hooda never di­rectly en­dorsed the badass im­age as un­der­lined by the me­dia (thanks to his choices in reel and real life), he didn’t re­ally de­bunk it ei­ther. News of bro­ken re­la­tion­ships (es­sen­tially with the exMiss Uni­verse) only added fuel to fire. But he was per­haps too busy to pro­vide ex­pla­na­tions, and so the leg­end lived on. “I don’t think the in­dus­try knows what to do with me, yet,” starts off Ran­deep, pulling up a chair right next to me, “And that’s not nec­es­sar­ily a bad thing.”

Even then, Ran­deep’s changed de­meanour is ev­i­dent. I re­mind him of our first cover shoot with him, prior to the re­lease of High­way and Kick. He was tem­pered, reck­less and impatient. Since then, he has had four re­leases, two of which be­came block­busters, and most im­por­tantly, made him a house­hold name. But he rub­bishes my claim. “Noth­ing’s changed for me hon­estly,” he says, as he back-brushes his hair into a sleek do, “I don’t os­cil­late too much.” Then, he con­tra­dicts him­self in his dark chocolate­like voice, “But I guess, I’m get­ting wiser with time. The more you work, the more peo­ple you meet, the more ex­po­sure you get. It’s a sim­ple process.” But what ex­actly made him a peo­ple’s per­son, I pester him. “Well, I’m get­ting paid a bit more,” pat comes the re­ply.

Clearly, he is en­joy­ing the new found suc­cess. Af­ter all, he has slogged his bot­tom off over a decade to come this far. His in­fa­mous anger when we last met was a re­flec­tion of a dis­qui­etude he har­boured within him­self. “D came in 2005 and now it’s 2015, that’s 10 years of peo­ple telling me, ‘ You haven’t got your dues’ or ‘ You’re the most un­der­rated ac­tor,’ or what­ever it is that they say. They are say­ing it from the out­side, so then you can imag­ine what I must be feel­ing in­side,” he adds, care­fully minc­ing his words, tak­ing short pauses in be­tween. “What I fear the most is achiev­ing less. My goals were never so lit­tle as to reach only to where I’m now, I have big­ger goals and I’m fo­cused enough to achieve them.”

E

n a nut­shell, Ran­deep is a clas­sic case study for a men’s mag­a­zine. He is a self-made ac­tor, who has lived through the un­der­belly of Bol­ly­wood to reach mid-lev­els of star­dom. That he makes men and women equally horny is a bonus. Ask him what makes him the man that he is, he shoots, “Well, my goals and my ap­proach to­wards them makes me what I am.” He clap­traps all the gloss and goes back to ba­sics. “Women and whiskey...they don’t make you a man. A sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity makes you a man, be­ing a man of his words, that’s what makes you a man. Keep­ing your prom­ises make you a man. Women and whiskey? They are very su­per­fi­cial. They come to you as a side ef­fect once you be­come the man you should be.” Well said, Ran­deep.

But he isn’t done yet. “You have to keep darker el­e­ments in check too. Ev­ery­one feels en­vi­ous at some point, but to use that to give you wings rather than wal­low in it, is a chal­lenge. But again, that’s an im­por­tant part of be­ing a man.” What about mis­takes, I ask. “You can’t fill a bucket of re­gret and keep car­ry­ing it around, you’ve got to throw it out. And re­mem­ber, all things, both good and bad, have made you what you are to­day.” Does that mean he re­grets be­ing a part of some sense­less pot­boil­ers? “I don’t feel that one kind of movie is lesser than the other at all. Of course, there’s the art part of it. But, who gives a fuck about art? It’s a busi­ness propo­si­tion at the end of the day. You can keep the purist in­tact within your heart. But, you can’t force it down other peo­ple’s throats.”

Yet, Ran­deep has found a mid­dle path. In his ear­lier in­ter­view with the mag­a­zine, he had said, “When you’re not from the in­dus­try and you’re not an ass-lick­ing gen­tle cow, and when you run out of work, they spit you out like any­thing. I got spat out. And, the first thing that goes is your dig­nity. The sec­ond is self-re­spect. And, the third is the charm that got you the job the first time around. I think my horses have con­trib­uted to keep­ing all three in­tact for me.”

Ran­deep’s love for the sport can be traced to MNS Rai in Soni­pat, Haryana. “It was a for­ma­tive in­flu­ence be­cause that’s where I started act­ing and rid­ing horses. And, many, many years later, I’m do­ing the same things,” he says. Be­sides in­dulging in show jump­ing and dres­sage (though he won a few zonal medals this year around, he failed at the na­tional level. “The know-how has got­ten bet­ter and there­fore the over­all stan­dard of the sport has im­proved, and I, un­for­tu­nately, had a very busy year with my movies, which left me with lit­tle time to up­grade my­self on this”), he also owns a polo team. “I wanted to call my team some­thing else, but ‘Royal Roost­ers’ is the clos­est I could get to!” he bursts out laugh­ing at his clever in­nu­endo.

I

Ran­deep hails from a small town of Ro­htak, Haryana. Af­ter be­ing a part of some pro­duc­tions in his school, he briefly mi­grated to Mel­bourne in Australia, and then re­turned to In­dia and be­gan mod­el­ling and act­ing in theatre. He soon found him­self in the Mira Nair film, Mon­soon Wed­ding, where he met his fu­ture men­tor, Naseerud­din Shah. He shad­owed Shah for half a decade, as he felt he needed more ex­po­sure. “I was lost—look­ing for ap­proval and re­ally try­ing to ap­ply what I’d learnt. I was very earnest, go­ing to all th­ese work­shops with Naseer bhai across the coun­try.”

Con­cur­rent with his low-pro­file time was his high-pro­file re­la­tion­ship with Sush­mita Sen. In his in­ter­view to The Times of In­dia, he said, “When I was see­ing Sush, I never talked about it. She did. I talk about her now be­cause this was so long ago. I did feel it was de­lay­ing my own recog­ni­tion in some way and tak­ing a lot of en­ergy and fo­cus away from my own ca­reer. But, in hind­sight, it hap­pens only when it has to hap­pen.”

So, on a part­ing note, I ask him, how he would de­scribe him­self, in an at­tempt to sum­marise this man of var­ied in­ter­ests and vary­ing lay­ers. “I’m a very volatile per­son,” he is quick to re­spond, “And most of the time pre­oc­cu­pied with too many things on my plate. Aside from that, I’m a sim­ple man with sim­ple needs and some goals to achieve.” Does love fig­ure into the larger scheme of things? “Well,” he fi­nally speaks af­ter a long po­etic pause, “I just need some­one calm around me. Some­one with pos­i­tive en­ergy and a warm nur­tur­ing qual­ity. And some­body I can hang out and have a con­ver­sa­tion with. Some­one I can sleep next to, peace­fully. And that’s the woman I’d be look­ing for.”

ON THE TA­BLE—BELT: PRIA KATAARIA PURI; YAS­MINA—CORSET & LAMIE PANTY: SWAP­NIL SHINDE; EAR­RINGS, BELT & RING: AE TEE DE­SIGNS CARO­LINE—SWIM­SUIT: NIDHI MU­NIM; BELT: KARAN MAL­HO­TRA; WEDGES: LIFE­STYLE; SA­HAR—BIKINI: NIDHI MU­NIM; EAR­RINGS, CUFF & BELT: AE TEE DE­SIGNS; WEDGES: LIFE­STYLE; LO­CA­TION: ARK, COURT­YARD BY MAR­RIOTT

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