“Men visualize women in a very pornographic way, but women are different” – Randeep Hooda

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Randeep Hooda has had a few releases in his filmi career but managed to create an interesting niche for himself. While we haven’t seen him in a typical song and dance movie, he has played a gangster in D, a cop in Risk and his last release Ru Ba Ru saw him in a lead romantic role. Just when you thought you couldn’t get enough of this handsome hunk, Hooda has a handful of movies on the brink of release: Mere Khawabon Mein Jo Aaye, Rang Rasiya, and Love Khichdi. Recovering from a broken ankle after a Polo match accident, BollySpice spoke to this flirty fun actor to discuss his upcoming releases, women and men, romance and action.

How are you feeling now?

Well, as we speak I am headed to the doctors to get the staples out of my leg. I got operated upon near my ankle because my horse slipped and fell on my leg while playing Polo.

So, when are you going to be up and riding again?

I’m going to start walking in about four weeks, so let’s say riding in five (laughs).

Let’s rewind a bit. Your performance in Ru Ba Ru was appreciated but the movie did not work at the box office. Why do you think that is?

I don’t really know. There are a lot of factors that could not have worked for it: it wasn’t heavily publicized, the music did not really hit the airwaves and also the critics were a bit too harsh on it because it was inspired by the Hollywood movie, If Only. Not a lot of people saw the movie in fact.

I definitely did and thought your performance was outstanding. After D and Risk, this was a fabulous change to your otherwise serious persona.

Well, thank you so much. But as an artist you look back at your work and you often think, if I get to do it again, I would do it so much better and differently.

We certainly hope so. So, you have Mere Khwabon Mein Jo Aaye coming up soon in which you play 18 different men. Tell us about your character.

Yes, it’s very exciting! Well, basically my character is what all women would fantasize about and the men would love to be. It is from a woman’s point of you looking at a man, because the director is a woman. So I enter as a lot of different men: James Bond, Zorro, Amitabh Bachchan from Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Dharmendra from Shalimar and many more. The basic plot is about this woman whose marriage is not working because she has given up everything for it. She then discovers that her husband is having an affair. Now we have seen this kind of movie before but the treat to this movie is that she begins questions what her ideal man would be like. So she conjures me up as a part of her imagination and it’s funny more than anything else. It’s a hilarious movie with a lot of tongue in cheek humor and a lot of charm. It’s a very fun film and it’s a character that I’ve never done before and more than anything else, the story and the way it’s been treated is very fresh and new. I’m working with a woman director after a long time. I should tell you, its great pleasure to take orders from a woman and I mean hey, you are supposed to be taking orders from your director!

So is it fair to say that with this movie, you’ll be shifting gears and giving the comedy genre a try?

I don’t know what genre to put the film into. It’s a very new genre. It’s emotional, it’s romantic, and it’s comical as well as fantastical. So I really don’t know what genre to put this into really. It’s a very fresh and original screenplay which is very unique. But it is entertaining to the hills for sure.

How was it working with Madhureeta Anand? This is her first film right?

It’s her first film, but she’s not a first time director. My last woman director, Mira Nair, also had a documentary filmmaking background and the same with Madhureeta. In fact, I see a lot of similarities in the two in the sense that they both have the same big, beautiful bright eyes. It was an absolute pleasure working with her. You know most male directors portray women in their movies as nothing more than sexual objects with skimpy dresses an all that, but here you have a woman making a movie about women fantasies and her take on it. Mind you, she has used my physicality’s but it is not a sexual fantasy and that is the difference between men and women. Men visualize women in a very pornographic way, but women are different. They need men to understand them, they need men to listen to them, they need men to make them laugh; it’s not just sexual. That is the beauty of this character and the script being created from a woman’s point of view. You know a lot of women complain about their boyfriends and husbands, that he’s not good at this or that, so here she has combined 18 different characters into the spirit of this one man who is almost perfect.

Was it hard to play 18 completely different characters?

My basic character is that of Jai. Then there are different caricatures of the characters. We have taken the spirit and essence of those men and kind of molded them to me and to the script and also to the woman, whose alter ego I am, and what she wants at the moment. For example, she sees a sexy man on T.V. and her husband is ill-treating her. So in her fantasy, I turn up at her doorstep with this wind swept hair, a fur boa and I pull out a brass goblet from my pocket and I go “Thoda doodh milega?” (Can I borrow some milk?)(Laughs) She’s a housewife so her fantasies include doodh. It continues and I ask her “Thodi cheeni milegi?” (How about some sugar?) She is flabbergasted by this guy turning up to her door, although it’s her imagination. By the end of the scene, she makes the coffee and I walk into her life. So it’s very funny and yet very sensible.

What were your experiences working with Ketan Mehta? How did it feel when you heard he said, “Randeep has given a brilliant performance by any standard and I’m really happy I made that choice”?

He is an absolute delight to work with. He’s so patient, tender, so good with his actors, and so involving. He involves you to the T. He’s a great guy to work with and he eats, lives and breaths movies! I am very thankful to him for making that choice, and to be so generous. I did my best in the given circumstances everyday and so did he. We share a great creative relationship. I have a very close relationship with all my directors. When I’m doing a movie, the director is “The Person,” much before I start shooting the film and much after too. We become hands in gloves and thick as thieves as they say.

It seems like a great movie. It’s doing very well at the film festivals. The response has been amazing. How does that feel?

Yeah, the response has been amazing. Not many of my films, except for Monsoon Wedding, have gone through festivals. Although they could have and they should have but they haven’t so after Monsoon Wedding, I was at a festival for Rang Rasiya and we had a similar response of a standing ovation. It always makes you feel like WOW! They really understood it.

Is it easier to do a period movie or a modern contemporary one?

I am a very contemporary guy. I studied in Australia, and am very much today’s young man. And all my roles, whether it was a gangster in D or a cop in Risk, they were not roles that were like me. And with Rang Rasiya, this goes a step further. So, all of them are as easy and as difficult. Sometimes you have to work on one aspect and in another role you have to work on another aspect. So they are all as easy and as hard.

You have a whole bunch of releases coming up. Does it make you nervous?

Well, I’m really hoping they don’t all release too close to each other.

What do you think till date, has been your best performance?

Uhhh…I don’t really know. I can usually only see defaults in my performances. Although my acting is improving everyday, so I couldn’t really say. I think for an actor, it is always the next film that will be your best performance.

What has been your favorite role?

They are all my favorites really. Mere Khwabon Mein Jo Aaye where I play 18 characters is definitely up there and it was really fun to do. I normally prepare a lot for my roles, and I asked the director what she wanted me to do. She told me to watch some references, but she said don’t watch them too intently. Read a book and watch them because I don’t want you to become a caricature of these characters. And then I asked her, what else? She said just come to the set and have fun! So here is a director who is very beautiful, who is asking me to come to her set and have fun! I wanted to ask, am I getting paid for this? (Laughs)

What do you prefer, romance or action?

A bit of both is good! Romance I find quite easy to do because everyone has had personal previous experience to it. Not everyone has experience at shooting bullets at people and killing them cold blood. So yeah, romance is easier to do but action is also enjoyable. It’s that dark, macho, middle class me who wants to take on the world, the basis of his muscles and his daring. So that’s also a very fruitful imagination of myself.

How much of you do we actually see in the character that you portray?

There is a lot of me in all my characters but I am like none of them. I take an aspect of myself and enlarge upon it. And the reason that I am more inclined to do more different roles, because there are so many facets of me, dying to come out, dying to be expressed, dying to be heard. I would be very sad if I had to repeat the same role over and over again.

What is your most favorite thing in the world – besides riding horses?

These days, the bundle of joy in my life is seeing my nephew. He was born in America and has come to visit me with his father. Spending time with him, watching cartoons with him has been the biggest joy I’m experiencing right now. Things keep changing from time to time.

And my last question, any message for your fans?

Well, I want to tell all those who like to watch me and my films, is that I am trying very hard and the best I can to give you the different aspects of me in films and roles in which you can feel proud of watching. I came to this city with 1500 rupees and I am trying really hard. I hope you all like my upcoming releases.

And with that, our t

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