Vijender Singh enters the Bollywood ring with ‘Fugly’
Vijender Singh, the pin-up boy of Indian boxing, made his Bollywood debut on Friday, starring in a thriller about four youngsters who get into trouble with the police.
Singh, whose middleweight bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics helped raise the sport’s profile in India, is training for next month’s Glasgow Commonwealth Games at a boxing camp in Patiala and was yet to watch “Fugly”, a film produced by Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar, when we interviewed him.
Singh, a strapping 28-year-old with boyish looks, told India Insight in a phone interview that he was up for new challenges and making a movie was just one of them. Excerpts from the interview:
Q. Which do you enjoy better – boxing or acting?
A. Both. I know boxing, have been doing it for 15-16 years. I am almost a year old in Bollywood. Both are interesting and require a lot of hard work. Right now I am in a camp, I was training in the morning and will train again in the evening. It was work for me. Now I am back to my normal routine, training for boxing.
Q. You haven’t seen your movie in the theater yet?
A. I will go to watch it. There were so many phone calls and messages since morning. I came back from training, got busy, slept a bit and now I will go. The reviews are awesome. My friends are saying it doesn’t look like this is your first movie, it’s like you are a pro (laughs). I am happy, I did a movie finally.
Q. Did being a boxer help you while making the film?
A. Yes, sir. Because of boxing I think I am very hard-working, I am not lazy. I am the only one who used to arrive on the sets first, used to talk to everyone. The learning skills that helped me in boxing also helped in acting. Kabir sir (the director of “Fugly”) used to give me directions and I caught it easily … How to catch the light, how to move – because many times there is a block because of each other. Then how to bring yourself before the camera, footwork helped me a lot.
Q. What did you learn from this experience?
A. Patience. Sometimes because of the shoot, for six-seven hours there was nothing to do and I used to just play video games. So it was problematic in the beginning, but got OK later. I learnt that you should focus, you should be patient. That is essential and it will be useful in boxing.
Q. You are a trained boxer but not an actor. How did you face the challenge?
A. I love challenges. I like to try different things, good things. Bollywood is an interesting world. One has to do it (learning lines, facing the camera), they are skills. Why would they (film-makers) choose me if I didn’t have the required skills?
Q. Tell us about your association with actor Akshay Kumar.
A. He has inspired me. I know him since 2008. He is like family. I used to ask for his advice related to any work like advertisement shoots, etc. and he always guided me. I have seen a lot of his films here in Patiala.
Q. Are your friends and family asking you for a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games?
A. Yes. And hope everything goes fine – the movie becomes super-hit and I get a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. A lot of work is being done for it. I am training in a camp. Every fight is challenging for me. I don’t underestimate my opponents.
(Editing by Tony Tharakan and Robert MacMillan; Follow Tony on Twitter at @TonyTharakan , Robert @bobbymacReports and Shashank @shashankchouhan | This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission)