The two Haryana-bred professional Indian boxers, Deepak Singh and Neeraj Goyat, who are well-known for their punches, have now had a taste of the reel life as well. Deepak (a national champion) and Neeraj (a two-time WBC Asia title holder) will soon be seen in filmmaker Anurag Kashyap’s movie, Mukkabaaz (The Brawler), which is based on the life of a boxer.
When we spoke to the two boxers, during their practice sessions before the finale of Super Boxing League in Delhi, 23-year-old Deepak coyly said, “It was Neeraj who told me to audition for the film. Aise hi ek din mere paas Neeraj ka phone aya aur usne kaha ki ek boxing pe movie hai, karega? (One day Neeraj called me and asked if I would like to be part of a film that’s being made on boxing) I thought that I will have to stand somewhere in the background and that’s about it. But later when I auditioned and was selected, I realised it was for one of the crucial roles in the script. I play the role of Dharam Pal — who will be seen opposite the protagonist Vineeth Kumar.”
Deepak says how it was a surreal experience to share the screen space with actors Vineeth Kumar and Jimmy Sheirgill, during the movie. “I have been boxing for about 13 years now but I’m not crazy about movies. Whenever I have time, I do go and watch a film or two with my friends. But I had never thought that I would want to work in a film someday. All I focussed on was to hard work and make a name in boxing,” adds Deepak.
“I wasn’t fond of the film industry, because earlier Vidyut Jammwal, who was very friendly to me during his training days, didn’t even reply to my calls or messages after he became a star. However, meeting and working with Anurag changed my perception for the film industry.” — Neeraj Goyat, boxer
On the other hand, Neeraj, 25, had been maintaining a distance from the film industry, as he believed that stardom had a negative effect on people. “Even Vijender Singh told Anurag ki Neeraj se baat karo. (Boxer Vijender Singh also told Anurag Kashyap to speak to me when he was looking for boxers for his next film) Anurag asked me to audition for one of the crucial characters, but I didn’t. I wasn’t fond of the film industry, because earlier Vidyut Jammwal, who was very friendly to me during his training days, didn’t even reply to my calls or messages after he became a star. However, meeting and working with Anurag changed my perception for the film industry because he is so genuine. It’s then that I realised that not everyone in the film business is the same,” says Neeraj, who later chose one of the smaller roles in the film, due to his time constraint. “I told Anurag I can’t shoot for long hours in such a light set-up... all these conditions are far more harsh than what we face in boxing! Now, I realise what the people who make films, go through,” adds Neeraj.
The two aren’t fond of films clearly, but Deepak says, “I have seen Anurag’s films. Don’t remember their names though. Punches lag lag ke kuch yaad rehta nahi hai... but I exactly remember Gangs of Wasseypur (2012) as I saw it more than once. I found it very realistic. I have also seen some of those films where Anurag acted, but again I don’t remember their names.”
What are their opinions on boxing films, such as Mary Kom (2014)? Deepak quips : “Movie vo bhi achchi hai but theatre mein Mukkabaaz dekhoge to pata chalega ki boxing pe picture banti kaise hai (Those movies that were earlier made on boxing are good too but when you see Mukkabaaz in theatre, you will realise how a film on boxing should be made)!”
The duo sure know how to build up interest for their film, which will have a World Premier at the 42nd Toronto International Film Festival (September 7-17). Deepak says, “When I went to shoot, I knew I could box well, but dialogue delivery is something I was worried about. However, I could give my first shot in one take. After that, everyone on the set started telling me that I could become a star! Let’s see what happens when the movie is out.”
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