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Interview Team : Jyothsna

Vidyut Jammwal made many a hearts skip a beat with a menacing performance in Ajith’s Billa 2. He followed it up with a sinisterly portrayal in Vijay’s Thuppakki. Now the Tamil audience would get to see him in an important role in Suriya’s Anjaan.

A strict disciplinarian for work-outs and an avid practitioner of Kalaripayattu, Vidyut is proud of his chiseled body. In conversation with Senior Editor Jyothsna Bhavanishankar, Vidyut shares about his fitness schedule, tips to get that ‘hot’ body and also about Ajith, Vijay, Suriya, Anjaan and many more.  



How did your film journey begin?

I think my martial arts got me into the business. It made me realize that martial arts needed to have a greater showcase platform for its power to be shared with the world. That's when I came to Mumbai. I'd heard of casting for Nishikant Kamath's Force - remake of Kaakha Kaakha and I went in to audition and that's the start of my journey.


Tell us something about your family

I'm one of three children born in to a family from an army background. Owing to consistent changes in my dad's posting, we traveled and lived all over the country. It was very early in life that we learned about the enrichment via varied cultural experiences. That was what sowed the seeds of martial arts in me as well


How did Anjaan happen?

I was in Dubai for the SIIMA awards where I won the award for Best Villain for Thuppakki. That's where I met Lingusamy who told me that he thought I could do more and that he'd like to work together. I thought he was being polite but I got a call two weeks later inviting me for an audition for a part. It wasn't for a negative but a parallel lead character. I'm so glad it all worked out so well and I got a chance to work with a genius like him.


Murugadoss in one of his interviews had stated that he was very impressed with your discipline and drive to do roles. Did you impress Lingusamy in any such ways for Anjaan?

I'm so glad that Murugadoss sir said such nice things. I think it’s my base in martial arts and my army upbringing that gives me this sense of discipline and drive. That's something I live by. What Lingusamy sir thought is something only he can say. All I can say is that it was just fantastic to have worked with him and to have been a part of his genius cinematic experience.


How was Lingusamy to work with?

I have said this before and glad to say it again, he's undoubtedly one of the most brilliant directors of our time. His understanding of the film landscape and the nuances of each performance make him such a master. As an actor, you feel guided so amazingly that it feels almost effortless doing a scene. Above and beyond, he's a lovely human being and that's what I adore most about him.

Lingusamy is undoubtedly one of the most brilliant directors of our time


Can you elaborate on your role and working in Anjaan?


I can't reveal much about Anjaan as yet but I can definitely tell you that I'm not the villain. Suriya and my character are partners in crime, brothers in arms. It’s a role I haven't done before and I'm really excited about it. 


I've never been someone who's followed norm and I've had destiny lead my journey. So I'm sure every aspect of that journey is only for the greater purpose and good.

Suriya and I are partners in crime


Do you feel fortunate to have worked with three of the biggest Superstars of Tamil - Ajith, Vijay and Suriya, or do you look at them as another important set of roles that were offered to you?

Well to be honest I think working with great talents always helps you learn and evolve. It has been a blessing working with them and also with my super directors. And yes, my roles in the films have also been etched out really well ensuring my ability to make an impact.


Can you share your experience working with Ajith, Vijay and Suriya


All three have been great to work with. Ajith was my first co-star from the three which makes him and my relationship with him special. Working with him was a lot of fun and was a great learning experience. He's certainly one of the most charming men I've met.


Vijay, for most, may seem shy but he's one of the most comfortable people in their own skin. In addition to being a super dancer, on screen, he's extremely spontaneous, which may almost seem dichotomous to others who don't know him.


I've had a good time working with Suriya. Most part of our chats is pertaining to fitness and exchanging workout tips. He also possesses intensity in his performance along with a rare quality of emoting with his eyes. 

Vijay is extremely spontaneous


How do you manage Tamil? Have you picked up the language?

I have been working on it and have been picking it up. I've been exposed to a fair bit of the language and I'm looking forward to getting better with it for my future projects.


Till now, it’s only been anti-hero roles. When would you play hero’s role? You have got the looks and talent. Have you got any offers to play a hero’s role?

I have played the anti hero and I have received offers for positive roles too. I'm hoping to choose what works best. The idea is to do great work and consistently grow and evolve with every film as a performer. Scripts today don't bind characters within a clear black Vs white demarcation. The simple reason for that is - there is a grey element in all of us. So, we don't judge our on screen personas through that prism anymore. There can be a heroic tale of a so-called-villain and a heinous, almost villainous story of a so-called-hero. More so, with the greats like Rajinikanth having started their journeys as "villains" to becoming the legends they are, need I say anything more?

There is a grey element in all of us


Why do you think that people in Bollywood in general, to a larger extent, respect technicians from down south but not working in south Indian movies?

As I've mentioned before, the south content and techniques are more evolved and have been worked on extensively thus assuring their success measure. Whether or not to work in other industries other than Bollywood, I think that's each one's own decision and the two trends are mutually exclusive.

The south content and techniques are more evolved 


Wasn’t the villain’s role in Holiday, (Thuppakki’s Hindi remake), not offered to you by Murugadoss or did you opt out of it?

No it wasn't brought to me.


You are playing Bodhi Dharma in Ram Madhvani's film. Is the film a remake of 7am Arivu? Did you take some tips from Suriya?

There's no similarity. The only commonality is the iconic character. 


Working with Shruti Haasan in Yaara

She's definitely one of the nicest people I've worked with. She does carry forward the strong legacy of her family in her work, her talent and attitude.


What made you turn vegetarian all of a sudden?

There was never a reason as such. I decided to do it and it worked for me. I’ve been a vegetarian since the past 12 years and it feels great. It helps the body and mind operate with a certain amount of agility and lightness ensuring that your overall health is always at its optimum. 


On being adjudged the PETA hottest vegetarian

It does feel great to be regarded on top of the pyramid for a belief that I've followed for so long.


How did you get involved in Kalaripayattu?

I didn't choose it...It chose me. I started training in Kalaripayattu (one of the oldest fighting systems that include strikes, kicks, weaponry and healing methods) when I was three. I lived in an ashram in Kerala till I was thirteen and during that time I learnt this art from my teachers and gurus. For me it wasn't out of the ordinary, it was just like learning any other art. Martial Arts is not my hobby; it was a game in childhood and now it’s my love. 

Kalaripayattu chose me


What are the other martial arts you are proficient in?

Kalaripayattu is the mother of all martial arts forms. All other forms find their roots in Kalaripayattu. I've separately trained in jiu jitsu, aikedo and capoeira. 


Your tips on people aspiring to have a hot body


Be regular with your workouts. It's not just about going to a gym but having a sporting activity attached to your workout. Best sporting and fitness forms are running and sprinting. Ensure that you provide your body with the necessary sugars and salts. They are what the body needs, so don't deny yourself that. And finally, feed the body's nutritional needs and not the greed in the eyes!


I especially want to suggest a certain routine for those urban city dwellers who suffer from the woes of a fast paced work life and which makes them fall into the "I'm too busy - I don't have time" excuse trap when asked about keeping fit:


Exercise before work or during lunch hour. It's just about making those 45 - 60 minutes for yourself.


Schedule workouts in a way that they coincide with your favorite shows or with films you plan on catching on TV. It's a great way to ensure your mind is occupied and not thinking about the pain and boredom that it tends to attach to working out.


Get up early two mornings a week and ensure you make the most of that time being one with your body without any distractions.


Take a hard look at your schedule. To prioritize, you can cut something that's low on the list and that time can be used for workouts.


Find alternatives to the unhealthy food you snack on. Consider light biscuits, khakras, low calorie bhels, maybe even a fruit.


Find a way to make each workout day exciting. Keep your routine ever changing and try different things to get a sense if what you enjoy the most.


Whilst leading a sedentary life, ensure you get up every half an hour and take a walk around the office and come back. It'll not only help avoid the inertia attached to the constant sitting but will also serve as a break factor and give you thinking time.


Your regular meals may not have all the nutrition. Consider meal supplements - select a calcium and vitamin D intake which may be hard to get through natural foods.


Your fitness schedule

Stretching & kicking, jumping through specially designed and created obstacle courses, practicing weapon training using swords, sticks of different sizes with different forms and movement and creating realistic stunts with various permutations and combinations. A definite part of my training is close to 20 rounds of a 30 metre rope climb that I ensure I complete in the minimum possible amount of time. Other key elements also include floor submission and grappling along with blocks and punches. For me, groundwork routines such as submission, long holds, throws, stand up work and boxing are very essential to my training.  I believe that the body is like the tree trunk with branches, stems and leaves, representing how we walk, jump, run and kick - hence it must be entirely, yet separately nurtured.


Workout map:


In a week, I follow 5 days of martial art training and 2 days of weight training for an average of 6 - 7 hours a day in 3-4 hour intervals each.


I start with a 20 minute warm up

Running/ sprinting: 400 meters

3 rounds of 10 pull-ups, 15 push-ups, 20 squats, 50 metres of handstand walks.


I move into the rest of my regimen after comprising of martial art training - gymnastics, acrobatics, street stunts, tricking. Weight training includes extensive lower body training, squats, lunges, and calves along with upper body workout that includes roman rings, parallel bars and push-ups.


When I move from my weight training days to my cardio based martial arts training, I usually make my warm up more intense -

Warm Up: 20 - 30 minutes

Run 800 meters

50-lb dumbbell squat and clean lunges-30 reps each, 2 sets of 30 burpees


Separate focus: lower body workouts especially – legs and calves with squats and jumps. A lot of people who weight train tend to focus more of the upper body than the lower not realizing that the entire body needs to be strengthened for it to operate at its best.


New addition : With the addition of the anti gravity routines, done using the suspension equipment - rings, trapeze bars, suspension anchor, door anchors etc to support the exercise forms and asanas, I end up dedicating a good 40 minutes just to that.


Even though I train every day, I don’t follow a strict set regimen. I follow what my heart and what my body says and do what I want to – be it gymnastics, martial arts or weight training. The days I feel like my body needs rest, I ensure I take that little time out.


What do you like about Tamil films and who are your favorite actors?

The story and content offered by Tamil films are quite evolved. That's probably the reason why Hindi films have picked up so many Tamil remakes. The audiences have also evolved in their storyline sensibilities and that's given reason for great stories to be made. As far as actors go, MGR, Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan are my favorites. 

MGR, Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan are my favorites


Who are the directors you wish to work with?

AR Murugadoss and Lingusamy again, Prabhudeva, Shankar, SS Rajamouli, and of course the new talented directors too.


Here is wishing Vidyut Jammwal all the best for Anjaan and all his future endeavors!





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