Kuldeep Shashi: Hrithik Roshan had a lot of genuine medical problems; not mere aches and pains

Updated: Oct 23, 2019, 07:51 IST | Sonia Lulla | Mumbai

A trainer with an understanding of action that woos the audience, Kuldeep Shashi on teaching top Bollywood brass to play to their strengths

Jacqueline is as flexible as Tiger is fit. Teach her anything, and she'll learn it in no time. For Race 3, she had a few fight sequences that we worked on. Though they were cut, she executed them so well! Pics/ Instagram
Jacqueline is as flexible as Tiger is fit. Teach her anything, and she'll learn it in no time. For Race 3, she had a few fight sequences that we worked on. Though they were cut, she executed them so well! Pics/ Instagram

Let's begin by stating that we don't underplay the importance of education. Yet, the human body is so unpredictable to the movement that despite every scientifically approved method being employed, it could fail to execute what another person could at the first go. However, Kuldeep Shashi's Instagram feed seems to defy notions of what could be perceived as ambitious. Post after post, it sees Bollywood fittest like Varun Dhawan, Jacqueline Fernandez, Disha Patani and Sanya Malhotra executing back saltos with the kind of ease that can make regular folk seem insufficient.

Shashi, the man with no sports-related educational qualification, has enabled the crème-de-la-crème of Bollywood to look good while throwing in the punches and attributes his success to his observational skills alone.

TigerI work with Tiger for the action sequences of most of his films. I met him at a show in 2011, when he offered to take care of my living expenses if I travelled to Mumbai to train him. When he shone in Heropanti, I became more valuable.

"Because I have trained myself to execute the stunts, I know precisely what needs to be done to get there. The things that I have taken years to learn, I can teach to people within a month, because I have gone through the struggle." On his resume are films like Akira, Judwaa, Race 3, War, the upcoming Farhan Akhtar-starrer Toofan, and "almost all of Tiger's films". It's easy to gauge why he is among the most sought-after in Bollywood when he discusses how he punches above his weight to assume the acumen of an action director instead of merely a callisthenics trainer. "There are two ways to do action, one is for cinema, and the other is for real.

HrithikHrithik came to us before War, after noticing how his kids, Hrehaan and Hridhaan were doing at our gym. He wanted to get back to action. He had genuine medical problems. I told him that he had the injuries because he had been executing stunts in the absence of a team

For films, more than executing power, it's crucial that the actor looks good. What's important is how you can pull off sequences that leave audiences saying, 'Oh, wow!' And if you spend years learning certain movements, but can't inspire applause when you finally execute it, what's the point? The action in international films is so clean because the technicians belong to the field of action, not because the actors are better. There's an entire team that manages the action and the artiste. I understood this early on in my career. When I first worked with Tiger for Heropanti, people thought it would be just another action film. But we designed the stunts to amaze people. When he shone, I became valuable."

Farhan khtarThe team of Toofan wanted different action sequences, like the human flag. I told them we should focus on things that would actually appease viewers instead

It is this tendency to decipher movements that will sit well on each artiste that makes his opinion valuable to action co-ordinators and film directors. "For instance, Varun is a big fan of UFC and wanted to execute a choke, in Street Dancer 3D. But I told him that the aggressive movement wouldn't look suitable for a hero, and he understood that."

Impressed by the progress his kids, Hrehaan and Hridhaan had been making under Shashi's tutelage, Hrithik Roshan sought his aid ahead of War. "Hrithik had a lot of genuine medical problems; not mere aches and pains. I told him that he was in pain because he had been executing an action in the absence of a team [of physiotherapists and nutritionists]. When you have a team, they look after you. When I travel with Tiger, I am focussed on him and his stunts. I'm constantly guiding him. A trainer will push you to execute movements, but you need a physiotherapist to keep you from executing movements that are detrimental."

Kuldeep ShashiKuldeep Shashi. Pic/ Sameer Markande

Shashi is currently training the young brigade of Bollywood, apart from Roshan's twins, including Sajid Nadiadwala's son Subhan, Shilpa Shetty Kundra's son Viaan and Ahmed Khan's son, Azaan. While he credits their ability in the gym, he admits it takes a fair share of work to motivate children. "Improvement is the best motivation. A lot of kids come in because their parents have sent them, but they acquire interest when they pull off things like a flip. That becomes a stimulus. They're then eager to learn more."

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