Veteran actors Zeenat Aman, Prem Chopra, Sharmila Tagore share their fitness mantras

Updated: Feb 19, 2020, 08:16 IST | Shaheen Parkar, Sonia Lulla | Mumbai

Three veteran actors Zeenat Aman, Prem Chopra, Sharmila Tagore on wellness measures that have helped them defy age.

Prem Chopra, Zeenat Aman and Sharmila Tagore. Pictures courtesy/ AFP
Prem Chopra, Zeenat Aman and Sharmila Tagore. Pictures courtesy/ AFP

Prem Chopra, 84

Prem

At 84, and over six decades into the industry, Prem Chopra is still unwilling to hang up his acting boots.

Currently shooting for the Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukerji-starrer Bunty Aur Babli 2, Chopra says the active lifestyle he enjoys today is thanks to the disciplined life he has led. "Like a typical Punjabi boy, I love to eat and drink. I don't follow a diet as such, but one should always know when to stop. Everything is good in moderation. The problem arises when you go overboard."

Chopra owes his physical well-being to his regular swimming sessions at a Bandra club. "It is among the best forms of exercise. It is relaxing and invigorating and helps build strength and endurance." It was after he arrived in Mumbai in his mid-20s, that Chopra learnt to swim. "Growing up in Chandigarh and Shimla, I did not have access to a pool. Also, the freezing temperatures were not conducive to learning it. After I was [introduced] to it, I was hooked.

I have been pursuing it almost every day. "

During outdoor shoots, he always carries his swimming gear, and takes laps of hotel pools. "You never know when and where I can take the plunge."

Currently, Chopra admits to suffering from a niggling knee, which he attributes to the body's "wear and tear". He gave a shot at aqua yoga, but realised he prefers to treat swimming as a recreational activity instead of a workout. Today, he practices yoga by himself at his Pali Hill home. "Stretching movements keep the joints from getting stiff. I don't want to aggravate my knee problem. It's important for people to listen to their body. It sends signals when one overeats, is tired, or unwell. There is no better self-care than following what your body tells you."

Zeenat Aman, 68

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In the midst of her several-month-long rehearsals for an upcoming play on Mahatma Gandhi, Zeenat Aman is enjoying the leeway with her diet that has been afforded to her by her director. "He tells me to look as plump as I can," laughs Aman, who will play Kasturba Gandhi in the venture. However, Aman, who has propagated a healthy lifestyle throughout her three-decade long career, says she has immensely benefited from walking. "I am not a gym person, but I love to walk. Also, it is important to be careful about what one eats. Nowadays, people are going organic, or taking to diets like vegan or keto. I don't follow any [fad] diet, but I have [benefited] from being vegetarian all my life. [My diet typically comprises] fruits, vegetables, and whole grain."

As it is for women, Aman, 68, admits that maintaining a healthy weight has not always been a piece of cake. "It is difficult, and once you lose weight, keeping it off is harder. I have yo-yoed too. I remember, when I was a young working actor, I would survive on dal and salad. When I discovered food, I dove right in. I've had a love affair with food for many years."

Sharmila Tagore, 75

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Until a few years ago, Soha Ali Khan reportedly described mother Sharmila Tagore as the person who would correct co-members' form if they happened to be training alongside her at the gym. However, the veteran actor has reaped the benefits from regular yoga sessions instead, since the last three years. "It stretches the body and strengthens the core. So, it is better in the long-run. Walking is good for the heart, but yoga is beneficial to strengthen the spine and knees. Today, I practice yoga in the morning, and go for a walk after returning from work in the evening," says Tagore, 75.

Referring to herself as a "dal, chawal person" Tagore believes that if people continue to consume the foods that they have grown up on, the body will be receptive. "[I consume] brown rice, yellow dal and green vegetables. Also, once a day, I eat meat."

For Tagore, the months following her pregnancies were ones that demanded most attention, as far as her health was concerned. "I would [primarily] have chicken and vegetables in the form of a stew, and also took to yoga back then."

Her genetic makeup dictates that she gain weight rather slowly. However, extra kilos, she says, also take longer be shed. "After a certain age, the weight doesn't go. You need to look out for yourself by taking to a regular lifestyle, sleeping enough and avoiding late nights. I eat early, by 7.30 pm, unless I'm going out for dinner. If I go out, I stick to meals that are not heavy."

The cheats

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Aditya Seal

What's your cheat meal: Chicken biryani and butter chicken.
How often do you indulge: Twice a week.

Cheat meal Vs cheat day: Once a week, I have a cheat day. On another occasion
in the week, I have another cheat meal.

Do you compensate for it:
I consider the cheat meal as part of the diet. It's necessary to shock the body. So, I don't compensate for it.

In my fridge

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Ananya Panday

Dark chocolate
Soda
Coffee
Bread
Chicken

Gym playlist

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Elnaaz Norouzi

Rutela, Inna
Tokyo drift, Teriyaki Boyz
Merci maman, Maitre Gims
Burn it up, R Kelly

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