Vicky Kaushal: We'd create mock drills, repeat them to beat time
Vicky Kaushal on transforming into SF commando for the first actioner, Uri
While the fame and wealth attached to it are revered additions, the profession of acting can inarguably be among the most creatively satisfying ones, given that those belonging to it often explore an array of other professions too. Having lived the life of a military man for four months before kick-starting Uri, Vicky Kaushal, close on the heels of the film's release, says he's convinced "there was nothing else left in me" that could go into playing Major Vihaan Shergill.
"Eating, training, and sleeping was a full-time job," says the actor of the weeks he spent gaining 15 kilos and acing the physical training required for the part of a Special Forces commando. Of the six hours that he dedicated to the physical prep, the actor spent three undergoing military training.
"We'd train daily from 7-10 pm. It took place in two parts. While we had someone who had trained the Black Cats [National Security Guards], we also learnt from the Sikh Regiment at Cuffe Parade. They taught us obstacle training, formations, slithering, tactical training, and the use of code words, languages and walkie-talkies."
Operations conducted by the Special Forces, Kaushal tells us, always employ an even number of people. "Each commando will have his back against that of another when entering any volatile area so that the pair has a 360-degree view of what's going on around them. We were permitted to use their training ground, where a terrorist bunker was created. We'd create mock attack drills, where this bunker was separated by trees from a patch 100 meters away. On this patch, we, as commandos, would slither and then make our way to the bunker for the attack."
Those in the regiment kept a watchful eye on the actors' movements. "They would notice how we'd make formations, couch, walk, duck, look around, use code words and grenades, and even how we'd eventually navigate the patch and enter the bunker. They'd watch everything, and we've incorporated all that we learnt into the film." In a bid to nab the demeanour before they went before the camera, Kaushal says the actors would often repeat the drill over-and-over again to beat time. "It was the most stimulating thing I have done."
Son of veteran stunt director Sham Kaushal, Vicky will be seen in an actioner for the first time, in Aditya Dhar's directorial venture. Yet, the discussion around executing the sequences rarely made for conversations with his father. "In the film, I have a dialogue that goes, How's the josh? And, my dad would keep asking me, 'Beta, how's the hosh?' He'd remind me that we were not actually on the border and that it was important to practise everything safely. He would say that if an actor got injured, it would stall the film for several days. So, he kept reminding me to avoid injuries, and be watchful that others did so too."
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Vicky Kaushal on facing the camera for the first time