Randeep Hooda, a stellar Bollywood actor with films like Sarbjit, Highway, Sultan, Rang Rasiya and Monsoon Wedding to his credit, is known to get into the skin of his character and deliver power-packed performances. This Haryanvi boy is also a skilled equestrian who came on board for a Sunday Brunch with our Chief Editor, Kamiya Jani. Over a lovely fare of Japanese food, the duo got talking on the actor’s love for horse riding, childhood memories, passion for photography and lots more. Read on to find out more about this talented actor.
Kamiya Jani (KJ): You are a Bollywood celebrity who also participates in Polo or Horse Riding Events, how do you make time for all of this?
Randeep Hooda (RH): I think you find time for things you really want to do. And I’ve gone to a sports school all my life. And this was my sports in school and I pursued it. In school, I used to act and ride horses. Now after so many years, I still act and ride horses.
KJ: Now, you don’t just ride horses. I believe you have your own horses and you’ve gone a step beyond. Tell us how it goes.
RH: I have my own horses. I had a club in Gurgaon as well, which is no longer there under my thing. But I have got some national medals in jumping, dressage to name a few. They are not very high levels, just about 20m max. Every time I want to go above this, I have to go for shooting or something else comes up. But I am still pursuing it and I think the oldest rider in the Olympics was 70+ from Japan, in dressage. So I have got alot of time to go to the Olympics for India.
KJ: Wow! Is that your ambition?
RH: This is the case for every sportsman. I’ve never taken up anything where I thought I could be the best at it. You know, I don’t think there is anything called talent in the world. I think if you’re enthusiastic about something, you spend time with it, and ultimately you end up learning a lot from it.
KJ: Is Sushi one of your favourite foods to indulge in?
RH: Yes! For a Haryanvi boy to be eating sushi, seems a bit strange, but I really enjoy it. It’s light, it’s quick and it has a peculiar taste, which I like. I like soy sauce, ginger and especially the fish, which I find very tasty.
KJ: You were born in a village in Rohtak, what kind of food memories do you have from there?
RH: I had Paranthe, Churma and Doodh. Paranthe is same as Paratha. I mostly had vegetarian food with a lot of ghee, makhan, doodh.
KJ: Do you still have ghee and butter?
RH: I don’t have much milk now. But I do eat ghee and butter, which is essential.
KJ: So are you on a strict diet and is there a particular diet that you have been following?
RH: Not really! Unless it is for something that I really indulge in. And I want to live a little. I think to be all the time in a state of low fat this and that can mess up your brain and takes away from your living experience.
KJ: So what’s your comfort food like?
RH: White Makhan, in Haryanvi we call it Noni Ghee. I really crave for White Makhan at times, just to put a huge dollop of it on a Paratha with Mirch ka Achaar or just Mirch with Pyaaz. But I love the Tandoori Roti at a dhaba with Tadke waali Dal, Aloo-Gobi sabzi. I love Gajar-Methi, it’s my favourite thing. I don’t have a life without Gajar-Methi.
KJ: Do you cook?
RH: I had gone to Australia for my studies and my father gave me a cooking lesson. He told me if I cook my own food in the evenings, I will keep out of trouble. I did that for a while, I knew how to cook dal, basic sabzi with tadka, roti and rice. So I knew how to cook this. When I went there, I cooked for a while for myself and for other Indian students who were there, until I realised that I haven’t come here to become a cook. So obviously, I got into alot of trouble after that because I didn’t follow my father’s advice. One should follow your father’s advice.
KJ: But interestingly, you said you haven’t come to Australia to become a cook. But if my research is right, you have done alot of odd jobs in Australia, is that right?
RH: I worked as a taxi driver for 3 years, night shift, from 5 in the evening to 5 in the morning. I used to wear a blue shirt with lapels, called black cabs, with black or blue trousers. I must have been 21 or 22 years old when I did this. I did this when my people my age were partying. I used to sit outside the club and wait for them to finish partying to I can make money. I did alot of odd jobs. I worked in Chinese restaurants. I started as a dishwasher, then I got into delivery, then I got promoted to a rice maker. And then finally I became a waiter. I remember this short Chinese guy called Francis. he used to point at me and say that I looked like Dharmendra and I’m from Bollywood. I had no idea that I would get into Bollywood at that time.
KJ: I believe you come from a family of doctors.
RH: My father is a doctor and my sister is a doctor. My father is a very good surgeon, he has travelled across the world. He has visited countries like Kenya, Nigeria, Libya and Iraq to name a few. My sister is an internal medicine doctor, she is a leading authority on post-bariatric care, anti-ageing, diet, metabolism all those things.
KJ: What was their reaction when you told them you wanted to become an actor?
RH: The first time I told my father I wanted to be an actor, I was on the phone from Australia because I had flunked my first semester. And he said if you want to be useless then just come home. I was a blue-collar worker there. I even applied for Naida. I got through the first 2 rounds, then I didn’t get through the third round. They kind of threw me out of there saying that preparation is an actor’s first priority. They told me that I was ill-prepared, I don’t give a damn about my talent so leave. So I said okay and I never went back there again. But I think that’s somewhere seeped into me and I do work hard alot.
KJ: So now do you prepare alot more?
RH: It’s not prepare, it’s just that I enjoy it. It’s not like I’m doing some kinds of homework. I really enjoy my job.
KJ: But I’m sure that must have been some sort of a struggle in the beginning when you moved to Mumbai?
RH: there has been a struggle throughout, I’m still struggling. I don’t take struggling as a negative thing. I used to take it as a negative thing, but not anymore cause life is a struggle. I heard Mr Bachchan stay it in an interview, that life is a struggle. The moment you make peace with that, that this is the way life is you can concentrate on other things. There are alot of things. I did Monsoon Wedding in Delhi itself, then I came here. I was a model, I used to walk the ramp and one day when the Bombay Show was going on, Fashion Week, I left before the show and said I’m never turning back here. I said I am not doing this stuff anymore. I felt I could do more. Every time I went till the end of the ramp, I felt I wanted to say something. Then I went to Naseeruddin Shah Sahab, whom I worked with in Monsoon Wedding. He was kind enough to give me menial jobs, till I got a speaking part on the stage. I was picked up by Ram Gopal Verma from the theatre. He said he would launch me and told me not to do any other work till then. He asked me how much I need per month and I said ₹35000. He paid me that amount every month for 3 years for me to sit at home and do nothing. So my career has been like that. So in the age when people were playing college students, I was sitting at home and waiting to be launched by Ram Gopal Verma.
KJ: Tell us about your passion for travelling. Do you enjoy travelling?
I do enjoy travelling, but mostly it’s for work. Now I will be going to the jungles. I have never really been on a holiday in my life because its pointless. You are with you. No matter where you go its just a change of scenery. And after a while it’s you. You are sitting on the beach, you in the snow, you over there, its got nothing but you. So I never went on holiday. But when I work, I tend to travel, when I do that, I like to take pictures behind in the scenes. I like to go to local villages, wherever we are.
KJ: In fact, photography is something you clearly enjoy, right?
RH: I have started to, yeah! I started in February, it has been a year!
KJ: There are alot of pictures and being in the jungle, is that your kind of a holiday?
RH: It has become so now. There is some kind of mysticism, some soul connection I feel when I go there. And safaris, getting up early, the gear, looking at pictures, meeting local people, local officials, the forest people, the staff who I have a chat with, or have a chai with its amazing. They tell me things, I get to know more about what’s going on.
KJ: Have you seen a tiger right in front of you?
RH: It looks fake because it looks so surreal. The bright green background and the bright yellow creature with stripes looks unreal. Tiger is a gentleman, that’s what Jim Corbett said. And I have experienced it.
View this post on Instagram
“What kind of an animal are you?” Have you got an answer? A year old #cub looks at you with such simple yet soul searching curiosity.. #tiger #babies #babiesofinstagram #wildrandeep #jungleehooda #wildwednesday #wildlife #wildlifephotography #penchnationalpark #wildlifephotographer #nature #incredibleindia #motherearth #catsofinstagram #environment #india #photographers_of_india #animals #animallovers #mptourism #earth #mptigerfoundationsociety #tathasturesorts
KJ: Which is your favourite tiger reserve in India?
RH: It’s probably a reserve that I have never seen a tiger in, which is Dudhwa. It’s on the border of UP and Nepal. It’s a magical forest. I have been to Central India forest, Kanha is very beautiful. I haven’t been to Ranthambore and all that. I want to go to Bandhavgarh. The Jungle Book is a mixture of Bandhavgarh and Pench.
KJ: Do you like travelling alone, or do you like travelling with others?
RH: What do you mean travelling alone? You would be really bored with your own company. I am not an alone traveller. I have never really travelled alone. I like to share the experience. Even if I go somewhere alone, I will find somebody. I will not go somewhere alone and read a book under a tree. I’m not that kind of person. I’m not that woke you know. I spend Diwali, New Year, all of that with my parents.
KJ: Do you travel back home very often?
RH: My parents live here with me now. I have been in a hostel since I was 7 years old.
KJ: So how is it living with your parents?
RH: Well, it’s tough.
KJ: Is it tougher as you get older?
RH: No! My parents are very cool.
KJ: On a lighter note, you have been amongst the 50 most desirable men, how do you handle all the female attention that you get?
RH: I’m really in my own world. I don’t pay that much attention. Most of it is my parents’ genes I would say. I have got no contribution to it, except for the fact I haven’t eaten too much paratha and become unfit. Apart from that, its not me.
KJ: So do you flirt back with women who may flirt with you?
RH: Ofcourse! Flirting is a great sport. It’s like a te-te-te, saying witty things to each other, getting back.
KJ: So which would be your favourite sport, is it horse riding or flirting?
RH: It’s short jumping.