Vineet Kumar Singh lands knockout punches in 'Mukkabaaz'

By Saibal Chatterjee

By Saibal Chatterjee

Toronto, Sep 12 ( Bollywood actor Vineet Kumar Singh isn't a household name. Not as yet at any rate.

The Varanasi-born Ayurveda graduate has been in the Mumbai industry for 17 years, making do with any role that has come his way. He hasn't had the liberty to choose roles of his liking.

Anurag Kashyap's "Mukkabaaz", which had its world premiere at the ongoing 42nd Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), could finally, and deservedly, pull the talented screen performer out of anonymity.

In the action-packed and dramatic film, shot on locations in Varanasi, Bareilly and Lucknow, Singh delivers a knockout performance that has the potential to catapult him to the next level.

The film, scripted by Singh himself, has him in the role of a Bareilly-based amateur boxer who takes on multiple challenges to get ahead in life.

"I've had the script with me since 2013, I tried to peddle it without success until Anurag offered to helm the film provided that I could shape into a boxer," the actor says during a chat with in the lobby of a downtown Toronto hotel.

"Many offered money for the script, but nobody was willing to make the film with me in the lead role," he says.

"But I stuck to my guns, insisting that the film would be made only if I played the lead."

His patience has paid off.

Singh hopes that his powerful performance in "Mukkabaaz" will eventually give him the freedom to do the kind of work that he aspires for.

"All these years, I've had to take any role that was offered to me just in order to stay in circulation," says the actor who has frequently been cast by Kashyap in key roles ("Gangs of Wasseypur", "Ugly" and "Murabba", a segment of "Bombay Talkies").

Singh also starred in Neeraj Ghaywan's critically acclaimed short film "Shor".

Singh had to put in a herculean effort for his role in "Mukkabaaz" – that of a low-caste pugilist who runs afoul of his first boxing guru when he falls in love with the latter's mute niece, played with aplomb by newcomer Zoya Hussain, Delhi theatre actor who has thus far featured, in her own words, "only in super-indie films".

He spent time with boxing coaches in Patiala to pick up the rudiments of boxing and acquire the physical attributes required for the character. For the film, he had to fight Indian boxers of international repute, the likes of Deepak Tanwar and Neeraj Goyat.

"I had to take many blows for the role. I broke my ribs once, sustained a deep cut on the forehead, and was bloodied on a number of occasions," says Singh.

On the evidence of the finished product, the hard knocks haven't been in vain. "Mukkabaaz" seems poised to deliver the points that Vineet Kumar Singh needs to make all the effort count.


Disclaimer: This story has not been edited by Outlook Staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds.

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