Towards the end of 2015, actor Randeep Hooda lost 18 kg in a span of 28 days for Omung Kumar's upcoming Sarbjit. The film, which also features Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Richa Chadha in key roles, has him playing Sarabjit Singh, the Indian national who was famously detained in Pakistan for 23 years. In April 2013, he was attacked by fellow inmates in a prison in Lahore and succumbed to his injuries on the way to hospital.
In an interview to Mumbai Mirror, published Monday, the 39-year-old actor spoke in detail about the ordeal he put his body through to lose that weight. ""I was a muscular 94 kg at the time and while it's easy to burn fat, it's hard to lose muscle. I was expecting to shoot the portions when Sarabjit was a pahalwan in his village and then slowly shed weight. The decision came as a shock and led to a period of physical and mental torture."
To take on the challenge given to him by director Kumar, who wanted a 'skeletal' look, Hooda went on a strict diet supervised by his sister Dr Anjali Hooda-Sangwan which allowed him only 500-600 calories per day, with a few cheat days where he was allowed starch. Proteins and greens constituted the major part of his diet. He credits his sister's monitoring of his health as the reason he was able to pull this off.
The process was gruelling. "Like I do with everything else, I overdid this too, going on a zero calorie diet without realising the body needs sugar to function," he told MM. "The lack of it almost drove me crazy. I was thinking about food all the time, there were days when I was so hungry, I couldn't sleep. There came a point when I wasn't even allowed an apple and was so emaciated I could barely walk."
During this phase, he would crave food items like "parathas with white makkhan" and "hot chocolate fudge from Nirula's", often sketching them to compensate for not being able to actually eat them. He stopped socialising and a drink on New Year's Eve made him "dizzy" and forced him to return home.
This was the second of Hooda's physical transformations last year; earlier, he'd put on 17 kg for Deepak Tijori's Do Lafzon Ki Kahani, which is still to be released.
Despite the stress he put his body through for this role, he seems to be eager to get to his next. ""I've done my job, now it's someone else's headache. I used to be attached to my work, but after the recent demise of my friend, Mario Mindou Chung, I've learnt to let go," he said.
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