We have seen him play the role of Danish Khan in Gangs of Wasseypur and Chaitanya Mishra in Ugly. And now after struggling for nearly 17 years in the Hindi film industry with a handful of inconsequential roles, we will see him as the lead actor in Mukkabaaz, a socio-political love story, co-written and directed by Anurag Kashyap. Well, we’re talking about Vineet Singh, a medical student-turned-actor in real life, who is essaying the role of a boxer from UP in the film. It certainly hasn’t been an easy journey for Vineet to get into the skin of his on screen character. When Kashyap agreed to make the film, he had two major conditions for Vineet —- one, that he would make changes to the script, which was originally written by the actor and direct it the way he wanted. Second and the most important condition that Kashyap put forth was that the film would be made only if Vineet trained to become a real life boxer. And so began the actor’s arduous journey to play the lead protagonist in a film — something he had dreamed of all his life.

It took Vineet Kumar Singh more than 700 days of training, over 20 injuries and innumerable punches to get ready for the role of Shravan Singh, an aspiring boxer who leaves no stone unturned to achieve his dream of becoming a successful boxer. Well, his reel life and real life did have a connection—the zeal and commitment to take up any challenge that came his way to achieve his dream. We have seen the training video released by the makers that showed the passion, perseverance and commitment with which the actor got into the skin of his character. Recalling his training days, Vineet said, “The day Anurag Sir told me to start training to become a real boxer, I packed my bags and left for Patiala. The film didn’t have the budget to hire a boxing choreographer. So after speaking to Vijender Singh, current WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight Champion, I got the contacts of a couple of coaches to train under,” he said. (ALSO READ : Anurag Kashyap: We Don’t Take Sports And Sportsmen Seriously)

Vineet was a national level Basketball player when he was in school. Thus his association with sports wasn’t new. Additionally, before he approached Kashyap with the script he had already started undertaking physical training to increase his stamina and strength to fit the role. “Boxing starts at the age of 10-12 and ends by the time one is 35-36. Here I was a thirty-something individual ready to learn a sport that ends by the time one reaches my age. I hid my true identity from everyone out there, except the coach, because I did not want to be treated differently. I wanted to learn every little minute detail of being a boxer by living with them, as I knew it would help me become one. To say that they laughed seeing me at first, wouldn’t be a lie,” he said.

In the video, it’s clear how daunting and arduous the actor’s training was.  Right from lifting tyres and weights to undergoing gruelling workouts and boxing lessons, Singh worked hard to pass off as a professional boxer on screen. “It was extremely hard at first. By the time I used to think of dodging the punches coming my way, I used to be hit. My impulses and reflex actions were slow.  I used to not even realise that I’m being hit, which resulted in me bleeding. My training progress was being documented. I used to get scared looking at those videos every day and I even deleted them, at first. These videos were being taken to keep a daily tab on my progress and it acted as a way to show me where I was going wrong and what I needed to change in order to get things right. I kept thinking about what Anurag Kashyap had said, “Boxer Nahi Banoge Toh Main Mukkabaaz nahi banaunga”, which kept me going,” he said. Gradually, there came a point when Vineet’s body started responding to the sport and he started understanding how to dodge and attack the opponent. (ALSO READ : Zoya Hussain : The Disability Of My Character In Mukkabaaz Portrays The Lack Of Voice That Women Have In The Society)

Produced by Colour Yellow (Anand L Rai) and Phantom Films, Mukkabaaz also features Zoya Hussain, Jimmy Shergill and Ravi Kishan in pivotal roles. The film is slated to release on 12 January 2018. The story is about Singh, a boxer, who falls in love with a mute girl, Sunaina Mishra, who belongs to a higher caste, and also happens to be the niece of his arch rival,  Bhagwandas Mishra, the head of the state boxing federation.