May 2 2016
Following in the footsteps of the legendary Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, Indian actor Tiger Shroff is earning rave reviews for the fight sequences and packing theatres as he launches a rare Indian martial art film and he tells us what inspired him to turn to an ancient Indian fighting art…
ACTION-PACKED, and overlaid with a healthy dose of romance, the film “Baaghi” has opened to good reviews and decent box office numbers – to say nothing of its near 20 million Youtube trailer hits.
The martial art to be found in the movie is inspired by one of the most ancient forms that still exists to this day, but is far less well-known than other Asian fighting disciplines.
Regarded as something of a foundation stone even for Kung Fu, Kalaripayattu originated thousands of years ago in what is now modern day Kerala state in India. It is said that an Indian Buddhist monk took Kalaripayattu to China and initiated the first Kung Fu school there.
The practice also featured in one of the recent episodes of the BBC2 four-part series, “Natural Born Winners”.
In an effort to bring some discipline and control into his life, his father dispatches him to a Kalaripayattu academy in sleepy Kerala.
It is there that he meets the bewitching and headstrong Siya (Shraddha Kapoor pictured above,), another student and there is a battle with another Kalaripayattu practitioner in Raghav (Sudheer Babu) to win the hand of Siya.
In a Q&A below Shroff talked about what led him to the movie.
www.asianculturevulture.com: (ACV): What drew you to the subject of Kalaripayattu, what was your inspiration?
Tiger Shroff (TS): I have been passionate about Martial arts. I underwent extensive training in Kalaripayattu before we started shooting for ‘Baaghi’ as the martial art form is an important part of the film. It was a thoroughly enriching experience. The film ‘Baaghi’ was my inspiration on this subject as the film story is spun around Kalaripayattu.
*It is about going back to our roots and being proud of what we are. We had martial arts form here but don’t know why people were not using it. Everybody in the East wants to be like the West and people in West want to be like in the East. I have tried my best to do justice to this art form. Whatever I have learnt so far, I want to up my quotient in action.
ACV: Did you do a lot of research? Did you have to go to Kerala?
TS: I started an in-depth research on Kalaripayattu during the filming of Baaghi. I have immense interest for different forms of martial arts and conducted a detailed study on Kung Fu and traced its roots back to India.
Yes, we shot most of the film and Kerala and that gave me lot of opportunity to gain some deep insight into the subject.
TS: Kung Fu is the most ancient of all martial arts and is known as the art of fighting without weapons. The art of fighting without fighting as I like to say!
There are conflicting opinions on whether it actually originated from the teachings of an Indian Buddhist monk, Bodhidarma, who arrived in China from India in the 6th century or not.
One thing is for certain and that is, he most definitely brought a form of martial arts with him, most likely Kalaripayattu, and transformed the newly formed Shaolin temple and the Buddhist monks settled there, dedicating themselves to Kung Fu and becoming a warrior elite whose fame spread throughout China and then all over the world.
Kung Fu masters from across India have been reaching out to me using various means lauding this piece of knowledge. They expressed a lot of gratitude to the fact that I spoke about the origin of Kung Fu which was unknown to the world. They felt that my words will help create awareness about the origin of Kung Fu and help promote this form of martial arts in India. I am hoping the film does the same too.
ACV: What di Kalaripayattu teach you? What do you think Kalaripayattu can teach India and the rest of the world?
TS: I trained with Shifu Shaurya Bharadwaj. For one of my sequence, I had to do a fusion of martial arts with Krav Maga and Kalaripayattu.
There is one fight scene for which I had to be on my toes for 40 minutes. It is the toughest thing I have ever done. While prepping for the film, I use to train for nearly 12 hours every day for seven months.
It just helped me train my mind to a great extent. A great ancient art form like this can help everyone in many ways but most of all it helps channelise you anger.
Iwan Thomas (centre), British Olympic 400m runner, Welsh rugby sensation Gareth Thomas, Olympic 100m gold medallist Canadian, Donovan Bailey (
- ’Baaghi’ went on release in the UK on April 29
- ‘Natural Born Winners’ BBC 2 i-player available http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b078cygx
(14 days left, UK only)
*From another production company interview