These days actors are raring to perform their own stunts, even as stuntmen are still available on the sets of a movie.
Of late, actors are attempting to do their own stunts, and at times, failing at it. We ask stunt performers if Bollywood stars need to stick to just acting instead.
Bollywood stars today take their jobs very seriously. Their profile isn’t just restricted to dancing to songs, perfecting their dialogues and delivering restrained performances. These days actors are raring to perform their own stunts, even as stuntmen are still available on the sets of a movie.
It’s not uncommon to now see actors jumping from high rises, and chasing villains down on their bikes with ease. However, sometimes, these high-octane have often landed stars straight from the said high rise, onto a hospital bed.
After being hit by a sword and receiving stitches on her head earlier this year while shooting for Manikarnika:The Queen of Jhansi, the actress injured herself again. On Tuesday this week, the actress sprained her right leg, as she attempted to jump on from the top of a wall onto a horse. After both these instances, Kangana has had to take long breaks to recuperate and recover.
Kangana isn’t the only star that has insisted on doing her own stunts and ended up hurting herself. Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn, who are regularly a part of typical action fares, still insist on doing stunts by themselves.
But in an age of visual effects and fearless stunt performers, is it necessary for actors to be daredevils? Geeta Tandon, who has doubled as a stuntwoman for actresses like Deepika Padukone, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Parineeti Chopra doesn’t think it’s a compulsion. “It is brave of actors to get out of their comfort zone. However, performing stunts comes with it’s own set of risks. And there is a lot at stake — sometimes thousands of crores of rupees — if an actor injures themselves,” states Geeta.
In the past, Shah Rukh has been a victim to injuries on more than one occasion. While shooting for Yash Chopra’s Darr (1993), the actor fractured three ribs and an ankle, when he was supposed to jump at Anupam Kher. But the actor has gone ahead and continued to shoot his action scenes, even as he continued to hurt himself through the years.
Saif Ali Khan too has been a victim of injuries, and sustained several on the sets of Kya Kehna (2000). “I trained him for six days — the scene involved Saif jumping off his bike. But on the day of shooting, he lost balance and injured his forehead. You may have practiced a scene a couple of times, but your mind, heart, and body need to be tuned,” warns stunt director Tinu Verma.
On the other hand, an actor performing his own tricks only translates into bigger ticket sales, and a larger fan following given the free bragging rights that comes with these life-threatening scenes. Allan Amin, the action director for the Indian version of 24, believes that an actor performing makes for an interesting watch on the big screen. He explains, “At the end of the day, the audience can gauge if the scene was performed by the actor. And if it is a safe stunt to perform, then they should go ahead since it will always look convincing on screen.”
The new crop of actors is well trained and possess physically fit bodies, which gives them an extra edge. Tinu says that the need to outdo one’s colleague is also partly responsible for this trend. “Today, there is a lot of competition. Actors know that they will win accolades if they were to perform a stunt,” he rues, adding that performers are always advised to do stunts that include a sophisticated harness. “We don’t encourage any actor to do a car or bike stunts, or even break glasses,” he says.
The argument that producers are the biggest loss bearers if an untoward situation were to happen is a logical one, observes Geeta. “If you can get injured or killed, you let a stunt guy do it. Actors come from a place of position where everyone from producers to directors to spotboys are banking on them. You are here to showcase your acting chops, and we are here to perform these scenes. Let us take care of it,” she asserts.
‘Performing stunts is part of their job’
Anil Sharma, Director
Actors undergo training for action scenes just as they do for acting — they charge a good amount so they have to do the stunts, it is part of their job. Also with the kind of technologies coming up, they don’t even need to do so much. But if one actor can’t perform minor stunts like horse riding, jumping off a table or hanging from the wires, they should not be doing such films.
If an actor is injured, two people are to be blamed: the actor and the action director. But 99 per cent of the time it is the actor’s fault, they mess up with the timing.
There are risks involved even if a stuntman were to perform these scenes. If actors aren’t capable of doing a stunt they need inform the director about it so that a body double can be used and injuries can be avoided.
I have worked with Akshay Kumar, Sunny Deol, and all have perfect timing. But the problem with actors is that they will not come out and say they can’t do a stunt. It will go against their image and end up injuring themselves.
—Inputs by Nirtika Pandita