Randeep Hooda (pronounced [rɳd̪iːp huːɖaː]; born 20 August 1976) is an Indian film actor who appears in Hindi-language films. Hooda was born in Rohtak, Haryana; he studied at the Motilal Nehru School at Sonepat, where he began acting in school productions. He later pursued a postgraduate degree in human resource management in Melbourne, Australia, and on his return to India began modelling and acting in stage productions.
Hooda made his Bollywood debut in Monsoon Wedding in 2001, garnering praise for his performance. However, little recognition came his way as he had to wait for four years for his next project, Ram Gopal Varma's D (2005), which too failed to attract much attention. He then appeared in a spate of critically and commercially unsuccessful projects. A turning point came in his career when he starred in the commercially successful Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai (2010), and was subsequently noted for his performance in Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster (2011), which earned him an IIFA Award for Best Supporting Actor nomination. Hooda's starring roles in subsequent thrillers Jannat (2012), Jism 2 (2012), and Murder 3 (2013) brought him a slightly higher degree of commercial success.
Hooda garnered wider attention and further critical acclaim for his roles in the road drama Highway (2014), and the biopic Sarbjit (2016). His performance in the former earned him the Stardust Award for Best Actor. His biggest commercial success came with the action film Kick (2014), as he continued to draw praise for his performances in Rang Rasiya (2014), Main Aur Charles (2015), and Laal Rang (2016).
In addition to his film career, Hooda has acted in numerous stage plays in India. He made his debut as a playwright with an adaptation of Lee Blessing's A Walk in the Woods. Hooda is also a professional equestrian who regularly participates in polo, show jumping and dressage events. He won a silver medal at an open dressage event in New Delhi that was organised by the Equestrian Federation of India. He is also an activist and a blogger.
Early life and background
Randeep Singh Hooda was born on 20 August 1976 in Rohtak, Haryana, India, to Dr. Ranbir Hooda (a surgeon) and Asha Hooda is a social worker and BJP Politician. He has an elder sister, Dr. Anjali Hooda Sangwan, a US-trained nutritionist and a younger brother Sandeep Hooda, a Software Engineer working in Singapore.
Hooda belongs to a Jat family. He was educated at Motilal Nehru School of Sports (MNSS), a boarding school in Rai, Haryana, where he participated in swimming and equestrian sports and won medals at the national level. Hooda later developed an interest in theatre and participated in school productions, one of which he directed. In an interview with Rediff.com, he said he enjoyed appearing in front of people. However, his family wanted him to become a doctor and he was transferred to Delhi Public School, R. K. Puram in New Delhi. Hooda described the transition from an environment in which he was popular to one in which he was unknown as "difficult".
After completing his schooling, Hooda moved to Melbourne, Australia, in 1995, where he studied for a bachelor's degree in marketing and a master's degree in business management and human resource management. During that period, he worked in a Chinese restaurant, a car wash, as a waiter and for two years as a taxi driver. In 2000, Hooda returned to India and worked in the marketing department of an airline. He subsequently started modelling and working in amateur theatre in Delhi. While rehearsing for the play To Teach His Own, director Mira Nair approached Hooda to audition for a role in her upcoming film.
2001–09: Debut and struggle
Hooda made his acting debut in Mira Nair's film Monsoon Wedding (2001), playing a non-resident Indian from Australia. Although the film was a critical and commercial success, Hooda waited four years for a second project. In the meantime, he worked in theatre and appeared in television commercials to support himself financially. He also attended and assisted an imagination and improvisation workshop conducted by Naseeruddin Shah at the National School of Drama in New Delhi.
In 2005, Hooda was cast as the male lead in Ram Gopal Varma's gritty gangster film D. His performance in the film received positive reviews; Taran Adarsh wrote, "D wouldn't be what it is without Randeep. He changes his expressions like a chameleon changes colors and that's where he scores." After D, Hooda appeared in a series of critically and commercially unsuccessful films including Darna Zaroori Hai (2006), Risk (2007), Ru Ba Ru (2008), and Love Khichdi (2009).
2010–present: Breakthrough and critical acclaim
In 2010, Hooda appeared in Milan Luthria's Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai, a period action drama depicting the rise of organised crime in Mumbai. Co-starring alongside Ajay Devgan, Emraan Hashmi, Kangana Ranaut and Prachi Desai, Hooda played ACP Agnel Wilson. His performance in the film was appreciated by critics, and proved to be a turning point in his career. Sudish Kamath of The Hindu wrote, "In the few scenes he gets, Randeep chews the scenery around him with his Bachchan-like presence, his baritone firing away dialogue as if he were born to play this role." Komal Nahta described him as a "revelation". The film was a critical and commercial success, earning over ₹780 million (US$12 million) in India. Hooda later attributed his success to this film: "Things have really changed for me professionally because before Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai I did take a hiatus from acting, but that film brought me back in a big way. Now other directors and production houses look at me as an actor who can carry bigger parts and a longer screen presence."
The following year, Hooda featured in Tigmanshu Dhulia's romantic thriller Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster with Jimmy Shergill and Mahie Gill. The film (and his portrayal of a gangster who falls in love with a married woman while working as her driver) earned rave reviews from critics. In an interview with Digital Spy, Hooda said "My inspiration for this character went back to my roots in Haryana, to the time I grew up and people I observed. My uncles were drivers and I thought of those times and people around me." Nikhat Kazmi of The Times of India called him "absolutely mesmerising"; Garauv Malani wrote, "Randeep Hooda plays the best character of his career so far and gets immense scope to show his performance prowess. The passion, obsession, emotions and expressions he brings to his character is simply outstanding."
Hooda's first film in 2012 was Kunal Deshmukh's crime thriller Jannat 2, a sequel to Jannat (2008). Jannat 2 received mixed reviews from critics and Hooda was praised for his performance. Taran Adarsh wrote, "the actor delivers yet another knockout performance. He dominates in several sequences, making you realize that if given an opportunity, the guy can steal the thunder from the best of actors." Sonia Chopra of Sify said, "Randeep Hooda is the best thing about the film." It was a commercial success and earned a domestic revenue of over ₹410 million (US$6.3 million). Hooda's next appearance was in Pooja Bhatt's erotic thriller Jism 2 opposite Sunny Leone. The film and Hooda's performance received mixed reviews from critics. Lisa Tsering of The Hollywood Reporter said Hooda "smolders to the best of his ability in the role of a violent criminal". Rajeev Masand, who was less impressed by his performance, wrote, "The usually dependable Hooda, goes a little overboard with all the feeling; alternating clunkily between melancholic and hyper, Hooda constructs a wildly implausible character that inspires most of the unintended laughs in this film". Jism 2 was a moderate commercial success, earning ₹350 million (US$5.4 million) in India.
Hooda's final film of the year was Madhur Bhandarkar's drama Heroine, starring Kareena Kapoor, in which he played cricketer Angad Paul. Before the start of principal photography, Arunoday Singh was chosen for the role but was dropped for unknown reasons. Media reports began speculating about several actors (such as Ranbir Kapoor, Imran Khan and Prateik Babbar), although Bhandarkar later confirmed that he selected Hooda after seeing his performance in Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster (2011). The film received mixed to negative reviews, but Hooda's performance was appreciated by the critics. Kanika Sikka of Daily News and Analysis wrote, "Randeep, as usual does justice to his role." The film was fared poorly at the domestic and international box office.
In 2013, Hooda starred opposite Aditi Rao Hydari and Sara Loren in Vishesh Bhatt's Murder 3, an official remake of the 2011 Colombian thriller The Hidden Face. The film and his portrayal of Vikram (a fashion and wildlife photographer) garnered mixed to negative feedback from critics. A review from Mint said that Hooda "is hundreds of shades below his ability to enact a character." The film earned a worldwide gross of ₹250 million (US$3.9 million) in ten days and was an average grosser. Hooda also featured in John Day and alongside Rani Mukerji and Saqib Saleem in a segment of anthology film Bombay Talkies directed by Karan Johar.
In 2014, Hooda appeared opposite Alia Bhatt in Imtiaz Ali's Highway. To get used to his character, who had a distant relationship with Bhatt's character, he avoided speaking to her for about 25 days. Parmita Uniyal for Hindustan Times praising Hooda's "nuanced yet controlled" performance wrote that he lent, "authenticity to his character". He then starred in Sajid Nadiadwala's action film Kick, co-starring Salman Khan and Jacqueline Fernandez. The film emerged as one of Bollywood's biggest blockbusters of 2014, with the total revenue of ₹4.2 billion (US$65 million) Hooda's last release for the year was the Emraan Hashmi and Kangana Ranaut starrer Ungli. The film focused on both a commercial failure and was panned by critics. Emphasizing on the fim's potential Mid Day critic Shubha Shetty Saha said the film would have been "wonderful" had it not been for its "downright idiotic" dialogue.
In 2015, Hooda starred in Prawaal Raman's, Main Aur Charles, which is based on the life of Charles Sobhraj and the 1986 jail escape. The film was released in India on 31 October 2015 to mostly positive response from critics. In 2016, Hooda starred alongside Akshay Oberoi and Piaa Bajpai in Syed Ahmed Afzal's action thriller Laal Rang. The film was a box office failure and received a lukewarm response from critics. Hooda's performance was highlighted as the only bright spot in the film.
Hooda has been associated with theatre since the beginning of his acting career; he is an active member of Naseeruddin Shah's Motley Theatre Troupe. In an interview with Daily News and Analysis he said, "My first stint with theatre was in school, where I was asked to wear a lion mask and roar for several minutes. My parents came to see me with a lot of expectations and sadly, they couldn't even recognise me on stage because of the mask." During his film career, Hooda has participated in theatrical productions. He said, "Juggling between the two [theatre and films] does get difficult, but I don't see myself ever give up Theatre. It's got a deeper connect with who I really am. So, if films give you the wings to fly, Theatre is a reality check, it keeps you grounded. Films can give you the satisfaction of feeling like a hero, but theatre gives you the real satisfaction of being an actor."
Hooda has appeared in Kali Shalwar Aur Kuchchh Kahaniyan (a play based on Saadat Hasan Manto's short stories), To Teach His Own, and Arms and The Man. He described the latter as a typical George Bernard Shaw play; "It is complete with elements to entertain an audience. It delves into true love, heroism and some confused relationships that are pretty baffling even in the current social structure." Hooda made his theatrical debut as a writer, adapting Lee Blessing's A Walk in the Woods into an Indian context. Ratna Pathak directed the play and Naseerudin Shah appeared in it.
"My taking to polo in a big way was only natural. Today, polo is not just restricted to the royalty and the Indian Army, many companies and firms to patronise the sport. [...] Even if you do not get the chance to play, there is every chance of being able to watch the sport as an observer—which is almost as good as playing."
Hooda is the only Bollywood actor who regularly participates in professional equestrian sports, including polo and show jumping. He started competing at a professional level after the release of his film D. Hooda was coached by Colonel SS Ahalawat and Brigadier Bishnoi in show-jumping and dressage. He described riding as his "passion"; "My first stint with horses happened when I was in class eight at the Motilal Nehru School of Sports in Haryana, but thereafter I didn't ride horses for 17 years". He owned eight horses, but gave away two of them new trainees. He keeps his horses at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse in Mumbai.
In December 2008, Hooda underwent surgery after suffering a severe ankle injury in a fall from his horse during a polo match in Mumbai. The following year, he won a silver medal at an open dressage event organised by the Equestrian Federation of India in Delhi. Hooda has also won medals at equestrian events in Mumbai and Delhi, where he participated with riders from the Indian Army. In 2014, Hooda won seven medals, including three gold and two silver and bronze medals respectively, at the National Equestrian Championship in dressage and show-jumping events. Additionally, he has won a silver medal each at the Delhi Horse Show, in 2009 and the Bombay Horse Show, in 2011.
In 2009, Hooda was a guest contributor to "In The Script", a column published by Asian Correspondent. His article titled "Racism against Indians in Australia ..." discussed the violence against Indians in Australia controversy. Hooda wrote about his experience in Australia, where he was subjected to racial discrimination; he said, "My experiences were not in my mind incidents of racial discrimination but more a challenge of an individual assertion of mental and physical superiority". In conclusion, he wrote, "The point is to get tough inside out, play a sport apart from cricket, have heart and stand up in unity and say 'we'll not take shit'. All it needs is a few pioneers and I'm proud to say that I tried [and will continue to do so] and I hope a few others do that too." In 2011, Hooda began writing a blog for Hindustan Times.
In September 2010, Hooda and Jackky Bhagnani appeared in a charity fashion show for Khushi, Kapil Dev's NGO to improve poor communities in India. The following year, Hooda raised public awareness of chronic hunger in India. He presented a video to the cast and crew of Jism 2, who shared it on their social media accounts. In December 2012, Hooda participated in an anti-suicide initiative with Imtiaz Ali, Rahul Bose, Mahesh Bhupati, and Nishikant Kamath. Hooda, who had failed Class 12, said, "Don't accept defeat. Fight back adversities. Failure is a myth. Every experience is a just fodder for the future. Suicide doesn't solve the problem, It ends you."
Image and personal life
Apart from his reputation as an intense actor, Hooda is considered one of India's most attractive celebrities. In 2010, he ranked 21st in The Times of India's annual list of the 50 most desirable men. In 2011, a global online survey conducted by Internet Movie Database (IMDb) ranked him seventh on its list of the "20 sexiest men in the world". Although he was surprised and grateful, Hooda said he is not influenced by such labels; "I want people to know me for my body of work, than just my body ... Being sexy can always just be an added advantage, not the be-all and end-all for an actor". During an interview with Mid Day, he said during his early years in the industry, people saw him as an "explosive Jat boy" who had a calculated approach to his work. He said, "Now, I'm a bit more careful. I've changed the way I express myself".
Hooda lived in a hostel from a young age; he said, "I've always had a good time, it's something that gives me my spirit and fuels my spirit as well. Now, I want my parents to live with me, I want to enjoy their company more." He said he had a good relationship with his parents, who live in Faridabad, and that their openness to everything has helped him in life. He considers Naseerudin Shah to be his "mentor, friend and confidant", saying, "He's an inspiration and somebody who has helped nurture me as an actor not necessarily my career but my craft. He's also the one who opened my eyes to the world of acting."
Hooda had a relationship with former Miss Universe and actor Sushmita Sen from 2004 to 2006. He later said ending their relationship changed his career; "The break-up was the best thing that happened to me and I realised that I gave it too much time in my life. It freed my energy to do things for myself." Hooda owns a stray dog named Candy.
|Denotes films that have not yet been released|
|2001||Monsoon Wedding||Rahul Chadha|
|2006||Darna Zaroori Hai||Ajay Doshi|
|2008||Ru Ba Ru||Nikhil|
|2009||Mere Khwabon Mein Jo Aaye||Jai|
|2009||Karma Aur Holi||Dev|
|2009||Love Khichdi||Vir Pratap Singh|
|2010||Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai||ACP Agnel Wilson|
|2011||Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster||Lalit / Babloo|
|2012||Jannat 2||ACP Pratap Raghuvanshi|
|2012||Cocktail||Kunal Ahuja||Special appearance|
|2012||Jism 2||Kabir Wilson|
|2013||John Day||ACP Gautam|
|2014||Kick||Police Officer Himanshu Tyagi|
|2014||Rang Rasiya||Raja Ravi Varma|
|2015||Beeba Boys||Jeet Johar|
|2015||Main Aur Charles||Charles Sobhraj|
|2016||Laal Rang||Shankar Malik|
|2016||Do Lafzon Ki Kahani||Suraj|
|2017||Battle of Saragarhi (Movie)||Havaldar Ishar Singh|
Awards and nominations
|2010||Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai||Lions Gold Awards||Favourite Actor in a Supporting Role||Won|
|2012||Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster||Apsara Film & Television Producers Guild Awards||Best Actor in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|2012||Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster||International Indian Film Academy Awards||Best Actor in a Supporting Role||Nominated|
|2013||Jannat 2||Stardust Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|2014||Highway||Stardust Awards||Best Actor||Won|
|2015||Highway||Producers Guild Film Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role||Best Actor||Nominated|
|2015||Rang Rasiya||Filmfare Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|2015||Main Aur Charles||Stardust Awards||Stardust Award for Best Actor in a Negative Role||Won|