Location Diaries: Actor vs athlete

In order to play the role of an athlete in his upcoming film, Clap, Aadhi had to undergo a weight-loss regime. Due to the lockdown though, the schedule went awry. “I was going running in an open ground with real athletes who are part of the film. The lockdown, however, prevented this from happening. As there was uncertainty about when the shoot would start, I couldn’t keep up the diet indefinitely. And yet, I couldn’t afford to gain weight either, in case the shoot had to commence.” Over a course of eight months, Aadhi apparently lost and gained a lot of weight at least four times. “Finally, when shooting was announced after the lockdown, I needed a further two weeks to get in shape,” says Aadhi.

Playing the role of a 400m runner, Aadhi shot with actual State-level athletes in the film. However, while filming, this led to a peculiar challenge. “Director Prithvi Adithya wanted to shoot a real 400m race featuring both the athletes and me. Though I had practised running, the athletes outran me. Even though I knew that I would be placed in front of the finishing line for the final take, I didn’t want to be seen lagging behind the athletes while filming,” says Aadhi, who practised extra hard with his athletics trainer Melvin to look the part.

“I stopped gym training as I didn’t want my body to look stiff. For the race, I prepped hard with special cardio, running, core strengthening, and sprinting techniques. I pushed myself so much during practice that I was scared of ligament tears during filming,” says Aadhi, adding he did special stretches to protect himself from injuries. “Finally, during the take, my motivation levels peaked, and I felt an adrenaline surge while competing with those real athletes. By the end of it, I was thrilled to be alternating between 2nd and 3rd places. The compliments from the athletes made me really happy. So, when I finally shot for the winning take on the finish line, it did feel like an actual victory of sorts for me.”

The athletes, who were not familiar with film shoots, had to keep running and shooting multiple takes for different camera angles. “By the end of it all, they were so weary that they wondered how actors pulled this off every day. One even told me that running an actual 400m race seemed easier than shooting for a film,” says Aadhi, laughing.

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