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Actor Neil Bhoopalam on body transformation, boot camps and broccoli

Neil Bhoopalam has a reputation for making alternative choices. Right from his radio jockey days (when he was part of Radio Mirchi and hosted the Sunday morning show, College Se Canteen Tak and Baat Banjaye) to movies he has done (Shaitan, David and No One Killed Jessica ), the Mumbaikar’s choices have helped him climb the ladder. He also got noticed for the role of a young politician in the TV series, 24. Equally active in the theatre circuit, Bhoopalam, 25, was in the city a few weeks ago for the Atul Kumar-directed Noises Off. A fan of Tamil movies and superstar Rajinikanth, his last Tamil outing was the Tamil version of David. He has Ungli, a vigilante film, and NH 10, a road trip thriller, lined up. The actor talks about super foods, cross fit and his dislike for gyms.

I am into regular fitness, which is a mix of weights and cardio. I hate going to the gym, so my trainer, Nagesh Pranav, comes home. I also go for walks at Jogger’s Park. I believe it is extremely important to  workout at least for five hours a week. I feel very uncomfortable when I do not exercise and I immediately get a double chin.

I was quite chubby when I was a child, but when you enter college you are always on the move so I lost weight. I was big on junk food back then, now I cannot eat anything from fast food joints—it is like eating from a garbage bin. After taking up a regular fitness regime, I eat twice a day and salad is a must.

My wife, Nandini Shrikent, educates me about super foods. I have a lot of oats, flakes and broccoli. I am always trying hard to eat sensibly. Mass produced food is not the way to go and I do not like subsidising on quality. So I generally pick up my ham and cheese from Nature’s Basket.
I have been training in cross-fit—a basic programme followed in the military—for two years. The makers of Ungli wanted someone who was trained in cross fit, so I was the perfect choice. In cross-fit, the idea is to compete with one self. You are given 45 minutes to do the maximum number of push-ups. You are also taught to climb ropes and lift weights.

I am open to body transformation for a role. It is always fun to play around with your body, from becoming lean to putting on a lot of weight. These things keep me on my toes, a bit like when a girl has just got a new dress and is pairing her jewellery and nail paint with it. That’s the feeling (laughs).

Need to know
I tend to judge people who are not into exercising. You do not have to be gung ho, but you most certainly have to workout at least once a day. I think sports is a good way to be fit, too. I used to be a football and squash player. Now, I don’t find time. While working out, I listen to a mix of things—from old-school hip hop to rap.

—Mrinalini Sundar

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