One-man fight club: Vidyut Jammwal's latest film 'Crakk'

MMA expert and actor Vidyut Jammwal is literally packing a punch in his latest film, Crakk, which he also bankrolled
Vidyut Jammwal
Vidyut Jammwal

Vidyut Jammwal is a martial artist first, and then an actor. Having been trained in Kalarippayattu since the age of three, he is acknowledged to be in the league of international legends such as Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee. It is no surprise then, that his choice of roles is determined by how action-driven they are. His films Force, the Commando series and Sanak, are all proof. So is his latest—Crakk—a racy and hard-hitting narrative on the hyper-competitive world of extreme sports. “It is the story of an underdog, a man born on the wrong side of the tracks who, with his sheer expertise, makes a name for himself globally,” says Jammwal.

The film that released on February 23, can be considered a sporty version of Squid Games. Apart from actors Arjun Rampal, Amy Jackson and Nora Fatehi, the cast also includes eight international athletes such as South Africa’s slacklining champion Alfonso Orosco and China’s martial arts expert Liana Hu, who came on board as key players and put their lives on stake for a cash prize. The project, which took two years to be completed, also brought seven international action directors together to choreograph and curate the hyper-intensive stunts.“Over the years, I realised that one needs to spend money on getting the right skill sets—technicians, actors and directors—to pull off hard-core action films. It is not just about performing daring stunts alone or getting the right story. It’s about the magnitude as well,” says the 43-year-old actor, who has also produced the film.

Vidyut’s journey in the industry has been that of a lone ranger. An outsider, he made his debut in 2011 with Force, playing the dreaded drug dealer opposite John Abraham. Soon after, he tried his hands at southern cinema with small but impactful negative roles in Telugu films such as Shakti and Oosravelli. He received critical acclaim for playing the bad boy in the 2021 Tamil film Billa II, which was followed by an award-winning performance in Thuppaki. “I started by playing imperceptible negative roles down South. But then, no one wanted to see me play anything else,” he says. It was only in 2013, with the release of the first Commando film, that things started to turn around.  

In the last decade, the actor has become synonymous with the genre of real-world combat-based films. “I am a trained fighter, and everything stems from that. There has never been a method to my craft; I give my best to whatever comes my way. I go by instinct, and don’t really have a strategy in place,” he says.

Poster of Crakk
Poster of Crakk

His production house—Action Hero Films—launched in 2021, is another reflection of his fighting spirit. His debut production, IB71, a war thriller set against the 1971 Indo-Pak war, did brisk business at the box office. Being the proverbial outsider, he says his production house is a vehicle to launch people who may not be “socially cool” as per the industry’s standards. “I see a lot of talent not being used just because they are not spotted networking at parties or don’t have social media numbers. But, what they do have is skill, and I want to encourage every such storyteller, technician and artist. Name and branding do not impress me,” says the actor, who will be next seen in Sher Singh Raana, a biopic of the Rajput leader who brought the remains of Prithviraj Chauhan from Afghanistan.

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The New Indian Express