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Fighting Fit Even After Forty Years

Sham Kaushal

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BY ALI PETER JOHN

If you don’t believe in God, carry on reading the story of Sham Kaushal and I am sure you will start believing. If you are not a grateful person who shows gratitude to God and all those who have helped you come up, read the story of Sham Kaushal and you will change as a man and know how being grateful can take you to great heights…

Sham Kaushal had never in his wildest dreams felt that he would one day be a leading action director and action co-ordinator not only in Indian films but also be known as one of the best names in the field even in Hollywood. Sham was born in a small village in Punjab. He was more interested in excelling in academics and went through a difficult grind till he completed his post graduation in English Literature. It was difficult to find a job in keeping with his qualifications but he kept doing odd jobs till one of his friends from Bombay visited his village and had a talk with Sham which resulted in Sham taking the Frontier Mail to Bombay with three thousand rupees his father had borrowed on interest to help him reach Bombay…

He was not interested in taking up a routine nine to five job, but was forced to take up a job in a fabrication company in a distant suburb. It was while he was living in a chawl that he met some men who worked as fighters in films. One thing led to another and the student of English Literature found himself working as an ordinary fighter in Hindi films. Little did he know that destiny had better plans for him. A filmmaker making Malayalam films, Thampy Kannamthanam was looking for an action director for his film, “Indrajal”. He noticed Sham and showed interest in having him as his action director.

The previous evening Sham was working as a dacoit in a small film at Filmistan Studios and the next morning he was the action director of “Indrajal” which was the second film of the now internationally acclaimed cinematographer Santosh Sivan. The director was so impressed with his work on the first night that he not only signed him as his director but also predicted that the gold digging scene he had shot was symbolic of his digging gold and making a great future as a fight director. That prediction made almost thirty years ago has come true and how!

The next film Sham did as an action co-ordinator was “Prahaar” in which Nana Patekar made his debut as a director. The film was all about commandos and the tough and risky scenes performed by Nana and other young men in the film. The release of “Prahaar” ushered in an era of Sham Kaushal which is still as active as ever as Sham Kaushal believes that there is so much more to learn and do and he has been successful in doing just two percent of what he now believes he can do. He is an extremely grateful man, full of gratitude to God and all his fighters and the filmmakers who have had so much trust in him…

The tough action master with a very soft heart remembers two incidents to prove how good some people in the industry can be, an industry where most people in high places are looked down upon by others. He had to undergo an emergency operation for his stomach at a time when he was neck deep in work. He was in serious trouble and the doctors at Nanavati Hospital had almost given up hope for him. It was at this crucial stage that Nana Patekar, one of the most misunderstood men came to his rescue. Nana spent all his time with Sham and supervised all the needs required to bring him back to health. He was with Sham till he finally recovered and has always been like a “big brother” to Sham…

Nana Patekar

He was still to recover when it was time for him to start shooting for Anurag Kashyap’s “Black Friday”. He was so sick that he knew he would not be able to shoot for Anurag’s film. He sent Anurag a message asking him to take back his signing amount as he would not be able to shoot. Anurag refused to take a no from Sham and decided to wait for him. Sham decided to shoot for “Black Friday” even though he was still in a bad state. Anurag arranged for a vanity van with a bed and all the medical facilities Sham needed. The van took him to the shooting of “Black Friday” and after shooting it drove to the Nanavati Hospital where he was treated and his dressings were changed and he was driven home only to go back to the shooting of “Black Friday” the next day. “Where do we find such people with such great hearts? This is the only industry where we have such wonderful people who have all the best human feelings alive in them?”…

Anurag-kashyap_interview

Sham Kaushal has shown his skills as an action co-ordinator and director in more than two hundred films and is the most wanted action director in films made by the best of directors who have been working with him in all the films they make, and Sham’s prowess has spread far and wide and some of the leading filmmakers from Hollywood and other places have come to him seeking his expertise in taking action to a new level…
Among the leading directors who have got into the habit of having Sham as their action director in India are makers who have made a wide variety of films. Sham has worked with directors like Yash Chopra, Prakash Jha, Rakesh Roshan, Anurag Kashyap, Imtiaz Ali, Vijay Krishna Acharya, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Mani Ratnam, Farah Khan, Raj Kumar Hirani, Vishal Bhardwaj, Pankaj Kapoor Faizal Habib, Vikramaditya Motwane and Karan Johar among others. He has worked on the action scenes of films like “Krrish3”, “Dhoom 3”, “Goliyon Ka Rasleela Ramleela”, “3 Idiots”, “Jab Tak Hai Jaan”, “Barfi”, “Raajneeti”, “My Name Is Khan”, “Om Shanti Om”, “Rab Ne Banaa Di Jodi” and “Raavan” in Hindi and Tamil. It is indeed difficult to imagine how an action director can work with filmmakers like Yash Chopra and Rakesh Roshan and also with Raj Kumar Hirani and Shyam Benegal. It is also difficult to believe that he has gained the trust of all the senior stars and also has the younger stars like Abhishek Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor, Ranveer Singh and even all the actresses of the new generation…

He had a unique opportunity to work with Amitabh Bachchan, an experience he will cherish all his life. He was very busy shooting when he received a call from the makers of “Yudh”, the only TV serial with Amitabh Bachchan. It had some action scenes and Sham was Amitabh’s choice to supervise them. Sham did not believe that it was Amitabh who was speaking to him after he had talked about finding it difficult to adjust his time, but he finally managed to shoot with Amitabh who he says at seventy-two wanted to do all the action scenes himself with the same sincerity, dedication and will power…

Sham Kaushal is perhaps the pioneer in drawing some of the best filmmakers from Hollywood to have him supervise the entire action sequences of some of their biggest films. It all started with Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” in which he was the only action co-ordinator. His work in Boyle’s Oscar- winning film got him more recognition and he was soon the action director of some of the most notable films made in Hollywood like “One Knight With A King”, “Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol”, “Best Exotic Hotel Marigold” and is in talks with Deepa Mehta and other leading directors who feel their films need Sham’s touch to make them special…

deepa mehta

Sham believes in having strong human vibes with all the people he works with, from the stars, producers and directors and his own team of fighters and for and action director who plays with his own life everyday and the lives of so many precious people, he is one of the mildest and most well behaved human beings I have seen in this industry, and what I admire best about him is his honesty, his hard work and his humility. He is a family man with his wife Veena and sons Vicky and Sunny who like their father want to come up all on their own, without even trying to use their good father’s name to promote themselves in a field where their father is one of the most respected men.

He has his roots in the values he has imbibed from his parents, his teachers and all those who have come into his life and made a difference to it and believes in the present because it is only on what happens during the present can depend the future. To work as hard as possible, to work without harming the interests of others and to work for the welfare of as many people as possible and to always be in awe of the power of God to make and break are some of the rules Sham has formed for himself and as an observer of the life he has been living through the thirty years in an industry where it is here today and gone tomorrow, it is only in the fitness of things that people believe in his rules more than the godmen, godwomen, babas and fraud and fake saints who people in this industry run and rush to in their hour of crisis, pain and panic…

 

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