Mumbai: Kangana Ranaut, who plays a former National-level Kabaddi player poised for a comeback after giving birth in Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s sports-drama Panga, underwent rigorous training by Gauri Wadekar, who has represented India twice on international platforms.
Gauri says the actress was a model student on the set. “She told me to teach her the basic moves in our first meeting itself,” she says, adding that she was highly impressed by the actress’s quick grasp of the techniques. “I was shocked as I teach young girls, and even they take almost six months to reach that level of training. Kangana picked up the dodging technique just by observing it a couple of times. I was awestruck."
Gauri and Kangana first met in September 2018 and trained together for five months. “Starting at 8 am every day, we would train for two hours,” Gauri informs, adding, “Kangana never missed a session and was punctual throughout. We shot in Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai in different weathers, but Kangana’s dedication never wavered.”
Most of the duo’s focus was on the footwork. “Kabaddi requires Swift legwork, so her workout routine included squats and lunges. We trained on attack strategies, defence, how to go for the bonus and which leg to put the weight on in each position,” Gauri shares. Given that Kangana portrays a Kabaddi player at two different stage of life, pre and post pregnancy, the training had to be designed accordingly. “She had to weigh more than usual for the post pregnancy shoot, so for that segment we focused on the gaining muscle rather than losing weight,” the Kabaddi pro informs.
As part of a prep, the actress also made changes to her diet. “You need a lot of stamina in Kabaddi just like wrestling, so I stuck to a wholesome died that included carbohydrate, fat, raw vegetables and Juices,” Kangana says, going on to inform that she had to focus a lot on her legs for the training. “I had to gain a lot of weight in my legs to look authentic as a Raider (player who attacks from the opposing team), but I had to change it for the part where I am shown as retired player,” she adds.
Kangana’s coach is impressed with the way the actress held her own in front of professional players during the shoot. “It was almost impossible to distinguish her from them when she was raiding. I was scared as those players could have easily tackled her,” Gauri gushes.