A couple of days ago, pictures of Pawan Kalyan undergoing Shaolin Kung Fu Weapons Training went viral. The Attarintiki Daredi star took the training for his part in the period drama, Hari Hara Veera Mallu. Harsh Verma, who trained Pawan, tells us the back-story.
“The film’s action director Sham Kaushalji saw my Kung Fu training videos. In fact, my father and Shamji know each other well and, the latter also worked for several Bollywood films in my father’s team. So Shamji showed my videos and recommended me to director Krish who asked me to come to Hyderabad and train Pawan sir,” explains Harsh Verma. Pawan is already trained in martial arts and was able to grasp things quickly.
“Since Pawan sir was not new to the art, the training went very quickly. He had the muscle memory, knew martial arts and was picking up moves swiftly,” he says. The training lasted for five days.
A war plan
“For any basic weapon training, we use sticks first. How to hold the stick, how to swing it, how to use the spear in a fight sequence were the components of the preparation module,” says Harsh, who also choreographed the fight sequence involving weapons in the film.
Interestingly, there were no specific timings for the training sessions, but Pawan would train whenever he didn’t have scenes to perform. “Sometimes we would start at 6 AM, sometimes in the evening, at times even in the middle of the shooting, it depended on his shooting schedule,” explains Harsh, who runs his own academy in Mumbai.
Mind and body
Before commencing the training, the Gabbar Singh star had to do a lot of basic stretching — arms stretching, complete joint and shoulder stretching and basic ways of swinging the stick. “He watched me, and emulated me easily,” says the 27-year-old trainer.
He stresses the importance of understanding whether an actor is comfortable and can really pull off such stunts. “One needs to be physically and mentally strong for such training. And Pawan sir was very confident. I had a great time working with him. It is always a mutual learning when you work with someone who has sound knowledge of martial arts,” adds the Harsh.
“I am honoured to work with such an actor; he felicitated me with a shawl and gave me an idol of Lord Hanuman,” he adds. Harsh, who is currently in Mumbai, will fly down to Hyderabad next month to train Pawan Kalyan in sword fighting.
A rare feat
Harsh’s father Mahendra Verma is a renowned action director while his uncles Teenu Verma, Pappu Verma and Bhiku Verma are famous too.
Is hailing from a family that is into stunts, what got Harsh into Shaolin, we ask. He shares the interesting path to fame. “I was a professional footballer and represented Maharashtra for U-16 and U-18 (2nd Division). I had a knee surgery in 2014, but my recovery post-surgery wasn’t good. So I was looking for a cure through alternative or traditional medicine. It was then I came across Shaolin. I did extensive research on the Chinese acupuncture therapy and eventually got in touch with representatives of the Shaolin Temple. I sent all my medical reports to them. They replied saying that they could fix my knee,” recalls Harsh.
The treatment lasted for three months. “I started in December 2014, and by March 2015 my knee was back to normal. I was amazed with their treatment, culture and traditions and practices. It was then that I decided to join them and get trained. In fact, I became the first Indian to be part of the Shaolin performing monks’ team,” he beams....