Tiger Shroff Interview: “I want martial arts to be compulsory in our schools”

Acting is not the only thing that gives Tiger Shroff a kick; he is equally passionate about fitness too. The actor, known for headlining some of the biggest Bollywood action entertainers in the past few years, recently turned entrepreneur by launching a state-of-the-art gym in Mumbai in partnership with his fitness freak sister Krishna Shroff.

The brother-sister duo does not only aim to provide a distinctive experience to whosoever trains at their facility, but they are also planning to provide a platform to MMA fighters by organizing Matrix Fight Night every quarter. The event will see the participation of MMA fighters from across India.

Ahead of the launch of the first edition of Matrix Fight Night on 12th March, our Mumbai correspondent Mohnish Singh caught up with Tiger Shroff at his MMA Matrix gym and tried to know more about his latest venture, what was the thought behind it, and much more.

What was the idea behind Matrix Fight Night?

Well, the idea was just to promote Indian talent because we have so much talent in our country. If we talk about martial arts specifically, there are so many talented fighters in our country who do not get the exposure and the opportunity to showcase their skills at a higher platform. So that is where this whole thing came about and now we are giving Indian fighters a platform to showcase their skills and promoting them and pushing them to the next level.

Do you believe that since the majority of the population in India is a little ignorant about such sports, it becomes very important for stars to take a step ahead and promote them?

Yeah, it is important because as celebrities and stars, we have a lot of people who look up to us. So we have a responsibility. Because people look up to us, we have to sort of guide them in the right direction. We have to be careful about how we lead our lives as well because we set an example for them.

If I have to talk about my experience, I have been into martial arts since I was a child and whatever little I have achieved in my career is through martial arts. Whatever fan following I have achieved is because of my action, dance and my athletic abilities. Since a lot of kids look up to me, it is my job, my duty to sort of guide them in what to do and how to go about it. I have seen so many parents and children coming up to me and asking where I learnt these things from. I am clueless when they ask me such questions as I don’t know what to tell them. I did not have any facility that we have right now today. I learnt everything through videos and movies. Luckily, now the time is so apt for this generation as they have a lot of facilities nowadays available to them. So I urge all of them to just get out and go to search such facilities and practise under safe supervision. It is so important, especially for today’s children who have become so text-savvy and are always playing video games and all. That is fine for some time. But also take time out to service your body, move your muscles a little bit and move your joints a little bit. That is my only message to the kids.

Do you have any plans to train underprivileged kids also, as Akshay Kumar does?

He (Akshay Kumar) is doing a superb job. Definitely, I would also love to do something like that, and that is the whole idea. My goal is similar to what Akshay sir has been doing. In China, they have martial arts as a subject in school and what we have is PT. So I want to get martial arts as a subject in our schools. I want martial arts to be compulsory in our schools. We have that potential as we have one of the largest populations. Trust me if martial arts becomes a part of our education system, crime will go down. A lot of negative things will go down. Martial arts empowers children to lead very disciplined, correct lives.

I think it is very important to make martial arts a part of our lives and not just the fighters who you will see here. It is important for the general public also. It is not just to calm down or fight. No, I am not telling you to beat anybody up. I want you to get healthy and learn discipline. I want you to have self-confidence and self-esteem.

You have teamed up with your sister Krishna Shroff to carry out this venture. How was your experience working together?

It was fun because we share similar interests. But the honest truth and answer is that she and the entire team worked harder than I. I am shooting for Student Of The Year 2 and all of that. I give them more credit as I am just there for support. Whenever they need me, I am there.

Tiger Shroff with sister Krishna Shroff

Did you siblings used to fight when you were kids?

When I was 12-year-old, she was around 8 at that time. But she used to weigh about 90 kg and I was just 35 kg. As you know there are weight categories in fights, but our fights used to be heavyweight vs. lightweight fights (laughs). Since there was no point fighting against her, I would run very fast and exhaust her. That is how we used to fight with each other in our childhood.

But what do you have to say about her transformation now?

The transformation which she has undergone is fantastic. She has worked very hard towards it. That being said, there is still a long way to go for her and she still doesn’t make her best choices sometimes, but she is definitely progressing. Having said that, I won’t go out of my way to pat her on the back and say, “You have done great.” I do not pat myself either, because the moment you put someone up and praise them and pat them on their back that is when one’s growth stops. I want to drive home the point that there is someone working twice harder than you, somewhere in any corner. I do not want to be second to that person. I want to be the best at what I can do. So be so good that you can’t be ignored.

Are there any other celebrities we are going to see at the event?

There are people invited. I am hoping they come and support these fighters and have a good time. This will be entertaining.

Do you have cheat days too?

Yes, I do have. I eat everything that day, from vada-pav to chocolate. I have a sweet tooth, so once every week I do cheat.

Talking about your parents, who is more interested in fitness?

Mom is very inclined towards fitness and dad is carefree. He does yoga, but he is naturally very fit.

What is the best compliment that you received from dad regarding your fitness?

He talks less and does not praise a lot, but he does mean it from his heart. After the success of Baaghi 2 (2018), he was like ‘bhaari kaam kiya tune’ (you performed phenomenally well).

You are a great dancer and, also, take fitness very seriously, but what do you like the most between the two?

No, Hrithik Roshan is number one in dance and Akshay Kumar in fitness. It depends on my mood. Anything that moves your body is great. Dance is also a form of exercise.

Did your father ever give you any advice to survive in the industry?

I have learnt from my father this thing that it is important to follow your heart, but you have to think of future consequences as well. Like now, I am working on a film and I have already signed 2-3 other films which I believe are the right graph for me. I look up to Hrithik Roshan, so I will take his example. I am doing a film with him right now, but I am sure there must be Krrish 4 planned. So a lot of actors look into future. You have to see the market and the audience changing. It was not so competitive earlier.

Would you always like to stick to the action genre only?

I have not thought of that. I am very grateful and blessed for whatever I have achieved through my films. I am not planning anything specifically that I want to do this and I want to do that. I see the script in totality. Whether it is an action film or a romantic one, that is fine. But what matters the most to me is the story and its purpose. A film depends a lot on its content. If I am doing an action film, it does not mean I will only do action in it. Action is just a decoration. What is the purpose of the character and what he is fighting for is also important. Is he fighting for himself? Is he fighting for somebody else? All of these matters. I look at all these things before taking up a project. Like Baaghi 3 has action but what his goal, his purpose is also strong enough. So the script is important. It is not any particular genre that I am looking at. It is just the script.

Would you ever try comedy films?

I would love to, but I feel I won’t be able to do full justice to it.