2016 Kabaddi World Cup: Deepak Hooda wants Salman Khan to portray him if a biopic was made on his life
From the shadow of obscurity full of impediments to a life of fame, riches and comfort. Deepak Hooda has tread along the most difficult of paths to see the bright light of the day. The star all-rounder who plays for the Puneri Paltan in the Pro Kabaddi League will don the Indian jersey in the forthcoming Kabaddi World Cup.
Ahead of the tournament, the 22-year lad who hails from the small village of Chamaria near Rohtak, spoke to Sportskeeda in an exclusive chat where he divulged a lot of aspects that maketh him the man that he is today, the role of kabaddi in his life and his family back home.
The Indian team goes into the World Cup not only as defending champions but also as firm favourites to retain the title they won back in 2007. With preparations on in full swing, Deepak says, "We have been working quite hard at the practice sessions especially since the last one month wherein we train for 3 hours in the morning and for an equal duration in the evening. There is a special focus is on our skill set and we are trying to sharpen them to the best possible level."
With a host of Pro Kabaddi stars such as Meraj Sheykh, Fazel Atrachali and Hadi Oshtorak in their line-up, the Iranian team stands a good chance to challenge the Indian attack.
However, Deepak is of the opinion that the Iran team is no threat for them, "Well, the tournament is happening on our land, kabaddi is our homegrown sport, so there is no reason to be wary. If they are practicing hard to clinch the title, well we are toiling harder than them and if their focus is on the trophy, I will not shy away from saying that our concentration is on the trophy as well, and there is no doubt that we will win be crowned champions."
Kabaddi wasn't the first choice for Deepak since he was good at academics but unforeseen circumstances in the family made him opt for the sport mainly due to the financial gains it offered.
"My mother died when I was barely 4 years old, then when I was in the 12th grade, my father also passed away. My sister and her two children also came in to stay with me due to problems in her marriage, and thus I had to shoulder the responsibility for all. I left studying and took up the sport of kabaddi and each day I used to practice for 3 hours in the morning post which I used to go work in the farms.
“I even took up a job as a teacher in a private school in our village, to earn some extra money. Each night, I would come back practice at home using chairs, and go to other villages on my bikes some even 30kms away in order to improve my game. It all paid off since my skills developed over time and I played at local tournaments winning cash prizes on several occasions with which we paid the school fees for my niece and nephew and even managed the household."
But the scenario changed, when he started playing professional kabaddi in 2013 and was picked up by Air India where he made inroads with help from Ajay Thakur. Subsequently, the Pro Kabaddi League was introduced, which changed his life, bringing him to the limelight where he played for the Telugu Titans initally before switching over to the Puneri Paltan side.
"Pro Kabaddi has given a new lease of life to the sport of kabaddi. PKL has transformed people like me who were unknown identities into sporting icons and it's great that millions of people, whether in rural or urban areas follow the game so intently," says Deepak.
But representing the nation is all-together a different ball-game. "Akin to the army men who don the uniform for the country, we too have a responsibility when we put on the Indian jersey. It is matter of pride to play for your nation and I want to give it my 110 percent since I am amongst the fortunate few selected for the job."
At the World Cup, his prime concentration will be on raiding in the opponent half despite being an all-rounder for that is a strategy he has been focusing on under the guidance of Anup Kumar and coach Balwan Singh.
Delving further, on their roles in the Indian team, Deepak said, "Anup is rightly known as ‘Captain Cool’, having played under him at the South Asian Games, I know for a fact that he takes everything in his stride whether it is a tense or comfortable situation. When playing under a skipper like him, there is no sort of worry for the other players since he always has an effective game plan at the back of his hands. As for coach Balwan Singh, he is the one who will settle a player down no matter what the circumstance which helps us immensely to focus on the task at hand, which is to win the game."
A father figure for his niece and nephew back home, he never misses an opportunity to spend time with them when he is free off professional commitments. "I love being around them, I try and guide them since they've followed me into pursuing sports. While my nephew plays kabaddi, my aggressive little niece has chosen to go ahead with boxing, I try to encourage and help them in whatever way I can."
Letting himself loose as the conversation proceeded, the all-rounder gave us a sneak peek into some rather finer and otherwise unknown facts about himself. "Whenever I need motivation or some sort encouragement, I do not go to anyone, in fact, Usain Bolt is my source of inspiration. Although when it comes to the kabaddi circle, Ajay Thakur is my best friend."
With M.S Dhoni's biopic having released in the past week, we asked Deepak whether he had the chance to watch it. Despite replying in the negative, he let us in on a very interesting trivia about him, "Well, if a biopic was to be ever made on my life, I would like for Salman Khan to portray my character since I think he is the ideal actor to showcase my life on the big screen."
Concluding on a positive note, Deepak chose to put forth a patriotic message for his fans, "We know that you have hope when it comes to Team India at the World Cup, and I promise you that we will stand by your expectations. In exchange for the overwhelming love and support you give us, we will definitely win the gold for the nation and all of you fans.”