Vidyut Jammwal is one of the top six martial artists in the world

Vidyut Jammwal is one of the top six martial artists in the world

Looper, a coveted platform in the US, recently released a list of top martial artists across the world. Vidyut Jammwal is the only Indian to be featured in this prestigious list, among the top six. Speaking to Mirror about this unique achievement, the actor admits it’s a matter of great pride. “I’m humble enough to know that I’m not better than anybody, and wise enough to know that I’m different from the rest. Kalaripayattu is what gives me this belief,” he asserts.
Born into a family that practises the ancient Indian martial arts form, Vidyut started learning Kalaripayattu when he was just three years old and today can emulate the masters by balancing his entire body on a lone spear. “There are no cables involved, it’s all about activating the core. Kalaripayattu is not about building the body, it’s about harnessing your inner strength,” he explains, admitting it requires years of training, months of single-minded dedication and hours of daily practice to not just pull off these exercises but understand the philosophy, which makes Kalaripayattu unique. “It can kill, and it can heal too!” Vidyut reiterates.
His knowledge and skills in this martial arts form give him an advantage as an actor too because he can showcase action which has never been seen on screen in India or internationally. Pointing to two of his favourite stunts, Vidyut reminisces how he summersaulted over a moving car in Commando and in its sequel, flew to the top of a car and below it, without a harness or using a stunt double.
The actor admits that being too tall and too big, it’s difficult for him to fit into small spaces, yet in every one of the nine films he’s done so far, he’s overcome this challenge. “From wriggling into an AC duct to squeezing out of a small window in a hospital and even a car, I have done it all,” he beams, saying when the mind is willing the body automatically follows.
He goes on to point out that when Tom Cruise does a stunt in a Hollywood film, it costs big but while neither the original Force nor Commando 1 and 2 were lavishly mounted films, his daredevilry in them has been appreciated. “Today, people across the world acknowledge that it’s not about how much we spend but what we create that makes the difference,” he argues, and is quick to add that he admires Cruise who has made so many impossible missions possible over the years, maintaining the consistency in his action even at 50-plus and doing stunts with the same proficiency as when he was younger.
So, what sets Vidyut apart from other martial artists? It’s that he brandishes weapons, be it swords, sticks, guns or the urumi, which he uses to devastating effect in his upcoming family-adventure, Junglee Pictures’ Junglee. “The urumi is a sword with a flexible whip-like blade originating in South India. It is one of the most difficult weapons to master because one stands the risk of injuring oneself. So, it is taught last in Kalaripayattu and is a speciality of the Indian martial arts. I’ve used the real thing in the film,” he informs proudly.
He has used seven different weapons in Junglee which has just wrapped up, including the otta. “Kalaripayattu is the only martial arts to use the otta or elephant tusk. It’s difficult to wield and as dangerous as the urumi,” he admits. In the film, the actor has an elephant as his co-star and asserts that the wellbeing of the animal was top priority on the sets. “The toughest thing when working with animals is keeping them safe if you are not using too many computer graphics. The producers and Chuck (Russell, director) were very careful we did not even leave even a scratch on the animals during the shoot,” he informs.
Chuck, who has to his credit Hollywood biggies like The Mask, Scorpion King and The Eraser, is gung-ho about his hero, saying it’s great to see Vidyut being noted as the rising star in action films across the world. “He has a rare combination of cinematic charm and killer moves that will make him unstoppable after Junglee. What really distinguishes Vidyut is his deep knowledge of Kalaripayattu and his understanding of its philosophy to not just use it to protect and fight, but heal too,” applauds Chuck, happy to have created a role for the actor in his film that plays to his unique action style while advocating a positive message. “I can’t wait for audiences to see it on screen.”