For most ’90s kids, the very mention of Rohit Roy will always conjure up images of a very dapper Mr Rishabh Malhotra. Swabhimaan had a super complex storyline for us kids to follow, but watching it had become an after-school ritual just because of Rohit Roy. Of course, two decades have passed and Rohit has since then impressed the audience with his movie outings, and has aged.

“My food, my mental make up, everything has changed. Today, I am in better shape, physically and mentally, than I have ever been.”

So when I start off for this interview, I expect to meet a jaded and botoxed version of my childhood crush. But when I finally meet Rohit Roy, at the lobby of a posh Versova club, dressed in a pair of jeans and a casual tee, he isn’t looking a day older than his Doordarshan days…but definitely more chiseled! And he is bubbling with energy. As we sit down and I compliment him on reversing age, he reveals that he turned 50 on April 5 this year! I must have looked visibly shocked because he quips: “That reaction there was my goal!” and adds: “Most people think I got in shape for a movie. But I just wanted to be the fittest 50-year-old around! I want to turn 50 in style!” he chuckles.

The actor confesses he never took fitness seriously: “I never needed to put extra effort on my body. The last few years have not been great career-wise. And, even though my last film Kaabil (2017) was a hit, I didn’t land any interesting offers. Also, the film I wanted to direct was not taking off. I was so distressed that I started spending all my time at home or at parties. I started drinking a lot, which meant I put on weight. One day, my mom told me I looked fat. Now, my mom, like every Indian mom, always thinks her children should eat more. So, her comment really made me conscious about the weight gain,” he recalls.

The 74kg actor had become a whopping 92kg and couldn’t fit into his clothes. “Since I am 6-feet tall, it took me time to realise that the situation was so bad,” he says. But that changed overnight. Literally! Thanks to a final push from Salman Khan.

“One day, after a few drinks, I started telling Salman Khan how I was not getting the kind of work I wanted. He stopped me mid-sentence and said: ‘You look like a fat cow! Even I won’t give you work’.”

“I was taken aback. When I tried to explain the weight gain was due to emotional stress, he said: ‘We all go through s**t at some point. You are not from Mars that everything will always be smooth in your life. But how you react to obstacles depends on you. You can either share your sob story with me or do something to change the situation…may be by hitting the gym at 7am tomorrow!’”

That’s exactly what Rohit did. But the journey from 92kg to 78kg has not been easy or quick. “It’s taken a good 18 months to reach this point,” he says. “My food, my mental make up, everything has changed. Today, I am in better shape, physically and mentally, than I have ever been.”

He points out that it becomes extra difficult to get back in shape after a certain age. “Especially for men, after 30-35, your testosterone level plummets and then you really need to put in efforts to be fit. Working out is something I had done on and off. But I realised that I’m not 18 anymore and at my age if I need to get fit I really need to put extra effort.”

Rohit’s 10 steps to fitness

Do the diet: Gymming is secondary, what you eat and when you eat is of utmost importance. I started with a high-protein diet and stopped eating junk food. I believe ghar ka khana is the best balanced diet.

Eat right, eat often: I have four to five meals a day. Your body is like a coal train. Put in a little coal at regular intervals and it will keep burning that coal and keep running.

Exercise: Working out has become an addiction for me. After a month, when changes started to show it made me take them more seriously.

Work the workout: Pushing more weight will not make you fitter, doing the exercises correctly will.

Sleep well: Sleep helps your body recover. I take cat naps during shot breaks.

Water: I drink six to eight litres of water every day. And, after every meal I drink warm water or green tea.

Mental peace and confidence: A fit body has given me a fitter mind and boosted my confidence. If I am not in shape, the audience will not even look at me!

Time management: I have installed a gym in my make-up room to work out when I’m on a 9am to 9pm shift. If I can’t manage that, I run on my way home.

No more alcohol: Although drinking wasn’t an addiction for me, it hampered my fitness. Now I have stopped drinking completely.

Supplements: If I can get the benefits as a particular supplement from say spinach, I’ll add more of it to my diet. I take glutamine as a supplement because I need that much to sustain my workout.

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From HT Brunch, November 24, 2019