For Sundeep Kishan, Michael is an ambitious project and the actor says he pushed his limits to play the title character in the Ranjit Jeyakodi direction. In fact, for a small episode in the film, Sundeep was on a protein diet to lose weight. “It’s an action film and has a John Wick vibe to it. I wanted the character to look lean and powerful, someone like Bruce Lee. Before filming began, Sundeep went to the gym for about seven months to get a character like that,” says the director, who goes on to add that the actor lost a lot of muscle mass in order to achieve a specific look for part of the film recently .

“The film traces five stages in Michael’s life – from the age of 20 to 28 – and there are different weight classes that he goes through. There is one particular episode that spans seven days in the story and I wanted to see the role. So I was on egg whites, iced black coffee, cooked veggies, and very little water. I won’t recommend this diet to anyone, but as character dictated it, I followed it,” says Sundeep, who went from 80kg to 71.3kg in a matter of days.

“I went on a diet for six days and followed the same eating habits for the nine days we shot these sequences. It was my lowest weight ever and my family panicked when they saw me like this,” says the actor, who followed the diet under the guidance of a trainer. “Gopal and Kuldeep are my coaches in Mumbai and Hyderabad respectively. Kuldeep helps me maintain my body for Michael and he wasn’t happy at all when I went on this diet. I had built up good muscle for the role after a lot of hard work and he was upset that I was going to lose everything for just one small sequence. But as an actor, you want to look a certain way for a film and you don’t think about the health implications that might have. You don’t get sequences like that very often in your career and when I got this opportunity I decided to push myself.”

The team took about a month off to allow Sundeep to build on all the muscle and pounds he lost filming the seven-day episode. “I’ve gained about six kilos now,” he says.

“We will now shoot the last leg of the film. We have been shooting in Hyderabad and Mumbai so far and we will be shooting in Delhi, Vizag, Chennai and Hyderabad again in this schedule,” Ranjit informs.

Lokesh and Sundeep reunite

Lokesh Kanagaraj made his debut with Maanagaram, which starred Sundeep. Now the two are getting back together for Michael as the filmmaker is set to present the Tamil version of the film. Sundeep says, “He had seen the footage and was blown away by Ranjit’s vision. Also, both Ranjith and Lokesh have the connection to Sethu anna (Vijay Sethupathi who is also part of the movie). So I think this is a very positive collaboration.”

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