Ex-military, ace body builder, Mr Bhutan, real-estate businessman and now a Bollywood actor. Sangay Tsheltrim has added another feather to his hat with the release of Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai. As Lota, he can be seen upping the ante for evil’s sake alongside Rana (Randeep Hooda) and Girgit (Gautam Gulati). His intimidating screen presence cannot go amiss as his bulging biceps, evil eyes and that no-mercy look do all the talking.
Only a film old in his native country Bhutan, Sangay shares the story behind landing the Radhe role, which he says was a mere stroke of luck. He credits Salman Khan for seeing the character in him. They first met on the set of Dabangg 3 in Mumbai in 2019 and instantly bonded over bodybuilding and his background in defense. During the course of our conversation, he sheds light on the experience of the shoot and working with co-stars.
Accidentally landed in the field of acting
Sangay looks back at his military and international fitness career before debuting with Bhutanese film Singye. “I was in the army before. I did my training from the National Defence Academy (NDA) in Pune. Then I did the Young Officers course. I was commissioned in the Royal Bhutan Army, then in Royal Body Guards where I served my King and the Royal family. When I was in the RGB, I started taking bodybuilding seriously. I wanted to compete in the international arena and make my country proud.”
It is now when Sangay decided on an alternate career. “I took voluntary retirement from the service in 2013. The following year, I won my first international Bronze medal in body building from Macau in Asian Championship. In 2015, I won a Gold and Silver from Uzbekistan and in 2016 I defended my Gold medal and won a Bronze again. In 2017, I won the title Mr Bhutan. It was almost five years of professional bodybuilding for me by now. While I was competing, my friends encouraged me to take up acting. Most of the actors in Bhutan are into romantic and mythological films. Those around me asked me to do action films seeing my physique. In 2018, I did my first action film and that’s how things started rolling for me.”
Salman Khan offered me Radhe after our first meeting
Sangay fondly recalls his first meeting with Salman in 2019 and how he was impressed with the latter’s humility. Two months later, he was offered his break in Bollywood. “One of my dear friends used to collaborate with Salman sir. He asked me to come to the Dabangg 3 set with him and said if you are lucky you might get a chance to take a picture with him. Never had I met celebrities in my life and he is such a big star. I was very nervous. He was very kind to make me feel comfortable. Looking at me, he knew I was a bodybuilder. And we chatted on common subjects. I loved his sense of humour. After two months, I got a call in Bhutan about this movie (Radhe). That is how I signed for the project and landed in Bollywood,” Sangay shares.
On His Radhe character
He says, “When Salman sir met me for the role, he explained to me this character. He told me that I have to be fearless and ruthless. It is an intense character and that goes well with my look. Throughout the film, I acted angry and irritated. I thought that it might be a challenging role and whether I will be able to do it or not. What if I get nervous? Luckily, the first shoot was action and I was comfortable with that due to my military background. The action choreographers and directors praised me and I got encouraged and gained some confidence. For my first dialogue scene, I practiced a lot. Prabhu sir was impressed and that gave me motivation. Everything went smoothly. I had a good experience with Randeep Hooda sir and Jackie Shroff sir. Both are very down to earth. I had a good time with Arjun Kanungo.”
On action scenes in Radhe
Why didn’t Radhe and Lota have an all out fight sequence? Sangay says, “Most people are asking me why I was not bare body. I am sure if the script required it, the director would have shot it. The movie is not glamorous that way. It’s more ruthless. It is very raw. There is not much style in the action as well. It did not require me to have a long fight scene with Salman sir. It has a storyline and they did not want to distract.”
Who inspires Sangay?
Sangay looks up to Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in Hollywood. “He came from a wrestling background and is now the highest paid actor internationally. I watch his movies for action. I am a big fan of UFC. I don’t miss out on that.”
On a parting note, Sangay expresses gratitude towards his fans. “Bhutanese people have been supportive all throughout my career. They motivate me to work hard in life. I don’t want to let them down.”