I signed off from my last ship,as a Marine Engineer at ExxonMobil, from Atlanta (U.S.A.),in February 2002. I took the tough and challenging decision of leaving that lucrative and hard earned job, as I gave my first shot for ‘Sannyasi Raja'(an adaptation of the cult classic film of Mr. Uttam Kumar for television), in which Mr. Tapas Paul enacted the role of the protagonist. It was when Late Tapas Da, came up to me after the shot and appreciated me, that I decided there is no point of return from here to the sea, to the utter dismay of my mother!

Easier said than done, work wasn’t happening enough, as I didn’t have any filmy background or reference and I was thoroughly insulted by many producers, directors and casting directors for the way I looked… overweight and unpresentable!

I have always taken all the positivity I can, from every negative shockwave that has hit me till date! I took those insults as my boost and thanked them at heart for pushing me to transform myself for the good.

I was 92kgs, with a 36 inches waistline then, as one can figure out from the 1st photo. What I realized was, I have never smoked or consumed alcohol…hence the main reasons of my weight gain was unhealthy Bengali food habit and utter complacency that had set in with a secured job I got as a Marine Engineer.

I took up a challenge to make myself presentable to the camera. For that, I took the help of the dietician in my gym(Naani’s gym) where I got admitted. I understood the fact that dieting doesn’t mean ‘not eating’, rather it means ‘eating the correct food, in the right proportion’. I sacrificed fried , spicy, sweet food items. I replaced them with a lot of protein, calcium, minerals and the right amount of carbohydrates. I took to rigorous exercising, 2 hours on an average every day, with a strict 1 hour cardio each day. I made a makeshift gym set up at home too, if by any chance I missed going to gym. I started swimming each day, atleast half an hour. In 6 months I could see the change in myself.

In 2006 when Mr. Ravi Ojha’s ‘Khela’ on Zee Bangla happened for me, I had to go through a sea change to fit into my character of this dynamic psychiatrist Dr.Shurjo Sen. The transformation that Zee Bangla and Ravi Ojha Productions made me go through, in terms of my hair, my wardrobe,shoes, scarfs and the art of learning to do my own make-up, made a deep impact on my personality. After ‘Khela’ became an iconic hit serial, I felt the sensibility of Shurjo Sen had seeped into me subconsciously. The adulation I received from the Indian and NRI Indian audience was unprecedented, not only on my performance but because of the way I looked!

I am 72kgs now…my waist size being 32inches…and I have maintained it that way for the last 10 years. I follow a disciplined and planned lifestyle, with the correct amount of sleep, daily exercises and strict prohibition towards smoking and alcoholism. I know,my profession doesn’t have a fixed salary, it doesn’t have a pension scheme or a Provident fund to support me. I don’t regret any of it though, as I have taken this difficult path of an insecured profession of an actor, on my own will. I know for sure that the only thing that will keep me running a long race is a good health and I stick to it.

In my awareness program against addiction and harmful trends for the youth, I propagate the same ideas to the students…that one’s Health is everything. You look after it, your career and your family will be intact…and once you destroy your health, none of your money, talent, power, designation, popularity will save you!

I have seen too many lives lost in my family, among my friends, within or outside the entertainment industry because of addiction or unhealthy lifestyle and hence I have sacrificed my life to save as many lives I can, through my awareness program ‘I AM THE KING OF MY MIND’.

This 20 year transformation of mine is not a point of pride for me to brag about,but I would rather ask everyone to consider it as a point to ponder… ‘BEING FIT ISN’T AN OPTION, IT’S A NECESSITY’.

The writer is – Bobby Chakraborty who is an acclaimed actor , a popular teacher of method acting and an award winning social activist.

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