Dr. Prashant Nair: Martial Arts Champion Who Took Inspiration From The Reel Life Heroes To Turn His Life Around
Recently, this multi-talented individual became the first Indian to win the “IVth Filipino Martial Arts Hall of Fame International Full Contact Fighting Tournament'' held at Makati, Philippines thus, securing a place in the Limca Book of Records, Indian Book of Records and Best of Indian Records. He has been featured in the book ‘The World’s Greatest Martial Artists’ by Ted Gambordella. He also holds a Black Belt in the Korean art of Hapkido; a training Certificate in the Chinese Kung Fu system - China Na, Wuji chuan, Wudang Flash sword, Pang shu Fa; a Brown Belt in Aikido; and has trained briefly and carried out extensive research in Kalaripayattu.
As a kid Prashant was bullied for being obese. He remembers being coerced into playing the character of Hardy from ‘Laurel & Hardy’ for a school play. Due to his fear of being on stage and because of his obesity, he slipped and fell flat on stage. The audience burst out laughing thinking it was part of the act and he ended up winning first prize. That was his first tryst with acting.
College days were peppered with fun with friends; a bout of weight loss after a crash diet triggered by a comment by his late brother; participating in extracurriculars like arm wrestling and tug of war competitions; facing intense ragging and physical abuse by seniors in dental college; to ultimately becoming well-known as an all-rounder.
The Day That Turned His Life Around
But it was one Sunday morning that changed his life. He was called to the principal’s office to assist the police with a case, “I kept joking to my friends about, how even the cops require my help, but to my shock it was to identify my brother and his friend who had died in a horrifying car accident. There was nothing much left of the car or the people in it. My whole world came crashing down. My parents were not there with me at that point of time. It took a great deal of strength, will power, faith and support of good friends to get control over myself”, says Prashant.
“I realised a few things from that crisis; a) Nothing in life is permanent - nobody, no situation, nothing lasts for long, neither do the the problems, b) You can only rely on yourself & c) When a sad incident takes place in your life, it can completely destroy your confidence and can even manifest into all sorts of phobias”, says Prashant.
Throughout his life, Prashant has been deeply influenced by movies and it was once again it was in a movie called ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ that he found inspiration to overcome his personal fears.
Setbacks Are Reason For Comeback
Prashant feels that only when we truly know and understand that we have limited time on earth and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, we will begin to live. He was sure that, “When it’s time to leave this world, I want to leave it on a high note”. So he started to make a list of all the fears which he wanted to overcome.
He began working on his fitness. This led to his running in a couple of marathons including The Standard Chartered Marathon (2015-2018), Abu Dhabi Strides Half Marathon (2015) & Rak Half Marathon (2016). Next he trained in acting & dramatics to overcome his phobia of public speaking, eventually landing ads, commercials and movies. He signed up for a course on deep diving and eventually conquered his fear of depths and did very well in his P.A.D.I (diving exams). “The diving experience made me realise that no matter what the situation is, in one's life, one must not panic”, says Prashant.
Channelizing the Inner Anger for Martial Arts
“Though I had practised martial arts, I had not been exposed to a full contact fight or even been in a fight. There was a silent anger in me as to why did a crisis of this magnitude happen to me, but there was also a fear of violence and aggression.” He decided to take this fear head on and took up a martial art, inspired by the movie Bourne Identity, which requires real combat. As it turned out I did have a fighting instinct, but my rank was still low for international tournaments. Looking at my dedication, my coach agreed to train me”. Inspired by movies like Sultan, Dangal, Karate Kid, etc. Prashant put his heart and soul into it for the next 3 months, even breaking 3 fingers and a rib in the process. He eventually won the gold medal and Grand Championship and also gained the respect of his opponents and their coaches. “For me it was a moment from the movie Sultan”, says Prashant.
“Any problems in my life creates a spark and I use this spark to channel my focus. If you look at it, every aspect leading up to this moment was linked; me conquering my fears & improving my fitness helped me prepare for the tournament. Deep down I had visualised my victory and that is the reason I had carried the Indian flag with me in my pocket. The Universe was helping me achieve the dream I had visualised”.
Biggest influences - Reel & Real Life Role Models
For Prashant it usually comes back to movies, “ I have been influenced by Sylvester Stallone a lot. He has a dialogue in his movie Rocky, ‘The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!’
Sylvester Stallone believed in himself and launched himself to where he is now by sheer hard work and perseverance. I have learnt a lot from his movies”, says Prashant.
“My Parents too have helped me in being a better person. My late dad was very patient, my late mom was very strict and disciplined, my late middle brother was full of laughter and fun and my eldest brother remains calm and composed in all situations”.
On Why He Wants to Inspire Others - His Message
“There are people who are very talented but due to some crisis in their personal life, lose interest in life and go on a path of self destruction or get sucked into a whirlpool of depression. If I could get out of it, so can they”. Prashant hopes that through his life and acting he can motivate others like he was motivated by his heroes.