KARACHI: When he appeared on the fifth season of Coke Studio alongside his band Qayaas, Umair Jaswal dominated the screen with his mammoth biceps and sculpted physique. The singer-turned-actor’s role in upcoming film Yalghaar forced him to buff up even further in order to fit the part of an SSG commando in the highly-anticipated action movie.
In a conversation with The Express Tribune, Jaswal spoke of his career trajectory and how his physical transformation for his debut film is something that has “never been done before in Pakistani films”. “I know Dr Hassan Waqar Rana, the director of the film, since my university days and even had the privilege of working with him on the soundtrack for his previous film Waar. Once that film completed he told me that he wanted me to act in his next project, Yalghaar,” recalled the Qayaas frontman.
While describing his role as “physically demanding”, he revealed the rigorous workout regime he had to follow to fit his military character in the film. He put in the hard yards as he felt it was his responsibility to capture the soul and feel of a commando.
“I spoke to several military officials and I was moved and motivated by some of the stories they told me. I met a soldier who had been shot 28 times; yet, he was still ready to serve the army and the nation. After meeting them I felt the need to do justice to my role,” professed the singer.
Jaswal’s trainer, Imran Khan, who is pursuing a PhD in Human Performance Management and holds an MSc in Health Management, praised the talented singer’s passion and diligence towards achieving his goal. “Umair’s commitment was no less than that of a professional athlete. He always had a no-pain–no-gain attitude towards training. In my 25 years of training people, he has proved to be one of those rare people who have showed commitment, dedication and willpower to succeed,” said the personal trainer.
A keen observer with self-tutored acting skills, Jaswal has had no prior acting experience and claimed to benefit from sharing screen space with Shaan. “He (Shaan) is like an acting institute on his own. And you get to learn a lot just by watching him perform. Even when I was not filming, I would make it a point to be on set and watch how Shaan was executing his scenes,” revealed Jaswal.
With the movie slated to release later this year, the actor has already bagged another coveted role in Sarmad Khoosat’s television serial Mor Mahal. Written by Sarmad Sehbai, the project requires Jaswal to participate in acting workshops to further polish his acting skills, a move which he thinks helped him for his part in Yalghaar.
With his acting career starting to pick up, Jaswal has no ambitions of putting his singing career on the back burner. “I have recorded a few songs for Yalghaar as well, my solo album is almost complete and I am in search of a decent window to release it. Apart from that I will also be featuring on two major music shows this year,” he disclosed.
Jaswal’s workout routine and diet plan was calculated based upon his metabolic rate, sedentary calorie count and active calorie count. This was further calculated according to the required muscle gain and body fat percentage. His training spanned over a course of six months, divided into six week phases:
The first phase comprised of building strength and bulking without diet restrictions and training six days a week, two body parts per workout.
The second phase focused on muscle building, increased rep (repetition) range, while maintaining protein and carb (carbohydrate). Fats, on the other hand, were reduced.
The third phase required further muscle work but through a slow cutting process. This meant medium protein and carb intake and a lower fat diet. Workouts were increased to twice a day.
The final phases was about maintaining muscle. Hence, protein and carbs were cut from the diet and fat was reduced to 50 grams per day. Although the star lost some strength in the process, he gained a refined physique.