Parkour is relatively lesser known physical discipline of French origin. It involves moving from one point to another as efficiently and quickly as possible, using the reflexes and agility of the human body.
Hrithik Roshan used it in Krrish, Akshay Kumar used it in Singh is Kinng, and even Bond movie Casino Royale had it.
That’s the art of parkour, an urban adventure sport that empowers the nimble action hero to take down the bad guys by leaping from building to building, sliding down handrails, scaling walls effortlessly and dropping down from great heights.
The relatively lesser-known physical discipline of French origin, parkour involves moving from one point to another as efficiently and quickly as possible, using the reflexes and agility of the human body.
Besides a popular “Thums up” commercial on TV, Akshay Kumar, known as the “action guru” of Bollywood, mastered the breathtaking jumps in films like Chandni Chowk to China and Singh is Kinng.
A martial arts trainer himself, Akshay took formal training for the purpose and is also reported to have built a parkour gym in his Mumbai flat.
With the upcoming Prince, which promises to redefine the genre of action films in the industry, actor Vivek Oberoi would also be seen joining the parkour bandwagon.
“I am an adrenaline junkie and love doing my own stunts. I enjoy overcoming the stunts that appear impossible. I had to go through specific disciplines of training for five months to achieve the sophisticated action sequences with precision,” Oberoi said.
Heartthrob Imran Khan, who prepared for his 2008 film Kidnap by practicing seven-hour parkour sessions with the help of a British expert, says that it is already a rage in the film industry.
“Parkour has become very cool in Bollywood now, but the fact is that it has been in practice since many years by foreign actors like Jackie Chan,” Imran Khan says.
With some racy parkour sequences, Hollywood films like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, The Incredible Hulk and Mission: Impossible III took the sport to another level.
Rapper IshQ Bector, who is also a trained gymnast, says he learnt it in his Canada hometown, where he started doing it only for fun.
“When I came to India I loved jumping the roof tops. Even now when I am on a balcony or terrace I always visualize myself climbing and jumping down, no matter what the height,” gushes IshQ.
Call it a sport, art, hobby, lifestyle or simply passion, but after being glamorized by Bollywood actors, parkour is now waiting to burst into popular consciousness in India.
The physical discipline, which was formally established less than two decades ago, is spreading like wild fire in metros like Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai as online video tutorials have come to the rescue of young enthusiasts, who miss the guidance of professional trainers.
A city youth, nicknamed NOS in the circles, who claims to be the only professional parkour trainer in the country, however, cautions that the “art of movement” cannot be learnt online.
“People get misguided by cool, flashy videos thriving on the YouTube. You cannot watch a video of a guy jumping from one roof to another and decide to go out and imitate him. You need disciplined training,” he says.
NOS, who has been training young enthusiasts for the past two years and has also formed a club called “Parkour Mumbai,” rues the fact that people want to learn it only because the urban sport is now in vogue.
“Not many are seriously interested in learning it. Most people come in because it seems like a new fad for everyone,” he says. The trainer was enjoying the thrills since childhood only to discover four years ago that it has evolved into a formal discipline.
“Being one of the first generation parkour practitioners in India, we had no one to teach this to us at that time, so our learning was more about groping in the dark and learning through the trial and error method,” he recalls.
In Delhi, a bunch of youngsters practice under the club “Team Mutants,” while in Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai, similar groups have been formed by parkour lovers. The biggest hurdle parkour fanatics’ face is that of adequate infrastructure for training.
“The sport involves overcoming environmental obstacles in an urban landscape, and for that there are no specialized gyms anywhere in the country. We miss not having the safety net of a heavily-padded gym,” says 22-year-old Animesh Gupta, who practices in public parks and beaches.