As told to Natasha Coutinho (MUMBAI MIRROR; August 7, 2017)

I have always been interested in different kinds of sports and inspired by wrestling champs like Sakshi Malik and Geeta Phogat, boxer Mary Kom and the women's cricket team who are the real heroes shining bright in a man's world. I remember going to school early to play volleyball and football. I also enjoyed tennis, swimming and basketball. In fact, a major chunk of my childhood was spent playing some sport or the other. But for some inexplicable reason, I never took up Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and boxing till I signed up for (AR) Murugadoss sir's action-drama Akira. While playing this headstrong, afraid-of-none girl who defends herself with her flying fists and deadly kicks there were times when I'd wish I had trained in these sports earlier as they not only condition the body but the mind too.

Fortunately, since I'm naturally athletic it didn't take long for me to lord over the ring. The only challenge was to make time for regular practice in my hectic schedule. Kamal Mujtaba, who has competed internationally, trained me in boxing, making sure I got my basics right, in terms of stance and body language. My MMA and flexibility training instructor was Kuldeep Shashi who knew exactly how to push and motivate me. He was responsible for all the action I did in Akira. It's been a year since the film released, and I'm planning to return to MMA and flexibility. I really miss it and I feel even the body needs a change in activity from the usual gym routine.

Fortunately, I did not suffer any injuries while practicing as I had vigilant, professional trainers who made sure I didn't get hurt, but I did sustain a few while performing stunts during the shoot. I would treat them with ice, physiotherapy and rest it out. Despite the injuries, I would recommend these sports to everyone. In our country, girls are not encouraged to train in any kind of sport but I would urge all parents to enroll their daughters. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that every girl should at least learn basic MMA, not only for self-defense but because it makes you active, focused and disciplined. You invest a few hours but the returns are several. My only advice would be that whatever you start, stick to it and be regular. Give your all in that one hour of training every day. At the end of the day, it's all about being healthy, mastering your mind and pushing your limits.