Mumbai: For actor Mohit Raina, playing a sniper in Uri: The Surgical Strike is not just essaying a role in a film. The experience was akin to living out his childhood dream of being an army officer.

The 36-year-old actor who marks his Bollywood debut with the movie could not contain his excitement as he sat for a chat with MyNation in Mumbai. Recalling his childhood days in Kashmir’s Karan Nagar, Raina shared, “Whenever you are in a metropolitan city, you don’t get to see army people unless you go to a cantonment or their area. But I have seen army people since I was four or five. Since my childhood, I knew how thick the soles of their shoes are, that their food comes at 1 pm, I used to play and eat with them. In Kashmir, we used to have army people everywhere. So, I used to interact a lot with them. I used to eat their tiffin and even got food from my home for them. But at that time, I didn’t know who they are. For me, they were just a few people in green colour uniforms who would protect us.”

Raina, who plays a top-rank sniper in the movie also revealed that he had to undergo extensive training to prepare for his role. He said, “We trained extensively. We used to go to Navy Nagar dockyard at 5 or 6 in the morning. The Navy people over there used to train us about their discipline, their way of handling things etc. In the afternoon, we attended workshops and, in the evenings, we used to get training from the special forces. The training was very hectic.”   

Walking down the memory lane, he recalled, “I have huge memories. My school bus did not drop me till home. So, we used to get down from the bus on a road from where we had to walk till home. The army people would always help us cross the road. I was very familiar with them. They knew which kid resides in which building.” He added, “So, my connection with them is at a very different level. I have a different equation and respect towards them. I remember visiting Kargil with my friends on bikes after the war got over. What they do is really selfless. They never think about themselves and what they do for us, we cannot even pay back one per cent of that. I am very attached to the defence forces and have a strong regard for them. And this helps when you are playing one of them.”

The actor further revealed that having ‘spent’ his childhood with soldiers, he always dreamt of becoming one of them. But man proposes and God disposes. Elaborating on the same, he shared, “Joining the Army had been my dream ever since childhood. We had lost a lot of young Captains during the Kargil War. My admission at the NDA was done at that time. I had convinced my parents about joining the Army but had to back out due to my vision. You need to clear a test for vision which I failed. Through this film, I got an opportunity to live those moments.”

Directed by Aditya Dhar, Uri: The Surgical Strike hit theatres on Friday. The film also stars Vicky Kaushal, Yami Gautam and Paresh Rawal in key roles.

Also watch: Uri: The Surgical Strike movie review, nation’s verdict