Sangay Tsheltrim is an inspiration to many across from different fields of life from sports to being a soldier, an entrepreneur to his latest talent showcased in the silver screen.
Sangay is not your usual everyday man. A man, who served as Royal Bodyguard of Bhutan, is a soldier trained by prestigious institutes National Defence Academy (NDA) & Indian Military Academy (IMA).
The beautiful land of hills, Bhutan is known as the happiest country in Asia, is also known for Sangay Tsheltrim in the bodybuilding arena. His title win at the Asian bodybuilding championship in 2016, has made him synonymous to bodybuilding in his country. Other than being a soldier and a bodybuilder he also owns the biggest fitness centre in his country, he is the official distributor of Ssangyong vehicle in Bhutan, a real estate builder, and now a movie actor.
Sangay’s upcoming film Singye, an action-packed drama, is one of the big Bhutanese films releasing this year. With two champion bodybuilders, one from India and one Bhutan’s pride facing each other in this power-packed film, Singye. It is the first Indo-Bhutan film, is also releasing in India.
The Moviean: Tell us about your film Singye?
Sangay Tsheltrim: Singye, is an action-drama movie where we showcase the heroism of the Royal Bhutan Police and their service to the Nation. I don’t want to reveal much about the movie at this point in time.
The Moviean: How did Singye happen?
Sangay Tsheltrim: A Few years back, my friend Mr Paljor Gyabak, Co-producer and Mr Sonam Dorji, the Director, of Singye, approached me to act in an action movie. I was very busy with my bodybuilding career then, but I gave them my word that once I am done with it I will definitely pick up acting. So, after the international championship in 2017, I decided to hang up my posing trunk and started working on this film.
The Moviean: How did you prepare for your role in this action film?
Sangay Tsheltrim: I learned Taekwondo as a kid and I used to be a boxer during my cadet days at the National Defense Academy. So coming from the military background where it is compulsory to go through combat training, it gave me an edge. But as I had put on a lot of muscle mass as a bodybuilder, I had to train for 16 weeks to get leaner and regain my flexibility. I also had to go on cutting my diet plan to get ripped. I had to be very careful, as I am well known for my bodybuilding, I didn’t want to mess up with my body.
The Moviean: Any major obstacles faced while filming?
Sangay Tsheltrim: The only obstacle I personally faced was that we didn’t have an action director nor a professional action choreographer. We also didn’t use many props for fights.
While shooting I got injured a couple of times. My first injury during the shoot was when I got hit in my right eye. Another time, in a fight scene where a tube light breaks on my bare back, I got a bad cut on my back. These were minor injuries for me and I thoroughly enjoyed each and every moment of our action scenes. Now when I watch them I get so much satisfaction and it was all worth it.
The Moviean: Tell us about the real Sangay. How are you in person, what do you do when you are not shooting?
Sangay Tsheltrim: I am a soldier so I live a very disciplined life. When I take up any task I need to do it perfectly and dedicate myself wholeheartedly.
At present, on professional front, I am engaged in a real estate project where I am building over hundred flats in the capital city. I also have a SsangYong Vehicle distributorship in Bhutan. On top of all that I own the Muscle Factory gym in Bhutan. I’m in the process of creating the biggest fitness centre in the country called the Big Muscle Factory which should be completed by the end of this year.
As for my daily routine goes I wake up at 6 am and I go for my morning cardio to the gym. After breakfast, I go to my project site and I spend my day there. Around 5 pm I hit the gym for my workout and then I get back home and spend my time with my wife and family. I don’t go out nor socialize much.
The Moviean: Tell us about your journey from a military officer to a bodybuilder, an entrepreneur and now as an actor.
Sangay Tsheltrim: I spent almost 6 years in India that’s why I always tell my Indian brothers that I am quarter Indian and I am closely bonded to Bharat Mata. I did my three years training from the National Defense Academy in Pune and then one year in Indian Military Academy in Dehradun. Did my commando course from Belgaum and Young Officer course from Mhow in Indoor. I passed out from my academy with distinction and I topped my courses here in Bhutan as an officer. I was also awarded merit certificate from the Young Officers course in India. I then went onto serve in the Royal Bhutan Army for 2 and half years and then was selected in the Royal Body Guards to serve His Majesty the King and the members of the Royal Family. I had the honour to serve His Royal Highness, the Prince Dasho Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck as his ADC and Personal Security Officer.
I always had a dream to build a good body since my childhood days. I started lifting weights when I was in NDA. With the blessings from His Royal Highness, I got an opportunity to take part in the National Championships in 2012 where I stood 4th in overall. I had a dream to get a medal for my country on an international platform. For that, I thought over 100 times and finally decided to sacrifice the most precious career in my country and resigned in 2013. In 2014 I won the first Bronze Medal in Asian Championship, Macau. In 2015, I won Gold and a Silver from Uzbekistan and in 2016, I won Gold and Bronze in Bhutan for the Asian Championship.
Coming from a Military background one thing was very clear, nothing is impossible. I found out that if you have a dream, work for it and dedicate yourself 101%, one day you will achieve it. I use all my military principles now with my work and whatever I do. Discipline, dedication, hard work, punctuality, command, and control are few basics principles that I use as an actor or a businessman or an athlete.
The Moviean: As an actor do you carry the baggage of being a bodybuilder?
Sangay Tsheltrim: Rather than baggage, I would say I carry a lot of asset as a bodybuilder and a former soldier.
The Moviean: How was it working with Anoop, who has worked in Bollywood commercial films and South Indian language films? What’s your equation with him?
Sangay Tsheltrim: As a Bhutanese, I feel really happy working with Anoop. I learned a lot of positive things from him as I am new to this field and he has been acting in films and television for quite sometime. He is a very dedicated, hardworking and upcoming actor in India. I know he will do great in Bollywood soon. Anoop and I are very good friends and we have great bonding as both of us won medals in the same category in 2015 in Uzbekistan. I got silver and he got bronze and the same year he won Mr World in Bangkok. Since then we kept in touch and we had a great time in Bhutan. Now we are brothers and he is coming for the premiere with his parents to Thimphu.
The Moviean: You have been barred by Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC) for life from representing the country in any international and national competitions associated with BOC and Bhutan Bodybuilding Association.
Sangay Tsheltrim: The lifetime ban has no effect on me at all as I had already retired when they gave me the lifetime ban. The reason is very silly and I feel it is not worth discussing.
The Moviean: Who do you want to work with, in the future- both director and actor?
Sangay Tsheltrim: Bhutanese films are really coming up. Every year we see the standard going up. The taste of the audience is changing with time so is the quality of the movie, setting new standards. We have great talents in Bhutan. A lot of young and talented actors are entering the film industry.
In Bhutan, I will only work with my present director Sonam Dorji and the Director Of Photography Biplab Doley not because I don’t like the other directors and DOPs. It’s just that our taste is similar and we gel together very well.
Infact, if I get an offer in India I would love to try because I can speak very fluent Hindi. It is my dream to work with few Bollywood stars especially Salman Khan as he is my favourite actor since my childhood.
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