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BAD BOY makes it good

From a teeth-gnashing Bollywood villain, Bob Christo has morphed into a fitness guru



Bob Christo: "I have been practising this great Indian regimen for the past 22 years."

NOW, THIS is one crazy invitation — who would be dumb enough to accept to have brunch with a big, bad man even if it comes with a few laps in the pool and some wholesome yoga instruction thrown in? But Bob Christo, yesteryear's villain in 230 Indian films, is earnest about his invitation. "If you want to see a `good' Bob Christo, just come over to the Golden Palms Spa where I am Director of Health and Fitness!" says the Australia-born hunk.

After his debut in Sanjay Khan's Abdullah where he terrorised viewers as Jalaad the executioner, we've seen him punching and knocking the teeth off hundreds of heroes' sidekicks. Bob can talk about his `fearsome' past with a broad smile, (showing his perfectly maintained set of teeth, by the way) because it all happened by chance.

He started off as a civil engineer. Modelling assignments came next. When he first got an offer in a film, a well-wisher advised him to work on creating sets rather than limit his work to a bit role in a Marlon Brando starrer. "I developed the sets across a river in the Philippines, while Harrison Ford got the small role in the film," he reminisces. Military work and modelling projects took him to Rhodesia, South Africa, and then Muscat. While waiting for his work permit there, the rules required him to be out of the country. "So I looked at the world map, saw Bombay in India, was reminded about the wonderful article in Time Magazine about Bombay's film industry, and thought to myself, why don't I go and see if I can meet the gorgeous Parveen Babi!"

And Fate not only arranged a meeting between Bob and Babi, but also pushed him towards Sanjay Khan. After Abdullah, there was no looking back, and Christo happily showed off his muscles while the Dharmendras and Amitabhs got away with calling him "kuththey, kameene" and much more. But off screen, Bob became a favourite with many of the rich and famous, with his good heart and his expertise in wind surfing, water skiing, and other sports.

"I've always been an athlete," says the lithe Bob who toured Europe on a cycle. "Then films happened. And one day, the stunts, the galloping on horseback and the fight scenes took a toll on me." Bob was down with a slipped disc and his doctor ordered bed rest for two weeks and physiotherapy. "But physiotherapy is 90 per cent yoga, I said, and decided to take to yoga totally. I got myself a master and I have been practising this great Indian regimen for the past 22 years."

So now we know why Golden Palms Spa has entrusted him to teach yoga here. "Health isn't everything, you know," says Bob, "it is the ONLY thing! And I very firmly believe that it is worth sacrificing one hour a day to keep yourself fit." This is the conviction that has brought him to Bangalore, away from his Parsi wife Nargis, and his five grown-up children, the youngest of whom is 22.

The present offer at Golden Palms is specially targeted at women, celebrity or not! For Rs.1000 a day per person, one can have Bob take you through a session of yoga, then follow it up with some rejuvenating laps in the pool and finally have him talk to you about all things pleasant and healthy.

Bob sees no reason why people should complain about the lack of time for exercise. "If you can't find time to do something that is going to keep you fit, you definitely need to change your lifestyle," he remarks. He should know — he changed his hectic schedule as a much sought-after villain, and today he conducts stress management sessions at the spa.

The `villain' has taken on a permanent role as a do-gooder, as one who promotes the benefits of meditation and exercise. But what about `good' roles in films, I ask him. "A duo from London did produce a film with me in the role of a priest! But I don't think the film has been shown!"

To know more about Bob Christo's work, call Golden Palms Spa on 23712222.

MALA KUMAR

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