Dr Nair the dentist can throw a few punches in your face

Dr Nair the dentist can throw a few punches in your face
AUGUST COMPANY: Dr Prashant Nair (second from left) was the first Indian to win a gold in Arnis, the national martial arts of the Philippines, this April in Makati, Philippines

The multitasking dentist can make putty out of thugs, if need be. A martial arts pro, he's also a filmstar -so to speak. And given his day job, if he tells you to floss twice a day, you better listen to him

By James Jose

Published: Sun 14 May 2017, 12:18 AM

Last updated: Mon 15 May 2017, 2:04 AM

In this hustle and bustle of what we call life, deep down inside, somewhere, we always wanted to be that superhero. We marvelled at Batman and Robin, Superman or Spiderman, brought to life on screen by Tobey Maguire. There's that Peter Parker hidden within, waiting to unravel - the next door guy who will go on and save the day. Dubai-based Dr Prashant Nair is living that dream.
An orthodontist by profession, an actor by passion he's the first Indian to win a gold medal in Arnis, also known as Kali, at the International Full Contact Martial Arts Tournament in Makati, Philippines in April. Dr Prashant Nair fought valiantly against competitors from 17 countries to land the gold for the first time in the competition, held under the Filipino Martial Arts Hall of Fame.
The host country's Josh Bilon took the silver, while Finland's Veka Rounevaara had to settle for the bronze. Come to think of it, Arnis is the national martial arts practised in the Philippines and for Nair to conquer that bastion, so to speak, is all the more astonishing and remarkable. And to do that at 46 years of age, even more so. Nair took to Arnis last February and trained under Master Timothy Alfonso, a gold medal winner from Laguna, Philippines, in Dubai. It was intense and no holds barred training with Nair pushed to the limits.
And the results are there for all to see. Nair's first tryst with martial arts was as a five-year-old child when his parents put him in a Kalaripayattu centre, which is the traditional martial arts of Kerala.
Nair was obese at that time but that didn't deter him from practising the sport. Right through the years, he learnt different forms of Martial Arts, during his medical college days in Manipal and during his two-year stint as an assistant professor at the Oklahoma University.
He dabbled in Aikido, Kung Fu, Hapkido, Tang Soo Do before finding his true calling in Arnis. "It involves the body's natural movements and the same movements can be used to fight with a stick, sword, knife or empty-hand. Anybody could learn it fast and you can incorporate it in your already existing fighting system without corrupting it because it is just free movements.
And for every movement, there is a purpose, there is a hidden strike, which will only be explained when you start training for it," says Nair. Over the course of his training, Master Tim was amazed by Nair's adaptability and the severity of his hits and told him to take part in the tournament. "I went there and when I saw a demonstration and was looking at their skills, I was feeling a bit intimidated because these guys have got a lot of experience. But then, I remembered what my teacher said.
He said 'Deep down you are a warrior, a fighter. What you know, you know well. Simple, straight, attack. You know when to maintain distance and when to close distance. Keep this in mind and everything will be ok.' I kept that in mind and went and gave my absolute best," he says. Being a movie buff, Nair took inspiration from movies like Rocky IV, Sultan and Dangal.
He claims to have watched Sultan and Dangal five and three times respectively. "People used to ask me how my preparations were going and I told them I watched Sultan five times and Dangal three times. I think that should take care of my preparation," he laughs. "But actually such movies inspire.
And what I'm trying to do is walk the talk. I don't want to be a guy who says something and does nothing. I just want to do it and if I can do it at my age, then people can do that at any age. That is what I want to prove to people - that you are only limited by your imagination," says Nair. "I believe in the four Ds - that is determination, dedication, discipline and how driven are you for it. And how much desire you have for what you want. If you have these Ds in your life, you can be close to success," he adds. Talking of movies, Nair has done quite a few roles in the South Indian film industry.
He played a neurosurgeon in the Malayalam film Diamond Necklace, a story with Dubai as the backdrop. His other Malayalam film is Kalimannu, where he starred alongside Shweta Menon. Nair has also acted in Tamil films like Thuppaki, where he plays a commando, Arrambam, and Rangoon, which releases next month. So, is Nair, the orthodontist, actor and gold medal winner, a real-reel life hero? "I think everyone is a hero," he says. Next time you are up and about in Deira and want to get dental work as well as inspiration, Dr Prashant Nair is just around the corner.
James lives and breathes sports. When the fancy strikes, he can churn out memorable stories

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