New Delhi: Actor Saqib Saleem knows the responsibility he shoulders while essaying Mohinder Amarnath, in a film about the 1983 cricket World Cup. He recalls being edgy before he started the film, adding that he spent a lot of time with the legendary cricketer to prepare for his role.
Saleem plays Amarnath in “83”, Kabir Khan’s Bollywood tribute to Indian cricket’s first ever World Cup victory that casts Ranveer Singh as the team captain Kapil Dev. Amarnath, popular as Jimmy among friends and fans, was the star of India’s 1983 World Cup campaign. He won Man of the Match titles in the final as well as the semifinal.
“Before every film there is an immense self doubt, and when you are playing a real-life character you just have to try and be as close to him so that when the people watch the film they get a glimpse of the guy. I was very edgy before I started the film. I have just been fortunate. I got to play him and I got to spend time — a lot of time — with him,” Saqib said.
He added: “I have had enough lunches with him, whether in Dharamshala or London or in Bombay. He came to help me train in cricket. I’ve spoken to him about his life and experiences, and what he was thinking at that time, also about the relationship he shared with his father. He opened up to me and I realized he is just a fantastic human being.”
He may have been nervous before shoot, but Saqib says he did not take any pressure once filming started. “Now I hope when the film comes out, people will see a bit of Jimmy Amarnath in me. The would make me really happy,” he said.
“83” was originally scheduled to hit the screens in April, but the film has been pushed to Christmas owing to the Covid outbreak.
Was he disappointed on learning that the film’s release has been pushed? “…100 per cent! I am very excited about this film. The disappointment didn’t last for more than 10 days, though. One realized the world is going through a lot more at this point,” he said.
“Yes, the film is important to all of us who worked on it and to those who really want to watch it, but then there are a lot of people going through a tough time. The world is going through a tough time. The world needs healing right now,” he said.
Directed by Kabir Khan, “83” also features Tahir Raj Bhasin, Pankaj Tripathi, Boman Irani, Harrdy Sandhu, Ammy Virk, Jiiva, Sahil Khattar, Chirag Patil and Adinath Kothare in key roles, along with Deepika Padukone as Kapil’s wife Romi Dev.