The story of India's first cricket World Cup win in 1983 is very crafted by Kabir Khan as per Saqib Saleem portraying the part of Mohinder Amarnath in the film.
Saqib has been very emotionally linked to film and post the screening of the film he was seen getting teary-eyed. After the screening, Mohinder Amarnath himself turned up to the actor and praised him while placing his lucky scarf in his pocket.
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He captioned the video, " The biggest validation I could have asked for . To get the red handkerchief from the legend himself after he saw the film .
Thank you Jimmy Sir for letting me in your life and thank you to my director @kabirkhankk for believing in me that I could be his Jimmy. ❤️"
Talking about his character Saqib said that the most challenging part of the role was to get the ‘cracking the Jimmy smile’ of Mohinder Amarnath right. He said getting into the skin of Icon was really challenging and to get his energy right was another difficulty. He said, “I’m a very hyperactive, talkative person. Jimmy sir is the opposite of that. He just speaks one line. So to hold that energy inside me took a while.”
He continued, “It is not just about holding a bat and a ball. It is about understanding the man’s mindset. Mohinder Amarnath comes from a cricketing family. Of course, I knew about cricket, but first I had to read about him a lot. I was fortunate enough to get to spend about a month with him in person. With such legends around me, I was like a cricket fan on set.”
While growing up Saqib himself was a cricketer, which is why he actually had to ‘Sell himself’ to the director Kabir Khan, to audition for the film.
The actor recalled the time when he read about the film being made on India’s 1983 Cricket World Cup win. He read about the film in a newspaper with KapilDev’srole to be played by Ranveer Singh.
While thinking about the film, Saqib wondered who is playing the part of Mohinder Amarnath, the vice-captain of the 1983 cricket team and also the Man of the Match in the finale. He said, “They were still open for casting. I went and met Kabir sir. In fact, I sold myself to him saying ‘Sir I play good cricket. Please audition me once.’ He screen-tested me and saw my cricketing skills. Thankfully my Under-19 cricketing days helped me. That’s how 83 happened.”
As per Saqib the foremost requirement and instruction by the director Kabir Khan were to look like the cricketers. He continued saying, “He didn’t care if the camera was on us or not. We were playing a cricket match, we were sportsperson so we had to get that body language right. The journey has been so instrumental in making us these characters”.
To get the skills right actor had to practice for eight hours a day along with his other co-stars. The cast of the film came in close-knit as they stayed together for months.
It was like an extended school vacation for the film’s team as the director went into the tiniest detail of the film. He said, “You can take screengrabs from the trailer, and match it with the actual footage that is available online. That’s the amount of detailing Kabir Khan has put into this. Everybody wanted to put their best foot forward. So that makes even you want to try harder. Everybody was motivating one another. We used to eat together, sleep together, party together, practice together. After a point, it was like an extended school vacation.”
According to Saqib, the film has been written very well, giving a chance to each and every character to shine in the sports drama.
The whole shoot journey of the film was quoted by him as a story of “a bunch of boys becoming men” on the cricket field. He added, “And that’s actually what happened with all of us too. When we went to London, we were so excited. By the time we came back, we were a calm bunch.”
Speaking about Kapil Dev’s role i.e Ranveer Singh, Saqib mentioned him as the anchor of the ship.
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He said, “He opens his arms so wide, that all ten of us can hug him. He has so much love in him. It was a difficult film because there were days when you had nothing to shoot but you had to be on set standing as the third man. We all had a lot of downtimes, but Ranveer made sure everybody was up and had energy. He’d put his arm around that guy, have coffee with him, sit with him, chat with him about anything else but the film. On one side he had to carry the responsibility of being Kapil Dev, and then he’d genuinely become the captain of the team. He does it very seamlessly.”
It was the first time that Kabir Khan was directing a sports film. In his direction, Saqib referred to him as the most prepared man, who never over instructed or under instructed his actors.
As of now, the film is receiving a positive response and it is just a day away from its theatrical release.