Ranveer Singh
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I hope Kapil Dev gives me some training and tips; it'll be fantastic: Ranveer Singh

By HT

Historically, Bollywood film-makers have never been very high on sports. Be it sports in general or real-life sporting heroes/stories in particular, sports films have been few and far between. 
 
But of late, movies such as Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and MS Dhoni: The Untold Story have done extremely well and a number of them are also in various stages of production. In the latest instance, film-maker Kabir Khan and Ranveer Singh have joined hands for a film based on India’s victory at the 1983 Cricket World Cup. HT does an exclusive chat with Ranveer Singh – who plays Kapil Dev in the film – about him playing the ex-Indian captain and more.
 
What was your first reaction when the film was offered to you?
 
I remember when Kabir came to me with the movie, I was like, ‘chalo, it’s great that finally, someone wants – and is planning to – make a mainstream Hindi film on the 1983 World Cup victory. I think since I was born in 1985, I always thought that someone must tell the story of our [world cup] winning story in a sports film.
 
Many also feel it’s a fascinating underdog story. Do you agree?
 
Yes, it is one of the greatest sports stories ever about how a bunch of underdogs – who nobody thought anything of – were banded together, got galvanised by their leader and they went on to win the world cup. It infused the nation with a lot of pride and was clearly a turning point in our sports history. I wasn’t aware that 1983 victory turned the tide because I thought, ‘cricket has always been a huge sport in our country.’
 
You met the 1983 cricket team members at the film launch event. How was it?
 
It was so nice to see them all together and to just feel the vibe, the energy and the sheer bonding between them. They also shared a few great stories and anecdotes. They shared how they had made advance bookings for their holidays [after the world cup] but had to cancel them as they had to play a tournament [after the world cup got over]. They are all great human stories.
 
As an actor, do you already feel a part of that world, especially after meeting them all?
 
I personally feel that the tone for the film was set that day itself. We are happy and blessed that we have got such as opportunity to tell the story of these great sporting heroes. They are amazing people and I am damn happy that a film on this glorious chapter is finally happening. Lastly, I admit it’s an unbelievable feeling that I am playing Kapil Dev. It’s really exciting.
 
You must be looking forward to transform yourself into Kapil Dev…
 
Bas woh bowling action aa jaaye (I wish I get his bowling action correct; smiles). I hope Kapil sir himself gives me some training and tips. It will be absolutely fantastic. It goes without saying that the physical transformation is going to be an important part.
 
The 1983 World Cup victory is possibly India’s most landmark achievement in the world of sports. Do you also think so?
 
Honestly speaking, till the time Kabir told me the story [of the victory], I didn’t know that whatever cricket is today [in India], it’s because of that turning point in our sports history. And [I am sure] there is a whole generation including me, who had no idea about it.
 
It’s believed that when the Indian team landed in England for the 1983 World Cup, they weren’t in contention at all…
 
Yes, and it’s amazing to hear some of the great stories [vis-à-vis the team]. So, they were looked at as a ragtag bunch of guys who nobody believed in and people said all kinds of things such as ‘khelne ka fayda kya hai (there’s no point playing in the tournament) or tum log toh wapas ghar jao (You guys should go back home).’ Coming out victorious after the kinds of things they went through is a great story – with all the anecdotes – of human science and bonding between the team members.
 
As an actor, do you feel great to have got such a special opportunity?
 
An underdog story always touches your heart and this is also a glorious chapter in our sports history, that I am overwhelmed [about such an opportunity]’. A few days back, I was thinking about it in the night and, in fact, sent a message to Madhu Mantena that how lucky we are to have been blessed with this opportunity to be able to tell such as great story. I feel the story is always greater than any individual. Plus, yeh story kamaal hai and that the fact that we have been entrusted with the responsibility to tell it shows how fortunate we are.