Cricketers in Films!

By Nikhil Ramsubramaniam, Bollywood Hungama News Network

Bollywood is surely making its way felt in the world of cricket, what with top stars like SRK, Akshay Kumar, Hrithik Roshan, Preity Zinta and Juhi Chawla going all out to promote cricketing world’s latest extravaganza IPL.

While cricket is considered to be a religion in India, the craze for the silver-screen stars and the fan following which they enjoy is also not far behind. In fact this very sangam of the cricketing world and showbiz is among the biggest draws of IPL.

While the who’s who of Bollywood is now seen on the cricket field cheering their favorite teams, not so long ago, we even had a kind of role-reversal where some of our past and current cricketers tried their hand at acting. While few of them did generate some curiosity pre-release, most failed to create any impact once the film released. With cricket indeed being the flavor of the season Bollywood Hungama looks at some cricketers who have been bitten by the Bollywood bug.

Ajay Jadeja: This good-looking cricketer had a good career going for him until he got embroiled in the match-fixing controversy along with Azharuddin, Manoj Prabhakar and some others. Making a comeback after that was always going to be a Herculean task and hence the flamboyant all-rounder decided to put his good looks to use and try his hand at acting. He debuted in Khel along side Sunil Shetty, Celina Jaitley and Sunny Deol. The movie sank without a trace and Ajay soon realized ki, ‘filmy hero banna har kisi ka khel nahin’

Vinod Kambli: This left-handed batsman from Mumbai didn’t really have a flourishing career as a cricketer. He is still known for crying and leaving the field at Eden Gardens when India lost the 1996 World Cup semi-final against Sri Lanka. After his not so impressive histrionics on the cricket field, not many jumped with joy when they heard that he was planning to star in a Bollywood potboiler. In fact, many even warned him Yeh kadam mat uthao Kambli, warna ‘Annarth’ ho jayega’. Kambli went ahead and starred in a B-grade masala film called Annarth alongside Sunil Shetty, Preeti Jhangiani etc. and as you must have known by now Annarth ho hi gaya.

Salil Ankola: This handsome cricketer from Mumbai did fulfill his dream of playing for India but only in one single test match and a handful of O.D.I's. Soon like many others his form wasn't all that great to cement a place in the national side and before you knew it he started donning the greasepaint. Salil appeared in a handful of films like the Sanjay Dutt starrer Kurukshetra, Pitaah and even Zayed Khan's debut film Chura Liyaa Hai Tumne. While none of these films created history at the box-office, Salil did the smart thing and focused his attention on the small screen. He even achieved good amount of success on T.V. in serials like Chahat aur Nafrat, Kora Kaagaz and Khaki

Men in Blue : Sajid Nadiadwala's Mujhse Shaadi Karogi was a love triangle starring Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra, and Akshay Kumar. However the film's climax shot in a cricket stadium had some of our 'Men in Blue' making a collective appearance. So you had all-rounder Irfan Pathan, 'Turbanator'-Harbhajan Singh, baby faced Parthiv Patel, fielder par excellence Mohd. Kaif, Javagal Srinath, and even tall and lanky Delhi pace bowler Ashish Nehra all cheering Salman Khan as he tries to woo his girl. While the few seconds didn't really demand any acting histrionics, Irfan looked quite the chocolate boy on screen that he is made out to be. Yes and by the way, TV's very own Comedy Baadshah Navjot Singh Siddhu was also seen in a fleeting appearance in the same flick playing a commentator. Oh and in case, you are still interested Kapil Dev also made an appearance in this film. Must say this film truly was a sangam of Bollywood and cricket.

Sunil Gavaskar:Sunil Gavaskar first debuted in a Marathi film called Savli Premachi, which was a disaster at the box-office. Not one to be bogged down by failure he tried his hand again in a Hindi film called Malamaal alongside Naseeruddin Shah. The film wasn't a complete wash-out but Sunny Gavaskar soon realized that acting isn't really his cup of tea, coffee or whatever.

Kapil Dev: India's World Cup wining captain of 1983 is probably one of the most experienced cricketers when it comes to acting in front of the camera. Unlike others like Ajay Jadeja and Vinod Kambli he played it safe and usually played himself on screen. Thus you had Kapil Dev- the cricketer making an appearance in films like Stumped, Iqbal and Aryan- The Unbreakable. He was last seen in the Rahul Bose starrer Chain Kulii Ki Main Kulii where much of the story revolved around his famous World Cup winning bat.

Mohsin Khan: While we have spoken of many Indian cricketers who starred in Hindi films, this one is from across the border. Mohsin Khan, the flamboyant Pakistani opening batsmen was regarded as a great find of Pakistani cricket. But just at the peak of his cricketing career, Mohsin got attracted to the glitz and glamour of showbiz and put cricket on the backburner. He debuted with J.P.Dutta's Batwara, and later went on to star in movies like Saathi, Fateh and Madam X. He even had a fling with Bollywood actress Reena Roy whom he later married and later divorced.

This is just a few of the instances where cricketers have been bitten by the Bollywood bug. While the trend started nearly 25 years ago, when hard hitting Indian batsman Salim Durrani starred in Charitra (1973) alongside late Parveen Babi it continues even today (2008) when you have many players from the Indian team like R.P.Singh, Praveen Kumar, Dinesh Karthik making an appearance in the forthcoming Harman Baweja starrer Victory. What's more giving them company this time will be arch-rivals Aussie cricketers like Brett Lee, Brad Hogg, Stuart Clark and Simon Katich. So now get ready to see some cricketing action not just on the cricket field but also on the silver-screen.

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