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'I have never watched cricket'

By SAMEENA RAZZAQ
December 16, 2021 12:28 IST
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'I was seven years old in 1983. I never heard about the historic win because we did not have a radio set in our village at that time.'

Photograph: Kind courtesy Pankaj Tripathi/Twitter

Pankaj Tripathi plays a character not many people know had an important role in the historic 1983 World Cup win.

P R Man Singh was a 'one-man army' -- coach, manager and physiotherapist of India's World Cup team.

Tripathi met Mr Man Singh to prepare for the role in Kabir Khan's '83 -- set to release on December 24 -- and came away impressed.

But the film means way more to him.

"We met Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar,Krishnamachari Srikkanth and Mohinder Amarnath. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would meet these people in my life," he tells Rediff.com Contributor Sameena Razzaq.

'83 takes us back to that historic moment. How does it feel going back in time and relive history?

Reliving that history was an emotional ride for us.

When we were in that same dressing room at the Lord's cricket ground, standing in the same balcony watching the game, it was a surreal experience.

Even when our team would leave to play shots in the ground, we felt that things would have unfolded in the same manner in the 1983 World Cup as well.

I sometimes used to sleep on the ground. It is such a beautiful ground.

We shot the matches in almost all the stadiums where the actual matches of the 193 World Cup took place.

Man Singh is like a confidante, mentor for Kapil Dev. Can we say he made Kapil believe to an extent that he could achieve the impossible?

Among 14 players, Manbhai is an unique individual, who had gone with Team India for the World Cup. He was the coach, manager, physiotherapist all rolled into one.

So the responsibility rested on him.

Everybody knows about the team's contribution because they were the players and the media would talk about them. But nobody knows about Man Singh's contribution.

Manbhai was behind the camera.

He was a one-man show and a one-man army.

He would look after all the requirements of the team and boost their morale.

Did you meet Man Singh to prep for this role?

Before getting into this character, I had gone to Hyderabad to meet the real Man Singh.

I spent the whole day with him. We had lunch together. Interacting with him on a close level was a special experience.

Interestingly, he has a personal cricket museum on the third floor of his house, which has rare items on cricket from all over the world. I enjoyed seeing all that.

Do you think Man Singh's character will leave an impact like all the other characters you have played so far?

I think it will create an impact. This film will reveal Man Singh's contribution and his uniqueness.

I jumped in excitement when this story was narrated to me. I thought why wasn't a film made on this brilliant story earlier?

Why did we wait all these years to make a film on the historic 1983 World Cup win?

I was extremely happy with my role as my age group fit Man Singh's character.

I obviously could not have passed off as a player because all the players were under 30 at that time.

Even if I was asked to select a part, I would have chosen to play Man Singh's character. It is so powerful.

Are you a cricket fan?

No, I have never watched cricket.

I started listening to cricket commentary on the radio after 1988-1989.

I was seven years old in 1983. I had never heard about the historic win, simply because we did not have a radio set in our village at that time.

What does this film mean to you?

We have recreated history through this film. I hope it will create cinematic history as well.

When we were filming the final trophy sequence at the Lords, Clive Lloyd (who captained the 1975 and 1979 World Cup winning West Indian teams as well as the West Indian team who India defeated in the 1983 World Cup final) had come to watch the shoot. All our players had become emotional then.

Also, we met players Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Krishnamachari Srikkanth and Mohinder Amarnath. I had never thought in my wildest dreams that I would meet these people in my life.

Destiny has sent me in the film world and given me this film. Its just brilliant I got to witness all this.

 

Photograph: Kind courtesy Pankaj Tripathi/Twitter

What was your reaction when Kabir Khan narrated the film to you?

When Kabir sir was narrating this story to me, I jumped with excitement.

He had a lot of research papers. I got to hear a lot of new information from that period.

Today's generation has no idea how cricket was during that time.

There were no attendants. All the players had to carry their own luggage.

I heard you get annoyed when your co-stars insist on retakes. Is this true?

I personally don't like to ask for a retake, but there are lot of instances when we had to do retakes.

I don't have a problem with retakes. It is our duty to obey the director if he insists on a retake.

We get our money for retakes, not acting (laughs).

My only concern with retakes is how will we know the next take is better than the one we have done?

Photograph: Kind courtesy Pankaj Tripathi/Twitter

Your Sherdil Director Srijit Mukherjee calls you a director's delight. How was your experience of working on the film?

I have come to do good work.

I am lucky and thankful that I am getting to do good films.

I am grateful to the film-makers and audience who have given me so much love.

Sherdil is a good experience. It is based on the man-animal conflict.

Tell us about your other films.

I have a good cameo in Bachchan Pandey. People will like seeing me in that.

OMG: Oh My God 2 is a very sensitive film with a beautiful story. I have always wanted to be a part of this film. It has a conversation on a very vital topic.

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SAMEENA RAZZAQ