The actor plays the former cricketer from the World Cup team of India in the Kabir Khan directorial 83, alongside Ranveer Singh. The film releases in theatres on December 24
Actor Dinker Sharma, who will be seen playing the role of the former cricketer Kirti Azad in the upcoming film 83 alongside Ranveer Singh, says the film is all about reliving the celebration of India's win in the World Cup in 1983. The celebration, which went on for months, had brought people from all walks of life together and according to him, the film represents that celebration, love and happiness. In an exclusive interview with OTTplay, the actor spoke about the film, the story behind his audition, training by Kirti Azad and all the fun they had on the sets of the movie.
The Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar actor believes the film 83 is a once a lifetime opportunity for him and it cannot happen again. "All the players in the world cup team are legendary. They were underdogs and nobody took them seriously until the win, which brought India on the world map. I am extremely happy that I got to play one of those legendary players, Kirti Azad," he says, adding that at the same time, he was nervous too since he had to look like the players of international standard from 40 years ago.
The actor has been an all-rounder and a medium pace bowler during his teens. He has played in the under 15 for Gurgaon and represented the team at the district level too. But he says it was still a challenge to get into the shoes of Kirti Azad, who is credited for taking the wicket of most dangerous player Ian Botham that led to India winning the semi-finals against England. Azad was a fast pace bowler and an aggressive batsman. Dinker says he had to unlearn everything that he had learned during his research to pick up his style. "His bowling and batting styles are completely different. He has a peculiar way of bowling," he says, adding that he also got to hear a lot of stories from the cricketer-turned-politician Azad and Balwinder Sandhu.
Dinker reveals that Azad still plays cricket but not as much as he would like to as he is busy with his political career. Speaking about Azad and how he was all nostalgic while training him in the game, Dinker says, "He told me he used to run every day around India Gate in Delhi. He was always on time. He told me stories about other players and their way of playing the sport. We also spoke a lot about that one ball that changed the game for India and how he took the most priced wicket of Ian Botham. He was very happy to be on the sets in Mumbai and train." Ask if he played a match against him and he says, "I didn't play a game with him but I watched him play. But that's a good idea. I would love to take up a challenge against him and invite him for a match. That's a good idea even though I am sure he is going to thrash me." (laughs)
But there is also a story behind his audition. Dinker was earlier not considered as the makers felt he didn't look like any of the players from the world cup team. He says, "I had visited the office of Mukesh Chhabra (casting director of 83). They had a poster of all the players in their office and he said he is looking for actors who could resemble the players. He didn't think I could. He asked me to refer someone who could look like any of the players from the team. I then got a call after six months since that meeting and said they would like to try me out for Kirti Azad. I did a bit of makeup and hair and prepared a few lines from one of his speeches. I gave the audition and they then took me to the ground. It was a good day of my life and it all worked in my favour."
Though there was all the training and hard work, Dinker says they had a blast on the sets. "Ranveer, despite being a megastar, is so friendly and makes you feel comfortable. He is very motivating and hardworking. His energy is infectious. While our training in Dharamshala, we both had to get leaner and he encouraged me as well saying, 'let's go out there and become lean beasts.' I still remember that line," he says, adding that not just Ranveer but everyone on the sets was friendly, joyous and full of life. We all had such a great time. It was so much fun. We had a blast," he says.
Dinker Sharma has worked mainly on independent cinema and now wishes to maintain a balance between independent and mainstream cinema. An FTII pass-out, he is fascinated by the 'Bombay Industry' and says he would like to offer his services in the industry, irrespective of the medium.
The film 83, directed by Kabir Khan, will release on December 24 in theatres.