Mumbai: Actor Tahir Raj Bhasin essays legendary batsman Sunil Gavaskar in Kabir Khans upcoming "83", which narrates the story of India's first cricket World Cup win in 1983. The 32-year-old actor is thrilled to have got a chance to meet the man himself when the unit was shooting in London. He recalled how he had his batting stance approved by the legend.
"We were shooting in London and he was doing commentary for the recent World Cup. I met him at that time. We had a very interesting conversation -- in fact, we spoke for about two to three hours. I remember asking him, 'Sir, why does everyone talk about your walk? You had a swag when you walked in to bat!' He replied, 'I used to open for India and West Indies was the strongest opposition. When I used to see their players on the field -- who were as tall as six-foot-two six-foot-four, I wanted to have my presence felt. So, that (walking with swag) was just to show them how confident India is. At that point, I was representing the country's feeling," Tahir told IANS.
He added: "That's an amazing philosophy, not only for sports but also in life. How you carry yourself is how people perceive you. I have completely retained that swag in the film. How he sits or how he walks into the field -- you are going to see a lot of Gavaskar's attitude in that."
However, Tahir's meeting with Gavaskar did not end only with a conversation. The batting legend observed the actor's batting stance as he wanted to see if the latter was getting it right. Tahir shared: "He wanted to see how I was holding the bat. He okayed and approved my stance."
The actor added: "Very rarely it happens that the character you are playing is so interested in observing how you do it. I feel really lucky!"
Tahir feels it is a big responsibility to play an iconic character like Sunil Gavaskar. He expressed: "It's a big responsibility to play an icon like Sunil Gavaskar. When you are doing a film about real people, you don't have a lot of manoeuvrability when it comes to how much you can add by way of imagination. You have to replicate what they were like. What you can add to it is your version of it. So, there will be a little bit of Tahir in the Gavaskar you see."
Talking about how he prepared for the role, the actor said: "A lot of the preparation went into the theoretical aspect. I read his biographies to know about his life, his journey, his schooling, the tournaments he played, his relationship with other players. I have watched video interviews to follow the style in which he speaks. I have seen videos of matches to follow how he walked into the field, how he would stand with the bat. So much of it is going to be about body language. If someone who knows cricket and knows what Sunil Gavaskar was like, doesn't feel that I am at least 90 per cent close to what he was like, then it won't work. So, it is important to get the physicality right."
Apart from playing a cricketer in "83", Tahir Raj Bhasin had to undergo a few months' training in sports also for his role in the recently-released flick "Chhichhore".
Sharing, how these roles have changed his definition of fitness and perception towards sportsmen, the actor said: "Two things have changed. One is my definition of fitness. Before this, I only used to go to the gym, which is important for an actor because you have to look a particular way. But I realised that when you are truly fit, then you have endurance, stamina, you can run, you are flexible. So, my entire routine has changed. I have started running, doing athletics and yoga.
"The second thing is that my respect has gone up for people committed to sports. Every time a medal is won on the national or international platform, our country really enjoys winners but we don't appreciate the effort that goes into creating winners. I have started to acknowledge and appreciate the effort that sportspeople put into the discipline," he added.
"83" directed by Kabir Khan recently finished its London schedule. The film is currently on the floors in Mumbai. It stars Ranveer Singh as Kapil Dev, the captain of the Cup-winning squad. Deepika Padukone plays Kapil's wife Romi Dev.