All set to see the Box Office result of his debut film, Leander says that he’s ready to take the bouquets and brickbats head on. “I respect the visibility that the big screen gives. I understand that the number of people I can touch and motivate is multiple folds as an actor than as a tennis player,” says Lee. In a candid chat with CS, Leander speaks about making this transition:
Starting from scratch for tennis was scary. This is not scary because there’s no stress. Now I’m a world class accomplished professional in one department. When I was a kid, I had to earn my dal chawal. Now today if it’s not this film, then there will be a next and a next after that. I’m coming to this business as a lambi race ka ghoda. There are two things at play here. The first is the Box Office reaction. The other is the transition and creation of Leander into an actor.
League of extraordinary men
I’ve been very blessed to have parents like I do. I have a young daughter who loves me immensely. To them, I have a responsibility to live my life purely. I’m also very fortunate that my first career as an athlete has garnered so much respect. When you look at a few of us — whether it’s Sachin Tendulkar, Vishawanathan Anand, or myself the three of us are in a bit of a league of our own. The fact that we all started about the same time in the late 80s and early 90s, the fact that we excelled to that level in our world professions and the fact that we’re still continuing at our age, is something that has earned us so much reverence. So now I can come into a creative line and take my risks. I’m very happy to accept the brickbats and appreciation straight on. My ranking in the world changes every Monday, now my ranking as an actor will change every Friday.
The first offer I ever got for a film was in 1996. I had just come back from winning the Olympic medal and two days after returning, I was offered a film to play the lead in a rags-to-riches story of a lower middleclass boy, who climbs the ladder of life to play for his flag and eventually wins a medal at Olympics. Since then, I have been offered to act in the Hindi version of Tin Cup and The Natural and many others. I’m open to any genre of films, but the only criteria is that it has to challenge me as an actor.