Mohammad Azharuddinn may be known for his exemplary cricketing skills, but it was a big challenge for actor Emraan Hashmi to depict the former Indian cricketer's personal life in the upcoming biopic 'Azhar'.
Emraan Hashmi. Pic/Santa Banta
Directed by Tony D'Souza, the movie is based on the life Azharuddin, who was implicated in a cricket match-fixing scandal in 2000, and banned by BCCI for life. In 2012, however, the Andhra Pradesh High Court lifted the ban, describing it as "unsustainable".
Emraan said meeting Azharuddin up close and personal gave him "new dimensions" about Azhar's life, including the tragic death of the cricketer's son. "There have been new dimensions that I came across once I started talking and understanding his personal experiences. Not just about his cricketing career, ups and downs, but things like losing his son," Emraan told PTI.
"He was fighting a court case for 12 years and just when he was about to win it, he lost his son. Portraying his personal journey as accurately as I could was challenging," the actor said.
The "Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai" star underwent a rigorous three-hour training session every morning to get the body language of a cricketer right. Emraan, 37, trained with Azharuddin for nearly three months, playing as many as 150 balls everyday which, according to him, was "almost like a match".
"I am not much of a cricketer, so portraying that on screen was a huge task. I trained with Azhar bhai for three months. We used to train three hours every morning, I used to have 150 balls chucked at me, that is almost like a match. It was just to get the form right," he said. "Azhar" also stars Nargis Fakhri reprising actress
Sangeeta Bijlani, who was married to the former cricketer until their divorce in 2010, Prachi Desai, portraying his first wife Naureen, and Lara Dutta who plays a lawyer.
Emraan is aware that the film, which is scheduled to release on May 13, might evoke extreme reactions owing to the controversial life of Azharuddin. "I am prepared for it, because when you are portraying someone's life on screen, everyone has their own interpretation of it.
"You can never always accurately depict someone's life. You can do it through someone's perception, like this (film) is my perception of how I see Azhar bhai," he said. The "Jannat" actor insists that even though the film is based on a real person, it is not a 'docu-drama' and they have tweaked a few things to retain essence of a Hindi movie.
"For screen, it is important to slightly change and tweak things for dramatic effects. Some might not see it as 100 per cent accurate, but we are okay with it because it's not a docu-drama, it is a Hindi film," he said.
Emraan is now nervous to show the film to Azharuddin, who had seen a rough cut of the movie long back. "Azhar bhai had seen it in the rough edit but not the final copy with background music and other details. I am very nervous and anxious to know what he thinks of the film," he added.