Balvinder Singh Sandhu and team on the physical prep for Ranveer Singh-starrer '83
Cricket coach Balvinder Singh Sandhu and team on the physical prep that the cast of Ranveer Singh's sports film is undergoing
In the midst of a merciful break that had punctuated their practice session, cast members of Kabir Khan's '83 were summoned by coach Balvinder Singh Sandhu to witness what a ball, hurled at 90 miles per hour, looked like. "I set the bowling machine at the speed and got them to see what that pace looked like. Watching the balls being shot like bullets, they were taken aback. Those were the balls that we [1983 cricket team] faced. They realised the [importance] of portraying people who played to that pace, and were then further determined to up their [act]," says the former cricketer, who has been mentoring the cast for eight months.
Whipping Singh into shape
Then fresh off the shoot of his cop drama, Simmba, leading man Ranveer Singh was way too muscular and heavy to play the quick-footed Kapil Dev. At about 12 kilos more than desired, he had to shed the extra weight, up his lean muscle mass and stamina, and simultaneously participate in sports-specific training that cricket demanded. "When a bowler jumps and lands, there's a back-foot and front-foot impact. To bowl like Kapil, he needed strong legs. We started working on his glute muscles, along with isolated leg-strengthening exercises," says Sandhu, as fitness trainer Rajiv Mehra adds that glute strength plays a vital role in preventing injuries. "When the glutes fire during bowling, the muscles around the hips and knees don't take the load. This helps us keep them injury-free," he says.
Sandhu and Mehra
Coupling their goal of achieving weight loss and enhancing his bowling skills, the duo says a major chunk of his cardiovascular activity was achieved when training on the field. "The groundwork includes a lot of running. We'd begin with a structured warm-up, focusing on technique, and hip, ankle and shoulder mobility exercises. There would be different drills incorporated to suit a cricketer. These included 20 to 30 metre striding, lateral shuffles, step overruns, and also replicating catches. Executing them while paying attention to technique was also challenging. The more Ranveer bowled, the more his muscle-memory developed. On a bad day, he'd bowl 70 to 80 balls. On a good day, it was 150." Given Singh's affection for swimming, a sport least likely to cause injuries, the actor was also put on a regimen accordingly.
Addressing troubled spots
Strength endurance training that includes executing lesser reps of lighter weights helped the team achieve a two-fold effect - It helped Singh reduce the bulk he had acquired for Simmba, and also become agile and faster. "His upper body had to be strengthened to protect the load being put on it. He had tight lat muscles, which needed to be addressed. We began working on his rotator cuff muscles to improve the strength he'd require to bowl. He has been training regularly over the past four weeks. As his fitness level is improving, it is reflecting in his ability to execute the required bowling action," Sandhu says.
The cast and coaches of '83 at Dharamshala
Making him Kapil Dev
With years of experience in training professional athletes, Sandhu and Mehra knew that the task at hand with the cast of '83 was different. Here, their performance on the field didn't matter as much as their ability to ape the players. "Ranveer has a 45-minute bowling component incorporated into his routine and must copy Kapil. We'd take his video from two angles and show him how his hands were moving. We had to then draw parallels with Kapil's movements, and make adjustments accordingly. When he first came, he struggled to bowl. He's not a fast bowler, and we had to make him one of the greatest fast-bowlers we've had. When I saw him bowl for the first time, I said it would be tough." But Singh's drive for perfection has almost become synonymous with the man himself. "When he comes in, others up their [game]. He's full of energy and makes us work harder. If I would have rated him three on 10 at the start, I'd say he's up to an eight now. I knew batting wouldn't be a concern when he played his first pull shot. But, like with all players, we worked on making him mimic the original cricketer."
Building a team
A recently concluded 10-day Dharamshala session was conducted to enable the assorted actors to work together as a team. "Cricketers including Kapil, Madan Lal, Mohinder Amarnath, and Yashpal Sharma came and shared their experiences. That trip made the 14 players a team. They were keen to practice in the world's most beautiful stadium. During the bus rides, Ranveer would start singing, while others would join in. We had many beautiful singers. Then there would be some stand-up comedy [acts]. We achieved more than expected," Sandhu says.
Keeping niggles at bay
Physiotherapist Vaibhav Patil's job began way before the actors complained of injuries. "Our aim was to prevent injuries. These actors had to mimic legends whose actions were unique. There's a lot of change that their bodies had to undergo. Apart from matching the cricketer's size, they had to ace movements that may be at odds with their own natural movement." To keep injuries at bay, Patil began with a screening session that enabled his team to identify each actor's physical follies. "If you know someone has a weak hamstring before the prep, it means that they would be prone to hamstring injuries later. So, from the onset, we'd train that muscle.
Ranveer has a shoulder injury from Padmaavat. In the past, he has had surgery, and a labral tear. So we had to address his needs accordingly with the use of thera-bands and form rolling. Whether or not any actor encountered pain, he had to follow a therapy plan that was catered to his individual needs." Therapy sessions also facilitated specific action. "For instance, Ballu sir would highlight a particular action that he needed of Ranveer that was not emerging. So, I'd design workouts to make that easier for him."
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