Exclusive: Kabir Khan reveals the sentimental side of MS Dhoni in Roar of The Lion

Updated: Mar 20, 2019, 17:57 IST | Gayatri Nirmal

In an exclusive interaction with mid-day.com, Kabir Khan speaks about being associated with Mahendra Singh Dhoni's series, Roar of The Lion, and his upcoming project '83 with Ranveer Singh

Exclusive: Kabir Khan reveals the sentimental side of MS Dhoni in Roar of The Lion
Kabir Khan with MS Dhoni. Picture Courtesy: Instagram/kabirkhankk
Roar of The Lion - a series on Mahendra Singh Dhoni's Indian Premier League team, Chennai Super Kings (CSK), is all set to stream on Hotstar from March 20 onwards. The show has Captain Dhoni sharing his narrative on allegedly being blamed for match-fixing, which led to a disastrous repercussion - a ban of two years for CSK from playing the IPL. Kabir Khan, who is associated with this show as an executive producer, says that this series reflects Dhoni's passion for cricket, and how with the support of his followers, he rebuilt the empire of Chennai Super Kings and bounced back. Khan, who is excited about this series, told mid-day.com that through Roar of The Lion, an unknown, emotional and sentimental side of Dhoni will be unleashed. The filmmaker also spoke about his other project, a film on Kapil Dev and his team's iconic 1983 Cricket World Cup win that features Ranveer Singh as Dev. 

Tell us about your association with Roar of the Lion?
My association is that of a story-teller. When you look at the story of CSK, they are the most successful franchise in IPL. Suddenly, allegations of match-fixing are thrown at them and they get banned for two years. Nobody knew whether they would come back as a team - but they do come back after the allegations are cleared. They built a team, which people laughed at because they thought the team was made up of old people and was called, 'Chennai Senior Kings' and some called it the 'Dad's Army', but yet they came together for the whole journey of 2018.

What was the main objective behind releasing it during the IPL?
I think the timing is great; it's when the interest in IPL is at its peak. Ultimately, as they say, we are just trying to tell a good story, and Mahi (MS Dhoni) is an icon in India. He's a little lucid with the press, he doesn't talk much, and one of the USP's of this show is that he's baring his soul, he's talking about it, and you are actually seeing behind Captain Cool's mask and you see the human being and the emotional side behind it.

Considering the work Dhoni has done at a very young age, there's so much to talk about him. Is this docu-drama only covering this aspect (CSK's career graph) or is it highlighting his personal life too?
It's about Roar of The Lion, it's about CSK. It's about Mahi as the captain of CSK in the frame of the IPL. It's not about Mahi in the Indian National Team.

 
 

Also, there was a film made on him, so what new will Dhoni fans get to see?
It is one of the greatest comeback stories. It was made after the allegations on the team were cleared. it wasn't about the technicalities and legalities. For me, it was about human emotions.

For those who aren't cricket fans, what are the points that will attract the viewers to watch this series?
I often say this is not about cricket, and I got drawn to it not because of cricket, but because of the human story behind it. People often ask me, 'Oh, you are doing two back-to-back projects - Roar of the Lion and '83. Are you now becoming a cricket expert?' No, I am not a cricket expert. In fact, I say that it is great that I am not a cricket expert and I am not a cricket fanatic because I will never get swayed by the cricket in it. For me, it's the story. I am watching it as an audience, who is not interested in cricket, but the story. You can replace cricket with kabaddi, but the story holds, and that's true with this series and '83. It's ultimately the story of the triumph of the human spirit. And, therefore, to answer your question, this series will absolutely attract people because I have approached it in that manner. I have made sure it's not only about cricket but about human emotion.

How much time did it take to complete this project?
This project has been on a very tight schedule, and it's been amazingly pulled off. I thank my huge team that worked on it. To actually finish something on this scale in three months with a number of interviews worldwide, the amount of footage that is available on matches, information and research, kudos to the team that they managed to burn the midnight oil.

Any personal memory associated with cricket?
I like playing the game, watching the game. I am actually a sports fan. All my life, I have been a sportsperson in college, school and even after that. So, there are lots of memories. I think there's no Indian boy or girl who has no memories of cricket associated with them while growing up.

 
Kabir Khan
Kabir Khan shared this picture on his Instagram account
 
What kind of fan following does Dhoni enjoy in Chennai among the masses? Did the team interact with CSK fans?
Yes, we did and we have all that in this series. Dhoni's relationship with his fans of Chennai is a very strong element in this show. He's almost worshipped there, people call him Thalaiva (God). That's what he says in the show that they (fans) never gave up on him. Even after the team was banned and gone for two years, they were there and even when they came back, they always stood by him. And, this is something that he says repeatedly in the show that 'This time it is for the fans' when he is talking about the 2018 win.

Is it a coincidence that '83 and Roar of The Lion both have cricket as its base?
It's a pure coincidence and what has drawn me to them is the story. Had they been two different sports with the same story, I would have still done them. But having done them back-to-back is helping me because the research of one in a certain strange tangent is helping to approach the other one, because at the end of the day you are dealing with icons. Kapil Dev is one of the greatest icons we have had in Indian Cricket, Mahi also is an icon. So, there's some similarity in the energy of a leader and the approach of the leader that has parallels.

Can you tell us something about '83?
We have started prepping and training, but it's a long process. They all have to play very well-known legends onscreen. Ranveer Singh has to bat and bowl like Kapil Dev, and that's not an easy task to accomplish. So, the training is going on, but we will actually start shooting after one or two months.

 
 

Who do you personally support as a cricket fan?
I won't say that I am a die-hard fan of one particular franchise, but I know it sounds a little well-timed and it's cheesy to say that CSK has been one of the teams I support. I think Mahi is an iconic person and I have always followed him. Because I am a fan of Mahi, I guess I follow CSK.

 

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