Nine times 'sports heroes' trained Bollywood actors for the big screen

Updated: Jan 16, 2017, 16:07 IST | mid-day online correspondent

With sports biopic -- superstar Aamir Khan's 'Dangal' -- ruling at the box office, let's take a look at some sports stars who have mentored Bollywood actors for roles

Sports stars have had a long association with Bollywood. Now, with biopics on sports stars seem to be the flavour of the season in Bollywood, stars of the sporting world are getting more and more involved in B-Town. These real-life heroes spend time with Bollywood stars to make sure the actors are 'fit' and able to suit the role and character they are portraying.

Former India pacer Balwinder Singh Sandhu trained actors Akshay Kumar and Harman Baweja for cricket-based films. 

With Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan's 'Dangal' and Salman Khan's 'Sultan' -- two films on wrestling -- becoming 2016's highest grossing films, let's take a look at some sports stars who have mentored Bollywood actors for roles.

'Dangal' (Kripa Shankar Patel Bishnoi)

Kripa Shankar Patel Bishnoi
Kripa Shankar Patel Bishnoi

Kripa Shankar Patel Bishnoi, an Indian women's wrestling team coach based in Indore has trained Aamir khan and entire crew of Dangal for action sequences featuring wrestling.

40-year-old Bishnoi, who trained Aamir in wrestling for over one and half years, is an Arjun awardee. Bishnoi, who has won a number of medals for India at international competitions, including the Commonwealth Games, was referred to as ‘coach’ on the set.

In an interview, he said that Aamir trained for more than six months before the shoot began and continued training during the shooting. He added, "His schedule was exactly like that of a wrestler’s. If I didn’t like a particular move or he was not satisfied with a shot, he would shoot again till the time it looked perfect."

Bishnoi was approached by Aamir’s production house in March 2015 for the film.

Kripa also trained newcomers Fatima Sana Sheikh and Sanya Malhotra, who play Geeta and Babita in Dangal.

'Sultan' (Jagdish Kaliraman and Palwinder Cheema)

Salman Khan seen lifting both the wrestlers. All Pictures courtesy/Ali Abbas Zafar's Twitter account
Salman Khan seen lifting wrestlers Hind Kesari Jagdish Kaliraman and Hind Kesari Palwinder Cheema at the wrap-up bash of his film, 'Sultan', in Ludhiana. Picture courtesy/Ali Abbas Zafar's Twitter account

National champion Jagdish Kaliraman, 40, the son of famous wrestler Master Chandgi Ram, was the official trainer and coach on Sultan. tasked with making the lead stars Salman Khan and Anushka Sharma “look at ease”.
“It’s important that the stars move beyond their image and look like the character. We were successful in doing that,” says Jagdish, son of legendary wrestler Chandgi Ram Kaliraman.

Anushka Sharma underwent rigorous training for six weeks for her role as a wrestler in 'Sultan'.

His Chandgi Ram Akhara has trained many women wrestlers like Neha Rathi, who won the bronze medal at the 2012 Asian Wrestling Championships, and his sister Sonika Kaliraman, who was the 2003 silver medal winner at junior Asian Games.

Patiala-based Hind Kesari Palwinder Cheema, who is an Arjuna Awardee who won the gold medal in the 2002 Commonwealth Games and silver medals at the Asian Games in 2002 and 2006, was also involved in training both the stars.

'Patiala House' and 'Victory' (Balwinder Singh Sandhu)

Former cricketer Balwinder Singh Sandhu training Akshay Kumar at the PA Mhatre Sports Academy for the 2011 film 'Patiala House'
Former cricketer Balwinder Singh Sandhu training Akshay Kumar at the PA Mhatre Sports Academy for the 2011 film 'Patiala House'

Former Mumbai and India pacer Balwinder Singh Sandhu trained Akshay Kumar for the 2011 film 'Patiala House'.

Training Akshay Kumar for 'Patiala House' (2011) was "easy" for the cricketer-turned-coach, for the actor had a sound understanding of the game.

"He's very much into cricket and a thorough professional. With this heady combination, you have won half the battle. In any case, I don't think it's that difficult for an actor to play any character as they are hard working and have good visualisation skills. I have also trained Harman Baweja for his film and he too proved to be a fast learner. And we are, of course, involved with the screenplay and shoot. For example, I would travel with Akshay and provide him inputs whenever needed. It was a good experience and I would love to be associated with similar Bollywood projects in future," Sandhu, a member of the 1983 World Cup winning side had said in an interview.

In an interview, director Nikhil Advani had said that Akshay was training so diligently and religiously that Balwinder Sandhu even joined him at Malshej Ghat for the shoot of 'Tees Maar Khan'. Sandhu, who coached Akshay for nearly a month, had revealed that the actor got into his cricketing gear and trained whenever he got a break.

Sandhu had also trained actor Harman Baweja for the 2009 film 'Victory'.

'Azhar' (Mohammad Azharuddin)

Mohammad Azharuddin and Emraan Hashmi. Pic/Yogen Shah
Mohammad Azharuddin and Emraan Hashmi. Pic/Yogen Shah 

Former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin trained Emraan Hashmi for the biopic on him. Azharuddin supervised Hashmi's training for batting accuracy and authentic cricketing shots.

The 37-year-old actor has trained extensively to get Azharuddin's signature moves right and Hashmi had long practice sessions with Azharuddin.

Talking about Emraan, Azhar said, "He is very patient and a very good learner. Not many people can learn fast. He wants to learn."

At the teaser launch Emraan said, “There were a lot of challenges (in playing the role). One of them was Azhar had an unconventional batting style, and I had no footwork on that. So Azharbhai started training me.”

'MS Dhoni: The Untold Story' (Kiran More)

Sushant Singh Rajput was mentored by former Indian cricketer Kiran More to do justice to the lead role of MSD in 'MS Dhoni: The Untold Story'. More worked hard to make sure that Sushant got the strokes right as well as the demeanour and disposition.

Sushant reportedly injured his ribs while practicing the cricketer’s signature ‘helicopter’ shot.

A former national selector, More taught Sushant Singh wicket-keeping for the film and they were often spotted practising at Mumbai's Bhavan's College ground in Andheri. Sushant trained with the former Indian wicketkeeper for more than a year for the film.

'Chak De! India' (Mir Ranjan Negi) 

Shah Rukh Khan and former hockey player Mir Ranjan Negi
Shah Rukh Khan and former hockey player Mir Ranjan Negi

Former hockey player Mir Ranjan Negi inspired Shah Rukh Khan's character in 2007 film 'Chak De! India' and helped train the actor and the girls who formed the team as well.

Negi said, "The girls in that film were not professional players, but achieved perfection of sorts by watching videos of hockey players. Shah Rukh, at an individual level, had done a lot of research on my life events and prepared himself by watching my videos and browsing through paper clippings on me. So, that made my job easier as I had to guide him only on the technical aspects."

The filmmakers kept Negi around for inputs while shooting. "I was actively involved in the entire process of filmmaking. I shared my thoughts on all things that mattered, right from the casting to set design and script," he had said in an interview.

'Bhaag Milkha Bhaag' (Milkha Singh - The Flying Sikh)

Milkha Singh and Farhan Akhtar
Milkha Singh and Farhan Akhtar

Farhan Akhtar perfected Milkha Singh's look and demeanour for the Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra film through rigorous physical training over 13 months under the guidance of fitness trainer Samir Jaura.

Farhan had to undergo gruelling physical training guided by Jaura for the role. 

Milkha Singh, 'The Flying Sikh', not only gave all the details of his life to the filmmakers for just Re 1. He also was helped Farhan in preparing for the role including his style of running. 

Farhan also trained with sprint coach Melwin Crasto and ran regularly on the race tracks at St. Stanislaus High School in Bandra, Mumbai. 

'Mary Kom' (Mary Kom)

Mary Kom and Priyanka Chopra
Mary Kom and Priyanka Chopra

Boxing star Mary Kom was on board for her biopic to make sure that it was more credible. "Priyanka used to sit with me and observe how I walked and spoke to get into the skin of the character. And I think she did a brilliant job," the Olympic medal winner had revealed.

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