(Actor Jatin Sarna plays Yashpal Sharma in the upcoming Kabir Khan directorial “83”. The actor recalls meeting Sharma, who was part of the Indian cricket team’s 1983 World Cup win, and how he picked up nuances of portraying the late batsman who passed away on Tuesday)
BY JATIN SARNA
I met Yashpal sir for the first time in Dharamshala, I recall clearly. I was sitting in a restaurant with glass walls and he was sitting outdoors having dinner.
It was my turn to know about Yashpal sir and when I met him, he was very cool. That evening, I just silently observed him. The way he talks and walks. The next day we went for practice and he started teaching me his batting style and how he played his shots.
I had questions about how he played and what the time was like back then. He told me that they were focused on winning and everything fell in place. I met him before leaving for London, and had a meeting that lasted for two to three hours. We had a long discussion on how the camaraderie of the team was back then, and how the team bonded, how they played pranks on each other!
One thing I remember clearly — and I relate with it too — is that after the 1979 World Cup, which he played, he was dropped. When he was selected for the 1983 squad, he said, ‘I was prepared to just show the world that I am a very good batsman and I can do that’. He had that belief in himself. Woh hi hua (that’s what happened) — he became Man of the Match in the first match against the giants, West Indies.
He was very cool and it was a responsibility for me that I cannot let him down.
More than anything, I am sad and disheartened. These are only two words I can associate with right now. I was not expecting this. I had the responsibility of performing well earlier as well but now it is my responsibility to put him back on the map. He is way bigger than me but it’s my responsibility because people will go to the cinema hall to see him.
Lately, people have known him as an expert and commentator but no one knows him as a sportsperson because there are only two or three tapes of the matches in his career where he can be seen playing those shots.
More than anyone, I wanted to see this film with him and his family. I wanted to see his reactions. He was very much into it. We would share messages and he would ask about the film, and I used to feel pumped up seeing his enthusiasm. It’s really sad. I will be missing him in this project. It’s not about me playing the character. It was about him watching himself on the big screen. I am so disheartened and I feel bad that he is no more with us to see his story on the screen.
(As told to Yashika Mathur)