Saqib Saleem: Depicting their mannerisms without mocking cricketers was a tightrope walk

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Bollywood actor Saqib Saleem, who played the character of cricketer Mohinder Amarnath in ’83’, says getting the mannerisms and body language of the cricket star right without mocking him was quite a thin line that he had to maintain.

In conversation with IANS, Saqib shares, “When we were starting the film, Kabir told us that every actor has to become them instead of pretending to act like them. So, for me, it was like imbibing Jimmy sir’s body language where I was holding the very essence of how he would move his shoulders, walk on the field etc.

“We cannot change that because those are their signature body language that the world has seen…we can see it on all the footage that are available online. But for me, it was a tight rope to walk where we did those mannerisms without mocking them.”

“Since we were preparing for a year, the body language became my second nature, it was not looking like mocking anymore eventually,” he added.

As the film is based on the victory of the Indian cricket team that won the World Cup 1983 in led by Kapil Dev, the actor shared how it was a moment of nostalgia to watch the film with his father Saleem Qureshi.

Drawing a parallel between real and reel life Saqib said, “You know my father is a huge fan of Mohinder Amarnath. So for me, it was one of those special films where I wanted to impress my father and I wanted him to feel proud of me for my acting. Quite interestingly, Jimmy sir during the World Cup also was trying to impress his father Lalaji with his performance.

“Yes, he came from a privileged background but he was a most responsible and humble man who understood the duty of being the son of an iconic cricketer like Lala Amarnath. He was trying to prove how deserving he is to be an Amarnath.”

Lala Amarnath was the first cricket captain of independent India. He was also the first batsman to score a century in Test cricket for India. Mohindar Amarnath is the son of Lala Amarnath.

Asked about what was his understanding of Mohindar as a personality and Saqib shared, “I asked him that when he used to face the fast bowling of West Indies cricket greats like Michael Holding, Malcolm Marshall, Andy Roberts, what was going on in his head? Jimmy sir laughed and replied, ‘Beta uss time pe agar zyada dimaag chalate na, to ball saar pe lag ke wahin khatam ho jaate…we were just doing our basics right. That is it, it was all about those few seconds in between and your reflexes.”

Directed by Kabir Khan, ’83’ released in theatres on Friday.

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