19 Nov

Shikhar Dhawan ‘stronger person, sportsman’ after comeback to Team India

first_imgIndian opener Shikhar Dhawan has been in an exceptional form ever since he made a comeback to Team India.Dhawan scored a total of 338 runs in the five matches of the recently concluded ICC Champions Trophy which included the best score of 125, while in the ongoing series against West Indies, he has smashed 87 and 63 in two appearances.The left-handed batsman said that he worked hard on himself before making a comeback to the Indian team.”Past months were quite unfortunate for me. That’s why I was out of the team. I went back and worked on myself, and am a stronger person and sportsman now. I knew I have those skills and capabilities to perform at the international level. I have been working hard and I never lost hope,” he said.”When I wasn’t doing well, I knew I will get out of the team. I went back and started enjoying domestic cricket. There was less pressure as compared to the international cricket.”That’s how I relaxed myself and stayed calm. But yes, at the back of my mind, I always knew I had to perform good and make a comeback and serve my country and achieve my goal,” he added.Commenting on the ongoing controversy relating to Anil Kumble’s stepping down as the head coach of Team India, Dhawan said, “I didn’t play much under Anil Kumble, so cannot comment on that. Moreover, I just focus on the game. Everyone has their own individuality and character. Anil Bhai, Dhoni Bhai and Virat, of course all are different.”advertisementMeanwhile, India, now with a 1-0 lead in the five-match series, will play their third ODI against the Caribbean side at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on June 30.last_img read more

17 Nov

Gold director Reema Kagti: Both Aamir and Akshay are disciplined actors

first_imgWith Gold just crossing the Rs 100 crore mark at India box office, director and writer Reema Kagti speaks about her biggest hit so far and why she decided to fictionalise her sporting drama. Edited excerpts from the interview.Is there anything you’d change in Gold?I’m sure there will be. Whenever I watch Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd or Talaash, which is not too often, I only see mistakes. I think that’s good because it keeps you on your toes. I am sure when I see Gold that initially it will be the same reaction. I am sure over the years it will be better.Why centre a film about an incredible sporting feat not on a player?When I started researching on the 1948 match I’d heard names but it is only when I got into it I realised that it all started from the 1920s. There were many players who were very nationalistic, Dhyan Chand being the most well-known. It was a general dream amongst them to play for their own flag. That didn’t happen because all these players retired when the opportunity finally came in London in 1948.In my research it was apparent that the squad of ’48 was inspired by players of 1920s and ’30s. I started realising it is a much bigger film – about one generation inspiring the next to fulfil their dreams. That’s the story I saw. I understand the individual players are legendary and they deserve not one but ten films, but this is what I fell in love with.advertisementI came across this story of this Bengali gentleman, Pankaj Gupta, who was a hockey administrator. In Berlin 1936 the German players were rough on the field so much so that Dhyan Chand had his tooth broken. Indian players were very demoralised at half time. This young assistant manager pulled out a flag. It’s not a made-up scene. It happened.I knew I had come across the name Pankaj Gupta somewhere in my research. I started looking and realised he was also the manager in 1948. He was called Mr Hockey. He did a lot for the sport. He was one of Dhyan Chand’s best friends. There is very little known about the man. A character very loosely inspired by him felt the best instrument to tell the story of Gold.Why go with fictional names and not actual names of the players involved?When you manipulate the story this much, you can’t be like this is this person’s story. A conscious decision was taken to go this way. There is a flipside to everything. There is a lot of objection from people saying that’s not what happened to Dhyan Chand but I am screaming from rooftops that it is fictionalised.I feel there is a backlash already. Can you imagine if I had dared to go with the real story? The story I was telling didn’t necessarily happen that way in history. I didn’t want to make a film on just 1948 victory but to tell a story of our glorious tradition and how it took several generations to get there.Akshay’s Bengali has come under fire. Did you always want to cast him?There have also been a fair amount of people who have enjoyed his performance. I have always wanted to work with him. He is a terrific actor. He brings a physicality which worked really well for Tapan Das. I felt that he took what was on paper a couple of notches above. I can’t imagine anyone else playing Tapan.How was your experience working with Akshay vis-à-vis Aamir?Though they are very different personalities there are some things that are very similar. I don’t think that you get to the level they have gotten to, without serious kind of dedication and discipline. They both are extremely interested – it’s not about them and their character it’s about the whole film. I had really good time working with both AKs.Sunny Kaushal has been a revelation in Gold.Now that he has had a haircut and shaved nobody can recognise him. In fact we had a couple of screenings before the release and in one of them he was standing right next to me and someone said, “Where is the Sardarji, we loved him.” Sunny was like what do you mean. A lot of people were pleasantly surprised to know that he’s Vicky Kaushal’s brother.All credit to casting director Nandini Shrikent who put him on tape. I loved his test and that’s how I met him.advertisementFor those who have seen your earlier films, many feel that Gold is very unlike a Reema Kagti film.Honeymoon is really different to Talaash. The first was a small quirky film made for a very alternative audience. Talaash for a Bollywood movie dealt with grief and how to overcome your demons. Gold is something that I really wanted to do. I have made it the way I wanted to.There are people who keep doing the same genres but I am not like that. I don’t know what idea is going to grab me. Wherever the idea leads me, I go with that. Good, bad, or ugly, Gold is me. I’d write a Dil Dhadakne Do, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Gully Boy. I am all of these things. They are completely different films. I jump genres, concepts and ideas.Do you think you could have toned down on the jingoism?I have not asked people to stand up for the national anthem. People have sent me random texts where foreigners are seen standing during the national anthem. The events made them feel that. I think it is something beautiful.I am talking about a time where this was important. Freedom came at a price. So all I was trying to do was honour that. I am not trying to give weight to one side or the other side of this debate.If you want to know what I am politically is a kneejerk liberal. Why can’t a kneejerk liberal give respect and honour to something that I think was tremendous for us as a nation?I don’t think people are forcing anybody to stand up. There have been people who have sent me videos saying see these people are not standing up. It doesn’t bother me. I am happy they are exercising their own feeling. I am sorry if anybody felt pressurised into standing up. That kind of thing I wouldn’t do.MOVIE REVIEW: GOLDALSO READ: Gold true story – How independent India won its first Olympic goldALSO WATCH: Akshay Kumar is the real ‘Khiladi’ of Bollywoodlast_img read more