Actor Pankaj Tripathi finds an uncanny similarity between his film journey and the Indian cricket team’s quest to win the World Cup in 1983– both started out as underdogs with not many believing that they could emerge as champions.
The actor stars in the upcoming “83”, which chronicles India’s win under Kapil Dev’s captainship, when the team defeated tournament favourites West Indies in the final to clinch their first-ever World Cup trophy in 1983.
Tripathi features in the film as PR Man Singh, former cricket player and the World Cup winning team’s manager.
In an interview with PTI, the 45-year-old actor said everyone around him in his village Belsand in Bihar, found his acting dreams bizarre, but he could achieve it–much like the cricket team–by believing in his passion.
“I remember the famous line from ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’, ‘Tumse na ho payega’ (you won’t be able to do it). We (the cricket team and I) had a similar journey. What the story of ’83’ and my journey shows is that wonders like these do happen.
“The backdrop I come from, when I used to tell people in my village that I want to be an actor, they would not even laugh. They would be blank, thinking that I have gone crazy. It was beyond any possibility,” he said.
Tripathi, who is one of the busiest actors today, struggled for more than a decade to finally find recognition with Anurag Kashyap’s “Gangs of Wasseypur” in 2012 and emerged as one of the most accomplished performers with films like “Newton”, “Bareilly Ki Barfi”, “Gurgaon”, “Masaan”, “Stree” and the series, “Mirzapur”.
“Today I can laugh and recall these incidents, but when you are going through it, it is tough. When no one believes in you, your dreams, you also start doubting yourself. But somehow, there is a fight, a passion within you to keep working towards it.
“I was told by my relatives that if nothing works out in acting, I should change my career. They didn’t have trust in me but I had to have faith in me. That was the only way out. Your foundation and faith in yourself should be unshakable,” he added.
Tripathi came on board “83” almost instantly after a brief narration by filmmaker Kabir Khan.
When the Indian cricket team had lifted its maiden World Cup after being dubbed as the tournament underdogs, Tripathi was just seven. There was no radio station in his village so he came to know about the historic win only “two-three years later”.
With “83”, the actor, who is not a cricket lover, saw an incredible opportunity to be a part of an inspiring story.
“Our World Cup win was crucial to take Indian cricket where it stands today. Not just cricket lovers but even common people will feel inspired after watching the film, because it was an unbelievable, emotional ride.
“We are recreating history with the film and there were several moments while shooting where we had goosebumps, especially at the Lord’s stadium where we played the final match.”
“83” is headlined by actor Ranveer Singh, who plays Dev. The film also stars Tahir Raj Bhasin, Jiiva, Saqib Saleem, Jatin Sarna, Chirag Patil, Dinker Sharma, Nishant Dahiya, Harrdy Sandhu, Sahil Khattar, Ammy Virk, Addinath Kothare, Dhairya Karwa and R Badree.
To play Man Singh, Tripathi relied on Khan’s script and a ten-hour marathon meeting he had with the former administrator at his home in Hyderabad.
“He was a person who was behind the camera. People know the contribution of the 14 players but not the role of Man bhai. The film will showcase that. When I met him, I found him remarkable. His passion towards the game is unbelievable. He has an in-house museum, an entire third floor of his house dedicated to cricket.”
Though Tripathi plays a real life person, the actor did not want his performance to be a gimmick. Instead of focusing on getting the physicality right, the actor said it was crucial for him to understand who Man Singh as a person is.
“When I play a real life character, I try to get the physicality as much as I can but my focus is to capture that person’s thoughts. If I can catch their thoughts, feelings, then even if I don’t get the physicality, it is ok. Because more than looks, what makes a person is how and what they think. I wanted to capture Man bhai’s dedication, discipline and his passion for cricket.”
Presented by Reliance Entertainment and Phantom Films, “83” will arrive in cinema halls on December 24 in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. (PTI)