May 232015

MUMBAI: Former Indian cricket captain Mohammad Azharuddin finds Emraan Hashmi as the perfect fit to portray him in his biopic Azhar, while the actor says the cricketer is helping him learn the nuances of the game. “Emraan is very apt for the role. He has worked very hard.

A lot of people asked me ‘Why Emraan is doing my role in the film?’ But Emraan is my favorite,” Azharuddin said here at the teaser launch of the biopic.”I have watched almost all his films, and I think he is apt for the role. After this film, he will be called Azhar most of the times,” he added. Directed by Tony D’Souza and produced by Balaji Motion Pictures and MSM Motion Pictures, Azhar will be based on the life of Azharuddin, who led the Indian cricket team for most of the 1990s. He was implicated in a match-fixing scandal in 2000, and banned for life. But later in 2012, the Andhra Pradesh High Court lifted the ban.

Meanwhile, Emraan said that playing Azhar on screen is a challenge for him as he has no footwork in the cricketer’s “unconventional style of playing the game”. However, he is happy that Azhar himself is training him to learn all the nuances to look convincing on screen.”There were a lot of challenges. One of them was that Azhar’s style of playing cricket was very unconventional, and I had no footwork on that. So Azhar-bhai started training me for cricket. Then I realised that I have a lot to learn in cricket,” said the actor, who earlier has been part of cricket-oriented film Jannat.

Dodging questions about whether Nargis Fakhri has been roped in as the female lead for Azhar, a biopic on former Indian skipper Mohammad Azharuddin, producer Ekta Kapoor has said the discussion is on with some names. The final name, she said, would only be revealed once “we sign on the dotted line”. “I don’t know where these reports come from. I think some journalist has a dream and next day it gets printed,” Ekta said here Thursday on being asked if Nargis is a part of the film.

Talking about the “big wish list” for the movie, she added: “We have a couple of names, but like I said, we have just finished writing the film, and we have certain number of cast (members) to be discussed.”The shooting will start from the next month and we are still in discussion with actors. I can’t disclose anything till we sign on the dotted line.” It was reported that Nargis will be playing Azharuddin’s second wife Sangeeta Bijlani in the film. Meanwhile, actress Prachi Desai has been signed to play the cricketer’s first wife Naureen.

Further, Ekta said: “It took whole one year to write this film as the story is so huge and I think that much time will be taken into cast as well.” Directed by Tony D’Souza and produced by Balaji Motion Pictures and MSM Motion Pictures, Azhar the film is said to deal with Azharuddin’s entire life. The teaser of the film was launched here on Thursday in the presence of Azhar, along with Mohammad Azharuddin and Emraan Hashmi, who plays Azhar in the film.

The film is scheduled to release on May 13, 2016.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2015.

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