There is a lot of buzz surrounding Emraan Hashmi’s upcoming film, Azhar, which is based on the life of former Indian cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin. While, in the film, Emraan plays Azhar, for this interaction, we got the Bollywood actor to slip into the shoes of a journalist to interview the sports personality, and find out more about his life on and off the field.
EMRAAN: How did you react when you found out that I was going to play you in Azhar?
AZHAR: I felt very positive, and I was very happy. I had seen your performance in Jannat (2008). Since that film was somewhat connected to cricket, I felt you were apt for Azhar.
EMRAAN: The term, shelf life, is often used for Bollywood celebrities. Does the same also happen with cricketers? Do cricketers get enough avenues to remain associated with the sport if they aren’t playing?
AZHAR: So many of our cricketers who have played for 16-17 years, are still very active, and associated with cricket, either as commentators or as coaches. I don’t think there is a shelf life associated with this profession if you are involved in other avenues. However, if you’re talking about only playing cricket, then it (shelf life) is 16-18 years at best. Unless, it is a case similar to Sachin’s (Tendulkar), who made his debut at a very young age and then played for 24 years.
EMRAAN: Several cricketers have either dated or been linked to Bollywood actresses. Why do you think that happens?
AZHAR: I think Bollywood and cricket go hand in hand. Glamour attracts glamour. Cricket has become a very glamorous game now. It is very hard for me to pinpoint specific reasons, but I think two successful people always gel.
EMRAAN: After the match-fixing allegations and the court case that followed, how did you deal with the criticism that came your way?
AZHAR: Some people will always criticise you. You just have to be patient, and carry on being unaffected and unruffled by what they say. After the match-fixing allegations, the one thing I had was patience. It took a lot of time for the courts to come to a verdict regarding the case. Sometimes, there were adjournments, but during that time, I had patience. We fought very hard, and finally justice prevailed, and we got the right verdict.
EMRAAN: According to you, what can be done to make sure that the women’s national cricket team in India gets more recognition?
AZHAR: I think women are getting recognition in cricket. The best thing that could have happened to women’s cricket has happened; it has come under the BCCI’s (Board of Control for Cricket in India) wing. Earlier, they found it very hard to go on tours or get sponsors. But now, they don’t have to go through such issues. They represent the Indian cricket team through the BCCI.
EMRAAN: You have now been part of the film-making process thanks to Azhar. What part did you find most interesting?
AZHAR: The perseverance that goes into making a film is mind-boggling. The person (the director) who makes the film is always on the job. He/she has sleepless nights. It is fascinating to see those involved with the film work so diligently and so hard.
EMRAAN: What are you expecting from this film?
AZHAR: I expect a very good response. We have made the film to the best of our abilities. While the film is not a biopic — but a dramatisation of certain incidents of my life — I think Tony (D’Souza; director) has done a great job with it. He should be applauded for all his hard work. Whenever he was shooting a scene and he found something amiss, he would always call me for inputs. That’s the sign of a good director. He wants excellence. And I have no complaints.
Watch trailer here: