Recent news reports claim that tennis ace Leander Paes’ Bollywood debut had gone off track because two producers were claiming ownership on the title. When asked, Paes says, “Everything is fine. It’s going smooth. My workshops have gone well. Rajdhani Express is on track.”
Apparently, the tennis-star-turned-actor’s father isn’t comfortable with his career switch. “Oh, he’s still getting used to the fact that his son has become an actor,” laughs Paes. “He had raised an eye-brow when I signed the film but I’m sure he’ll be okay once he sees the film.”On Sunday evening, the debutant shot with five other sportspersons for a special Diwali episode of Kaun Banega Crorepati with Amitabh Bachchan. So was he given any acting tips? "Looking at him is inspiration enough. I’ve seen Sholay 102 times because of him. Amar Akbar Anthony and Trishul are among my favourite films. And whenever I’ve shared the podium with him, I feel blessed," he says.
Paes and his five teammates recently played for the Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s charitable school that looks after the education of underprivileged kids from kindergarten to class four. “These children need help. We are trying to do our bit. My charitable institution works for kids in places like Kolkata and now, Cambodia. We’re turning land-mine affected lands into tennis courts to encourage kids to take up the sport,” he informs.
And has he been training his own daughter Aiyaana to take his legacy forward? “Apart from formal education, Rhea and I are helping her learn to concentrate getting her basics right,” says Paes. “Aiyaana is more of a footballer. She plays very well. My father says concentration is in the genes but I’d say it’s her own quality which will help propel her in life.”