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Will Messi play ball for Bollywood?

bollywood Updated: Aug 05, 2011 20:28 IST
Roshmila Bhattacharya
Roshmila Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
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A film on football, Stand By, has pushed forward its release by a week to cash in on Argentinean striker Lionel Messi’s visit to the City of Joy for a ‘friendly’ match at the end of August. “Yes, we had fixed on an August 16 release but now the film will be out on August 26 because we’d like to rope in Messi for a promotional event in Kolkata. I’m in talks with the organisers who are flying him down to India and am hoping for a confirmation soon,” says producer Prakash Chaube.

Director Sanjay Surkar, who has earlier won four National Awards for his Marathi films Chaukat Raja (1991), Tu Tithe Me (1998), Aaplee Maanse (1993) and Saatchya Aat Gharat (2004) endorses Chaube’s view: “Messi is one of the most famous names in football and has a huge following in India. It will be great to open at a time when his fans are screaming his name at the airport and at the stadium at Salt Lake. My first Hindi film has some great action scenes shot at the Balwadi National Stadium in Pune.”

Chaube is also in talks with Indian footballer Baichung Bhatia to promote the film in Kolkata and Mumbai. “Baichung had agreed initially but after his return to the Indian team, he’s not sure how much time he can spare. But some former footballers like Appa Rao Chiman, who played for Mahendra United, and Shampi Raza, who played for India, will be lending their support,” he asserts.

Stand By started with newspaper cuttings and has been adapted from real-life stories of 20 players, who were the victims of the system. A hard-hitting film on the politics in sports, it revolves around two friends, Rahul Narvekar and Shekhar Verma, whose dream of playing for India is about to come true when Maharashtra lifts the Santosh Trophy.

But Shekhar, who is the captain of his team, is not selected. His father, an influential industrialist, puts pressure on the selection committee chairman and the president of the federation to take him as a standby with the assurance that one of the four strikers selected will be dropped eventually. Will that striker be Rahul? The film stars Siddharth Kher, Adinath Kothari, Sachin Khedekar, Avtaar Gill and Manish Choudhary.