Lounging in his hotel room, a day’s stubble on his chin, Shoaib Akhtar looks quite the anti-hero. In his hand, though, is a script of a movie that could make him a filmstar, and sitting before him are two women, a director and a promoter, hard-selling the project.
“Well, it does look very interesting,” says Akhtar, leafing through the typewritten script, on the title page of which are the photographs of Akhtar and the proposed leading lady. There are more photographs of the young lady, one of which is left for the star bowler’s leisurely perusal.
Akhtar has to play himself in the movie — the Pakistani bowling star who is the object of the dreams of a young Indian Punjabi girl who manages to establish contact with him through the internet. There are twists and turns along the way, lots of laughs, but at the end of it all, the girl meets her hero. It’s supposed to be a comedy — with some soulful Sufi music thrown in, ending with a remix.
The mix is interesting, to say the least, and Akhtar is interested.
“It seems very promising,” says Akhtar, and that raises the hopes of the women.
Sanghamitra Chaudhary, who says she has made one English movie (“mainly for the festival circuit”) and a handful of Bangla ones, is hoping to direct Akhtar at a not distant date.
Akhtar asks about who would provide music to the movie, about the format of the film on which it will be shot — which is rather surprising. He declares he knows nothing about acting, but accepts that “everyone in life is an actor”, and that anyway, a crash course in the art would help.
But money is an issue — a stumbling block, it would seem. He’s offered Rs one crore which, the director declares, is a third of the total budget of the movie.
That does not excite him, and he asks the director to talk with his agent.
“Well, that’s a problem,” he says, and later says that he’s looking at a rather larger sum, Rs eight crore.
There’s a talk of a sequel as well, but that seems consigned to the very distant future. Later, Akhtar says that he missed out on the lead role in Gangster which, he declares, was a bad miss.
Akhtar, though interested, is obviously cagey as well.
What of his cricket career?
“Well, I’ll be free for a month after this,” he says. “And I don’t think I’ll be able to give you over 15 days.”
For now, Akhtar seems keen, if the money is right — but he must know that Rs eight crore is a really big ask.