He makes no bones about his love for India. Take one look at Brett Lee’s Instagram profile — filled with pictures of himself with PM Narendra Modi, B-Town celebrities, Indian school children and college students — and it feels like he has lived half his life here. The former Australian cricketer is looking forward to his visit to India next month, and he hopes to make the trip more than just about sports. Excerpts from an interview:
How popular is Bollywood in Australia?
It’s big, of course, it has to be big. Ours is a very multicultural society, and we love that fact. Bollywood has a huge following here.
You were last seen in the movie UNindian (2015). Do you want to work in Bollywood?
UNindian is an Australian film with a lot of Indian culture and flavour thrown in. But I’d love to do a full-fledged Bollywood film in India one day.
Are there any Indian celebrities you’d want to work with?
Yes, I have seen quite a few movies, and there are some great stars over there [I’d like to work with] — Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan.
What about music? You did a song with Asha Bhosle in 2007.
I would want to collaborate more, but it’s just the timing — it’s hard to match our schedules. I am coming to India in March. I always bring my guitar with me to pen down songs. I am in the process of putting a band together while retaining a member or two from my old band. Then, potentially, the plan is to tour India.
A biopic on MS Dhoni was released in India recently. Have you thought about a biopic on your life?
Nah, I haven’t thought about it. Maybe, one day, but definitely not now.
Would you have a celebrity play your role in your biopic or would you like to act in it yourself?
I am not sure which celebrity, but I definitely would not play myself (laughs).
Watch: ‘Judaiyaan’ song from UNindian
After you retired from cricket, your fitness regimen must have undergone a change. What steps did you take to maintain your health?
I know it sounds weird but it’s actually easier to maintain your fitness, because you are not playing 300 days a year. I love and am proud of being fit, active and healthy. Not just my family, but other people are also happy if I turn up looking fit and show that I actually care about my health. I go to my gym every morning; I love it. When you are in the team, you have special sessions designed to keep you fit. You don’t even have to think about it. But when you finish playing cricket, it’s different. I find that keeping fit is more fun these days.
You have gone beyond being a cricketer. How do you manage to hone all of your skill sets?
Oh I have always loved doing things that are whimsical and create new passions [in me]. I love music. I love helping people, which is why I am the ambassador of Cochlear. I love the fact that you can use your profile for the right reasons. People use their fame for various reasons, but I want to make sure I use mine for the right reasons.
It is rumoured that you raise awareness about hearing loss due to personal reasons...
My son, Preston , lost his hearing partially. As parents, we were worried; it made us relate to other parents who had children with either full or partial hearing loss. Luckily, for my son, it [his hearing] came back naturally. That is probably the reason behind wanting to be associated with it.
One common thing India and Australia share is their value systems. Could you tell us a little about your family life? How do you balance your professional and personal life?
I am a very private person. I have always kept my family out of the media. I love that, because you won’t see my wife or my children on social media. I think I posted one photo of my son. I think that is my way of making my family the most important thing in the world.
Your life is considered one of the world’s best success stories. What advice would you give to young people?
I think what is most important is to be yourself. Don’t try to emulate or be like somebody. Be your own sportsperson; if the way you send out the ball or a particular batting stance works for you, stick to it. Never ever give up. Always give your best show, and make sure you play fairly and respectfully. Respect the game.
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The author tweets @iamsusanjose