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Saqib Saleem on his experience working with Ranveer Singh in 83

According to Saqib Saleem, the script for 83 is so well written that each character in the sports drama has a chance to shine. The film, directed by Kabir Khan, tells the storey of India’s first World Cup victory in 1983.

“Cracking the Jimmy smile,” according to actor Saqib Saleem, was the most difficult part of getting into the skin of icon Mohinder Amarnath in the upcoming 83. After that, he needs to work on his energy. “I’m a very talkative, hyperactive person. Jimmy, on the other hand, is the polar opposite of that. He only says one sentence. So it took a long time for me to hold that energy inside,” Saqib told indianexpress.com in an exclusive interview about playing the legendary all-rounder in the Kabir Khan directed film.
“It’s not just about being able to hold a bat and a ball. It’s all about grasping the man’s perspective. Mohinder Amarnath comes from a family of cricketers. Of course, I knew about cricket, but I had to learn a lot about it first. I had the good fortune of being able to spend a month with him in person. “I was like a cricket fan on set with such legends around me,” he added.

Ranveer Singh In 83
Ranveer Singh In 83

“It’s not just about being able to hold a bat and a ball. It’s all about grasping the man’s perspective. Mohinder Amarnath comes from a family of cricketers. Of course, I knew about cricket, but I had to learn a lot about it first. I had the good fortune of being able to spend a month with him in person. “I was like a cricket fan on set with such legends around me,” he added.

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In addition to Pankaj Tripathi, Deepika Padukone, Neena Gupta, and Boman Irani, 83 features actors Tahir Raj Bhasin, Jiiva, Jatin Sarna, Ammy Virk, Chirag Patil, Dinker Sharma, Nishant Dahiya, Harrdy Sandhu, Sahil Khattar, Adinath Kothare, and Dhairya Karwa as various team members.

Kabir Khan’s first instruction to the team, according to Saqib, was to dress like cricketers. “It didn’t matter to him whether the camera was on us or not. “We were playing a cricket match, and we were athletes, so we had to get that body language right,” he said, adding that he and his co-stars had been practising for the game for nearly eight months in various camps. “The journey has played such an important role in shaping our personalities,” he said.

After spending so much time together for so long, the entire team became very close. So much so, according to Saqib, that they felt like they were practising for a big tournament. “You can take screengrabs from the trailer and compare them to actual footage available online. That is the level of attention to detail that Kabir Khan has put into this. Everyone wanted to present themselves in the best possible light. As a result, even you will want to try harder. Everyone was encouraging each other. We used to eat, sleep, and party together, as well as practise together. It felt like an extended school vacation after a while.

According to Saqib, the script is so well written that each character in the sports drama has a chance to shine. He even marketed it as a tale about a “bunch of boys growing into men” on the cricket field. “And that is exactly what happened to all of us as well. We were ecstatic when we arrived in London. We were a calm bunch by the time we got back,” he added.

Ranveer Singh, according to Saqib, was the ship’s anchor. In a real sense, he was completely in character as the team’s captain. “He spreads his arms so wide that we can all hug him.” He is filled with love. It was a challenging film because there were days when you didn’t have anything to shoot but had to be on set as the third man. We had a lot of downtime, but Ranveer made sure we were all awake and energised. He’d wrap his arm around him, have coffee with him, sit with him, and talk to him about anything but the movie. On the one hand, he had to carry the weight of being Kapil Dev, and on the other, he’d genuinely become the team’s captain. “He does it very naturally,” Saqib explained.

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What about Kabir Khan, given that 83 was his first time directing a sports film? He was dubbed “the most prepared person” by Saqib, who never over-instructed his actors. Kabir’s film set is a classroom in and of itself for him. “He’d make certain that all of his ADs were learning.” He’d explain why a particular shot is significant in the film. It comes from a place of humility, not arrogance. He’s a very democratic individual.”

83 has gotten mostly positive reviews so far. Saqib ended by expressing his delight that, after such a long wait, the film will finally be released in theatres on Friday. He signed off, “Excitement level is beyond belief right now.”

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