Among countrymen who live and breathe the sport of cricket, Pankaj Tripathi is a bit of an oddball. And even though he may never have found in himself any love for the sport, he still managed to bag a spot on Kabir Khan’s squad in the cinematic retelling of India’s first World Cup victory.
As PR Man Singh, considered the backbone of the Indian cricket team, Tripathi practically faked it till he made it, as he kept enacting the part of a man who was obsessed with the sport, studying its every technique. Eventually, the actor too developed a soft-spot for the game. “I wasn’t drawn to the game when I started shooting for this film. But, every day, I would see the boys [cast members] Ranveer Singh, Saqib Saleem, Tahir Raj Bhasin, and others, work hard. They were being trained by the legends. At the boot-camps, when I’d interact with the players of the original team, I would be in awe,” says the actor.
He admits that the story of a team that had little scope of bringing home the winning cup, but did so against all odds, was not one he was willing to let go of. “The spirit of the story, and of the game, is tough to shake off when you begin learning about it. Now, I have started watching matches. India’s recent victory made me proud.”