Pankaj Tripathi, who was recently seen in films like Mimi and Bunty Aur Babli 2, is looking forward to his upcoming release 83. Helmed by Kabir Khan and starring Ranveer Singh in the lead role, the film will see Pankaj in the role of PR Man Singh. Opening up about his role, Pankaj shares, “He was the physiotherapist, manager, trainer and everything for them. Man bhai was the 15th person who was there. Everyone knows about the cricket players, but not much is known about him. He was behind the camera. There was not much media, and he was a one-man-army with the team. He was everything there for the team. He was the coach, physio, and he also used to take care of their emotional, physical and mental stress as well.”
Pankaj also went to Singh’s house to figure out the man’s life before playing his character. “I had the good fortune of visiting his house, and it was a great moment. There is a section in his house that is like a museum. There are some wonderful things from around the world which have been kept there,” Pankaj reveals.
Interestingly, Pankaj, who hails from the village Belsand from the Gopalganj District in Bihar, could not watch or listen to cricket when India won the world cup in 1983. “The first radio set came in 1989. That’s when we heard it on the radio. I had never seen or heard any cricket commentary before that,” he admits, making us wonder about his phenomenal rise.
It was a no-brainer for Pankaj when he first heard the script of 83 from Kabir. “I wanted to do the film when I heard the first narration itself. Kabir sir had a bunch of books with him from which he had researched, and I realised that this is a film I wanted to do. The story was so fascinating that all the players had to carry their own luggage with no one to even attend to them. It was so fascinating that I asked him, ‘When do you want my dates?’ I felt that this film should have been made earlier. India didn’t go there to win; they went to script a story,” says Pankaj.
The actor shares an interesting moment from during the film’s shoot. “We were shooting the sequence in the Lords’ balcony when we had won the trophy, and there was the real then West Indian captain Clive Lloyd who was standing there and everyone got very emotional. We also met others like Kapil (Dev) sir, Krishnamachari Srikkanthji, Mohinder Amarnath sir, and Sunil Gavaskar sir. I told Sunnyji (Gavaskar) how I started listening to cricket on the radio, and here I was meeting all of them, and that was something that I could have never dreamt of. I am grateful that I got into such a profession that made me meet all of them. That was a great take-home for me. It was a brilliant moment,” he smiles gleefully.
Pankaj’s characters in his films have always left an indelible impact on the audiences, and here he is playing a real-life character for the second time after Kaagaz. “I remember we were shooting for my first scene, and Kabir sir walked up to me and smiled. I asked him about my shot, and he said, ‘You have a seetimaar entry. When you enter, people will be whistling,’ No one knows much about Man Singh, and I hope that people will know more about him after this film,” Pankaj reveals.
Pankaj is also leading the cast of a film called Sherdil. “Dheere dheere hathon se film kandhe pe aarahi hain,” he signs off, happy to shoulder films on his own steam.
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