You have almost taken over a year to come up with something so different-playing a male and a female in the same film…
Actually this film -DIL BOLE HADIPPA, demanded a lot of my time to prepare for the characters especially that of the cricketer I am playing. I had to learn to play cricket…and if you have already seen the film you should have realized that the film demanded me to be a very good batsman; I didn’t want people to come out of the theatres and say that I didn’t play the game realistically. So it took me about six months training and started to shoot after that. The shoot took about seven months. So, that’s the ‘hisab kitab’ of the year off I took.
How do you rate yourself as a cricketer?
You have to ask Sachin (Tendulkar) and Dhoni about that; ask them to rate me (smiles).
Do you like cricket?
Before doing this film…no. But now that I am into it I have realized that it’s not just a man’s but a lady’s game as well…there are certain technicalities that’s more important than the steps. I had a great time playing the game.
How was the response at the Toronto Film Festival?
It was absolutely overwhelming…we had a warm premiere there. Everyone was enjoying themselves thoroughly…they were whistling and laughing and having a good time.
Was it just cricket or something else that appealed to you about this film?
‘Ask Sachin and Dhoni to rate me…’
The transition from Veer and Veera in the film is really great. Tell us some funny moment that happened during the shoot.
Shahid (Kapur) used to get very depressed when I played Veer, because he was searching for his heroine. And when I used to play Veera, suddenly his face used to light up.
Did you get any attention from women when you dressed as a man?
Absolutely…there was too much for me to handle…(smiles); I don’t think you want to know the details (giggles).
How was the chemistry between Veer Pratap Singh and Sherlyn Chopra on screen?
I think it’s great. If you have seen the film, Veer is always after Sherlyn’s life…this character Veer and the character played by Sherlyn always crosses each other’s life. It was fun actually.
CHECK OUT : DIL BOLE HADIPPA – Movie Review
In the film we see Rakhi Sawant trying to woo you. How’s working with her?
It was lovely to work with Rakhi. She is an extremely sweet girl and very professional.
Does comedy comes naturally to you?
Strangely, I does. I don’t know how…but I really had fun playing Veer more than Veera. It’s fun to be a man (laughs).
We heard that Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan both helped you to play Veer…
Aamir gave me some tips on how to put a moustache, since I had to put on the beard and moustache for long hours in the sun and shoot. He taught me a method…that I should smile while putting the moustache…or else it gets very stiff with the glue on it. And Shah Rukh gave valuable tips on playing cricket. He is a great sportsman in real life…he had been a wicket-keeper himself. So he helped me with the net practice.
The first time you saw Shahid and yourself together on screen, you were like ‘Wow’. But did you have any apprehensions before?
No it was not from my side. But with the KISMAT KONNECTION combination not working for Shahid, he was not very sure. But the first day we gave the take and saw ourselves on the monitor, both of us said ‘Wow, we think we are looking great!’
How did Shahid help you to improve on both the characters?
In order to make your performance look good, you need the person opposite you to be really good. And Shahid is showing his strength as an actor with each film. He is a brilliant actor. He complimented all the scenes I did.
Of the two characters Veer and Veera, which one was more difficult and why?
I think playing both the characters in one film itself is difficult. On one hand, Veera had to look glamorous, while Veer was a cricketer with beard and moustache. Shooting for long hours under the sun with the itching beards is definitely not easy!
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You have lost oodles of weight. So have you stopped eating?
I am a food-loving Bengali. And no Bengali can live without ‘misti doi’ (sweet curd), sweets, ‘macher jhol-bhat’ (fish curry and rice); so that’s a part of my diet, which I can’t give up. But once or twice I cheat meals…say once in a month (not every day)…have started doing that for the last seven -eight years. I am a complete foodie. I think it’s important to have a balanced diet and I do it contrary to what people think that I have stopped eating.
So what’s you fitness regime?
I think the best way to work on the body is to follow what is good for your body. Because, what is good for me might not be good for you. I have off doing yoga. Before that I was doing a lot of weight training; so I didn’t want to shock my body. So I did a different type of cardios. I have shifted to a new bunglow…that has four storeys. So getting up and down the stairs serves better than treadmills. After yoga, after that to change the structure of my body, I started doing weight training again to tone my body as to play a cricketer I needed to have a lean body.
What’s the reaction of your family? Who are they liking more-Veer or Veera?
This is a really difficult question because my family is always bias to my films. This time too their reaction is positive. In fact, my niece has called her entire school for a trial show in Mumbai this Saturday…this is the third time she is seeing the film.
You said that you look younger than Shahid in the film. You lost weight, wore a bikini top…all these to compete with the younger heroines?
I put my heart into the film I do. This film required me to look gorgeous as well as look like a cricketer and have sporty look. I am too professional in these matters.
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Which heroine from the younger generation do you like the most?
There are so many-I like Priyanka (Chopra), Deepika (Padukone) and Anouska (Sharma) very much.
You look like Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh in the film…
Actually my makeup artist for this film was from London. He wanted to know about the look that’s required for the film…he wanted a reference. And the director (Anurag Singh) wanted a Sardar look for the cricketer and the most easily available picture of a Sardar cricketer is that of Harbhajan. So Anurag send his photo as reference and that’s how my look in the film came up.
How difficult was it to don a salwar kameez and give six over-boundaries in six balls?
It was not as difficult as it was while playing Veer as you will agree to me that just to put on a glued beard…with the itching…itself is very tough.
Given a chance, will you be the brand ambassador of women’s cricket team of India?
Right now I have too much in the plate, but I will definitely consider it.