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Interview : Siddharth Kher

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'STAND BY will make an impact on Football'

Siddharth Kher, the name may not ring a bell to many but he is the same lad who made his debut with Amitabh Bachchan starrer TEEN PATTI. While in TEEN PATTI he had a small but significant part to play with upcoming film STAND BY he returns as the main lead. Catch the handsome hunk in conversation as he speaks about his new film STAND BY and much more.

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Tell us something about your background? How you became a part of glamour industry? 
Well I am born and brought up in Mumbai. I was into modeling and have done many advertisements before getting into films. Actually acting was never on my mind. A friend of mine introduced me to Ambika Hinduja, producer of TEEN PATTI. And I found it a perfect platform to break in the industry and who would say no to a film like TEEN PATTI?

Okay how STAND BY happened?
STAND BY producer Prakash Choubeji saw my work in the film TEEN PATTI and immediately called up to meet. And that's how I got selected. Further, STAND BY is a movie based on the popular sport – football. I am a huge fan of it and ever since my childhood I have been playing the game. So obviously there was no question of saying no to it. In fact it was too good to ask for.

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Did you know director Sanjay Surkar and that he is a 4 times National Award winner? Also how does it feel to have worked with such a phenomenon?
No I didn't know about Sanjay Surkarji. It was only while working on this film I released that how lucky I am to have worked with an experienced and talented person like him. It was an honour to work with the 4 times National Award winner.

In TEEN PATTI you had an anti-hero type of role. What about STAND BY? Do we see you again playing a baddie here?
No not exactly a baddie. Actually STAND BY story is such where every character goes from innocent to bad. STAND BY is the story of Rahul Narvekar and Shekhar Verma (the character which I play), thick friends who are football players from Maharashtra. They share a common passion, Football. They get a golden opportunity to fulfill their dream when Maharashtra wins the prestigious Santosh trophy after more than a decade. But things take an ugly turn as Shekhar, the son of an influential industrialist, JP Verma and the captain of Maharashtra team is not selected in the Indian Football team. And thereafter begins a dirty game of cheap politics. Shekhar's character turns grey. The film delves deep to explore facets of human relationships. It's a tale of friendship… passion… glory… betrayal… revenge…. when merit is suppressed there has to be an obvious backlash which tears apart the social fabric.

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We have seen enough films on sports so what new thing STAND BY has to offer?
STAND BY is much different from other sports films. Using Football as a backdrop, we have tried to bring to the light the other issues which exist with the game. After cricket its football whose popularity is growing among the youth everywhere. However, Indian football team is not getting enough opportunities because of the dirty politics played in the name of game.

Further, STAND BY story is based on true stories and somewhat inspired from the life of ex-Indian footballers. It highlights the several issues faced by the players. Even after playing so well at the national level how some players were deprived of the opportunity to represent their country (India) at international level, etc.

Like what other issues?
Besides politics we are also facing the problem of failure of infrastructure in the sport. Seriously we need to work on our infrastructure if we want to really encourage it.

Do you think STAND BY will bring about changes or will have an impact on the game of Football?
Like CHAK DE INDIA had a huge impact on Hockey I wish so with Football. Today Indian Football is nowhere. So even if we could make some awareness about the game it will be a great achievement. I hope it helps take football to the international level. I hope it does some justice to the game.

What made you choose an unconventional film like STAND BY?
As I told you earlier Football really drove me to be a part of it. Plus it's not just about the game but issues other than the game. So I just jumped on to it.

Talking about films with unconventional subject I think these days offbeat and unconventional films are in demand. Look at the film UDAAN, despite having an unconventional topic it did so well.

Was Sanjay Surkar a tough taskmaster on the sets?
No not at all. It was excellent to work with him. He always encouraged and never imposed anything on us. In fact he gave all the freedom in our work.

Actor Adinath Kothare, another lead of the film, who makes his debut with this film, comes from a filmi lineage. Was there any feeling of insecurity?
No never. On the contrary I and Adinath bonded well right from day one as we share a common interest – Football (Smiles). We practiced together, when not shooting. We discussed football in and out. We had a great time.

Your forthcoming films
Nothing concrete like I can really talk right now.

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