July 10, 2008

Mandira to Wed Kumble?


He ruled the Indian spin bowling attack for years.

Now, at 37, he's captaining the Indian Test side. But Anil Kumble's not yet out, for he's all set to make his acting debut in a Pritish Nandy production Meerabai Not Out. Yes, Kumble will soon be seen on the big screen; what's more, he's playing himself! "The film revolves around cricket and a particular cricketer which happens to be me. So I'm essentially playing myself. That's why I agreed to do the film," says Kumble, assuring us that Bollywood, otherwise, is not his cup of tea.

The story of Meera and her cricket-cum-Kumble fixation goes thus: Maths teacher Meera Achrekar (who, incidentally, is played by cricket's glam woman Mandira Bedi) is cricket's - and Kumble's - biggest female fan (her temple is the Wankhede Stadium). She eats, drinks, breathes and lives for the game. But her life becomes a googly when Cupid strikes and she has to choose between love and her love for cricket. "Through the film, I am somehow connected to this lady fan of mine. Whenever she thinks or talks of me, I get hiccups! The story is about her love for me and the game, and how her life changes because of that," says Kumble, not willing to reveal the final result of the match, err, movie.

But he opens up when talking about his experience in front of the camera. No, he wasn't camera shy, after all, he's done so many advertisment shoots before. And did he ever have to deal with a real- life crazy female fan situation? "Yes, I've had the usual letters written in blood and everything; it's quite scary actually. Fans react to celebrities differently when they see them face-to-face; some don't believe it, some get over-excited. Their initial reaction is always interesting to see," says Kumble.

Calling the film a "crazy, yet sweet" love story, Pritish Nandy states that it's a "contextual, tactile comedy", about situations the audience can identify themselves with. Which is why Kumble was the apt choice for the part; in fact, Nandy admits that the script was written with Kumble in mind. "He isn't one of the flashy heroes of cricket. He's cool, chilled out, yet so accessible. He's the type of cricketer a typical middle-class Shivaji Park woman would get attracted to," explains Nandy. That's on the field, as a cricketer; how is he behind the camera, as an actor? "He's as cool in front of the camera as he is on the field. His strength, both in cricket and in movies, is his easygoing manner," says Nandy.

The film also has a special appearance by Charu Sharma. Another fun 'spin' in the film is a scene where Meera aka Mandira Bedi criticises, well, Mandira Bedi, accusing her of wearing noodle- straps and glamourising the game! Howzzat!

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