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Friday, December 5, 2008

Anil Kumble’s cameo keeps a tradition alive

Though the former Indian skipper doesn’t look at ease faking hiccups he holds his own in the closing scene

Sandeep Patil and Sayed Kirmani were pitted against each other as hero and villain in the 1985 flick Kabhi Ajnabi The. Annarth, a movie whose plot revolved around gang wars, had Vinod Kambli playing the role of Bandya. Salim Durrani acted opposite Parveen Babi in Charitra, while Ajay Jadeja wore greasepaint five years ago for Khel, where he starred along side Sunil Shetty, Sunny Deol and Celina Jaitley. Sunil Gavaskar played himself in Maalamaal in the late 80s, while Kapil Dev acted in Aryan, a story about a boxer and Mohsin Khan, the Pakistani cricketer, appeared in Saathi.

Former skipper Anil Kumble isn’t the first Indian cricketer to star in a Bollywood film. Meerabai Not Out has Mandira Bedi, the popular cricket host, playing the lead role with this story revolving around her. She plays a mathematics teacher who is passionate about cricket.

Gentleman cricketer Anil Kumble is her favourite. Kumble is affected by a bout of hiccups whenever Mandira thinks or talks about her hero. Kumble’s cameo is more of a guest appearance and though he doesn’t look at ease faking the hiccups he manages to hold his own in the closing scene where he signs an autograph for Mandira.

While Kumble wasn’t keen to talk about the film when DNA contacted him there is also talk of the former Indian skipper being upset with promotional posters of the movie that shows Mandira holding a cut out of him while in bed with her co-star Eijaz Khan.

However, while the promo may suggest some outrageous scenes, this film is one you can watch with the family. While roping in a cricket can be called a casting coup, it isn’t by any means a formula for success.

But that hasn’t deterred directors and producers from offering them roles. In the yet to be released film Victory, Harman Baweja plays a professional cricketer. The movie stars up to 30 international cricketers, including the likes of Michael Hussey, Brett Lee, Yusuf Pathan, Irfan Pathan, RP Singh, Ishant Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, Munaf Patel and Sanath Jayasuriya to name a few.

Cricketers outside the sub-continent too have tried their luck in acting. Derek Pringle featured in the Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire as the vice-captain of an athletics team. It was a role that hardly last a couple of minutes.

Former England skipper Len Hutton acted in The Last Test released in 1950s about a bunch of cricketers preparing for the Ashes. That Kumble only makes short guest appearances Meerabai Not Out means that this movie doesn’t run on his acting skills. Going by how badly movies with cricketers have done, maybe it was a good idea.

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