The film gives my side of the story, says a candid Azharuddin
He perhaps was the last link between batting and its artistic celebration. However, cricket may have forgotten Mohammad Azharuddin after the match-fixing scandal engulfed him and a few others.
‘I have suffered a lot,’ he mumbles. But he will be back, this time on big screens across the country, in a sports film titled Azhar, which talks about his life.
‘It’s not a bio-pic. It’s a gist of events that took place in my life. Some good, some heart-breaking. Not everything you read in the public domain is accurate. This is an effort to set some things right,’ Azharuddin told The Hindu on Thursday.
The film is slated for a worldwide release on May 13.
Does the movie do justice to his cricket? ‘It shows my contribution to the game. It tells you about some dark days of my life. It confirms the vindication of my stand that I was innocent. It has parts of my story, not in full, but enough to give an indication of my stand.’
The film-makers took time to persuade Azharuddin. Once he came on board he gave the project all he had.
‘I wasn’t keen initially. They were after me for almost 18 months. Sometime in late 2014 I said yes. The script has my approval and it gives my side of the story.
Trying 12 years
‘It took me 12 years to fight my case.
‘People said so many things but I tackled it my way. There were things not in my control. I had to be patient. I couldn’t fight destiny. I also can’t recover those 12 hard years of my life (post 2000). The movie brings this aspect out very well.’
Azharuddin was an epitome of aesthetic batsmanship and the celebrated cricket-writer John Woodcock once penned:
‘There’s no use asking an Englishman to bat like Mohammad Azharuddin. It would be like expecting a greyhound to win the Epsom Derby.’
And South African speedster Lance Klusener said: ‘It’s like bowling to a revolving door.’
How much cricket can one expect in the movie? ‘There is cricket where it is necessary. You must understand it’s a movie where we have taken some cinematic liberties to make it dramatic.
‘It details my cricket life and my personal life; my good and bad times and how I overcame that period. There are cricket shots and there are songs even though I never sang in real life. I would request my fans to watch it with a positive mind.’
Azharuddin, 53, has not been critical of anyone. ‘It’s not a blame-movie. I don’t blame anyone for whatever happened to me. It was my destiny.’
How much of a part have some of his contemporaries played in the film? “Some of them have a critical part. I don’t know if their views were sought.
‘The movie puts things in perspective. I believe the beauty of our country and democracy is that we are allowed to have our opinions. The movie gives me that platform. I liked it. Hope you like it too!’
Was Emraan Hashmi the right choice to play Azharuddin? ‘He’s worked hard. I spent a lot of time and he was so receptive. He has done an excellent job, captured my mannerisms superbly. I was his coach on how to play some of my shots. He looks like me. See it for yourself.’
The movie traces Azharuddin’s life from his growing years in Hyderabad’s Vithalwadi to his cricket across the globe. Significantly, the film ends in 2000 when his career came to an abrupt end after a century in his 99th Test. Destiny, as he has always maintained.