Mohammad Azharuddin biopic: Three tons, two wives, one false step

That same slouch, taweez (amulet), helmet and the upturned collar -- the first look of Emraan Hashmi-starrer "Azhar".

Written by Devendra Pandey | Mumbai | Updated: May 22, 2015 5:41 pm
Mohammad Azharuddin, Mohammad Azharuddin India, India Mohammad Azharuddin, Mohammad Azharuddin Cricket, Cricket Mohammad Azharuddin, Mohammad Azharuddin biopic, biopic Mohammad Azharuddin,  Cricket News, Cricket It took producer Ekta Kapoor 30 visits and meetings to convince the former Indian captain about making a biopic based on his life.

Mohammad Azharuddin’s cricket career was in itself nothing short of a soap opera. There were high points. Plenty of them in fact. He was a magician with sinewy wrists who hit three tons from his first three Tests. He was arguably the best fielder to emerge from the subcontinent in the pre-T20 era, and for a major part of the 1990s, Azharuddin was also the man in-charge of Indian cricket. Then, at the same time, it was a career that ended in disgrace, with him receiving a life ban for alleged involvement in match-fixing.

In many ways, the Azharuddin story was literally made for the silver-screen. Still, it took producer Ekta Kapoor 30 visits and meetings to convince the former Indian captain about making a biopic based on his life.

When she did succeed, it was an actor known for his on-screen versatility, Emraan Hashmi, that Kapoor chose for the role. On Thursday, Azharuddin and the man playing him were both present for a preview presentation of the biopic in Mumbai. A teaser that was aptly named Ek Khuda, Do shaadi aur match-fixing (One God, two wives and match-fixing) and captured the essence of his dramatic career on-and-off the field.

“If you see the teaser, you will realize that all the important issues have been covered. All three issues that are attached to my life. I hope after he (Hashmi) does the film people will call him Azhar,” he said, standing in front of a life-size poster of his film that’ll be called Azhar, and is scheduled to release in May 2016.

Before the glitz and glamour of the T20 explosion, and even before the colossus that was Sachin Tendulkar arrived on the scene, it was Azharuddin who was the poster-boy of Indian cricket.

Method acting

Azhar-mMainly because he was unique. His batting was nonchalant, oozing with panache and zest. Not surprisingly, trying to bat like him is a task that Hashmi hasn’t found very endearing.

“He (Azhar) had an unconventional batting style. I was an average cricketer with no foot-work. His wrists are like rubber. The first time I tried to play a shot to the on-side I simply couldn’t. I have been practicing it for the past three months, facing 50 overs in a day in the nets. We have to get it right before the shooting starts,” the actor explained.

“The leg glance is one shot I have practiced a lot. I couldn’t master it because I do a lot of weight training. So now I have stopped my weight-training and am focusing on doing yoga. It has to look like Azhar is playing the shot in the movie,” he added.

Off the field, Azharuddin was also known for his love for wrist-watches. At the same time, he was also equally renowned for his generosity. And the whole country watched in shock at the turn of the century as Azharuddin became the Indian face of the ugly match-fixing fiasco that came to the fore in 2000.

With time, he has moved on with his life. The ban was lifted in 2012, and he has also served as a Member of Parliament. But Azharuddin admitted that that untoward phase of his life was a crucial element of the film as it was what changed his life forever.

“I don’t have many fans left,” Azhar pointed out when a journalist present at the event admitted to being a great fan of his. “Whenever I go out, people don’t ask me about my batting but always say Azhar sahab aap bahut ache fielder the. But I remind them that I used to bat decently too,” he said.

Azharuddin wasn’t only one of India’s most artistic batsmen. His style when not holding a bat too was singular in nature. Everything from his walk, his stance in the slips, his mannerisms and his introverted speech. Hashmi spoke about trying hard to copy each detail of his.

“We studied which foot he lands first on the ground. Many don’t know why Azhar always kept his collar up. You will find the answer in the film. We have done a lot of preparation before the shoot, including aping his walk. Even Azhar’s son complimented the walk,” revealed Hashmi.

The film is also expected to deal with Azharuddin’s marital affairs and his two marriages. But it still isn’t clear who will play Sangeeta Bijlani, a former actress who became his second wife. And when Hashmi was asked about whether he had taken tips from the once-venerated cricketer about his love life, Azharuddin was quick to butt in. He said, “Hello, hello, I am the one who took tips from Emran. He didn’t have to take any tips from me.”

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  1. P
    prince irfan
    May 22, 2016 at 10:11 am
    Azhar sir is an innocent man
    Reply
    1. P
      prince irfan
      May 22, 2016 at 10:12 am
      He is best captain in indian cricket team ever
      Reply
      1. A
        arafath
        May 19, 2016 at 12:01 am
        U were created by mother and father u were given birth in the mother . Creating is different from giving birth . So i guess u shud stop using this big words and go and learn english . And do u have a proof that azhar was taken money . First bring the proof and then talk. And muslims sre alaways belive in one god and that is allah not like u worshipping to 5 gods at a time
        Reply
        1. I
          indian
          May 23, 2015 at 4:52 am
          Azhar was made scapegoat by some people who did not like him. he would have created record of hitting 4 centuries in row had gavaskar not declared the innings in which test was going for draw
          Reply
          1. A
            AMIT KUMAR
            May 25, 2015 at 4:36 pm
            how can a traitor of his own country who sold his country for money, hooked his fellow players like the South African player who died due to him become a Congress MP (Sonia and Manmohan sold parliament seats for money as well) and now allowed to have a film made on his disgusting life?
            Reply
            1. N
              Naveed
              May 23, 2015 at 4:30 pm
              indian corrupt politicians and murderers are free from any allegations, when it comes to Azharuddin, why it is such a hot topic? Muslims believe in One God, because there cannot be two Gods, you and i are created by one God, not by several false gods. most of s prefer to sleep with tens of women illegally, hiding with their families, but marrying two women is crime for them.
              Reply
              1. J
                Jayasankar
                May 22, 2015 at 2:48 pm
                Most people does not know about Azhar. He is an excellent Cricketer . But Match fixing is foisted on him by some top People in BCCI at time supported by Ex Captain of Indian Team who wanted him to throw him Out. It was a Sad ending for him. Evidences were fabricated against him. Why Sharad Pawar him self is highly Corrupt Politician and so is BCCI Srinivasan and his son in law. But BCCI Srinivasan is still there holds his position. I do not want comment on his Personal Life, it is none of our Business.Poor fellow he believed some people and alter realized they are Mafia Don's right and left hand. But by that time every thing is over for him.He fell from the Top. Sad end to his Cricket Career . Even Now pak Cricket is ruled by Dawood &Co.
                Reply
              2. G
                George Cheriyan
                May 22, 2015 at 9:00 am
                Why Bollywood glorify traitors of the country?
                Reply
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