'My car crash eventually helped me to play Muralitharan convincingly': Madhur Mittal on essaying the cricket great in '800'
Actor Madhur Mittal, who is known for playing a key role in Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire, plays cricket great Muttiah Muralitharan in Indian film 800, a sports biography based on the Sri Lankan spin bowling legend. In a quick chat with IBNS correspondent Souvik Ghosh in Kolkata, Madhur opens up
Q. You were definitely aware of the controversy over Vijay Sethupathi's casting for the role previously.
A. I was aware that a huge star like Mr. Sethupathi was doing this film. But the controversy that happened was because of him being a Tamil and there was a political friction between some parts of Indian Tamils and Sri Lankan Tamils.
Madhur Mittal | Image by Avishek Mitra/IBNS
Me being from the north of India, I was quite far away from it. I was really excited and sort of a little nervous over the responsibility of playing such a legend. It was all positive for me from the start. I wasn't too worried about the controversy.
Q. Did you take any training from Muttiah Muralitharan to play the role?
A. No, I didn't take any training from Murali sir because obviously he was a busy man. Moreover, he was coaching IPL team Sunrisers Hyderabad and helping them with the game. So I didn't get a lot of time with him.
Q. So how did your training process pan out?
A. I started working three months after I got the film. So for those three months, I practised as much as I possibly could to get the action, look and all the other nuances, which are needed to be nailed to play a biopic properly, right. So we have tried our best and worked really hard. Now I hope the audience likes it.
Q. How did you manage to learn the bowling action?
A. I had a car crash around eight years ago. Due to the crash, I messed up my right elbow which actually helped me to replicate Murali sir's action (the spin bowling legend couldn't straighten his arm) more accurately. So a bad experience in my life eventually helped me to portray Murali sir's action a bit more realistically.
(From L to R) Madhur Mittal, Sourav Ganguly and Muttiah Muralitharan | Image by Avishek Mitra/IBNS
Q. Tell us about your upcoming projects.
A. Right now, I am fully focussed on 800. I also have a show waiting for release with Jackie Shroff and Sikandar Kher. Moreover, I am starting a film very soon. There are a bunch of things in the pipeline.
(Images by Avishek Mitra/IBNS)