Making a cricket movie isn't easy. So, Harman Baweja has discovered while shooting for debutant director Ajit Pal's Victory. Usually, acting is about faking it. And when Aamir Khan played cricket so expertly in Lagaan, he didn't have face professional players on screen.
In Victory, where Harman plays a professional cricketer he was pitched against professional real-life cricketers. After playing with pros of the field in Australia earlier this year, Harman on Thursday manoeuvred the bat with Rajasthan's seasoned Ranji Trophy players like Mohammed Ahmed and Abhijeet Sharma.
Sunburnt and suffering from a serious sun- stroke, Harman says, "Earlier in Australia I played with Brett Lee, Stuart Clark and Mike Hussey. I'd like to think I looked authentic enough playing with them. Now I play with Rajasthan's Ranji players since yesterday. And I'm having a ball. Because although I'm playing a cricketer, I'm playing for real. Man, you can't fake it with these guys. And considering Rajasthan has just won the IPL, you can imagine how good these guys are at the game. "
To ensure complete authenticity in the cricket scenes, cricket expert Praveen Amre was deployed all through the shooting. "Praveen Amre was part of the Indian team in the mid-1990s. We didn't want to falter for even a bat of an eyelid, pun intended. Hence, the expert advice," says Harman.
The cricket scenes being shot in Jodhpur show Harman's characters beginnings as a star-cricketer. "It's the story of a cricketer Vijay Shekhawat's rise from a small-town player to a national-level cricketer. My big moment came when these Ranji players said I played well. They told me there's a lot more to cricket than just the shot. They said I looked convincing in the way I wore my helmet, gloves, stood my ground, ran and connected with the field. I worked on all of that. As far as playing the game goes, I was a cricket player from school and college. So, I only needed to brush up the game. It was getting the other details about a cricketer's personality right that was tough."
Since Thursday morning, Harman was playing cricket non-stop for 12 hours. "By the end, of it I was ready to collapse. Everyone else in the crew had breaks. They ran under trees, checked the monitor in the shade while I had to stand in the burning sun and play non-stop for 12 hours, rehearsing and doing final takes…I'm so exhausted by the heat I can collapse right now," says Harman who suffers from a heat allergy.