Bollywood and cricket are national obsessions in India and when the twain meet, it gets explosive. Naturally, the auditorium at PVR cinema, Juhu, was packed to capacity on Thursday evening, with fans of former Indian cricket captain M S Dhoni desperate to get a glimpse of Captain Cool. The occasion was the trailer launch of Neeraj Pandey’s M.S.Dhoni: The Untold Story, a biopic of the charismatic cricketer.
Dhoni, along with leading actor Sushant Singh Rajput and director Neeraj Pandey, arrived to a roar from waiting fans, after launching the trailer of their film in Jalandhar earlier that day. The trailer was launched in Mumbai amid deafening applause. Here’ what happened at the event:
M S Dhoni on what cricket teaches you
Cricket is a great leveller. If you are not humble, it teaches you to be humble. When you are going through a lean patch, the best bowler from the opposing team ends up bowling to you and the worst fielder from the team ends up diving to catch your shot.
Dhoni on how he felt when he first played for India
When I started playing cricket, I never imagined I would be playing for India. When I finished my first India tour and performed well, that’s when I realised I would be playing for India. But I never played cricket thinking of personal milestones.
When we used to play cricket in school or in the park, our only objective was to win the game. You should never measure your future against milestones. If that were the case, Michael Phelps should have retired after winning five Olympic gold medals. It’s not about milestones but about how much you can continue, how good you are and how you can take it forward.
I try to keep it simple. I live in the present and I don’t think too much about past or future. I take learning from my past and you need to have goals for the future but the most important thing is the present. The effect of our present will be seen on our future. You have to find motivation from either family or friends or people around you. For me, my country is my biggest motivating factor.
Dhoni on the trailer
When I first saw the trailer, I was stunned. It is amazing and I believe Sushant (Singh Rajput) and Neeraj (Pandey) have done a brilliant job. Sushant doesn’t look like Sushant; he is totally me. And when I knew Neeraj would be directing the film, I kind of knew it was in good hands. Also, I don’t think anyone knows me better than Neeraj does as he is the only man to whom I have opened up so much. He knows every detail about me.
Dhoni on how to stay cool during exams
When you get your exam paper in hand, it is already too late. If you have studied hard the entire year, you will know the answers. So it is important to be attentive in class and learn a little every day. When I was in Class XII, my exams coincided with my cricket matches. I had to take my exams, take a train, play and come back. I was scared to tell this to my father. Finally, I mustered the courage and confessed, and he very coolly replied, ‘If you have worked hard for a year, a single day will not make any difference. Similarly, if you haven’t worked hard at all for a year, again a single day will make no difference.’
Neeraj Pandey on the film
Dhoni was the only biopic I have been offered and who wouldn’t want to seize the opportunity to make a film on him. It was a wonderful learning experience, to know what goes on in the mind of the Indian captain.
Dhoni on Sushant Singh Rajput
Somehow, I always knew that Sushant would do justice to the film because he is a very sincere actor. I also believe it was the toughest part for him to play because I am usually expression-less even under pressure or even when I am happy. Imagine an actor doing the same in a film. He has had to work very hard but has delivered the shots exactly like me.
Sushant Singh Rajput on prep
There was a lot of preparation I had to do, not only understanding the body language, cricket style, how he talks etc. I spent days with him to get to know him as a person, and then I had Neeraj Pandey as a director.
Sushant on Dhoni
It was the first time I have seen Dhoni losing his cool. During the first two to three days, I asked him a few questions and he answered them calmly. Then he said, ‘You ask a lot of questions, let me come back.’ I kept asking him the same question in different ways. There are films you do with full honesty and you end up being a good actor and there are those rare films you do and you end up being a good human being. This is one of them.