‘Elvis is America’s answer to Shammi Kapoor’

You are the ambassador for the Mumbai Marathon 2008 and the brand ambassador for the English Premier League. How do you feel about the allegation levelled against SRK that he is using cricket to promote his film, Om Shanti Om?

Well, I have no business commenting on something I’m not much clued into. All I can say is that when it comes to me, I had played A-division football at a time when I had to choose between education and the game. I chose to study then. But I honestly feel for football, a feeling that is also shared by Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi. Had I not played football, it would have been impossible to do Sunny’s role in Goal. I was very happy when both Alvito and Baichung, who were sitting next to me as we saw a special screening of the film, said ‘Boy, some effort you’ve put in’. It felt great.

With one sports film releasing after another, don’t you feel there’s an overdose?

Any film, be it romance, comedy or sports, if it’s good then it’s bound to work with the audience. Any film that’s new and different will become a ‘cult’ film. Isn’t it a good thing? Why can’t we encourage good films? Why do you have to rip it apart? When do we stop pulling each other down?

Can a sports film alone change the sports scenario for the better?

All it can do is generate interest. For changing the whole scenario, the system has to change, same goes with the bureaucracy. If nothing has changed for the past 30 years, no film can change everything overnight. But if a film deals with meaningful issues, people are bound to sit up and take note. When Baichung, after watching the film, said how builder lobbies are at work to occupy playgrounds in reality, I was happy knowing at least the film can help create some popular opinion. That’s where a film helps.

You had said Baichung Bhutia’s name should be mentioned with as much respect as MS Dhoni and Viswanathan Anand. Do

you see visible discrepancies in sports? Sports need impetus, no matter what the game is. I personally am very fond of Mahi (MS Dhoni). He is a lovely boy and happens to be one of my most favourite. But Baichung is a national hero and he also has done a lot for football. We all owe a lot to him for making India proud.

Your story is also much like the underdogs scoring the goal in your film...

I don’t belong to a film family. I’m the underdog in the industry. But it’s good to be an underdog in a way --- the audience is your biggest strength and you feed off their frenzy.

How would you rate yourself as an actor?

I don’t believe in ratings. All I know is that hard work pays off.

On the personal front, aren’t you scared about too many break-ups happening in tinselville?

Are there that many break-ups happening? I wouldn’t know.

Aamir busy casting for his Delhi Belly

For his next film Delhi Belly, Aamir Khan is neck deep in casting and has zeroed in on three actors for every part. Abhinay Deo, who debuts as director with the film, says, “It’s an ensemble cast. Every character is equally important. We had zeroed in on Ranbir Kapoor to play one of the parts. But that didn’t work out. So our search started again.” He says that the casting progressed to a point where they’ve more or less zeroed in on three actors for every role. “We start shooting end-August. We don’t have much time to get the entire cast in place,” Abhinay told IANS. Abhinay comes to direction after 350 ads. “I’ve been making ads since 2006,” he said.

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