How did Azhar happen?
I was supposed to make something with Ekta Kapoor and this is when Balaji approached me with the idea of Azhar. I am a huge fan of Azhar and have known him for quite some time now. Actually, I stopped watching cricket when he stopped playing. When you are a huge fan of someone and you hear that he has been banned from playing then it ticks you off.
It is being speculated that the controversial subject matter could threaten many other veteran cricketers.
Let me tell you something. When you are making a film on the President of US, it would have many other characters but essentially it would be centred on him. Similarly in Azhar there are other players shown as well but they are not integral part of the film. Genuinely, the film is about Azhar only, so guess no one should be worried. There is nothing that we have done which is wrong in any way. Yes, we have taken cinematic liberty to create some characters. Like, Lara Dutta is playing this lawyer who never existed.
Emraan is a very underrated actor; he is actually one of the best that we have. He hasn't got the right opportunity to show his acting style. You have been seeing him as someone who romances the girls, doesn't watch Western films and actually comes from lower middle class segment. Well, in real life he is actually the opposite of that all. He is pretty much well versed with everything in the world. He is one of the most literate people that I have met. Giving him a role like Azhar is more challenging for us. He does home work for everything that he does. (Chuckles) And of course, he definitely kisses in our film as well.
After working with Akshay Kumar in two films, did you miss him while making Azhar?
There isn't anything like missing per se since I am always in touch with Akshay sir. Once a week I speak to him on things that I am working on. He has been a mentor and guide throughout. I owe my achievements to him.