How judgmental were you when the film came your way?
The kind of person I am, I don't really jump to collections. In any court case when a celebrity is involved, be it from India or abroad, he/she goes through such a situation. Lot of people turn against you. Critics have their point of view and they love to play judge, jury and executor. That too without knowing head or tale of what has actually transpired. Without giving that individual any chance, without following the court case, they say – 'Oh, he is guilty'. That's unfair. I wait for a verdict rather than speculating or forming baseless opinions.
Azhar did have the verdict in his favour eventually.
There was vindication for sure when he won it. There were still people who said though that 'humko toh pata hai isne paise liye hain'. Now that is stupid. If you have faith in the judiciary system then you have to accept it. You may still wish to argue but still, you have to accept it. Yes, the controversies are all there in the film and there is bit of suspense too. All of these things are new for cricket fans too who don't know what really happened. Reason for that is that as a commoner, you see only those things which media wants to show you.
When you are playing a real life person, isn't that a discomforting situation to get in, especially when there are controversies involved?
I actually asked Azhar a lot of questions. Many of them were very uncomfortable for which I thought that he may not want to answer. Still, he was quite forthcoming. He just told me that when the controversy broke, he kept mum throughout the situation. He didn't want to argue with people. A lot of people saw that as his weak moment but I think that it was from the place of strength. I did ask him that why didn't he come out and speak about it but he simply said that he didn't want to. That's the kind of person he is.
You and Azhar are as dissimilar as one can expect though, whether it is the looks, height or the body language. Wasn't that an apprehension in your mind before you took on the film?
(Smiles) The thing is, there is no actor who actually looks like Azhar. The way he walks, the way he comes across as a personality; I don't think that there is any actor who comes close to him. So I said to myself that fine, I will go ahead, mould things and adapt in given circumstances. A lot of people from crew, costumes, styling came together and they all helped. The suits I wore, the jersey given to me – each of these helped me take the first step. As for the height, there is a difference of three and a half inches between us. I had to wear shoes with such high heels, which by the way was quite painful for my back.
He has been a great help. Also, the way he has really treated the film, be it in terms of look or styling, is superb. He has given Azhar a sense of realism but then at the same time aisa nahi kiya ke realism ke naam par usse boring picture bana diya. He has made it like a semi-bipoic. Yes, there are facts given by Azhar himself and Tony and (writer) Rajat Arora have tweaked them to make it all enjoyable. There is no dull moment in the film. It celebrates the man's life and leaves you shocked.
Well, it all leaves you speechless because you realize that all of it actually happened. When I am dubbing for the film, people are discussing that 'Oh god, this really happened'? That said, via this film, in no ways are we are trying to sway the critics. We haven't made the film as a white washing exercise. It isn't as if we are diluting the scandalous accusations put on him. When you walk out of the theatre after watching the film, you would make your own interpretation. In any case, as Azhar himself says, 'The only one person who can judge me is God'.