What made you decide to do this film?
There were a lot of reasons first is off course the director I have known him for years and he is a very simple, hardworking and talented he has worked with me in the film Ashoka. Heís a very sweet, unassuming kind of a guy and to choose a film which is on sports and which is normally neglected say perhaps apart from Lagaan, Hip Hip Hurray and Iqbal now we havenít really made sports film and its something that I thought when I was younger I should be doing but I didnít get a chance so when I am old and grey and over the hill I am glad someone like Shimit thought that I could sort of fill in to a sports film and field hockey has been a personal favourite sport of mine and I have been wanting my kids to learn.it and I do feel I am no one to really comment from the outside that the state of Indian Hockey is not good but I have always felt that if there is anything i can do via the medium that I work in about the things that I think are special like field hockey is to me My father used to play,my friends use to play and I love it to so when all these things came together and off course Yash Raj producing it, they are all friends and family and I couldnít have got a better chance to make a dream come true about doing what I like doing most which is acting and doing a subject which is close to my heart.
Can you tell us something about the character you play.
Just to first name the character itís Kabir Khan. Heís a coach; an ex-Indian hockey player his living with some demons has got some problems in life has not been successful wants to overcome that but without being cynical or disturbed. He decides in his mind and heart that he going to do something positive about it so itís a film about achievement in the face off failure and itís a film that looks at failure in a positive way that if you havenít done well fairly or unfairly the idea is not to give up or become cynical .The idea is to take on some kind of a challenge and try to overcome that obstacle which had stopped you earlier so I would say the character is like that he is quite aggressive when he wants to be. If you really ask me though I have played it I really donít know what the character is I have played from my heart. Its mix of Jaideepís writing, itís a mix of Shimitís outlook on the whole film, itís a bit of Adiís belief in the film and itís a bit of my mannerisms and style, So itís all rolled into one. I would like it to be thinking, feeling may be of an elderly brotherly kind of a character who you feel confident in, who himself is shattered from inside, so itís very complex its not just like a simple explanation, I havenít been able to understand it myself yet.
What was it like working with a whole lot of newcomers?
Fantastic, earlier I thought that working with newcomers would be a bit of a hassle because they would not know their lines, you know you become a little patronizing you become a little kind at times, a little agitated and irritated at times because things are not going the way you think they are going but I think the whole production and the whole team had worked very hard with them and not to take any credit away from these girls. I think they are very hardworking and wonderful they put their heart and soul into the film. They have practiced and learnt hockey, they have learnt the lines, they know the scenes they knew everything and at the end of it all after having worked for 18 years as an actor I taught I got a lot to learn, because there is a bit of rawness when newcomers come and face the camera working for so many years you tend to become a little mechanized .You see a scene with a young girl whose never acted before she says her few lines and they donít seem like you would do them this way but when you hear it out it sounds very right so itís a great learning process to work with newcomers. I had done that a bit in Swadesh but which was with still honed theater actors not film actors but here there were most of the girls had ever faced any kind of acting job so this was really nice and it was a great learning process for me.
Among the girls in the team many of them must have been your fans what was it like working with them?
The girls are very sweet and they were working really hard and we had a lot of readings before we started the film and couple of meetings so that we got easy with each other apart from some of them liking me, its a little embarrassing because some of them were 5/6 years old when they saw my films so itís a little embarrassing to be working with girls where you suddenly realize god you are old, you have been working a lot but it was also important for me to be comfortable with them and not treat them like kids because the whole purpose of the character Kabeer is that he doesnít treat them like kids or girls he treats them like grown up, tough people so I think that little bit of being fans and stalwart compared to the others got over very fast in the reading and meeting stage and then we were all co-actors and co-actresses just working together and having a great time and they were really nice, very well mannered very well brought up and really nice kids.
Is Chak De India another effort by you to do off beat film like Swadesh and Paheli?
I donít think these are off beat films sometimes I like the stories because they are different and I donít think Shimit and Adi are the kind of people who would make an off beat film its very on beat I think but the subject is that you cant make it every year, itís a different subject so I donít know what an off beat film is I donít like boring films myself so I donít try to do those. I think this is a film with a different kind of a soul and a different kind of a story line so thatís how itís different and I donít think itís off beat.