Cricket as a sport is quite the entertainer. With the advent of the Indian T20 League, international cricketers and Bollywood celebrities came together to form an entertainment package which was way too exciting for an average joe in India. Seems like this entertainment wasn’t enough for some of the best international cricketers as they sought to find their feet in the acting industry.
Today, we’ll take a look at five international cricketers who turned to the big screen to showcase their raw but exuberant passion for acting.
Brett Lee’s fan following in India is commendable as he was one of the first international cricketers whose popularity in the country transcended beyond cricket. When he wasn’t bowling pacy deliveries to the batsmen, he was getting recognised for his passion for music and acting. Lee grew up loving music and loves to play the guitar. His affection for music was on show when he collaborated with the legendary Asha Bhosle for a record single – ‘You’re the One for Me.’
Meanwhile, Bollywood gave Lee his debut in the movie ‘Victory’ starring Harman Baweja. Lee was playing himself in that movie and had to see himself get hit all over the park by Baweja. However, his first lead role came in the Australian romantic comedy, ‘UnIndian’. This film was directed by Anupam Sharma and starred Tannishtha Chatterjee opposite Lee. The film charts the romance between an Indian single mother (Tannishtha) and an Australian teacher (Lee). The film did decently well and was fairly received.
The batsman with arguably the soundest technique in world cricket, Sunil Gavaskar also let the acting bug get to him as he starred in a Marathi movie ‘Savli Premachi’. Gavaskar made his acting debut after being persuaded by umpire Piloo Reporter to act with his sister Madhumati. Gavaskar appeared in one more Marathi film ‘Zakol’ (1980) before solely resuming with his duties on the cricket pitch.
He never really played a lead role in a Bollywood movie but did act in a cameo in Naseeruddin Shah’s ‘Maalamaal’. Here he was seen to defeat the veteran actor in a friendly cricket match.
Known as the man who introduced athleticism in Indian cricket and for his magnificent cameo in the 1996 Cricket World Cup where he smashed Waqar Younis for massive sixes in Bangalore, Ajay Jadeja’s exemplary cricketing achievements were overshadowed by the five-year ban he had received on charges of match-fixing at the turn of the century. The ban was quashed later on but the damage was already done. After ending his playing career, Jadeja soon moved towards the silver screen to display his acting abilities.
He came knocking on the Bollywood doors and soon got a project to kick start his acting career. He made his Hindi film debut back in 2003, where he bagged a cameo role in the film ‘Khel’ alongside Celina Jaitley, Sunil Shetty and Sunny Deol. The film though didn’t perform well at the box office. However, that wasn’t the end of his short-lived acting career. In 2009, Jadeja also acted in the movie ‘Pal Pal Dil Ke Ssaat’, which was the last time we saw him at the theatres till date.
The man who still holds the record for the fewest innings between two Test match double centuries, somehow, kept getting snubbed from the international team. His short-lived cricketing career didn’t please Kambli so he thought of switching industries and show his worth in the movie industry.
In 2002, Kambli made his Bollywood debut with Sanjay Dutt and Sunil Shetty as his co-stars in ‘Annarth’. The film tanked at the box office and Kambli switched to the small screen to feature in a TV show, ‘Miss India’. He came back to the big screen in 2009 with a cameo in ‘Pal Pal Dil Ke Ssaat’ – a movie featuring his fellow colleague Jadeja. In the same year, Kambli also featured in the TV reality show ‘Bigg Boss’ where he entered the house as a wild card contestant. He hasn’t tasted a lot of success in the industry but has given us moments of magic on our screens.
Undoubtedly, Harbhajan Singh is one of India’s best off-spinners in history. In the famous Kolkata Test against Steve Waugh’s Australia, Bhajji, as he is fondly known in the cricketing world, became the first Indian bowler to pick up a Test hat-trick. He just didn’t spin a web around the batsman in international cricket but also gave his fans extra doses of entertainment by making several small appearances in movies.
Whilst being an international cricketer, Bhajji did a special appearance in the super-hit movie, ‘Mujhse Shaadi Karogi’. He made his Punjabi film debut in 2013 in a comedy movie produced by Akshay Kumar – ‘Bhaji in Problem’. After Hindi and Punjabi, he is all set to debut in the Tamil movie industry with his latest film ‘Friendship’ about to release in August 2020.
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