April 22, 2010 (Calcutta Tube): While the list of Indian, Pakistani, British, Australian and South African cricketers who will be appearing in Nikhil Advani’s Patiala House, which stars Akshay Kumar as an aspiring cricketer from London, is being kept tightly confidential, the name of legendary British cricketer Nasser Hussain has leaked out.
Nasser, who became the first captain of the English cricket team to be born of Indian and British parentage, is regarded as one of the most effective English test captains with whopping record-breaking scores in test cricket to his credit. The Times London called him ‘the most significant cricketer to have played for England since the War’.
Now Nasser will be playing Akshay’s cricket coach in Patiala House.
Reluctant to reveal much casting director Nikhil Advani finally admits, “Yes Nasser Hussain is indeed playing my hero Gattu’s (Akshay) coach in the film. It wasn’t easy getting near him, let alone getting him to agree to play Akshay’s coach. Nasser has a fairly large acting stint in Patiala House as Gattu’s mentor and guru.”
Nikhil Advani says he has gone through the most harrowing time in the past couple of months trying to get cricketers from the world over into his film. “Believe me, it’s far easier to sign the biggest of superstars from Bollywood and Hollywood then to get star-cricketers on board. And to co-ordinate their dates….my God! I don’t know how I survived!”
The director says the IPL matches in India made his task easier. “The IPL proved a blessing for me and Akshay. We got star-cricketers from all over the world at our doorstep, plus their managers and co-coordinators. I don’t know how I’d have managed if the IPL matches hadn’t happened in our country.”
It wasn’t easy convincing Nasser Hussain to face the motion-picture camera for the first time. Nikhil Advani assured the 42-year old test cricketer that he wouldn’t have to act for the camera. Just be himself. Akshay will head for London next month to spend pre-shooting time with Nasser so that they look like guru and shishya on and off the playing field.
Sighs Nikhil, “Now begins the new phase of my struggle to get permission to shoot in England at major stadiums like The Oval and Lords.”
Nikhil begins shooting the cricket matches for Patiala House in London from June 19.
— Subhash K Jha / Sampurn Wire