There have been quite a few celebrities in India who have wafted through the fields and moved on to the frames in the movies. From playing ball on the courts to courting on screen, Leander Paes joins the illustrious list of sportsmen from Salim Durrani to Sunil Gavaskar, from Sandeep Patil to Kapil Dev and Ajay Jadeja to Salil Ankola on the big screen.
But then here is the second of the two in the illustrious tennis duo called Indian Express, Leander Paes who enters Bollywood. Leander’s former partner Mahesh Bhupathi is married to Lara Dutta and has produced a film ‘Chalo Dilli’ as well.
Paes makes his debut in Ashok Kohli’s ‘Rajdhani Express’ and is pretty confident about his film. “How different I am on screen and off screen is an answer when my film hits the screen,” says Paes.
You heard him. That is the answer of a seasoned actor. Leander was earlier linked to actress Mahima Chaudhary before he married former model and actress Rhea Pillai who was earlier married to Sanjay Dutt. Somewhere, some place the filmi connections are working. “I play a common man called Keshav. He is very unlike the real life personality I am. Keshav does not behave the way I would behave in every given circumstance and hence it was good fun playing the role,” says Paes who does not seem to care much about the critics and the audience as well having served the country well on the tennis court while serving several aces in the process.
Becoming an actor seems to have been a natural progression for Paes who seems very confident about Bollywood. Reason enough that he has chosen a tough role to debut with in the movie industry and becoming an actor seems to have a very special reason for him. “This is not just one movie which I’ll be doing. I already have three movies on my plate,” he reveals matter-of-factly without disclosing too many details about his debut.
For Leander getting movie roles hasn’t been anything very new. The filmmakers seem to like him a lot more even before the release of his film. “I got offers for films just two weeks after I started playing tennis, but then it was a question of the right time as well as the right script as well,” admits the tennis champ.
Leander seems to have impressed not just filmmakers, but his co actress Puja Bose as well who seems to have been floored by a cross court volley from the tennis ace.
Bose who was earlier seen in the TV Series ‘Sarwaguna Sampanna’ says that it was a pleasure working with Leander and she had a lot to learn from the Tennis star. “There have been a lot of things that I have learnt from him. I used to feel nervous while acting with him,” admits the actress about the mixed doubles that she played with him on screen.
‘Rajdhani Express’ chugs into the theatres in the first week of January. Now to see whether it will be game, set and match for this 13 time Grand Slam winner.