The biggest challenge about acting is patience - Brett Lee | Exclusive Interview

Most of us have grown up watching him rule the Australian cricket team in the 90s and early millennium. We cheered for him, as he took wickets for Kings XI Punjab (and later, Kolkata Knight Riders) and took the world by storm with his famed wicket celebration style. Later, we saw him juggle multiple roles, right from being a commentator to a post-match show host. As part of the band - Six & Out, he is also known for being a pro at acoustic and bass guitar. This year, former Australian international cricket star Brett Lee, is all set to start a new innings - that of an actor. The Indo-Australian film titled UnIndian, helmed by Anupam Sharma, shall mark Binga's debut in the world of cinema. Lee will be seen essaying the role of an English language teacher named Will, who falls in love with an Indian single mum (played by Tannishtha Chatterjee). We caught up with the dashing sports star on super hectic day and the excited cricketer turned actor, who was in the city for a quick round of promotional activities, spoke to us about UnIndian, turning actor, his view on the changing face of cricket and why he loves Virat Kohli. Excerpts from a fun conversation:

How was it working with the cast and crew of UnIndian, which marks your debut as an actor?
It was an absolute pleasure working with the cast and crew of the film. The most amazing part is the fact that they are so gifted and talented. They are very good at everything that they do. If you use the cricket analogy, we were all on the same pitch and worked together as team mates. Our common goal was to ensure that we make a great film. The film is purely shot in Australia and a lot of people in the country have appreciated the film. The reports and responses have been great so far. I really hope the Indian audience appreciates the film and our efforts.

You made a short trip to India for promotions. What was that experience like?
I was quite excited and thrilled about launching the film in India. It releases this week and I am looking forward to the response that UnIndian gets in this country. It’s been a lot of fun with several engagements being organised, right from interacting with children to adults and of course, sections of the media. It’s been encouraging, especially the response that we’ve been getting on social media.

How did you prepare yourself for this film, considering this was your debut?
I did a couple of acting courses, before the film started off. My experience in front of the camera helped (as a host for post match shows) and I tried to use it in the best way. I have always believed that my experience of 28-years, both on and off the field, made the transition more easier, since there were cameras around, all the time.

Did you face any stumbling block while working on this film?
Not really. But, I got to learn that the biggest challenge about acting is patience. It’s a bit like playing cards on the cruise. You really gotta be patient and use your time to understand that things do take time. So, that’s probably the hardest thing and I am glad I learned it on the job.

I liked the message that this film carries. It showcases the fact that love has no boundaries. You can’t help who you fall in love with
(L TO R) Anupam Sharma, Brett Lee and Tannishtha Chatterjee on the sets of UnIndian

What was it about the script of this film that attracted you the most?
I liked the message that this film carries. It showcases the fact that love has no boundaries. You can’t help who you fall in love with, no matter what hair, skin or eye colour. I reckon that myself and my character Will is very similar to how I am in real life. That’s probably one reason why essaying Will’s character got a lot more easier. I strongly believe in the same values and share the same views. I think it’s a beautiful message to spread, at a time when there is a lot of unrest and trouble going on in the world right now. I think it’s nice to watch a film which takes you away from everything happening in the world outside. For 106 minutes, it helps you disconnect and enjoy something to the core.

You made your test debut against India. What do you have to say about your experience of playing against the country?
I have always enjoyed playing against them. It was unarguably one of my favourite countries to play against. We were always up against the best, whether it is Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Dravid or Ganguly (to mention a few). It was hard to play against India, but it was this very challenge that I loved the most.

What's your take on the changing face of cricket today, especially with the introduction of shorter formats?
I think the game is changing for better. Of course, all of us want to make sure that test cricket is still looked after. I like the purity of test cricket. You need to be in love with game to follow five days of cricket. It’s called test cricket because it is like a test of character, commitment, courage and who you wanna be in that moment. But for me, T20 cricket has changed the game completely and that too, for the better. So with all the new premiere leagues and cricket matches, the future definitely seems good, especially for the youngsters.

Who's your favourite cricketer from the current lot?
I absolutely love Virat Kohli. What is it not to love about him? He is such a fantastic, gifted athlete. The kind of passion and controlled aggression that he possesses is unbelievable. It’s a lot like the way Australian cricket team plays, where they’ve got the controller aggression in place. I think Kohli has definitely got that and it is always a pleasure watching him play.

I will definitely look forward to working on more films. I am game to take up a Bollywood project, if at all it comes my way. 

Several young cricketers from across the globe look up to you. What would be your special advice for them, especially those who focus on fast bowling?
If you are a fast bowler, enjoy being one! Embrace it and ensure that you work hard. I think it’s extremely important to ensure that you get the right training. Too many bowlers are lifting heavy weights. You need to check out trainers who can help out with high intensity cardio, low weights and the right training routine. I have always worked out at the F45 gyms. They are an Australian franchise and have come down to India as well. I think they have the perfect training for fast bowlers.

We can't let you go without asking this - will we see you in an out and out Bollywood masala entertainer anytime soon?
Bollywood is extremely colourful. I do understand that there is a lot of dancing involved in Bollywood. With a lot going on, it just makes these films extremely exciting to watch. Right now, I am looking forward to seeing the response to UnIndian, especially their reaction to me as an actor and my character, Will. Post that, I will definitely look forward to working on more films. I am game to take up a Bollywood project, if at all it comes my way. And yes, I’ll be ready for the challenge of speaking in Hindi as well as shaking a leg on Bollywood numbers (laughs).

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Priya Adivarekar

Priya Adivarekar - Founder and Creative Director at Diary of a Dancebee. She is also a renowned Voice Actress and award winning artiste, with serious passion for dance. When not working round the clock, she can be seen reading, enjoying a movie-binge or listening to music.
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