Meet Harbhajan Singh – The Cricketer, the Actor and the TV Show Host
Harbhajan Singh talks about KKR's IPL turnaround, his acting debut and the TV show he hosts.
At 41, Harbhajan Singh has managed to balance his life as an Indian Premier League cricketer with the life he has made for himself away from the game – as a TV show host and also now, a Tamil film actor.
His debut film Friendship, also starring Arjun, Losliya Mariyanesan and Sathish, released in September while, earlier this year, he donned the TV show host's cap with a trivia-based show on Zee5, Punjabiya di Dadagiri.
The Quint spoke to the former Indian cricketer about the past month he's spent being a part of the IPL bio-bubble with Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and also his many new career paths.
KKR all but through to the play-offs. After finishing the India leg in the second-last position, you won five of the next seven matches in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and now have all but entered the play-offs. Did you all think this was possible?
In cricket, sometimes you go through a period when you’re not playing well, then you’re not playing well. No matter what you try and no matter what you do and that’s exactly what that earlier phase was for KKR. No matter what we did, it did not click. But after losing, those who win, they’re called baazigar (a reference to the Hindi movie Baazigar). We’re Shah Rukh Khan’s team and after losing, we’re winning, maybe we become baazigar in the end.
One player who has helped turn things around for the KKR is Venkatesh Iyer. Before the season, did you all know he could be important?
During the IPL in April, he was about to play a game but his debut got delayed a bit and then the tournament itself got shut down. Venkatesh Iyer was always going to be a very, very good player. We all knew he had a lot of potential. The way he went on about his batting was absolutely brilliant. Watching his performance, the team too has performed well.
Was it part of your plans to act in a movie? How did this project come to you?
There weren’t any plans of acting as such. I went for an event in Chennai and that’s where I got to meet these people and we got together and the they told they had something in mind for me. I thought, why not give it a shot? I have one life so I should try everything so that's how this worked out.
The acting part, in fact, was a bit tough: The action and all I could handle since I'm a sportsman so I knew how to avoid getting hurt while falling.
The dialogue delivery was difficult for me. To understand the language was tough, to understand the scene and emotions was tough for me. Then I had to convert that to Hindi and understand it and then deliver the scene. It was a bit tough but I am happy I managed.
Which Indian cricketers would you say can ace that actor’s hat as well?
Nowadays because of social media everyone posts so many things. I saw Shreyas Iyer dancing like Michael Jackson the other day, it was unbelievable. If someone asked me to move like that it will take me a few years to get into that rhythm. So I think Shreyas would be good.
Virat Kohli is a very, very good actor. I think if he turns to acting, he will be number one in this as well. He’s a great actor.
Shikhar Dhawan would be good for a serious role, like that of a gangster. Shikhar would be the best suited for that.
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