Cricketer Brett Lee changes pitch in India film debut
Mumbai (AFP): He is used to playing in front of packed crowds in sporting stadiums — now Australian cricketing great Brett Lee is hoping to win new fans as his debut movie hits cinemas in India.
In an email interview with AFP ahead of the release of feature film UNIndian in India on Friday, Lee said he hoped his fledgling role may prove a stepping stone into the country’s cinematic heartland.
“Maybe a Bollywood movie next! Fingers crossed people enjoy this film,” he said.
With his tousled blond hair and twinkly eyes, the Australian fast bowler enjoys huge popularity in cricket-mad India after a decade playing matches on the subcontinent.
“Both have different challenges,” Lee said of his switch from sport to the silver screen.
With the tagline “getting spicy everywhere”, the cross-cultural comedy is directed by Indian-Australian director Anupam Sharma and set in Sydney, featuring a large Indian cast.
“I’ve grown up playing cricket so this acting stuff is brand new. That keeps it fresh and exciting,” Lee said.
“UnIndian was a wonderful opportunity with a really positive message.”
He took acting classes to prepare for playing Will, an English teacher who falls in love with beautiful single mother Meera, played by Tannishtha Chatterjee in the cross-cultural romcom.
But they face an obstacle in the form of Meera’s friends and family who want the divorcée to marry a successful Indian man.
“I’m always about being as professional as possible,” Sydney-based Lee said of his acting training.
The film did not escape the scissors of India’s notoriously prudish censors, however, who cut some of the steamier scenes from the Indian release.
In its review, the Times of India newspaper lauded Lee’s acting debut as well as the film’s love story for steering clear of clichés.
“Brett Lee, the former cricketer-turned-actor, is surprisingly a natural on camera. He slips into his casual role effortlessly. The speedster’s fans won’t be disappointed for sure,” the mass circulation English-language daily said.
However, the Hindustan Times warned the plot was “poppadum-thin”.
The former cricketer has also turned his hand to music, with his band White Shoe Theory in the process of recording an album, according to Lee’s website.
A duet performed with Indian Bollywood singer Asha Bhosle, You’re the One For Me, made a splash in the Indian music charts in 2007.