Shubman Gill is not much of a talker. His replies can be irksomely short for interviewers. The commentators have to almost goad him to talk longer in the mid-innings or post-match conversations. When The Hindu meets him over a video call, he is seated like a shy schoolboy, reluctant to speak. He greets us with a silent half-smile. Just an evening ago, the Gujarat Titans batter was screaming mid-air, after smashing a 49-ball 100 – his third of the ongoing Indian Premier League Season – against Mumbai Indians (MI) in Qualifier 2. The innings, which culminated at 129 off 60 balls, has pedestalled him as the heir apparent to Virat Kohli in the men’s Indian team batting line-up.
Shubman downplays the adulations. “People will always have something to say about you – good or bad. But I don’t let that affect me,” he says, stoically.
Despite the modesty, he acknowledges the near-invincibility he felt playing that knock against MI in Ahmedabad, which took his team into the final. “It felt like I could not do any mistakes. I was completely in the zone. I felt like a superhero.”
Off the cricket field too, he felt like one, while voicing for the upcoming animated film Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, the sequel to the Academy Award-winning Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse. The film, releasing on June 2, will be set in a shared multiverse of alternate universes called the ‘Spider-Verse’ and will have an Indian Spider-Man (the alter-ego is named Pavitr Prabhakar). Shubman is voicing Pavitr/Indian Spider-Man in the Hindi version of the film.
Cricketers, especially in India, are not alien to films. Shubman is a film buff himself (his favourites include The Godfather Trilogy and The Irishman). But most cricketers restrict themselves to ad films. To voice-act a character in a feature is a different ballgame. Shubman says he liked the challenge.
“You have to ask the makers why they chose me to voice the character. But they told me I was the first name that came to their mind,” he says, “ I was excited when this opportunity came about. I knew it was going to be challenging because I’d never dubbed for a film. That was all the more reason for me to do it.”
“The idea of being a character – to convince people of something that you are not – was fascinating. I wanted to experience how that feels. And it was interesting. Because there were a few emotions that are less a part of my personality. It was difficult for me to show those emotions, especially the dramatic ones. But 80-85% of Pavitr’s emotions, I could resonate with. He’s fun, always up to something, and full of heart,” he says.
There’s another reason he jumped into the project: Spider-Man is his favourite superhero. “I like many superheroes. But Spider-Man is close to my heart because it’s one of the first few movies I watched. I watched it on TV with my family when I was about six years old. So, I’ve been a big fan of Spider-Man ever since.”
We confirm if it was the Tobey Maguire one, directed by Sam Raimi.
“Yes. For me, Tobey Maguire is the OG Spider-Man!”