Game for Khel... then some cricket

Suniel Shetty and Ajay Jadeja... a few films, a few runs. Photo: S. Arneja.

Suniel Shetty and Ajay Jadeja... a few films, a few runs. Photo: S. Arneja.  

AJAY CONCEDES acting is no ordinary "Khel" but cricket is still the priority. In New Delhi to promote his second innings with friend Anna alias Suniel Shetty, one finds an eloquent Ajay fielding an inquisitive media about his passion for the shorter version of the game on the celluloid pitch as well. "This is just one off thing and I am waiting for the domestic season to start. I am match fit and have already played a few matches for ONGC."

Ask him to compare the two innings and Ajay finds no similarities between the two worlds that move India. "One is real and the other is fiction. In cricket you have no retakes. One ball is enough to send you packing but here you can improve upon your mistakes. Then dancing with Celina is a lot easier then facing Shoaib upfront and abuses from the slip cordon. But in cricket you follow your own script, own direction while here somebody is there to guide you throughout and you never know how many shots would be chopped off before the final. However, the most important difference is that in cricket you don't anxiously wait for the Friday verdict on your performance."

Was any knock in the nets required before taking the centre stage?

The infectious smile that failed to fulfil the fantasies of female fans on field is back. "No, I didn't take any formal training. Yes, when I had to give a live performance at the IIFA awards function then I did rehearse for a few days. But I had an understanding of the medium thanks to the numerous advertisement films. As for the dancing the bad habit of visiting discotheques came in handy. I never knew that it is such a taxing job, as you have to synchronise your steps not only with your co-stars but the junior artists as well." Suniel confirms how demanding the act was when he reveals that cut sound invariably failed to separate Jadeja with Celina.

He was under fire for match fixing charges when he signed the character, Rohan Poddar, who is also falsely implicated for a murder. Any connections?

Jadeja denies the obvious. "The intense character and chance to work with Suniel and Sunny made me sign the film. Also, I was refused something that I was doing day and night for the last 20 years. But I am a man who always looks for positives so I thought why not give films a chance."

Try to catch him by reminding him of the failed switchovers from the gentlemen's game to glamour game be it the legendary Sunil Gavaskar or Salim Durrani or the swashbuckling Sandeep Patil but Ajay surprises you with a split second reply, "Every year around 30 new actors fail at the box office, nobody enquires about them but media has made a list of the three failures from cricket. We have still got some 27 chances." However, his answer belies his intention to stick to the game where he has represented the country 195 times and confirms Suniel's declaration that his friend is Test match stuff as far as Bollywood is concerned. Ajay for once is found wanting on emotions. "Though both Bollywood and cricket are the most sought after professions in the country, I feel anybody who says that he hasn't wished to see himself on screen is lying but the pride in representing a country of one billion is something unique and I am ready to work for the lost place. My other film `Pal Pal Dil Ke Pas' is almost complete and I have finished my part. Right now I am just concentrating on cricket."

Even if "Khel" flourishes?


Well, the man has finally learnt to show a straight bat.

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