Aussie cricketer-turned-actor BRETT LEE tells SHUBARNA MUKERJI SHU about his experiences working in the country that has unofficially adopted him as its own.
Having basked in fame and success, to start anew, in a whole new field might not have really been the easiest decision. What tilted the scales for you when it came to signing UNINDIAN?
To me, the chance of changing fields, becoming an actor, was a massive challenge. Having said that, I cannot refute it was also a wonderful opportunity that I could not pass up. I dived right into it… Through it I also had the chance to work with the wonderful Anupam Sharma (director, UNINDIAN) again. Having worked with him earlier it gave me great confidence in knowing what we both could achieve on screen.
Earlier with cricket matches, later with IPL, you have had interactions with India and Indians for a long time now, however doing UNINDIAN – was there anything new that you learnt?
It is true it has been many years of interaction… I do understand the basics so if there was one thing that the movie did for me, it probably was the Holi scene. It was a huge eye-opener for me. Believe me, I never knew throwing colour around would be so much fun!!!
Indians have always loved you – most of your Twitter followers are Indians or people of Indian origin. What has your experience been like here?
I love the country, I love the culture, I love the people! Every time I visit India I feel very welcomed, what more can I say?
Given you have almost always visited India mostly to play against the country, what are your most cherished memories here?
I have a lot of fun out in India. But the most cherished memory would probably be playing cricket in front of a packed crowd at Eden Gardens. Also mixing with the local culture and understanding what India is all about…
For someone who has such a huge fan base in India, why did you not opt for something more commercial than UNINDIAN?
The chance to star in UNINDIAN was an amazing opportunity for me as it’s an Australian film. I think a film shot in Australia holds a lot of credibility and with the two cultures meeting through a love story says to me that love has no boundaries and nor should it.
What about the movie or the character appealed to you most?
That has to be about the character’s love and commitment to his overseas students.
Given you have dabbled in several things before turning cricketer, does acting in an Indian film come under the same category of just trying a new thing, or do you actually intend pursuing it?
This might be my debut film but I have to share this… I think every time I stepped out onto the cricket field I was acting in some sort of way. I’m totally different off the field as opposed to the cricketer you see on the field. And I guess being in front of the cameras for over two decades now has helped me immensely for this change in vocation.
Working with the likes of Tannishtha Chatterjee, Supriya Pathak… how was it, given they are renowned actors?
It definitely made my role a lot easier working with consummate professionals. Tan was great and I learnt a lot from her also. She is a star! Such a wonderful, kind person who is at the top of her game.
What’s the one ‘Indian’ custom or tradition that you like, and one that perhaps you dislike?
The one thing I love is the attitude of always trying to please you. The thing that makes me laugh is India is sometimes organised chaos! (I say that with a smile on my face.)
Any silver screen faves?
Preity Zinta and Shah Rukh Khan are definitely two of my favourites. My favourite western actor is probably Leonardo Di Caprio.