Azhar, silk and steel

How the former captain's life story turned into Hindi cinema's first cricketing biopic

Sonal Pandya

With the recent boom of sports biopics such as Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013) and Mary Kom (2014) leading their stars to awards and critical recognition, Hindi cinema is now looking towards India's number one obsession and the most popular sport in the country today, cricket. 2016 contains two very different looks at the two very successful captains to emerge out of Team India, Mohammed Azharuddin and M.S. Dhoni. While M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story is scheduled to release in the latter half of the year, Azhar bows in theaters on 13 May 2016.

Former captain Azharuddin triumphantly led the Indian cricketing team to great glories during the 1990s. However, in 2000, he was embroiled in a match-fixing scandal and banned for life by the Board of Control for Cricket in India. Eventually, the ban was overturned by the Andhra Pradesh High Court in 2012. With a turbulent personal life, including a second marriage to one-time model and actor Sangeeta Bijlani, Azharuddin's professional career has enough twists and turns to be showcased on the big screen.

Directed by Tony D'Souza and written by Rajat Aroraa, Emraan Hashmi takes on the lead role of Azhar, playing a real life persona for the first time in his career. The film brings to view the man behind all the controversies and how he triumphed over tragedies in his life. Azhar also stars Prachi Desai as his first wife Naureen, Nargis Fakhri as Sangeeta Bijlani and former Bigg Boss winner Gautam Gulati as Ravi Shastri.

Azhar is striving to maintain all authenticity in its cricketing sequences. They have recruited stunt and sports director Robert Miller, who has previously worked on Mary Kom and Chak De! India (2007) and key portions of Azhar will be shot at Lord's, the home of cricket. But most importantly, Azharuddin has been involved from day one of the project, guiding Hashmi with cricketing tips and been present on the film's sets.