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Meet Yuvraj Singh's doppelganger Herry Tangiri from Dhoni biopic

Tangiri claimed that his father and Yuvraj’s father Yograj played cricket for the same university in Punjab.

Mayur Lookhar

Euphoria — a feeling that a cricket fan experienced after watching M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story. The biopic on the Indian One-day International captain provides plenty of moments for the audience to cheer about. The applause isn’t limited to Sushant Singh Rajput alone. The film also threw up other characters who were cheered by the audience. One such character that evoked a huge applause was that of cricketer Yuvraj Singh. 

At first, one had to rub their eyes to believe that the guy on screen isn’t the real Yuvraj. However, such is the striking similarity between the two that it would be difficult to distinguish between Yuvraj and Herry Tangiri if they are made to sit together.

So, has he asked his parents how they gave him the Yuvraj look? 

The actor broke into a laughter, saying, “It’s natural for such a question to be asked. My friends and people around would often joke if Yuvraj’s father had met my parents and if we were related. At times, I would even joke that we are related. In fact, when it comes to kids, I give them a Yuvraj Singh autograph as I don’t want to disappoint them.”
While there is no blood relation, the story has roots in cricket, much like the premise of M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story. "Yuvraj's father Yograj and my father Shyam Sunder Tangiri both played cricket for the same university in Punjab. Yograj Singh went on to play for the country, but unfortunately my father couldn’t go beyond the district level. They were not friends, but they knew each other. Ironically, years later, I got to work with Yograj ji in Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Unfortunately, the family was then battling with Yuvraj’s cancer, so, Yograj ji looked disturbed during the shoot."

“I’m a huge Yuvraj Singh fan. I wanted to tell Yograj ji, but I was too scared then. However, on the day of the success party, he appeared in good spirits. He came to me and said ‘you look like my son',” said Tangiri.

Surprisingly, despite being a Yuvraj fan, Tangiri has never met the Indian cricketer. "I’ve been dying to meet Yuvraj. My friends joke that I should meet Yuvraj, but not his fiancé Hazel Keech. There have been times where I’ve narrowly missed out on meeting him. I would arrive at a place, and then people would tell me, 'oh sir, you’re back again'. Once a make-up artist friend of mine shot an ad with Yuvraj, and I was upset that he didn’t tell me before. I’m just hoping to meet him soon. If there is a biopic on Yuvraj, I would love to do that.”

Being a doppelgänger is one thing, but to act like one is a different challenge altogether. How did Tangiri impersonate Yuvraj so perfectly? 

“It is here that I first give credit to Yuvraj and then director Neeraj Pandey. He had one meeting with me, and 20 minutes later, he called to say that I had been finalised. There were no auditions for this role. The one big problem that I faced was that I’m a right-hander, but Yuvraj is a left-hander," said Tangiri.

He added that Pandey flew in a coach (Mohit Chaturvedi), who worked endlessly trying to get him play left-handed. "I trained for couples of months, sweating it out. What made it even more difficult was that I had no dialogues in the film. There was a time that I’d given up, but both the coach and Pandey sir were persistent," said Tangiri, with a sense of relief in his voice.

It’s been a whirlwind ride with the actor winning fans everyday and he’s cherishing every moment of it.

Recalling an interesting episode, Tangiri says, “I’ve heard that in Jamshedpur where we shot the sequence at a basketball court, people have been thronging to the same court and clicking selfies, pictures. I’m really overwhelmed by the messages, appreciation that has been coming my way. My social media following has increased tremendously. Some people have been using the footage (Dhoni bumping into Yuvraj at the court) to create memes. I guess all this adulation makes up for the good work that I’ve done before but didn’t get credit for."

While Tangiri is basking in the glory of this newfound attention, we asked him if he feared ending up being just a shadow of Yuvraj. "The biggest difference between those doppelganger actors and me is that I don’t look like an actor. Yuvraj is no actor. Besides, this fear would have been slightly justified if this was my first film. I’ve already done few films like Love Sex Dhoka (2010), Hai Apna Dil Toh Awaara (2016) and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. Before M.S. Dhoni, people didn’t recollect my name, but now they do,” Tangiri explained.

MS Dhoni: The Untold Story is still long way from being hailed as a blockbuster. History shows that only two sports biopics have done well at the box-office, Chak De! India (2007) and Bhaag Milkha Singh (2013). 

"I don’t know why other films haven’t worked. All I know is that I’ve been part of two sports biopics, and both the films are a hit. So, may be I’m the lucky charm for such films. Any director contemplating making a sports biopic, should cast me,” Tangiri signed off.

Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Omung Kumar, are you listening?