Sahil Khattar plays legendary wicketkeeper Syed Kirmani in Kabir Khan’s ’83. The debutant tells Analita Seth that his journey has only just begun…
Sahil Khattar was always a restless child and found solace in sports. He was a prominent name in Roller Hockey and represented Indian at the Asian Games and bagged a bronze for the nation as well. Sahil recalls with a smile, “My childhood was very different. I was really dedicated to Roller Hockey. It’s hockey but on roller skates. In India, it’s very prominent in the North. I represented India and won the bronze medal at the Asian Games.”
He flunked a year in college and during that time joined theatre. He recalls giving an audition for a radio show and getting rejected because he was too young. But he was determined to land another gig and was a full-time RJ by the age of 18 in Chandigarh. Like any North Indian parents, Sahil’s parents too were okay with their boy travelling to Mumbai for a reality television show but they were hesitant about him pursuing a full-time career there. He soon found himself hosting Being Indian, a Youtube channel that got him celebrity status among the millennials. Since then, he has anchored many shows like Dance Indian Dance, India’s Got Talent and India’s Raw Star and has also written show scripts for Priyanka Chopra, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Mukesh Ambani and more.
Sahil plays Syed Kirmani’s character in Kabir Khan’s ’83. “There was a casting person who works with Mukesh Chhabra, he said they wanted me to audition for Syed Kirmani’s role. I thought there were twelve people with Ranveer Singh and it won’t do anything for me. I wanted to start with a film like Fukrey or Pyaar Ka Punchnama. Two months later, I had the same conversation again and agreed to an audition. They asked me to play cricket. I did not do an audition, it was just playing cricket,” he reveals.
’83, a film based on India’s first ever cricket World Cup win stars actors like Ranveer Singh, Pankaj Tripathi, Boman Irani, Saqib Saleem, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Jatin Sharma, Adinath Kothare, Ammy Virk, Harrdy Sandhu and many others. Sahil said he made a lot of close friends and learnt a lot about the craft in the course of shooting, “Ammy and I became great friends. We are both Punjabis and love to go out and hang out. Harry is shy but we really gelled well. Adinath too loves to have fun. It was like a boys’ hostel with a warden who is more chill than one can imagine.”
He credits Ranveer Singh for being a constant support during the shooting and said the actor didn’t throw any starry airs. “Ranveer is not just a reel-life captain, he’s a real-life captain too. I was always a big fan and then to work with him and get an insight into the brilliant life he leads. He loves what he does, he is with the love of his life and he’s getting just as much love in return. I can only look up to him,” gushes Sahil. Playing on the same field, on the same pitch as the real players, holding the World Cup and recreating history for the big screen was an emotional roller-coaster ride for the actors, “The biggest partnership happened between Mr. Kirmani and Kapil Dev and the team would not have qualified to the final if this partnership had not happened. It was a make or break match. They scored 126 runs for the 9th wicket. I played on the same ground, on the same pitch. It was surreal.” Syed Kirmani was awarded the Best Wicketkeeper trophy after the tournament. Sahil says it was a big responsibility playing a legend and he took his job seriously. Once, they recreated one famous catch taken by Kirmani in one shot and he was flabbergasted that director Kabir Khan didn’t ask for a retake. “I ran to the monitor to actually review the shot and they were laughing at me for doubting the director,” he reveals.
The acting bug really bit him hard during the shooting of ë83 and now he’s seriously thinking of pursuing a career in acting. “Me and Ranveer were doing an emotional scene together and after it was done there was silence for 30 seconds and then everyone started clapping. That’s when it hit me that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life,” he narrates. Talking about what comes next, he said he has big plans for himself and wants to make a space for actors who can write and execute their own scripts, “I’ve written my first fiction film, sold it to a big production house and I’ll act in it. There aren’t a lot of people in India who write their own films and act in them too. This is why Seth Rogan and Adam Sandler are so likeable, they execute their writing brilliantly as actors too. That’s what I want to do next in life. I want to write more films and also help others write and execute films.”