Cricket in Pakistan, once a global power to reckon with, has been hit hard by terrorism. Since the 2009 terror attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, international teams have shied away from Pakistan. Coffers of Pakistan Cricket Board have dried up and a generation of cricketers has been deprived of opportunities. Ramiz Raja, the veteran of many a cricketing battles, is well aware that it is important to address the root cause if cricket in Pakistan were to survive. He is making cricket the tool to deal with the menace.
Raja is now taking a fresh guard as scriptwriter. The cameras are set to roll for another movie on sports – no biopic is this. It’s a story how cricket can become guide the misguided youth to give up the path of terrorism and return to serve the society.
The film is being produced by Wave Group while the role of former Pakistan cricketer Ramiz Raja will be the story and screenplay writer.
Raja opened up about his dream project in an exclusive interview with InsideSport.
Q: Pakistani backdrop, Pakistani writer, an issue more connected to Pakistan. But why Indian (film) industry?
A: We all know that Bollywood is an established industry with some amazing artists. We are targeting the global audience. The story of the movie revolves around the menace of terrorism across the world. So, I hope we are crossing all the boundaries so that we can reach to the maximum people. We are looking for an ‘Oscars’ project.
Q: Will you produce this dream project yourself?
A: No. Wave Group is producing the movie. Sanjay Dutt is in the lead role. We discussed the story with him and he readily agreed. Girish Malik of the National Award winning movie, Jal, fame is directing it. I had a concept and I have inked the script. You may also see Chitrangada Singh in an important role. Many international artists are going to be a part of the movie, artistes from Pakistan too not ruled out.
Q: Tell us more about the movie?
A: It revolves around a very sensitive subject, terrorism, which is a global concern. It is themed around solving the problem of terrorism through cricket. Cricket can be a medium to solve such a serious issue is the story-line. Action and suspense will be the key ingredients.
Q: How did the whole idea come up?
A: Around four years back, I had met Girish. We discussed the concept and he liked it. We are executing the idea now. The cameras are likely to roll in May.
Q: You have been a poster boy of Pakistani cinema during good old days? Possibility of seeing you in a role?
A: My age is not allowing me to do that (jokingly). I am younger than Sanjay, though.
Q: Will you like to share the commercials?
A: Wave knows that. But when it’s a Sanjay Dutt starrer, you know it’s going to be a big budget film.
Q: The unrest between the two neighbors and non-acceptance for Pak artistes in India cannot be ignored. Any thoughts about that?
A: Of course that is a challenge. We signed the contract in September, when the situation was altogether different. I am just praying to get everything fine. I am handling my part of scripting and writing. The director and producers will take care of the rest. Terrorism is a very neutral and harsh subject and in this movie we are trying to deal with it through cricket. This sport is a very strong medium globally. With this movie, we will be able to fill that gap. I am just hoping that people will understand the real message. We are trying to make an Oscar kind of a project which can be launched without any geographical or political boundaries. Hopefully, we will get the appreciation from across the world.
Q: Terrorism. You are touching a sensitive subject. Not scared?
A: I don’t think so. Once again, I would like to say, cricket is an integral part of the story, which has its own brand, value and reach. It will be kind of a new spin that how a sport can become the medium to deal a serious issue like terrorism. I have no apprehensions about that.
Q: Any particular reason behind signing Sanjay Dutt for this project?
A: Sanjay has an amazing personality. At this point of his career, he was also looking to sign some meaningful role. He got so excited that he immediately signed on dotted lines after hearing about the subject.
Q: Will some scenes of the movie be filmed in Pakistan?
A: It will be shot around the world. Since we are showing the face of terrorism across the world, there will be several outdoor locations. For me, (it is) more than a business project. It is a personal connection. I can openly say that this whole story idea was in my mind and heart for many years. If I will ever write a book, I can explain at length that how, executing this whole concept was in my dreams and today with the help of this movie, it’s turning into a reality.
Q: How did the idea develop?
A: The credit goes to Girish. He was talking to everyone, to producers, to actors. Wave group decided to produce it and Sanjay also agreed readily. We have crossed the most difficult hurdle and the plot is ready.
Q: Can we say after seeing the cricketer and commentator, we will now get to see the story and screenplay writer, Ramiz Raza?
A: Nothing like that (laughs). Entertainment world is a fantastic medium to express yourself. I am just trying to do that. Cricket has always been close to my heart. I have deep family connections with this country. I have always enjoyed coming here. Hopefully it is not the end of it.