Untold Story of the Actor who taught Sushant the Helicopter Shot in the Biopic of Dhoni

Scaling new heights with the Thappar shot | Kranti Prakash Jha

MS Dhoni: The untold story got a huge opening and has been acclaimed critically worldwide over the past 2 weeks. People from all sections of the society enjoyed the Biopic and a lot of its credit goes to the actors who gave it their all to enliven their characters on the screen. Sushant Singh Rajput has come up with his best work till date and is earning great reviews for his work. The others have also put in a splendid performance with some relatively unknown names playing some very important characters in MS Dhoni’s life. Out of all these roles, undoubtedly, Santosh Lal’s character is one of the most important ones as we get to know in the movie that he was the one who had mastered the ‘Thappar/Helicopter’ shot and was responsible for teaching the most famous unconventional shot in the history of cricket, to our Indian ODI captain. Kranti Prakash Jha dons the role of the late Mr. Santosh lal in the biopic, and puts in a brilliant performance. He has worked in a number of critically acclaimed movies like ‘Once upon a time in Bihar’, ‘Deswa’, ‘Ram Leela’ and the National award winning ‘Mithila Makhaan’. We got a chance to interact with this immensely talented actor and he had a lot to share with us which we didn’t know about. Read on to know more about Kranti Prakash Jha and the Biopic. Here’s the conversation between Kranti Prakash Jha and the PatnaBeats team :

PatnaBeats: First of all, many congratulations for the movie. Its already the 2nd biggest movie of the year and is inching very close towards the top.

Kranti Prakash Jha : Thank you so much. Everybody has put in a great effort and its good to see the movie doing well at the box office. Thank you so much again.

Tell us something about your early Life.

Kranti Prakash Jha :  I was Born in Bhagalpur and have my roots in Rudauli- Bachhwara in Begusarai(Native village). My  Nanihal is in Panchobe, Darbhanga so you can safely call me a ‘Ghanghor Bihari’ (chuckles). My father, Late Dr. Deochandra Jha, was a RDDE(Regional deputy director of education) in Bihar education service. He was a bureaucrat. He had a transferable job and that meant frequent shifting. I can distinctly remember travelling to Banka – Phulwaria – Hajipur and then back to Bhagalpur when my father was transferred as a DEO. The Vagabond life continued when we had to move to Purnea- Patna- Hajipur(again) – Munger where my father retired as RDDE. I remember studying in Parora Awasi Madhyavidyalay, Purnea, where we grew up in almost no electricity. No electricity meant studying under the light of a ’Dibiya/Dhibri’ sitting on a ‘buna hua Bora (Gunny bag)’. I went to St. Xaviers, Hazaribagh for some time and then moved to Sonipat for some 4 to 6 months. Vikas vidyalay, Ranchi, marked the penultimate chapter in terms of my high school education as my father finally had enough of being away from his family due to his professional duties and wanted to keep his sons closer to him. As a result, I came come back to Patna and completed my Matriculations from St. MG high school in Boring-Canal road. I completed my 12th from science college and graduated and post-graduated from Hindu college with a Major in History. Then started the phase which marked a turning point in my life. “12th ke baad Bihar ke students ke paas jyaada options nahi hote the. Ya to Doctor ya Engineer ya phir Delhi ja ke UPSC exam(IAS/IPS) ki taiyyari, to humne bhi waisa hi kiya” and I appeared for the UPSC exam. I fell short by 2-3 marks and it was heart-breaking to get that close and yet not cross the line. “Bahut ghum mein jiye, 1 saal mein 1 hi baar exam hota hai, Chott bahut bhayanak tha.” All my other friends since 21 years, were in Bombay(erstwhile). some of them were writers and some others- Actors! They asked me to come to Bombay(erstwhile) for a few months as the next exam could not be taken for another 1 year. Truly caring friends as they were, they wanted me to relax for some time and divert my mind from the near miss that had left a very depressing effect on me. This li’l period changed a lot of things. One careful step after the other and here I am today chasing my dreams which had remained translucent almost all my life, before a wiper in the form a failure, brushed it clear and breathing again!

When did you first realize that you wanted to become an Actor?

Kranti Prakash Jha : I remember when I was a kid “Jo bhi movie aati thi mujhe uske kapde bahut ache lagte the. Aamir khan ki “Ghunghat ki aad se” song aayi thi jisme unhone 1 Bandhini jacket pehna tha.” I left no stone unturned to get that jacket made for myself. “Ashok Raj Path, Patna market ka pura chakkar maar liya” and was very ecstatic after getting it made and used to wear it very proudly. I even remember that Salman khan belt which had a shiny triangular end which he wore in the song “Dekha hai pehli baar, Saajan ki aankhon me pyaar”and how I used to imitate his act wearing that same belt. Now that I look back, I realize that “keeda tabhi se tha” but I was not fully aware of it. I had done some fashion shows when I was in college. I was also a part of theatre acting during those days. But, to be honest I was not overtly into these things. “Acting ka keeda to tha, but wo shayad tab bahut chota tha. Usko UPSC ki parton(layers) ne daba diya hoga. Bombay aaya to wo keeda khule me aa gaya”.


How did the visit to Mumbai change things exactly?

Kranti Prakash Jha : I started off with theatre and there was no looking back from then on. I joined Alok Ulfat’s ji ‘Avikal’, subsequently moving on to Maneesh Verma ji’s theatre group- ‘Actor’s cult’ where I got a golden opportunity to be  directed by Swanand Kirkire sir in the play ‘Aao Saathi Sapna Dekhen’. That’s how things started and I ended up doing around 150 shows in total with ‘Actor’s cult’.  And today I am happy to have played the role of one of the most pivotal characters in one of the most successful movies of the year.

Who was your favorite actor when you were growing up?

Kranti Prakash Jha : Bachchan sir of course. I was also a big fan of Balraj sahni sahab, Ashok kumar sahab and many others. I used to make sure to watch all Of Bachhan sir’s movies on the first show itself, that’s how crazy I used to get for his movies. “Aaj ka Arjun, ke liye laathi bhi khaayi hai maine“. I watched it in Veena cinemas and as expected, there was a huge rush for tickets but trust me even getting beaten up for Bachhan Sir’s first day first show is worth every bit.

How did MS Dhoni: The untold story come about?

Kranti Prakash Jha : I Auditioned for casting director Vicky Sidana. He called me and told me about a role in Neeraj Pandey sir’s movie. I was very excited because I am a big fan of Neeraj Pandey. I had loved all of his works that he had done, without exception. “Ye ek cheez mann me tha fir bhi ki koi achha role ho to mazaa aa jaye. Pehle bataya gaya ki dost ka role hai, wo to thik hai, but dost ka role bhi ek character hota hai” and I wanted to play someone interesting/important. I was not auditioning for the role of Santosh Lal initially but later Neeraj sir and Vicky wanted me to play Santosh’s character. I auditioned again and now I was officially playing Santosh Lal in the movie. I had a reading with Neeraj Sir and that was a very important day as I got to meet the Man himself. He’s a really amazing person. It was an experience of a lifetime for me. I got a phone call after some days to travel to Ranchi to film some scenes which would involve some cricket. We practiced a lot and since I was the one who was supposed to teach the revered ‘Helicopter shot/Thappar shot’ I had to be absolutely sure of the minute details.

“Kirdaar ki ek vidambana ye hai ki baaki teen dost abhi bhi hain, to reel waale real life waalon se puch sakte hain ki aapko mera kaam kaisa laga.” I wish I could have also asked Mr. Santosh Lal how he felt about me playing him, whether I could do justice to the role. May his soul rest in peace!

How was it working with Sushant singh Rajput?

Kranti Prakash Jha :  “Are bahut mazaa aaya. Chuki wo bhi Patna se hain bahut si baatein hui unse. Pehele 2-3 din jyaada baat nai hui but baad me we were like long lost friends. He’s a big name in the Industry today but aisa bilkul bhi kabhi feel nai hua ki star hain to soch samajh ke baat karna pada, bahut hi humble insaan hain wo.” Sushant has worked very hard for this role. For an entire year he has lived life of Dhoni. All the credit goes to him. And the result is there for you to see. He’s very down to earth as a person. We remain in touch even today though the shooting got over months ago. There was a connect between us. “6 mahine baad bhi baat ho lekin ek connect ho to achha lagta hai and we have established that kind of a relation.” We ate singhaada, jhaalmuri and balushahi together and used to discuss about our days in Patna, so all in all it was an awesome experience to have worked with Sushant Singh Rajput.

How would you describe your experience with the other big names like Neeraj Pandey and the likes of Swanand Kirkire?

Kranti Prakash Jha :Swanand kirkire ke baare me mai kya bolu, unka kaam apne aap bolta hai.” He’s a National award winner. He’s a lyricist, a singer, an artist- he can do it all. With the kind of work he has done in films like Parineeta and Lagey Raho Munna Bhai, he’s proved himself to be a many faceted talent who’s had got nothing left to prove. “Jahan tak Neeraj sir ki baat hai to sets pe he’s very professional.” It was again good to work with a fellow Bihari but I didn’t get much to converse with him over our Bihari roots. With him, its very much like, I am his actor and he is my director. He encourages his actors a lot. One of the great things that I noticed with him was, even if he’s not satisfied with something, he’ll approach the person and talk to him privately. Be it a senior actor like Anupam ji or any junior staff member, he respects each and every individual and never creates a situation where one can feel embarrassed or frustrated. I never got a chance to see him after the 1st and the last shot. Like I said, he’s very professional and likes to maintain a low profile.

Do you follow cricket in real Life? How hard was it to perfect the helicopter shot?

Kranti Prakash Jha :Arey hum to Paidaishi cricket fan hain. Jhanda leke ghumte the ‘jeetega bhai jeetega’ ka naara lagate hue.” Cricket is followed like a religion in my home. I remember my Nani used to say “ae chhauda sab, hilihe nai tu sab nai ta India ke hara debhi, jita dahi India ke”( just don’t move from your places or else India will loose),  a kind of superstition that probably came into existence since the days when Sachin used to be the one man army leading India home to so many matches. Coming to the ‘Helicopter/Thappar shot’, to be honest, I don’t think its perfect. I practiced a lot and gave it my all to try and perfect it under the guidance of Neeraj Pandey sir and I hope the audience like it.

Tell us about an incidence on the sets of MS Dhoni: The Untold story, which the fans might not be aware of.

Kranti Prakash Jha : The day when we were to shoot that part where I play the ‘Helicopter/Thappar’ shot, an unexpected thing happened. I have a size 12 feet and its very difficult to get readymade shoes of that size. Though it was arranged somehow, the shoes were not there on time (might have been misplaced) and people started getting restless on the sets as everything else apart from the shoe was there. Everybody started to get frustrated as the shot was getting delayed only because I could not fit into a normal sized shoe and I was feeling like a culprit thinking ”hey Bhagwaan itna bada pair kyun de diya”. Eventually, the shoes were found and we shot the scene after much delay. It was not the first time my ‘Big feet’ were a topic of discussion. I have been used to people often saying “Kranti jab aata hai, pehle iska pair aata hai, fir ye aata hai!”

 What is your take on the Movies produced in Bihar?

Kranti Prakash Jha : “Hume achha content dena hoga tabhi log gharo se nikal kar dekhne aaenge. Jis tareeke ka kaam abhi hota hai yahan, bahut improve kar sakte hain hum, untapped hai Bihari movies abhi.” Normally people relate many things with a region when they see a movie coming out of there. They form an image of what they see. It is our responsibility to show them the reality. Literature mostly has survived in the form of films for today’s audience and its on the decline continuously. Most people in today’s generation would not have read a Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, nor do they know anything about Sumitra Nandnan Pant’s work. Whatever they see in a movie is literature for them. When they see a movie related to Bihar, they think “Bihari aisa hi hota hoga”  which adds to the stereotypical content out there.

Thanks to people like Nitin Chandra, Neetu chandra, Samir kumar and Rajiv Nayan who are trying to change things as they are today. We need more people like them. Like I said, the Bihar film industry is untapped, more people should come up and explore to improve the image of the movies we produce here. “Log aate rahein aur karwaan banta rahe, aisa hona chaiye

What was it like to meet MS Dhoni, the cricketer!

Kranti Prakash Jha : I met him on the sets. I even got a bat autographed by him.  I was already a big fan of MS while I knew him only as a cricketer but now that I’ve met him, I am an even bigger fan of this man. “Kaamal ke aadmi hain, bahut hi saumya swabhav ke. Lagta nai ki ye wahi MS Dhoni hain, the World Cup winning captain! very gentle to talk, humble and down to earth. We were talking casually and he asked me about the role I was going to play. When I said that I was going to play the character of Santosh Lal, he said, “tum to bahut gore ho, Santosh to dark tha!” He’s always smiling and is very simple about the way he carries himself. Its hard to believe that a person living in a 400 sq ft house with 4 other people in 2003, brought the World cup home in 8 years in 2011. All these events truly had the makings of an inspirational story which has been wonderfully adapted on the screen by Neeraj Sir.

It was wonderful talking to you and thank you so much for giving an insight into the details of the MS Dhoni: The Unstold story. Would you like to leave a message for PatnaBeats and its audience?

Kranti Prakash Jha : “Jo bhi kar rahe hain aap log bahut sahasik kaam hai. Bhagwaan kare bahut safalta mile aapko. Jis soch ke le kar chalein hain, aasha hai ki aur log judte rahein aapke saath, manzil tak jarur pahunchenge mujhe pura bharosa hai. “Veer tum badhe chalo, Dheer tum badhe chalo!

PatnaBeats ke madhyam se Hindu college ke mere seniors aur dosto ka bhi bahut bahut aabhar jataana chahunga. Saath Saath Delhi aur Mumbai me bahut se dost hain jinhone kadam kadam par madad ki hai meri, tahe dil se unhe bhi shukriya ada karna chahta hun. Agar meri untold story kabhi banti hai to definitely I would like to thank all of them for they have played a huge role in helping me reach where I am today!

 

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