Sushant Singh Rajput reveals how he transformed into MS Dhoni

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Bollywood Actor Sushant Singh Rajput has finally revealed that how he worked hard and had became India’s successful captain MS Dhoni.

Pic: Firstsport
Pic: Firstsport 

The actor said ‘MS Dhoni: The Untold Story’ his most special film for him. He has worked hard to become Dhoni. Real Dhoni and Reel Dhoni is currently busy in the promotion of the biography. The film is ready to hit in silver screen on September 30, 2016.

He said, “There was no way I was going to say no to this role. Once I was on board, I knew I had to prepare and change myself completely for the film. We decided to plan my routine and training accordingly so that once I began shooting, I was more like a cricketer than just a hero.”

Sushant worked with Dhoni’s trainer Kiran More and psychotherapist Vaibhav Daga. The practice for Rajput was divided into three parts, first is Playing cricket second looking like a cricketer and last one is getting the attitude correct.

The Actor said about this three training parts, “Third was getting to walk, talk, bat, in Dhoni’s style and playing in the stadiums.”

Pic: Indianexpress
Pic: Indianexpress 

He said about awful training schedule, “The first four months was just training in getting the shots correct. From cover drives to defense, square cuts and then wicket-keeping. Everything I needed to know about playing cricket to be able to pull off the role. That was a pre-requisite. Kiran Sir is a taskmaster. We used to start at 5-5.30 am every day with 45 minutes of warm-up drills, which is more than any intensive functional training that you know, and then I would pad up. Everyday, he would decide one shot and I had to play that shot for the whole day. I would practice it, on the bowling machine for at least 300 times for about two to 2.5 hours. Then a break of 30 minutes and another one to 1.5 hours of wicket-keeping. The first few days were so painful because at 29, in your head, you think you can do it easily, but your body isn’t used to such routine. Plus, there’s a posture that you need to sit in for keeping. You need to flex your butt and then put all the pressure. It was a completely different dynamic. I got the hang of it after a long time. The first four months were only about looking and playing like a professional cricketer.”

Sushant is also practiced at the Mumbai Cricket Association. Rajput said how he learned Dhoni’s shots, “We moved to MCA (Mumbai Cricket Association) and then the analyst came on board. Then it was about all the shots that Dhoni plays. Every shot was analysed frame-by-frame, given when the body weight needs to be transferred from one foot to the other while playing a shot. It looked very scientific. For the next six months, it was just about MS Dhoni shots and his wicket-keeping. He’s so agile at his age and his reflexes are really strong. Every day we would be sitting and checking the analysis. Even before we began training for the film, I saw some 1,000 hours of footage of Dhoni just playing on the field. I didn’t even jot down pointers, I just watched him, subconsciously getting immersed. We used to record each day of the training session and the analyst would compare my shots with his to know where I’m going slightly off. There were several instances when the cricketing shot was perfect because I had picked it up by then, but it wasn’t looking like MS. That’s what I spent the next six months doing.”

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He said about the most famous the Helicopter shot, “That had to be there and I knew that from the day I signed the film. But thankfully, I picked it up really quickly. Because I had seen him do it so many times already. Then I played some 10-12 good helicopter shots in the year, but after I returned home, my ribs started hurting. This was in the sixth or seventh month of my entire training course when I got a hairline crack. All the other shots are about the timing and angle of the bat. But the helicopter shot is when the ball is pitching very close to your left foot. What you need to do is to extract a lot of momentum in a very short span of time, stop that and come back. I injured myself, and was advised bed rest for two weeks. After I started training again, the analyst started saying that I was walking and running like him.”

He added, “By then, I knew the nuances and I knew how to bat and keep wickets. But it still wasn’t easy. I had to bat continuously for 20 odd overs and then immediately wicket keep for 20 more overs. So it was very, very tough. Normal pitches aren’t excellent pitches. The bowlers too weren’t always accurate so the pitch would sometimes bounce because the ball didn’t know I was an actor. Plus, wicket keeping is a tough job. I thought it would be easy because I would practice in my living rooms. But in two overs, I would have cramps, and my lower back would start hurting. That’s a very awkward position to sit in. So those two months, it was more of a simulation exercise. I got hit on my little finger once when I started shooting for the film. During training, no more injuries happened.”

Sushant said that he did not ever meet Dhoni during the training period. When he meets MS Dhoni, “Dhoni had not come to see me train. When I met him, I showed him some footage from the training on my phone and he in a very cute way told me, ‘It looks and it feels like magic’. He saw other videos after that, of me running, wicket-keeping, batting and he was smiling all through. When I was shooting in Ranchi, after pack-up, I would go to Jharkhand Cricket Academy stadium, practice with the U-19 cricketers there and come back to the hotel. I needed to convince myself that I was Dhoni and I play cricket everyday.” 

He realized that cricket is not just cricket. Sushant described how he worked on his lower body and muscles, “I was simultaneously working in the gym on my lower body — for the calves, hamstring, glutes and quads. Dhoni’s quads and calves are massive. So, I was eating a lot consciously. From 72 kilos, I had to reach 87 kilos because that was the requirement of the role. So it was no oil and sugar. I had to be big like him but at the same time, he is very, very fit. I wasn’t eating to gain weight, but to get muscles. Then, I had to reduce it again to shoot the earlier portions of the film. We did it reverse. So, I again had to lose 15-16 serious kilos then. I had the same diet, the amount of food used to vary. I wasn’t allowed to have any fried stuff. I love everything fried that’s why it was so difficult. But I used to have one cheat meal every week, Sunday afternoon lunches where I could eat anything and everything till I puked. (Laughs) My close friends would mock me saying, ‘Ae Dhoni’ and I would look back and smile. I was so much into him. I was either playing him or watching him for almost one-and-half years. This is my 53rd character including theatre, TV and films. On the last day of shooting, I have always felt a sense of loss. Like somebody dying inside me. I had withdrawal symptoms for Dhoni too. It was more difficult because i wasn’t just playing Dhoni, I was Dhoni even in my dreams!”

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