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Cricket fever is in the air as the Pakistan Super League continues to take place in Dubai. Whether it’s a debate over how good or bad the official anthems are or whether the final should take place on local turf in the wake of the Lahore terror attacks – one way or the other, the conversation of the moment is definitely about cricket. What’s interesting though is that cricket is being mentioned under the same breath as cinema nowadays and we have Ramiz Raja to thank for that. Ever since news broke out regarding his intentions to don the director’s hat for an upcoming film, fans and critics alike have been wondering what Raja is upto.

We caught up with the former cricketer one day before the opening ceremony of the PSL as he attempted to dodge fans who wouldn’t stop taking selfies. “Please let me go, I have a lot of work to do!” exclaimed Raja as he posed for a picture with his fans, claiming it to be the last one before he ran off. Thankfully, we were one of the last few people who managed to get a few minutes of his time.

Of course, the first and most obvious thing to ask Raja was his motivation behind making a film.

“The idea of a film has been with me since the last 10 years,” shared Raja. Details of the film are still being worked on but he did reveal that the film will discuss how cricket can transcend boundaries. “How can cricket help us get out of this 75-yard mindset to do something more solid for society? The film will also highlight how we can retrieve the downtrodden kids from nefarious activities and take them back into mainstream circulation and how cricket can help them.”

Raja claims that he had this concept in his mind for many years but it wasn’t till three, four years ago that it finally came close to completion. “Things started to click when I met a director from India and we started to write the script together because I was very clear of what I wanted to make.”

Further elaborating on the details, Raja added, “The name of the director is Girish and the film is called Torbaaz which means eagle. It’s about how we retrieve a bunch of kids who are on a suicide mission through cricket. It’s not cricket centric; it’s a very social and emotional drama. It will be on floors in May/June.”

More than the film itself, it’s Raja’s casting choice that has captured everyone’s attention. The former cricketer confirmed that Sanjay Dutt will be playing the main role in the film. Why did he choose Dutt though?

“For several reasons. He has market value and also, what he has gone through in his life. And the producers in India, Waves Cinema, wanted him on board as well. He liked the idea when he heard it and he got absolutely convinced to do it.”

While the issue of terrorism is very relevant in a country like ours, Raja believes the film will appeal to a huge audience as it touches upon a topic that is affecting many people all over the world. “It’s a global issue which is why it will have a global appeal and a global audience. We want to make this as huge as possible. It’s not a Bollywood film. It’s a very Hurt Locker sort of war drama.” We jokingly confirmed the lack of item numbers in the film, to which Raja responded. “No you won’t see any item numbers, I’m sorry to disappoint you.”

At a time when Indian filmmakers are caving in to the extremism they face by banning Pakistani actors/artists, how does Raja envision the inclusion of stars from across the border?

“I think cricket is such a strong, neutral medium that I’m hoping for the best and I hope that the world understands the value of the concept and that this gets translated in cinema and we happily live ever after,” Raja concluded wittily as he ran off to avoid the next round of enthusiastic selfie takers.

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