60 global cricketers including Sanath Jayasuriya in sports flick ” Victory”

After wielding their willows, 60 cricketers from around the world are coming together to star in one of the most expensive Hindi movies on sports, Victory. Even before its release, the movie is creating ripples due to its glamorous star cast, high production costs and long-line of in-film advertisers.

To begin with, the movie is being shot across eight cricketing nations like Australia, Sri Lanka and South Africa, and at 18 major stadia, including Wankhede in Mumbai. The producers are looking at premiering the movie in all these nations, and at over 1,000 screens in India on January 30, 2009.

Directed by debutant Ajit Pal, the movie has a production cost of over Rs 50 crore, much higher than an average Bollywood movie. The film is expected to rake in around Rs 30 crore from in-film advertising, sponsorships and distribution rights, according to a highly placed source close to the production.

When contacted, Ajit Pal said: “Victory is a movie about a player of the Indian cricket team. We all know about the gods of cricket, and are thorough with their achievements. But this is the inside story of a cricketer, his dreams, aspirations, politics and the challenges he comes across.” He, however, did not disclose the financial details of the film.

The film’s claim to fame is that Indian cricketers like Ishant Sharma, Irfan Pathan, RP Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Munaf Patel and all-rounder Yusuf Pathan, among others, are acting in the movie. The lead is played by actor Harman Baweja, with Amrita Rao opposite him and Priyanka Chopra making a special appearance.

Additionally, Australian bowler Brett Lee and batsmen like Ricky Ponting, Stuart Clark and Mike Hussey, Sri Lankan players like Sanath Jayasuriya and Dilhara Fernando are in the long list of players, even though Zimbabwe is one cricketing nation that is left out. The list does not end here. Tony Greg and Navjot Singh Sidhu (commentators) and umpires like Daryl Harper (of Muralidharan chucking fame), Paul Reiffel and Simon Fry are also acting in Victory.

According to Pal, the cricketers are being paid at Indian Premiere League (IPL) standards, even though he did not disclose fee paid per cricketer nor the production costs. Under IPL standards, top players fee range at around $1 million (around Rs 5 crore).

The movie also has the biggest in-film advertising, with brands like Bharti Airtel, mobile handset manufacturer Meridian Mobile (makers of ‘Fly’ brand), sports apparel and accessories manufacturer Reebok, Lawman jeans, Neo Cricket (Neo Sports Broadcast’s cricket entertainment channel) and Gitanjali Gems. Fly is spending Rs 50 lakh for the in-film advertising, while others are expected to spend similar amount or upwards.

Following enquiries from most the cricketing nations, filmmaker Manmohan Shetty (who is also the co-producer and distributor of the movie) is in advanced stages of discussions to sell overseas rights.

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