Tennis ace-turned-actor Leander Paes is all geared up to play the role of a spy in director Arindam Mitra’s espionage film, Agent K. Currently, Paes is shooting for Ashok Kohli’s Rajdhani Express where he plays an aam aadmi (a common man).
According to Paes, his roles in Agent K and Rajdhani Express are poles apart. “While Rajdhani Express is a social satire, Agent K is a fast paced spy thriller. It’s a guy’s flick. It’s got guns, fast bikes and fast cars — very James Bond meets Mission Impossible style. It’s slick, smooth and has a lot of pulp and fiction in it. The aesthetics of the film have a western feel to it,” Paes says. For him, Agent K is not just a film. “It’s more like a project. And I have completed shooting for only one part of it. The project includes the movie and then there are other things involved, which I can’t talk about at the moment. The film will release around April next year,” the actor says.
Explaining how he plans to balance his tennis and film career, Paes says, “I can’t play tennis till I am 100, so while I am still playing the game, I want to work on one movie at a time. This means I have to set my dates accordingly and also take time out for tennis, which becomes tricky. Tennis takes 42 weeks in a year, while a film will take a maximum of 90 to 180 days.” He credits his multi-tasking ability to his high energy levels and a clean lifestyle. “I think just as another businessman would handle 20 different companies under one banner, I do the same with myself as a brand — whether it’s films, tennis, event management, sports management or my new production venture,” he says. Meanwhile, Paes feels he is not a talented tennis player. He claims he is better at football. “My god-given talent lies in my interpretation of reading between the lines of what someone is trying to teach me, which is either my director or my tennis coaches or a parent.” He emphasises on the need to get the skills right whether it’s tennis or the new acting career he has chosen.