Natasha Coutinho (MUMBAI MIRROR; June 29, 2017)

Akshay Kumar, who is steadily consolidating his position as the next patriotic Kumar in Bollywood after Manoj Kumar, with films like Holiday, Airlift and Baby, reserving all his big-ticket releases for Republic Day and Independence Day weekends, is now set to kick off yet another project in a similar vein. Reema Kagti’s sports-drama, Gold, which is scheduled to open on I-Day in 2018, kicked off in the United Kingdom with cast members Kunal Kapoor, Amit Sadh and Sunny Kaushal. Akshay is expected to join them in the first week of July for a two-month schedule, with a major part of the shoot planned in Bradford.

As part of their prep, the actors have been training in hockey under multiple coaches, including former Indian captain, Sandeep Singh. A source close to the development, says, “Sandeep Singh trained the actors for a few months before they flew off for the international schedule. The Arjuna awardee who took over as captain of the Indian national team in January 2009, was roped in to ensure that the actors looked like authentic hockey players on the field.” Under Singh’s captaincy, the Indian team clinched the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in 2009 after 13 years and qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London after eight years.

“In Bradford, the team is also holding auditions at the city centre for local actors to portray international hockey players of the rival team. An international coach has been hired to train them there,” added the source.

Gold, Kagti’s third directorial venture after Talaash (2012) and Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd (2007), and produced by Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani, inspired by the story of the Indian hockey team’s historic win, bagging the first Olympic medal for the country as a free nation in 1948.