I have fallen in love with India & its people: British actor Darren Tassell, who plays Stephen Constantine in upcoming sports film Barefoot Warriors
One of the main actors of Barefoot Warriors, Darren Tassell, shared his experience in India and of playing the role of current Indian National football team coach Stephen Constantine.
In fact, this movie is not the British actors' first stint in India. He played the character of the British sergeant in Sajjan Singh Rangroot, an Indian period war drama film, which also featured Diljit Dosanjh. This film got rave reviews from both the audience as well as the critics.
Barefoot Warriors -- directed by Kavi Raz -- is a sports drama film based on Indian football and will also feature 'Never Back Down' fame Sean Faris, Rajpal Yadav, Yograj Singh, Mukul Dev, and Jobanpreet Singh among others.
In an exclusive interaction, Darren shares his experience of working in India:
"My experience in India has been life-changing. It completely changed me as a person and human being. I was very lucky as just two weeks after the shoot of Sajjan Singh Rangroot was wrapped up, I got the offer to play Constantine in Barefoot Warriors and flew back to India from London.
"What I like most about India is the humility in its people. I have never seen this kind of love and genorosity shown to strangers anywhere else. So many people with nothing are ready to give everything to you. It was really touching and I have absolutely fallen in love with India and its people."
The movie Barefoot Warriors is based in the modern era but it has strong references to the Golden Era of Indian football (the 1940s and 1950s), and the time in 1948 when the Indian players played barefoot in the Olympics and also qualified for the 1950 World Cup.
The sports drama is based on the story of the grandson of one of the Indian players of that era -- the name of whom was not revealed -- and his efforts to bring glory to the nation. The story has a lot of backdrop about the matches in the 1940s and 1950s but is actually set in the present day.
When asked if he actually had the chance to interact with Constantine for the preparation of the role, Darren responded:
"I would have loved to engage with Stephen Constantine for the movie. I live in South London myself and the local team is Millwall FC and Stephen used to be the first team coach here. I would have liked to pay my respect to the national team coach as he has done so much.
"As a Millwall fan, it would have been lovely to just shake his hand and thank him for what he has done. However, it did not happen I am afraid. I did, however, watch a lot of videos of Constantine and prepare myself for the role by doing as much research as possible about him."
The film revolves around the arrival of an American man to a quaint village in Punjab, where he sees and nourishes the local talent in a bid to create history. He is actually seeking to redeem his own failures in life but ends up fulfilling century-old dreams of the village folks.
Darren is a die-hard football fan -- like most people in Europe -- and loves watching the Premier League as well.
"I am a huge football fan and I love football. I like to watch good football and currently I enjoy watching Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham in the Premier League."
The shooting of the film happened majorly in Ludhiana. There is even a very subtle message in the film to take up sports rather than being influenced by the negative impulses in daily life.
"It was absolutely beautiful to see people coming from nearby villages, offering to bring us tea, inviting us to their homes and have some food with them. My heart goes out for India now. It was also incredible to work with such hugely talented and experienced Indian actors such as Yograj. I have learnt a lot from them and I would be extremely content to build a career in India."
Talking about his future plans in India, Darren said:
"I have just applied for a few castings but that may or may not happen. Some of the guys with which I worked in Barefoot Warriors also keep mentioning the upcoming projects and I am looking forward to trying for them as well. I have done my work now and just have to be patient. Sajjan Singh had a great spell at the cinema and now Barefoot Warriors is about to release. I am confident that people will like my work and take notice of me."
India has a population of over 1.3 billion people yet it has never been to the senior World Cup. The newly Independent nation played exceptionally well in the 1948 Olympics. However, few know that India did qualify for the senior World Cup in 1950 but withdrew from the tournament right before the Finals were about to begin. Travel costs, lack of practice time, and FIFA imposing a rule banning players from playing barefoot -- are some of the reasons for the withdrawal.
The quality of films in India has improved leaps and bounds and this upcoming sports drama promises to be no less.
"One of the Bollywood films I enjoyed watching is 'Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi.' Shahrukh Khan was just wonderful. I adore him and find him to be an incredible talent. I would love to work with Shahrukh and Salman Khan in the future," the British actor signs off with a tongue-in-cheek moment.
It will be great seeing Darren as a coach, a role which is different than his usual Soldier and Gangster roles. The first look of the film is also extremely promising. Indian football fans will be keenly waiting for this one to see how it unfolds.