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‘I want to be the Virat of my field’

Virat Kohli’s doppelganger, an engineering graduate from UP, is not only playing the cricketer in a new movie but has also set up a production house catering to TV channels

Seeing him practise wearing an Indian Jersey with number 18 and ‘Virat’ printed on it, a casual observer would definitely say its India’s cricket team captain. But hold on a second, this 25-year-old lad is not the genuine article, he’s Virat Kohli’s doppelganger Amit Mishra.

Born and brought up in a middle-class family in UP’s Sultanpur, Amit did his schooling from Stella Maris Convent School and went on to pursue BTech from GLA University, Mathura. No one knew that his fortunes would change in such a way that he would land up with world’s no. 1 batsman in a room, shooting for an advertisement.

When Patriot reached out to him and asked about the intriguing tale of events, Mishra narrated “The journey started when Virat Kohli-led India team won the Under-19 World Cup and I was still in school. At that time Kohli used to keep a trimmed beard and I too did not have that much of facial hair. My identity started matching Virat’s, which was pointed out by my friends.

I always adored cricket and Kohli was new in the Indian team but I often thought about the similarity. When I was in 12th grade, there was pressure on me of Board exams and studies.

“The real hype started when I reached college, GLA University in Mathura, UP, Since Day One, the craze for my face began as Kohli had become an international icon by then. I started getting special attention. Everyone used to say, “You look like Virat”. He started feeling like a star with all the attention.

Most of us dream to become a civil servant, engineer, doctor, lawyer or journalist but for a middle-class family from UP’s East, to even imagine about making a career in the film industry would get the family and even acquaintances into a lather. Yet Mishra eventually managed to get support from his close friends and parents.

“Initially, when my parents got to know about all this, it was a surprise for them. They had mixed feelings, not knowing whether to be happy or get upset. I have been brought up in Sultanpur, and no one thinks big or out-of-the-box. Where I was brought up, dreams were put on the back burner. But I was always into extra-curricular activities in my school, whether it’s stage shows, whether its anchoring or college shows. During my graduation I was more into co-curricular activities rather than studies, and in the latter I was mediocre.”

But there was an inner voice which was always messaged him saying, ‘Yes, I can do it’. Because if I have this face and eventually wanted to come into this field, then I’ll have to prove myself. It was a dilemma for my parents but they supported me.” Obviously, it was fortune which also was involved in this game of coincidence,” he said.

Three years back, he met Ikram Akhtar, a film writer, director and founder of a production house during a flight. They started to chat on obvious lines, about his resemblance to Kohli. The coincidence was that Akhtar was already planning a movie about cricket and everything fell neatly into place.

Every sports or cricket enthusiast has a desire to meet Virat Kohli and spend time with him, take pictures and brag about it. When Mishra first met Kohli, it was a surprising situation for both respectively. Mishra recalls, “The first time I met him was in 2017 for an advertisement shoot of Star Sports. Virat Kohli is an international icon and he is among Top 3 sportsperson globally in every parameter. Meeting such a personality with so much of aura is like a dream come true. People are determined to just have one glimpse — and I was shooting with him, sitting next to him, discussing things. It feels like you have fulfilled all the expectations you have from life.”

The day Mishra met him, Kohli Paji exclaimed, “O teri, you look very similar.” Mishra explains, “The big thing was that every nanosecond you are with him, you’ll learn something and a lesson is always in offing. The commitment he shows in every word he says, in his body language, is extreme.”

Asked about what all he learn from his idol, Mishra says, “The lesson Kohli taught me was: ‘Amit if you are 99% today, do workout and tomorrow make it 99.1%, you can’t afford to lose, there’s no point in putting all the effort and not desiring to be the best’. When you get mentored by such a person then, it feels like one has achieved Brahma Gyan. Also, I got to know how big one has to dream, and where to set the target and the goal, and how much hard work is to be put in. We spent around eight hours at the shooting venue together, and it was really enjoyable and memorable.”

Sharing an anecdote about girls, Mishra said that he told Kohli about his unusual following. “I told him once that ‘Paji, due to your influence, a lot of girls look up to me and its enjoyable but at times, even I have had to run’.” Kohli responded saying “I am always busy in my own stuff. It’s good for you, continue the enjoyment but make sure you are focused on your work.”

Elaborating upon this point, Mishra told this reporter, “I got a lot of proposals from girls during the shoot, in college and even on the social media. That special attention is always there and it gets tough for me at the airports.” At times, people just say ‘Hi Virat’ and he just walks away fast but sometimes he says ‘Hi’ because he is carrying someone’s identity. “One needs to maintain decorum as both of us are somewhere associated”, is how Mishra puts it.

Mishra is currently busy shooting his debut film Match of Life. While detailing about this project he said, “It’s my upcoming movie and it’ll be released in February 2020 last week or March first week. It’s a very big project with a big star cast. The story is loosely based on his life and he would be coming for the promotions if he isn’t busy in the IPL or T20 World Cup preparations. Otherwise he would be promoting it informally via social media. All depends on the release timing and how the talks go. He has sent his best wishes and big thumps up for the project. The movie will be on a motivational note, as Kohli is an icon.”

When asked about future plans, Mishra reveals that he has his own production house which is already producing daily soaps for various TV channels: Star Plus, Star Bharat, Sony, Zee, &TV. My aim 10 years down the line is that everything and anything that is good for society in a very fruitful way, is considered by my production house. The content would be motivational as well as entertaining. We tend to give opportunities to amateurs and wannabe actors, as we know there’s a lot of competition and chances of success are very low in Bollywood.”

Mishra’s work as Kohli’s doppelganger may be over, but he says, “I want to become the Virat of my field. The identity I carry is an add-on for me but I have to make my own name and fame. I won’t be living with that identity forever. The ongoing project is related to Paji but in future I have to make my own way.”