Taapsee Pannu says she delved into her most difficult role as the former Indian women’s cricket team captain in the biopic Shabaash Mithu with a common objective of equitable respect for women in their careers, much like her present on-screen image as Mithali Raj.

The famed Indian hitter, known as ‘the gentleman’s game’ in the nation, is regarded as one of the finest female cricketers of all time.

Pannu, noted for her roles in Pink, Naam Shabana, Mulk, and Thappad, stated that the upcoming film was inspired by her and Raj’s efforts to level the playing field for women in their respective industries.

“In our country there are two religions – cricket and films. If you call yourself a cricket loving nation then you should love women’s cricket equally, you are not just men’s cricket loving nation. The cricket should matter and not the gender.

“Same way, the gender of the protagonist shouldn’t matter. It should be about how the film is. You do pre-booking of a movie if it is a male protagonist but wait for reviews for a female protagonist. That is where I connected to her,” the 34-year-old actor told PTI in an interview.

Tapsee Pannu stated that she was “embarrassed” because she was unaware of the former Indian captain, her path, and achievements until Raj revealed her discontent with their male counterparts in cricket.

Raj was asked who her favourite men’s cricketer was between the India and Pakistan teams on the eve of the 2017 ICC Women’s World Cup. “Do you ask a guy cricketer who their favourite female player is?” she retorted sharply.

It’s a similar situation in the film industry, according to Pannu, who adds that female performers are frequently asked these questions as well.

“I have been answering this question for over 10 years. ‘Who is your favourite male star? Who do you want to be paired opposite?’ “I hardly see the male stars answering the (same) question. I felt this will be my connecting thread to her character and from there I will build whatever I need to, to be her,” the actor added.

The upcoming film, directed by Srijit Mukherji and written by Priya Aven, is a coming-of-age story about women’s cricket in India as seen through the eyes of India’s most successful female player. It will document Raj’s life’s highs and lows, setbacks and joy.

Raj completed her illustrious 23-year career this month, having amassed 7805 ODI runs in 232 matches at an average of more than 50. In addition, she scored 2364 runs in 89 T20Is and 699 runs in 12 Tests, including a century and four half-centuries.

From Soorma, Saandh Ki Aankh, Rashmi Rocket to Shabaash Mithu, Pannu has become the face of sports-based films.