Sun, 15 Sep, 2019

I will never give up so long as I am breathing: Sreesanth

BASIL SYLVESTER PINTO He may be an eternal optimist, still yearning for a comeback to a game that he lived for but he has learnt to overcome the adversities and stay in the news foraying in movies to participating in a host of reality TV programmes. A maverick persona, with a dash of humour, former India pacer, Sreesanth who was recently in Goa spoke to TG Life for a no-holds-barred, freewheeling interview. Excerpts from the chat

15th January 2019, 03:08 Hrs

TG: How do you look back at your experience at the Bigg Boss 12 house and finishing in the top 2?

I am really grateful to producers for in fact selecting me. Huge thanks to Salman bhai for standing by me from day 1. If not, I would not have survived even one day. I’ve survived 106 days. The Indian team has 11 members, what I did (in the show) was that I was in the top 2. I think I’m very honoured and humbled by this lovely experience.  

TG: What were the lessons you have learnt through your participation in Bigg Boss?

The biggest lesson is improving on your patience and knowing what to say. The best thing in the house was that it is better to real than fake. I was the only real person in the house. I can proudly say that. A lot of people were fake. Even Shivashish (Mishra) was brilliant because he was on the face but he played the game and tasks. I was not trying to make anybody come on my side. I was just being me. When Hina Khan came in and said I’m like a magnet so that works. Being real is the best thing to do in the world.  

TG: From playing cricket to being part of Reality TV to acting in movies, how do you look at your professional journey to date?

Anything for bread and butter. Because whatever I do is for my family, feeding my kids. I make sure whatever little talent I have, I improve on that and keep learning whether it is cricket, movies or entertainment. At the end of the day, we all do work and work is worship. I respect the fact that God has been extremely kind and even the entertainment side has welcomed me. I’m extremely happy that when cricket is not around, I am still able to take care of my lifestyle, my lovely angels (children), my wifey and my parents.  

TG: Your latest film release is Cabaret. Tell us something about the character you essay.  

I play a character called Cheta (elder brother in Malayalam). I play a good, prominent role of an elder brother to Richa Chadda. So that is my first Bollywood film. Then I did a movie called Aksar 2 where I played a lawyer. Now KempeGowda 2 (Kannada/Tamil/Telugu) is releasing in March. I’ve done a movie called Team 5 (Malayalam/Tamil/Telugu) which is on YouTube and I play a hero. I have finished four movies with another five in line. God has been extremely kind.  

TG: Between facing a fast bowler as a tail-end batsman to making a foray as an actor which has been a bigger challenge?

Facing a fast bowler when you are batting, that is easy (laughs). Even the fastest bowler, I have been lucky enough to face. Sport is something I used to drink, eat, sleep, literally from a six-year-old to a 30-year-old. I took up arts only at 33 when I did Cabaret with Pooja Bhatt. Foray in movies has been difficult. I had to work really hard on the sets learning from Pooja Bhatt, Mahesh Bhatt and the others.  

TG: As a professional cricketer, what have been your best memories?

The day when my dad told me that you can go to England and play good cricket. I was a 15-years-old when I went to play Minor County. That was long back in 1999-2000 I think when I had just finished my 10th standard. Dad came to the school, and said he (Sreesanth) is born to play cricket and that he needed the TC from the school. That was the best decision taken by my dad and the best memory which I have. When it comes to cricket, it is taking the world Cup catch in 2007 and standing next to Sachin Tendulkar – God of cricket, holding the World Cup (2011) standing on his right side.  

TG: On your social media platform you recently made a statement, ‘The Comeback is always stronger than the Setback.’ Can you elaborate …

I have been having a lot of setbacks. Everybody has. It is more like a motivation not for me but a lot others too. Whenever I meet people they ask me, how come you are still smiling? You should be in depression, destroyed. I just say, except cricket everything is fine. 

Cricket used to be my life, but then I realized cricket is part of my life. For example, journalism is not your life, it is part of your life. You have to respect mum, dad, your family, if you are married - your wife, your kids because they play a much important role than what you do. They love you not because you are a journalist and I’m a cricketer but because for who you are. 

So the comeback for me is surely stronger. I’ve that strength within me, around me and people like you. I am sure when my comeback comes, it will be much stronger. It will be like a storm, a twister and I am very confident about that.  

TG: You have been kept away from cricket due to a spot-fixing episode around six years back. You have been very spontaneous on the field that attracted the wrath of the BCCI rule-book. How do you look at the situation and how should players deal with such incidents from happening?

In my case, I had to fight for two-and-a-half years without any help. I had to clean literally my name fighting by myself without anybody next to me except my family, wife and dear ones. For me it was very important in keeping myself grounded and making sure I do not get into depression mode and make sure to do the things which will keep me happy rather than sad. 

So I think the best thing Hardik and KL Rahul should do is just train and keep the phones away and not to read much because everybody is against them now. Yes, they have done a huge mistake and they should not have said what they did. But I want to say that they are youngsters and they will learn from it. I think they are brilliant in what they do as in playing cricket and winning matches for the country. 

With the World Cup coming up, my request to BCCI is to make them play as soon as possible because they deserve to be on the ground. (Poignantly) I know how difficult it is to miss a match.

TG: How do you stay involved in cricket?

 I cannot answer this as I am still banned by the BCCI. I help a lot of cricketers in every possible way and they are doing extremely well. I cannot take any names.  

TG: On your brush with politics …

This was because I was welcomed by the largest party (BJP) in the world which is the biggest family. I was fortunate that I could meet the PM, Narender Modi ji and I was given the ticket for Assembly Elections in 2016. I will always be grateful to them. Even during the forthcoming elections, I will be working very hard for the family. I will always cherish in my entire life for what they gave me – fresh air in 2016 with the confidence and motivation I needed then. So I will stand by my party which is my family throughout my life.  

TG: Talk about the game, one understands you were looking at playing County…

I was welcomed with both hands but BCCI said no. It was the Glenrothes Cricket Club in Scotland and they will welcome me again.  

TG: How would you like your fans to remember you?

A person who will never give up as long as he breathes whether it is cricket, this interview, politics or movies.  

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