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Venkatesh Prasad: From Cricket to Cinema

July 25, 2014 14:28 IST

Venkatesh Prasad: From Cricket to Cinema

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Srikanth Srinivasa/Rediff.com in Bangalore

 

'I had imagined acting would be easier compared to what we experience on the cricket field. I always thought that an actor can get the perfect shot after a few retakes.

 

'But I found that acting is not an easy job!'

Venkatesh Prasad tests new waters.

 

Former Indian cricketer Venkatesh Prasad has found a new calling. The one-time bowling coach of the Indian team has bowled over critics with his natural performance in the Kannada film Sachin... Tendulkar Alla (Sachin not Tendulkar).

His acting prowess has been a revelation. The 44-year-old pacer could well make a second career out of his acting talent. 

The former Indian pacer plays a coach in the film too. His co-stars are Suhasini and Sudha Rani. In the film, he helps an autistic child and aspiring cricketer to come into his own.

In this interview with Srikanth Srinivasa, Venkatesh talks about his acting experience.

How was the transition from cricket pitch to tinseltown?

I was not game to acting in a movie. Whatever I have done today is because of director Mohan’s efforts.

Suhasini and my wife Jayanthi are friends and it is through them that I got to sign this movie.

When director Mohan requested me to act in his film, I told him he was committing a grave mistake by casting me.

I told him that I was just a cricketer and not an actor. He said it was not necessary for an actor to play the coach in a film.

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Image: Venkatesh Prasad and Suhasini in Sachin... Tendulkar Alla


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'I told Mohan that he shouldn't scold me if I didn't do justice to the role'

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Srikanth Srinivasa/Rediff.com in Bangalore

You had laid down some conditions before signing up. What were they?

I said yes to this offer. But what if I am unable to deliver my lines properly? I told Mohan that he shouldn’t scold me if I didn’t do justice to the role.

Fortunately, I never gave him an opportunity to shout at me. Mohan is responsible for that as well.

He made me feel so comfortable on the sets and I executed whatever was expected of me religiously.

Did you encounter any problems during the shoot?

No, but during the dubbing, I had to work to get the diction right. Though I am a Bangalorean and I have studied Kannada as my first language in school, I found it a bit difficult to get the pronunciation right.

As a cricketer, I had lost touch with the Kannada language for the last 20 years as we were used to communicating in English and Hindi.

Mohan guided me throughout the dubbing session and sorted it out for me.


Image: Venkatesh Prasad in Sachin... Tendulkar Alla


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'I found that acting is not an easy job!'

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Srikanth Srinivasa/Rediff.com in Mumbai

How is the working style in cinema different from cricket?

Cricket is a mind game. We are always focused on winning the game and how it could be achieved.

Cinema is a different ball game. We don’t expect the film to become successful when we are shooting. We are only bothered about how best we can deliver our lines effectively.

In cinema, people working in different disciplines are individually working towards achieving excellence.

How do you explain your debut acting experience?

People are critical of a bowler when he gets hammered by the batsman for a boundary or a sixer.

I had imagined acting would be easier compared to what we experience on the cricket field. I always thought that an actor can get the perfect shot after a few retakes.

But I found that acting is not an easy job! I came to know of the difficulties only when I faced the camera.

Cinema is an awesome combination of so many things coming together -- music, lighting, camera, sound...


Image: A scene from Sachin... Tendulkar Alla

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'When I started my career as a bowler, I opened the bowling with Kapil Dev and I considered it to be an honour'

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Srikanth Srinivasa/Rediff.com in Bangalore

How did you feel when you faced the camera for the first time?

When the camera was switched on for the first time, I remembered Annavru (Rajkumar).

I have grown up watching Suhasini and Sudha Rani’s films. It is something else that I had to act with them.

If I have to relate something like this in cricket, it is that I grew up watching Kapil Dev and his inspiring captaincy in lifting the 1983 World Cup. When I started my career as a bowler, I opened the bowling with Kapil Dev and I considered it to be an honour.

Do you think after acting in this film it would be possible for mentally challenged children to get a platform to play cricket?

It is difficult for children with special abilities to really make it big, as cricket is a highly competitive sport today.

The message of this movie is more important: we have to treat such children on par with others.

Snehith, who has acted as the affected child, is terrific. He had to maintain the character throughout with his expressions.


Image: A scene from Sachin... Tendulkar Alla


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'Whenever a scene was narrated to me, I would imagine how Rajkumar would have acted in that scene'

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Srikanth Srinivasa/Rediff.com in Bangalore

Who were the actors that you looked up to in Kannada cinema?

Undoubtedly, Rajkumar.

Whenever a scene was narrated to me, I would imagine how Rajkumar would have acted in that scene.

I have immense respect for Vishnuvardhan, Ambarish and Anant Nag and so many others.

I simply adore Rajkumar for the variety and the manner in which he carried off all kinds of roles.

I have met him. We cricketers from Karnataka used to talk about his films and his songs. I still watch his black and white films.

Will you accept more film offers in the future?

I don’t know. Coaching and cricket are my top priority.

I have to thank director Mohan for giving me this opportunity.

I may not say no to another offer if it comes my way. I can consult Mohan if something interesting comes up.     


Image: Venkatesh Prasad and Suhasini in Sachin... Tendulkar Alla


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