Director Venkat Prabhu The joys of playing street cricket
Growing up in Chennai has been about street cricket and ‘Kaiyendhi bhavans'. They have become part of Chennai's heritage.
My memories of playing cricket on the street include getting yelled at by the maami next door, breaking window-panes and losing the ball to the occupants of the house… Once, when we were playing, a dog chased me, and I was saved by the bigger guys in the neighbouring street. In fact, everything that happened in “Chennai — 600028” had happened to us.
The maami had about 200 or 300 of our tennis balls. She would give them away to kids who came to her house. In fact, I dedicated one of my awards to her because she always used to say: “You keep playing here all the time, you are never going to become anything.” I used the same street cricket to become something.
We used to have a lot of bet-matches. We would buy tea, puffs, samosa to celebrate wins. We used to stay on the Sixth Main Road in R.A. Puram and go to the Third Main Road to play with the team there. S.P. Charan's and my team were rivals. Charan was in Mahalingapuram, and we would play in each other's localities. There are kids playing today as well but not as much as we did. Now, there's very little street cricket and it's more of ground cricket. It's become stricter. We have been chased around by the police for being a nuisance. It used to be fun. We need more grounds. We used to play in MRC Nagar but now there are buildings there. It's sad that so many teams have to share one ground.
I still join in when I find people playing. Whenever I am free, I go and get some batting “gauge”. Because I am a celebrity, they let me bat anytime. I would just go say ‘Hi', take advantage of being popular, and bat for two or three overs.
(As told to Sudhish Kamath)