Sadagopan Ramesh, former India opening batsman, makes his debut as hero in "Patta Patti 50-50". Known for his tongue-in-cheek remarks that kept the dressing room rumbling with laughter, he believes humour smoothens the rough edges of life.
Sadagopan Ramesh deserved a few more Tests, but has no reason to dwell on his aborted cricketing career and explain what went wrong. He is on the threshold of a new one. The former India opening batsman makes his debut as the hero in "Patta Patti 50-50" (PPFF), a full-blown comedy caper that hits the screens in August. He plays a top-notch cricketer who gets trapped in a cricket-crazy village and is forced to coach the villagers, whose cricketing skills don't match their enthusiasm for the game.
Ramesh has faced the camera before. He had a tiny role as ‘Jeyam' Ravi's brother in “Santosh Subramaniam” and was a judge in ‘Kalaka Povathu Yaaru' (KPY), a programme on Vijay TV that provides a platform for humourists. Neither of the two assignments put his acting skills to any great test. Carrying an entire film on his shoulders is a new ball game. Asked how comfortable he is playing the hero, Ramesh's answer suggests that it is better that the film does the talking. On the future, he says: “It is too early for me to say anything. I don't want to hype myself too much.” Since humour is the main ingredient of “PPFF”, the role should have fit him perfectly. Ramesh was known for his tongue-in-cheek remarks that kept the dressing room rumbling with laughter. He believes humour smoothens the rough edges of life and is grateful for the chance to be on KPY.
“Participants in KPY were among best wits in Tamil Nadu. It's cutting-edge humour. I had a great time working with Chinni Jayanth, another judge on the show. Off camera, he would relate some brilliant jokes. After every shoot, my wife would pester me to relate the best jokes.”
For Ramesh, facing the camera is a lot easier than facing Wasim Akram. “In cricket, big mistakes can't be undone. In films, there is always a retake.” The conversation eventually veers to cricket. While recollecting his first Test match against Pakistan in 1999 – in which he scored a breezy 44 off 41 balls against what was then the best bowling attack (Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Shoaib Akthar, Saqlain Mushtaq and Mushtaq Ahmed) – he says performing well on debut, and in Chennai at that, was a double blessing.
Before stepping on the national cricket stage, Ramesh travelled down all the thoroughfares and back alleys of Chennai cricket. Together with two of his three brothers, Ramesh had played some exotic forms of cricket. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, flood-light tennis ball matches were all the rage. “These matches would start in the late evening and go on till the wee hours of the morning. Many a time, I would play for more than one team and at different venues.”
For those who have seen the Sadogopan brothers young, Ramesh would always be a Ramakrishna Nagar boy. This locality in Alawarthirunagar (Valsaravakkam), which had a good cricket ground, produced quite a number of league-level players in the early 1990s. However, for Ramesh, cricket began at home. His brothers Sathish and Mahesh were cricket nuts like him. If they ran out of balls, the boys would play with hard lemons picked from a tree in the backyard. “The walls in our house would bear the green marks of lemons.” School reinforced interest in cricket. Ramesh went to Santhome School where the game was played with unmatched passion. “The school cricket team had Hemang Badani, Sriram and T. Kumaran.”
While treading through the past, Ramesh consciously steers clear of discussing his short career at the international level. He enjoys playing for Indian Overseas Bank and is a committed family man (“When our daughter Rithika went to school, I was more nervous than her”) and is excited about his new career as a film actor.
With so many things going, there is no time for regrets.