Changing lanes and enjoying it

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | NIVEDA MANOHAR
Published Jan 16, 2017, 12:00 am IST
Updated Jan 16, 2017, 12:09 am IST
One of India’s favourite sports presenters and namma Chennai paiyyan Suhail Chandhok opens up to us about his career and his impending wedding!
Suhail Chandhok
 Suhail Chandhok

Suhail Chandhok has had a roller coaster of a journey so far. From having had a penchant for theatre as a kid, to taking up cricket, and later trying his hand out at films to now being a sports broadcaster, Suhail is someone who likes to take life as it comes.

Coming from a family of sportspersons, Suhail says that he was earmarked for a career in it. “‘Destined for’ is perhaps the right term to use for my career. Looking back, I wonder why I did not start doing this earlier. Even though I don’t play any sport now, this (anchoring) is a great way for me to keep in touch with it,” starts Suhail.

 

Although he loved  arts, cricket is what he chose, and he has never regretted the decision — “I used to do a lot of plays at school and write scripts. My mother’s side of the family was always into the arts. So it was in my genes too. There came a time when I had to choose between going to Trinity College to pursue theatre or pursue cricket. I chose to go to Australia where I spent four and a half years playing with some of the most prolific international cricketers at the time. It’s a decision I do not regret one bit, as it changed my life as a cricketer.”

When he had to quit cricket owing to a knee surgery, Johnny Vetrivel, a short film he wrote and directed, got him the opportunity to star in Veeram, alongside Ajith.

“The video did the rounds and shockingly, Ajith got a hold of it. I remember the call he made distinctly. I mistook him for a friend of mine! He had to clarify, and gave me a pleasant surprise by suggesting that I try a role in Veeram, and that’s how things happened. Right after I finished Veeram, I got into a contract with Star Sports, and life has been super busy since. Cinema is definitely something I’d like to revisit someday,” shares Suhail.

Sports broadcasting is in a way, a mix of both sports and theatre, and Suhail brims with excitement while talking about it. “There are only a few people I know who do what they love and love what they do, and I’m lucky to be one of them! I’m happy to be doing something which is a coming together of two worlds that I adore!” he exclaims.

Presenting and commentating on different sports is not an easy task, he says. “It is very challenging to change from one sport to another. When I started out with the Pro Kabaddi League, I didn’t even know how many players played in each side! So I started speaking to players and coaches to make sure I had enough knowledge about the game to talk about it.”

Presenting shows during the Cricket World Cup in 2015 and interacting with stalwarts like Sunil Gavaskar and Rahul Dravid are memories Suhail treasures. “I also got to interview my idol — Sachin Tendulkar — during an ISL game amongst almost 65,000 fans in Kochi. It has been a surreal journey so far,” he shares.
Suhail, who prefers calling the city as Madras says home is where his heart is — “It is home, it is where my family is, where my dog is. My surname might be Chandhok, but I’m as Tamilian as it can get. In fact, I missed being home for Pongal, but made sure I had good pongal with thakkali chutney and podi idli at a south Indian restaurant.”

And in a few days, it will ring wedding bells for Suhail, who will tie the knot with Trishya Screwvala, founder of The Lighthouse Project, an NGO that mentors children from under privileged communities. She is also the daughter of Bollywood producer Ronnie Screwvala. “I feel very blessed to have found Trishya, who is someone who makes me want to be a better person than what I was the day before. I look forward to this lovely start in my life,” the soon-to-be groom says before signing off.

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