If I am asked to choose between acting and cricket, I would happily go for the latter. After all, all my life I have wanted to be a cricketer. It is a game I love, and even today I make it a point to carry cricket bats whenever I am travelling for outdoor shoots. Who knows, you might just get a chance to play a bit.
I have featured in the Bengal under-19 team and have even played first-class cricket for a few years before trying my luck in the film industry. The film and television industry have given me fame, success and recognition, but cricket has taught me lessons on how to be strong.
I started playing the game at the age of eight and even represented my school, Julian Day School in Kolkata. And I was lucky to have the late Gopal Bose as my mentor. It is because of Gopal Sir that I could continue with my game. I still remember there was a time when I was called for a trial at the Bengal under-16 camp. After the trials got over, one of the selectors walked up to me and said that they liked my style of bowling and that I should buy spikes. If you are a cricketer, you know what does “buy a spike” mean — it means you are set to be selected. But to my surprise, my name was missing from the probables list.
At that time, I was dejected and decided to not play again and instead focus on my studies. But one fine morning, Gopal Sir caught me and asked why wasn’t I training. I explained to him the entire situation and he took me to my parents and told them that they must ensure I turn up for practice every day.
From the next day, I made it a point to attend his training and the result was out in the open — I made it to the under-19 team. For me, acting happened by chance. I was playing first-division cricket league in Kolkata when an acting offer came my way. It was the off-season, so I thought of trying my luck. And that show was a super hit, and that’s how cricket took a back seat.
There is another incident that I will never forget. A soft drink company had organised a promotional campaign with Kapil Dev, and being a young and upcoming cricketer, I got a chance to interview him. I could spend some 45 minutes with him and it was a big deal. As a fast bowler, it was fascinating to have interacted with Kapil and that’s something I will never forget.
Jisshu Sengupta is an actor and has played for Bengal at the junior and sub-junior levels.
As told to Shayan Acharya.
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