Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sreeraj Neelesh a.k.a. Nissar - Resolute, Dependable and Mature

Meet Sreeraj Neelesh, who plays the character of the unpredictable, artistic, fast bowler, Nissar, in the movie based on 'The Men Within'. At first glance you'd think he was a reserved kind of chap who does not easily mingle with others. But after watching him for a while, you realise that he is someone who does not force himself upon others, and is actually shy and reticent, who is very respectful towards one and all, especially  seniors. In fact Sreeraj was not the first choice for Nissar because Pervez (who later made an appearance in the Everglades team) was chosen. But since Pervez could not take time off owing to his cricket, Sreeraj walked in and that I think was a great thing to happen to the team because this kid can act and can play cricket.

Sreeraj and Gautam at the morning nets

For one, Sreeraj is easily the most accomplished cricketer from the GHS lot. He has trained since school days when he was in MGM High School, Yousufguda, (under Khader sir and Ahmed sir, both coaches from the Arshad Ayub camp) and plays the local leagues for Ekalavya team, run by my old coach Prahalad. Sreeraj is well built, bowls sharp medium pace, bats well and fields well (a top score of 72 and best bowling figures of 4 for 16 against a top ranked team like MP Blues in the A2 division). All his cricket fundamentals are in place and many times I let him take over the drills etc because he has both the patience, kindness and  the knowledge to teach and coach others who have never been to a cricket camp.

Sreeraj finding something amusing

Currently studying second year MPC in Rohit Junior College, Sreeraj has acted in about 40 Telugu movies as a child artiste, acting since he was 8 years old. 'Anaganaga Oka Ammayi', 'Gauri', 'Donga Donga' are some of the movies he has acted in. He has been encouraged by his father who works for the Railways and his mother who is a housewife. His other sibling is a married sister.

Sreeraj aspires to be a lead actor. His heroes are Pawan Kalyan, Hritik and Aamir Khan and likes Shriya and Deepika Padukone on the female actors side. He would like to train further in his acting skills in an institute like the FTII. Dance and drama are his forte though when it comes to acting. The other day I saw some pics of a young Sreeraj in the esteemed company of Sanjay Dutt and Suniel Shetty, both looking pretty young. Sreeraj was definitely not older than eight or nine in that pic.

Sreeraj is someone you can like easily. He is someone you can learn to rely on easily as well. During the days when we played cricket before the shooting in summer, he would come to the ground by 6 in the morning everyday. Almost all of us would miss it once or twice but not he. The moment I drove my car in, he would materialise from wherever he was in the ground, and with a reluctant smile, pick up the kit bag from the boot and carry it to the nets. Not everyone in that team would do that I know, or even from the set, but Sreeraj has his basics in the correct place - he does it not to impress the right people, but because he believes in it.

He has this unlikely friendship with Santosh (Gautam) and I do think thay complement each other well - Gautam with his gregarious, larger-than-life, and impetuous nature and Nissa with his reserved and understated yet strong presence. Some days it would be just the two of us at the nets and I would insist on bowling while Sreeraj batted. Nissar would always run for the balls that were hit far off in consideration for my effort and my age - again something not too many of the others would even be clued into. I mean they'd be so obsessed with themselves that they would not even think of it! Gautam apologised to me one day for coming late and I asked me why. 'Sreeraj tells me that you get very tired after bowing alone in the nets sir,' he told me. 'I'll try and come early from tomorrow sir.' That's something only someone who is sensitive to the other person would notice. And Sreeraj is a nice, caring human being who will be liked and who will have a loyal set of friends and supporters always. For that matter, he will definitely have me rooting for him and his success always and he can always turn to me for any help or advise.

As a cricketer he says he would like to pursue a higher grade - maybe first class cricket and then higher up - alongside his acting. He certainly has the ability. The ball he bowled Rayan with in the practice game was a beauty, beating Rayan all ends up. And Rayan is no rookie - he is a Hyderabad and South Zone player of repute. Since Sreeraj brings so much cricket with him, it made our jobs simpler in terms of making the GHS team look good. I told him to train with Baig saab after the movie is done to sharpen his talent. Never one to back away from anything physical (he is not delicate as some of the other kids are) Sreeraj has certainly seen life from up close and has a steady head on his shoulders. There are a few similarities between him and Farooq that way, both rather withdrawn, both having deeper layers to them, both reliable and both talented. And yes, both superb athletes as well.

Wishing you all the success you want Sreeraj, and waiting to see you make it big in both cricket and acting! You have what it takes and we all know that. Good luck and god bless!

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