Cricketer Pravin Tambe on playing professional cricket at 41, his biopic: ‘How do you give up on love?’

Cricketer Pravin Tambe is playing the ongoing season of Indian Premier League (IPL) at 50. He made his IPL debut at an age when most sportspersons hang up their boots, he was 41 and became the oldest ever IPL debutant who had never played professional cricket before this. Through his long years of struggle to make his mark, Tambe says he played every match that came his way. He never dreamt of playing the sport professionally but kept trying to do so.

Kaun Pravin Tambe? will stream in Disney+Hotstar from April 1. In this interview with, the cricketer shares his emotional journey, and excitement that actor Shreyas Talpade is portraying his role in Kaun Pravin Tambe, as he “could relate to Shreyas’s professional struggles”.

Excerpts from the interview:

How does it feel knowing your story is going to be seen in a film. 

I am feeling emotional. There are many people like me who have been struggling, but a film has been made on my journey. I am an emotional man, and when I watched the trailer for the first time, I teared up. When I first came to know that a film is going to be made on my life, I thought it was surreal, it was unthinkable. This is the first time I am experiencing this kind of happiness. I was supposed to be that loser who didn’t get to play cricket for the longest time, until I finally did.

While you were struggling, did you think you’d play the sport professionally one day, or you just kept going?

I never thought I’d play anything. I used to play at Dadoji Kondadev Stadium in Thane for a company. I used to have fun. While I wanted to play the sport professionally, I never dreamt about it. But, if you are playing cricket in Mumbai, every child in every ‘galli’ wants to play Ranji, and that was my dream too.

I never chose my matches, I played every match that came my way. At any point in day, if someone called me to play match below my building, I would go for it. I have played a lot of under-arm cricket too. Over-arm, leather ball, tennis ball match, anything, I have played it all. If you love something with all your heart, it will come to you. So, I think whatever I am doing today, is because of that love.

How would people react when you played cricket at your age?

I hear a lot of comments about my age. But when I am on field, I am deaf to these comments. People keep asking why I am playing in the team at this age, but I don’t want to listen to them. My teammates don’t question the fact that I am playing, they don’t have any doubts about my game. Until they don’t have a problem, I’ll play.

How did you react when you came to know that Shreyas Talpade will be playing Pravin Tambe in the film?

When people came to know that a film is going to be made on me, they’d ask me if Shreyas is going to play my role, and I’d ask them how they know. They said they can relate him to the role.

If you compare his life with mine, we have had a similar kind of a journey. I feel very lucky that Shreyas is playing my role and Jayprad Desai is directing my film. I have seen their work and I have loved it. People will love this combination. From what I have seen of the film, every frame is shown the way I have felt about myself and my sport at some point or the other.

Did you ever think that your story would inspire others?

I never thought my story would inspire anyone. I only wanted to play. When I finally got to play professional cricket, everyone asked how I would manage. People would ask me how I didn’t give up when I didn’t get a professional spot for so long. But I didn’t know how to give up, I didn’t know it was even an option; how do you give up on love? Through this movie, I want to show people how I did it, even I had work pressure, social pressure, but it was impossible to give up on my game. This is a story everybody will relate to, it is a very personal story and every one will feel that chunks from the film have happened in their life too. They’ll, hopefully, like me, never give up.


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