Sanath Jayasuriya is now displaying footwork of a different kind. The demolition man of Sri Lankan cricket, who terrorised bowlers the world over in his prime, is a contestant on the new season of Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa on Colors. t2 caught up with the shy cricketer in Mumbai recently.
From the cricket pitch to the dance floor: how did Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa happen?
‘Dance’ and ‘Sanath Jayasuriya’ are obviously words that can’t really be connected in any way together (laughs). You should see the look on people’s faces when they hear that I am going to be participating in Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa. At first they look very confused… then they laugh a little… and then they look confused again (laughs). It’s a very funny situation. But I am hoping that it will be a good experience and so here I am.
One hears that you took a long time to say ‘yes’ to the offer…
I did, because I come from a completely different culture… Sri Lankan culture is very different from here… we like Bollywood dance and music but it is not a part of our culture. As a cricketer, the people in my country have always looked at me in a certain way and I was a bit apprehensive about how they would take it if they suddenly saw a dancing Jayasuriya! There were mixed reactions when I said I wanted to be on the show. I had to be very careful. So I told the Colors people what I could do and more specifically what I couldn’t do on the show.
So what is it that you can’t do?
I can’t make a fool of myself! (Laughs.) There are different forms of dance and I told them that I will do only those steps I am comfortable with. I am not going to do anything at the cost of my image. But at the same time, I am looking forward to learning different kinds of dance. I quite like salsa, but I don’t know if I can manage it (smiles).
Have you ever danced at team celebrations or nightclubs?
I have danced at quite a few after-match parties and nightclubs, but that you really can’t call proper dance. It’s more like friends and teammates getting together and moving our bodies to the beat in whatever way we want. We didn’t have an audience or a panel of judges there! Even now when I dance, my legs move in a cricketing fashion… much like coming forward and hitting a six! (Laughs.)
Any good dancers in the Sri Lankan team?
There are no good dancers in the Sri Lankan team currently. But I remember Romesh Kaluwitharana used to be quite a good mover. In the Indian team, Sreesanth is very good. And oh yes, Mark Ramprakash was a very good dancer. He even participated in a dance reality show… I can’t remember the name (Strictly Come Dancing).
What would your message be to your fans in India?
I will try and keep my dance as simple as possible. If I can’t do something, the audience will know it rightaway. But since I come from a completely different background, I am hoping that the Indian audience gives me some freedom to make mistakes. I am quite nervous. This is the first time that I will be venturing out of my comfort zone.
Finally, any plans of putting up a Rajinikanth-inspired performance, considering you are a fan of his?
I am a huge Rajinikanth fan, but I don’t think I can manage even half of the dance moves that he is famous for. I love his movies and his dance, but to even think that I can copy him is a distant dream.