Little-known story of how Sachin Tendulkar made 'film debut' years before he played for India, impressed Sandeep Patil

Before he became an international cricket icon, Sachin Tendulkar played a small role in a Bollywood film featuring Sandeep Patil, Poonam Dhillon, and Syed Kirmani.

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Sachin Tendulkar turns 50 today (April 24). The cricketer, nicknamed the God of cricket by millions of adoring fans, has had a storied career in international cricket. But years before he first represented India, Sachin had already made a name for himself with exploits in school and club cricket in the maidans of Mumbai. But very few know that before he made his international cricket debut, Sachin made his film debut.

He may have not gone the route of his teammates Vinod Kambli, Ajay Jadeja, or Salil Ankola to try his hand at acting, but Sachin faced the film camera for the first time much before any of them. He had a cameo as a young cricketer in the 1985 film Kabhi Ajnabi The. The film revolved around cricket and incidentally starred two heroes of India’s 1983 World Cup triumph – Sandeep Patil and Syed Kirmani.

The film starred Sandeep Patil as an aspiring cricketer. One of the sequences involved him visiting a ground and interacting with a bunch of young cricketers practising there. One of these was a 10-year-old Sachin Tendulkar. The sequence was shot at Mumbai’s RCF Ground a few months after the 1983 World Cup win.

Years later, recounting the shoot, Patil told The Quint, “Our film unit required 21 kids for a cricket practice scene. Who would have thought that among those 21 odd kids, there would be this very special kid named Sachin Tendulkar, with a spark in his eye and a bounce in his legs? A good reader of the game doesn’t miss a special talent. I immediately asked Deepak Murarkar, who brought those kids for the shoot, who this young boy was. Since we had just returned from the World Cup victory, the kids were looking at me as if I was the World Cup trophy. Deepak told me that this youngster’s name was Sachin Tendulkar and he was already making news. He also requested me to come and watch him in the nets.”

Tendulkar eventually made his Ranji Trophy debut at 15 a few years later and played for India at the age of 16 the following year. The rest, as they say, is history. He eventually retired in 2013 with more batting records than any other international cricketer and the reputation of one of the greatest ever to play the game.

Kabhi Ajnabi The, directed by Vijay Singh, also starred Poonam Dhillon, Debashree Roy, Ifthekar, and Shakti Kapoor. The film featured a famous fight scene between teammates Patil and Kirmani but despite the hype, could not do wonders at the box office. Critically panned and commercially unsuccessful, it was named by Filmfare as one of the Ten Most Disappointing Films of 1985.

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