Pankaj Advani: Never fear being judged by people if you don't perform

Updated: Mar 20, 2019, 10:17 IST | Sundari Iyer | Mumbai

Pankaj Advani was quizzed about his initiation into the sport, to his bachelor status and he answered it all with a smile

Advani's fans Arnav Ootam (from left in front row), Zara Ootam, Veer Parekh, Arantxa Sanchis (left) Zainab and Nisreen Saria
Advani's fans Arnav Ootam (from left in front row), Zara Ootam, Veer Parekh, Arantxa Sanchis (left) Zainab and Nisreen Saria

Pankaj Advani was pleased to meet a bunch of enthusiastic cue sports fans and answer their queries at mid-day's Meet Your Icon. Advani was quizzed about his initiation into the sport, to his bachelor status and he answered it all with a smile.


Arnav Ootam: At what age did you start playing cue sports?
I started playing snooker when I was 10. I used to follow my elder brother [Shree] to the snooker club every day during the summer holidays. I was really, really short but I didn't take a stool. Although, a lot of people made up stories that Pankaj started playing on a stool. That's not true. When I took the first shot on the table, the ball went inside [the pocket] and that's how my journey began.

Zara Ootam: What is the ideal number of hours one has to put in for practice to excel in billiards or snooker. How many hours do you practice daily?
Every sport requires a certain amount of hard work and effort. But for me, it was never an effort. I used to play according to my mood. I would play for five hours, seven hours initially. After that, it reduced and it was more of quality than quantity. It all depends on how much you enjoy doing it. Sometimes you feel like going at odd hours and playing. All those years of practice and time that I put on the table has helped me achieve quite a bit.

Veer Parekh: How do you stay calm before a big shot?
Everybody goes through pressure. If somebody had to tell me that you are extremely calm and how come you are able to handle pressure so well, I'd say, listen, I have a lot of butterflies in my tummy before a match. It's the same for my opponent. But the whole idea is to understand that pressure is always going to be there. Instead of trying to ignore it, and say, 'Oh why am I feeling this way', let's enjoy the feeling and say, 'Ok fine, if I'm facing pressure, even my opponent is facing pressure'.

So let's deal with it and see what best we can do given there is going to be a lot of pressure from the opponent when he plays well. And external factors like the crowd [are also at play], because sometimes players have fear performing in front of a crowd. But over the years, you understand that it is only about you and what you can produce rather than what the external factors or the outside world thinks of you. Don't ever be scared of being judged or what people are going to say if you don't perform well. Be yourself, express yourself in the best way you can and be confident, and things will work out. We are all human beings, we tend to make mistakes. I tell myself when I'm under pressure that, 'You will make mistakes and you cannot be perfect all the time'. Do we get 100 per cent marks in our exams all the time? No. Maybe, once, but not consistently. So that's the beauty of sports or, academics or any field you choose. You will never be perfect, but we strive to get there. And in that process, we tend to fulfil our potential.

Nisreen Saria: You are 33, good looking and single. Doesn't your family ask you to get married?
I'm working on that [laughs]. Actually, I truly am. There have been a few proposals [marriage] and I have met a few girls. You will hear good news soon, hopefully. I am keeping my fingers crossed. I believe that there is a time and place for everything and I don't think I was ready for marriage a couple of years ago.

Guys mature a little late. You girls mature so fast that it is difficult for us to keep up. But yes, in a year or so, I'm looking to settle down. I believe that in every phase of life, you need to do certain things, otherwise time runs out.

Zainab Saria: Being a celebrity you often are trolled on social media. How do you deal with it both online and offline?
It's part and parcel of every person who is in the public eye. It's not easy. Everybody has feelings and if people think the famous are in a world of their own, it's not the case. We all want peace, happiness and appreciation. But we know that we are always not going to get it. And that's the price we pay. Criticism is okay as long as it is constructive. But the moment it becomes destructive, that's when you take offence. There are times when I have reacted to trolls also. I am not very proud of it because I feel like if they are saying something, why should I stoop to their level. And if there is some truth in it, I quietly endure it.

So it is also about being aware of where you think you could have gone wrong, but at the same time, if people are being unreasonable with you, it is best not to react and you actually show your maturity. Having said that, I have not been mature all the time. So, it is something you deal with. And there is nothing that you can do about it. People will always troll famous personalities.

Arantxa Sanchis: What would it take for your opponent to beat you?
[Laughs] I don't know if I should say this in front of the kids or not. But you can give me a medicine that makes me sleepy. I actually had a vertigo attack recently. You can give any medication that increases that vertigo feeling, because I do feel dizzy at times.

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