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Nijam with Smita: Sudheer Babu recollects the first time he met the badminton great Pullela Gopichand

The fourth episode of Sony LIV’s talk show brought together the actor and the sportsman, whose friendship has lasted over three decades

Nijam with Smita: Sudheer Babu recollects the first time he met the badminton great Pullela Gopichand
Sudheer Babu and Gopichand

Last Updated: 07.34 PM, Mar 03, 2023


Sony LIV’s entry into the talk-show space with Nijam with Smita, hosted by musician, entrepreneur Smita, has helped the streamer hog the limelight for the right reasons. Four episodes of the show were released in as many weekends and it is slowly and steadily growing over audiences, if one goes by the responses on social media. This weekend also brought together two prominent personalities, who also happen to be great friends as well.


Yes, you may’ve guessed it right by now - we were indeed talking about actor Sudheer Babu and sportsman Pullela Gopichand. While Gopichand scaled past several bottlenecks in his path to make it big in the sport, Sudheer Babu, despite representing his state in badminton, left it all for a career in films. However, in the show, Gopichand said that the heights that Sudheer has reached in cinema was all possible due to his brief yet eventful badminton career.

Gopichand, after illustrious career as a player, established his own academy in Hyderabad and trained many modern-day greats in badminton including PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Srikanth Kidambi and Parupalli Kashyap, to name a few. Sudheer Babu, who’s married to late star Krishna’s daughter Priyadarshi, acted in films like SMS, Samanthakamani, Sammohanam, Nannu Dochukunduvate and Bhale Manchi Roju, to name a few.

In the show, Sudheer Babu recollected the first time he met Gopichand. “I don’t know if Gopichand remembers this, but, now, when I look back at it, this feels like an introduction sequence straight out of a film. I, Lakshmi (Gopichand’s wife) and Sharada were travelling from Vijayawada to Barielly. During the train journey, Lakshmi came up with a riddle and asked if we could decipher it.”

“If not for anyone in the bogie, Lakshmi was confident that Gopichand will certainly have an answer for this and he managed to solve the riddle in 2-3 minutes. I was surprised and it felt like a proper intro scene of a hero in a film,” he said. Gopichand and Sudheer later spent many years at sports academies across the country, with the former claiming the actor was his go-to man whenever he needed help with his game in the 90s.

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