Sibling rivalry got her into basketball, but India’s Sanjana Ramesh now has bigger goals

The 17-year-old has already played for and captained the India U-16 team last year but after a stint at the NBA Academy, she’s gunning for more.

On the final day of the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders Asia 2018 camp in Greater Noida last week, 17-year-old Sanjana Ramesh never left her compatriot Vaishnavi Yadav’s side.

Yadav had injured her knee ahead of the final day of the camp and could not participate in the All-Stars game that was organised between two teams featuring the best players, picked by the coaches.

While Sanjana played the final and later received the Most Valuable Player award for her performance, as soon as the game was over she rushed back to Yadav’s side, who was sitting in a corner watching the proceedings. She even hesitated to leave Yadav’s side when all the campers were called over for the final awards ceremony, before the latter convinced her to go.

It doesn’t come as a surprise, then, that Sanjana was picked as the captain of the Indian Under-16 team last year for the Asian championship Division B. And get this – she had never played for India before. Imagine being picked as India captain in your first tournament with the national team.

Natural leader

Originally from Chennai, the Bengaluru girl was among many players from around the country who were picked for the national camp for the first time, ahead of the Asian championship. “I helped the other girls with things like the language barrier, so I guess the coaches saw how I was helping the team and that’s why they picked me [as captain],” she said.

Sanjana went on to lead India back into the Asian top tier. She was one of the stars, along with Vaishnavi, and Pushpa Senthil Kumar, in the Division B final against Malaysia, which India won 64-48. Playing for the India U-16 team was “the best experience of my life”, but Sanjana has set her targets higher.

At 17, the 5’8”-tall girl is one of India’s brightest prospects in basketball. Earlier this year, she even made it to the senior national camp for the Commonwealth Games but did not make the final cut. She is now “looking to work harder and come back stronger” for the Asian Games camp later this month.

Sanjana hopes to put whatever she learnt at the NBA Academy to use during the national camp. “Playing for India, national coach Zoran Visic had already taught us the basics, but we learnt how to perfect it here [at the NBA camp],” she said.

Sanjana was among 18 of the best female basketball prospects from across India, aged 17 and under, who were picked for the NBA camp. The inductees received training from Olympic gold medallists Jennifer Azzi and Ruth Riley, former Women’s NBA player Ebony Hoffman, and former college coach Blair Hardiek, along with former India captain Divya Singh.

“We learnt how to get the small details right and that makes a big difference. We learned how you can help in the team’s defence, how to put pressure on the ball, basic fundamentals. I will share whatever I learned with my fellow national campers,” the 17-year-old added.

Along with basketball training, the NBA also conducted a workshop for the campers on how to get into the American college sports system – the NCAA, or National Collegiate Athletic Association. Sanjana is just entering Grade 12 and plans to use the coming year to prepare her college applications. She wants to get into an NCAA Division 1 college, which is the highest level of intercollegiate athletics in the USA.

Sibling rivalry

And to think that Sanjana would never have even played basketball had it not been for sibling rivalry. Sanjana played many sports such as football, tennis and badminton for recreational purposes but never took any of them up seriously. Not until she was 12, when she wanted to prove to her elder brother, who played football for his school, that she too was good at sports.

“My school did not have football, so I tried out every sport and basketball seemed the most fun sport to play and that’s why I stuck to it,” she said, adding, “thankfully,” after a pause. Sanjana’s brother went on to become a lawyer, but she got hooked on to basketball. “At first, I just played for fun in school, but then I started getting passionate about the sport.”

In no time, she was on the national circuit. Four years after playing basketball for the first time, she was in the India U-16 team. Now, it’s time for the next level.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”


“Like what?”


A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”




“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:


This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.