HS Prannoy, one of India’s top shuttlers, is known for his candor as much as his badminton skills. Not known to shy away from airing his views, or critiquing his own game, the 26-year-old comes across as eloquent and forthright in his interviews. And when it comes to his game, he boasts of one of the most powerful backhand smashes and his power-game has earned him the moniker of ‘Beast’ among his peers.

How is his persona off the badminton court, though? Prannoy is an easy-going character, who is lively amid his fellow trainees at the Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad, where Scroll.in caught up with him ahead of the new season of the Premier Badminton League.

Prannoy will be turning up for Delhi Dashers in this edition after having a season to remember with the Ahmedabad Smash Masters in the previous edition.

“It been almost four years right now and there have been a lot of learnings I would say from PBL.

“When I started playing PBL,” Prannoy says about his experience in the league so far. “I was 22-23 and there were lot of things to learn from the senior group, especially whenever PBL used to happen that 10-15 days was the learning time to see where you could see each of them preparing for each match and the way they used to train. I think all those things were new insights for me at that time.

“I am pretty sure for the juniors who are in the team right now in the PBL, they are going to benefit a lot from those where you can see Viktor Axelson, Carolina Marin, everyone who are playing in the top level of world badminton where you can watch them closely and see them prepare for each matches and see how they really tune up their training sessions. And how dedicated they are for each of those training sessions. I think all those are things which you don’t see on a regular aspect and things which people cannot come to you and explain it to you. It’s things which you need to see and learn,” Prannoy adds.

Asked what made him choose badminton as his career, Prannoy says he loves the challenge of an individual sport. Where results are within one’s own grasp and the more the effort one puts in, the better the results are. And it is former Indonesian legend Taufik Hidayat that he looked up to the most.

“He is one guy I always felt he was meant for badminton. The way he used to play badminton was very attractive. I had seen Lin Dan, Lee Chong Wei. All of them are great players and I think Lin Dan is one of the best in the business right now also,” the Kerala shuttler said.

“But there are people when you see... you feel like playing. Taufik was one guy who played very easily and who could play in any conditions, with any shuttles and he could go out and play his natural game.”

And it is for that very reason he adores Lionel Messi too.

Prannoy, in his words not blessed with the best of memory, remembers that moment most aspiring young athletes do — seeing his face on the newspaper for the first time.

“I remember the first time when I went on for a tournament was U-10 state championship and I went on to win that state championship. I remember first tournament, for me in my life. And to get that paper cutting the next day in the newspaper was a big thing for me. Where you see only role models in the newspaper and suddenly you see your face on the newspaper was a big thing,” he said.

Watch the full interview here: