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Blast from the past: Idols
I have no idea what the inspiration for this write-up was. Since then, I've added a few more to this list. In any case, the Mahesh-Leander story came to a screeching halt barely a year or so later.
If I were a marketing person, I'd be tempted to label this article as being the Millenium Ending) piece. However since I'm not, and am frankly tired of every damn thing being sold with the Millenium tag associated with it (imagine Millenium Sarees ? What next ? Y2K sarees which dont work on Jan 1 2000 ?)
We're always influenced by other people. You admire them, you hope you can emulate them but since these people are so famous, it normally ends up becoming a pipe dream. But thats precisely why we admire them and strive to do the same things they did, imbibe the good points from them.
My earliest hero would be Karna from the Mahabharata, which I came to know for the first time when I was around 4-5 years old, thanks to my grandparents. Amar Chitra Katha happened later. I was extremely influenced by the near unflinching friendship Karna had for Duryodhana. He became my favourite character from the epic, even though he was really on the "evil" side !
The next person who I'd consider an idol would be RK Narayan. This would be around the time I was in 7th std. or so. I was never really a stories reader and I usually preferred general knowledge books etc. I was actually quite scared of the huge books I saw in the libraries and refused to read any novels etc. Even now, I'm quite apprehensive about them although admittedly I read "A Suitable Boy" twice in the space of 3 months ! What was extremely enchanting about RK Narayan's stories was the simplicity in them and the way they conveyed the life of simple folk. No science-fiction no masala, just pure life. He really made reading a pleasure for me and needless to say, I've read a lot of his writings.
Sunil Gavaskar invokes conflicting emotions in a lot of people. Some would say he's great, others say he was a selfish bastard. But to me, he was the one person responsible for Indian cricket being taken more seriously than it used to be. Yes there were some great players like Merchant, Manjrekar, Bedi etc. but to me, none of them was as influential in cricket as Gavaskar. He played against the best bowling of his times. The list of pacemen he conquered would read like a 'Who's Who' of the greats. My point is quite simply: "If there wasnt a Gavaskar, there wouldnt be a Tendulkar".
My next idol is what you would call a maverick, no its NOT Subramaniam Swamy. TN Seshan may have been part of the bureaucratic system which is hugely responsible for a lot of the ills in India. But it required someone to shake the roots of the electoral scene in India. He may have been arrogant, autocratic and what not. But you have to call a spade a shovel and he did that. Politicians quaked at the thought of antagonising him and he was in just about every way the "messiah" the people dream of to turn the system on its head. Of course he fell from grace the moment he stood against Advani at Gandhinagar, going totally against the very law of residence he wanted to bring into effect while in power.
My next hero would be one of the most versatile geniuses you'd ever find in India, especially in the entertainment business. He was great as a comedian, a hero, a music director, director and most obviously as a playback singer. Kishore Kumar Ganguly was astounding at just about whatever he did and he did a lot of things (including romancing Madhubala !) You'd be hard pressed to find a more versatile person in Indian cinema. If Seshan is the maverick, Kishore was the maverick genius !
They're an odd pair, the long and the short of it. But they've proved to the world that India can produce world class players (even if it is as a team) in a game which we've never really been good at. I admire Lee and Hesh for their unwavering self belief and the way they've been focussed at attaining their goals. Totally professional in their approach, they've made sure that their off-court problems have little effect on their on-court play. Who cares if they dont play singles as well as doubles ? They're world class and thats good enough.
All the blasts: Kargil & WC 1999, Lata v Asha, Tam-Brahm wedding, Madras, Unglamourous Orissa, Idols and Bangalore.
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