Tag Archives: Sachin

Sachin A Billion Dreams

‘Sachin: A Billion Dreams’ is two and a half hours of Tendulkar Porn!

As I stepped out to buy overpriced Coke and oversalted popcorn during the interval, I overheard a father explaining to his son—”It’s not a movie, beta. It is a documentary.”

I could empathise with the kid. Sachin: A Billion Dreams is a film that works only if you were born before 1995. The film has no hero, no antagonist, no songs or dances. In fact, the film sits more comfortably in the domain of documentaries than cinema.

If Sachin is God, his life is a mythological epic.

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The story is known to all, told and retold, written and rewritten, over and over. His childhood stories are similar to Krishna’s exploits in Vrindavan. When he looked at the skies, scoring a century after his father’s death, Indians wouldn’t be shocked if flowers came falling from the sky, reminiscent of Bheeshma’s terrible oath.

Sachin fulfils every single criterion of being an Indian adarsh baalak. Fair-skinned, immensely talented, honed by the right people, had the world eating out of his hands. But most importantly, Sachin is humble and soft-spoken. We Indians love humility and soft-spokenness—we’d prefer Harishchandra over Howard Hughes, Ratan Tata over Warren Beatty. In Sachin, kids saw what they wanted to become, and parents saw what they wanted their kids to become.

The thought often rankles me—would India have loved Sachin as much if he was flashy and proud? I doubt it. They’d wait for him to fail, and tear into him—”Told you! His success got to his head!” they’d say! But Sachin remained humble, and joined our long list of gods.

When every single detail of a man’s life is known, how do you make a film? You hire a foreigner to do it! When Indians make films on Indian cricketers, they’re either too fawning (Dhoni: The Untold Story), or mind-numbingly dumb (Azhar).

Director James Erskine uses Sachin and his wife as narrators, using home videos and wedding clips to create a personal bond. There are clips where he’s playing with his daughter, teaching her the umpire’s signals for boundary, sixer and out! This is a portrait of a man who knows nothing but cricket, being worshipped by a nation that follows nothing but cricket.

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But if you’re a cricket buff, you begin to notice the details. Take for example the Sachin of 1994-1997, when there’s swagger in his stagger—he wears Suniel Shetty glasses, a thick gold chain, and a superstar gait. The swagger quickly vanishes when he’s made the captain, and he’s the obedient adarsh baalak once more!

Like Sachin himself, India grew into a generation which likes to date before getting married. Where the wife calls him by his name, instead of silly words like “woh” and “unhein.” Like the India of today, we find out that Sachin goes through depression too.

Within an hour, you begin to feel like a part of the dressing room. You begin to feel for players like Dravid, who put in hours of blood, sweat and tears. For Shane Warne, who has graciously contributed to the legend of Sachin, in spite of being no less of a genius.

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The masterstroke though, was getting AR Rahman to create the background score. They’re not too dissimilar, Sachin and Rahman. Short, stocky, curly-haired, immensely talented, humble to a fault. Rahman’s background score is like a Rahman background score—rousing, thumping, an army of emotions charging forward. A Rahman soundtrack can make mating anteaters look graceful, so imagine the effect it has on childhood nostalgia.

By the end, as Sachin stands on a beach in shades and shorts, it feels like a trip to the planetarium. To a museum of innocence, where ugly relics of match-fixing and controversies are locked up in the attic.

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How much you enjoy Sachin: A Billion Dreams depends on when you were born. If it was before 1995, you can’t stop looking at the man who personified the nation you grew up in. If you were born after 1995, you begin to wonder about this strange obsession with this man!

The film is a heady cocktail of two of our obsessions—cinema and cricket. Now, if only Sachin would go back to the Rajya Sabha…

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This post first appeared on Huffington Post.

And these are stats from 2015 !!

How much more money will Sachin Tendulkar make?

When Sachin Tendulkar retired on November 13, 2013, the entire nation stood still to wipe away tears.

Mike in hand, as he addressed the nation in whites for the last time, the sun set on an era of cricket followers. When he choked up in the final leg of his speech, three generations of Indians stopped their work to realised that time had passed. Like Sachin, the entire nation had grown softer around the edges, pudgy on the sides.

There will always be whispers about the lack of celebration when Dravid or Laxman retired, but Sachin Tendulkar retiring was a true turning of the pages of Indian cricket.

The very next day, Sachin was awarded the Bharat Ratna – the greatest civilian award in India. He was made an honorary member of the Rajya Sabha, India’s Upper House in the Parliament. As he stepped off the field that day, Sachin wound up an entire era of cricket. [Read my blog on Sachin’s retirement].

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As a voracious consumer of popular culture, I am fascinated by brand stories.

I like to track the trajectory of people once their glory days are behind them. That is how I know of Zayed Khan’s production house with Dia Mirza; and that Ravi Shastri lives in the apartment below Sunil Gavaskar’s.

When Sachin Tendulkar retired, I assumed he would go on to lead the dignified life of a modern great. That he would take up adminstrative, coaching, or mentoring programs at domestic, national, and international level. He was never a man of words, so the commentary box would be too much of an ask (Also, how would he feel sitting next to Laxman Sivaramakrishnan?).

Nearly four years since his retirement, Sachin Tendulkar continues to set up business establishments across the country. Sachin today owns enterprises in sports, telecasting, clothing, sports entertainment arcades, and restaurants. This is keeping aside the numerous brand endorsements he is a part of.

Every time you see a mention of Sachin in the papers, it is in relation to the launch of a new product. In his own unique way, Sachin has moved from the Sports page to the Business page of newspapers.

But for how much longer?

One is free to argue that it is his life, and what he chooses to do with the rest of it is completely up to him. Which of course is an irrefutable argument. After spending 30 years of his life to the sport, he is free to choose how he spends the rest of it. But the question remains – aur kitna paisa banayega Sachin?

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Sachin’s contemporaries have all moved in different directions. Anil Kumble and Venkatest Prasad have taken up coaching roles, along with contesting the Karnataka State Cricket Association elections. Javagal Srinath is a match referee.

Saurav Ganguly serves in an administrative position in the Bengal Cricket Academy. Rahul Dravid is the coach and mentor of the under-19 Indian team and recently refused an honorary degree from Bangalore University because he wanted to pursue it as a full time course.

Sachin meanwhile, just launched a new app called 100MB which will provide users with a unique, fresh view into the life of India’s greatest sporting star. Another platform with ‘Yayy India won’ tweets and pictures in front of Ganesh idols.

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When you’ve been the richest sportsperson in the country for two decades, how much is too much?

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As a devout Sachin bhakt, the reports about his lack of activity in Rajya Sabha did not come across as a shocker. In an uncanny coincidence, Lata Mangeshkar – the other Bharat Ratna who was made MP and featured in Tanmay Bhat’s video – was also accused of not doing enough for her constituency.

And these are stats from 2015 !!

And these are stats from 2015 !!

There is no doubt that Sachin remains arguably the most loved Indian alive. That he has a pull over target demographies across age and geography. That Indians will buy anything he promotes – from Rorito Racer Gel to ‘Sach’ Innerwear. Through our entire lives, Sachin has sold us every single product. Want a pen? Reynolds. Want a car? Fiat Palio. Not getting your periods? National Egg Co-ordination Committee. Sachin has endorsed and sold every product that can be stocked, from the glitziest malls to the tiniest kiraana shop. From Infinity Mall to the infinitesimal.

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But as an icon of the game, as the face of a generation, should Sachin Tendulkar be contributing more to the game? Shouldn’t Tendulkar retire from our televisions, and feature in the aspirations of youngsters pursuing the game across the country?

So here it is, from a terrible poet to a great cricketer, a poem filled with hope.

My poem to Sachin, on my blog – 'How much more money will Sachin make?'

A post shared by Hriday Ranjan (@heartranjan) on

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Cover Picture Image courtesy: Factly.

If you are a cricket fan, look out for our show Silly Point – India’s First Cricket based Stand Up Comedy Show as me and Rohit Swain embark on an 8 city tour with the show. Please come down or spread the word. 🙂

Sachin and Gandhi : The Bringing Down of an Icon

When Sachin Tendulkar struck his long awaited 100th century about a month ago in Bangladesh, the nation was supposed to celebrate. He was after all, the darling of the country, someone who has been followed wherever he went for the last two decades, an idol, a role model, even a god. And this was a feat that was never thought achievable in the history of the game, and doesn’t look like it can be broken by anyone else. It was but expected that the nation would go into a frenzy.

The national media did their bit : feature stories describing milestones in his long career, TV channels churned out their bulletins with Jai Ho playing in the background. But on websites like cricinfo.com and youtube.com, there was an outpouring of hatred by fans. Many called Sachin Tendulkar selfish, others said he was playing for records, and that he needs to hang up his boots.

Not once did anyone say that he didn’t look fit on the field, no one spoke about him unable to run, or his eyes and hand-eye coordination getting worse, or anything else related to cricket. The argument was that he was selfish and needed to be dropped.

It was then that I could see a clear reflection of my thoughts a few years back. I was out of my spiritual boarding school. I felt like a free bird, and a rebel. I remember having strong hatred for Gandhi back then. I could attribute some of it to the simultaneous release of three films on Bhagat Singh, but there was more to it than just the release of the films.

I didn’t know enough about Gandhi – just that he was a freedom fighter, and whatever else our books and teachers in school told us about him. There were a few others from our class as well, and we regularly sat together and spoke about Gandhi, along the lines of how he was responsible for all the problems in our country.

Much later, when I read more about him, I learnt that Gandhi was more than just a freedom fighter. And I also realised that most of the opinions I had harboured about him were wrong in the first place. What then, prompted me to hate him so much? I have asked myself this many times, and this is the closest I have come to as an answer.

Throughout our childhoods, we are surrounded by Gandhi, his principles, his photos, his teachings, his songs, his stories, and films on him. We had a subject called Human Values and books by Gandhi were used as our course material. This ubiquity, after a point, felt suffocating. And to be able to criticise Gandhi seemed like an act of rebellion for me. I did not understand him enough, so I went ahead and made my own opinions, often basing them on things my friends (who were equally, if not more ignorant) told me. Through some twisted logic, we believed that Gandhi was responsible for the partition, and that he was a propagator of Hindutva.

I have made my peace with Gandhi today. I have learnt to dissect his public from his private life, and have learnt to look at things with a broader perspective. But when I see criticism of Sachin Tendulkar, I can’t help feel that he has reached the same stage as an icon.

The most common criticism about him is that when he scores a century, India loses the match. This fact automatically translates to him being a selfish player who is intent on achieving personal milestones. This could not be further away from the truth.

The nature of the game of cricket itself means that individual performances are not as crucial to a side’s fortunes, as it is with other games. Take football, for example, where a goal by a single player could tilt the match totally in the favour of the team, thus critically affecting the match. In cricket, batting is just one aspect of the game. A century by no means implies that the team is going to win the match, because the game is divided into two halves – batting and bowling – and each of the aspects affect the match equally.

To further illustrate my point, let me give you the example of the match between South Africa and Australia in the March 2006. Australia batted first and scored 434, the highest score ever in a One Day International, and the first time any team had crossed 400 runs in 50 overs. Australia, however, lost the match at the end of the day because South Africa was able to score 438, thanks to the shoddy bowling by the Australians.

There have been umpteen such examples where individual performances did not result in the team winning the match, and this by no means implies that the performances weren’t good enough, it just means that the other aspect of the game wasn’t good enough on the day. That it happens with surprising regularity with Sachin is a reflection of our universally acknowledged poor bowling skills, and not because his centuries are not good enough.

Here, let me take you back a little into the past again. This was in the same phase when I was vehemently against Gandhi, circa 2005. Sachin Tendulkar at that time had been struggling for a year or so to score his 35th Test century, one that would result in him beating Sunil Gavaskar’s then highest 34. He was suffering from recurring back injuries, tennis elbow, and seemed nervous and edgy in the crease. I was among the many that rooted for his retirement from the game.

I remember the day he scored the century, this is what he said to the media – “Landmarks happen. You just go and bat because you want to bat well and get runs for your team. If you chase landmarks then it becomes a problem.” He made it clear that the fans had been demanding the century for a long time, and that it was quite stressful. I remember reading it with cynicism.

However, if I look back at the incident now, I realise he knew what he was talking about. If he had retired then, we wouldn’t have witnessed some of the greatest knocks in the history of the game. He went on to make a spectacular comeback, a resurrection that culminated with him becoming Player of the year in 2010. We wouldn’t have seen his knock of 200, or his crucial role in the World Cup last year.

It is actually a matter of great credit to Sachin Tendulkar that no one is talking about the way he is playing his cricket, how he is running between the wickets, or his fitness. The criticism is always generic – that new blood needs to be infused into the team, and that it is high time he retired. From my experience seven years ago, I know that the decision to retire is best left to Sachin himself.

With the ruckus about him becoming an MP, I can see a clear link between my criticism of Gandhi back then, and the criticism Sachin faces today. It is not to do with him as a cricketer. It has got more to do with the rebellion involved in the bringing down of an icon.

Champions!!

I grew up with stories of the World Cup. I have read magazines, watched reruns on Ten Sports, listened to Madan Lal speak for one hour, but I have never been able to fully grasp what it feels like when India wins the World Cup.

In 2003, it was different. I was doing my first job in a travel agency and PCO booth. There was a small black and white television that someone from the basti behind the agency would willingly donate to us. There would be 20 people huddled up there. Rickshaw pullers, guys who would disconnect calls on their mobile phones to make a call from the PCO, little children who seemed to have vowed not to bathe till India won the finals, and Shankia aka Shankar Ganjadiya.

Shankia lived in the basti behind us. He was always doped. During day, noon and night, he could be found crushing herbs in his hand, and stuffing them in his chillum, and blowing gyaan on people’s faces. He did nothing all day, but he had 5-6 pani puri carts that some kids ran for him, and so he was among the wealthier people in the basti. He would sit and the door, blow away smoke in the air and predict who would win the match. He was no Paul the Octopus, but his predictions (which were flexible and changed according to the situation of the match) made the experience of watching the match even more fun. He would look into the screen, close his eyes (like a warrior in Mahabharat), and then say, “Chauka jiba” (It’ll be a four).

On the day of the final, Shankia did not come to watch the match. I assume he had had a fight with someone and so he was pissed. When I went to his hut to call him to watch the match, he replied,

“Banda match dekhiba, maghiya. Jao ethu!”, which roughly translates to

“(random body part) match you’ll watch, mo-fos! Get out of here”

The mood in the final was somber right from the beginning. Ganguly won the toss and chose to field, and Zaheer Khan chose to sledge at Gilchrist. Both these decisions led to a score of 359 and Indian buckled under pressure. We used to sell cool drinks in the shop, and I remember opening a bottle of Pepsi and gulping it down like a 90s hero when he sees the heroine dance with the villain, whenever a wicket fell. The match was over in 40 overs, the next day was a Monday and I had to go back to school to learn Business Studies and Accountancy. It was tragic.

This time though, there was a difference.

Now, after two days, it has finally sunk in. Till Monday, I was expecting some London newspaper to break the news that the Pakistan match was fixed. Thankfully, the Interior Minister has some clout there.

This time, everyone was ready for the moment. Cameras were brought out when there were 30 runs remaining and poor Facebook was flooded with oily faces shouting out in joy. The screaming in joy, hugging, dancing on the streets and running away when the PCR van arrives have been done with. Now when I sit and write this do I realise that the feeling has truly sunk in. We are the Champions of the World.

So if I ever have a son, before driving him out of the house after his matriculation exams, I’ll have something to tell him. I shall tell him that I lived in the times of a certain Sachin Tendulkar, who had every feather in his cap except this one. Of how he was carried on the shoulders of Yusuf Pathan, which was surprising because the burden of the middle order batting never seemed to fit on them. Of how there was a particular captain who turned everything he touched into gold. How two fast bowlers called Nehra and Shreesanth took turns to become the most hated persons of the country. Of how Sehwag got out for a duck and a million dreams were crushed. Of Gambhir and the innings of his life. I’ll also talk about Yuvraj and Zaheer and throw in a little bit of gyaan about consistency and persistence.

I’ll also tell him that I was a total stud back then and I had six hot chicks writhing next to me when Dhoni hit the last shot, and I told them to get away from me as I ran out to the roads to celebrate. I know he wont believe the last bit, but what the heck!

We are the World Champions. I can say whatever I want !!