Billion + 1

I may make more enemies than friends by this confession: but the truth is I do not like Sachin. Sachin Tendulkar is a youth icon, amazing achiever, God of cricket, symbol of hope and aspiration for all Indians, Little Master, , etc. etc. But still the fact is I do not like Sachin.

My reasons may surprise some of you : but I do think he is over rated and over idolized. Too many followers. Too many people (in fact the whole of India) pinning their hopes on him. But somewhere I keep feeling : finally he is school dropout, just a cricket player : does he really deserve so much? the adulation of the entire country, Bharat Ratna, records galore, youngest this, highest that, maximum runs, Master Blaster, maximum centuries, lots of fancy cars, huge house, and crores of money earned from advertising and awards.

So my going and watching the movie “Sachin : A Billion Dreams” was not an act of a fan; happy to see his god, and revel in the exploits and achievements of his idol. In fact, am not even much of a cricket fan. Used to follow cricket when I was a college student. But the infamous match fixing episodes involving Hansie Cronje and Azharuddin, with Kapil Dev breaking down and crying on national television, totally put me off watching cricket. The thought was : here we have invested literally our life and our energy, in following and supporting Indian cricket: and here are our cricketers selling the country and our dreams down the drain, just for personal monetary gain. Somewhere one did feel good, even at that time, that Sachin had stayed true to his middle class, ethical upbringing and his name was not even mentioned in the aftermath.

So neither being a Sachin fan nor a fanboy of Cricket, why did I go to see the docu-drama “Sachin A Billion Dreams” in the cinema hall? One definition of a Psychologist is the person who looks at other people in the room when a beautiful woman walks in. Similarly I went to the movie to see what other people are seeing in Sachin!! And I must confess, I came back happy.

The movie is similar to a documentary. The format has Sachin himself as the narrator ( & a very self conscious and awkward one at that). And of course the movie showcases all the major milestones and achievements in Sachin’s cricketing career. But what endeared me to the movie was the human interest angle. The story highlights the journey of a simple middle class Bandra boy and the pressures and struggles of an achiever. Lots and lots of personal video footage of Sachin and his family and friends is shared giving us a fresh insight into Sachin the son, Sachin as a husband, a father, a brother, a friend. We see lots of material about his love of cars, his holidays, his friends, his love for music and his pastimes. All this new perspective about Sachin as a human being is novel and nice. That is what made the movie enjoyable for me.

Sachin as a person comes forth very different from his cricketing, larger than life persona. Sachin seems to have taken to heart his father’s teaching : “I would be happier if you became a better human than a better cricketer” and lived by that principle. His humility, his love for his mother and father, his total dependence on his brother as a pillar of support in all his achievements, his relationship with his wife, his enjoying time with his children (though he refused to ever change a diaper), all show him in a very humane light. The values reflected in all these interactions underlines how self-abnegating he was and you can well imagine having NO SHARP EDGES as a team player. “Others above me” shines through all and you understand the person quite differently. This is best exemplified when he is asked : what did you feel when thousands chanted “Sachin Sachin” every time you stepped out onto the crease? His answer is beautiful and strong in its import ” I was always reminded of my responsibility”

Another endearing feature of the film is giving us a glimpse of how this introverted person handled the downs in his life. Whether it was protests of fans when India lost, or when he got out cheaply when there was an expectation of a big innings, or his poor record as a Captain, or his being summarily dropped as Captain without even a prior headsup. All these stories are well told and make Sachin a more lovable character and the movie a more interesting watch.

All of Sachin’s cricketing achievements are well documented elsewhere and spoken about enough. So go and watch the movie Sachin to get an insight and feel for the man; the enormous pressures he underwent and withstood carrying the dreams of the entire nation on his slim shoulders. I must confess, for the first time I became an unabashed fan of Sachin the man.

Sachin you make me proud to be an Indian, proud to be a Maharashtrian, and proud to be a Mumbaikar.

So One Billion plus one : vikas. And counting….