By Rigya Singh:
All you could see for the past month were billboards capitalizing on the Cricket World cup craze, advertisements making the most out of this obsession that grips our nation when the word ‘cricket’ is mentioned. From the smallest shop at the ‘nukkad’ to the glitzy malls in the metropolitans the far-reaching roots of cricket can be seen everywhere. What football is to England is what cricket is to India.
Now a cynic of cricket like me would not like the hype behind this game which is almost considered a religion is our country and makes us contribute our income to burgeoning coffers of the companies whose only interest is to contribute towards materialism but even I couldn’t help noticing the guy painted in tricolour with an unmistakable aura of devotion that only a die-hard cricket fan can execute. Yes I’m talking about Sudhir Gautam!
With his torso and face painted in Saffron, white and green, the nose equivalent to ‘the Ashok Chakra’ and Tendulkar’s name and number 10 written across his body, the trademark conch shell and the tricolour is his hands and pale blue pants of the Indian Cricket team adorning his lower body, he has been the centre of attention this whole world cup season. His passion for the game surpasses everyone’s belief. Some call him downright insane, some applaud his spirit, and I say I’m in awe of him. A person who does menial part-time jobs or simply asks for help when dire need for money arises, follows cricket as if his life depends on it, and considers cricket his bride surely is an intriguing person. He has not missed any cricket match by the Indian team, in India.
It is said that Sachin Tendulkar himself gives him the tickets for the matches. The whole Indian team recognises him as the Indian ‘Chacha’ (the famous Team Pak fan) and now probably the whole world will recognise him, as a LA based filmmaker Sushrut Jain is documenting his foray into the world of cricket fandom along with the adventures of 3 other characters.
He lives and breathes cricket. His dedication was rewarded when after winning the world cup ‘his god’- Tendulkar himself took him by his hand and ushered him to the inner sanctum of the Indian players- the dressing room. He even held the world cup trophy and all this while his idol just smiled.
The likes of Sudhir Gautam renew our interest in cricket. He watches it for the pure love of the game. His fervour has not been marred by commercialisation and the fact that he can capitalize on his new-found celebrity status. Is this not heart-warming? This kind of enthusiasm is hard to see even amongst football fans that are considered the loudest and most boisterous of the batch.
Some may think that he’s throwing away his life just for a game but is he any different from a man who has a 9 am to 5 pm desk job, goes home to his wife and kids and watches TV and sleeps? It is different because Sudhir followed his passion and by hook or crook (mostly hook, for he’s not a crook) he manages to defeat a monotonous life. He lives his life with a twist and has achieved a lot of his goals (open for debate as people might not consider meeting Tendulkar a great feat).
Hypothetically, if cricket is not considered a religion in our country, it surely is a binding factor for the 1.2 billion people India boasts of. Young and old, interested and cynics, boys and girls alike watch the crucial matches only hoping for the victory of India. It was validated on 2nd April, 2011 when India made history by winning the cricket world cup for the second time.
The writer is a Trainee Editor of Youth Ki Awaaz and a student of Delhi University.