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Sachin Tendulkar, once the boy wonder, never really went on to become the man women went crazy about. He was a man who was seldom known for women going gaga over his sex appeal. He made young women turn into caring mothers, and in his later days, respect him as a father figure, a teacher. Sudatta Mukherjee looks at the life of the Indian legend, who remained adorable to his female fans and not ‘hot’.
When Sachin Tendulkar made his debut for India he was a man-boy. Women across the country wanted to know of his family; they prayed for his safe journey and life, they were concerned whether he had his meals (why, some of them even wanted to cook for him!) the way they would do for their own children; and despite reaching great heights at a very young age, Tendulkar never really became a cricketer who was ogled at by women fans or who they wanted to marry.
Since times immortal there have been sportsperson for whom women have gone crazy. It is well-known said that George Best’s white car was painted red by lipsticks of female fans. We know of how Sir Vivian Richards, Ian Botham, Imran Khan, and Shoaib Akhtar had female fans waiting outside their rooms. And I’m not even going to discuss Shane Warne here.
It has not been very different with Indian cricketers, either. Rahul Dravid, with his elusive, sophisticated image, was in high “demand” for his metrosexual appeal; MS Dhoni was manhandled by a female fan at Kolkata; Virat Kohli has his share of female followers in the England Women side; and Zaheer Khan has been openly proposed to by a spectator during a Test.
Alongside them there was Tendulkar. When he won the Man of the Match at the Old Trafford, the officials had wondered whether a champagne bottle should be handed over to an underage Tendulkar, who was all of 16 at that time. It was still handed over to a man who was not of drinking age with some hesitation. He remained a boy even after his illustrious career of 24 years.
Mothers would want to know what he is eating, whether he is sleeping well. Grandmothers prayed for Tendulkar’s good health. One would not have expected the women from Yorkshire to act the same way, but they did: they did care for the baby-faced teenager who was playing thousands of miles away from his homeland, alone, half-ready to adopt him as their son. Was there anyone to wrap the blanket around him properly at night?
Even old men who had seen Tendulkar grow up closely fondly remember how a 16-year-old would move around the dressing-room. The 52-year-old head curator of National Stadium, Karachi, was quoted by DNA as saying, “I saw Sachin [Tendulkar] in the dressing room where he loved to binge on samosas instead of meat.”
Over the years, his commercials started ‘boosting’ youngsters. He became the icon and inspiration for many people all over the world. He asked people to secure the future of their children. He was seen playing with a kid in a commercial with Dravid. He was seen asking fellow cricketers on what made a particular kid strong.
It was as if the child the world had known had suddenly become a responsible father of two. He had skipped the middle years completely — the carefree years men so crave for: that of wooing and being wooed by young women, the era to enjoy fanfare from the opposite sex. There were no twenties for the man: from a teenager he was suddenly metamorphosed into a man they looked up to.
In those years, when he was in his late twenties, women did not lust for him; they did not carry tiny photographs of the man in their wallets or their lockets: they simply wanted their sons to idolise him, to emulate him; which was why coaching camps grew up in a frequency not very dissimilar to that of mushrooms all around the country.
Only when Tendulkar played his last of day of international cricket the memories were back: the mothers felt happy now; the little boy had grown up and was in safe hands. There would be kheer waiting for him all right when he would return home.
(Sudatta Mukherjee is a reporter with CricketCountry. Other than writing on cricket, she spends penning random thoughts on her blog and produces weekly posts on new food joints at Whopping Weekends. She played Table Tennis for University of Calcutta. When she is not writing, you will catch her at a movie theatre or watching some English serial on her laptop. Her Twitter id is @blackrosegal)
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