Aamir and the Passion Paradox!

For few years now, Aamir Khan has been making December his own.  This year has been no exception. His latest film Dangal is well on its way to smash his own records at the Box office. The day the film opened to some positive reviews, the world’s most productive factory and the most efficient distribution channel today namely the “forward factory” and the “WhatsApp channel” got busier than usual. Some of the forwards were rants comparing the position taken by the Aamir as the protagonist in his earlier film – 3 Idiots and now in Dangal. In 3 Idiots, Aamir was shown taking a dig at the typical mindset of Indian parents who don’t let their children follow their dreams. In Dangal, as a father Aamir completely takes charge of his daughters’ destiny to achieve “his” dream of winning a Gold medal for India in Wrestling. In whole of the film there is no evidence of him trying to find if his daughters share his passion! Be that as it may, this post is not about those films or of Aamir’s so called double standards as espoused by social media.

aamir

On the 1st day of a New Year when one is generally in a contemplative mood regarding chasing one’s dreams and passion,… the contrasting but at the same time practical themes of these 2 films of Aamir set the tone for this piece.  In the context of following one’s passion in career and life few pertinent questions arise:

  • When do we realise actually what’s our passion in life?
  • When one needs to take decisions on educational pursuit say at the age of 17/18, do we understand what’s in store in our “passion” world??
  • And do passions @ 17/18 remain passions by 40???
  • And what if the passion one chooses doesn’t provide a decent lifestyle?? Or doesn’t it matter?
  • What about the other narrative of doing something which comes your way and turn it into your passion???
  • Does it help to pursue more than one passion in life???
  • And so on.

These are complex questions with no easy answers. Hence the “Passion Paradox”! Only in an ideal world would we have all folks chasing their dreams and following their passion and be contented in life. In normal world for most, it’s an elusive chase as if you are on a tread mill!

For a lucky very few though, the passion thing falls in place nicely. They are lucky enough to identify their passion at a young age. Possess adequate talent around it. Have a supportive ecosystem at home. Exhibit a relentless drive to achieve their goals. Blessed with a bit of destiny supporting their cause to be among the best. And get handsomely rewarded for the same. Aamir Khan for example. Or a Sachin Tendulkar. But such examples are few and far between. I am sure even for Sachin there would have been days when he felt like running away from Cricket with the kind of pressure he was subjected to!

And there are some who get to pursue their passion at work on a day-to-day basis and also get paid for it. Something like what actor Kamal Haasan said of his life – “I have no complaints as I get Karumbu thinna kooli”!!! (Getting paid that too to eat Sugarcane). Or a musician for example. Even here, a passionate pursuit when it becomes an everyday battle with deadlines – it becomes a rut isn’t it??? As film critic Baradwaj Rangan an engineer by profession who incidentally left an IT career to pursue his passion of writing aptly puts it, “that following your passion, your dream, is fine, but just keep in mind that one day it becomes a job. No one tells you that, one day, the passion becomes the daily grind!!!”

So where does that leave ordinary mortals like us who don’t fit in the above 2 categories?

Here’s my personal views. Of course to each his own.

I feel that understanding one’s passion in the late teens is only “luck by chance”! For most that is a very confusing period with limited understanding of their own interests, strengths and an idea of what they want from life. As we evolve, so do our interests. So for many we get to understand our passion rather late. Having understood what gives us that inner joy, even if it’s not early in life or even if it’s not on full time basis, it is good to pick up that interest and pursue it.  This pursuit in parallel to the regular job could be indeed liberating. It could provide an exit to the everyday grind.

I do believe that unlike the previous generations, this generation and the coming ones are better placed for pursuing all sorts of dreams and passion. With more exposure comes more options and more understanding of what’s in store.  They could hopefully fit in more in the 2 categories I have mentioned. And hence less of this “Passion Paradox” for them! Or so I hope!

While on this, a big thanks to Aamir who wears passion for films on his sleeve and keeps churning out meaningful cinema while reminding us of following our passion 3 Idiots style or Dangal style!!!

On that note, my thumbs up to all to follow your passion and chase your dreams in 2017. Cheers!

The “Little Master’s” Long & Towering Inning!!!

Jan-Feb 1997. Standard Bank International Tri series competition featuring India, South Africa and Zimbabwe in South Africa.  South Africa had already qualified for the finals with a few straight wins. India (under Azhar) coming after a poor away Test series against South Africa was struggling for form and so was Sachin Tendulkar. India’s only hope for qualifying for the finals was to beat Zimbabwe and that too with a better Net run rate. On that day the equation before India was to chase down the target of 241 to win the match under 41 overs.  Sachin opened the innings and with an aggressive intent from the word go scored a century and made sure India wins and wins with a higher NRR to qualify for the final. This innings somehow doesn’t figure in the pundits’ top 10 ODI innings of Sachin. But for me, this innings 8 years after his debut and 3 years since he started opening in ODIs signalled the transition of “Sachin – the talent” to “Sachin – the phenomenon”. Because it’s from here that he started his immaculate journey of being the “Impact” player for India for the next 10 – 12 years. An impact player elevates his/her game to the demands of the situation and influences the result of the game.

From then on Sachin’s career graph zoomed along with India’s victory record.  With a full-time job one doesn’t get the opportunity to watch a lot of Cricket. From what I saw, the following innings of Sachin stay etched in my memory for the sheer impact he left on that game:

  • Grabbing the ball from Azhar and bowling that last over in the Hero Cup 1993 against South Africa. Needed 6 runs to win, South Africa could just score 3 off that over of Sachin and we won that Semifinal. I don’t know if involuntarily Sachin sowed the seed for the “Choker” label on South Africa that day!
  • 155 against Australia at Chepauk in 1998 where he took on Shane Warne & Co. He feasted on Aussie blood since.
  • The 2 back to back centuries in Sharjah again Vs. Australia in 1998. The 1st helped India to qualify in the final and the second won sealed the cup.
  • 136 against Pakistan at Chepauk in what turned out to be a lost cause. I can’t forget this match. I remember very vividly the spring in the Pakistani players the moment Sachin got out. Wasim Akram who was going through the motions as India was coasting to a victory with just 16 odd runs required till then, smelt blood when Sachin’s wicket fell and choked the tail enders. India lost the match by 12 runs. Sachin did not turn up for the awards to collect his Man of the Match award.
  • 98 against Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup is part of folklore. To me this innings and our win exorcised the ghost of our loss against Pakistan in the Australasia Cup in 1996 when Javed Miandad needing to score a 4 off the last ball smashed a 6 off Chetan Sharma. Ind – Pak encounters were never the same again 😦

These are from what I got to see “live”. Am not saying that these were his best innings. (It’s clear that I’ve seen less of live cricket oflate 😦 😦 )

I feel that he ceased to be an “Impact” player since 2003.  While he continued to contribute to the team’s cause with bat, ball and brain, the baton shifted somewhat to Sehwag, Dravid, Laxman and these days Kohli. Though he ceased to be that element which decided the fate of the match in India’s favour, still he continued to provide that sense of security as long as he was in the crease. When he was in the crease, the thousands of Gods India boasts of were invoked simultaneously by few millions and made to work over time.  This TVC of Adidas which captures this essence is my personal favourite.  Along with Sachin, the Gods will feel a sense of retirement since yesterday 🙂 🙂

Talking of retirement, I personally felt that Sachin’s retirement came a few seasons late. He could have actually retired long before we started seeing rookie bowlers sending his stumps cartwheeling. Well, all that is forgotten and forgiven for now. At the end his “Calling it a day” went as per well-orchestrated script. By choosing to retire this way ( a la Steve Waugh – announcing in advance that the 200th test will be his last test) he ensured a lot of things. BCCI pulling off a home series with Mumbai as the venue for the 200th, fully packed stadiums, stadiums resembling some collage of brands and advertisements, Tourist arrivals to watch the 200th match, Media frenzy, unparalleled test match viewership for the 2 matches,.. ,.. At times you got a feeling that it was the last TEST match to be ever played!!!  If all these motivated a few youngsters to aspire for a similar farewell when they call it a day it was all worth it.

In a country which is as diverse as India where there are multiple religions, few 100’s of languages and dialects, food habits which change every 250 Kms, Attire which is different as chalk and cheese in the North/South/East/West corners of India not to talk of the different cultural sensibilities, where even Bollywood is not an unifier, the only unparalleled and unchallenged unifying phenomenon is “Cricket”. Cricket cuts across geographic, demographic, psychographic, social, financial, cultural,…,… divide.  It is to Sachin’s credit that he could be a true “Indian Idol” spanning across this entire divide.  To carry on his shoulders the aspirations of a few millions of people that too for a long period is not easy and he did that with commitment, discipline, focus and many more adjectives like that.

  • India won the last Test match and Test series he played
  • India won the last World Cup he played
  • Mumbai Indians won the last Champions Trophy Sachin featured
  • Mumbai Indians won the last IPL he probably played

This is some tall stuff for a Little Master in his inning called life!!!

A big “Thank you” is in order.

Sachin

Postscript: As I remember, the original “Little Master” was Gundappa Vishwanath. When he retired the tag passed on to Sunil Gavaskar and then to Sachin Tendulkar. Who will be the next #Little Master???

If you are a fan of Sachin, do check these links :

1. Google’s tribute

2. Star Sports’ Sachin Memory Project