On the second of April in the year 2011, I (like billion others) was glued to the television screen in my friend’s house. The consistency with which Jayawardene was belting out boundaries was draining us all bit by bit of any hope that this wait of 28 years would finally come to an end. 274 runs were put on board by the visitors, a target imposing in nature even in a normal one-day international, forget in a World Cup final. If India was to lay hands on the World Cup, Sri Lanka had ensured it would be only after the biggest run chase in World Cup final history. After the fall of the Nawab of Najafgarh, the hope of 1.311 billion people took the crease. And after a straight-drive which I to date consider the greatest played in the history of cricket, Tendulkar departed from the crease due to an edge which was held on to by the masterful hands of Kumar Sangakarra. At this moment, my friend switched off the television.
Such was the influence of Tendulkar. For masses all over, Tendulkar encapsulated the entire batting lineup. His wicket meant the downfall of the entire team. The fact that my own personal favourite player and captain of the Indian team, Mahendra Singh Dhoni took the Indian team home is another story. But, this trivial incident seems to be the memory that stands out whenever I recount that eventful day.
This beautiful nation I live in is in itself a rags-to-riches story. From reeling under extreme poverty, India has taken gargantuan steps to consolidate its position as a considerable force in international politics. However, there was a need to stand out. We were developing for sure, but never in the forefront of anything. That is where Tendulkar came in. His rise to the numero uno position coincided with India’s development, turning his career into a prismatic view of India itself. Harsha Bhogle rightly states ‘He stood for everything India stood for – humbleness, a respect towards elders and a zeal to be the greatest. In him, everyone saw their hopes and that they too can come true’.
Never in my life have I ever seen an audience sit through the ending credits of a movie. But, when I went to watch Billion Dreams, every audience member had his eyes glued to the screen till the credits ended. That is because Sachin – A Billion Dreams is not just a movie, it was an experience. In the footage of his last match, a fan is seen holding a board which says ‘ I wish I could have had a time machine just to go back to the 15th of November, 1989’. For the time this movie was projected in the cinema hall, every single one of us in that room had time spiraled back for us, our hearts beating for Sachin again. I won’t give a rating at the end of this, because I give ratings to movies, not experiences.
There few sportsmen that stand out. A handful that define an era, if they are lucky. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar at the end of his career had ended up defining an entire sport.
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