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I guess the year was 1988. You had hit the sports page headlines with your raw talent in tennis. I was covering a State-Level tournament at MSLTA, Cooperage, (Mumbai then) for the Free Press Journal. You played well, and more importantly, you knew you were a winner when you walked off the court with all the trappings of a star; bag on shoulder, ears plugged with the walkman in tow. Your conscious look towards the Press Box as you passed by was not missed. We all knew then you had that spark in you.
You proved everyone right, by becoming India’s tennis ace…
The year is 2013, I watch you board the Rajdhani Express. I do not see the confidence in your gait. But yes, I do see you comfortably occupy your seat along with three others in the train. What happened next, you know very well. I also read somewhere that you are not afraid of failure, if so, you would have quit tennis long ago (this is in response to the movie). Thank God for sticking to tennis, you were born to wield the racket; to bring glory to the Nation you so passionately fight for on the court.
So what made you board the Rajdhani Express? I mean it’s ok to try and fail then not to have tried at all. But you are an established personality who can do so much more than just cut a sorry figure. I’m sure your close friends (read chamchas) around you will tell you what a wonderful performance you have given and that your body language was superb. But deep down, I am sure, you will also know what a mess of a movie and acting debut it has been for you.
Sincerity in a performance is never missed; that is always evident when you are on the Tennis Court. On the train, you were trying too bloody hard. I hope you heard Priyanshu Chatterjee when he yelled, ”Overacting bandh kar.”
You would have heard of the Emperor who paraded the street in his ‘New Clothes’. He walked boldly ‘fully clothed’ amongst his subjects until he stopped dead in his tracks when he overheard a little boy tell his Mama, ”But Mom, the Emperor has no clothes.”
You can make a difference in Bollywood… as a producer. We need well-read, well-travelled, well-bred people at the helm today. Although regressive movies still rear their ugly head, over the past few years, we have seen good movies by people from within the industry who now not only want to entertain, but also educate and inspire the viewers.
Riteish Deshmukh has taken a purposeful step with his first production (Marathi), BALAK PALAK. If you have not seen the movie, I strongly recommend it. Aamir Khan is another actor who wants to do meaningful cinema. We have all heard of (if not seen) TAARE ZAMEEN PAR. There are other small producers and banners too who come up with better movies but lack of financial strength ensures they do not see a decent run. Recently there was MYOHO by Ranjan Shandilya and OMG! OH MY GOD produced by Akshay Kumar and Ashvini Yardi, both entertaining and inspiring movies.
I know, you will be giving anxious glances towards reviews and reports in the media with regards to your performance. Take it from a sports journalist who is now also a movie critic; unless you badly want to replace Mr. Amitabh Bachchan as the Number One actor of our time… Never mind, the choice is yours!
(This column tries to be as honest as honest can be…)