Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Saurav ganguly the living legend of indian cricket
'Sourav stands for stupendous grit'
My Son, Sourav Ganguly
Chandidas Ganguly is the proud owner of one of Asia's best printing business houses, but most Indians know him as the father of cricketer Sourav 'Dada' Ganguly, who retired from the game today.
We caught up with the senior Ganguly at his Behala home in Kolkata a few hours after his son missed a century by 15 runs. Sourav's father had yet to get over the fact that Dada had missed a ton. "But then, cricket is a one-ball game," he said.
"I am so proud of him. He has had such a wonderful career."
'Cricket runs in our blood'
Cricket is an intrinsic part of our lives," says Chandidas Ganguly with a smile. "We are five brothers and seven sisters. Together we could have formed a cricket team."
Interestingly, the entire Ganguly clan shares the same compound wall and it is cricket that has been the unified bond of connection in this age of nuclear families.
Fame brings along countless hazards and no one knows it better than Dada's family. "Sourav's homecoming is never easy and security guards and the police have a tough time preventing a stampede each time he returns home after a cricket tour," says his father.
"Even I find it difficult attending any event as people often come up with requests to fix interviews, meetings with Sourav. Things have come to such a head that these days I deny my identity."
"Just a few weeks ago, I was at a function and a young group approached me, 'Dada aapni ki Dadar Baba?' (Are you Sourav's father?) to which I said, "Are you mad?" and took to my heels.
"You know how Kolkatans are. They just need a pretext to be crazy," he laughs.
"While at home, Sourav is the homeliest of us all. He plans out grand lunches and dinners with family and friends, spends quality time with all of us, sees films and tries solving family issues if any."
"He is an intrinsically happy person who does not forget to wear a smile. We hardly hear him criticising anyone. To him, every person is good at heart -- an individual acts devilish only under certain circumstances."
Image: Chandidas Ganguly, Sourav Ganguly's father, who the Indian cricketer has described as the greatest influence on his life and career
'We thought Sourav would be a footballer'
Sourav never showed any interest towards cricket before he was in his teens. Football was his passion in school."
"But on turning 13, he started developing a penchant for cricket, all the more so as my elder son Snehasish had already made a name for himself in first class cricket."
"As the owner of a cricket coaching school and then assistant secretary of the Cricket Association of Bengal, I thought of testing his talent and let him take part in a competitive match between Bengal and Orissa. Sourav was about 15 at that time. And he did not let me down. In fact, he scored 200. The rest is history."
Image: The palatial living room in Sourav Ganguly's home
'His friends call him biryani dada'
I am often asked apart from cricket what is Sourav's other obsession. I have no qualms in admitting -- he is a foodie of the highest order.
"A typical Bengali that he is, he swears by anything that is good to eat -- biryani topping his list."
"We know a chef Khalil, whose biryani is the first thing Sourav would have on completion of a tour. He is also extremely fond of prawns and fish. Sourav takes great interest in inviting friends over for lunch and dinner."
"Once he invited Sunil Gavaskar and his friends over for dinner. I still remember how Gavaskar polished off Tangra Maacher Jhaal and Parshe Maacher Jhol prepared by our cook Sabitri."
"Each time Gavaskar visits Kolkata Sourav and I gift him with Mishti Doi and Sandesh. Without them, Gavaskar's trip to the city would never be complete."
"Sachin (Tendulkar) has been here for lunch and dinner on many occasions. He too is a fishetarian."
Image: Sourav and his elder brother Snehashish Ganguly with the Ranji Trophy which Bengal won in 1989-90
Sourav's entire career had been a saga of struggle. At times, we did feel people were being unfair to him. But that, I guess, is how it is with some people."
"I can never forget the pain I saw in his eyes when he lost the captaincy almost without any hint and was even dropped from the Indian side at a 'special' someone's whim."
"Hats off to Sourav for not losing his spirit even then. My son is a man of steel. He is a born fighter. What a whammy comeback he made. I feel he should be revered as much for his entire career graph as for his stupendous return to the Indian squad."
"What is commendable about Sourav is that even during those days of despair, we never heard him mouthing any nasty word about (Greg) Chappell. "All he said was, 'Bapi, he is just being manipulated.'"
"I often ask myself, why people (read officials) hated Sourav so much? Is it the look or the demeanour?"
"After much thought, I came to the conclusion that they probably disliked him for speaking his mind. While selecting newcomers like Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan, Sourav never compromised."
"He would go to any extent to get them in his team. Like a true leader, he wanted to choose his team. That probably did not go down well with the selectors."
"Perhaps they wanted a captain who would dance to their tune."
Sourav knows how to keep himself busy and will usher in a new innings in his life. Neither Dona nor I know what he plans to do."
"He is a great thinker and won't divulge his plans until he is absolutely sure of it."
"One thing is for sure: He won't join politics as many media houses have predicted. Neither will he fight the election as a Left Front candidate against Mamata Banerjee."
"He is a champion, you see, and champions don't wear their hearts on their sleeves."
"He will put his experience and expertise to some fruitful use. I have no doubts about that."
"Whichever field he is in, Sourav will leave his mark."
'Fame rests easy on his shoulders'
I would give him as much points as a cricketer as a son and a husband. He is extremely caring and protective about his family."
"While with us, he would either watch a film or even catch a late night show at one of the multiplexes. Sourav is a big fan of Amitabh Bachchan."
"Fame rests easy on his shoulders and he still remains our loving son, Dona's affectionate husband and Sanaa's attentive father."
"Sanaa and I don't get along well," admits her grandfather with a grin. "Cricket doesn't interest her at all even when a match is on and his father is holding fort. She is just crazy about two television channels: Hungama TV and Pogo."
"We always have a fight over this and I am the one who calls it quits."
Image: A scene from an incredible win
Image: Scenes from a glittering career on the family home's walls