Earlier this month, a few pictures of Arjun Tendulkar practicing with the English team surfaced on the Internet. The responses that came out belonged to two major categories:
1) “He’s Tendulkar’s son, these guys have all the benefits???.
2) “Come on, Arjun! Make the country as proud as your father did. Break all his records???.
When your father is considered a ‘God’, you are the ‘Son of God’.
Life is a mixed bed of roses and thorns. And an entire nation (which happens to be one out of six people in the world) is watching your every step, constantly drawing comparisons with the best in the world.
In a way, India is a very dynastical country. Look at any field – cinema, arts, politics, business, and now even sports – we have always believed in hereditary passing on from one generation to the next.
But how much of a benefit, really, is this lineage? Is it an advantage, or a disadvantage?
At best, it is a double-edged sword. As Tendulkar’s son, you get access to the best in the world – coaches, facilities, equipment – everything is laid out for you. At the same time, you’re constantly being followed.
Eyes are following your every move. One wrong step, and a hungry, unforgiving crowd will gleefully tear you apart. We didn’t even spare Tendulkar from this – remember when he was booed in his home ground in 2006?
Historically, it is not the first time that the son of a superstar is making an entry in the same domain. There have been numerous instances where the second in line was met with lukewarm response. In fact, it is quite rare that the son even matched up to the brilliance of the father.
Dennis Lillee, who revolutionized fast bowling and terrorized batsmen in the 80s, happily played along with his son Adam in domestic cricket, who never managed to play in national colours.
Rahul Gandhi never managed to have the sway over people that his father or grandfather did. In fact, there is no greater example of the burden of one’s ancestors than Rahul Gandhi today. Apart from being criticized, he has become the butt of jokes.
When Amitabh Bachchan announced the arrival of his son Abhishek, Indians waited to check out if he was any good. Unfortunately, one can safely say that Abhishek will never reach the dizzying heights of fame that his father flirted with.
Sunil Gavaskar’s son Rohan, got the big break to display his talent, albeit in the toughest of conditions – an away tour in Australia when they were at the peak of their cricketing era. His career began and ended in the year 2004, with a batting average of 18 and a bowling average of 74!!
Arjun Tendulkar has his work cut out.
Historically, the odds are stacked against him. It is going to be impossible for anybody to match Sachin Tendulkar’s achievements, let alone his own son. And Arjun also faces another issue.
For you see, Indians do not love Sachin just for his exploits on the field. He is revered for his behavior – humble, polite, down-to-earth. The Indian public will be gauging Arjun not just for his sporting skills, but also for his attitude.
And at the end of it all, Arjun is still cursed.
If he makes it to the national team by virtue of his own hard work, people are going to say, ‘Ah, he is Tendulkar’s son. Of course he’d get into the team’.
If he doesn’t make it big, they are going to say, ‘Ah! See, I told you so!’ Either way, you are cursed.
Good luck, Arjun Tendulkar. It’s a long walk you’ll have to take.
You’re dealing with a nation of emotional fanatics who are both loving and scathing at the same time.
I’m glad I am not in your place.