If you came here looking for a movie review, then I’m sorry to disappoint. Borrowing words from a friend, I cannot give an unbiased opinion when it comes to MS Dhoni. So, I’m not even going to attempt this. Nevertheless, this still is an untold story.
“Hey! There’s this guy called Dhoni. He’s from our school. And he’s making waves in International Cricket.” I received this message from a classmate one morning while at work. This was close to 12 years ago, sometime in 2004 or 2005. For few years I had stopped following cricket. I had lost all interest in the game since the whole ‘match-fixing’ episode came to light and since my hero Ajay Jadeja got involved. I had been too disappointed a fan to continue watching the game.
And then, Dhoni happened. I hadn’t been following the game, and yet, I had read about him in the papers. An image of him from the papers had got stuck in my mind. I think it was from the Zimbabwe series or somewhere. I clearly recalled this guy, standing with his legs spread wide apart, his hands swinging the bat high above his head as he struck the ball – maybe to the boundary. Although the player’s face wasn’t clear, this picture stayed with me.
We had no facebook then, so our social network vibrated over yahoo chat and egroup mails. And soon the chatter about Dhoni was everywhere. Connections cropped up. He was Mahi, my neighbour’s classmate since nursery. He was the one who stood at the gate of a friend’s house, with a football in his hand, calling out her brother to play. He was Banerjee Sir’s protégé. I wondered how many times I might have crossed him on the colony roads? He didn’t live far away from my house. We used to all play in the same stadium that Mahi did. We walked the same roads. And yet, his road led him elsewhere.
It was wonderful to see someone like us do so well. Someone who put Ranchi on the map. Someone who made our school popular for reasons other than being an ‘IIT-Factory’ (DAV, Shyamli has atleast 20-30 students make it to the IIT’s each year.). He was someone who made it big in a field that most of us never dreamt of. Sports wasn’t a field we pursued. Us from the middle-class families in small towns. It was just a past-time. Many of us played for Bihar state – I was in the sub-junior state basketball team – but this career path wasn’t taken seriously. Some of us got an offer to join SAI, Bangalore. We didn’t even know what SAI stood for. It was like that. So, when someone came out to follow a sports dream, it must have taken him far greater barriers to break. And I salute him for that.
Watching the biopic made me more nostalgic than I expected to . It made me realize something else. I must have been in the 12th grade when Banerjee sir ‘discovered’ Mahi playing the goalkeeper. Who knows I might have seen this junior play football / cricket a number of times. But we were all too busy cycling from one tuition to another and breaking our heads over the Brilliant tutorial books to notice this kid, who would one day make us proudly claim, “I am from Ranchi! Dhoni’s city.”
We love you, Mahi!!