'An autobiography of a travelling cricket comedian' was a worthy premise for a debut book but author Vikram Sathaye, an MBA in Marketing, decided to give it an even catchier title. In 'How Sachin Destroyed My Life', the MTV executive turned stand-up comedian turned TV humourist rattles off anecdote after anecdote from his unique career which fatefully, got intertwined with cricket in the past 12-14 years. Odd as it may look besides other books of the 'Sachin Tendulkar' genre, this book will stand on its own for its unabashed irreverence.
How Sachin Destroyed My Life… but gave me an All Access Pass to the world of cricket, Popular Prakashan, Rs 250. Available in leading bookstores.
To attempt selling a book on cricket to Indians, centred around Sachin Tendulkar at that, is a risky proposition but Sathaye keeps the risk factors — strong opinions, analysis or criticism — afar. In fact, owing to his vast experience as a comedian at hundreds of corporate events, he dishes out exactly what the male cricket fan at the bar enjoys listening to — personal stories about cricketers and anecdotes of banter, all garnished with a generous fan boy tone. And with his first sentence, '..don't judge me by my writing abilities', Sathaye ensures that the literary pundits leave any expectations of pretty prose far behind.
MCC captain Sachin Tendulkar tosses the coin alongside Rest of the World captain Shane Warne during the MCC and Rest of the World match at Lord's cricket ground in 2014. Pic/Getty
The theory that parents of the late '80s and '90s ruined their children's lives by constant comparisons with Tendulkar's achievements is exaggerated, but makes for an entertaining platform to belt out one-liners from. Once this set-up is ready, Sathaye narrates his experiences with a cross section of Indian cricket personalities of the 2000s — cricketers, TV presenters, sports scribes and even the team's statistician and masseur. His attention deficit becomes evident when none of the anecdotes/sub-plots go beyond a page or two, but with one-liners such as 'The last time Sehwag moved his feet, he was 2 ½ years old' tossed regularly; the gallery isn't complaining.
Sathaye's sharing of insights from the big boys are the key takeaways for fans and pundits. Not many autobiographies would reveal how Ponting hit the gaps, how Sachin cracked Murali's doosra, what was Dravid's focus zone about, and more. In fact, the 200-pager leaves the sports fan wanting for more, wishing there had been less ink spent joking around. The near absence of Ganguly, clearly the defining figure of Indian cricket's past decade, too, is palpable.
The many generalisations, especially about women, are like no-balls. Sathaye assumes that girlfriends and wives aren't interested in cricket and at one point says 'every mother wants her son to become a cricketer so that an IPL contract can not only get them out of their modest lifestyle but also make her a kitty party queen'.
That said, the tone in which this book begins and the voice it acquires toward the end is by itself the story of not only Indian sport but our middle class psyche. From the admittedly 'mediocre', under-confident MBA type in 1998, Sathaye is today self-confident, successful and even 'pompous'. Isn't that the tale of many of us too?