Coming soon: Sachin and Anjali Tendulkar's silver wedding!
Long partnerships were never rare for Sachin. This one - a 25-year marriage association with Anjali - is as special as they come
Landmarks and Sachin Tendulkar are like butter and toast. And there's another one coming up — on May 25 — when Sachin and Anjali complete 25 years of marriage.
A quarter-century ago, the build-up to the big day in Mumbai was exciting. A close associate of Sachin was even offered money to provide a blow-by-blow account of the wedding ceremony and the receptions (one for the cricket fraternity at Jade Garden, Worli, and another for relatives, neighbours and friends at Sun-n-Sand hotel) for a Kolkata publication. Of course, the offer was promptly turned down.
A mid-day report said that there was a fair bit of mail reaching the Sahitya Sahawas colony at Bandra (East), asking for invitations. Also, that Sachin's attire for the wedding ceremony was being tailored at a Hill Road boutique called Anja San, owned by Asha Bhosle.
Sachin and Anjali Tendulkar on their wedding day in 1995. Pic/mid-day archives
As expected, the photographers had a field day on May 25 and Ashish Raje, a mid-day staffer then, remembers making a morning dash to Tendulkar's Bandra (East) dwelling to capture the to-be-groom. He got a picture of Tendulkar clearing the front seat of his car and then heading to Jewel of India, Worli, where the wedding ceremony was to be held.
Post the nuptials, the bride and groom posed for a battery of photographers under the summer sun on the Jewel of India lawns. And newspaper editors wanted photographs of the following day's reception, to be attended by the who's who of Indian cricket. But that was not to be. All they could manage was guests streaming in — the light not half as good as the red carpet events of today.
Tendulkar invited a handful of journalists. We thought hard before deciding on our gift for the couple. I was clear that I had to buy something that would be enduringly useful. From a gift shop specialising in marble products at Dadar, I opted for a small Ganesh idol.
I entered Jade Garden to be greeted by the late Hemant Waingankar, a dear friend of Sunil Gavaskar and a father-like guide to Sachin. When Hemant was around, his trusted lieutenant Anil Joshi couldn't be far away and there was Anil besides Mr and Mrs Tendulkar on stage.
It was Waingankar, who informed Gavaskar that the young Sachin had missed out on the Bombay Cricket Association's Best Junior Cricketer of the Year (1986-87). It moved Gavaskar to pen a letter to Tendulkar (written on the bonnet of a car as Gavaskar waited to board a London-bound flight to participate in the MCC Bicentenary Test at Lord's), citing his own example of missing out on that Mumbai cricket honour. The written communication went on to become a significant part of the Tendulkar success story.
We journalists kept to ourselves at one end of the terraced Jade Garden and watched celebrity after celebrity walk up on the simple stage to greet the couple. Among them were the Sportsfield building gang which included Ajit Wadekar, Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Ravi Shastri, Polly Umrigar and GS Ramchand — apart from Kapil Dev and Maharashtra chief minister Manohar Joshi.
The Tendulkar family did not miss out on inviting anyone who had played a role in their son's stupendous journey. Even those who played a few Ranji Trophy games with him were called. Also, the coaches of the Mumbai age group teams he played for, including Hemu Dalvi, who managed/coached the under-17 squad in 1987. Former Mumbai batsman Sanjay Jaywant, who played club cricket with Tendulkar's elder brother Ajit at Jolly Cricketers, was there too. The most memorable part of the evening for Jaywant was reuniting with actor Nana Patekar, whom he hadn't met since his college days. "Nana gave me a hug and my friends were quick to inform me recently that I am seen with him in the film, Sachin — A Billion Dreams," Jaywant told me on Tuesday.
I spotted Behram Contractor, the editor of the Afternoon Despatch & Courier, making mental notes as it were for his Round & About back page column. As expected, Busybee came up with a fine piece a few days later — his third on the event. "If Wills were to revive its Made for Each Other contest, the couple would win it hands down. The bride and groom, I thought, complemented each other, in looks, youth, dedication to their respective callings, the desire to keep their marriage and the ceremonies thereafter as low-key and private as possible," he wrote.
It was a grand wedding reception, but there were no excesses for it to even border on over the top. Sachin's father Ramesh was as welcoming and pleasant as he was when I landed up at Sahitya Sahwas for the first time in 1990. Tendulkar Sr was a busy man at Jade Garden but he made it a point to ask each of his guests whether they were being well looked after.
Meanwhile, the photographers were still at ground level. I remember Ajit inviting them to eat their dinner but clicking photographs of the reception was a clear no-no. The evening of May 26, 1995, was not just a wedding reception of a special cricketer. It was a celebration of cricket — big names, small names and most of all, good values.
It's a pity that the silver wedding of Sachin and Anjali will be a low-key affair due to the Coronavirus lockdown. But their partnership is a celebration in itself. While we renew our wishes made 25 Mays ago, we can't help hope for another landmark. And let not the COVID-19 pandemic stop us from raising a toast to them.
mid-day's group sports editor Clayton Murzello is a purist with an open stance. He tweets @ClaytonMurzello
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