Virat, the hero we’ve got
"He's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we'll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he's not our hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight." - Lt. James Gordon, Batman: The Dark Knight
Time around 1990 wasn’t really so good for the country – few years on either side of it. We had witnessed one of the biggest scams of that time. We had witnessed change of power in center, partially because of the scam, to become a game of musical chairs. We had witnessed ex-PM getting blown away to pieced. We had witnessed economy going nowhere. Riots weren’t a rarity - riots of gigantic magnitudes.
There was a more than a bit of gloom all around. Future wasn’t looking all that promising. Not that the future, the kids of my generation, was bothered but the generation raising this future surely must have been. The kids of my generation were just, well kids. While we had what kids of this generation don’t have in a plenty – acres of open space to play, we lacked something. Something was amiss. Maybe a hero. I think yes. Someone to idolize. Someone to follow. And in times when things were all too messed up, that someone needed to be good. That someone needed to be perfect. He needed to be all the good qualities our parents lectured about. The idol needed to be ideal.
And cricket? Cricket was in dump as well. Performance on the ground wasn’t anything to boast about. We had seen people playing the game being at loggerheads with people running the game. BCCI wasn’t the big daddy it is now. Indians in the cricketing world were still treated as lesser mortals. Western world always complained about the pain they had to go through whenever they travelled India. Indians, when travelling abroad, often got a raw deal. There was a bit of gloom all around. Future wasn’t looking all that promising.
Something needed to change. For the country. For the game.
Economy opened up. We heard of the term globalization. Not sure what they did but I and most of my friends would’ve had found their current standards of living much lower than what it is had the government not brought about this change. It was a much needed one.
Future, the kids of my generation, found our hero. We found our idol which was ideal.
Parents were happy. Their kids were following someone who didn’t come from a rich background, who was humble, hardworking, possessed all the so called values which were termed as Indian and gave one thing which the country needed so desperately – hope. Not just the hope to survive. Not just the hope to last the next moment. He gave something more – hope to win. Ah, they were too complacent. Not to blame them but lot of them spent all their lives behind one single desk. They were satisfied with little. Sachin gave them more. He surprised them. Hence they were happy their kids following him, idolizing him.
Sachin was the hero India needed.
Decades passed by. As they always do.
Old warhorse has retired. A new hero has emerged.
Times might have changed but the trend hasn’t.
Kids of my generation can claim that they’ve seen the biggest transition of the country. Kids of my generation have their own kids now. No, that’s not the biggest transition. Biggest transition is how the country has changed otherwise. From lining up in banks with gold colored token to withdraw cash to having money at the fingertip. From waiting for months to get a telephone connection at home to number of mobile connection fast racing past the population in the country. From Mamata Kulkarni to Sunny Leone. We have come a long way.
Same can be said about BCCI – from being a mere pushovers, they rule the world of cricket as they should be.
Things have changed. And how?
So are the kids. Remember the parenting you got from your parents? Some of the virtues inculcated? Modesty was one of them. So much so that it often bordered along self-pity. Remember the dislike for flamboyance? Oh that was for rich brats, not you. Remember the hairstyle you were forced to bear with? Oh that your mother holding you from your cheeks and combing your oily hair sideways. Remember the shyness? The stuttering in front of strangers?
This generation is different. We don’t want our kids’ modesty to go anywhere close to self-pity. If it does, we would rather do away with their modesty. At least I would. We want them to be flamboyant. Stylish. Suave. With the kind of exposure this generation has got, they are on their way to be that. The word is flamboyance.
All of that. Compare the awareness for fitness they have with what we used to have. Most of us, at least yours truly, hadn’t even heard of the word called fitness. Look at the demand kids these days have for their haircuts even if they are yet to reach double figure in age. Even the smallest of them are pretty concerned about the style they carry with themselves. The word is self-awareness.
Who do they look up to, lot of them? It’s the new age hero. Virat is one of them. Yes, he is flamboyant.
He doesn’t bother about being too modest. Yet, one cannot really term him a high headed person. It’s the balance he maintains which is impressive. He is already a style icon. And the fitness? Have you heard about the story where he himself decided to change everything around his fitness? The word is self-awareness.
Gone are the days when kids used to idolize the away-from-limelight like lifestyle of Sachin or good-boy-image of Rahul (Dravid, not any other Rahul in case you are thinking). Virat has no qualms about keeping the limelight away. The actress, you remember? One cannot expect to get away after sledging him. In fact, one can find it difficult to get away from his sledging. Good boy image and Virat? No way.
Yet all good virtues are not lost yet. He still maintains the balance between good and bad with increasing regularity. Like greats of yesteryears, he always gives an impression that cricket is his number one priority. Like greats of yesteryears, he earns respect by giving it. Like greats of yesteryears, he stays away from uninvited controversies as much as possible.
World has changed. So have the generations. And the heroes. But what hasn’t changed is the fact that the generation idolizes with heroes they identify themselves closely. They idolize whom they want to be like.
Not sure if Virat is the hero we need or we deserve. But he is the hero we have got.
And the current generation has turned him into an idol.