When Anand, Aamir Khan got talking

When a humble genius like Viswanathan Anand and a perfectionist performer like Aamir Khan start talking about the sport they both are passionate about, it makes for an interesting viewing. That is precisely what the audience were treated to at a felicitation function for Anand on Wednesday.

Viswanathan Anand being felicitated by Governor of Maharashtra Vidhyasagar Rao and Bollywood actor Aamir Khan at a function in Mumbai on Tuesday.   -  PTI

Buddhibal (chess in Marathi) is a respected word in Maharashtra, buddhibal pattu (chess players) means persons with brains. When a humble genius like Viswanathan Anand and a perfectionist performer like Aamir Khan start talking about the sport they both are passionate about, it makes for an interesting viewing. That is precisely what the audience were treated to at a function organised by Hridayesh Arts to felicitate Grandmaster Anand on Wednesday.

At Dinanath Mangeshkar Natyagriha in Vile Parle, a venue seeped in culture and theatre for the Parlekars, speaker after speaker described the Viswanathan Anand they knew. Aamir Khan, who revealed that his grandmother initiated him into the world of chess, only had admiration for the chess wiz. “I am a fan of Anand and would have loved sitting amongst you all, listening to him. He is an icon, an inspiration for all of us with his hard work and dedication.”

When it was Anand’s turn to speak, he returned the compliment. “Everytime I see him (Aamir Khan), he looks different. It shows the efforts he puts into his movies.” “We played chess with each other a few times and he is the only superstar to whom I shared tips about defence.” About his Mumbai connect, the Grandmaster said: “I won my first National title here in 1986 and later a reception at the Raj Bhavan after becoming world chess champion for the first time.”

Russia-based Ravi Abhyankar, one of the guest speakers and close friend of Anand, brought out the pride every Indian feels about the respect the chess ace commands. “There is something called the country stereotype. Viswanathan Anand is the stereotype for every Indian in their eyes... intelligent and modest. Ever since the 1995 title match against Garry Kasparov, which the Indian lost 7.5 to Kasparov’s 10.5 points after 18 games at New York’s World Trade Centre, Russians keep track of Anand, a source of joy for Indians living there,” he said.

During the function, Maharashtra Governor, C.H. Vidyasagar Rao asked Anand to draw up a plan to teach chess to university students across the state. “I am the Chancellor and have 20 universities under me. I am inviting you to draw up a plan for chess lessons to university students. It will lay a strong foundation for their academic career and keep them engaged in useful thinking,” the Governor said. “We have 20 universities, grand heritage buildings, intelligent students and brainy professors. They will benefit from your guidance in chess, a sport which I believe is useful for academics.”