As Sachin Tendulkar turns 50, his doppelganger Balvir Chand recalls how the Master Blaster shaped his life

Meet the Tendulkar doppelganger who has amazed everyone with his striking resemblance to the legend.

Published : Apr 23, 2023 18:24 IST , Mumbai - 11 MINS READ

Balvir Chand - The Sachin Tendulkar lookalike
| Video Credit: Emmanual Yogini and Shayan Acharya

“Balvir kaun?” asked a security guard at Sonata Greens — a residential complex in the western suburbs of Vikhroli in Mumbai. 

When I tried explaining that we wanted to meet Balvir Chand, a resident of flat No. A 203, he wasn’t convinced. “ Uss naam se koi nahi rehta hai idhar (there’s nobody by that name),” he said, nonchalantly. 

A few minutes later, the guard called in on a few of his colleagues, who looked equally clueless about the person I was trying to meet. “ Aap shayad doosre jagah mein aaye ho” one of them said, before inquiring whether I have any photograph of the person. 

I looked at my phone and showed them the WhatsApp profile picture of Balvir, and suddenly, the expressions changed. One could spot a smile on their faces. 

“Oh, Sachin Tendulkar  ji “Haan, woh toh idhar hi rehte hain... Aap kayko Balvir bol rahe the!“ one of them said. 

And in no time, I was escorted to a small one-room apartment on the first floor, where lives Balvir, who’s popularly known as ‘Tendulkar  ji’  by his neighbours for being a lookalike of the cricketing icon, who turns 50 on April 24. 

A beaming ‘Tendulkar’ looks down from the yellowing posters hanging on decrepit walls of the tiny apartment. A single wooden cot, which doubles as a sofa and a bed, is the only furniture in the room. Just above its threadbare pillows hangs a small mirror with an ordinary steel frame. 

And nothing gives Balvir more joy than watching his reflection in that mirror! The image reflected back at him is his most prized possession, his bread and butter — his face, which resembles the cricketing legend. 

Over the last 25 years, Balvir has earned a living impersonating Tendulkar. With his curly hair, short and stocky build, he made for a convincing duplicate of the legend, and that helped him chalk up a unique career path for himself. 

He would be invited to events, local shows, and even shoot a few commercials alongside the real Tendulkar. And until the COVID-19 pandemic induced a nation-wide lockdown in 2020, Balvir was the brand ambassador of Goli Vada Pav —  a noted fast food chain with multiple outlets across Mumbai and other cities. 

“I have spent half my life as a duplicate of Sachin  ji. And it is largely because of him that I have come so far. Every time people look at me, they are reminded of Sachin  ji. That’s my biggest takeaway,” Balvir says. 

Little more than a decade ago, when Tendulkar was still in action in international cricket, Balvir enjoyed his moments of glory. People would wait for a long time to click pictures with him, while local television channels would call him for special shows. “I remember the time when so many people would just wait for me to have a conversation. One of Sachin  ji’s fans had once told me that since they don’t get a chance to watch him in person, they are glad to have me around. Those words encouraged me in this long journey,” Balvir says. 

Hailing from Sahlon village in Punjab, Balvir was 20 when Tendulkar made his debut against Pakistan in 1989 at the age of 16, and people in his village soon started finding uncanny resemblance between the two.

However, a young Balvir did not pay much heed to those talks and only after he shifted to Ludhiana a year or so later, to work as a ward boy in a hospital, did he realise that he actually looked similar to the cricketing legend. 

“I eventually got a curly hairstyle and every time I would be at the Ludhiana baazar, people would gather around me and chant ‘ Sachin, Sachin’. They would go crazy. I became quite popular,” he says with a smile. 

The first meeting

But Balvir had to wait a few years before finally meeting Tendulkar in person. 

In 1999, he travelled to Delhi to watch the India vs Pakistan Test match, where Anil Kumble claimed 10 wickets in the second innings to guide India home. “While I was watching the game, the television cameras panned towards me. Sunil Gavaskar, who was on air, saw me and invited me to the commentary box and everyone was stunned to see an uncanny resemblance between me and Sachin  ji,” Balvir reminisces. 

Later that evening, the television crew took Balvir to the Taj hotel, where the teams were staying, and he finally got to meet his ‘idol’. “As the team bus reached the hotel, Anil Kumble got down and shook hands with me. And soon, I saw Sachin  ji. He came down and smiled at me. Awestruck, I gave him a few pictures of mine and he just signed them. I told him that those were my pictures and not his. He paused and had a look at them again!” Balvir says. 

Later, Tendulkar called him asking for those pictures. “He still could not believe that I looked so similar to him. I learnt later that he had shown those pictures to his friends and family and all of them were taken aback.” 

The then broadcasters of Indian cricket had given a ticket to Balvir for next day’s play and as he entered through Gate No. 8 at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium, the spectators went crazy. “They swarmed around me and started chanting Sachin  ji’s name. For a moment, they thought I was indeed the cricket legend. There was commotion as everyone tried coming close to me,” Balvir says. “Even the police personnel found it difficult to handle the situation. That day, I realised how much people adored Sachin  ji. And it’s then that I decided to do something around it.” 

Life in the Maximum City

Balvir went back to Ludhiana, quit his job at the hospital and reached Mumbai to chase his dreams a few months later. He had studied till 10th standard and was not very articulate, so settling down in the Maximum City was not easy. 

“Those were difficult times. I would live as a paying guest in small apartments and would travel around the city in search of work. I soon realised that only the ‘face’ won’t take me far, so I started writing poetry and would do a bit of mimicry to entertain the crowd. And that strategy worked,” he says. 

Slowly, people in Mumbai started noticing him. He was soon seen in local events and also shot a few commercials with Tendulkar and travelled to England and South Africa for work. “Back in those days, Sachin  ji’s fandom was unreal. I remember once I travelled to a village near Ahmedabad and all the villagers showered me with flowers. It was unbelievable.” 

Although Sachin Tendulkar’s public appearances dried up after his retirement, Balvir Chand wasn’t affected much for he had a steady job.
Although Sachin Tendulkar’s public appearances dried up after his retirement, Balvir Chand wasn’t affected much for he had a steady job. | Photo Credit: EMMANUAL YOGINI/ The Hindu

Although Sachin Tendulkar’s public appearances dried up after his retirement, Balvir Chand wasn’t affected much for he had a steady job. | Photo Credit: EMMANUAL YOGINI/ The Hindu

So far, Balvir has met Tendulkar about ‘25 to 30 times’ and every time, the cricketing legend has made him feel comfortable. “Sachin  ji’s face has given me lot of fame, though not so much riches. But I am happy to have come so far.” 

Balvir knew that public appearances would dry up once Tendulkar retires, so around 2011-12, he started working for Goli Vada Pav. “I had to look at a Plan B. Once he retired in 2013, public appearances dried up, but it did not affect me much as I had a steady job. With around Rs 50,000 salary, I knew that I could take care of my family even if shows or public events did not come my way.” 

COVID-19 brought bad news

Things looked fine, until COVID-19 hit the world. As the fast-food chain lost business after the lockdown, it let go of a lot of staff. “I too was asked to leave,” Balvir says. “It was really a shock for me. My family had come down from Punjab around that time and I did not have a job. Paying Rs 15,000 rent per month was impossible. So, soon after the travel restrictions were withdrawn, I headed back to my village along with the family,” Balvir says. 

But that train journey from Mumbai to Ludhiana left four of them - Balvir, his wife, daughter and younger son - COVID-19 positive, and they were admitted to the local hospital. “It was a nightmare. The facilities were not up to the mark, and we really had a tough time during the isolation. I had no money, and did not know how things would pan out over the next few months…” 

Did he ever think of seeking help from Tendulkar? 

“No,” says Balvir. “I have earned enough fame because of Sachin  ji. He knows I live in Mumbai and what struggles I go through are. But I never wanted to bother him, seeking help.  Unka ashirwad bane rahe bas...” 

Once things got better, Balvir returned to Mumbai and started searching for work. Though he is yet to find a full-time job, small-time assignments have slowly started coming his way. “I recently travelled to Bhavnagar to shoot for a Gujarati television show. There was also one event lined up with Sachin  ji in Goa, but that got cancelled. So, slowly, I have started getting work. But of course, it’s not enough to make ends meet,” he says. 

While he still struggles to pay his house rent, Balvir has not lost hope. “I know I have Sachin  ji’s blessings. As he turns 50, I pray for his good health and prosperity. After all, it’s because of him that I could make a name for myself. And I hope this continues…” 

Mumbai Indians sends its official kit and other goodies to Balvir Chand ahead of every IPL season.
Mumbai Indians sends its official kit and other goodies to Balvir Chand ahead of every IPL season. | Photo Credit: EMMANUAL YOGINI/The Hindu

Mumbai Indians sends its official kit and other goodies to Balvir Chand ahead of every IPL season. | Photo Credit: EMMANUAL YOGINI/The Hindu

In one corner of his room, there lie a few jerseys of Mumbai Indians and the Indian team, and Balvir has treasured them well. “Ahead of every season, Mumbai Indians sends me these jerseys and other goodies. While I enjoy this attention, at times, when making ends meet become a challenge, I often look outside the window and wonder, ‘ What’s next?’…” 

“I have noticed, every time I got through tough times, some work or the other comes my way. It would not have happened without Sachin  ji’s blessings,” Balvir says, looking at the tri-colour that hangs in one corner of his room, next to Tendulkar’s poster. 

Sign in to unlock all user benefits
  • Get notified on top games and events
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign up / manage to our newsletters with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early bird access to discounts & offers to our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment