A ride to remember with Gavaskar!

I remember we left the hotel around midnight and went all over the city, to all the iconic places. By the time we returned, it was early morning and all through the ride, his favourite song — Yeh raat bhigi bhigi — played over the car stereo.

I may not belong to the sporting fraternity, but that has never stopped me from being an ardent sports fan. Ever since childhood, I have been lucky enough to have seen some of the biggest sporting heroes of the country from close quarters — initially because of my father (veteran actor), Biswajit.

As I walk down memory lane, I can distinctly remember an incident when I had the privilege of accompanying the legendary Sunil Gavaskar on a tour of Kolkata. Though I don’t exactly remember the year, it was at a time when both Gavaskar and Kapil Dev were in their prime. My father had organised a charity cricket match in Guwahati, in which both Gavaskar and Kapil played, along with Karsan Ghavri.

Gavaskar had stayed back in Kolkata for a day before heading to Guwahati and he wanted to go around the city. My father asked me to join him, and I remember we left the hotel around midnight and went all over the city, to all the iconic places. By the time we returned, it was early morning and all through the ride, his favourite song — Yeh raat bhigi bhigi — played over the car stereo. For me, it was a huge thing to have spent so much time with an icon.

It seemed even he was impressed with me, because the next day, when I went to pick him up to go to the airport, he gave me his bag and wallet. “You keep them with you,” he said. At such an age, it felt like a dream to get presents from Gavaskar.

In that match, I remember watching Kapil from close quarters. Even as the entire stadium went crazy over him, Kapil sat in a corner quietly with the red cherry. It seemed he was not distracted with whatever was happening outside. He remained focussed. Only legends like him could keep things so simple.

Having stayed in Mumbai, I have also seen Rovers Cup fixtures between East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting — which were attended by the big names of the Mumbai film industry. In one such game, I remember seeing the late Sachin Deb Burman and Dilip Kumar. There were no chairs available, so Burman saab sat on the ground and cheered for East Bengal.

It’s been ages since, but still feels like yesterday!

As told to Shayan Acharya.

(Prosenjit Chatterjee is an Indian actor  and producer)