Note: A day after this article was published on Sify, Sachin on Saturday (July 24) clarified that there won’t be any blood in the book. Read on to find out why it would have been an unnecessarily undignified act by the little champion, if he had allowed the publishers to go ahead with their original plan.
Almost 21 years ago, it was Waqar Younis who made the then 17-year-old Sachin Tendulkar spill blood in his debut Test with an awkward bouncer.
Now, it is the turn of a publisher.
For those of you who haven’t heard the news already, Kraken Media, the publishers of Tendulkar Opus, plan to print 10 deluxe copies of their 37kg tome with a signature page that “will be mixed with Sachin’s blood – mixed into the paper pulp so it’s a red resin”.
The editions, which have already been pre-ordered, are priced at $75000 each (Rs 35 lakhs at the current rate) and will also feature a DNA profile of the little champion generated from his saliva and more than 1,500 pictures, with each of the 852 pages being edged in gold leaf.
Kraken Media’s chief executive Karl Fowler explained the decision to the UK-based Guardian in this manner: “It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, it’s not to everyone’s taste and some may think it’s a bit weird. But the key thing here is that Sachin Tendulkar to millions of people is a religious icon. And we thought how, in a publishing form, can you get as close to your god as possible?”
Certainly, they have hit upon quite an idea indeed!
Even Deigo Maradona, the other sporting star whose autobiography was touted as an Opus, hasn’t been subjected to this kind of hagiography.
Agreed the cause is good. The Rs 3.5 crores raised from the deluxe-edition sale will go towards building a school in Mumbai.
Agreed also that the market for sports books in India, where Sachin has his biggest fan following, is rather thin.
I am reminded in this context of a friend of mine who ended up spending lakhs of rupees from his own pocket to get his biography on Prakash Padukone, the greatest badminton player India has produced, published. Passion, in his case, only served to burn a gaping hole in his purse.
And of a senior colleague, who was offered a paltry Rs 10000 to do a ‘quickie’ on one of our current batting greats by a publishing major because anything more elaborate and costlier wouldn’t be worth the trouble.
With the sports publishing scene in India being this bleak, Sachin and Kraken Media might have felt (and justifiably so) that it made sense to target just an exclusive clientele instead of reaching out to the hoi polloi.
Finding 10 people capable of forking out Rs 3.5 crore was definitely an easier task for them than launching a search for a million readers willing to part with Rs 350 and buy the book.
Be that as it may, why at all let Sachin’s blood seep into its pages?
Funnily, the batting great was reported to have said that he wanted us to see it just as a “mind-blowing” tribute.
But don’t you feel that while it might behove the leaders of a cult, Sachin has little need to lend his name and his blood to something this shamanistic?
Even his bosom pal Vinod Kambli was shocked enough into admitting that “This is something you could have expected from a Vinod Kambli and not Sachin Tendulkar.”
For once, he is right.
This is an unnecessarily undignified act for Sachin, whose career has been built on the bedrock of dignity.
With February 2011 being the launch date of the book, the little champion will be well advised to have a relook at this decision of his.
Just to drive home the point once again, Sachin…
Spilling blood on the field is one matter; spilling it in a book for a publisher who considers you a “religion icon” on the strength of your skill with the willow is quite another.
Don’t you all agree too?