“We are coming together to defend secularism by defeating Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and the RSS,” proclaimed Lalu Prasad with typical bombast in September 2015 just ahead of the Bihar assembly elections. “Our biggest challenge is to defeat the forces of communalism represented by Mr Modi,” argued Nitish Kumar vehemently. The die had been cast: in the autumn of 2015, the citadel of secularism had to be protected at all costs from the saffron army led by the strongman from Gujarat.
There is a wonderfully poignant story, possibly apocryphal, about the original Hindi cinema ‘phenomenon’ Rajesh Khanna that reveals the limits of superstardom. During his peak years, Khanna would hold a daily durbar where his fans would gather to hear him recite dialogues from his films. The room would be packed and the drink would flow. Many years later, Khanna found the hall empty. “Arre, where has everyone gone?” he asked his Man Friday. “Sir, there is a new hero in town and his name is Amitabh Bachchan,” replied his aide softly. Shaken, Khanna went back to sleep.
If you wanted to know how and why Rahul Dravid scored more than 13,000 test runs and took a world record 200 plus catches, you just had to be present at the 6th Dilip Sardesai memorial lecture. He was bang on time, dressed immaculately in jacket and tie, and had written a detailed speech.