Thursday, January 22, 2015

50 Not Out! - The Hyderabad Launch

The Big Moment - 50 Not Out! Launched at Hyderabad by the classy VVS Laxman
The Hyderabad launch of '50 Not Out' took place last evening, 21st January, 2015 at Landmark Bookstore, Somajiguda. The panel of guests included former Test cricketer and a very very special person V.V.S. Laxman who was the Chief Guest of the evening, C.V. Anand, Commissioner of Police, Cyberabad, Suresh Babu, Film Producer and Sumanth, Film Actor and more importantly the compassionate and loving Coach Sampath in Golconda High School.
Books waiting in readiness
The event was to start at 6 pm. So I went early to the venue with Shobhs and Anjali to see how we can contribute. Raghuram Mahamkali, young software engineer, passionate about cricket and life, my MC for the evening was already present, immaculately dressed and well prepared. The space was set up, chairs in place, press enclosure made, backdrop ready. Books were on display, counter was open. Mikes in place. There were only 50 chairs and I wondered if they would be enough. What if 100 showed up? I expected between 70 and 100. Oh, we'll handle that said the store. There were 100 books in stock and I again wondered, what if more are needed? I asked the man from the publishing house to have another 50 on standby and he said they would be enough. They know. They have organised book events. (Both chairs and books were finally not enough by a large margin. Shows that bookstores and publishers are still not clued in. When oh when?)
VVS Laxman, Me and Sumanth, listening to Suresh Babu speak
Suresh Reddy, my friend my St. Alphonso's Junior College, where we studied our Intermediate, now Chairman of Lycos, came early, all dapper in his fine suit. AP, friend from Osmania Engineering College, came early too. We took pictures early with a beaming Anjali before the crowd came in.
Pre-launch - Anjali and I pose with old friends AP Srinivas and Suresh
Prasad Nimmakayala, Executive Producer for all of Ram's movies, and someone who has helped me immensely with the launch events of all three book launches  - 'The Men Within' in 2007 (which was a sell out event i.e.e sold out all books), 'If you love someone...' in Delhi Book Fair and now '50 Not Out' in Hyderabad. His fine sense of managing events, revving the press, keeping a cool head under pressure makes things easy. And he delivers each time - drums up press support, ensures they get pictures and videos. He had a new idea to shoot the event and send the videos to TV channels and he did that yesterday.
C.V. Anand in a relaxed mood
Shobhs went off hunting for books to gift the guests. Vijay, my skipper from Osmania and classmate from MBA, came with Timothy Paul, one of my oldest and dearest cricketing chums. Both work in Central Excise and Customs. Amar Chegu, friend and management consultant came, and I unabashedly took his pen which was writing much better than mine - he was generous enough to gift me that. My school friends Joel, Arif, Jamshed, Vinay Gopal came together - I am meeting them after thirty some years.
Vinay Gopal, Jamshed, Me and Arif - classmates from All Saints meeting after 30 years
Joseph Fernandes from school came with two other pals. Farruk Ali Khan, Rahi Prakash and Rajesh B - both of whom were in the school cricket team with Joel and I, came. (Those who were not present from that team - Masood, Abdul Rub, Suresh, Ehtesham, Subodh Bhatnagar, Michael, Iftekhar, Chakravarthy). My sisters, then my brother Ram. Prof. Shamraj came with Pavan hugged me and gifted me a tie with Osmania colors. Precious gift. NP Singh, Hyderabad's lion hearted fast bowler who took over 300 wickets, ex- Chairman of selectors, came. Madhav who is here on a visit from the US came and disappeared for a coffee. Ram Gedela of JWT, Hyderabad my childhood chum stepped in looking dapper. And then the time was neigh.
C.V. Anand introducing the book - winner of the award of Special Merit by the Election Commission of India
C.V. Anand, my friend and cricketing mate for many years during University days, now Commissioner of Cyberabad, and a man who does so much good wherever he goes, came. He was happy. He had just been awarded an award of Special Merit by the Election Commission for best practices in India, among many other contenders. Among the achievements that led to this award were the highest cash seizures  in total, the highest individual cash seizure apart from other poll practices. Its a wonderful achievement and we should hear more about it in today's news. CV was dapper in his tweed jacket, and looked relaxed. Good day for both of us.
Nice - Very, Very Special Moment
Suresh Babu, film producer and friend, one of my esteemed panelists for the day, slipped into the crowd comfortably. We caught up and spoke about Ashok Amritraj for a while. Apparently Ashok made all his deals on the tennis courts in his home in the US. Suresh knew him personally. His evolution is fascinating, Ashok's, and we were wondering how he chose his route and how successful he became considering the kind of movies he made originally.
The One and Only Coach Sampath - Sumanth
By now the crowd was building up. I met old friend Anjan Nadimpally after many many years. He just dropped in at the event and was scheduled to leave next morning. We just had time for a quick hello. The friends from the press were there, my sports team, Das from NIE, VVS from Hindu, Gladson from ToI, Wenu Kodimela from Hans, Pallavi from Metro.

Vivek Jaisimha, friend, mentor came, handsome as ever, with Mona, warm as usual and a big hug. Cheryl Rao, writer of several children's books came with her husband and wisely took her copies in advance. Ramanamurthy, fast bowler, member of the Hyderabad winning team during 1986, came by and gave me a big hug. Military, Sanjay, my new ball partner in Under 15 came by. And then Sumanth came, film actor, Coach Sampath in Golconda High School came, handsome and glamorous, easy and graceful. We all caught up in a small enclosure away from the crowd and awaited the arrival of Laxman. And then he arrived. I had to snatch him away from Narsimham, captain of the JNTU team in our playing days and now  President of the Architect's Association.
A moment's reprieve from the proceedings - Laxman makes a point
The event started 12 minutes late but we were quickly off. Raghuram started the proceedings, invited me on stage. Then CV Anand, Sumanth, Suresh Babu and Laxman. We sat down. Raghu introduced himself to the crowd, and then introduced Landmark and Jaico, and then asked CV Anand to open the innings and introduce the book. CV did a wonderful job, introducing the book, delving deep into the idea, the pattern and structure behind the book, the challenges, his association with me and his impressions and he left me with the words - this book has much to take away for everyone and needs to be marketed well and you have to take lessons from Chetan Bhagat. He said he read the book in four hours and I was amazed he could do that. he even read out a whole chapter - one on honesty - which features Laxman's straight bat too. By the time he concluded his well-paced, well-planned introduction, the game was set up perfectly and I must thank CV for being so frank, honest and affectionate. He mentioned how I gave the impression of being casual and how he was surprised that I left the game early in those years. Ah, glorious days those. I had a special affinity for CV, Yuvraj, Ifti, all my younger colleagues.
Me and my two bits
Sumanth spoke next about our association, his book reading habits, his love for movies, 50 Not out, the book itself  and chose to read his favorite parts, about patience. He loved the fact that I could see a link between a batsman waiting for the ball to come to him and Sonny Corleone's bad batsmanship in the meeting with Solozzo in 'The Godfather'. He spoke easily, warmly and read effortlessly. Grace and style all the way. He even poked fun at himself - I like the chapter on patience which I think is a great virtue. But sometimes people think I am a bit too patient.
Signing books - Dr. Krishnan and Mrs. Girija Krishnan in the foreground
Suresh spoke next and he said he felt like the batsman coming in next - but the game was already finished by the first two batsmen - they had said everything already. He recounted his impressions of me. He had read parts of the book and said he could take a couple of them to life - the chapter on courage and concentration (keep your eyes on the ball) - finding instant connect to his latest movies. He said how he took his eyes off the ball for a while and felt he missed a bit on the casting and felt it was a mistake and how he told his people to go through it all again and look at the fuzzy parts and set those right. Perfect delivery. Suresh and I, we both feel that the book needs to be read one lesson at a time.
The highly talented director-actor Srini Avasarala, Suresh Pullella and behind me Farruk Ali Khan from my school days
I was asked to speak next about my transition from a fearsome fast bowler to a writer who is so easy to read. (Is easy good?) I took some potshots at our fast bowlers club who were far away from all things easy and sensitive, and how the transition was long and tough. How no one would believe that a fast bowler could write. And that too sensitive stuff. How I realised that to make things seem easy  was certainly not easy. I then addressed 'Why' I wrote the book - the lessons cricket taught me made me what I am today. I would not have been half the man without them. My early days in Hyderabad, All Saints being a rowdy school as it was, threw me off my bearings until I got selected for the school team and then the state team. My lessons in under 15 with Chetan, not knowing the rules helped, the Universities experiences when we won and we lost, my MCC experience.
Farruk, Joseph Fernandes and Joel Wilson from All Saints
Then I spoke of 'How' I wrote, the challenges I faced in connecting mindsets of cricketers and champions in other fields of work. I wound off with a quote by Plato - on how an hour's play reveals more about a person than 20 years of discussion. I had played with all four on stage and I recounted briefly what they had revealed of themselves during that play - CV Anand's desire to right things that were wrong was as evident then as it is now, Sumanth's calm, patient and sensitive nature showed in his batting and how he influenced the match. Suresh's combative instincts and his will to win were so evident in a game we played and certainly bowling to VVS Laxman when he was a college student drove me to frustration - so straight and pure was his bat. And then of course, each one in the audience had played with me and revealed parts of themselves and certainly aided my growth. Thank you all for that.
A view from the crowd
Laxman spoke and he spoke so well that everyone I met remarked on how wonderfully he speaks - clearly and articulately. His thoughts well sorted out, Laxman constructed his talk as he would an inning, steadily and surely. He spoke about how he finished reading the entire book on a flight to Delhi, how he found the book an interesting read and how it made him recollect many incidents from his past, how Golconda High School and The Men Within and now 50 Not Out actually made him feel very emotional. He recalled his days of playing for Little Flower against All Saints High School, the growing years of cricketers. He picked the two lessons he connected to the most - Courage and Preparation and he spoke about them - specially citing the way I prepared to get my 128 runs that I promised my skipper. He noted how I mentioned my mother's contribution in my dedication. He said I should have been a cricket coach apart from being an Executive Coach. He felt that marketing or no marketing, this book will do well.

Laxman spoke very well, read the book in its true sense and gave the event that magical silken touch. 50 Not Out! flies off the bat of Laxman, C.V.Anand, Suresh Babu and Sumanth and my family and friends at Hyderabad and I am sure with the kind of good energies we have had at the event, it will live to its potential. From the bottom of my heart, thank you all - the event was all one could hope for. A packed crowd, media jostling for space, crackling speeches, sell out books and the love of friends and family.

Some quotes from the press about the event
"It's not just 50 aspects of being a successful cricketer, but the book gives us 50 aspects of how to be a successful person" - VVS Laxman, Times of India, Hyderabad

'There's a lot of technical stuff like temperament, leadership, team spirit and all that but importantly in his (my) case, it's given him courage to get out of his comfort zone, which is cricket, and into writing; courage to follow his dreams, unconventional as it seems.' - VVS Laxman, Times of India, Hyderabad

'He (the author) has successfully greenflagged a lot of red flags accentuating the importance of preparation an focus, without which it is hard to succeed in life." - VVS Laxman, Times of India, Hyderabad

'It took me just three hours to read the book and it made me quite emotional. There were several aspects of it which I could relate to my own life. It's written in simple language and is easy to read and understand.' - VVS Laxman, New Indian Express

'Two important factors which he spoke in the book are about courage and preparation, which are extremely important not just in cricket but in any profession.' - VVS Laxman, New Indian Express

'I turned emotional on reading 50 Not Out. It was so touching that you instantly relate to the happenings around and try to pick up a few lessons in the art of living too.' - VVS Laxman, The Hindu

'The two biggest lessons of the book are courage and preparation. The best part is it just doesn't discuss problems, but has plenty of solutions too.' - VVS Laxman, The Hindu
Vishwa, Me, Shrini, NP Singh, Vijay and Shobhs
'A must-read for all those interested in managerial skills, coming as it did from an ex-cricketer who played straight and fair during his hey days.' - C.V. Anand, The Hindu (Commissioner of Police, Cyberabad and recipient of the National Special Award for Best Electoral Practices in 2014 awarded by the Election Commission of India)

'I loved the way he made a conscious attempt to connect cricket terminology to signify the good and bad in anybody's life like explaining what it means playing with a straight bat and bowling no-balls.' - C.V. Anand, The Hindu

'When your movie is released you feel very tense but I had just then finished reading what it means to have an eye on the ball in cricket and stay focussed.' - Suresh Babu, The Hindu

'When you're writing a book of this kind, you run the risk of either being cliched or preachy. Hari has cleverly sidestepped these two by blending life lessons with cricket and films.' - Sumanth, Actor, Lead Actor in Golconda High School

'Cricket taught me innumerable lessons and I wouldn't be half the man i am if it wasn't for the game. The lessons came fast and frequently and I initially thought it applies only to cricket, but then I soon realised hat it can be applicable to all walks of life.' - Harimohan Paruvu, New Indian Express

'I tried to get into the mindset of champion cricketers and compare it with champion personalities in the outside world. There were challenges on the way and I wrote about a hundred drafts, but it worked in the end.' - Harimohan Paruvu, New Indian Express 

And then VVS Laxman unveiled the book.
Young admirers - Anjali, Ashrita, Harsha and Mansi
50 Not Out! was officially launched in Hyderabad.

Post launch Laxman was mobbed the TV and press crews. I was signing books for a long time. As expected the 100 books got sold out soon and the Jaico salesman rushed to get 10 copies from Himalaya which were sold out too.  When will these guys ever learn?

Let me try and remember who came.
My cricketer friends - Vivek Jaisimha, Vijay Mohan Raj, Ramanamurthy, NP Singh, Mujtaba Askari, Sanjay T, Vijay Kumar, Timothy Paul, Bansi, Srikanth Iyengar, Baliguddin, Riaz, Narasimham
MCC friends - Ramkrishna, Suri, Pavan, Srinu, Ramesh, Subbu, Suresh Pullella, Venkat Swaroop
School friends from All Saints - Choudary, Vasu, Arif, Jamshed, Vinay Gopal, Rahi Prakash, Rajesh, Farrruk, Joel, (all cricketers too) Joseph,
My Inter friends - Ajay Narne, Ramaraju (with his entire team from Gap Miners), Suresh Reddy, From Osmania University Engineering College - Sanjay Reddy, Sunil Jyoti, Chandu, AP Srinivas, Prasad Badiganti, Vijay D, Kishore, Vivekanand, Anjaneyulu, Sagarika, Kanakaiah, Anil Kumar Suravaram
OUMBA - Shrini.A, Vishwa Prasad, Ramesh
Writer friends - Vinod Ekbote, Major Kiran, Cheryl Rao, Taufeeq
Buddies - Madhav, Kiran, Ranjan
Film fraternity -  Senthil (ace cinematographer of GHS, Magadheera fame and a most compassionate and kind human - he came after the program but stayed long long after, chatting about this and that in his unique humble manner), Nandini Reddy, Srini Avasarala, Ramesh Eligeti, Prasad Nimmakayala, Sagar, Naveen Nayak (whose pics I posted now),Sai Srinivas (Siddhanth of GHS), Sudhir,
Elders and teachers  - Mrs. Jaisimha aka Junie Aunty, Naresh's Mom, Mr. Shankar Melkote, Prof. Shamraj, Prof. Balaji, Dr. Krishnan and Mrs. Dr. Girija Krishnan, Vidyasagar,
Doctors friends - Dr. Satyanath Patnaik, Dr. Sreenu and Dr. Manju, Dr. Gautham
Friends - Mona Jaisimha, Monica, Shanthi, Mamta, Shailendra and family, Pratap and Narendra Nargundkar, Chitra, Prashant, Ramesh, Pavani, Vaishali, Anitha, Geetha, Shreya, Rohan, Shashi, Jaleel (constant at all launches and a wonderful friend, brother of Aqueel the Great), Suryaprakash Rao of HRG, Amar Chegu, Prem Chand, Lalitha, Murali Baseedu, Naushad, Tej, Roopesh, Dayakar, Sushmitha, Jawad, Kishen, Bhanu, Vikram, Safir, Anjan Nadimpalli, Suresh Ravi, Bhaskar, Vijaylakshmi, Divya Uday, Dhruv, Sheetal Kiran, Madhavi C, Nitin and Naina, Ashok Nair, Major Chary, Sridhar, Ravi Kulasekharan, Shravan Kumar, Sushil Kumar, Shalivahan, Gopinath, Paola, Achyuth Menon, Shiva, Reena, Shekhar, Prashanth Chandra, Prateek Chandra, Bobby, Abha, Anjali
Family - Shobha, Anjali, Mythily, Ashwini, Jagdip, Abhishek, Sheila, Ram, Chimu, Radhika
Journalist friends - Das, VVSubramanyam, Gladson, Radhika Rajamani, Venu Kodimela, Pallavi.

I am sure I missed some. I am going to get them all,

Thank you all for coming and making it such a blast.


6 comments:

Rajendra said...

seems like a blast. Might provoke a sequel!

Harimohan said...

Oh yes Raja. It was great fun. I think everyone enjoyed the event. Superb stuff. You should have been there.

Abhishek said...

You missed me !!! I was there too !!

Harimohan said...

Abhi, since corrected. Thanks.

Tanuj Nanda said...

Congratulations, Hari. Would loved to have been there instead of being closeted in Delhi. Nevertheless, just completed the book and it was genuinely a rewarding experience. Your valuable instructions written in a disarmingly simple narrative style made extremely good reading. I know I'll be invariably referencing "50 Not Out" to constantly guide and motivate myself.

Harimohan said...

Thanks Tanuj. Glad you enjoyed reading 50 Not Out! It would have been great to have you here at the launch. Come to Hyd - been a long long time.