Tuesday, December 25, 2012

20 Celebrities Who Influenced Me

I tried to put together a list of celebrities and heroes who influenced me and perhaps made me the person I am today by making me want to be like them or do things like they do or did.The list is in random order.

1) Socrates, the Brazilian soccer skipper for his sheer coolness quotient and oodles of charisma. Ever since I saw the Soccer World Cup in 1986 I have been hooked to that event and nothing impressed me more than the manner in which a supremely confident Socrates wrong footed the goal keeper in a penalty kick that he took off two paces. Of course he missed another similar one but for that penalty-taking style, his dark and mysterious looks, the well-read Socrates added some magic into my life.

2) Amitabh Bachchan, was probably the single most personality that affected our generation and made us all surly, unromantic and perhaps angry (or sullen) males with long hair over our ears, bell bottoms on our trousers, anger in our eyes, a deepness in our voice and an aloofness from females. In fact my friend Vardha rates Amitabh as the one factor that meddled with our love lives - he reckons we'd been better off if we had Rajesh Khanna as our idol he feels! But Amitabh induced a madness into us that pervaded through the 70s, 80s and even the 90s and left an impact that was too deep for that generation. For me.

3) ABBA, the pop group from Sweden introduced western pop music in a manner that shook my life up. Even since I watched the movie 'ABBA the movie', I pretty much bought all their albums, listened to them, learnt to sing them, listened to other contemporary groups, and slowly and steadily got hooked on to music so bad that it never left me. Did I want to be like them when I saw the movie? Oh yes.

4) Wodehouse, for the unbelievable way in which he wrote his books. Where does he get that crazy turn of phrase that makes you unable to control your laughter and laugh out loud, to roll in the aisles. I loved to dwell on his books on long summer vacations and to this day I wish that I'd be able to write one book that made readers laugh like his books did. To this day I can make out the sound of the laughter from someone who is reading a Wodehouse in a public place. It is unmistakable, uncontrollable laughter.

5) Bjorn Borg, or Ice Borg as they called him, was an inspiration for the way he played his tennis in a manner that was completely devoid of emotion. His icy calmness, his numerous wins under pressure and the air of mystery around a man who never was much in the public eye made Borg on of our big heroes. Oh, to be a Borg and play the way he did under pressure.

6) Mother Teresa, was someone who I could not help but admire for the work she has done. Nothing to say about her but just a deep admiration for carrying on the work of God without much ado. It all seems beyond you when you see what one person can do if she makes up her mind to do anything.

7) James Bond, represented to me by Sean Connery first, and later Roger Moore, epitomised all that was slick, western and  Hollywood, the alpha male of our dreams dreams. Cars, fights, dialogues, women ...Mr. Bond was probably the one male we all least fantasised about being in our wildest fantasies. He could do everything except dance around trees.

8) Bruce Lee, provided us all much needed inspiration in the field of fighting for ourselves, of strength for which we need not look outside. It was a crazy experience watching Enter the Dragon and walking out with tight fists ready to bash up anyone. It was breathtaking to watch those stunts and that intense movie, but Bruce Lee and his karate stoked the imagination of a whole generation of our people. Karate became popular too and the fact that one could fight back barehanded.

9) Kapil Dev, for bringing fight into the Indian side and with it a great spirit that anything was possible if we showed some courage. The way he came back and bowled with a strain in the Sydney test that we won against Greg Chappell's team was incredible. Those were the days of the radio and we listened to that commentary early in the morning and boy was it magical. Kapil went on to give us more magic, 175 not out against Zimbabwe, the World Cup win and so much more. For the first time we felt like we had men representing our team and I felt that it would not be a bad thing to be like him.

10) Gavaskar, for being the first sports superstar we ever had. He took his boundaries with the game higher and higher and fought a lone battle almost against most quality sides. It's amazing to see so much excellence being devoted by one man for so little return in terms of wins but he went on and on. Wonderful stuff.

11) Meryl Streep, was someone I fell instantly in love with when I first saw her in a movie - Falling in Love perhaps or was it Out of Africa. I have seen most of her movies since and am more deeply in love with her than ever. As an artiste she is way up there and now after so many years I still wonder at how she goes on and on and churns out so much quality in her work. And I fall more and more in love with her.

12) Mohammed Ali, For bringing a passion to excel and win in sports to such a high level. He raised his entire skill to another level - first by raising his skill and training in a manner that was not conventional and then by playing psychological games on his opponents and ensuring that he won fights that were sometimes above his weight almost.

13) Pink Floyd, for their iconic album The Wall. I cannot imagine even now how they composed their music and thought they'd get away with it. Its completely crazy to make stuff all for yourself and then in some weird way it connects. No time, no context - just a feeling. And Roger Waters for that concert in Bangalore that just blew my mind and made me wonder what passion was about and how one could carry it with them all their lives. It was again a work of love that transcended time and place.

14) Gandhi, for the sheer madness of the ideas and convictions he stood by and lived by. How can anyone think like that and live like that and get a whole word to believe and follow those high principles that he believed in. What was he thinking when he set out to fight for freedom, for rights with the most audacious idea of non-violence, of satyagraha, of non-cooperation. How did he ask others to do what he did, how did he do what he believed was right when he walked into the homes of untouchables. He is the one person who is beyond comprehension for me, so big, so powerful and so courageous, that I am sure no one would ever have been able to conceive such a character even in fiction. If I had the smallest amount of faith and conviction in my thought and act as he did, I would be more than content.

15) Che Guevara, for bringing some weird kind of romance into our lives and keeping alive that rebel in us. We knew of him, heard of him and adored the air of mystery he brought into our lives.

16) Hrishikesh Mukherjee,for making me want to live the simple life, for following certain principles, for the simple pleasures that middle class life offers. Romance was sipping coffee in road side bandis, in Kamat hotels, humour was found in everyday situations, principles were fought for and passions lived by. I have been deeply inspired by his work and movies like Anand, Namak Haraam, Chupke Chupke, Satyakam and others will always remain with me and have perhaps guided many choices i have already made in my life.

17) Kishore Kumar, for singing such wonderfully uplifting songs that make life so much more bearable and fun yesterday, today and certainly tomorrow. Nothing bonds the many people I know than listening to Kishore Kumar songs like Kehana Hai, Yeh laal rang, Chingari koi bhadke, Nadiya se dariya, Main shaayar badnaam and so many more and we all collectively step back into a time when life was different, when friendships were forever, when love was about sacrifice. He sang some of the most uplifting and romantic numbers I have ever heard including Koi roko na, Musafir hoon yaaron,Pyaar manga hai tum hi se, Rim jhim gire saawan and so many more.

18) Steve Waugh, for bringing a certain kind of mad focus to win to the game. He was another of those who could do anything to scrap his way out of a tough situation in cricket and during his time there was probably none more mentally tougher. One could never take anything away from him and I always wondered how wonderful to carry so much pride and so much fight.

19) Michael Jackson, undoubtedly the biggest phenomenon we saw in our lifetime and one who took music performances to another level. I could never figure out what made him what he was - his music, his performances, his life, everything was so different. He was out of the ordinary and out of the league.

20) Woody Allen, for his absolutely amazing body of work and the craziest ideas that he seems to dig out right out of everybodys head. Just the kind of stuff we don't want to talk about but he puts it across so wonderfully. He is someone you'd like to be but also know you can never be.

I guess I will add some as I go along but for now these are the people who have influenced me and who I owe much to.


Rajendra said...

To a lesser extent, all the people around us do exert an influence..however small.

Harimohan said...

Yes, and this is hilariously brought out in Woody Allen's movie Zelig where Zelig acquires the characteristics of the people around him because his need for approval is so strong!

Madhav said...

I'll add Rocky Balboa to the otherwise very comprehensive list.

Harimohan said...

Know what Madhav. I did think of Rocky but somehow missed him out in the final list. A true inspiration to our mumbling, bumbling, action-speaks-louder-than-words times. Certainly must have inspired Mama to take up boxing if you ask me. But thanks for adding a worthy name.