Friday, November 16, 2018

Book Launch of VVS Laxman's '281 and Beyond'

Yesterday we attended the launch of Laxman's autobiography '281 and Beyond'. The book has been authored by Laxman and Kaushik and promises to give lots of insights into the mind of a top class sportsperson. The event was very well conducted at the Gardenia lawns, Taj Krishna and was attended by a lot of familiar faces from the cricketing fraternity.
The family launching the book!
The event was conducted in five segments. Hosted by Harsha Bhogle, the first segment was a panel consisting of Laxman's parents Dr. Shantaram and Dr. Satyabhama, his uncle Baba Krishna Mohan and wife Sailaja. It was a free-flowing discussion with Harsha moderating the conversation. Dr. Shantaram was in his element and quoted from slokas, sang popular Hindi songs and regaled the audience. Baba Krishna Mohan gave some poignant insights into Laxman's early years and how the decision was taken to choose cricket over medicine.
Harsha, VVS, Arshad and Venkatapathi Raju
 The second segment consisted of Harsha in conversation with VVS Laxman, Arshad Ayub and Venkatapathi Raju. It was an entertaining session that covered his initial years as a junior cricketer, in the Ranji Trophy and then in the Test arena. They recalled episodes when Laxman was noticed by Arshad who was recruiting talent for his Ensconce team and picked him straight off the nets -helped by John Manoj of course who made sure that Laxman got the right break. John has been a huge influence on VVS's growth and it might not be wrong to say that the reverse is also true. Also VVS recalled how Venkatpathi advised him on the South Africa tour to make his own preparations and not depend on the coach and even threw down balls to him. Venkat recalled how VVS owes him a pair of shoes and how his 281 came off his bat - one given to him by MV Sridhar.
Harsha, VVS, KTR and Gopichand
The third session consisted of Minister KTR and Pullela Gopichand joining VVS on stage. Harsha asked VVS and Gopi why they were so philosophical about life and seem to be quoting off the Bhagawad Gita and KTR quipped who this Gita was that these two were talking about. He recalled reading accounts of the Kolkata match in Rediff and exulting. 'It's fantastic to be sitting here between two legends,' he said. Gopi, when asked about his advise to children picking up sports said, in his calm and measured manner - 'My advise to them would be that they should all take up sport because it will help them in so many ways.'
Harsha, VVS and Kaushik
The fourth was with Kaushik who wrote the book with Laxman and the final session was with VVS on a one on one with Harsha. Laxman spoke in detail about loneliness on tours and how we don't seem to be taking depression seriously in our society. He also spoke of how difficult it was to let go of the opening slot, of retirement and of giving up a career in medicine for cricket. He recalled one incident with Jaisimha when he was their coach. Laxman was not finding his touch, not happy with the way things were going and it showed while he was batting in the nets. Uncle Jai asked him to come out of the nets and spoke to him. Something on the lines of 'Cricket is not as much about technique as it is about enjoying it. It is what goes on between your ears. You must enjoy meeting ball with bat to do well. Now just forget about technique and all that and enjoy meeting the ball with your bat.' Laxman says the net session was pure bliss after that and his timing came back and he got a big score the next day.
Harsha and VVS in a one-on-one
Familiar faces included Viyuth, Noel, Jyothiprasad, Wahab, Anil Mittal, John Manoj, Kiran Kumar, Srini, Fayaz Baig, Parth Satwalker, Abdul Azeem, Zaki, Shivaji Yadav and others from the cricketing fraternity, Mrs. Jaisimha, Vijay Kumar from HLF and some others.

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