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Two Autobiographies

T.C.A. Srinivasa Raghavan

By Sachin Tendulkar
Hachette, India, 2014, pp. 486, Rs. 899.00

By Naseeruddin Shah
Hamish Hamilton (Penguin India), New Delhi, 2014, pp. 272, Rs. 699.00


Most people tend to view autobiographies ambivalently partly because there is something narcissistic about them and partly because you do wonder, from time to time, if you are really interested in all the details of someone else’s life. Also, the best autobiographies are usually insensitive to the people who figure in them and the worst ones are a dead bore because they hold back so much. Problem is, it is only after purchasing them that a reader finds out.  The two autobiographies under review here fulfil the criteria, one each. Sachin Tendulkar has written a disappointingly flat account of his life. Naseeruddin Shah, on the other hand, has written a very racy account of his life. No holds are barred, although you do get the sense occasionally that he is trying his best not to go the whole nine yards. Tendulkar’s book is almost entirely about the matches he took part in. This is fine if you are a cricket buff. You want to know what actually happened, rather as you would if you were a war buff, when you would want to know all the details of battles.   However, Tendulkar has millions of followers who know nothing about the game. But they have passion and would expect some of that to show in the book. Instead, that’s the one thing that is missing from it. Also, his assessments are designed to avoid everything controversial. There is virtually no cricketing gossip in it. Since much of his life has been written about, one expected a different fare. But alas, Tendulkar has chosen to stick to the straight and narrow. On the whole, though, if you are going on a long trip, you are better off with Shah’s book than Tendulkar’s, which can be kept in the car to browse through tedious trips into town. It is great to dip into from time to time, but not such a riveting read that you would find it hard to put it down. That’s a pity because his batting was just that—utterly riveting.  The opening paragraph of a review of Tendulkar’s book by Harsha Bhogle, the highly voluble cricket commentator, justifies the blandness by saying, ‘The prerogative of telling a story belongs to the author and no one else and so you cannot complain about what he doesn’t want to tell you.’ Well, correction: ...

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