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Updated: November 12, 2013 00:14 IST

'I get affection from Sachin… and match tickets'

Vijay Lokapally
Comment (5)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
Now a familiar sight at cricket
venues, Sudhir Kumar Gautam says he applies the
body paint a day before for international matches,
and stays up all night to allow it to dry. Photo: K.R. Deepak
Now a familiar sight at cricket venues, Sudhir Kumar Gautam says he applies the body paint a day before for international matches, and stays up all night to allow it to dry. Photo: K.R. Deepak

He parks his bicycle at Sourav Ganguly’s house. And gets his match tickets from Sachin Tendulkar.

For Sudhir Kumar Gautam, life revolves around cricket and cricketers. His face and body painted in tri-colour, the conch to announce the arrival of the team and trigger a wave of frenzied support in the stands, this simple man from Muzaffarpur is now a familiar sight to Indian cricket viewers.

“This is my life,” he says philosophically, pointing to the colours of the India flag painted above his forehead. He has suffered blows from cops, but recovered, with the affection that fans bestow upon him at various cricket grounds in the country.

He has friends in Dhaka, Lahore and Colombo. His well-wishers transcend borders, such is his appeal.

Constantly travelling, Gautam is a rare visitor at his home in Bihar.

“There is so much cricket,” he says.

Nothing, however, prevents him from reaching a match venue. Once, while in a hurry to take the train to Bangalore, he parked his bicycle at Ganguly’s house in Behala.

He will cycle, travel unreserved in trains, but reach the venue ahead of time.

“For one-dayers and Tests, I have to paint a day before,” he explains. For T20 games, he paints on the day of the match. “I have so much work,” he says.

The toughest part is that he does not sleep on the eve of the match to preserve the paint.

“I have to stay awake the whole night to allow the paint to dry,” he says.

Busy man on match days

Sometimes, Gautam is at the team hotel to receive his heroes. Once he reaches the ground, he does not rest for a moment. Greeting the team with a blow of his conch, he keeps the National flag up non-stop until the team finishes training.

“This is tough, but I enjoy it. I get my energy seeing the hard work of the players,” he smiles.

His love for cricket began with a desire to meet Tendulkar.

He cycled all the way to Jamshedpur from his hometown but could not meet his hero on that occasion. “He was injured and missed the match,” Gautam recalls.

Undeterred, Gautam went to Mumbai, but found himself with no access to the players. He knew the team was staying at the Oberoi. “I, somehow, got to the team bus and fell at Sachin sir’s feet,” he says.

He then managed to get himself invited to Tendulkar’s home.

“I stood at the gate from morning to evening. Only when I made a racket did Sachin sir notice my presence. I earned a photo with him, and a match ticket,” he says.

That was in 2003.

Gautam’s reverence for Tendulkar has only grown with each season. His passion for the game has also made him daring.

Once at Cuttack, and then again at Hyderabad, he defied security and scaled the fences to invade the ground. Tendulkar saved him from police punishment, and later admonished him.

“No more running on to the ground!” his hero had said, and Gautam has stuck to his word since.

A celebrity himself

With time, Gautam’s own following has grown. He is often mobbed outside cricket grounds.

He proudly says that he stays with Chacha, the iconic Pakistan cheerleader, when in Lahore. “I get same facilities in Dhaka and Colombo too.”

Gautam’s finest moment was when Tendulkar invited him into the Indian team’s dressing room at the Wankhede Stadium after winning the 2011 World Cup. What does he get from Tendulkar?

“Affection… and match tickets!”

What will he do when his hero retires?

“I will continue to support the Indian team,” the 32-year-old promises. But, with a difference!

His body paint will proclaim: “Miss you Sachin.”

More In: Cricket | Sport

While appreciating excellence is a good quality, it's taking it a little too far to make "being a fan" a full time occupation. Now the "biggest fan" is also attracting fans of his own. This is laughable, at best :)

from:  Anirudh Jain
Posted on: Nov 13, 2013 at 13:52 IST

sachin or somebody should ensure that gautam's livelihood is secured. He
should not lose in the game of life while supporting cricketers.

from:  krishna
Posted on: Nov 12, 2013 at 14:01 IST

You are the typical Indian who hero worships whether it be a sportsman, cinema star or politician. You should be doing something productive.

from:  Leela
Posted on: Nov 12, 2013 at 10:20 IST

One can be a greatest fan of sachin but cannot love him as ardently,
reverently like Gautham. Amongst Sachin's legions of fans he stands out
to be greatest ever. For a hand that took pride in writing numeric 10
over his chest would feel very excruciating writing "miss you Sachin"
after his 200th Test. India will truly miss the little master.

from:  Suresh Basetty
Posted on: Nov 12, 2013 at 09:30 IST

I truly think Sachin asks this guy to stop painting anymore as I fear
skin cancer from so much painting. Body has its way to retaliate, so be
careful brave enthusiastic man... I am sure Sachin gets his inspiration
from supporters like you, so thanks for inspiring him and thereby giving
us beautiful memories... Would love to see his and chacha's picture side
by side...

from:  Vishnu Sarda
Posted on: Nov 12, 2013 at 01:18 IST
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