| Dad’s dash: Shahrukh Khan
Mumbai, Feb. 8: If you had been a young father at this school sporting event today, you might not have felt inclined to clap very hard.
The announcer was businesslike: “Mr S. Khan, father of Aryan Khan, please come to the podium.”
A 40-year-old wearing a grin familiar to millions stepped proudly forward to receive his medal.
Superstar Shahrukh Khan had just pocketed the gold at the 100-metre sprint for parents at his child’s school sports meet.
The demands of fatherhood had just got a little tougher for hundreds of thousands of Indian men in their thirties and early forties.
Young fathers prevented from attending the meet by the oppressive schedules of modern urban life may not have grudged the actor his presence by his son’s side, though it’d mean they would’ve some hard explaining to do at home.
But try explaining to your eight-year-old kid why papa can’t disappear ahead of the rest of the field in a cloud of dust.
“He is 40 and still he was yards ahead of the rest of the pack at the finishing line,” said Manas Munim, a wonderstruck rival.
|Shahrukh’s son Aryan (top) and Sachin’s son Arjun, the winner and runner-up in the 100-metre race for students
If only it had been a cricketer or any other sportsman who had won!
The morning had begun harmlessly enough. His usual energetic self, Shahrukh clicked away on his digital, capturing his children while wife Gauri chatted with friends and fellow parents Juhi Chawla and Adhuna Bhabani Akhtar.
Khan, in jeans and red checks, was joking away with other parents when the call was made for the runners to take up position. A few stretches and the celebrity father was ready.
He lined up with Chunkey Pandey, Farhan Akhtar, Ashutosh Gowarikar, Vidhu Vinod Chopra and a host of others from more mundane walks of life. Then he was out of sight' well, almost.
“Shahrukh was thrilled to have the gold medal around his neck. It didn’t matter that it was at his children’s school sports meet,” a close friend said.
Hardly surprising, since the actor had been a school-level athlete and had made it to the hockey, cricket and football teams at his school, St Columba’s.
“I would’ve been in the army or become an athlete had I not been an actor,” Shahrukh had once told an interviewer.
Aryan, too, won gold in his 100-metre event, beating off strong competition from the silver-winner.
And here’s where Munim and the other young fathers ' worrying how to live up to expectations at home from now on ' have reason to feel a bit hard done by.
The boy who came second to Aryan was named Arjun Tendulkar.
If only for a day, many Indian men would’ve been wishing that Sachin Tendulkar were here to try and win a 100-metre gold rather than be at the nets in Pakistan, eyeing a 40th one-day century.