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#Review : Dreams Of A Billion : Majestic Chronicle Of India’s Olympic Journey

In cricket there is a saying – fast bowlers hunt in pairs. But two passionate sports writers it seems have taken this attribute  to writing – Boria Majumdar and Nalin Mehta. And the duo when they have come together have given die- hard Indian sports lovers rare insight and behind the scene happenings like never told or written before with panache leaving the readers in awe of their work.

The duo had earlier in 2008 written – Olympics : The India Story . In 2010 they had authored hard- hitting book on Delhi and The Commonwealth Games aptly titled Sellotape legacy. The duo are now winning applauds for their latest book – Dreams of A Billion – India and the Olympic Games .
Dreams of a Billion in a sense gives the reader an inside view of what goes on backstage in the Indian Olympics world alongside a quick history of how India has fared at the Olympics over the past century and a look at how the landscape has changed in the last decade.

As Tokyo 2020 dawns it is pertinent to find out how ready are India in their quest for glory at the sporting world’s biggest stage – Olympics?. This book has the answers to the query that is on every Indian’s lips.
The book brings to the fore the amazing success stories of Sakshi Malik , the agonising and painful moment for Vinesh Phogat and gymnast Dipa Karmakar’s journey to superstardom.

India badminton scenario has changed in recent times . And Indian shuttlers are now world beaters and ready to take on the very best and are fearless on court. For this transformation role of the iconic former All- England Champion Pullea Gopichand has been told with panache . The sheer hard work, the grit, and the desire to push the limit in the search for the prized medal.

There are some chapters in book which are my favourites And notable among them are : The chapter – Gopichand’s Revolution- Turning India into a Badminton superpower is an eye opener. How with his cool calm affable persona , Pullela with his academy at Gachibowli has made India powerhouse in the sport and how he manages to make players champions . It is a fascinating story of Guru Gopi.

The Chapter – Saina, Sindhu and Tokyo 2020 looks from up- close the rivalry between two of India’s biggest badminton superstars and how they are despite the rather cold camaraderie are the nation’s best hopes at Tokyo 2020.

Abinav Bindra’s moving chapter brought out the ecstasy and the agony a champion goes through . India’s first Individual Gold Medallist at Beijing 2008 was weighed down by huge expectations at London 2012 and at Rio 2016. Despite the set- backs , Bindra remains an inspiration and his performance at Beijing gave the Indian’s the self- belief that they too can go the distance and bring laurels. Bindra’s Gold medal journey is a shining example of never –say- die spirit and he remains forever for Indian an Olympic legend.

Mother Mary – India’s Ali From Imphal – heading is just perfect . It effectively sums up the phenomena that M C Mary Kom is. And the authors have rightly pointed out with their lines – This was because Mary was not simply a boxer trying to win a medal for India . She was a symbol of hope and empowerment with a never- say die attitude that so defined contemporary India. For the longest time we had heard that India was lagging in International sports from a lack of facilities and training opportunities. Here was someone who was born in Manipur with little or no facilities and had still made it to the top of her sport and remained there for over a decade. And here she was at the Olympics, fighting in a higher weight category than her own and still not overwhelmed by the enormity of the occasion. One does find an interesting anecdote too – Mary wanted to punch a London Taxi driver.

Indian Paralympians are rarely acknowledged for their determination , tenacity and the will to succeed against all odds. The untold tales of Deepa Malik and Devendra Jhajharia are inspirational tales and moves one deeply.

India’s national sport- Hockey and it glorious past has been told yet again in the chapter – The Golden years – How Colonial India became Hockey superpower . And the wizardry of the legendary Dhyan Chand has been told in the pages in lucid candid manner. The Chapter – Hitler’s Games too is an invigorating read.

India and the Olympics : A Visual History is a sight to behold with historical letters like 1924 : All India Olympic Committee Letter to Sir Dorabji Tata, 1927 : Letter to Count Baillet Latour, 1932 : Pictures of the Indian Olympic team and the hockey team in action at the Los Angeles Games, 1936 : Hockey Tickets, Berlin Games and the Indian hockey team and many other pictures that are stuffs of legends.

All in all , Dreams of A Billion keeps one engrossed right through solely due to the amazing research, reportage , interesting anecdotes of Indian performances over the years . So all the passionate lovers of Indian sports who have not read much about India and the Olympics, then go and get the book and add to your collection. It is a majestic chronicle from two writer’s who have the midas touch when it comes to Indian sports and its history.

About ARIJEET DUTTA

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