On the 18th day of the first month of the holy Tendulkarian year of 1998, a star was born. A young man from the by-lanes of Maharashtra blasted a boundary off the second* last ball of the match to give India an improbable victory over Pakistan and thus a trophy, which they rarely seemed to get those days.
Hrishikesh Kanitkar. Remember him?
Do not be ashamed if you do not. Because that is the premise of this post. The apparent stars who waltzed into our collective consciousness, and then faded out with un-nerving abruptness.
After that eventful day in January ’98, millions idolized Kanitkar. A lower-order batsman who could finally finish a chase! People went crazy over the kid overnight. Tattoos were tattooed, shirts were printed, faces were painted, babies were named…
Why speak of babies, even my spiritual friend Lord Sabnis changed his name to Hrisheekesh Sabnis, a burden which he still carries.
And what of Kanitkar now? He still plays cricket during the daytime, watches that Dhaka video in the evenings and cries himself to sleep. Poor soul.
Let us spend a minute in silence and then proceed to inspect more of such ‘real-deals’ which turned out to be damp squibs. For fun. A Top 8.
Kanitkar’s current status – Plays (and pretty OK) in domestic cricket. Shifted to Rajasthan from Maharashtra, presumably after wikiing Dhaka and stumbling on to this page.
(* Thanks for the correction, Ritwik Priya. There was one ball left when he scored the winning runs)
8. Jugal Hansraj
Just like Kanitkar batted his way into Indian male hearts, this boy Hansraj smiled his way into Indian female hearts.
One fine day, he left his home and started walking around for a bit. And somewhere in his route was her house. And then he peeped in to see her doing her hair.
OK, I’m obviously talking about this -
With that one song, this dude became an overnight sensation. And that was it. His feminine fans waited years and years for him to turn on that magic once more, but nay, that never happened. The closest was when Hansraj Hans participated in a Jugalbandi somewhere, but no, just not the same.
Jugal’s current status – Produces flop movies.
7. Coke Vanilla
Wackao!! Remember this?
Vivek Oberoi stunned the entire nation with his strange war-cry of ‘Wackao’ as Coca-Cola launched a Vanilla variant, with the Oberoi dressed Elvis-style with psychedelic colours all around him.
Thirsty folks queued up to buy Vanilla Coke that fine Indian Summer, lured by the promise of the Vanilla flavour and Vivek Oberoi’s star status back then. Subsequently, they spent several unproductive minutes trying to understand whether there indeed was a vanilla flavour to the drink. This involved much shaking of the bottle, shaking of the head after drinking, and soon enough, confidence in the drink started shaking.
And yes, Vivek Oberoi himself missed making this top ten only by a thin margin.
Vanilla Coke’s current status – They have gone the usual route that most failed products do. Relaunched it in Canada last year.
For regular viewers of medical dramas, this might not really be relevant. Those fellows use pagers even now. But do you guys remember the hype this tiny device caused in the late 90s?
It was touted as the next big personal communication device, a step down from the brick mobile phones available those days. Yuppy youngsters queued up to get one, so that they could send short and crisp messages about the crispiness of the short snacks being served in the college canteen. Take a look at this funny, banned commercial
And then came SMS.
21st century’s premier communication device’s current status – Extensively used by doctors, because mobile phone coverage interferes with several medical devices. Also by police, coast guard etc as a backup system.
5. Kunchacko Boban
This one is specifically for Mallu readers. There was a time in the late 90s and early noughties when Mallu girls used to frequent Archies stores hoping to bump into Mr. Boban, in an event that would be reminiscent of the popular scene from his supermegatronicmonsterhit debut movie. And now in the new decade, sources tell me that Kunchacko makes his regular rounds of Archies stores and bumps into various ladies of varying ages, who all wonder whether he is wearing a wig or not.
To cut a long story short, the dude was supposed to be the next Mohanlal or Mammootty, when the aging superstars were both in their 40s. Well, Mammootty is in his late 50s now and has more superhit movies in a year than Kunchacko had in his entire career. On top of that, he even looks younger than Kunchacko.
Let us not speak about Mohanlal. Sensitive topic. Sob.
Kunchacko’s current status – Trying to relaunch his career for the 14th time. No verification regarding hair-weaving/wig etc.
Now this is not strictly fair, I know. The poor man is dead. But don’t you miss him like hell?
Does anyone have a moustache to rival his glorious piece, grown with such care in the jungles of Tamil Nadu-Andhra Pradesh? Take a minute off to think about that beauty, I implore you.
He had no advanced shampoo solutions, no conditioners and probably would have believed Dove with Micro Moisture Serum to be a non-vegetarian tribal poison (which it probably is, if ingested).
Overwhelmed by such hostile circumstances and despite being distracted by his day-jobs of smuggling sandal and bribing cops, the man grew his masterpiece of a moustache.
Do I not ooze kindness from my eyes?
I for one surely miss him and his mane in the front page of my newspaper.
Veerappan’s current status – Possibly preparing for a Mooch-Off contest in Heaven against Saddam Hussein.
3. Who invented Hotmail?
Was a question that popped up with predictable regularity in little quiz contests for little children back in the 90s. And the buzzers lit up with Usain Boltish urgency as every kid then knew Sabeer Bhatia.
How many of you have thought about him in the past one year? (OK, does not include followers of the Trinamool Congress who must have seen this article of him with Mamatadi)
Bhatia’s current status - In addition to his work for the Trinamool Congress, Bhatia is apparently trying to develop a city in India called Nanocity. I will choose to believe that a certain industrial house has nothing to do with this when I see no branding there.
2. Y! Messenger
Those were the days when the first thing one did upon logging on to the Interweb was to see whether any one of your 15 Y! Messenger buddies were online.
These days, one performs regular Spring Cleaning of Facebook, unfriending 50 people who were inexplicably friended in the first place. On a completely unrelated note, one should not go online when one is not sober.
Ah, the forgotten innocent days of the Yahoo Messenger!
The cute smileys, the private conferences, the lovely Beep and a little Bo Peep smiley…
John Smith's Y!
Interestingly, to connect two things in this list, the Yahoo Messenger was originally called Yahoo Pager when it was launched in the 90s. The product managers over there quickly realized the fate of the pager, but presumably did not see them falling prey to it eventually.
Y! Messenger’s current status – Still up and about, used substantially less by people enslaved n the instant gratification-filled world of Google.
1. Hero Pen
Before Chinese cheapo stuff flooded our market, there was a Chinese product which we all owned and loved. The Shanghai Hero Pen Company had produced a pen that wasn’t much of a hit in it’s home country, but strangely went on to become an iconic product in India in the 80s and 90s.
Back in school, a Hero pen was pretty much synonymous with ‘Ink Pen’. Reynolds and “Likhte likhte love ho jaaye” Rotomac were of course more useful while furiously scribbling in exam papers, but a few girls determined to maintain a beautiful hand used Hero pens even for the exams. I still remember Preethi Miss displaying one such woman’s answer paper to the entire class, not because she got 98/100, but because of the lovely ink-art that flowed from her Hero pen.
Hero pen’s current status – I haven’t seen one in the last 4 years.