I’ll Have a Pint of Your Finest

What do Argentinian soccer legend Diego Maradona and Indian cricket master Sachin Tendulkar have in common, besides being gods?

They’ve both sold themselves.

In 2009 – at around the same time that Tendulkar was uncomfortable with fans touching his feet – Kraken Opus announced that their next project would feature Diego Maradona:

The first 100 copies of the latter book will contain a sample of Maradona’s blood and his hair. Inside there is a depiction of his DNA. “Not only are we telling you the story of your god; we’re taking you inside the icon,” Mr Fowler said (The Sunday Times).

This year it’s Sachin’s turn.

Luxury publisher Kraken Opus mixed in a pint of Mr. Tendulkar’s blood with paper pulp to create the signature page for a book celebrating the renowned batsman’s career. The 10 limited-edition copies, which comes out in February, cost $75,000 each and have already sold out (Wall Street Journal).

As revolting as I find the idea of a publishing house “telling you the story of your god,” I can’t say I have much sympathy for the ten people who spend 75k on it either. But I suppose that’s just an example of how disposable income can exaggerate the deification of celebrities.

As I read this, I couldn’t help thinking about how appropriate such a venture would have been for M.G. Ramachandran, Tamil film star-turned-politician who has been similarly deified, and whose speeches and addresses began, “En Rathathin Rathame,” or “blood of my blood.” Perhaps the introduction to his Opus would have begun, “En Rathathin Rathame, itho en ratham!”

8 thoughts on “I’ll Have a Pint of Your Finest

  1. omigod I just watched iruvar for like the 50th time yesterday: – un roja poo mugathil naan mutham kuduka engugiren – karunanidhi to mgr at the end. flabbergasted at the ‘oratory’ of that time. I am sure there were worse examples – rathathi rathame sounds awesome.

  2. Yeah, gross.

    But also, it depends who does it and for what purpose. If Doctors Without Borders or a network of South Asian NGOs had put this together, aware that it was purely for pragmatic reasons, and made something like $350,000 or on it, I would take it as an uncomfortable reminder of the constraints of the world we live in.

    However, as it stands, I see the phrase ‘luxury publisher’ and I want to throw up. But it’s not just disposable income or even commodification- there’s a good essay in a Subaltern Studies volume on how Gandhi was deified. Which still continues. And there’s Obama, obviously, Mother Teresa, and a whole host of other people you sell you hope to varying degrees and people lose sight of the fact that they’re people, they’re not perfect, and they’re not going to solve anything by themselves. It’s the rare person I’ll show such sraddha to :)

  3. Also, you might be interested in some of the stuff that Thomas Frank has written and the Baffler in general. I would (and did!) start with Commodify Your Dissent.

    -s

  4. If I’m not mistaken, the limited edition copies were auctioned for charity and proceeds or part proceeds will go the charities supported by the Opus publishers and Tendulkar. Their website lists the charities they support.

  5. “But this isn’t a bloodthirsty exercise in publicity. Sachin’s DNA profile is actually meant to help trace his genealogy. It’s just on the first ten copies though, each of which is expected to fetch about a crore in a charity auction.”

    From tendulkaropus.com/press

  6. 6 and #7 put a completely different light on the entire exercise.

    Some figures like Tendulkar, Lata Mangeshkar and even M Night Shyamalan seem to bring out a great deal of hostility in some quarters. It would be interesting to see an analysis of why this is so.