Dhanraj Pillay - The 'Legend'

Without a doubt one of India's greatest hockey players

Dhanraj Pillay - The 'Legend'
Dhanraj Pillay at the closing ceremony of the SNBP All India Hockey Tournament

It’s not “just” that audiences address individuals as a ‘legend’. In fact, it’s only when ones’ strife, hard work and success put together make an awe story when one realises what greatness is all about.

One of India’s greatest hockey player Dhanraj Pillay, undoubtedly and without an iota of doubt, is a standout figure with these qualities. His presence is star value that radiates and attracts, literally.

In fact, to better understand his presence, both visually and in person, one would need to be at an event that Dhanraj attends. And mind you, this is no flattery, but the fact in point.  

Dhanraj for sure has evolved in time. From a feisty past to an orator with right-select words that make him a charming personality when on stage and a mic in hand, Dhanraj surely presents as a new personality.

These days, for sure, he carries a sting factor that touches belief realistically.

To put it simply, Dhanraj’s onstage speak are past experiences he shares in his own way and is interesting as well.

At the recent 5th SNBP All India Hockey Tournament Boys Under-16, Dr. Dhanraj Padmashri (note the big leap he has taken in position and title) portrayed Dhanraj as the observer, the motivator, and the appreciator.

Padmashri Dr. Dhanraj Pillay with Dr. Vrishali Bhosale and Adv. Rutuja Bhosale at the closing ceremony

At one go, Dhanraj had the audience at the prize distribution ceremony keenly stand back and witness the former India player play himself into being heard, literally.

To begin with, he made it a point to mention he would not take much time as every winning team member would be eager to get a hold on their respective trophies and paraphernalia. “I do know the excitement is evident,” he mused.

He lauded the determination, pursuance, and hard work of Firoz Shaikh, Tournament Convenor. “What should I say, all this (the tournament) would not be possible had it not been the day and night work of yours to make this tournament a success”.

To the crowd present, Dhanraj wowed their assembly and made it a point to opine that he had not seen so many anywhere in Maharashtra in recent time, but instead at the SNBP tourney he always saw tremendous enthusiasm. “I guess it’s their (SNBP management) love that keeps their presence until the end.” He joked, “normally crowds begin to move to the exit gate even before the final whistle (hooter these days) is blown… may be to evade the rush at the exit gate.”

In an overall perspective of the tournament, he explained, “I must say that this is one of the best-organised tournaments. The passion from the time of inception that I saw until now continues to be the way it was… this is great for the game.”

He conjoined the occasion with two vital aspects that spoke of the future of the game and the invitees that the organisers called upon. “I would love to see new players keep coming to Maharashtra (this tournament) and also thanks for inviting Ashok Dhyanchand to be an inspiration for all.”

Dhanraj then rekindled his thoughts of chief guest Ashok Sir.  In feeling sad that he could not catch up with the ex-World Cup gold medallist and winning goal scorer against Pakistan  (1975, Kuala Lumpur), he made it a point to refer to his predecessor, saying “undoubtedly one of the best hockey players India ever produced. I looked up at him as an idol when I was a youngster.”

Nostalgically, he shared his association with Ashok. “I remember the time at Indian Airline, he was my manager.”  

Dhanraj’s address, at some point, made the keen ear realise of his repertoire to speak. The observation he makes, the references he brings to the table and the passion he possesses as a born legend to be.

He ensured speaking of Maharashtra hockey and the highs that could be attained. “When you (SNBP) as organisers bring players and invitees like Ashok there sure is hope ahead.”

Turning to Firoz again, he went on, “however much spoken about you is less for you and your team. Normally, we see a few… two or few more given out as a standard giveaway at tournaments, but here I see so many along with the many felicitations.”

Moving his focus to Dr. Vrishali Bhosale, President - SNBP Group of Institutes, he said, “your organisational team surpasses it all by honouring the smallest of individuals who are involved in the making of the tournament a success. Making them feel important is pleasing. The hard work is appreciated in a way that they too are part of SNBP. Thank you so much.”

Encouraging all, he wished them the best of luck and to also come back with a lot of vigour next year and make the event successful, he wowed the fact that SNBP Group sponsored the Nehru Cup as well. “These moves are encouraging,” he prompted. In the same vein, he appealed to all Maharashtra players to come forward and help Maharashtra grow. “I myself am working with Hockey Maharashtra for this cause.”

Having held the audience all through with words of wisdom, Dhanraj self-announced Rs. 5000 each for the individual award winners of the 3rd SNBP Women’s State level Tournament that was held concurrently.

Having heard him orate, Dharaj’s walk from the podium towards the exit superseded his hold on the game that he still possesses and will continue to boast of. Sample this: for every five steps he took forward he must have averagely had ten times people clicking selfies.

The young, the old, the players, the officials and the organisers pushed to get a frame of their own with him.

He sure at one point was and looked exhausted, for this whole process lasted closely a shade more of a shade less of 30 minutes.

But to all, and not even once, did he deny. Dhanraj, drained and fatigued, obliged every single request. It seemed like all had finished their turn with their own clicks. Now, to the one observing him closely is Dhanraj - the making of a ‘legend.’