For someone who has been rightly called “a legend, a crowd-puller, and a winner;” writing a piece becomes a job of great responsibility. I am talking about the Indian Hockey Hero, Keshav Chandra Dutt.
Born on 29th December 1925 in Lahore (now in Pakistan), Keshav Dutt was one of the finest hockey players in India. The maiden star of post-independence India bagged two Olympic gold medals at Wembley, London in 1948 and Helsinki, Finland in 1952, respectively. At the age of 26, when most of us are like wandering zombies when it comes to career choices; Dutt had already brought the grand Olympic pride to his nation. Between the two successive wins, he had moved to Kolkata, West Bengal, thus making the place his abode till his last breath!
A great player of his time, mentored by another very eminent personality, Dhyan Chand, also finds his mention as ‘one of the finest half-backs of that time,’ in the latter’s autobiography Goal. Dutt was also a part of the Dhyan Chand’s captained Indian team, which participated in a hockey tournament in East Africa in 1947. He had a unique relationship with his coach and co-player, Dhyan Chand, not only for a special mention in the latter’s written life history but also for being honored with the Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement award last year.
Dutt stood out in his club career as well. He joined the Mohun Bagan club in the year 1951. During his 10-year long association with Bagan, Dutt became a six-time winner of Calcutta Hockey League (CHL) and had a three-time success with Beighton Cup. He became the first non-footballer to have received the Mohun Bagan Ratna award in 2019. Not only a flourishing player, but he also turned to put up a charismatic persona for his audiences. A striking personality, magnanimously getting down from his Harley Davidson bike; used to fetch thousands of cheers from the spectators eagerly waiting for his entry. Yes! He carried a huge reputation those days.
Keshav Dutt met his death on 7th July 2021 in Santoshpur, Kolkata. May his soul find peace.
Dutt has had his share of disappointments; some during his blooming career and some that he probably carried to his grave (here is something that might hint at the same). Not purely with an intention to end this with a sad note, I say this as something that has become a hard fact and something we all can mull over. I did not come to know of Dutt’s death until the morning of 8th July when I was rushing over the newspaper pages. Could be as I don’t watch TV much, OR our news channels are too busy repeatedly covering other “supposedly important” stuff. All careers are important; all people who bring glory to the country are valuable. However, some are glorified; the rest are left aside in a neglected corner!
Avani Raj Arora