Over the years, Sachin Tendulkar has come to be regarded as one of the most humble, down-to-earth and gracious person. The way he handled his stardom and conducted himself among his fans, the ease that the Master Blaster seemed to convey while facing oppressive attention from the media left everyone, including those close to him, highly impressed.
The 1990s was the era in which he reached the great heights of success that established him as a future great. It can be said without any exaggeration that he was the biggest celebrity in India at the time and the man admired more than anybody else.
In the last decade of his career, one hardly heard the legendary former cricketer complain about the excessive attention he got. In fact, in the last part of his career, he often seemed very grateful for it and always expressed his gratitude to his multitude of fans.
But there was a time when he seemed a bit bothered by the excessive attention he drew and the lack of freedom that accompanied his iconic status in the country. In an interview given to Karan Thapar for the BBC show 'Face-to-Face,' aired on August 11, 1999, the Bharat Ratna-awardee, in response to a question about the perils of being universally known and followed in India, spoke about how restricted he feels in his personal life.
"Sometimes, when I go out with my family, it's very difficult. I just want to spend some time with my wife, my friends, but that doesn't happen... I can take her to a restaurant but not shopping or a movie. I think, sometimes, when we go out in the evenings, it's so important that we spend some time alone with each other, outside our house.
"It's so important that we also get a chance to lead our personal life. It doesn't happen so. People would just barge in and say, 'Can I have your autograph please or maybe just pose for a photograph.' Sometimes, it's very upsetting, I would surely want to sit there by myself and Anjali next to me and just spend some time together," Tendulkar told Thapar.
But then the master batsman also added: "It's so difficult, but on the other side, I found it very interesting because it's all happening because people like me and love me."
This was a rare confession by Sachin and something we didn't see much of in the later years. Perhaps, with time, the all-time great cricketer became more used to his fame and learned how to handle it. It is another evidence that popularity has a flip side as well.