For those of us who grew up at a time when Advani was seen as a future Prime Minister and Marc Zuber as a possible Bollywood-to-Hollywood break out star, Imran Khan was an enigma.
We knew he was very popular with Bollywood film ladies. We knew his posters adored the walls of many a schoolgirl. We knew he used Cinthol. We knew he had Brooke Bond tea and he sipped Pepsi. We knew he had a lot of sex. We knew he played for Sussex. We knew he was very difficult to get out when he was batting, even more so if the umpires were Pakistanis. We knew he ended the career of Gundappa Viswanath. On some days, we knew he was practically unplayable. We knew he spoke little, and when he did, he did with a clipped British accent, and he pronounced Atul Bedade as Atul Bedaad. We knew he was aloof, in a patrician way, as if no one on this world deserved anything more from him than a condescending smirk. We knew he was born to lead, and even in the 92 World Cup when he himself did little of note (except play some really slow innings), he had became the center of all attention, and there was nothing even remotely unfair about that, because taking credit for the work of others, why that was his birthright. Ruling was his birthright, we knew that, because he was a Greek God in human form, and no man could hold his gaze, for he drank the elixir of mardaangi, and he sweated raw testosterone.
We knew all that. But not much else.
It took us many years, decades actually, to break the code. And all of that is due to the pathbreaking book written by his second official and now estranged wife, Reham Khan, in her book titled Reham Khan.
This is a brilliant book, for it humanizes the great Imran Khan, casting our idol in our very own image. It beats away at the marble and brings out the man inside.
And what a man he is.
He is obsessed about the electric bill, throws tantrums if he finds the AC on, complains about his sisters and every little thing, he is petty, he is insensitive, he is self-absorbed, he inswings and outswings, he loves recounting his romantic conquests to his wife, he loves gossiping about others including his past wives, he is violently jealous of everyone, he sexts to random women, he is naam baare aur darshan chote when it comes to performance and package, he likes to get freebies, he has sown his seeds around, and he likes gardening.
Did I forget anything?
Oh yes. He massages his privates with black lentil.
Reham Khan is a great narrator too. When not taking great pains to show that she is a more devout Muslim than Imran Khan, she repeats how disappointed she was with Imran’s continuous carping about his political contemporaries, his constant gossiping and innuendo, his absolute lack of respect for the privacy of his previous wife, and then, she goes and relays every detail of every gossip in the book.
Now, judge me, but this is the kind of stuff I like, like an old India-Pakistan game, not pretty, but always unforgettable.
A man becomes a man only when he is revealed in his fullness. And as Imran Khan becomes set to become the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the legacy of “Reham Khan” will be that perhaps the world know more about him than it knows about any world leader.
And if you still feel that “daal mein kuch kaala hai“, then I think you and Imran Khan will get along just fine.