Sunil Gavaskar was paid Rs 2,000 for the first advertisement he appeared in. Though CK Nayudu and Farokh Engineer were the poineering Indian cricketers in the field of brand endorsement, it was the Little Master whom avdertisers sought with sustained regularity. Gavaskar endorsed a wide range of products, from Palmolive shaving cream to Forhan’s toothpaste (along with his son Rohan Gavaskar).
This advertisement for a range of Health Plan products from All Seasons Foods Limited, ostensibly ‘developed’ by Sunil Gavaskar himself is from the September 1989 issue of Calcutta Skyline. Gavasker had quit international cricket a couple of years earlier, but his aura continued to draw in the brands.
Developed by Sunil Gavaskar
Instant energy drinks in mango and musambi flavours
A sports drink in orange and lemon flavours with electrolytic replacement
A complete milk drink with chocolate, malt, milk and sugar
A glucose drink enriched with vitamins and minerals
All Seasons Foods Limited
Had it not been for the sharp eye of the legendary cricketer’s uncle, we might not have ever seen the master in action. The opening chapter of Sunil Gavaskar’s 1976 autobiography Sunny Days – Sunil Gavaskar’s Own Story describes why:
I may have never become a cricketer and this book would certainly not have been written if an eagle-eyed relation, Mr Narayan Masurekar, had not come into my life the day I was born (July 10, 1949). It seems that Nan-kaka (as I call him), who had come to see me in hospital on my first day in this world, noticed a little hole on the top of my left ear lobe. The next day he came again and picked up the baby lying on the crib next to my mother. To his utter horror, he discovered that the baby did not have the hole in the left ear lobe. A frantic search of all the cribs in the hospital followed, and I was eventually located sleeping blissfully beside a fisherwoman, totally oblivious of the commotion I had caused. The mixup, it appears, followed after the babies had been given their bath.
Providence had helped me to retain my new identity, and in the process charted the course of my life. I have often wondered what would have happened if nature had not ‘marked’ me out, and given me my ‘guard’ by giving me that small hole on my left ear lobe; and if Nan-kaka had not noticed this abnormality. Perhaps, I would have grown up to be an obscure fisherman, toiling somewhere along the west coast. And, what about the baby who, for a spell, too my place? I do not know if he is interested in cricket, or whether he will ever read this book. I can only hope that, if he does, he will start taking a little more interest in Sunil Gavaskar.
A similar incident happened with my brother at Shillong’s Ganesh Das Hospital soon after his birth. Thankfully my mother had noticed that her first born had a bent ear and the baby handed to her later didn’t. The other mother was also similarly confused to find a baby with a twisted ear. I still tease Dada saying he’s not my biological brother but someone Ma brought home by accident.
Gavaskar not only appeared in played cricket, gave commentary and appeared in ads, but was also a comic book superhero – Sunny.
Here are some childhood photos of the original Little Master.