Vishy Anand on Weekend with Stars
Celebrities, musicians and cricketers have adorned TV shows far and wide on Indian television. But for a non-cinema person to be invited to a talk show is an extremely rare occurrence. On May 21, 2017, in the fourth episode of their first season, Tamil talk show, Weekend with Stars invited the Tiger from Madras, Vishy Anand and gave the audience a comprehensive peek into the life of India’s first Grandmaster. He not only spoke about his chess career but also his personal life. Childhood friends were invited to the show, and there's also a special segment with Aruna. Here's a look into what happened on the show.
Family and Early Years
Looking at the footage, Anand was surprised how vividly he could recall his early days: why he wore a particular T-shirt or what he did on a particular day besides the titles he had won, of course. Anand further recalled his days with another outstanding individual from his family – his grandfather, Srinivasa Sastri. Talking of him, Anand said that it was him who always told him to give his exams well since it was “family tradition”.
Mothers always hold a very special place in our lives. It is no different for Anand. Susheela Viswanathan, his mother, was always there by him through the highs and lows of his chess career. She was the one who took him to tournaments when he was too young to travel. At the same time, she was also the one to recognise it when her boy had grown up and let him travel by himself. She thus took care of Vishy differently at different times.
She would go to the tournaments and Vishy would always know she’s around somewhere but she wouldn’t be within visual range. She would say “You play by yourself, concentrate, do your thing”. She would take him to tennis coaching at 5.30 a.m. and go with him to every chess tournament and watch quietly. But it would never be direct since she wanted her boy to be independent.
Recalling the time when he had begun travelling alone, Vishy said his mother would call him to know his tournament results since she couldn’t wait until he was back home. When he couldn’t answer her calls, she would taunt him saying, “Oh you big star. You’ve forgotten me now”. Anand admitted that he was always scared of this and would make sure to call her as soon as he was done with his game. Adding to this further, he said, “Another thing is, it’s been 2 years since she passed away. Last year one night I jolted out of my sleeping state and went ‘Oh God, I forgot to call mom! Oh, wait she’s gone.’ It was such a habit. Now since she was also a player, she followed my games till the end. She would always take the results from someone. Somebody had to call her and text her about the proceedings like live reporting.”
A special message from a special fan
What Aamir said:
Well, I always was a chess enthusiast. I learnt the game when I was about 6 or 7 maybe when my Grandma taught me. Since then I’ve been in love with the game. I thoroughly enjoy the game and in the papers when I started reading about this young boy Viswanath Anand, he caught my attention and I started following him. It’s kind of a coincidence we started our careers together. In 1988, my first film released – Kayamat se Kayamat Tak – and Anand became Grand Master. If I’m not mistaken, he’s the first grand master from India. And then finally when he became World Champion, it was a moment of such joy and pride for all of the chess enthusiasts from India. It was really amazing to know our guy was up there ruling the world; it was really tremendous and so inspiring."
"First time I met him I carried my chess board and asked him to sign it. I’ve always been a huge fan and then I met him and wife Aruna and he was kind enough to play a game of chess with me; he was humouring me I guess but he’s someone who has all the qualities of a true chess champion. He’s passionate, in love with what he’s doing and that’s where the hard work and dedication comes in. Other than that he’s a very fine human being. Hard working, well read, unassuming. I mean here’s a world champion and he’s so unassuming. He’s a role model for me. I think is a role model for all young kids across the country - my best wishes and admiration always."
Coffee, juice and Aruna
Aruna has been one of the most important parts of Anand's life. She is not only his wife, but also her manager and ensures that the champion remains insulated from the outside world during his tournaments. At the show, Zee Tamil did something novel.
When friends joined the party!
A few of Anand’s childhood friends also joined the show and had some really interesting stories from his school and college days.
"There was this championship recently that he was playing in and I think in the middle of the game, he had a move. The same time I chatted with him saying why this move and not that? And unexpectedly got a reply from him DURING the match! He replied to me while playing the world championship."
Commenting on this, Vishy said, “Well if a school classmate is texting, you got to reply no matter where you are!” (laughs)