"Amarprem Krida Mandal" of Worli Village in Mumbai presented an "INDIA CLASSIC NATIONAL BODYBUILDING CHAMPIONSHIP-2012" at Worli Sports Club(Adarsh Nagar) from 1800 hrs to 2130 hrs on Saturday(31-3-2012). Entrance to the event was fee.This event was sponsored financially by the Shri Sankalp Pratishtan headed by Mrs Sangita.Sachin.Ahir, wife of the politician Mr Sachin.Ahir, the Maharashtra Minister of Housing, on the occasion of his birthday.
Bodybuilders from all over India were participating and even ex-competitors of Mr India, Mr Asia and Mr Universe, would be participating in this prestigious event. As for me, was never a body-building fan, just a physical fitness fanatic , besides i was extremely skinny as a teenager .
Did attempt to build up my skinny physique during the 1970's, even buying a pair of "Dumb-Bells" from "Chor Bazaar", Mumbai's World famous flea market during my college days in 1970's since my pocket money couldn't afford me an expensive gymnasium.A few weeks of rigorous dumbbell exercises made me realize that i could never become a Mr Charles.Atlas of "Bullworker " fame and hence diverted my energy towards molding myself into an all-round athlete which i maintain upto the present age in 2012! Got to know of this event through my house-keeper Sabina.Dias who lives in Worli village and a resident of Amar Chowk , one of the oldest chawl systems in Worli village from which "Amar Prem Krida Mandal" got its name. She and other low-income women residents of that locality are also involved in social work in the "Amar Prem Krida Mandal" which has been active for the past 40 years.She informed me of the "National Bodybuilding Championship" and invited me for the same.Hence i attended this event for the first time in my life although have viewed the same on T.V, etc, never a fan of either wrestling or body-building. In 1990's i did view an exhibition wrestling match of the "Undertaker" and other professional television wrestlers at the Andheri Sports stadium in Mumbai, highly impressed by the fake fight synchronizations and the costly lighting and sound gimmicks, the first time that "World .Wrestling.Federation(W.W.F)" had performed a show in Mumbai.Had attended this wrestling exhibition just as a curiosity and to date never ever watch "world wrestling" on television although its a popular World-wide entertainment sport in India, preferring basketball amongst the imported American sports.Finally decided to attend the "India Classic National Bodybuilding championship-2012" as a curiosity akin to wrestling,besides, the venue was also just walking distance from my residence at Prabhadevi in Mumbai. On Friday(30-3-2012) cycled in the evening to the venue at Worli sports club and got to witness the carnival inauguration of the event.A procession led by horses and clowns on stilts with women and children, followed by jeeps in which the bodybuilders and the politician sponsoring this entire extravaganza, Shri Sachin.Ahir(Minister for Housing,Govt of Maharashtra) belonging to the National Congress Party(N.C.P)entered the Worli Sports club grounds.Mr Sachin.Ahir was formerly better known as the nephew of Mr Arun.Gawli(Alias Daddy), an underworld don from Byculla who became a politician and was elected an M.L.A in 2004 as an "Akhil Bharatiya Sena" candidate.Co- Incidentally 7 years of my residence was spent in Byculla and hence have witnessed a few exploits of the "Byculla Boys" in the 1970's which later through gangster elimination finally produced Mr Arun.Gawli, the reformed criminal turned politician.If America can have million dollar former criminals turn into "RAP STARS" most infamous being "50 Cents" who also performed in Mumbai, so too India has its fair share of reformed criminals turned politicians, most famous in Mumbai being Mr Arun.Gawli. All politicians In India do sponsor certain events for the benefit of the citizens of their constituency and Mr Sachin.Ahir is famous for sponsoring the "Gokulashtami(Dahi-Handi)" festival at Jambholi maidan in Worli which is attended by prominent Bollywood personalities and draws a house-full crowd as well as television ratings.Providence put me right in front of the ministers entourage and i must have got one of the best photographs of Mr Sachin.Ahir, better than most professional press photographers.The Luck element is very important in photography, be it wildlife, modeling or common news photography and there are numerous instances where pure amateurs have photographed the best wild-life video's or candid news photos. Normally, its only cricket that most politicians sponsor in India as it is the most popular sport akin to a religion and hence receives maximum media coverage and spectator interest unlike other minority sports.Hence it was surprising that a prominent politician was sponsoring a minority sport at a great personal expense,Mr Sachin.Ahir being a self-made millionaire businessman turned politician. The next day on Saturday(31-3-2012) attended the main bodybuilding contest at the Worli sports club, arriving at 1800 hrs at the venue, a bit early, although the scheduled time for starting of the programme.Entry was free and hence a huge crowd had gathered at the entry gates.Made my way into the common enclosure taking a seat just in front of the "Tiger-Walk Bodybuilding Ramp" as it is referred to in Bodybuilding language and not "Cat-walk" as is common in fashion and beauty contests.At 1820 hrs prominent Bollywood actor Jackie.Shroff entered the venue, himself a rags to riches story from the chawl system of Warden road, hence a patron for many minority sports since these are common pass-times in chawl localities of Mumbai.
He paraded with a few National Kabbadi women players on the "Tiger Walk Ramp" that begins at the main stage platform which is 50 feet wide and terminates approximately 80 feet away on a pedestal platform erected in the centre of the ground that terminates at the boundary between the reserved seating and unreserved seating for the public. Providence again favoured me as i got fantastic photos of the actor since i was seated below the erected pedestal in the common enclosure. The main exhibition stage was not visible from this angle, a distance away, akin to viewing a rock or pop concert from the cheapest last row enclosure in a stadium. .Honestly, i hate "Free Shows" in my present financial position,a rupee millionaire ,as are all South Mumbai middle-class residents,the cost of housing making all average flat owners " RUPEE CROREPATIS" though not a billionaire .Normally the local politicians organized free film show on street lanes during "Ganesh Chaturthi" and "Navratri Festivals" for the benefit of their constituency citizens, especially in the working class mill localities of Mumbai.Demise of Mumbai's mill Industry in the 1980's has changed the economic topography of Mumbai, expensive multi-storeyed skyscrapers and malls replacing the defunct cotton textile mills of Mumbai.Remember watching a few of these movies during the 1970's era where entertainment was entirely different compared to the 21st century Internet age and cable telivision era."Free Events" are an invitation to all and sundry, irrespective of the persons interest in the particular sport, event or political speech and hence i feel that barring "Political rally's", all events should have a minimum ticket price tag.At the venue realized that "BODYBUILDING" is a very popular sport amongst the lower income working class, hence a free show to residents of worli by the local M.L.A Mr Sachin.Ahir's . Worli in Mumbai has a mix of Old World residential chawls and some of the World's costliest Apartment buildings co-existing, hence the free show for the lower income constituent citizens. I rang up Sabina and requested her to help me gain admission into the "Reserve Seats" meant for V.I.P's and persons connected to the organizers or event, including the media.Thankfully ,Sabina.Dias, resplendently dressed, met me near the "Reserve Enclosure Gate" and told the security bouncers to allow me entry, an instance where my employee helped me gain preferential treatment.Honestly, i deserved preferential treatment since i had given this event immense publicity on the internet through various web-sites, a bit sad that "Internet Publicity" is still in its nascent form in India unlike newspapers or other print media.A song skit from the Raj.Kapoor film "Mera Naam Joker" was performed to taped music with a Raj.Kapoor look-alike clown mimicking the joker, the grounds gradually filling, ultimately packed to capacity.
The formal opening of the "Bodybuilding Championship-2012" began at approx 1900 hrs with the chief patron Mr Sachin.Ahir being invited onto the stage by the championship secretary Mr Rana.Tiwari who also was the master of ceremonies of the entire event.The statues of the Hindu god Hanuman and Chattrapati Shivaji were placed on either side of the stage and homage paid to the same at the opening ceremony.
It was the first time in my life that i ever attended a "BODY BUILDING CONTEST" and was fascinated by the extravagance and pomp of the entire bodybuilding display.International actor and former Mr Universe, Mr Arnold.Schwarzenegger would have been in familiar surroundings if in Mumbai attending this event, such was the pomp and extravagance of the entire event.
It reminded me of the "Indian Derby " horse racing at Mahalaxmi race-course(Mumbai) where the bodybuilders resembled prized thoroughbred race-horses displaying their prized bodies to a ogling public of males and females, bodies that ordinary human mortals find unbelievable until witnessing the same on a stage.Bollywood film-stars Jackie.Shroff and Sunil.Shetty were the chief guests, the entire extravaganza promoted by politician Mr Sachin.Ahir, the occasion also being his birthday.The competition was on similar lines as a women's world beauty pageant contest, only difference ,manly muscles and body configurations were on display by bionic men who seemed to have emerged from another planet.The total prize money at stake was Rs 5 lakhs , the winner getting Rs 1 lakh and second getting Rs 75,000 while the third got Rs 50,000 and all first ten competitors getting the rest of the cash prize.According to current cost of living and sports earnings this prize money is a pittance compared to the prize money in Horse-racing let alone Cricket, the billionaire rupee sport in India."BODYBUILDERS" sacrifice a lot to achieve their sculptured granite bodies, many even resorting to steroids , very common amongst professional wrestlers and hence premature deaths from heart-attacks or suicidal deaths.A Bodybuilders professional life-span is also very short and difficult to maintain at its zenith as is the case in a majority of sporting professions.
Besides, all retired bodybuilders don't graduate into lucrative Industry's like acting as did Arnold.Schwarzenegger, now also a successful American politician.As i had no interest in Bodybuilding prior to watching this event i was not aware of the financial emoluments of professional and amateur Indian bodybuilders.As a sports enthusiast myself, i hate seeing a professional sportsman or sportswoman degenerate into poverty after the end of their sporting career, irrespective of the sport.There were 22 participants and each of them had a number tag on the front of their body-building underwear costume, their bodies glistening in the bright stage flood-lights.The whole competition and function was professionally organized akin to a Bollywood Hindi awards function seen on television sets, extremely entertaining with background music.Initially all the bodybuilders were introduced to the house-full open-air maidan spectators, flexing their body craft on stage when introduced to the crowd. They later walked the "Tiger-Ramp" individually to the sound of catchy Bollywood and other popular music tunes.There were loud whistles and shouts for a few bodybuilders indicating that the majority of the spectators understood the sport and its contestants unlike me, a total novice to this sport.After cricket, "Bodybuilding" is very popular amongst the lower income working class of Maharashtra ,akin to wrestling being a popular sport in Madhya.Pradesh.Maharashtra's Suhas.Khamkar, the eventual winner was the most popular amongst the competing bodybuilders.The actual Bodybuilding competition judging began at approx 1945 hrs with Rana.Tiwari compering the entire contest.Judging was based on body posture of the contestants as follows A)Flexing of Biceps. B)Side pose(Any Side) C)Back Double bicep muscles with calf and thigh muscles contraction D)Abdominal Muscles .
The contests were organized in gradual elimination fashion with initially 7 being eliminated from the 22 contestants.It gradually came down to 8 contestants.Felicitations to noted women Kabbadi players and also ex-retired bodybuilders were held in-between the contests.Mr Heera Lal(Nos 24) from Punjab was a recently crowned Mr Universe and one of the elite competitors.Hira Lal of India won Mr. Universe gold medal at Mumbai’s IFBB 65th in 2011 but came third in this competition.Ashish .Sakharkar, a bronze medallist at the same competition came fouth after Mr Hira.Lal. Hira Lal was the 4th Indian to win World title after legendary PREM CHAMP DEGRA  MANOHAR AICH  & MANOTOSH ROY . In a rare case of longevity, Mr Manohar.Aich(1952 Mr Universe) is still alive , at the age of 100 in 2012 , residing in Calcutta, a living advertisement to healthy living through body-building and fitness.Mr Vinay.Kumar(Nos 42) from Delhi seemed to be the tallest bodybuilder, towering above the rest, especially over midget sized Ashish.Sakharkar(Nos 22).Suhas.Khamkar(Nos 33) and the midget sized Mr Ashish.Sakharkar(Nos 22) were the most popular participants to the common public.Mr Suhas.Khamkar was a former Mr Asia and Mr India but a failure at the recently held Mr Universe Competition.At approx 2100hrs a "Tiger Ramp Walk" was exhibited by India's first professional Bodybuilder Mr Virender.Ghumen from Delhi, sporting a pony-tail and over 6 foot tall, more wrestler than a bodybuilder . Virender.Ghumen had the looks of a film-star and could be a future actor in making if lucky and successful, an excellent display.The ultimate final two competitors in elimination before the judges were Mr Ankur.Sharma(Nos 30) from Haryana and Suhas.Khamkar(Nos 33) from Maharashtra, the 5000 strong crowds favourite bodybuilder.The ultimate winner from 22 contestants from various parts of India was Mr Suhas.Khamkar(Nos33) whom i spotted much before being declared a winner, akin to spotting a race derby winner.
The show finally ended at approx 2145 hours, a eventful evening coming to an end and a huge sea of spectators winding their way back home.As for me, went home a little wiser in understanding the art and sport of "BODYBUILDING".
P.S:- Thanks to "FREE PRESS JOURNAL", "THE AFTERNOON DESPATCH & COURIER" E-Newspaper and "Indian Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation(IBBF)" website from which i documented some historical facts of this competition.The rest is my own personal opinion and documentation of the event with photographs.