Dear Deepika and Anisha,
You stand at the threshold life, and I want to share with you some lessons life has taught me. Decades ago, as a small boy, growing up in Bangalore I started my tryst with Badminton. In those days there were no stadiums or courts sport people could train in. Our badminton court was the wedding hall of the Canara Bank near our house, and it was there I learnt everything about the game. Every day we would wait to see if there was a function in the hall, and if there was none, we would rush there after school and play to our hearts content. Looking back at my life I realize the most important thing about my childhood and adolescent years was my refusal to complain about a lot in life. I was thankful for the few hours we could hit the shuttle back and forth.
In fact the foundation on which I based my career was my refusal to whine and weep about everything, and that is what I want to tell you my children, there is no substitute for perseverance, hard work, determination and passion for what you do. If you love what you do, nothing else matters, neither awards, compensation, even the gratification of seeing your face on newspapers or television.
When I won the All England Championship, the prize money in badminton had become significant, 3000 pounds a huge amount in those days, but that did not distract me from the joy of putting India on the map in this game.
Deepika, at 18 when you told us that you want to shift to Mumbai for a career in modelling, we felt you were too young and too inexperienced to be in a big city and in an industry we knew nothing about. In the end we decided to let you follow your heart as we thought it was cruel not to allow you to follow your dream for which you lived and breathed.
If you succeeded you would have made us proud and even if you didn’t you wouldn’t have any regrets that you hadn’t tried.
The amount of efforts I put in my game never varied from the very first day to the day I retired. Even in my toughest days I focused on what I had instead on dwelling what I didn’t. I had the ability to make the best of the worst circumstances and remain steadfast to my goal.
Remember how I constantly tell you both about the importance of making up in the world without waiting for your parents to pull strings. I believe it is important for the children to work hard to make their dreams come true and not have things handed to them on a platter.
When you are visiting home Deepika, you make your own bed, clean the table after meals and sleep on the floor if there are guests at home. If you occasionally wonder why we refuse to treat you like a star it is because you are our daughter first and a film star later. The cameras that follow you everywhere and the lights will eventually fade, and what will remain is the real world. Deepika, I have learnt that you can’t always win in life, that everything you want may not come your way that events don’t turn up the way you want them to. To win some, you have to lose some. You have to learn to take the life’s ups and downs in your stride.
You are in an industry which has a lot, and that you are a game changer in it. Strive to generate positivity round you though you are too new and too small a player to effect a big change.
You are in an industry where there is a lot of money but I believe it is important to be the best in whatever you do regardless of the money. The things that really matter in life are relationships, honesty, respect for your parents and elders.
Material success is important but not fundamental to happiness and peace of mind.
I can’t tell you enough about the rejuvenating power of prayers and a little faith. Spare a few minutes to close your eyes and mediate and think about God and you will see how the faith will strengthen you.
In the end when your career is behind you, what remains is family, the friends you have made. Live a life that is healthy, one that will allow you to live with your own conscience. Everything else is transient and remember no matter what we will always be there for you.
The above letter I have transcribed verbatim, listening to Deepika’s speech while she received the best actress filmfare award.
The above letter is a master piece. I have heard the speech multiple times, and like Prakash Padukone, I also have two children, and my wish for them is the same.
I encourage all the parents to read the above transcript and wish and communicate the same to their children.