For the last three decades, Balvir Chand had built most of his life around the fact that he is a doppelganger of Sachin Tendulkar, but like many others, his life has fallen apart during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Having been a regular on Indian television as Tendulkar’s double in several advertisements during the maestro’s playing days, Balvir Chand had since then been employed as the brand ambassador of a fast food chain in Mumbai. He lost his job in the lockdown and returned to his village in Punjab earlier this month, only to find on reaching there that he had contracted the virus.
“They (Goli Vada Pav No 1, Chand’s employers) lost business after the lockdown and let go of a lot of staff. I too was asked to leave; they said they would hire me back when things improve,” Chand was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times on Wednesday.
On June 10, on reaching Sahlon village in Punjab, the 50-year-old and his family members tested positive for coronavirus and were shifted to hospital. Earlier this week, the 50-year-old was told he can leave the isolation ward.
‘These are my photos, not yours’
Balvir Chand had received national recognition when Sunil Gavaskar had invited him to the commentary box during an India Test in 1999. “Later, they took me to Taj hotel to meet Sachin ji. I asked for autographs on six photos I had carried. He was busy signing them when I told him ‘these are my photos, not yours’. He was startled, looked at me and smiled,” recalled Chand.
Since then, he has doubled up for Tendulkar in advertisements for brands such as MRF, Toshiba, Reynolds and TVS, which the cricketer endorsed. He was also given roles in Bollywood films to play Tendulkar. In Mumbai, he would be the star attraction at shop openings, amuse visitors with one-liners, and pose for photographs.
He had also been roped in for election campaigns by political parties, which he would participate in wearing the India jersey.
“Sachin ji’s face has given me lot of shahurat (fame), not so much daulat (riches). But I can write, compose songs; I will try to use my own talent. Hopefully, jobs will be back and people will find value in my freaky appearance again,” he said on Wednesday.
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