The Phogats have been in the spotlight for a while now, but more so after the biopic Dangal was released. Akhada, penned by Saurabh Duggal, is the book that talks of the journey of Mahavir Singh Phogat — wrestler, master coach and father. Bringing back the spotlight on wrestling, Saurabh spills the beans on his relationship with the Phogat family, and the challenges that he faced while penning down the biography.
Saurabh has known the Phogats since 2009 and feels like their relationship has only grown from then. “I first met them for an interview before they rose to fame. I found their story very inspiring. Siblings from the same family winning medals in wrestling — that is a story in itself and it needed to be told,” says the sports journalist. “After the interview, I helped them out with some passport issues they had and kept following up with their victories and struggles and formed a bond with the family. I loved how they were trying to improve the environment in wrestling for women and acting as a source of motivation and inspiration for women, particularly in rural areas,” the author goes on to say.
But was the family open about their struggles and stories with him? “They spoke to me without any inhibitions as they trusted me. Mahavir told me that he would do all it takes for wrestlers to get the recognition they deserve in India and was more than happy to share his family’s story, as long as wrestlers get their due,” Saurabh says. But, writing a biography isn’t as easy as it seems. “Travelling to their home was one of the biggest challenges. I had to make around nine to ten visits to their village. The writing part was relatively easy because it was a biography and I reported everything as is,” says Saurabh about the book which took around five months complete.
“I also made sure that the language used is simple and plain. There is no literary jargon as I want it to be easily understood by everyone. It is definitely a story worth sharing,” he says in conclusion....