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Pataudi, a man of many interests

Tiger to his friends, Tiger Mian to his extended family - Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi was a man of many interests. Born in Bhopal in 1941 to illustrious parentage from both sides, the son of celebrated cricketer Nawab Iftikhar Ali Khan of Pataudi and Begum Sajida Sultan of Bhopal, Tiger Pataudi inherited two royal titles- an uncommon occurrence even in royalty. Rahul Noronha reports.

bhopal Updated: Sep 22, 2011 22:25 IST
Rahul Noronha

Tiger to his friends, Tiger Mian to his extended family - Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi was a man of many interests. Born in Bhopal in 1941 to illustrious parentage from both sides, the son of celebrated cricketer Nawab Iftikhar Ali Khan of Pataudi and Begum Sajida Sultan of Bhopal, Tiger Pataudi inherited two royal titles- an uncommon occurrence even in royalty.

Often accused of neglecting Bhopal at the cost of Pataudi where he spent much more time than Bhopal, even though Bhopal, the 19 gun salute state was much bigger than Pataudi, MAK Pataudi's life spanned many interests, hobbies and careers.

Pataudi senior, Iftikhar Ali Khan had set the bar rather high in sports for his son. Pataudi senior had the rare distinction of playing cricket for England and India and hockey for India too. Pataudi junior did not fare badly either.

Pataudi's association with cricket and his achievements on the field are well known but being a gifted sportsman, he was good at every game he tried his hand at. He was a good hockey player, an excellent shot, fond of equestrian and polo and even excelled at Bridge- not an outdoor sport. "He was an excellent cricketer and his achievements are even more creditable given that he played with one functional eye," said Pataudi's relative and friend Alamgir Saulat. He added that he was always more adept with a shotgun rather than a rifle but a good shot in both disciplines.

Pataudi went to Winchester college in England for his schooling and Balliol college at Oxford for graduation in keeping with scions of most royal families of the time. Cricket was often described as his first love until he married Sharmila Tagore, the actress.

The architect of the Indian Test series victory in New Zealand-could never replicate the winning on the political turf. Pataudi contested 2 elections unsuccessfully, first in the 1970s for the Haryana assembly from Pataudi as a candidate of the party floated by Rao Birendra Singh- a fellow royal and in 1991 as the Congress' Lok Sabha candidate from Bhopal. He was a prolific writer on issues pertaining to sports and supported the Bhopal and Pataudi Cup-a prominent Polo even in the Delhi polo season.

For those who knew him, Pataudi was a man of wit with a terrific sense of humour-sometimes dry-in the British mould. Once during a train journey he asked this correspondent about a co-passenger, a familiar looking popular character from the Mahabharat TV series who was active in politics in Madhya Pradesh. When asked if he would be liked to be introduced to him, Pataudi's straight faced response was, " Naah, I have enough acting talent in my family these days," an obvious reference to wife Sharmila, son Saif and daughter Soha who are all in the film world.