Vijay Abdul Kalam. No relation to the former Indian President, this Kalam is on a fact-finding mission. A shopkeeper at South Delhi’s Ashram area, he drives around the city in a three-wheeler to gauge the public memory regarding the ex-president.
Vijay is not only a Kalam lookalike, he even had his name changed (with the presidential additions) last year, removing, as he says “another difference between him and Dr Kalam.”
This one is a serious fan. “I have a grocery shop and my son takes care of the family’s expenses, so I don’t need to drive an auto,” he clarifies. “But I do, as it gives me a chance to move around and meet the aam aadmi who reveres Dr Kalam so much that they show respect even to a lookalike.”
On his drive, he is accompanied by a friend-cum-secretary who shows Vijay’s pictures with Dr Kalam clicked a few months ago in a fleeting meeting, which lasted only for the period they shook hands.
The shopkeeper replicates the former president’s style and mannerisms with practised ease. When he stands, he keeps his hands crossed over his abdomen. He wears the same disarming smile. He reads books written by Dr Kalam and has a collection of newspaper clippings whenever he spots news related to him.
Vijay’s impersonation at India Gate, however, had a lukewarm start. The parking attendant asked him for a parking fee. At Rajpath, he met with a few startled gazes. Vendors and revellers gave him a second look but moved on. ‘Mob frenzy’ which Vijay assured he had to face “several times” in the past, happened at the end. A couple came rushing towards him. The boy touched Vijay’s feet. The girl requested for a photo-op with the “former president”. Was this for real, or had we been had?