As Rajdeep Sardesai was completing his book, Democracy’s XI, he realized that he needed some personal insights from India’s most successful skipper.
But MS Dhoni does not give personal interviews. In fact, he has barely spoken in any sort of interview since he gave up the captaincy earlier this year.
Even while he was the skipper, Dhoni rarely gave any personal interview to a journalist as there was almost zero interaction between Dhoni and the media beyond the pre and post match conferences.
This is what Rajdeep Sardesai wrote in his book,
“He is like a leopard in a jungle: a notoriously elusive animal who hides even as the world craves to spot him.”
“My texts to him went unanswered. I wasn’t surprised at all; even his wife couldn’t reach him during the 2015 World Cup to inform him of the birth of their daughter! I waited for my lucky break which came when Pune IPL franchise owner Sanjeev Goenka invited me for a dinner in May 2017. The meeting there helped Dhoni remember my request and he asked me to come over to his hotel at a later date.
He spoke uninterrupted for three hours, which was more than I asked for. Had I asked Dhoni for an on-camera interview, I doubt he would have spoken,” Sardesai recalls.
“I thought he would clam up the minute I ask him about the spot-fixing scandal that led to the suspension of Chennai Super Kings and his special bond with former BCCI boss N. Srinivasan. But he was more than happy to speak about it. He said he agreed to talk because of his respect for me as a journalist and for my father,” says Sardesai, who also convinced Srinivasan to talk about Dhoni in his book.
“People have told me that Dhoni also plays his politics and how he is careful and guarded about whom he talks to and is friends with. But I found nothing complicated about this guy. He is under the impression that the media has been unfair to him. Actually, the media has been more than nice to Dhoni,” he adds.
Sardesai says the former India skipper’s inaccessibility is part of his unique way to maintain the ‘Brand Dhoni.’ “He has built himself as a strong and silent warrior. He wants to remain as someone who nobody knows. The more he remains out of scrutiny and the more he remains away from the media glare, there will be more effort to know about him. I believe, that’s Mahi way,” says Sardesai.