Saurabh Gade: The Virat Kohli Doppelganger Who's Busy Enjoying Indian Captain's Fame
Over the years, the world of cricket has witnessed many superstars who've not only managed to make other cricketers look mediocre, but also strike a chord with fans. But, in the modern era of the sport, no other cricketer has come even close to the fan-following of Virat Kohli, whose artistry with the willow has drawn comparisons with the greats of the gentleman's game.
But, apart from batting masterclass, Kohli's work ethic and hard work in training also makes him a befitting role model for the youth. And, then, there is his sense of style and ability to carry himself which undeniably makes him one of the most fashionable cricketers on the planet.
Teenage boys just can't get enough of his stylish hairdos and young girls want their boyfriends to be like him. Kohli is not just a cricketer, he is a phenomenon that continues to capture the imagination of fans. While many can only wish to be like him, there's one individual who doesn't just share great similarities with the Indian captain, but also seems to be cashing in on Kohli's fame.
Saurabh Gade, a junior engineer with JCB (a multinational company that manufactures earth movers) might seem like just another Kohli lookalike, but he seems to be doing more than what other doppelgangers of the Indian captain could only dream of: living on borrowed fame. From clicking selfies with fans, shooting commercials and turning up for political rallies, Gade is making the most Kohli's popularity.
Gade, who hails from village Yelawadi Dehu (25 km from Pune), was going about his business, working for the MNC, when his life changed. It all started last May, when a candidate aspiring to be Ramalinga Gram Panchayat's sarpanch in Maharashtra's Shirur district promised his voters that Kohli would be campaigning for him.
Soon, hoardings went up and word spread as the locals anxiously waited for May 25th, the day of the rally that would allow them to see the Indian cricket captain face-to-face. It was quite obvious that the real Kohli didn't turn up, but Gade, with his impeccable Kohli-esque beard and spectacles was there to satiate the thirst of selfie and autograph hunters who had poured in at the rally.
“My friend in college used to say that I look like Kohli. One of my friends had taken a photo which was seen by one of the MLAs in Shirur. He called me and asked me to go to the sarpanch rally as he knew the candidate. I sent the MLA's team pictures but the quality wasn't up to the mark. So the MLA photoshopped Kohli's picture,” Gade told The Indian Express.
The 26-year-old had no idea that his brief appearance at a political rally would bring him so much fame. The young engineer is enjoying his new-found fame as fans write to him, asking for autographs and photographs. But, that's not all. Gade has also landed advertisement offers and is often invited as chief guest to family functions and cricket tournaments.
Recently, a local manufacturer for a clothing brand that the Indian cricketer promotes, chose Gade for a photoshoot in a bid to showcase one of their products. In Pune, a bakery roped him in to use his facial resemblance with Kohli to sell their cakes. And, with the assembly elections around the corner, various political parties have begun calling Gade to campaign for them.
For someone who appears to be making the most of his resemblance with the Delhi cricketer, Gade is yet to meet Kohli in person. Last year, he came close to meeting the right-handed batsman when India played West Indies in Pune. As he waited, not too far, from the Team India bus, MS Dhoni spotted him and told him that Kohli was about to board. “By the time I reached, the bus had moved. I am still eagerly waiting for the day I meet Virat,” Gade revealed.
While he rues the missed opportunity, Gade had his fair share of fame on the match day as cricket fans inside the stadium kept troubling him for selfies and autographs. “There were lots of people gathered around me and the police came and said it could be law and order issue. They told me to go sit in the enclosure in the stands specifically reserved for physically disabled so that I can be a bit free. Two constables and an inspector too were there for my security. Later a top police officer called me over and asked for my picture!” Gade said.
Following a brilliant 203-run triumph over South Africa in the ongoing Test series, the Indian team has now travelled to Pune for the second match which is slated to begin from 10th October. The venue of the match once again gave Gade an opportunity to fulfil his wish of meeting Kohli.
On 8th October, Gade reached the Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium where the Indian cricket team was practising before the match. But, he was once again left disappointed as Kohli opted out of the optional training session. However, Gade is not ready to give up just as his quest to meet Kohli continues while he enjoys public interest himself.