The numbers game sees astronomical amounts being shelled out for fancy car registration numbers, or lucky numbers being sported on jerseys of stars. But, is it a craze that actually courts Lady Luck, or is it a fleeting fancy riding on fanciful fortunes, wonders Chetna Keer
The Shakespearean poser, ‘What’s in a name?’, has often been given a numerological twist. But with the fetish for flaunting certain numbers, crossing the boundaries of rationality faster than the mega-buck Audis and Toyotas it comes riding on, this is a million dollar question: What’s in a number?
That’s the question that could well be addressed to Chandigarh-settled agriculturalist Amarjit Singh, who recently coughed up a mind-boggling Rs 26 lakh to snap up the VVIP number 0001, for his Mercedes S-class, during an auction this summer.
He is not the first one to have gone overboard with this craze for certain numbers. This season saw another agriculturist-businessman, Jagjit Singh Chahal, bidding an astronomical Rs 17 lakh to bag the ‘0001’ number for his Toyota Land Cruiser. Chahal’s fetish for this number can be judged from the fact that he’s gone to any lengths to get it, right from the time he bought his first Maruti car.
The 10-lakh milestone to pay for this penchant for number 0001 was first crossed by Narinder Singh Shergill, another Punjab resident, in May 2010.
But it’s not just the commoners who’ve been riding the fad for numbers. The famous, and the infamous, too, have jumped on to the bandwagon from time to time.
The tainted Haryana director general of police (DGP) SPS Rathore, convicted in December 2009 for molesting teenager Ruchika Girotra, also snapped up the VVIP registration number 0001 for a steep Rs 9,05,001 for the new Mercedes he gifted his wife, Abha Rathore, who fought all his legal battles.
“My wife is the number one woman in this world. I have bought the number for her,” is how Rathore, infamous for his smirk, had justified his numerical indulgence.
The commoners are hardly to blame for going to such lengths in the numbers game, seeing that it’s also a fetish that propels those with fame.
The fad for certain figures virtually drives the who’s who of Bollywood. Take the number on which the cars of the Shahenshah of Bollywood, Amitabh Bachchan, come riding. His lucky number being 2, since Big B’s date of birth falls on October 11, that adds up to 2, he tries to ensure that his luxury wheels boast of this number, be it his Toyota Land Cruiser, Range Rover, the Rolls Royce Phantom he received from director Vidhu Vinod Chopra, or the other brands in his fleet of fab wheels.
The Badshah of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan, too has a fetish for car numbers. The top-end cars that King Khan owns boast of his lucky number 555.
Another Bollywood biggie and owner of a fleet of luxury cars ranging from the Rolls Royce Phantom and the Ferrari to a Bugati Veyron, actor Sunjay Dutt ensures that all his cars have the number 4545 etched on the number plates. He believes that number 9 is his lucky number, and apparently, 4545 is his auspicious numerical permutation, as it adds up to 9!
The B-town hottie and ‘Heroine’ of the latest Madhur Bhandarkar flick of the same name, Kareena Kapoor, aka Bebo, has a fondness for the figure 3, which is the combined value of her date of birth, September 21. No wonder, the license plate of her Mercedes flaunts the number 7887.
Her beau Saif Ali Khan, on the other hand, likes his car registration numbers to add up to the value of 7, August 16 being his date of birth and lucky number.
Kareena’s cousin, Ranbir Kapoor, strangely goes with a number most people don’t consider lucky: 8. That is because, for him, “mum’s the word”! Ranbir’s cars, be it his Audi or Range Rover, boast of his mom Neetu Kapoor’s date of birth (July 8). Dad Rishi Kapoor, aka Chintu, too follows this family fad as his car registration number is 1313, which again adds up to the value 8, wife Neetu’s date of birth.
Date of birth sure seems to be the preferred figure in this numbers game. For, Shahid Kapoor too likes his vehicles to have his lucky number 7, derived from his date of birth, February 25. So, it’s as if his Harley Davidson and Range Rover do a James Bond in reverse gear, sporting the registration number 700.
Like the commoners, the celebrity circuit is not above the craze for numero uno on its number plates. Actor Riteish Deshmukh’s luxury wheels, and even his vanity van, flaunt this VVIP number in his signature style: R1, the ‘r’ denoting his initial. Some Vanity F(l)air, this!
Dabangg baddie Sonu Sood is a number one figure ‘faddie’ too. Having acquired the VVIP number 1 for two of his new vehicles, Sood drives his number fad a step further. So crazy is Sood for the Q7 series on his car plates that he reportedly shelled out a staggering Rs 3.5 lakh to acquire his favourite figure for his Audi. He is rumoured to even have picked up a Maruti in Haryana years ago, simply because it carried the Q7 number plate, though he did not actually need the vehicle. That sure is paying the price for this car number craze.
Fad for numbers
While the small screen’s soap queen Ekta Kapoor likes to go with car numbers adding up to a 3, 6 or 9, the director of her production Once Upon a Time In Mumbaai, Milan Luthria, sports a Skoda that carries the number 9211, which figured in his earlier directorial venture, Taxi 9211.
There’s many a star who can carry this fad for numbering the car a bit too far. And how! Actor Abhay Deol, who played a small-time thief in the flick Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! actually likes to flaunt his initials on his number plate with that very number that denotes a thief: AD 420!
If the celluloid stars are game for this numbers fad, can our cricket czars be far behind!
And so naturally, our national obsession, cricket, is also not without its practitioners of numerology.
Take Yuvraj Singh, the cricketer who’s just made his comeback into Team India after combating cancer. In order to ensure that he’s not bowled out by ill-luck, this strapping southpaw from Punjab has the numbers on his car plates adding up to 12, denoting his date of birth, December 12, his lucky number. Naturally, he also sports a jersey with number 12.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni too boasts of his date of birth on his jersey as well as his pendant: July 7.
There are a ‘couple’ of other reasons cricketers wear certain numbers. Sometimes, it’s not so much for better luck, as for better-half! For, Bangalore-based Rahul Dravid is known to sport number 19 on his jersey, as it denotes his wife’s date of birth. And, it’s a number that certainly courts not only his lady love, but also Lady Luck, as Dravid was named captain of Team India and turned into a One-day specialist after he donned jersey number 19.
Interestingly, the Nawab of Najafgarh, cricketer Virender Sehwag, used to wear a jersey with number 44 that adds up to 8. But number 8 saw him run out of luck, so, on the advice of a numerologist, Veeru dropped the number and his luck apparently turned for the better. Today, he is the only cricketer in the world who wears no number.
Though the God of Cricket Sachin Tendulkar’s jersey doesn’t symbolise his date of birth (April 24), the number 10 on it adds up to ‘1’, which symbolises the numero uno position, power and invincibility.
Owner of the Indian Premier League team Rajasthan Royals, Shilpa Shetty, also has an interesting way of being on a strong wicket as far as good fortune goes. She sports not one but two watches during all crucial IPL games. Now, isn’t that carrying the numerical figure fad ‘two’ far?
So, does this fetish for numbers or names actually spell luck for these believers, be they commoners or celebrities? Does this devotion to numerology actually multiply good fortune, or is it a mere fad fed by herd mentality or fanciful fortunes?
Figure this. The man who plays with numbers worth crores these days on Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC 6), Amitabh Bachchan, is not just a believer in the numbers game, but the name game, too. He purportedly changed the name of his house ‘Mansa’ after he was beleaguered by a spate of ill-luck, in the shape of the Bofors scandal and near-bankruptcy owing to the failure of his ABCL venture back in the 1990s. ‘Mansa’ was thus rechristened ‘Jalsa’. And the tide of misfortune was apparently reversed.
Interestingly, his fortunes turned for the better around the year 2000, denoting his lucky number, when Kaun Banega Crorepati heralded his new lucky innings, this time on the small screen, the name value of the show adding up to figure 7, also Big B’s lucky number.
Renaming for luck
Just-departed romantic icon Rajesh Khanna’s bungalow ‘Aashirwaad’ has seen a name change too. With Khanna’s live-in partner staking a claim to the multi-crore mansion, his wife Dimple has been quick to announce that it shall be converted into a museum and has been rechristened ‘Vardan Aashirwaad’. That this house name has stood testimony to the swinging fortunes of its inmates is borne out by the fact that when Khanna bought this bungalow from actor Rajendra Kumar, it was known as ‘Dimple’, after Kumar’s daughter. Though Khanna stuck to the same name for a while, it was later renamed ‘Aashirwaad’ and ushered in good luck for the actor. Whether the new name shall also augur well for ‘Aashirwaad’ or not, only time will tell.
The name game also has an ardent believer in Ekta Kapoor of the K-serial fame. This television producer, whose slew of soaps on the small screen have invariably been named so as to start with ‘K’, her lucky letter, be it Kasautii Zindagii Kay or Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, is known to have extended her fetish to flicks. On the advice of her astrologer, she introduced an extra ‘a’ to the spellings of city Mumbai in her production, Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai. And, successfully so.
Tweaking of film names owing to numerological calculations certainly results in some strange spellings. The quirky spellings of the Amitabh Bachchan flick, Bbuddah Hoga Terra Baap, thus owed themselves to the numerology, owing to which an extra ‘b’ made it to the word ‘buddha’ while a surplus ‘r’ was appended to the word ‘tera’ in this Amitabh-Hema Malini starrer. So, the name game can be said to be as ‘old’ as the numbers game. Literally!
As far as the Ekta clan goes, her brother Tushar Kapoor had met with little luck in his Bollywood career, but after he added an extra ‘s’ to his name, his fortunes at the box office changed, as he delivered an unexpected hit in Mujhe Kuch Kehna Hai.
The name game worked in the favour of actor Ritesh Deshmukh too. After he added the extra ‘I’ to his first name, apparently inspired by numerology, Riteish’s film Masti became a mega success, followed by a string of other hits.
Some people switch to some numbers or letters to court success, some to stem a spate of ill-luck or mishaps. Actor Ajay Devgan’s dropping of the letter ‘a’ from his surname is attributed to a string of accidents he had on the sets of his film, following which his family and astrologer advised him this numerological solution and he rechristened himself as Ajay Devgn.
But, if the numbers game or name game has its success stories, it has its string of flops too. A classic case would be that of cine star Vivek Oberoi. When his fledgling career wasn’t going great guns, he embraced an extra ‘I’ and turned to ‘Viveik’. That only saw him losing the embrace of his then girlfriend Aishwarya Rai. Desperate to court good luck, now that he couldn’t woo back his girlfriend, he changed his name to Viveik Anand, claiming that the latter was his middle name. When even the new middle name didn’t see him really going places, only stranded in the middle of nowhere careerwise, he was back to being ‘Vivek’ again!
The number game is something on which Vivek and cine colleague Jimmy Shergill certainly seemed to see ‘I’ to ‘I’. For, this blind faith in numerology became an ‘I’-opener for Jimmy too. On the advice of his numerologist, Jimmy appended an extra ‘I’ to his surname to arrive at the suffix ‘Sheirgill’. But nearly three years have passed and his fortunes are yet to turn for the better at the box office.
So, one really can’t turn a blind ‘I’ to the flip side of numerology!
Across the seas
The numbers game has takers not only in Bollywood, but in Hollywood too. Supermodel Agyness Deyn, who was born a simple Laura Hollins, owes her unique nomenclature to none else than numerology.
Agyness got a new lease of life after she consulted UK’s only professional name analyst who ‘reads’ people’s names using an ancient 3,000-year-old Chinese technique. Claiming this technique isn’t numerology, his theory is that each letter has a bearing on a person’s life. According to this belief, the letters G, Y, P, D and O are considered positive, while B, F, W, U, X and H carry negative connotations.
No wonder, there’s a surfeit of Ys and Gs in the new name of Agyness he gave to Laura! It was during a period of downswing in her career that Laura met the name analyst who gave her a new name adding up to the value of 21. Wow, the number spelt wonder for the model’s career, and how!
Within a year of the name switch, Deyn graced the cover of Italian Vogue, and later bagged her first Giorgio Armani campaign. Subsequently, she has been the face for Burberry, Giles Deacon and John Galliano, and has been leading the campaign for Jean Paul Gaultier’s fragrance, Madame.
So, while this numbers game has its devotees multiplying across the globe, like other fortune fads, it is best not carried too far!