Signed, sealed, delivered

Signed, sealed, delivered

Every autograph I collect has a story behind it,” says Amarjeet Singh, who developed an interest in autograph collection on realising that it is the best form of memory a renowned person can leave behind for their fans.

Today, he boasts of a collection of over 1,500 autographs which includes names like Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, Lata Mangeshkar, M F Husain, Dalai Lama, Sachin Tendulkar, Amitabh Bachchan and even Hollywood icon, Jackie Chan.

But, it takes much toil, commitment and patience to build such a huge collection. Recollecting an episode, Singh tells Metrolife how he learnt basic Tibetan, in hope to get blessed by the community’s spiritual leader, The Dalai Lama.

“He is the one person I had been waiting to be blessed by, despite knowing that it would not be easy. So I did my homework — learnt bit of Tibetan, and their traditional greeting, Tashi Delek. Everything was planned. His Holiness was visiting the Jawaharlal Nehru University for two days in November 2015. I learnt that Tibetan people offer Khada  (a ceremonial scarf) to their leader and seek his blessings. I bought one from a local Tibetan market and waited for the right opportunity,” Singh, who finally succeeded in seeking the leader’s blessings,
tells Metrolife.

Much like Singh, many dedicated autograph collectors determinedly pursue their passion, overcoming the challenges, beginning with having access to a public personality. However, they say that the current generation is not as interested in philograpy, and prefers getting selfies clicked with their favourite celebrities.

“The hobby is not very common and there are hardly 500+ autograph collectors, out of whom 50-60 are serious ones,” says Debapriyo Goswami, who has built a collection of over 2,000 autographs, including those by Brazilian footballer Pele and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, in the last two years.

Agrees Deepak Sharma, an autograph enthusiast hailing from Moradabad, and says while it is a popular hobby worldwide, people in India are yet to explore autograph collection. “This is the most helpful hobby to develop general knowledge, because in the process you read about a person’s life journey and their achievements. I always try to aware, encourage and guide people about this hobby,” he says.

Another reason, he points out, is that unlike their Western counterparts, who have individual ‘Autograph Request Management Department’, Indian celebrities are not very active in sending autographs to their fans, leaving them heartbroken.

But then, isn’t collecting autograph extremely challenging? “The success rate by sending letters to stars or players is very low; hence I try for in-person autographs as you can also be sure of the genuineness of the signature. But, but more popular a celebrity is, more is the security. The situation has become more difficult with fans wanting to take selfies and hence the security people are even more alert – leading to difficulties for genuine autograph collectors,” says Goswami.

He adds, “However being my passion, I also take this as a challenge and ensure that I succeed. A lot of preparation and hard work is needed. Today I know in and out of all the hotels and auditoriums including back doors, and security lapses which I use to my benefit to increase my chances of autograph in-person.”

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