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India’s badminton legend Prakash Padukone writes poignantly to daughters Deepika and Anisha

"...There is no substitute for perseverance, hard work, determination, and passion for what you choose to do. If you love what you do, nothing else matters- not awards, not compensation, not even the gratification of seeing your face in newspapers or television."

This is the inspiring message that Prakash Padukone has sought to convey to his daughters, the famous actor Deepika Padukone and her sister and amateur golfer, Anisha. The letter draws valuable lessons from his own life and struggles and is part of a collection of letters by eminent fathers to their daughters. This collection was initiated and compiled by author Sudha Menon for her recently-released book, Legacy. We present below an excerpt from the letter.

- Editor

Looking back I realize that the most important thing about my childhood and adolescent years was my refusal to complain about my lot in life. I was thankful for the few hours a week we had the opportunity to hit the shuttle back and forth.

In fact, that has possibly been the foundation on which I based my career and my life- the refusal to whinge or whine about anything, even as a child of seven when I first took up the game.

I could have complained about everything- the lack of proper sparring partners, the shortage of practice matches, the unavailability of coaches and fitness trainers, poor infrastructure for training, and so on. But I, in fact a generation of people in the seventies, chose to just accept the conditions that we were presented with and made the best out of them.

And that is what I want to tell you my children, that there is no substitute for perseverance, hard work, determination, and passion for what you choose to do. If you love what you do, nothing else matters- not awards, nor compensation, not even the gratification of seeing your face in newspapers or television.

By the time I was sixteen, I was the national badminton champion. Often the prize for the effort was a candle-stand, a photo-frame, or a wooden plaque.

It was only when I won the All England Championship that the prize-money became significant- £3,000- a huge amount in those days. But that did not distract me from the sheer joy of having been instrumental in putting India on the global map of this game.

In a small way, I think, my winning that championship was the turning point for the game in India and it cleared the way for other champions to come in later.

The success, the name and fame, the Arjuna Award and Padma Shri, were all by-products of my love for the game.

Deepika, we know that you are in the film industry because of your love for it. Early on in life, even as a child of nine or ten, we knew that you were meant for modeling and to be under the arc-lights. You were a natural.

Even so, at eighteen, when you told us that you wanted to shift to Mumbai to pursue a career in modeling, it was hard for us to come to terms with the decision. We felt you were too young and too inexperienced to be alone in a big city, in an industry we knew nothing about.

In the end we decided to let you follow your heart, like my father had taught me all those years ago, as the only way to live fully.

***

Sudha Menon's book Legacy has deeply inspiring letters by other eminent persons to their daughters. They include Infosys founder N.R. Narayana Murthy, painter Jatin Das, banker K.V. Kamath, Indian classical dancer and activist Mallika Sarabhai and industrialst Ajay Piramal.

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