Indian Super League

From being penniless to becoming one of Pune City’s vital cogs: The story of defender Adil Khan

The 29-year-old said that he struggled with his finances after a ligament injury kept him out of the game for nearly two years.

For almost two years – long stretches of 2015 and ‘16 – football took a backseat in defender Adil Khan’s life. Financially drained out and left to deal with a career-threatening ligament injury, it was rehabilitation, and managing day-to-day expenses that featured high on the Goan’s priority list.

Taking into account the travails of an average Indian footballer, this was a recipe for a perennial downward spiral. There have been players who have fallen on the wayside from that position. Luckily, Khan had a supporting family to turn to for help, “After my PCL (Posterior cruciate ligament) injury, I was out on the sidelines for more than a year,” Khan told The Field.

“It was difficult to manage my expenses as I was not playing. I had no income at the time. Fortunately, family members – my brother in particular – offered me support when the chips were down. Those were tough times,” he added.

Despite being one of the most experienced Indians on the circuit, Khan went looking for opportunities. There were stints with Bharat FC and second division outfit Lonestar Kashmir, low-profile clubs after having cut his teeth as a professional with Sporting Goa and Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan.

Khan explains: “At the time, getting back into the groove was important. I had not played for a long time and had to earn match practice. The stature of those clubs didn’t matter to me as they instantly welcomed me into their setup.”

The comeback

Adil Khan, apart from being one of the key members in defence, has also contributed with goals for FC Pune City | Image credit: ISL
Adil Khan, apart from being one of the key members in defence, has also contributed with goals for FC Pune City | Image credit: ISL

It was a will to hit the ground running once again, but Khan was on the comeback trail. Familiar surroundings acted as a tonic to his career, which was on the crossroads. Goan club Churchill Brothers came calling, and picked him for the 2016-’17 I-League season.

Khan helped the side finish a respectable sixth at the end of the season. There, he was marshalling the defence with aplomb and scoring goals from set-plays, a facet not every defender is blessed with, “Not many people know that I was a forward during my younger days. Then, I was tried in a number of positions, including midfield and full-back. So, goal-scoring is something that I honed for a long time.”

“Moreover, it is about getting in the right position in the area, which comes through experience.”

That bit of versatility would come to aid him when game time was all that mattered to him – at Lonestar, he was deployed in midfield. In what was a shot in his arm, FC Pune City came calling during the first pick of ISL draft – a surprise move at the time – and there was no looking back. Pune’s faith in Khan has reaped rich dividends as he has now established himself as one of the key members of the side, making several telling contributions.

Bucking a very poor trend

The 29-year-old had missed the transition phase of the ISL. From a glorious exhibition contest featuring yesteryear greats, the division had become serious business, for the Indian contingent in particular. “During the first season [Khan was with Delhi Dynamos], there was a distance between the foreign stars and the Indian players. The Indians would chat among themselves. But now, that’s not the case,” said Khan, when asked on how the hosts have bridged the communication gap with their counterparts.

Khan got limited time with the Dynamos but at Pune, he has established himself as one of coach Ranko Popovic’s main men. The SESA academy product seamlessly blended into the setup, regaining full fitness, a new-found determination. Well...even a rugged new hairstyle, perhaps signalling a new chapter in his career.

Pune now stands on the cusp of qualifying for the play-offs, “When I came into the side, that [reaching the last-four] was one of one of the foremost objectives. In previous seasons, Pune have got off to great starts but missed out. I am hoping that would change,” he said.

Pune are currently second in the table, behind table-toppers Bengaluru FC, who have already sealed a play-off place in their debut season. The tide may have passed and Khan’s troubles now seem like a distant memory, but he remains hooked to his Goan roots, which he attributes for his love for the game. As for hauling himself back to the big stage...that could be pinned down to his willpower and passion.

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.