An Obituary for All the Hearts That Beat for Milind Soman

Humour

An Obituary for All the Hearts That Beat for Milind Soman

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

I

t is with profound regret that we announce the news of Milind Soman’s untimely marriage. Over the weekend, star-crossed desi girls bore witness to a tragic scene of lifelong commitment, a mutual promise of love everlasting, and the official withdrawal of Milind Soman photos from every bachelorette. As hearts around the nation audibly break, and hankies are soaked instead of panties, we look back on the promising single life of Mr Soman and ask: Where did it all go wrong?

When Milind Soman popped out of a crate and into our lives, he had some stiff competition. The ’90s were a strong decade for male supermodels, with the perfectly chiselled likes of Arjun Rampal, Jas Arora, and Dino Morea bursting onto the scene and straight into our fevered imaginations.

Still, there was something about Milind. From the first, he really did feel like God’s “Made In India” gift to women. We received him with all the joy, wonder, and surprise of finding a new puppy crawling out from our birthday wrapping paper. Who was this morsel of muscles with melting eyes, we asked ourselves breathlessly, and how do you ever get cheekbones like that? (This was before our brains short-circuited from the overload of lust, and we became unable to think in sentences.)

The more we saw of Milind, the more we loved him. Can we ever forget his nude campaign with then-girlfriend Madhu Sapre? Was it advertising sneakers, snakes, or sex we weren’t good-looking enough to have? Does it matter, as long as we got to see Milind in the buff? As time wore on, he charmed us with more than his Greek God exterior. He became Captain Vyom, the hero we needed. He grew his hair long and never wore it in a manbun, God is merciful. He cemented his place in the pop-culture pantheon with Asha Bhonsle’s “Janam Samjha Karo”. And he kept going from strength to six-pack strength. When Arjun’s bad-boy vibe turned a bit too intense, and Dino’s dimples gave way to Shahid Kapoor’s, Milind decided to become the baba of a new religion-cum-sex cult: fitness.

Suddenly, we all wanted to go barefoot jogging and work up a thirsty sweat with Mr Soman, ostensibly so we could be our best selves, when really we just hoped to run into him at a marathon. We even learned to swim in hopes of a meet-cute. He was our #wokebae before it was cool, raising awareness for breast cancer and women’s health with his Pinkathon and wearing pink ribbons to functions. Just like that, Milind went from swimming champion to feminist Hercules, the guy who really cared about us. And we cared back, drooling over pin-ups ripped out of magazines and following the IronMan triathlon with the slightly pathetic devotion of an Arsenal fan.

Who was this morsel of muscles with melting eyes, we asked ourselves breathlessly, and how do you ever get cheekbones like that? (This was before our brains short-circuited from the overload of lust, and we became unable to think in sentences.)

Perhaps this is why we all saw Mr Soman as our own – the nation’s perfect boyfriend, in a kind of E pluribus unum romance. And he’s even an engineer, so no question of our parents not loving him.

Tributes have poured in from all over, with celebrities being the first to express their grief. Actress Priyanka Chopra took to Instagram to relate a touching story of gazing into Milind’s biceps on the set of Bajirao Mastani, and ex-wife Mylène Jampanoï simply tweeted a link to Katy Perry’s “The One That Got Away”. A memorial outside Soman’s Mumbai residence features a statue of him sculpted in chocolate by an anonymous pastry chef. Fans have been scribbling “Milind Soman bewafa hai” on notes with the lyrics to Kailash Kher’s “Teri Deewani” on the other side.

Other remembrances from closer home have had unfortunate consequences. In Chinchpokli, an apartment building went up in flames due to a female resident, 36, burning all her Milind Soman photos in her dustbin because she saw Rachel do it on an episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. A Delhi book-and-wine club has gone so far as to file a lawsuit against his bride, Ankita Konwar, citing emotional distress. Finally, Dadar Police made three arrests in a catfight in Mumbai, where a woman was allegedly overheard claiming that she never thought Milind Soman was that hot.

At 52, it’s not fair to say he’s gone too soon, but nevertheless, tharki and lonely hearts alike will be mourning a painful loss this week. God bless you, Milind Soman, and may your shirts never button properly.

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