Mumbai, Jan 20 (IANS) The city of bright lights and dreams was up and running for a cause Sunday. The Mumbai Marathon 2008 brought together stars and commoners on the streets of the country's commercial and entertainment capital.
Shabana Azmi, a first-time runner, treated the marathon as a 'social responsibility'. 'I'm participating for the first time. I'm also flagging off the Harmony Silvers run for Tina Ambani. I'm doing it for the Rahul Bose Foundation. It is for tsunami-affected children who are studying in Rishi Valley.'
Ruslan Mumtaz and all his friends from the Shaimak Davar Dance School loved the thrill and the spirit of brotherhood that the run fostered. 'To me, the marathon is all about unity. It's about the coming together of every person who's a part of Mumbai,' says the young celebrity. For him and his dancing school mates, it was a reunion party.
For television anchor-cum-anchor Rakshanda Khan, the marathon was an indication that the heart and soul of Mumbai is still on the right track. 'I'm participating in the marathon for an NGO called Shraddha. People may think Mumbaikars have no time to spare for others, but the swelling number of participants at the marathon every year proves them wrong.'
Over 30,000 Mumbaikars - celebrities, corporate executives, students, social workers, housewives and even the man on the street - tested their stamina and fitness to drive home the message that running is not stressful for the heart. The chief sponsor of the run was the Standard Chartered Bank.
How the stars reacted to the run:
Shabana Azmi: 'I'm participating for the first time. I'm also flagging off the Harmony Silvers run for Tina Ambani. I'm doing it for the Rahul Bose Foundation. It's for Tsunami-affected kids who are taught at Rishi Valley.'
Urmila Matondkar: 'For practical reasons, I could not participate in the Mumbai Marathon. But I'd love to. I didn't get time to prepare for it. But I support it wholeheartedly. It means standing up for a cause that's close to your heart. It's like doing your bit to keep the energy and integrity of Mumbai intact.'
Shekhar Kapoor: 'Sorry, I'm in Las Vegas for the opening of the newest and biggest casino. I had to skip the marathon.'
Prashant Raj: 'Yes, I took part in the Marathon. I loved it because it's the one time when the entire city comes together and comes alive.'
Aseem Merchant: 'I wish I was in town. The marathon is a great way of endorsing a healthy life. When celebrities sweat it out for a cause, it is better than making money. It's important for us to set a good example.'
Malaika Arora: 'I'm not running. But I love the spirit behind it.'
Irrfan Khan: 'For me it's like a festival created in two days' time. This calls for a celebration. I'm not in town.'
Rohit Roy: 'I've taken part in the marathon every year since its inception. Unfortunately this was be the first year when I gave it the skip because of prior commitments. It is my loss. For me, the Mumbai Marathon embodies the very spirit of Mumbai. The zest energy and the people from all walks of life for the run simply unbelievable! It's almost like the whole city is running for one reason. I'm going to miss the Marathon this year. But I promise I'll be back next year. Till then, happy running, Mumbai!'
Rahul Khanna: 'Sadly I'm out of town. But I think the marathon is a fantastic way of bringing people from all walks of life together. I also think it's a great way raising awareness about the NGOs who are doing good work. Had I been in town I'd have run for any NGO that works for the education of underprivileged children or for any animal rights group.'
Rakshanda Khan: 'Yes, I participated in the marathon for an NGO called Shraddha. For me the marathon is a clear indication that the heart and soul of Mumbai is still on the right track. Although people think Mumbaikars have no time to spare for others the swelling number of participants at the Marathon every year proves them wrong.
Sammir Dattani: 'I've run for the marathon for the last two years. I hoped for a hat-trick this year. But I'm shooting in Bangalore and can't get away. But I'll take a long token jog on Sunday morning to feel part of the Marathon. Will miss Mumbai on Sunday.'
Sophie Chowdhary: 'I've taken part in the marathon three times on earlier occasions. I'm most fascinated by it. The spirit of Mumbai is never on display more prominently. This time due to a knee injury I don't think I'll be able to take part. But I'm there in spirit.'
Shriya Saran: 'I'd love to run for the marathon. To me it means the city coming together to share a dream of oneness. It's a symbol of unity and collective harmony for the Mumbaikars.'
Nikhil Dwivedi: 'Unfortunately I'm not in Mumbai. The marathon is particularly symbolic since no other city denotes the feeling of being a city constantly on the run. I think it's a terrific community activity.
Neil Mathur: 'The marathon is like a wake-up call. It's done with the heart in the right place. And that's the spirit in which I want to be part of it. Some day I hope to participate in it.'
Aryan Vaid: 'Unfortunately I'm not participating this year. But I think the marathon is a great way of creating awareness for various charitable causes because of the hype it generates. Personally for me being part of it generates a tremendous sense of accomplishment.'
Kushal Punjabi: 'Unfortunately, I've too much work on my plate to be able to be part of the marathon on Sunday. But without a doubt I'd love to. To me it's a celebration of the spirit of togetherness. People from various walks of life come together to celebrate the spirit of life, the spirit of Mumbai. I wish I could be there.'
Anuj Sawhney: 'I've my marathon T-shirt ready and I hope to be there on Sunday morning. But I've an early shooting on Monday morning. I don't think I'll skip the Marathon. It's too important. For a Delhi boy like me the marathon represents the spirit of Mumbai. The city is truly cosmopolitan. It welcomes people from all over the country. I've never felt like an outsider.'
Mimoh Chakraborty: 'I'd love to take part. It tests us to see how far we can go. How much we can push ourselves. And what we are truly made of.'
Ruslaan Mumtaz: 'To me the marathon is all about unity. It's about the coming together of every person who's a part of Mumbai. I ran with all my fellow-dancers from Shiamak Davar's school. For me, the marathon is also a reunion party.'
Sameer Dharmadhikari: 'I'm working from early morning on Sunday. I'm a sportsperson and have been running for the marathon in Pune. It's a good way of checking your physical and mental health.'
Samir Soni: 'I could not run because I've had knee surgery and have been advised not to. As an event it does get tremendous media attention. I'm not sure of how much it helps the social causes it supports. Only the organizations can answer, but great for the enthusiasts and for the spirit of the city it is a good platform to break a few barriers and bring the people closer.'
Mona Singh: 'I opted out because of a bad knee. I'd have loved to participate. It means a lot to me because all Mumbaikars irrespective of age caste and religion come together to run for a cause.'
Pritam Chakraborty: 'Couldn't run due to health reasons. To me, the marathon is a amalgamation of individual will and a collective realisation of a wider cause.'
Neetu Chandra: 'I could not run the marathon due to my hectic schedule. But I'd have loved to because it's a revolutionary gesture of collective well being.'
Ravi Kissan: 'I would have loved to be there. But I'm in Jammu right now. Mumbai is a city that welcomes outsiders like us with open arms. The marathon represents that spirit of togetherness.'
Vipul Shah: 'I'd love to have run the marathon. But I was shooting in Punjab and got no time to prepare. I wouldn't like to be out of breath during such a devastating display of harmony.'