The 18th letter of the English alphabet is a repository of more secrets than the CIA. It’s perhaps the most overlooked and under analysed subject of our times. The Japanese to this day, haven’t figured out how to utter it. Truckloads of speech therapists make truckloads of money in trying to cure Rhotacism (the technical term for imperfect pronunciation of the r-sound). Brand managers do everything in their means to acquire the ® symbol. And at least 50 countries have anchored their monetary fortunes to currencies that are in essence R-words (Rupee, Rupiah, Rouble, Riyal, Real, Ringgit & Renminbi)!
So what’s with ‘R’? Why does it dominate our lives? To get a definite answer, it’ll help to ask a few searching questions. What is the world’s most ancient text? Rig Veda. Who’s considered the father of the Egyptian gods? Ra. Who’s regarded as the Mother of Gods by the Greeks? Rhea. How have humans populated the Earth? Reproduction. How do we breathe? Respiration. What is the one faith that has been guiding billions of people over many millennia? Religion. What were rulers called in India? Rajas and Ranis. What do you call dramatic events that change the course of history? Revolutions. Which is the most popular form of government across the globe? Republic.
Some of you may be tempted to assume that I am selectively lining up words to get buy-ins for my theory that there’s something magical about ‘R’. The evidence that I am going to adduce further should hopefully seal the deal.
Which tennis player has won a record 16 Grand Slam titles? Roger Federer. Who was the first Indian to win two Oscars? Rahman. Who are the three greatest Brazilian footballers in recent times? Ronaldo, Rivaldo & Ronaldinho. Who is the superdupermegagigastar of Indian cinema? Rajinikant. Who was the first person to be named ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ twice by People Magazine? Richard Gere.
Add Rani Mukherjee, Rihanna, Rafael Nadal, Robert Plant, Roger Waters, Richard Feynmann, Ranbir Kapoor, Russell Crowe, Ratan Tata and Ridley Scott to the power-list above and you’ll understand why Revlon, Rolls Royce and Ralph Lauren are still rocking!