Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How To Treat Tennis Champions - Make Them Do Push Ups and make Them Dance (and perhaps throw some money)

How do we celebrate two great legends of tennis? By making them do push ups and paying them 500 dollars per push up (for a good cause, but we'd like to see you work for it, for us). The request came from some chap from Micromax who must have thought it fit to make two champs do this and probably tell the world that he did this. You know, I had them dance. The champions - Federer and Sampras. The occasion - some celebrity dinner full of those people. The host - Prannoy Roy.

Oh, we have another wonderful champion moment. Prannoy Roy of the impeccable manners and good grace and sense, and all the maturity and sense we associate good media with, cannot but stop himself from mentioning that he has interviewed Presidents and Prime Ministers of countries (why?), cannot but make the champions do push ups and (thankfully the audience did not have dollars to throw on them, else they might even have - if it was rupees they might even have) and worse, cannot let the two champs without doing our Indian bhangra. What's wrong with you guys? Is that how you treat champions? Do push ups? Do the bhangra?

Imagine what would happen if someone TV channel in the US or the UK made Sachin Tendulkar do push ups for 500 dollars, or made him do the salsa or whatever.

Does the audience want it? To see Federer and Sampras being subjected to this? I don't know. Certainly not me. I'd like to see them being treated like champions, all time greats, great sportspeople and fantastic ambassadors. I'd like them to be treated with respect. We seem to have lost the thin line between being respectful and being over-friendly to the point of pushing them too hard. We are Indians you see. I mean, you can't even make a South Indian do the bhangra against his wish my friend, so why would you impose that on two champions as if it represents all things Indian and its imperative for them to prove their acceptance of all things Indian.

This is not the first time. I saw the same behavior on some football league opener recently - they made the poor football players dance to some Bollywood songs. I saw them wrap up Kevin Spacey in a lungi and made him to the lungi dance. This is only what I saw - I am sure there must have been much more.

There's a difference. There's grace and love and respect when a tribal dance troupe invites a visiting dignitary to do the dance with them. They are saying - this is what we are, we respect you enough to share our culture and heritage with you. It is an honor. There is grace. In this other instance there is arrogance. We are Indians. We can buy you, make you dance. We can ask you dumb questions, have dumb requests. I mean two legends sit up on the stage and all we have is such lame stuff.

In the audience we had the man who is best described as a Delhi socialite who has just come off an incident where he called Viren Rasquinha, former Indian hockey captain, the 'bald guy' (what's he doing here or something like that), in the recently concluded Literary Festival in Mumbai (Kalaghoda was it?). Now this socialite cannot wait to get into the limelight and pops a question - in one word or one sentence (see, we are Indians, we will set you conditions and you perform), describe your Indian experience and then we will use it shamelessly to promote...blah blah blah. Why was this socialite here and what is he doing asking questions?  He is fresh off an offence - he could pretty well ask of Sampras 'who is this bald guy?' too since he has this incredible talent for finding bald people. If he somehow got in, at least keep him away from the mike. Someone.

But then the entire lot in the audience looked a bit like that sadly. If Mr. Roy could lead this show on, why deny the socialite a chance? I'm now dreading to see what they will do to Barack Obama when he comes to the Republic Day. I really am. We are Indians Mr. Obama. If I were him I'd head for the tribes and steer clear of these junglees.

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