Then and Now
Going back to the days of Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi’s pyar ishq aur mohabbat with Sharmila Tagore, the couple got away with comments like ‘Cute’, ‘Sweet’ etc, because there was no social media those days. Even Ravi Shastri and Amrita Singh for that matter. Or so, it seems. Senior actress Mumtaz, talking to us from London, agrees but only partially, “Neither Sharmila Tagore nor Reena Roy from my times got any flak if and when Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi and Mohsin Khan failed. But that’s not simply because Twitter, Facebook and Instagram didn’t exist but also because woh zamaana kuch aur tha, sab badal gaya hai, mauhol aaj kitna alag hai,” Neerav Ghosh, co-founder of Oak Tree Sports and director of the TV series ‘Breakfast With Champions’ differs to say, “Even though there was no social media then, a certain amount of similar loose talk did happen at the nukkad and offices when Pataudi didn’t fare well on the field.” Clearly, the number of sadists around us have increased with time and their breakfast, lunch and dinner gets digested if and only if they’ve signed out on the previous day with a nasty comment on the currently-playing cricketers and their respective partners.”
KL Rahul’s cricket career is becoming a lot like Athiya Shetty’s acting career— Nimesh Advani (@NimeshReshamiya) 1661704642000
Athiya Shetty: dekho Kohli kaise khel raha hai https://t.co/76f2va0Lz0— Geethika (@ginalinetii) 1661705111000
Should cricketers mix work with pleasure?
So, should girlfriends and wives of cricketers come and see the matches from the stands and even travel with their love interests on foreign tours? Former Secretary of MCA (Mumbai Cricket Association) Mayank Khandwala says, “Why not? How can any woman distract his man from performing well at his work? In fact, she is a great source of strength and motivation to him. No cricketer gets distracted from his game. If he doesn’t do well on a particular day, it is only because of his own shortcomings to counter an opponent’s strategy against him. The stakes are too high in today’s cricket and every international cricketer is pushing his best to come out trumps. So it is not easy for any player to always maintain his success percentage.” If focus is the main criterion, should a player be debarred from social media while he’s at work, Khandwala shoots back, “Not at all. He is, anyway, not allowed to use his phone most of the time.”
Sex does not reduce strength
Endorsing that it is an unjustified blame-game, Consulting Psychiatrist, Dr Avinash Desousa says, “Cricketers can feel lonely on tours. They, in fact, need personal support around them. If a cricketer is playing badly, his partner might give him some advice which nobody else can because being closest to him, she could know what exactly is going wrong with him.”
It is common knowledge that people in India strongly feel that the presence of a love interest in the room of a cricketer mars his performance. Dr Desousa further endorses and explains why these beliefs must be buried, “Absolutely right. People in our society do feel that way. But this is just a myth. There is no data that the biological need of sex has a detrimental effect on your work, however physically demanding it may be. Do you blame his spouse if a doctor makes a mistake? Do you blame his girlfriend if an engineer goes wrong with a bridge construction? Sexual myths in India have to die down. Masturbation is harmful? One drop of seminal fluid is equivalent to 40 drops of blood! Pray, what’s the connection between semen and blood?”
Romance and marriage can hit the rocks
Sociologist Dr Naina Athale feels that the most damaging consequence of this relentless tirade against such couples can kill a relationship or two in today’s times. She points out to ETimes, “This nonsense shouting and abusing against them on social media might cause a rift between such couples. It is okay if the woman is not a celebrity. For all you know, she might not be on social media at all. But if she’s a celebrity, the blame-game can get on to her.” A source close to a cricketer adds, “It can get on to her especially because the media tends to pose such questions to them at public events.” Rishabh Pant and Urvashi Rautela who did not go public but were allegedly dating, parted ways quite soon.
Behind every successful man…
Pradeep Behrani, a cricket buff from Mumbai who has played cricket at high level, feels that no matter what the advice given by medical personnel, the noise against such duos can only go down if the media stops writing about the trolls. “You are only giving them courage to troll more; publicity in the media gives you a high. Let me add here that Andre Agassi often travelled with Brooke Shields and John McEnroe was often in the company of Tatum O’Neal when they were on court. Did Brooke take away Agassi’s focus? If anybody thinks that, he or she needs to just shut up. Can anybody come even close to the great success that McEnroe had in 1984 when Tatum O’Neal was seen in almost every match that he played in those 365 days?”
@AnushkaSharma Mam, aapne kal karwachauth ka vrat nahi rakha tha kya? #IndiaVsPak #T20WorldCup2021— Known Technical (@meharish_sharma) 1635135170000
Kapil Dev looking at Virat Kohli’s batting average post marriage..#INDvSA #LKA #Ashes https://t.co/WYWqAJ59zj— ESPN කිරිකොස් INFO (@CricinfoSLC) 1515210821000
Neerav Ghosh returns to explain, “Every cricketer is under pressure when the matches are in progress. Nationalistic pride comes from soldiers and cricketers and not from film actors because film actors are not competing at world level per se. We Indians are far more passionate about our cricket than any other nation is. Also, we have grown from being a mediocre team to a very high-intensity and great team. So, our public can’t take even an odd failure. It’s a price that these guys are paying for us getting used to their super stardom. In our high excitement, we don’t realise the amount of hard work that a cricketer puts in to maintain his form or even to return to form. For example, we don’t know the hard work that Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya are putting in currently; we are just looking at their fun reels.”
This journalist witnessed several unprintable remarks made by the crowd on Sourav Ganguly at the Wankhede Stadium, when he was batting in an international match in the latter half of the 90s. Reason- Ganguly was allegedly dating Nagma (who starred opposite Salman Khan in ‘Baaghi’). Clearly, unhi dino ke dauran (during those days) our society was changing. It was changing from rationality to irrationality. Nagma too was not spared.
Mayank Khandwala also says, “This behaviour of accusing Bollywood girls who are in a relationship with cricketers is not found abroad. Several foreign sportsmen, including cricketers, have been in love with girls from their glamour industry.”
Angst-driven society looking for scapegoats
Psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty blames it on our angst-driven society. “Yes, rational thinking has given way to irrational thinking. Plus, too many frustrations have come to stay in today’s times, so you vent out. When you vent out, you accuse. This is an immature defence mechanism. If you are one of those who exhibit mature defense mechanisms, you will say that the cricketer will come out through a lean patch (if any) and his ladylove will assist him. You will feel happy for their togetherness. But how many of us exhibit mature defense mechanisms? Very, very few of us. Therefore, you see so much gaali-galoch and vulgar remarks, every now and then.”
Adding to Ghosh’s support for Kohli and Pandya, who have been through a lot of downs recently, Dr Harish says that not just the media, even the brand managers of cricketers need to be careful. “I feel sad for Kohli, who’s an extraordinary player. He got into a pow-wow of words with the management simply because his brand managers drove him to say certain things. Aadmi achcha hai woh (He’s a nice guy).”
Respect the partners of cricketers
Bollywood actress Minissha Lamba is very upset at the way that cricketers and her industry peers involved with them are being treated. She insists, “Our cricketers are our nation’s heroes. They are sportsmen who have trained, worked very hard their whole lives, spent their childhood on the cricket grounds to make their dreams come true, lived a life of discipline, learned and honed their skills, overcome personal setbacks and injuries and lots more. We love our cricketers and loving them means respecting the person that they love- the person who is their safe space, the person who is their ultimate support. Anyone can have a bad day, a bad innings, a low score… that’s part of any sport. Wouldn’t you want your partner to be there, even if you were playing a friendly game with your friends, cheering for you no matter what?”
Who are these faceless trolls who draw their own conclusions and judge Bollywood and Indian cricket? Why is it being allowed to continue, err snowball, in such a graceless manner? Why isn’t the Cyber crime cell getting into action and pulling up these harmful elements? After all, their deplorable behaviour is leading to the two biggest spheres of entertainment and cricket to go downhill.
Clock does not reverse in praise
Mumtaz chips back, “Why are Bollywood actresses never praised when their cricketer-husband or boyfriends do well on the field?” Reflection of the sexism prevalent in our society? Ponder a while.
And yes, don’t be surprised if Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi’s granddaughter Sara Ali Khan and India’s opening batsman Shubham Gill become the next target. FYI, there were clicked early this week, having a quiet meal together.