Shah is not a Shahenshah, on a sticky wicket

Film stars and cricketers in India breathe canned air, their lives sequestered but needing the oxygen of the public stage to survive.

Published: 23rd December 2018 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd December 2018 08:49 AM   |  A+A-

Film stars and cricketers in India breathe canned air, their lives sequestered but needing the oxygen of the public stage to survive. Naseeruddin Shah is one such gentleman who made headlines by dissing Virat Kohli’s behaviour on the field. India has two gods who walk the earth: cricketers and film stars. Both are rolling in the stuff and compete for the endorsement millions. The media and social media hang on their every word, as if they are oracles of wisdom. It’s a heady cocktail that brimmeth over their cups of glory: fame, money, sex and power. Once their solar energy dissipates, they either dabble in real estate or enter politics.

Mr Shah does neither. His public ozone levels have never been as high as Kohli’s. Perhaps it explains his bitterly pompous blue bird rant, “Virat K is not only the world’s best batsman but also the world’s worst behaved player. His cricketing brilliance pales beside his arrogance and bad manners.” Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Mr Shah in his field; a brilliant actor, but he is not Bachchan or SRK. Neither could he capture political space like Govinda or Vinod Khanna did.

At the Perth match, which got Mr Shah’s goat, Kohli was not the only guilty party. Tensions run high on any field when a match is close; Aussie captain Paine said, “I love  (Kohli’s behaviour) it and I’m sure it was great to watch.” This is not the only swipe Mr Shah took. In November, a cricket fan told Kohli that he liked to watch English and Aussie batsmen over “Indians”. Kohli curtly told him to leave India and live somewhere else. Mr Shah posted, “And I have no intention of leaving the country by the way.” Does Kohli care?

Mr Shah is no Miss Manners. He mocks Salman Khan’s films. He called Rajesh Khanna a mediocre actor. He declared that Amitabh Bachchan would be forgotten. The truth about Mr Shah is described best in his own words, “Too many of our grossly overpaid stars should not even be in front of the camera... these guys are living luxurious lives and are celebrated all over the country.” Do we detect a bit of frustration here? A whining note all losers have when they say, “I never get my due.”

Power is a byproduct of fame. Virat Kohli is today the most powerful man in cricket. He can get coaches fired, make BCCI his monkey and decide who plays or doesn’t. Wrote Ramachandra Guha, “The great and the good of India’s cricket firmament were all pygmies before Kohli”. Naseeruddin Shah cannot hold a candle to Virat Kohli or Rajesh Khanna on the achievement index. He is good at roles like Sarfaraz in Junoon, Salim in Bazaar or Surya Kanth in Dirty Picture. Stick to them, for Virender Sehwag didn’t make it to captain but is still a cricketing great. Kohli is sticking to his role and doing a damn good job of it. Try doing that, Mr Shah. Or else, join Aam Aadmi Party.

Ravi Shankar                                                                                                                  ravi@newindianexpress.com

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