Saturday, February 6, 2010

I watched this video very sombrely...

Also: My daughter thought we'd have to leave Mumbai: Shah Rukh Khan, Bollywood is often on wrong side of politics: SRK 

I wrote in twitter that I will be writing on this issue. But after reading so many articles and watching so many videos.. I'm still, like Shah Rukh is, bewildered. I still don't understand what he's being penalized for, so much so that he's being called a 'traitor'. He's a movie star, yes, but his life is not a movie where some people can write the word traitor outside of Mannat and expect him + his family to relocate elsewhere right afterwards. Do they also expect him to come back a decade later and train a gaggle of girls to act in a big budget masala movie in a desperate attempt to resurrect his career and in the end triumph against all odds? Me thinks they have been watching too much Chak De! India.

Far be it for me to look down on Indian politics.. I mean, our ex-Deputy Prime Minister is undergoing trial for a sodomy charge right now, his 2nd one in just over a decade, so it's not like Malaysian politics is any less of a drama. I don't pick up newspapers to read front pages anymore, I buy them just for the cartoon + entertainment sections and whenever I'm curious about the current Malaysian political climate I'll get my husband to dissect it for me (he can do it in less than 10 minutes, which saves me so much time). I don't think I have enough brain matter to dissect Indian politics in regards to this issue. So, I have decided to not look at what's happening to Shah Rukh from a political point of view.

Two things. Firstly, there's IPL. Isn't it supposed to be an in-your-face commercial sporting event with its quota of international players? I understand that there are weighty issues between India & Pakistan and, at a smaller scale, between India & Australia. If the general population of India, who makes up the majority of the IPL audience, objects violently to the inclusion of foreign players in their favourite teams, then I think the IPL management has to seriously consider dropping that quota completely. Just let the IPL teams consist of entirely Indian players. Just let IPL be enjoyed by an entirely Indian audience. The "I" in IPL does not stand for 'international' after all. It stands for IN-DI-A.

Why must the 'foreign players/coaches' drama that plagues IPL so much be allowed to go on year after year? If the Indian audience is disturbed by them and the political parties in power adamantly deny their entry, then what is the point in keeping the quota? The IPL management is irresponsibly putting the team owners at a very uncomfortable, unfair, unlucrative, even dangerous, and unstable position. It took a devil-may-care personality like Shah Rukh to bring the obvious to light and if someone like him, who's been called the Brand Ambassador of India in the past, can be branded a "traitor" for voicing out a simple opinion, who would dare to voice out the obvious again next time?

I don't understand where Lalit Modi is hiding in the midst of all this. Is he working on something behind close doors or is he letting his 'friend' to hang out to dry? I followed the KKR debacle with Mr. B last year quite closely, and I remember feeling very disturbed with the virulently scathing racist comments made by Indian cricket fans against him online and in the media. I mean, my issue with him is of his seeming incompetence in coaching KKR, but his nationality has never been a concern for me. Is it his fault as the (ex-)coach of KKR that Indians were murdered in his native country? That quite a large number of people could equate between his dismal performance in KKR and the murders committed in Australia is mind-boggling. Or to lump him together with Chappal and accuse him of being discriminating against Sourav because "that's what Australian coaches do". How did that correlation come about?

Having said all that, I don't need anyone to tell me that eliminating the foreign players quota and excluding foreign coaches are completely crappy suggestions. If IPL wants to become the truly global T20 cricket format that it wants to be, it has to educate its passionate domestic supporters and some members of the regional political parties of the importance in involving foreign players and staff in the clubs/teams.

I think IPL has depended on Shah Rukh enough, don't you? I mean, face it, without Shah Rukh as one of the team owners, IPL may be as massively well received in India as it is now due to the country's obsession with cricket. But do you think any of us outside of India would care for it? Why should we follow it? We might as well be following the Cricket World Cup, or cricket championships in our own respective country. We'd probably still be intrigued enough to know that IPL exists, but I doubt we'd follow it as closely as we did for the last two years. Even though Shah Rukh was just joking when he said he is the USP of IPL, I think a lot of people would agree, albeit grudgingly perhaps, that what he said is completely true.

(also, as gung-ho about cricket as PZ and SS are, I doubt any of us wants to follow IPL coz he/she wants to see two Bollywood actresses cheering wildly for their teams in the stadium.. or at least, I don't)

I think it's high time for IPL to try to stand on its own and come out with its own stand on issues that it has directly or indirectly brought to the fore. The Pakistani/Australian/foreign players issue can be the start for a good discussion. Let's turn this uncomfortable and high tension drama into an opportunity to educate the masses, Lalitji. I want to see you on television explaining about this issue after the tournament is over. Don't do it now. The tournament is too near and God knows what kind of controversy that discussion will spark. Especially coz I know you'll drag Shah Rukh into it again.. just like you did with South Africa. It's something you always do, isn't it? Why is that? Don't you have enough confidence to carry this out on your own? Or at least with some BCCI members? Shah Rukh is not one of the people making all these policies you guys keep throwing at our faces, is he? Stop getting him into trouble for something BCCI has created. I want KKR to win the championship this year, so I want the players to focus on the game.. not on some stupid controversies.

Secondly, let me just say that the slogan "Mumbai for Marathi" confuses me so much. My country is a multicultural one.. we have different races staying in any state they choose to live in. We have our differences, of course, but I could never imagine that there would be a day when some people can matter-of-factly spout on public platforms slogans like "Selangor for Indians" or "Perak for Chinese" or "Kedah for Malays" or "Sabah for Kadazan" or Sarawak for Iban". To even imagine telling a Malaysian of chinese descent to "go back to China" or of indian descent to "go back to India" is something short of blasphemy to me. My grandparents came from Indonesia.. if there were to be a day some fellow Malaysians shout at me to "go back to Indonesia", I would be shattered. I've been to Indonesia and it is a lovely country, but I was born in Malaysia. My family's here. My husband's here. My heart's here. No matter how much I like to travel overseas, this is my home and this is where I belong.

I don't know what else to write. I'm bad at ending emotional posts so I'll just leave it there. I feel a sense of despair for Shah Rukh, not just because I genuinely love the guy but also because he is one of the few priceless mirrors in which I reflect my own existence. I wish him happiness.

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