By Umaima Saeed
Hardik Pandya might just be the unluckiest man in cricket right now. Some careless but crass comments he made on Karan Johar’s frivolous talk show have landed him in hot water with the BCCI, and kickstarted a nationwide conversation about today’s players being more rowdy than refined. As the flames of the Pandya controversy leap even higher, Rahul Dravid’s birthday rolled around, reminding us all of a simpler time, when the Gentleman’s Game was played by bonafide gentlemen.
In the wake of Pandya’s regrettable appearance on Koffee with Karan, publications chose to celebrate Dravid’s birthday (January 11) by holding him up as the gold standard for cricketers appearing on reality shows. A decade ago, MTV’s popular prank show Bakra tried to find a crack in Dravid’s composure, only to find The Wall was truly impenetrable.
The show began with Sayali Bhagat, an actor posing as a journalist wanting to interview Dravid. She asked the former Indian captain how it felt to be a famous personality, and to have so many fans even outside the country. The show then took an unexpected turn with Bhagat trying to convince Dravid to marry her, announcing herself as his biggest fan. The unobtrusive cricketer, visibly irritated by the sudden advances, tried to get out of the room, only to be stopped by Bhagat’s “father”, who further pleads with Dravid to marry his daughter.
Despite the repeated attempts to ruffle his feathers, Dravid never gave vent to his frustration (apart from a change in expression) until the show’s producers revealed the entire stunt was a prank. And with that, Dravid, like several of his predecessors and teammates, established cricketers as the stereotypical “adarsh ladkas” of Indian society.
Now, Koffee with Karan is by nature a candid chat show, where the controversies created by the episodes remain in public memory much longer than the episodes themselves.
There’s no doubt that the BCCI’s Council of Administrators could have avoided their present headache, had a class act like Dravid been a guest on Koffee with Karan, rather than the loose cannon Pandya. Of course, since no one can be interviewed by Karan Johar one-on-one without wanting to tape his mouth shut, even the legendarily patient Dravid, he would have needed a fellow guest, and who better than his favourite dancing partner from Eden Gardens, VVS Laxman.
Now, Koffee with Karan is by nature a candid chat show, where the controversies created by the episodes remain in public memory much longer than the episodes themselves. When entering KJo’s theater of the absurd, the guest needs to know how to deal with Johar’s bouncers while treading the fine line between entertainment and scandal. Hardik Pandya might have failed miserably at this delicate balancing act, but two of Indian cricket’s most-respected men would certainly be able to give Johar the kind of answers the show demands, without losing face as a result.
Here are the answers Dravid and Laxman would have probably given if they were on the Koffee couch.
KJo: Which of you two gets distracted by cheerleaders easily?
Dravid: Laxman maybe, because I play only in the V.
Laxman: Sorry Jammy, the only thing that distracts me is the rough outside the off-stump!
KJo: Well, what would your bio on a dating app read like?
Dravid: Maybe something like “I am here for a long innings. Left swipe = Well left!”
Laxman: I’d like to introduce myself as the most beautiful driver in the world. Also, I’ll mention Kolkata as my favourite destination and 281 as my lucky number!
KJo: You guys just keep rotating the strike with me here! No more diplomatic answers ha. Answer quickly — one Indian celebrity you would love to date?
All that Kohli’s OTT aggression and Pandya’s regressive statements really do is remind us how the era of the Fab Five oozed class, integrity, and dignity.
Handling yourself with grace while stuck in Johar’s salacious hot seat isn’t that hard, you just have to ask yourself the question “what would Rahul Dravid do?” and everything will be fine. All that Kohli’s OTT aggression and Pandya’s regressive statements really do is remind us how the era of the Fab Five oozed class, integrity, and dignity. For fans who still hold a nostalgic torch for that bygone era, making peace with the conduct of this new generation of cricket stars is a hard pill to swallow. Until Indian society is ready to accept a brash playboy sports star as eagerly as it accepts the antics of Bollywood stars, our players would do well to take a brick from Rahul Dravid’s wall.
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