There are two things that define modern Indian culture more than anything else: Bollywood and cricket. Throughout my travels and years spent abroad the first thing that people mentioned to me once they came to know I was Indian was either related to Bollywood or cricket. While some people were interested in the dance and colour of Bollywood, others asked about Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni. There is no denying that cricket and Bollywood have been the great Indian entertainers for many decades but now, since the emergence of newer stars in sports other than cricket the spectrum has broadened, at least on the sporting side of things. An amalgamation of these two to create a mega entertainer is something that has come to everyone’s mind at different instances. Very often these two components of our culture have come together to create some memorable films such as Chamatkar, Chak De India, Hip Hip Hurray, Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikandar, Iqbal and Lagaan. Most of the times however it has been a car(eer) wreck for parties involved on both sides.There have been some horrible films that have come up as a result of this relationship such as Dil Bole Hadippa (mera dil bol raha tha Hai Rabba), Hattrick (only hattrick this film set was of losing money every week) and Janasheen (which had more of Celina Jaitley in a bikini than races, not that I am complaining). The wrecks however are not just limited to poor cinema. In fact that just scratches the surface of this very strange relationship which has everything going for it but still somehow it has managed to spectacularly fail.TV endorsements have been a major source of revenue for a lot of our sports stars. Sachin Tendulkar was the first millionaire cricketer on the basis of his commercial deals and now we have MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh following in his footsteps. In fact, not only cricketers but many other sportspersons such as Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Saina Nehwal and to a lesser extent Narain Karthikeyan all graced our TV sets endorsing varied products such as soft drinks, tablets and car batteries. Some stars however decided to go one step further and decided to take on movie roles. Hence we had Ajay Jadeja acting in films which were so bad he’s still dancing like a clueless baboon on TV (jumping, japang and what not). Then we had Vinod Kambli, whose film career ended the same way his cricket career did, in tears. The film bug even bit one of our country’s greatest sportsmen Leander Paes, who in a moment of madness decided to star in a film called Rajdhani Express. Needles to say, the Express was derailed. Salil Ankola did have some success acting in daily soaps but then again, going by his cricketing career anything else that he did was always going to be a success. Another place where our sports fans tend to end up these days are reality shows and fashion weeks. Vijender Singh’s chemistry with Bipasha Basu on Nach Baliye was hot gossip for many weeks. Sadly for Vijender, the only gossip surrounding him these days revolves around his addiction to certain chemical products. Ah well at least there’s still some chemistry there. Talking of Nach, seems like that’s the only thing Sreesanth is doing these days on award shows when is not crying on Twitter doesn’t it? We also had pseudo-sportsmen such as the Great Khali appearing on shows like Big Boss and Aap ki Adalat, despite of the fact that he hasn’t won a match on WWE TV since time immortal. And yes I know pro wrestling is not a real sport, hence the pseudo-sportsperson.It is not just our sportspersons who have had failed trysts with the glamour of Bollywood though. Many of our Bollywood stars have also suffered burns in this highly flammable relationship, the most classic and contemporary example being Deepika Padukone, who is now known among cricket fans as the Kiss of Death. Her relationship with Yuvraj Singh was highly publicised and she even accompanied him on a tour of Australia in late 2007, early 2008. There were even rumours of an impending wedding. Sadly for Yuvraj though, his form was so poor he got dropped and barely played any test match cricket afterwards. Deepika was also seen on the bench of Royal Challengers Bangalore team in the IPL recently. Needless to say the team struggled and she is now nowhere to be seen. Even her odd appearance for Shah Rukh Khan’s Kolkata Knight Riders team usually ended in defeat. Another incredible relationship was that of Amrita Arora and Usman Afzaal. Never heard of Afzaal? That’s exactly the point. He’s an English cricketer who nobody has heard of and well I doubt anyone has heard of Arora outside of India. Akshay Kumar’s stint as a brand ambassador for Delhi Daredevils in the IPL lasted shorter than most Daredevils games do these days while Preity Zinta was allegedly grilled for over 10 hours by the tax authorities for financial irregularities in her Kings XI franchise. Lara Dutta recently married Mahesh Bhupathi, who immediately produced her in a film Chalo Dilli. A lot of people go to Dilli for a variety of reasons but I doubt that film was one of them. Another really bizarre marriage between Bollywood and cricket occurred recently when we had teams of Bollywood stars and cricketers taking on each other in a game of…….. wait for it, FOOTBALL!!!! Because nothing will promote football in the country than having cricketers and actors play the game will it? Did someone say footballers? Since when did logic apply to anything we did in India, more so to sport and cinema?Probably the most high-profile relationship between sports and Bollywood personalities is that of Sharmila Tagore and Tiger Pataudi relationship. One a poster girl of the era and the other not only a successful Indian cricket captain but also a Prince. The glamour quotient was there and one of the major reasons why this couple still continues to be so successful is because they knew what they were good at and they stayed with it. Sharmila never tried to play cricket and Tiger never tried to act. And that exactly is why the relationship between Bollywood and sports has never worked!!!!!!!
This idea was provided to me by my close friend and fellow TFIan Simrat Sandhu who has always supported me in my craziest endeavours.
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