At the start of the year, I, as a journalist and an avid sports freak, was thrilled to bits at the prospect of India hosting great tennis players like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Pete Sampras. This was a historic moment in our country for never before has it witnessed such great international stars on our shores. More than the tennis courts, fans were keen to hear from these stars. And outside the tennis courts, it’s the media that plays a pivotal role.
As often international dignitaries, celebrities make it a point to be part of media mogul Dr.Prannoy Roy’s show ‘India Questions’. Dr.Roy is an idol for many journalists,, especially for those in the broadcast media. Over the years, ‘India Questions’ has seen many great luminaries. And so when Pistol Pete and Fedex were coming to the show, fans were waiting with bated breath to hear from them. Well, I missed the show during its telecast, and nearly a month later, I managed to catch the entire episode on YouTube. Unfortunately, at the end of it, I just couldn’t believe my eyes and ears as to what SHIT was doled out during it. It was just so embarrassing as how could a great journalist make a mockery of two of tennis’ great legends?
For starters, the ‘BIG’ blunder. Why on earth was Amitabh Bachchan sharing the platform with Sampras and Federer? I’m sure Big B himself must have been surprised to receive an invitation. Through out the show, Bachchan surely must have been questioning, ‘why did he come here?’
I understand that in India, cricket and Bollywood are the two prime passions, but for God’s sake, this is tennis, and the two legends had no idea of who Amitabh Bachchan is. Poor Roger Federer even conceded on air that he was told before the show that Bachchan is India’s greatest. Did Dr.Prannoy Roy and NDTV want Roger Federer to acknowledge it?
Often we journalist are mocked by celebrities, public for being too daft in our questioning. Unfortunately, that’s true about most entertainment journalists. But Sir, I wonder, how different were you when ask the most annoying first question to both guests,
‘Roger, Who do you think is the greatest?
Pete, Who do you think is the greatest?’
Before the show, the two legends must have heard great things about Dr.Roy as a journalist, but this first question must have come as rude shock.
As opposed to the usual format, the show invites budding journos (mostly from NDTV broadcast training program), or target audience to question the guest. But here we had the likes of Deepika Padukone and Suhel Seth. So, what does Miss Padukone ask Roger,
“ROGER, do you play badminton?
Badminton? My foot! Just because your dad was great champion, and you too played the game at some level, what’s the rationale behind asking such a question to a tennis legend, Deepika?
Well, at least Deepika can be pardoned for her transgression, but what do you when another tennis great asks the most clichéd and done to death question.
Here’s Boris Becker shooting, “Which generation, era was the best?”
Come on Boris, has any sports legend ever given you anything other than a diplomatic answer?
Then we have Dr.Roy asking questions like, “Are there many friends on the tour?”
If not a tennis player, then what would you have been?
For Christ’s sake, Dr.Roy these gentleman are not your Bollywood heartthrobs!
I’m sure by now, both Federer and Sampras must be telling themselves, “Are we being interviewed by an intern or a great Indian journalist?”
The most bizarre and embarrassing thing was to see one rich and spoilt brat getting Roger and Pete to do push ups for charity. For each push up, he’d donate $500 for poor kids wanting to play tennis. Come on, how can you disrespect such legends? If you wanted charity, couldn’t you have just asked them to wield a racket? Disgusting, totally disgusting!
Save for question on their most toughest loss, Dr.Roy didn’t ask anything noteworthy. Well, the best and funny question came from Pete Sampras, when he asked Roger, who has two twins, “Will you be having more kids?”
Federer Sr. too came up with a wily question asking his son, “When will he retire?”. Basically, it was only these few seconds that evoked a genuine applause from all.
The farce came to end with Dr.Roy requesting the legends to dance to a bhangra. And boy, what song plays in the background?
“CHORA GANGA KINAREY WALA?”
Has anyone ever done a bhangra to this track?
Thankfully, both Pete and Roger didn’t fall much into the trap. By then they surely must be wondering, “What the heck was this about?”
Amitabh Bachchan got to introduce his legend to the tennis greats. Deepika Padukone got her fanfare moment. Suhel Seth got his free drinks. But Dr.Roy do you really think that you gave your audience a great show? Why do you have to incorporate Bollywood with any international celebrity’s visit to India? Don’t you have great journalists at your disposal who can help you put forth the right questions? Is this his how you will embarrass international sports icons?
Sorry sir, I seriously feel that time has come that you retire from your profession and let some young blood take charge.
The future of the IPTL is uncertain next year, and if these stars are subjected to such torture again, they’d be seriously thinking before coming here again.
Mr.Federer, Mr.Sampras, I would like to apologise to you for the embarrassing time you had on ‘India Questions’. Trust me, the real India isn’t as dumb as it was projected to you.