On Thursday, I decided to imagine stepping into Shobhaa De’s shoes to feel what it would be like to make headlines without having won a single medal for my country. And here goes: I found myself being spoken in the same breath as Sakshi Malik and PV Sindhu, never mind even if I was being trolled and they were being celebrated.
And just when I thought my popularity was dimming owing to users with a limited fan following trashing me, our former swashbuckling batsman Virender Sehwag came dancing down the track to hit a six using my name. And the icing on the cake was when none other than the Shahenshah of Bollywood Amitabh Bachchan retweeting Viru paaji’s sixer. And before that feeling could sink in, Bachchan saab trolled me a little more, easily catapulting me to legendary trending proportions on social media.
As a result, if you now type Amitabh Bachchan or Virender Sehwag in Google, you will find my name in the top three search results. Wow, I must be so important that people of Bachchan and Sehwag’s stature deem it necessary to run me down. It would have distressed and frustrated me a great deal had the nation conveniently forgotten about my tweet and focused only on the embellishments of our winners. But here I am back again in contention and becoming yet again a hot topic of trolling and debate. Bring it on.
Let’s be honest folks. When an Indian woman athlete wins a medal for her country after surmounting huge odds, we need to celebrate each and every moment of her victory. There is absolutely no need to even mention the name of those who poked fun at our athletes in the most derisive manner. Unfortunately, on a day when Sakshi Malik and PV Sindhu should have been the only talking points, Shobhaa De joined as a trending topic on Twitter as users of the micro-blogging site had a field day trolling the columnist over her insensitive tweet that kicked up a storm last week.
The question to be asked is whether Shobhaa De deserves anymore limelight at all? Why is Shobhaa De and her opinion so important that we feel the need to mention and troll her thereby making her important? What’s even more perplexing is to see celebs like Amitabh Bachchan and Virendar Sehwag feeling the urge to join the chorus to take a jibe at her through their tweets.
Make no mistake, Shobhaa very well knew what she was getting into while posting the tweet. She expressed an opinion which she knew would attract detractors. And she can’t be browbeaten into saying sorry for our democracy allows an individual to openly express his or her opinion.
It’s basic human nature to give it back to our critics. But at times trolling or poking fun at a not-so-important person is not the best way of exacting revenge as it would only keep her in contention needlessly. Give it back by royally ignoring Shobhaa. Nothing hurts a self-proclaimed opinion shaper more than people not being bothered about her opinions anymore. When I see a wire news agency writing media outside Shobhaa De’s house and she refuses to comment on PV Sindhu, I can’t help but wonder how her comment or ‘no comments’ approach would make a difference. It’s the comments of PV Sindhu’s family, friends and coaches that matter. It’s the opinion of a budding badminton player who feels inspired by PV Sindhu that matters. Not that of a social commentator.
And for all those who will continue trolling Shobhaa De till she issues an apology, be rest assured that she won’t because she has the right to say what she feels in our free land. While as an Indian Shobhaa would only be too happy to eat her own words after seeing our athletes making us proud in Rio, she is perhaps way too proud to take them back publicly. In the faint eventuality of the same ever happening, it shouldn’t be given any due importance. For the moment, let’s forget the Shobhaas forever and stick to celebrating and headlining only our Sindhus and Sakshis.