Last week, Virat Kohli confirmed his status as Indian cricket’s new badshah and bad boy rolled into one. He preens and pouts and pirouettes, puffs up his chest and pelts ma behen ki gaalis, in both joy and anguish. We, the people, swoon and seeti in supplication. In stark contrast, poker-faced Shikhar Dhawan goes about his business with quiet dignity, achieving as much, but without his loudmouth teammates’ pomp and pageantry. As a result he gets just about one-third the accolades and none of the ad endorsements.
We choose to add more FSI to Kohli’s already towering ‘aura’, whereas Dhawan’s halo is the size of a Polo mint.
The same week, the unsung hero, Manna Dey, passed away. We mourned his loss for precisely one day and then he was lost in the annals of sepia-toned sound studios. Kishore Kumar’s silken voice and screen persona won him media space and mind space for months after his death. Poor Mannada, his humble and unassuming legacy got lost somewhere between the dholak and the harmonium.
I’m trying to understand the role of hype and hoopla in today’s success. And worse, can it enhance ‘talent’ and shroud mediocrity.
Take the talentless starlet screaming out her credentials in the cacophonous menagerie of Bollywood. And winning leading roles over her more gifted, classically trained but spotlight -- shy contemporary. Only because she struts her stuff better.
Or the air-kissing socialite finding publishers for her scandalous chick-lit novel because of her page three presence. Whereas the limelight -- shy ‘true novelist’ hides behind her Apple desktop, confident of her writing skills, not so of her social skills.
He who shouts shrillest, tomtoms his virtues, and markets his wares slickest gets noticed in the new India. You need to stride, strut, sashay, just sell, sell, sell to taste recognition. And we, the marketers and masses have no time to listen to the whisperers. We buy into the hawa.
What are we teaching our kids, shout, do whatever it takes, preferably loudest to get noticed. And if you’re quiet, quirky, quintessentially under the radar you have no chance. The herd mentality, the squeaky wheel syndrome is the law of the concrete jungle.
Dudes and dudettes, there’s no place for humility anymore. How terrifying a thought is that.
I love Tendulkar’s square cut as much as the next guy. And I will miss him, post-retirement. But Dravid won us more test matches, did we eulogise him the same way?
Can you be a silent achiever and hope that your brilliance will just shine through?
Or have we lost quiet at the altar of noise? Sacrificed dignity at the temple of dhamaka.
I have no words.
Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahuldacunha62 @gmail.com
The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.