A week from now, in Delhi, wealthy people will scream in excitement and watch from air-conditioned comfort,(while getting drunk) as cars blast down the street at ridiculously high speeds. But then again, that's just how they like their Saturday nights in Delhi.
More exciting still is the fact that the very next day will be India's first ever Grand Prix, in which even faster cars will blast down the street, the difference being that this time, the winner will not be a man named Monty, and he will probably be listening to team instructions on the radio, not Harbhajan Mann.
There has been much tension over the last few days as to whether or not the Grand Prix would go through. This is because the event was given an entertainment tax exemption by the Uttar Pradesh government, and it was argued that the exemption was unfair, as F1 is (according to some) not a sport, but entertainment. Which re-opens a debate that F1 has been long subject to; is it a sport, or is it just entertainment? I for one feel this debate is unnecessary, as there is a very easy test to determine whether an event in India is a sporting one or not. We must ask the following questions.
Fast and furious: F1 racing is as exhilarating and entertaining as any sport can get
1. Is Vijay Mallya unsuccessfully involved in it? 2. Is there controversy around the event that has thrown doubt over its execution? 3. Do you think Pooja Missra is clinically insane? If the answer to all three questions is yes, then we are forced to conclude that it is either a) a sporting event, or b) Kingfisher Airlines. More curious still is the distinction between sport and entertainment in the first place. Why make that distinction at all? Shouldn't all sport on this scale be entertainment? If you're going to hold a Rs 2,000 crore event, it stands to reason that it must entertain, because otherwise, you just poured Rs 2,000 crore into a vacuous void from which it will never return, or as it is scientifically called 'Suresh Kalmadi'.
But to sustain itself in this day and age, a sport must entertain. Would you watch someone play cricket if they were all dressed in white and just kept playing for five days without scoring, following which it ended in absolutely no result? On second thoughts, don't answer that.
But sport must entertain. It must exhilarate, it must push the boundaries of human endurance. And say what you will about motor racing, but it definitely delivers on that last count. The average F1 driver is subject to the same horizontal g-forces that fighter pilots have to deal with. During the course of a race, a driver can lose up to 4 kilos of his body weight in water. This is extreme endurance for any species on this planet that is not Kareena Kapoor.
For the love of god, it's called motorsport, not motortainment, and that's because it's as hardcore as any sport gets. Consider for a second the legend of Don Garlits, a drag racer who once went so fast and braked so hard that the resultant g-force caused his retinas to detach. His eyes came off. An occurrence so extreme that it seems weird to even write the sentence 'His eyes came off'. That could not happen in any other sport. The only way you could get S Sreesanth's retinas to detach is if you told him this story, which would result in him crying in terror until his eyes fell out.
So argue all you want about whether or not that entertainment-tax exemption was fair. Maybe it was, and maybe it wasn't. If they'd paid it, all Mayawati would have done with it is build six more statues anyway, so who cares? But spare me the argument about whether F1 is a sport or entertainment. There's no argument to be had there. If you think F1 isn't a sport, you're not just insane; you're practically Pooja Missra.
Rohan Joshi is a writer and stand-up comedian who likes reading, films and people who do not use the SMS lingo