A Troll’s Life

But guess who was trending? Shah Rukh Khan. Because he wanted to wish the team before its semi-final match against Argentina.

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By Vikram Kilpady

The Indian hockey teams have done us proud at the Tokyo Olympics. The men won bronze, marking a return to the podium after 41 years, and the women’s team lost their bronze match against Great Britain on August 6 in an evenly-fought contest. One of the scorers for India was Vandana Katariya, a proud Dalit from Haridwar, whose family was set upon by alleged upper caste men after the team had lost the semi-final against Argentina on August 4.

But guess who was trending? Shah Rukh Khan. Because he wanted to wish the team before its semi-final match against Argentina. You may wonder why, and then try to recollect that he played a women’s hockey team coach in Chak De, remember, replete with a last-minute locker room uplifting speech?

When the women’s team was due to play the semifinals against Argentina, which they eventually lost, Khan, being the reel coach quote tweeted real coach Sjoerd Marijne, saying, “Haan haan no problem. Just bring some Gold on your way back… for a billion family members. This time Dhanteras is also on 2nd Nov. From: Ex-coach Kabir Khan.”

Marijne responded, “Thank you for all the support and love. We will give everything again. From: The Real Coach.” And a winking smiley.

But such are times that even SRK’s attempt to raise the team’s morale fell way short of the twitter troll’s patience level and became another instance to bash Muslims. While some blamed SRK for trying to claim credit (?) for the women’s team’s phenomenal show surprising many, others saw red at the actor’s innocent act.

“Aur ShahRukh Khan aa gaya mazaa??Face with tears of joy Being The Real Coach involves REAL BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS Not Merely Playing Kabir Khan a Character & Stealing Credit From REAL PERSON behind success of Indian Women #Hockey Team.THANK YOU THE REAL COACH  Sjoerd!!?Flag of India #hockeyindia #SjoerdMarijne”.

Most trolls don’t seem to realize that actors like Shah Rukh Khan don’t need to manage their own feed and even if they do, they can easily turn off the notifications.

Other twitter users wondered when would Akshay Kumar do a film on hockey, if ever.
But Coach Marijne has had the last laugh by asking if Shah Rukh Khan would do an encore in Chak De 2 given the superlative performance of the women’s hockey team.

You may not have missed it, but just in case you did! Remember the grainy under-the-metro-or-flyover video of a woman enthusiastically slapping a man with sodium vapour lamps for lighting and an eager mobile camera catching every resounding slap and a group moving with the action. The woman, Priyadarshini Yadav, claimed the man, a taxi driver, nearly ran over her and was not apologetic enough, prompting her to go into almost Insaaf ka Tarazu*  mode. That was the video.

This led to a large number of people including women seeing it as an assertive example of women’s agency. But the story didn’t turn out to be that convenient. The taxi driver, Sadat Ali, denied all charges put forward by the slap-artist and said he had no clue why his cheeks were targets for the furious woman.

If it had trended with #Lucknowgirl first, it got a befitting rejoinder #Lucknowcabdriver, the battle was joined. The woman was all over TV listing her reasons for the slap attack only to be followed by the driver’s demand that the police mistreated him and denied him food for a day or more.

Then he asked that his self-respect and dignity be returned to him. An earnest appeal but by then the driver was secondary. Old videos of the Lucknow woman hollering at people for painting their gates black surfaced.

The scandal reminded many of the Bullet case where a random tweet painted a Sikh young man as a leering Romeo and a careless motorist when that was not the case. Also the Zomato case where a woman accused a delivery man of the company of having punched her on the nose.

But given the hyper traction #lucknowgirl got, a few re-enactments complete with a bearded man playing the titular girl are out and about. So are some very busy people accessing video or photo footage of the original Lucknow girl crossing the road with headphones on etc.

This is proof that Twitter and other social media is extremely addictive and can’t be overcome with just a strong will, and a whole lotta mindfulness!

Two years after Article 370 ceased to extend autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir, August 5 saw trends both pro and anti matching each other tweet for tweet. #Article370 and #5thAugust saw tweets hailing the move of August 5, 2019. And since the Indian men’s hockey team won a hard-fought bronze on this day, they also reveled in the love showered on the PM for his efforts in helping India win medals. But Srinagar persevered in the TV glare and the Friday prayers of August 6 were solemn.

Tolerance is more or less skin-deep. But outrage on Twitter can be visited upon anyone who even mocks your idea, be it on the right side of things or on the other. That’s the case of the handle @theskindoctor13 who was suspended by Twitter and his supporters, mostly of the liberal jhola-wala type, who mounted a campaign to get him back for his satire taking on the mob. @theskindoctor13 is a dermatologist incensed by things over which most people look the other way and the media spins a new yarn over instead of speaking truth to wherever.

The return of the dermatologist is indeed good news but Twitter is at a greater loss for snapping several accounts that didn’t flinch in calling a spade a spade and not a tool to maybe dig up a bit of soil. Remember Tusky and its subsequent fading away?