Cricket, and maybe our cinema, are the only things we have to hold on to. A setback in cricket is seen as national catastrophe like it happened after India lost to Australia, a much better team, in the World Cup semifinals. We look for reasons for defeat and crab-like, love to pull down heroes whom we held up just yesterday. So, when a pretty lady, Anushka Sharma, Virat Kohli's girlfriend, was spotted in the pavilion box she was quickly targeted as the cause of the Indian defeat.
In its medievalism and khap panchayat mentality the country reached a new low after the loss in the match. Many of us will agree that the last one year has seen the country plummeting in terms of its thinking, its outlook, and its failure to grasp science, liberalism and modern thinking and use it to further its causes and achievements and thus to remain relevant in this world. March 26, was another reminder of this national weakness.
The Anushka attack should be seen in this light. What happened during the match was this: Anushka was seen on TV watching the match. It was surmised that she went on the invitation of Kohli, who was set to play India's saviour, a fact that Saurav Ganguly emphasised before the match.
So here was the saviour being wooed, and thus distracted, by the temptress. Her constant presence by Kohli's side has been read as immoral by India's largely Brahamanical thinking. The entire notion of an unmarried girl staying with a guy is wholly reprehensible in this thinking. Kohli also had a spat with India's media as earlier he abused a journalist who he thought had broken the story of the actress staying with him. This was the background of the national trolling of Anushka.
So when Anushka (a two or three film wonder) appeared at the location of a national catastrophe, hands and trolls quickly dragged her out so that she could be burned at the stake.
Within no time Anushka was fit into the image of the serpent (from the Old Testament and various other religious texts) and temptress. It is this 'evil she' who tempts the 'honourable male' and this scenario is wholly accepted in Indian thinking. The advanced West itself discarded it, though the many frescoes that adorn its iconic churches and chapels show the woman as the evil force, and thus the origins of this thinking can be placed in medieval thinking.
In this narrative, replayed in many Bollywood movies, the lady is the serpent and/or the temptress. In renaissance art too the serpent is a female. In Michelangelo' frescoes, the serpent is half snake and half female, never a male. It is on the advice of Eve that Adam falls. Also Eve is seen as god's afterthought, so the female is just an appendage or adornment for the male who has to do big jobs, like in this case Kohli.
In Indian thinking this role of the lady as temptress, however, finishes as soon as she marries him because she has successfully tempted him into marrying. Which is why one FB post said that she should marry him, suggesting that this will finally help Kohli concentrate on his shots and not worry about the temptress watching him.
In fact, various Indian coaches insist on abstention based on the myth that loss of semen in the day prior to the match also means loss of manliness and hence loss of strength so essential to win a match. So, when condoms were provided during the Delhi commonwealth Games, the khap panchayat elements protested. Actually the subtext is that the lady sapped Kohli's strength during a crucial day!
This wild medieval reaction to a girlfriend's presence should be contrasted to teams representing modern nation states like Australia and England. Here WAGS (wives and girlfriends) are expected to accompany teams since the notion of them being temptresses does not exist in modern thinking. Many cricketers have left tours to be at the side of their girlfriends who are ill or are giving birth to their first child. In India, however, such a hypothetical situation would have resulted in a player being banished for life since he crossed the Laxman Rekha of morality set up for him by the elite classes.
It means that this morality has to coincide with victory for your triumph to be total. If, for instance, all the team members were travelling with girlfriends, the team's victory and performance would have been diminished.
Contrast this with Dhoni's choice not to be at the side of his wife during the birth of their first child and in fact choosing to be with the team. This was seen and applauded as a great macho trait here in India. In this narrative, to bear the pains of labour and bringing up the child is a solely the wife's concern and having done his bit in creating the baby, the husband or the man can go about his labours elsewhere, with nay a care of the tremendous pain and anxiety that a wife has to go through alone and supported only by her mother. This is the accepted norm in India.
So in the patriarchal perspective Dhoni has risen many notches (abstention, sacrifice and national duty above all) while the challenger to his captaincy, Kohli, is seen as an easy prey to temptresses of various hues. Hence Dhoni was spared the blushes yesterday.
Here are some trolls (unedited) showing patriarchy golden moment's yesterday.
KRK, as he calls himself, also issued a clarion call to fans to stone the actress's house.
The shameful national attitude to defeat now fits in squarely with the national attitude to women in general. Tomorrow people may crowd to see one of Anushka's movie (reversely, will her movie flop be attributed to Kohli?) even if she had played a temptress. But to sap a champion of his strength, that's a strict no-no.