Two years after ‘Chak de India', hockey is back to its sorry state of affairs, says Mir Ranjan Negi
“Corporates can learn leadership qualities through self-help books or marketing gurus. But children look up to real-life heroes who inspire them,” says hockey player and coach Mir Ranjan Negi, the man whose real-life story inspired Chak de India.
Three primary school children ask him questions on his best days of playing hockey, his autobiography From Gloom to Glory and are eager to know who this Dronacharya considers as his Eklavya and Arjuna. He patiently answers their queries and later tells us, “Children form a sizeable audience that has come to like and respect me after Chak de.”
Two years after the blockbuster film, he feels the euphoria is dying down and the authorities and the audience alike are turning a blind eye to hockey, again.
“We are back to square one ,” he says. He has been training youngsters through his hockey academy and is elated when he recalls how more than 600 students came forward to learn hockey during a training camp at Kohlapur recently. But life as a hockey player is far from rosy, he laments.
“Honestly, I don't feel like forcing children to play hockey. The foundation trains children at the grass root level in the sport. Ideally, children from middle class and elite families should also take to the sport. But I know there is nothing they can look forward to being a hockey player. After years of playing, you might get some clerical job in a government office,” he says.
If it took Chak De to make the country recognise Negi's spirited journey in sports, it took a reality show to showcase his dancing skills. “ Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa was an opportunity to challenge myself,” he recalls fondly.
The next step is films, he reveals. “I just did a short role for Mumbai Chaka Chak, a film produced by Suniel Shetty's Popcorn Entertainment and another film called Lamha as an army officer. I don't do television or films for money. It has to teach me something new or the film has to be thought-provoking. Mumbai Chaka Chak is a film that tries to motivate people to making Mumbai clean and green.”
“I am working on a collection of short stories and my long-term plan is to enter politics. Perhaps I would be able to contribute to sports better this way,” he says.SANGEETHA DEVI DUNDOO