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What has the Virat-Anushka wedding done to us

by Gaurav Sethi

It rained in Virat Kohli’s Delhi after his wedding in Italy. It’s unclear whether it rained there, it’s unimportant. This is not a marriage report. Not about cricket or cinema either, though it could quite easily meander into those worlds that the two inhabit. This is a happiness report.
There doesn’t seem to be much of that in these mudslinging election times that we find ourselves in. It appears for some time now, that we are in a constant state of election. That no sooner was 2014 done, the preparations for 2019 started.
Somewhere through all of that, Virat Kohli played his cricket, scored his centuries, won India games, won our hearts, won Anushka Sharma’s heart; and appeared to have lost it for a bit, then won it back again - it was akin to Virat scoring in the first game of a three match series, India winning, Virat not scoring in the second game, India losing, followed by that big comeback - Virat scoring big, India winning big, India winning the series 2-1.
Appears there’s a victory in this wedding. From the buildup onwards. The getting away to Italy. It gave the rumour mills just enough to mull about. It gave Virat’s coach from childhood, enough to say, that he’s off for his nephew’s wedding. Nephew is an important character in Indian cricket. When you can’t take names, or the discredit, invariably a nephew appears. Ask Suresh. But who knows, maybe Virat is like a nephew to his coach, being like a son is too hack, Indian cricket is anything but that.
So, on to coach’s nephew’s wedding we were hurled with the first photographs. Even the ultimate battleground, Twitter was happy. And funny. And over-the-top. The Virat-Anushka wedding tamed Twitter in a witty, domesticated, acceptable to everybody, from your grandparents to your kids, to who knows, even you. Were you not happy?
Even I found myself tweeting about something other than cricket. A cricket Twitter girl wanted to have a closer look at Anushka’s wedding outfit. Another dude, took a dig at the Manyavar campaign going too far. There were marriage goals out there. It was all happening, just on the basis of two photographs. Even though the pictures were different, the tweeted text was the same. It was like a wedding had taken place on Twitter, and not in Italy. At least that’s where all their fans were rocking it, it’s where the social media spirits were high, where the adrenaline was pumped.
But there will be life after this wedding, cricket and cinema too. And that’s where those in the media won’t be able to help themselves. It’s too easy not to. In a way, this wedding may have defined what is spoken and written about Virat Kohli and Indian cricket for a while now. It’ll be lazy journalism, hell, it won’t even be journalism, but it will inevitably happen.
The away series in South Africa starts first week January 2018. Expect more than Virat’s team, Virat’s marriage to be examined. Sports journalism will take a break through the series, the tabloids will take over - if Virat scores, the marriage is doing him good, if he doesn’t, suggestions will be made that Anushka needs to work on Virat’s leaving the ball outside off. It is inevitable, and it’s part of the crummy price that stardom pays.
Going by the sheer joy that Virat’s cricket has given us, his well-wishers will far exceed the tacky headline hunters. Only a short while back I read what the astrologers had to say of their union. Union Carbide may have gotten away, but no way these two will be allowed to - they have an accountability to the Indian public, far more than our politicians, much more than our industries. Forget climate-change, what about Kohli-change?
Without knowing it, these two may have just put Tuscany on the Indian tourists’ map. Their marriage is the ultimate Tuscan advert - the very translation of Bernardo Bertolucci’s Stealing Beauty into every Indian language. Who knows, Italy too may have become far more acceptable to Indians in the last 24 hours. And their marriage venue, a shrine. How long before the likes of Pan Parag push for sponsorship of Borgo Finocchieto (a mere Rs 13.5 lakh per night to put some billboards in bedrooms). Naturally, Kohli will their brand-ambassador.
When we’re done with Tuscany, we’ll have our greatest sport’s pursuit take over again - Virat versus Sachin. Only this time, there will be an updated twist, who performed better after marriage. Yes, that tacky line will make an oft-repeated headline. The first line of copy will be a “nudge-nudge, not between the sheets, silly, but between those 22 yards”. Fence sitters will hold their horses - "It’s wrong to compare Sachin and Virat, they both were married in different eras." But some wild beasts will be let loose - "Already Kohli has scored more centuries in his first year of marriage, he could well be the greatest married player ever - and an inspiration for others to enter into holy matrimony."
It was once just a game. Now, it’s so much more. It’s their life. Here’s to some restraint, however difficult it might me. Let’s talk about his runs, his captaincy, her acting, her films. It’s rained in Delhi. Breathe. And let them be too.
First published here

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