It all started when a friend posted a Tweet on Facebook by famous Bollywood star Rishi Kapoor - @chintscap - who has a Twitter following of 1.57M. Rishi Kapoor had urged the Pakistan Cricket Board to send real cricketers to play against the Indians and not just those who are good at playing hockey or Kho-kho (an informal game of tag played by children during recess).
The 2017 Cricket World Cup was on. The final match was to be played at Lords in London between India and Pakistan on June 18. The Indians ranked second after Australia and the Pakistanis ranked the lowest at #8 in a total of 8 teams. So it would have been fine and expected of Rishi Kapoor to be patriotic, stand by the Indian team and be proud of them. He showed that in his tweet, but he also called out the Pakistanis, and that hurt.
It hurt me because I had grown up loving the movies Rishi Kapoor had acted in. He had charisma and he carried himself well. He was believable and adorable and he was the perpetual good guy. This tweet could not be true. After some thought, I decided to tweet him back and let him know how hurt I felt, “Uncle Rishi, we loved you while growing up. Dil bura karain [have a heart]. Love us back. May the best team win.”
I realized that I was not alone in being so struck. Hundreds of people had gone on Rishi Kapoor’s twitter page. Some, like me, had expressed their hurt, and others their anger. People had even posted scenes from Rishi Kapoor’s old movies. I also realized, that many people had posted equally hurtful or even worse tweets on the actor’s page. I was embarrassed about the trolls and I was not even to blame. Tension was running high.
Honestly speaking, I can stop my life to watch an old Rishi Kapoor film, but I never really watch a cricket match. While I love the game, I only keep up randomly with the score, and carry on my daily life. Uncle Rishi’s tweet had actually increased my interest in the outcome of the upcoming final match.
When the final started, I was on flight from New York City to Buenos Aires. By the time I landed, I had missed half the game. Pakistan’s score was 338 in 50 overs and India had two cricketers down for a score of 22. I did not have live coverage. So I checked the score online and went to social media for the live feed and to Twitter and Uncle Rishi.
I wanted to know what Rishi Kapoor was thinking. A quick scan @chintscap (Rishi Kapoor) tweets showed that my favorite actor had realized his mistake and had made no excuses about it. He had actually explained how he loved all his fans in Pakistan and while his tweet was taken out of context, he was still sorry his words came out that way. “Yes!” I said to myself and tweeted an honorary citizenship to my favorite actor, “#RishiisPakistani.”
Pakistan went on to win the match. One side has to win. This time it was Pakistan. Next time it might be another team. The cricketers showed world-class sportsmanship on the field congratulating each other at the end of the game.
Many lessons were learnt on either side and especially on the Twitter front. Twitter is public. Everyone sees what you write. Also, if you make a mistake, better to own up to it. Public will forgive you and continue to love you. Many more will start following you as they did with Rishi Kapoor whose Twitter following has shot up from 1.57M to 1.91M.