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Bhajji: From bad boy to cry baby

From facing penalty, forfeiting match fee and facing charges of intimidating an umpire, Harbhajan Singh now does a volte face and plays victim over an UB ad, writes Namita Bhandare.

entertainment Updated: Jul 19, 2011 19:15 IST
Namita Bhandare

Ah, yes, let’s see. This is the same gentleman who got away with charges of racism by calling his opponent a ‘monkey’. Oh, said an injured Harbhajan Singh back in 2008, he had never called Andrew Symonds a monkey.

He had merely used that common expression favoured by macho men who live north of the Vindhyas: maa ki….

Symonds (who in case you hadn’t noticed is of African descent) heard otherwise and complained and the man variously known as Bhajji and The Turbanator was slapped with a Level 3 offence; the match referee ruled guilty and banned him for the next three tests.

Bhajji-DhoniThreatening withdrawal from the series, the Indian team filed an appeal, keeping a chartered plane on standby – later denied by the Indians -- presumably if the hearings went against their bachcha.

The racism charge could not subsequently be proved since Bhajji said he had been misheard – though that didn’t stop him from making simian gestures at a match before the second hearing.

Strangely, this reference to Andrew Symond’s mother’s, umm, delicate parts, was deemed ok even though Sachin Tendulkar had the decency to blush while trying to explain it to an Adelaide judge.

Bhajji forfeited half his match fee (small change compared to his ad endorsements), and the games went on.

In a strange and ironic (is there any other kind?) twist of fate, Bhajji’s mother has now jumped into the fray to protect what she sees as the family honour.

The provocation, for once, is not her son’s behaviour.

Rather it is a spoof, an ad that has a Bhajji look-alike trying hard to ‘make it large’, a reference to the tagline of Royal Stag whisky, a product endorsed by HBS.

The ad, which can be viewed on Youtube, has a young Bhajji working in his dad’s steel ball bearings factory, making humungous ball bearings in an attempt to ‘make it large’.

An enraged fictional dad (in real life, Singh senior did indeed have such a factory) gives him a resounding slap.

Cut to MS Dhoni, endorser of rival whisky brand McDowells, saying the important thing was not making it large, but doing it differently.

Size in other words doesn’t really matter; this is coming from your captain.

Leave aside the potential of big balls and size, the ad has so upset Bhajji’s maa reportedly for three reasons: the references to her son, to her late husband and to the Sikh community at large.

Whaaat?

Since when did cricket’s bad boy turn into a cry baby?

As a rookie spinner back in 1998, HBS forfeited half his match fee and earned a one ODI match suspension for shouting words at departing batsmen Ricky Ponting.

In 2001, he was along with Virendra Sehwag and two others charged with trying to intimidate an umpire.

In 2003, our boy was back, abusing an umpire in Dhaka and forfeiting half his match fee, yet again.

And in 2005 he pointed a batsman towards the pavilion after his dismissal, getting a quarter of his fee docked for unsportsmanlike behaviour.

Towards his own team-mates Bhajji has been no wilting lily.

After an IPL match, Bhajji rocked headlines – sigh, again – this time for slapping S Sreesanth who was playing for a rival team.

He’s scrapped with cops in Guwahati. And let’s not even go into matters of questionable taste when he chose to dance on reality TV.

Seriously.

For Bhajji now to play the injured party is a bit rich.

Reportedly the legal notice mentions that his mother sees the ad as a dividing force within the team, and, hence, anti-national, that favourite word of the injured and the wronged.

But if this is anti-national, then what does Bhajji’s past behaviour, including his saying ‘maa ki’ to Symonds qualify as?

Or, how ‘national’ is it to sneakily endorse liquor ads (banned in India) through surrogate advertising?

Shame Bhajji shame. And you could have been a role model.

If I was Bhajji’s mummy, I would seriously consider the administration of a good spanking. It’s never too late to set your kids right.

If I was Vijay Mallya, I would be laughing my head off at all the free publicity this ridiculous controversy is generating.

But if I was Bhajji I might tell myself just two words: maaro goli yaar.

A version of this blog is up at www.asianwindow.com