Trust Shah Rukh Khan to seize his Chak De moment on the real hockey turf too. Hours after the Indian hockey team went on strike in Pune last week, protesting non-payment of sponsorship money and match fees, Khan, a former hockey player, backed their decision on microblogging site Twitter.
Days later, all of Bollywood is out in force, rallying behind the protesting hockey stars. While actors Aamir Khan and Salman Khan may perform at a concert being organised by Pakistani singer Salma Agha to raise funds for the team, Amitabh Bachchan blogs, "I’m there if they [hockey team] need any help."
And the stars are angry with the officials. "Throw the officials out… if they can’t protect the interests of our national team," says John Abraham. "You can’t pay a measly Rs 25,000 and expect them to play only for national pride," says actor Kunal Kapoor. "Play for your country the officials say, but who’s feeding their families while they do so?" asks Dino Morea.
The actors are also voicing their concern on the blogosphere. "How can anyone play well 4 d country with a sense of humiliation our players are going thru?" tweets Anupam Kher. Neha Dhupia tweets, "The only time we’ve got a good glimpse of our hockey team is when they have decided not to play!" Adds Koena Mitra, "Players shed sweat and blood on the turf… it’s a shame that their value is not realised."
The sports fraternity is, of course, livid. "They [players] are completely justified in what they are doing," says Olympic medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra. "This issue is highlighting the general problem of Indian sports at large. The least one can do for our team is to stand up and raise a voice," says billiards champ Pankaj Advani.
The netosphere, too, is abuzz. Membership on ‘Save Indian Hockey’, a so far dormant group on Facebook, is on an upswing. "If you are dating a hockey player, raise your hands. If you aren’t, raise your standards," read a tweet.
Help starts to pour in
Bajaj Allianz has announced Rs 2 crore for the team.
Sahara group has come forward with Rs 1 crore to help the players.
An NRI doctor has agreed to give Rs 10 lakh anonymously towards the cause.
Bollywood to the rescue
Actor Shah Rukh Khan tweeted about a dream for a country “where sportsmen are paid their justified dues.”
Actor Salman Khan and Aamir Khan may perform in a concert to raise funds.
Actors Amitabh Bachchan, John Abraham and Koena Mitra and others voiced their support