They came prepared for the match of a lifetime, but went home disappointed. Bollywood and television celebrities came out in full force for their match against the Indian hockey team on Saturday evening in Chandigarh. The Indian hockey team, however, opted out of the event at the eleventh hour after organisers alleged that the players asked for an appearance fee of approximately Rs 5 crore.
“Ideally, they should have been there as people were looking forward to the match. Even without them, the match did take place and we enjoyed playing it,” said actor Irrfan Khan.
Although celebs such as Suneil Shetty, Irrfan Khan and Shavar Ali played the match against a team of TV celebrities in a jam-packed stadium, not all of them left happy. Actor Suniel Shetty, who came to “support the game”, said, “It’s sad that the players are not participating.”
Actor Shawar Ali, too, was unhappy. “I felt disappointed that the Indian hockey players did not turn up for the match when I didn’t charge a penny, left my work and took an early morning flight just to support our national game.”
Actress Anjana Sukhani, who was there to cheer for the hockey players, said, “We were looking forward to meeting them and had come to support them. It is sad that they did not come.”
Added Irrfan, “The hockey players should realise who is exploiting them and who is promoting them. The Hockey World Cup is coming up and there is no awareness. It is up to them to popularise the game.”
Fans, too, are vocal about their disappointment. “When you have support from all corners, the last thing we expect is for you guys to back out,” posted 23-year-old Priya Sharma on her blog.
“What a letdown! This was one of the few occasions for hockey to be at par with the glamour of cricket,” says Kshitij Gupta, a DU student.