Around 5,000 spectators were thoroughly entertained during a World Kabaddi League match between Yo Yo Tigers and California Eagles at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi.
The raiders of Tigers, which eventually won the match, were star at the event. But there was another star too, Mangesh Mondal, the man inside the mascot attire. For Mangesh, who was among the top 10 contestants of Dance India Dance, it is a tough job.
“The children, sometimes, try to pull my masks, while many pull my hands in a bid to shake hands. It is painful at times... I understand that they are curious to know who is the actual person inside, but we have to be very careful. Once the mask is out, they game is over for us,” says Mangesh, who donned the outfit of a monkey.
“But we have our own way of showing our anger, we try to intimidate them by making horror faces,” says Mangesh with smile.
Mangesh, 21, from Mumbai could only study till class 9 due to his family’s financial troubles. His family consists of his parents and his younger brother. Although he went to a dance coaching, he had been dancing professionally for 12 years in Geeta Kapoor’s and Saroj Khan’s dance troupes before Dance India Dance came his way.
But how does it feel on landing up as a mascot after hogging the limelight on a popular TV show? Mangesh’s dancing coach Silvester says, “The lime light of a reality TV starts their and ends there...it’s just the winners who get some good chances here and there. The rest of the contestants are totally forgotten.”
Mangesh says, “I have a family and I have to support it, I can’t live in the awe that I was a reality show’s contestant.”
He, however, said: “The concept of a mascot is still very new. Though, they pay us fine, which depends between Rs 5,000 and Rs 15,000 for a match...but you can’t rely totally on it, so I also dance in corporate shows and as a background dancer in films and at award shows.”
Mangesh was also the official mascot of Sri Lanka Premier League - Lion the Silva. “The concept was a big hit in Sri Lanka,” he says.