Salman Khan is best choice for India's Goodwill Ambassador of Olympics

When it comes to selling a product, idea or concept, nothing beats Bollywood and cricket.

 |  5-minute read |   25-04-2016
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Yippee! Bollywood superstar Salman Khan is the new Goodwill Ambassador of the Rio Olympics. Let's celebrate! I couldn't have heard of better news than this. This is the right choice baby! Sallu bhai rocks and totally deserves it.

Dream Girl BJP MP Hema Malini said, "People love him so much! If he is brand ambassador, what is the problem?" Former world chess champion Viswanathan Anand added, "If the things that the sports people need are addressed, then there is no conflict in having non-sports people participate. In fact, we want everyone to get involved".

"Why not?" asks cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar. Indeed why not? But I hear a wee bit of dissent in certain quarters.A section of India is actually outraging. Some Twitterati are absolutely rubbishing the move.

But can you think of anyone better than bhai? Amitabh Bachchan? Shah Rukh Khan? Sachin Tendulkar? MS Dhoni? Virat Kohli? Can you think of anyone outside Bollywood and cricket? Anyone that is really popular or will strike a chord with the masses that is.Is there anyone that can actually be noticed and be successful?

Let's face it. All our idols. All our role models. All our ambassadors come from these two industries only. Amitabh, Tendulkar and Dhoni together have sold everything there is to sell in India.

Dhoni in fact has sold in the region of 25 products and earned more money than world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in previous years. (Djoko won a whopping $3.4 million just for winning the Australian Open this year by the way.)

If you want to sell Incredible India, then it has to be Aamir Khan. If you want to spread polio awareness, it has to be Amitabh. Even if Bangalore Traffic Police wants to start an awareness campaign, then they rope in Rahul Dravid.

Hell even Time magazine got into the act and put Priyanka Chopra on the cover for its list of most influential people. They have correctly caught the pulse of the Indian masses.

Nothing matches the absolute frenzied fan following, loyalty and support of film stars and cricketers in India. Before it was, "Bade ho kar kya banoge? Gandhi ya Nehru?" Today it could well be "Bade ho kar kya banoge? Bachchan ya Kohli?"

In the history of Olympics, only one Indian has won an individual gold medal. Abhinav Bindra. Shooting. 2008. Beijing. But he probably had just one day of fame and pales in front of all the Top 10 cricketers or film stars. Bindra as our Goodwill Ambassador for Rio? Ha ha!

Since Independence only one Indian-born Indian resident has won the Nobel Prize. Kailash Satyarthi. Peace. 2014. But when he won it, it was "Satyarthi who?" In 2016 you could well repeat those two words.

World over scientists are celebrities too. The biggest was Albert Einstein. Then there's Stephen Hawking. Heard of the God Particle? Higgs Boson? The second part is named after Satyendra Nath Bose.

He had a group of sub-atomic particles named after him. (It's Fermions versus Bosons) He had the Bose Gas named after him. Then there's the Bose-Einstein condensate, Bose-Einstein statistics, Bose-Einstein distribution and Bose-Einstein correlations. Phew!

But no Indian cares two hoots for him. The Government of India palmed him off with a Padma Vibhushan (There are 45 Bharat Ratnas, imagine!) and that's it.

Anand was a World Chess Champion no less and got his Padma Vibhushan with Sachin Tendulkar. And yet he was reduced to advocating a Bharat Ratna for Sachin and endorsing Salman for Rio now.

salmanrio-embed2_042516103328.jpg Salman Khan in Sultan.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a once in a lifetime politician (he is frowned from being looked upon as a role model by intellectuals though) and Dalai Lama is still technically from Tibet, here are all the other top India Twitter accounts in terms of followers…

Amitabh Bachchan @SrBachchan - 20.6 million followers;

Shah Rukh Khan @iamsrk - 19.2 million,

Salman Khan @BeingSalmanKhan - 17.4m,

Aamir Khan - @aamir_khan - 17.4m,

Deepika Padukone @deepikapadukone - 14.5m,

Priyanka Chopra @priyankachopra - 13.7m,

Hrithik Roshan @iHrithik - 13.7m,

Akshay Kumar @akshaykumar - 12.3m,

ARRahman @arrahman - 10.7m,

Sachin Tendulkar - @sachin_rt - 10.6m and

Virat Kohli @imVkohli - 10.5m.

While the Global Top 100 has pop stars, official corporate and media handles, talk show hosts, footballers, industrialists and the like, when it comes to India, the list is dominated by Bollywood to a great extent and cricketers in what's left of it.

In India, only the 3 Cs sell - Cinema, Cricket and Corruption. Well corruption can't be a brand ambassador now can it? So that just leaves cinema and cricket.If not Sallu, then Tendlya. If not Amitabh, then Dhoni. That's the winning mantra folks.

After all that's what the aam aadmi wants. That's what the aam aadmi understands. That's what the aam aadmi worships. Bad news in politics sells greatly in the mainstream media, but when it comes to selling a product, idea or concept, nothing beats Bollywood and cricket.

Amitabh's name is currently linked with the Panama scandal. Tendulkar has retired. Dhoni is in decline. Kohli is too brash for the government. Aamir and SRK unwisely jumped on to the intolerance bandwagon.

Come to think of this. It was inevitable. Sallu bhai was the only big cinema-cricket name available! Why are we really surprised? They actually picked a candidate from a field of one.

This is also the perfect cross-promotion. (The mantra of the age) Sallu is in a soup with his many cases and needs all the government support he can get. With the two Khans against Modi, it would be inevitable that he would turn to the third.

Wouldn't be bad for his future Muslim vote bank too.

Sultan releases on July 6. (Sallu plays a wrestler in that. Take that Yogeshwar Dutt!)

The Olympics opening ceremony begins on August 5.

Perfect timing - Salman and Rio are a match made in heaven. The outrage will die down. People will forget all the barbs.  Sultan will be a superhit. Sallu will be a superstar at Rio.

We're Indians! Please throw science, art, culture and all non-cricketing sports out of the window. Bollywood and cricket is all we follow and all we need to be happy!

Writer

Sunil Rajguru Sunil Rajguru @sunilrajguru

The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.

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