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Saturday, April 2, 2011

(Published in on 1 April, 2011, retrieved from

We’ve seen the PETA ads, we’ve seen the Husain paintings, we’ve had Sherlyn Chopra banned from tweeting photos, and now we’ve been offered the chance to see an organism that has come out of the woodwork and calls itself Poonam Pandey, in the nude.

I, like most of the nation, had never heard of Poonam Pandey, till the media went ballistic over a tiny girl who looks like any other model. Apparently, the Indian team is supposed to be motivated by the offer of a private striptease and the BCCI moved by a request to allow the woman to bare all for the benefit of the entire stadium.

First of all, in a country that censors same-sex kissing, Miss Pandey would be breaking several rules if she tried to emulate Larissa Riquelme, a.k.a. the-girl-who-promised-to-run-naked-if-Paraguay-won-the-Football-World-Cup-2010-and-ended-up-motivating-herself-so-much-that-she-ran-naked-though-they-didn’t.

The Paraguayan model sprawled herself over her country’s flag as an added bonus; if Poonam were to try the same trick, she’s likely to spend whatever money she’s earned from stripping on fighting lawsuits.

Secondly, Larissa Riquelme was famous enough in Paraguay at the time of her declaration to cause a stir across the world, and did not have to announce that this wasn’t a publicity stunt.

Thirdly, when fifteen men are running about between showers, Poonam’s smaller stature will, in all likelihood, cause her to go unnoticed, given the competition. The bigger danger of her inconspicuousness is that the stumps flying through the air may cause her grievous bodily harm (which, again, may go unnoticed).

Fourthly, the only pictures media houses seem to have got hold of, of the model, have her trying to seduce the camera with holi powder smeared all over herself, and wearing a white shirt that places her yellow teeth in relief. These images are enough of a turn-off to preclude her spurring on the Indian team.

Fifthly, Poonam Pandey will find it hard to outdo the men in the team. Former captain Sourav Ganguly created history by going topless from the team’s dressing room balcony at Lord’s in 2002, and no less than five cricketers from the current World Cup Squad have donned body paint in lieu of clothes for an advertisement.

However, if the model does insist on stripping for a cause, here are some that may be deemed more worthwhile:

An austerity drive for clothes: Politics and cricket have never been so inter-mingled as in World Cup 2011. After half the Parliament from India and most of the government from Pakistan turned up at Mohali, an apolitical final would be an anti-climax. With the DMK and Congress engaged in a lover’s tiff, chances are that Rajapakse will not rub shoulders with the Who’s Who of Indian politics. However, the government should seize upon this opportunity to make a statement. While its MPs have started flying cattle class, they’re still wearing bandhgalas and brocade saris. Poonam Pandey could be their mascot for a sartorial austerity drive.

Anti-silicone campaign: At a time when the world is analysing whether or not Israeli model Orit Fox poisoned a snake to death when it bit her chest, a model who clearly hasn’t been anywhere near silicone may well do her bit for both wildlife preservation and women’s rights by embracing her right to model without enhancements.

Turn the threat outward: With the wives of cricketers getting accustomed to the WAG tag, and doing their best to make their men quite as nervous with scandals as the footballer WAGs – remember Mrs. Dhoni’s cigarette and Mrs. Bracken’s see-through dress? – chances are that the Men in Blue are more threatened than inspired by Poonam’s offer. She might do better for India by switching her seduction scheme to the Sri Lankan team.

The other option, of course, is to apologise to the Indian public for bringing the game to disrepute, and attend the final in a sari. That way, the non-publicity-seeking Poonam may well become the poster girl of Indian modesty and chastity.


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