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After breathing life into English Vinglish as Shashi Godbole, a Marathi home cum laddoo maker, actress Sridevi is all set to launch a fresh initiative. The yesteryear actress will now launch a new course titled TOECL or “Test of English as Cricketer’s Language”. Many cricketers, especially those from Pakistan, were demanding such a course to better handle post-match presentation ceremonies, especially those involving Q&As with Ravi Shastri.
The actress has already held indepth discussions with English Vinglish’s director Gauri Shinde, who’d be her partner in this venture, and is all set to begin sessions in a month’s time. Unreal Times journalist and an ardent Sridevi fan, Chalbaaz Chandramohan caught up with the star, clad in her trademark classical cotton saree, on the sets… err… classrooms of the planned institute.
Chalbaaz (with puppy dog eyes): Thanks a lot for talking to us ma’am.
Sridevi: Oh, the pleasure is mine
Chalbaaz: No, no, the pleasure is absolutely all mine!
Sridevi (smiles and waves dismissively): Haha, come on.
Chalbaaz: No, I insist… the pleasure is all…
Sridevi (interrputing): Let’s move on.
Chalbaaz (red-faced): Er… okay. (looks at his papers) To begin with, how did this idea come to you, ma’am?
Sridevi: It was during the recently concluded World T20 championship yaa…
Chalbaaz (incredulously): Wow! You are a cricket fan? You followed the T20 championships??
Sridevi (slaps his arm gently): Of course not silly. I was in the kitchen making laddoos, when I heard Boney making loud, awful noises. I got really worried and ran into the hall to check if he’s okay. He’s quite old you know.
Chalbaaz: We all do, ma’am.
Sridevi (continues): Turns out he was just guffawing loudly at the responses Umar Akmal was giving an interviewer. It was so insensitive yaa. It reminded me of my role in English Vinglish. Poor Umar Akmal yaa. Such a talented chap. And his brother too. Just because he speaks butler English and has teeth like Bugs Bunny, it doesn’t mean people can make fun of him, right?
Chalbaaz: But ma’am, the Pakistanis are indeed funny. I remember in one of the older matches, Ravi Shastri was interviewing Inzamam-ul-Haq after the match. He said, “Congratulations Inzy! Heard your wife is expecting”, to which Inzi replied, “The boys played really well. Though it was a tough wicket to play on, the boys didn’t let me down.” It was so funny! You should have sen Ravi’s face. Haha (holds his sides and guffaws)
(Sridevi throws Chalbaaz a stern look of disapproval, at which Chalbaaz quickly pulls himself together and gets serious)
Sridevi (continuing): Anyway, that’s when I decided to start TOECL. Cricketers visit a lot of countries, and unless it is Rohit Sharma, they’d no doubt end up getting interviewed some point or the other.
Chalbaaz: I see. Are you planning to seek the help of established English commentators?
Sridevi: No way! We have already blacklisted Ravi Shastri, Navjyot Singh Sidhu, Sunny Gavaskar and needless to mention Geoffrey Boycott.
Chalbaaz: But ma’am? I understand Mr.Shastri sticks to a script perenially, and obviously you would not want your students to tell their parents “All four results are possible” when they are asked about their exam scores, but what about Sidhu’s linguistic proficiency? You should consider tapping into his expertise, especially with Mr. Sidhu now being invited to the coveted Big Boss reality show.
Sridevi: Thanks but no thanks. I can’t imagine my students speaking in incongruent, annoying analogies like “The ball went so high it would have got an airhostess with it” or “I am as confused as a child in topless bar”. Eww! (winces)
Chalbaaz (nods sincerely): Makes sense ma’am. I totally understand. How about Sunny Gavaskar?
Sridevi: I would have thought about it. But even before the coaching classes could start he wanted a 65% opening discount for all Maharashtrian cricketers. Bloody, asked him to bugger off!
Chalbaaz: I see. Have you had any registrations yet?
Sridevi: Yes! Skipper MS Dhoni has already expressed interested in learning opening lines other than “Well of Course”. Suresh Raina has also registered, although it may just as well be his nephew with some make-up assistance from Kamal Hassan. I have to check that out. Lasith Malinga, This..arr.. Per….err… well, a few Sri Lankan crickters have opted for a 4-week crash course on listening and speaking skills. They said they won’t be able to afford the fee as their Board is yet to pay them, but they offered to hold sessions on pronouncing Srilankan names with clarity and precision to a wider audience.
Chalbaaz: That’s wonderful, ma’am. On behalf of The Unreal Times, we wish you all the very best.
Sridevi: Thank you.