In a Tamil play written by Cho Ramaswamy, a middle-aged man constantly dreams of a role -even a small one- in the movies and keeps honing his oratory skills. One day, a director succumbs to his begging and agrees to cast him in a single scene in his movie. He would play the role of a postman who had to deliver a letter at the hero’s house. His entire dialogue would consist of the two words, “ Sir, Post”. He is asked to appear for ‘shooting’ the following week.
The whole week or during the countdown to the shooting, the wannabe actor is shown practicing his dialogue and attempting several variations. Should he say “ Saar, post” or “ Saaar, pooost” or “ Saar ( pause) post” or a more musical “ Saaaar Pooost”? Ultimately, during the actual shooting, he has a nervous breakdown and ends up messing it up completely.
I remembered that scene on reading in the papers today that President Prathibha Patil will inaugurate the CWG, by uttering the words, “ Let the Games begin”, soon after the Queen’s message is read out.
I am not sure if that is all the President has to say. If so, she must be in a state of extreme agitation now.
In anticipation of the event, her speech writers would have smacked their lips and sharpened their pencils to write a grandiloquent speech which would cover in its broad sweep, our ancient civilizations, the embedded meaning in the Vedas, the archery competitions described in our epics, Buddha’s enlightenment, Shivaji’s valour, Gandhi’s ahimsa, excerpts from Vivekananda’s brotherhood speech, memorable lines fom Nehru’s “tryst with destiny’ speech, extract from Rajiv Gandhi’s “ I am young. I too have a dream” speech, etc and end with a flourish by referring to India’s booming economy, its vibrant people and its colourful customs. The President’s inaugural speech would start on the Opening day and continue in the background for the next week or two while all the events are conducted and finally end during the Closing ceremony.
That’s how it should have happened in the normal course.But then the CWG committee imposed this restriction and has asked the President to utter just four words. I can see her now practicing her speech. Which word should she lay emphasis on? Should she say, “Let the Gamesss begin” or “ Let the Games Beginnn” or “ Lettt the Games Begin” or " Let the Dames start Begging" or " Let the Blame Game Begin" or....
The President is going to end up being paralysed by the unreasonable brevity that is demanded of her. It is like asking a morose Russian author to compress his novel to the size of a twitter message.