She is of Moroccan descent and was born and raised in Canada
By Basab Dasgupta
I was an avid fan of the game of soccer when I was growing up in India. The traditional rivalry between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal teams in the Kolkata soccer league provided a continuous source of excitement and entertainment.
The Indian soccer team had done very well in the Asian games in that timeframe by winning the gold medals in the 1951 games held in New Delhi and again in 1962 in Indonesia. The Indian team reached the semi-finals in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics but failed to win a medal. I closely followed each game that India played in the 1960 Rome Olympics. India was in a tough group D with France, Hungary, and Peru. India tied with France but lost to Hungary and Peru.
The height of my excitement about soccer came when the entire Mohun Bagan team came to play the Chadannagar Sporting Union (CSU) in my hometown Chandannagar, a small town on the river Ganges about 25 miles north of Kolkata. Chuni Goswami had his uncle’s house in Chandannagar and his elder brother Manik regularly played in a local soccer league. I am sure that the CSU officials used this connection of the Goswami brothers to persuade Mohun Bagan to come to town.
Mohun Bagan won the match by a lop-sided 7-0 margin. I was fortunate enough to sneak into the CSU clubhouse after the game with an autograph pad. It was a thrill to see players like Jarnail Singh, Thangaraj, Kempia, Narsiah, and of course, the Goswami brothers in person and in proximity. Many of them participated in the 1960 Olympics. Several pages of my autograph pad were filled with their signatures.
However, my interest in soccer gradually faded with the subsequent poor performance of India on the international stage and I turned my passion to the following cricket. After I came to the USA, I was fascinated by the game of American football. The striking difference between soccer and football is that soccer is a continuous and spontaneous game. Whatever happens on the spur of the moment happens and cannot be reversed. On the other hand, football is discretized and can be stopped and re-strategized after any of the four “downs”. This makes football much more cerebral and intriguing.
I would still occasionally watch international soccer games, especially the world cup tournaments. Part of the problem was that I had no team to root for to get the necessary motivation. In recent years, I have enjoyed watching players like Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal and Lionel Messi of Argentina and their soccer wizardry on the field.
The 2022 FIFA World cup is here. This time it is being held in Qatar, the very first time at a venue in the Middle East. Even though there will be no Indian team in the tournament, and I have no favorite country to support, I am anxiously looking forward to the opening ceremony of the games.
The reason is not to watch soccer, but to see the Bollywood singer/dancer/ actress/model Nora Fatehi perform. The official song of the tournament, titled “Light the Sky” has already been released as a music video and is available on YouTube. Nora is one of four performers in that video. However, the opening ceremony will reportedly feature a live performance of Nora with the US rap superstar Nicki Menaj. Both are known for their superior body movements, and I am hoping that it would be a spectacle. This is the very first time that a Bollywood celebrity will be performing in a live event watched by the entire world.
The irony is that Nora has no roots of any kind in India. She is of Moroccan descent and was born and raised in Canada. She moved to India because of her fascination with India and Bollywood.
Her case is an incredible story of “Indianization”. She reportedly says that she is “an Indian at heart”. She learned to speak Hindi fluently. She starred in several Indian movies, not only in Hindi but also in Telegu and Malayalam. Her big break came as a “dancer” in the movie “Satyameva Jayate,” with the song “Dilbar Dilbar” in 2018. The video collected 20 million hits on YouTube within the first 24 hours of release – certainly a record for any Bollywood song. The rest is history.
The entire country of more than a billion people has been captivated by her moves. I am sure that belly dancing is in her DNA. She is a free spirit on the dance floor. She is spontaneous and uninhibited. However, unlike many other dancers, her dancing is heart-arresting, to say the least.
It seems that she is very versatile and can pick up any dance move with ease. I have been mesmerized by her music videos such as “O Saki”, “Kusu Kusu”, “Dance Meri Rani”, “Kamariya”, “Garmi” and most recently “Manike”. Then there are some music videos, such as “Pachtaoge – the female version” and “Chhor Denge” which are simply works of art. Her looks are exotic, and her wardrobe looks sensational. On top of all her talents, she has a great personality and a sense of humor. She treats her fans as friends.
I am so glad that she has decided to move to India and take the Bollywood music world to a new higher level. She is now on par with global superstars like Shakira, Madonna, and Jennifer Lopez in my view.
I am sure that she has been chosen to sing in the World Cup because of her Arabic ancestry since the tournament will be held in an Arab country. However, I am proud and happy to see that she will represent India and sing not in Arabic but in Hindi.
There will be no Indian player on the field to win any match, but Nora can win the hearts of billions of people around the world. I am hoping that she can follow in Shakira’s footsteps whose career took off after performing in three successive World Cup events in 2006, 2010, and 2014.
Basab Dasgupta has a doctorate in physics from the University of Wisconsin and worked with Sony as Vice President of an operating division. Retired, he now lives in San Clemente, CA.
Disclaimer: The views expressed are not necessarily those of The South Asian Times