Indian hockey

‘Thanks to Indian coach, words are not lost in translation anymore’: Sardar heaps praise on Harendra

Harendra, who was appointed in May, coached India to a second straight runners-up finish at the Champions Trophy last month.

Senior players Sardar Singh and Manpreet Singh say having an Indian as the national team’s head coach has broken all communication barriers and tactically too Harendra Singh is no less than any of his foreign counterparts.

Harendra, who was appointed in May, coached India to a second straight runners-up finish at the Champions Trophy last month.

“I still remember Harendra paaji had called me to a national camp 15-16 years ago. We go back a long way. I played under him even when he was assisting Jose Brasa in 2009,” Sardar told PTI.

“It is a different feeling working with an Indian coach. We can discuss anything with him under the sun. He also openly advises us and knows that as senior players we can’t change our game completely,” he added.

There is still time to explain things during training but absorbing coach’s advice during the two-minute break between quarters can be tough. That is where Harendra has made a massive difference.

“If you see he has given results whether it is with the women’s team or the men’s junior side which won the World Cup. He has worked with the best of coaches. One big positive (after his arrival) is that we all communicate in Hindi now.

“With foreigners, even if you miss a single point during those two-minute breaks it can create confusion in the minds of the players. The coach is observing the game from the outside and he can tell you right away (what needs to be done) in your own language. There is not much time anyway to absorb anyway, so a language that all understand helps immensely,” said the 32-year-old midfielder.

Sardar’s long-time India teammate Manpreet concurred with his view on Harendra.

“Whenever a new coach comes, he has to make sure that we don’t change our styles of play. Our strength has always been attack and counter-attack. Harendra paaji knows how to make best use of speedy forwards like SV Sunil and Akashdeep,” said Manpreet.

“He is a very positive person. In short time, he says the right things. He has improved a lot tactically, having worked with the best coaches in the business, though he says ‘he is still learning’.”

So, has the time come when India can end their obsession with foreign coaches?

“I think we can put an end to that practice. You saw how we performed in Champions Trophy,” said Mandeep.

India will be defending their Asian Games title in Jakarta later this month. A gold again will secure them a spot at the 2020 Olympics. Both Sardar and Manpreet are aiming for an encore which will lessen the pain of a medal-less performance at the Commonwealth Games in April.

“We all are thinking about the gold. That secures our Olympic qualification and gives us more time to prepare for Tokyo,” said Manpreet.

Sardar said the the current Indian team doesn’t settle for anything less than a gold anymore.

“When I started playing, we used to be 12th or 13th in the rankings. Now we are fifth. You must have observed even during the Champions Trophy that we were not happy with the silver medal at all. We had gone there to win gold. So the mindset has changed completely.

“We lost the final in the shoot-off but in the 60 minutes we had the ball, more possession and the other statistics were in our favour. We faltered in the shoot-out and that is something we have been working on after every training session,” he said.

“The Asian Games will not be as tough as the Champions Trophy but you can’t take any team lightly. In modern hockey, it is very important to read the game of your opponents.”

Sardar is on a comeback trail after being dropped from the Commonwealth Games. Back then, the thought he may not play for India again but he overcame that phase to earn a recall for the Champions Trophy.

“I did feel the pressure when I came back. My mindset was to give my best. My role in the team has also changed a bit. If you noticed, it is all about quick passing now, I don’t hold the ball for long anymore,” he concluded.

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.