New Delhi: What the Americans can do, the Aussies can do better. Or at least they can try. Volunteers who organised the Sydney event at the Allphones Arena promised to outdo the now famous Madison Square Garden (MSG) rally in New York. So did they? Both places he has faced PROTEST RALLIES about his alleged involvement on MUSLIM GENOCIDE in Gujarat.
New York vs Sydney: Which was the more kickass PM Modi rocking-fest?
Well they certainly put up a very good fight. The spot was chosen carefully. Just like Madison Square, the Allphones Arena is Australia’s biggest entertainment and sporting complex and was built for the 2000 Summer Olympics. Mick Jagger has performed there. And right after Modi leaves, Katy Perry will be performing over the next weekend, while The Eagles are scheduled to visit early next year.
More than 16,000 members of the Indian diaspora were at the Allphones Arena at Olympic Park to salute ‘rockstar’ Modi.
But how did they compare head to head? Here are the statistics:
At Madison Square Garden, 20,000 people turned the arena into a ‘sea of Modi’, while countless other NRIs had watched Modi speak on giant screen at New York’s Times Square. In Sydney, there were 16,664 Indians, or so claimed the very precise emcee at the event. About 5,000 more were watching the evening event on big screens outside.
Verdict: Madison by a squeak.
In September, when Modi was at the the big event in Madison Square Garden, and as the Indian community chanted “Modi, Modi”, Hari Sreenivasan, a PBS anchor who was hosting the event said, “It’s starting to sound like a campaign rally”.
“Remember, he’s already elected,” he joked.
Neither he nor his co-host, Nina Davuluri, the first Indian-American Miss America, could do much to hold their audience’s attention in the hour or so before Modi’s arrival, noted New York Times.
However, we must admit, that the anchors did a brilliant job. They kept it simple knowing very well that all the crowd wanted was Modi, Modi and more Modi. Davuluri looked gorgeous in her pink lehenga, and Sreenivasan, like always, was very classy.
But, Sydney left us disappointed. The Sydney event was hosted by Siddarth Trivedi, who with arms outstretched lauded PM Modi. “Charismatic! Energetic! Dynamic! And a vision of positivity”. The Emcee who went before him, made the crowd chant “We love…. Modi!” over and over again. Little bit overenthusiastic.
Just like the Madison event, Trivedi’s co-host was a beauty contest winner–Miss India Australia, Rashi Kapoor. But, Kapoor was nothing like Davuluri. With her over-the-top sequined lehenga, she looked like she landed straight from an Ekta Kapoor serial. She spoke in an accent which was neither Australian, nor Indian and seemed to have a mind numbingly endless array of platitudes at her disposal. Whats more, while praising India, Kapoor thought it’s cool to say “It is the land of Ravindranaths Tagore.” Ouch.
Verdict: A big thumbs down to the Allphones hosts. Madison wins hands down.
A Garba, a Rajasthani folk dance, a Bollywood dance performance–NRIs in New York tried every way to sow their Indianness. New York’s most storied arena ran high on enthusiasm during the traditional folk dance from Gujarat, which also inspired some attendees to dance along in the aisles. Meanwhile, a slightly off-tune Kavita Krishnamurthy, sang, “I Love My India” while a speed-painter dashed off Modi’s bearded, spectacled likeness in a few quick strokes.
Bruce Springsteen’s classic had fallen flat– A dozen dancers wearing glow-in-the-dark outfits reminiscent of traffic officers, romped around the stage to the strains of “Born in the U.S.A.”
But, if the MSG made you cringe, the events at Olympic Park reminded us of tacky school annual day celebrations! Shiamak Davar’s group presented a fusion dance combining Kathak and jazz. One side of the stage was occupied by Michael Jackson-esque dancers, while the other half was occupied by traditional Indian dancers with no co-ordination whatsoever.
Then, there was a bewildered looking Brett Lee who was brought on to the stage, and accosted by the emcee who demanded, “Tell us what you love about India!”
Verdict: Erm… we can’t choose which was worse.
Modi’s speech and the effect on social media:
At Madison, from the moment he stepped onto the revolving dais, Modi had the audience eating out of his hand. “Earlier Indians used to charm snakes, but now we play with the ‘mouse’,” Modi’s remark was met with tremendous applause. He also spoke about the country’s successful Mars mission and how a one-km ride in an auto-rickshaw costs us Rs 10, but a trip to Mars cost us Rs 7 per km.
It was probably one of the Prime Minister’s best speeches post election.
NDTV’s Vikram Chandra tweeted: “That was such an engrossing speech that I quite forgot my intention to tweet about it!”
Anand Mahindra tweeted: “Clear that Indians around the world have been bystanders to other visionary & charismatic leaders & hungered for one of our own.”
India Today Chairman Editor-In-Chief Aroon Purie’s tweet said: “@narendramodiodi has the audience in the palm of his hand. Making them laugh and making them proud.”
Compared to the MSG speech, the PM’s speech at Olympic Park was plain boring. He invoked Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi. It sounded more like a speech at a rally than an international event where he is trying to woo investors. Like all his other speeches, he spoke about Jan Dhan Yojana and the Swacch Bharat campaign. And, though it didn’t start with ‘Mitron’, it did end with ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’
No wonder, Modi’s speech did not impress social media. Although, #ModiInAustralia was the top trend all day, there wasn’t much praise.
In Madison, outside the venue, the words on-screen read: “Minimum government, maximum governance,”–one of the prime minister’s many mottos. The Garden’s big screen then had an illustration of Modi’s face against the colors of the Indian flag that recalled Shepard Fairey’s famous “Hope” poster of President Obama.
While, outside the Allphones arena, there was Indian food, people in Modi masks, drummers and dancers. There was a flash mob outside the venue too. Dozens of people were seen wearing “Modi in Australia” T-shirts printed with the Indian leader’s face in the style of Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can” 2008 election posters. At the venue, an enthusiastic supporter screamed, “Modi’s a rock star!”
Sydney made sure that the Modi fever ran high.
Scores of supporters arrived on a train decked out in the country’s national colours. The so-called “Modi Express” saw more than 200 supporters board a train from Melbourne for the 12-hour journey to Sydney, singing and dancing in the carriages ahead of the event. The passengers were reportedly served delicacies like ‘Modi Dhokla’ and ‘Modi Fafda’ for free.