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By Sumit Singh

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It was perhaps their most awaited trip. All the 20 kids of the participatory video initiative in Surguja were more than eager to go to Raipur. Their visit was to coincide with the ‘introduction’ of the recently formed ‘Sangwari Khabariya’ (friendly neighbourhood reporters), as they decided to call themselves, to the world by none other than Delhi Daredevils. But for Sangwari Khabariya the thrill of going to Raipur was more palpable than the prospect of meeting Delhi Daredevils.

For them, it was like, “Who/what is Delhi Daredevils?” right from the start. Although a couple of them did show some excitement about meeting the cricket stars that they rarely saw on television, travelling together by train all night and exploring a world different from theirs seemed to be on the top of their minds.

All of them looked around at the venue and giggled when they identified themselves on the flexboards and the background on the dais. But what they didn’t expect was the sudden attention by the reporters, UNICEF & Delhi Daredevil officials and more so the cricketers.

For the kids who have a world of their own in remote villages, Zaheer Khan, Imran Tahir, Mayank Agarwal, Manoj Tiwary and Jaydev Unadkat weren’t awe inspiring cricket stars. While others at the event mobbed the cricketers for autographs, they all sat there matter-of-factly, waiting to talk to the cricketers. The cricketers’ stardom hardly affected their conversation.

“How do you play cricket?” Sangita asked Zaheer Khan. Anybody else would have glared at Sangita. But Zaheer Khan went on to patiently explain how the game’s played.

Dinesh from Udaipur block wanted to know what ball the cricketers used on the field. “When we play cricket, we stuff cloth in socks and tie it to use like a ball.”

Imran Tahir told Thakur from Mainpat block how to spin a ball. Thakur tried repeating the action and asked him why one spins the ball.

Innocence.

When the cricketers asked them if they played the game, Mankumar told them they hardly had the time. They had to support to their parents on agricultural fields, go out to work as construction labourers and they’re too tired by the end of the day, he said with a smile. “Will you teach me videography?” Jaydev asked Mankumar. “Do you have the time?” Mankumar asked him. It was Jaydev’s turn to smile.

By the end of the event, they were tired. Tired of all the attention they were getting from TV News journalists and giving interviews to print journalists.

Before getting into the bus to get back to their rooms, only one thing was on their minds. Watching Gabbar is Back the next day.

Between Ek Paheli Leela and Gabbar is Back, the latter was perhaps a better choice.

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