Leander Paes may be keen to play in a record eighth Olympics in Tokyo. However, he was compelled to say ‘no’ when Purav Raja queried whether he would compete in the 2024 edition if Tokyo got cancelled.
It was a heady climax for the Sunday Instagram show, Chai with Raja, as special guest Lara Dutta teased the host by saying that the show should be named ‘Rum with Raja’, possibly as a means to celebrate husband Mahesh Bhupathi’s birthday.
The former Miss Universe joked that Bhupathi had become “one year older, [but] I don’t know whether he has turned wiser”. She also equated the love-hate relationship of Paes and Bhupathi to the one between Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan.
Paes was thrilled to talk about his film Rajdhani Express, but said that his successful business ventures were “Olympics, Grand Slam doubles and mixed doubles”. He opted to mentor the boys, rather than become the Davis Cup captain again.
He entertained the viewers, wielding his tennis racquet like a cricket bat to imitate the cover drive of Sachin Tendulkar, the pull of M.S. Dhoni and the straight six of Virender Sehwag.
“Give me the best, give me Virat Kohli,” said the 46-year-old Paes when the host proposed a fitness challenge by a cricketer.
Even though he praised Rahul Dravid, happy to see him “fight in the trenches”, Paes picked Sourav Ganguly for his fascinating career and predicted an ICC position for the former India cricket captain and the current BCCI president.
When asked what he did not have, Paes said, “a magic wand to eradicate poverty.”
Between Bhupathi’s backhand return and Bopanna’s serve, Paes picked the latter, saying, “it is one hell of a serve”.