(Disclaimer: Wrote this before the spot-fixing scandal broke out)
Mumbai: In a further bid to hold attraction to the family audiences, the IPL today decided to beam the popular serial Balika Vadhu on the giant screen at cricket grounds during the night games.
Making an announcement in this regard at a press conference, the IPL governing council chairman Rajiv Shukla said with the telecast of Balika Vadhu we are literally adding more drama to the IPL. ‘Now middle-age and elderly women, who have so far been left out of the IPL magic, will have a compelling reason to come to the stadium where the matches are staged,’ he said. ‘Just imagine watching Balika Vadu in the backdrop of a cricket match in which legends like Ricky Ponting may be carrying drinks’.
Shukla added: ‘with this the IPL experience in the stadium becomes a complete package for the family. The son and daughter can watch the game, the mother the soap on the giant screen and the dad, of course, the cheerleaders’.
The biggest incentive for any woman to catch Balika Vadhu at a cricket stadium is, Shukla said, ‘the husband can’t change the channel midway’.
Asked whether such telecast of soap on the giant screen will be a distraction to the players, Shukla wryly said first you claimed IPL itself was a huge distraction for the players. Now you say a serial will be a distraction for the players. ‘You guys need to make up your mind fast. But, at any rate, the purpose of any form of mass entertainment is to distract only,’ Shukla said amidst laughter, hardly realizing the fact that what he had uttered was indeed a deep philosophical truth.
Shukla also categorically asserted the primacy of cricket would not be compromised in any manner and, in the event of rain, the telecast of Balika Vadhu would be truncated based on D/L Method only.
Pointing out that there is perfect synergy between Balika Vadhu and the IPL, Shukla said we make up the rules on the move while they make up the story the same way. But make no mistake about it, the two evoke the same sentiments: If a guy is watching the IPL or if a woman is catching Balika Vadhu on the telly, their respective spouses are bound to dramatically roll their eyes and wonder the same thought: ‘I can’t understand what is interesting in this. It is so formulaic and so artificial.’
Balika Vadhu is a popular Hindi serial aired on Colors TV on weekday nights. When reporters quizzed Shukla on whether the airing of a rival channel’s programme would come in the way of IPL’s deal with Sony Television, he replied that IPL was all about breaking boundaries. ‘If we can tamper with cricketing traditions established decades ago, it shouldn’t be impossible for us to break the conventions that we ourselves laid just months ago’.
Queried whether purists would frown upon such a rabid commercial gimmick, Shukla retorted ‘you still think they can be satisfied? Purists and intellectuals are generally those people who are deeply suspicious of anything that makes the common people happy.’ He added: ‘Tell me one intellectual who is actually happy with anything at all in life. I gave upon them long time ago.’
Shukla, however, pointed out that he had statistics to prove that IPL-haters watch more of the matches than the actual followers of the format. ‘Look at the reams and reams of articles they have come up with on IPL. Even those journos and commentators who romanticize IPL have not given so much publicity for us’.
Meanwhile, a PIL was filed in the Madras High Court that the telecast of a serial on a public screen contravenes the rules of Chennai Corporation that had given permission only for a cricket match.
In a related suo motu action, the Corporation sealed all the approach roads to the M A Chidambaram stadium.
The TNCA (Tamil Nadu Cricket Association), for its part, is wondering the whether the telecast of Saravanan-Meenakshi, a popular Tamil serial, in place of Balika Vadhu would mollify the agitated nerves.
It is also learnt that even if the Corporation agrees to this face-saving compromise, the BCCI may be still under pressure to choose a serial from the Sun TV which owns the Hyderabad franchise.
(Disclaimer 2: A league mostly sustained on money from TV and ads is bound to have spot fixing issues)