It is amazing that the IPL, which was perhaps just an imagination in the mind of that maverick Lalit Modi around 2007, has today reached the stage where it is phenomenally successful and, well, still an imagination for Lalit Modi.
Modi stands completely banned from the event that he conceived and conceptualized. Yet, you should not be surprised if it eventually turns out that the Modi’s dramatic exit is all part of the entertainment package that the IPL is.
The thing is nothing about the IPL should ever shock you. For instance, when the IPL’s schedule in 2009 clashed with the Indian general elections, there may have been some who wanted the national polls to be shifted to South Africa while having the IPL here itself. I, for one, don’t blame them: For, even after the elections that were held in India, we still have a Prime Minister who has not been actually elected by the Indian public.
On the other hand, it is just as well that Indian elections weren’t pushed to South Africa. Because Indian politicians, had they been in charge of working out a law to abolish racism, would be still debating the draft of Anti-Apartheid Bill (“Sonia says Apartheid is unacceptable, assures to take up racism issue in Parliament session of 2023”) and the possible age-limit for booking someone under racist charge.
But we seem to be digressing. We need to come back to this year’s IPL and focus on what is new on offer. This year, we have a television channel as one of the official sponsors, and to hear that channel’s name being uttered time and time again while watching the telecast in its rival channel which is sponsoring the telecast is something that Christopher Nolan would have dropped as being totally impossible to comprehend and too far from any reality.
Also, in this year’s telecast they have roped in cricketing legends like Kapil Dev, who use skills — that only people with over 100 Tests under their belt can bring to the table —- like dancing and lip-syncing to songs to make people watch the game. Kapil is part of Extraaa Innings, the show that takes cricket to the common man by the smart strategy of removing cricket from the equation.
No, I am just kidding, It is a talk show that uses high-end cricketing tools like 1) Music band 2) A woman DJ 3) Nubile girls with the specialised skill to wear extremely small outfits that most guys would not want women from their own household to show up in. You can’t blame the show’s producers for using these props, because you need all these to drown out, and take your mind off: Navjot Singh Sidhu. (If there is just one bullet, and only Arnab Goswami or Sidhu can be taken out with it, I think most people would settle for the un-provided option C, which is to shoot one and then smash the head of the other with the gun).
In the television industry they have a dictum that probably goes, the way to a man’s eyeballs is through a woman’s heart, the area externally surrounding it to be precise. And this year, the IPL telecast is elevated by the presence of emerging legends like Rochelle Rao and Karishma Kotak. The latter has an enviable qualification: She has been part of the show Bigg Boss.
In glamour circles, the tag ‘Bigg Boss participant’ is deemed a major plus in a person’s CV. But what is this Bigg Boss all about? Well, it is a popular event in which the contestants have to have the special talent — pay close attention here — to live with other people. You need to be a true philosopher to appreciate this quality, and we all know that the glamour-filled entertainment industry is full of such sensitive people, and that is why Bigg Boss is such a hit show across languages and cultures.
I just hope that players like Michael Hussey, Ricky Ponting understand how lucky and privileged they are to be playing in a tournament that is served by a Bigg Boss contestant. One day Hussey will probably gather his grandkids and tell them that he once answered the query ‘how does it feel to win the man of the match award?’ posed by Karishma Kotak. (Cue for: Goosebumps).
Moving on to action on the field, on the evidence of two matches played so far, Virat Kohli has shown that he is a quick learner and has adapted to the demands of the IPL by having a spanking new haircut. On the other hand, Sharukh Khan continues to be the cynosure. And thanks to his exploits in the IPL, history books may one day record him as a bigger cricketing legend than Sir Garfield Sobers. (Cue for: Goosebumps)
And finally, the cricketing romantics are already talking in glowing terms the fact of Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting opening the Mumbai Indians’ innings together. It is being made out as if Muthiah Muralitharan bowling, with Sachin and Ponting at the crease, as an event worthy of a study by, say, Wharton University, speaking where, I must point out here, is still a matter of imagination for Modi.
Narendra, I meant.