Mumbai: In an absolutely predictable turn of events, Bollywood star Sharukh Khan is expected to be picked for the Indian cricket team that will do the duties in the one-dayer against England at Mumbai on October 25.
Sharukh is set to play for the Indian cricket team as part of the marketing blitz for Ra,One, which is releasing in theatres on October 26.
Confirming the development, a top BCCI source said it was only a logical culmination to both the absolute commercialisation of Indian cricket and the carpet-bombing marketing of the Ra.One team.
‘We have nothing left in Indian cricket to sell except spots in the Indian cricket team. And that is what we have done now,’ explained the BCCI source. ‘If this experiment works out well, we will doubtless make it a permanent idea, providing a berth in the Indian cricket team for other actors in the run up to the release of their respective films.’
The BCCI source conceded that there might be some ticklish issues to be tackled in the future, like when a Salman Khan starrer was set to be released. ‘Salman may insist on turning up in Indian colours on a, er, bare torso. You know what I mean,’ the source said and added: ‘but look at the positive side. We may have the biggest fantasy of every cricket fan coming true, which is Rajnikanth playing for the Indian team. That will give the Indian team a chance to enforce the follow-on without batting even once. Who knows he may score in one innings what took Sir Donald Bradman 52 Tests to. ’
Also, the BCCI source said: “imagine Rajnikanth declaring in the post-match presentation: ‘I did for Sachin’. I get goosebumps merely thinking about it.”
And how about, Sachin saying: ‘it augurs well for the future of Indian cricket that youngsters like Rajnikanth are showing tremendous potential.’
Coming back to Sharukh’s inclusion in the team, with India having wrapped up the first the two one-dayers of the ongoing series against England in a rather comprehensive manner, this was the only way to add some meaning to an anyway meaningless series.
It is not clear whether Sharukh will be played as a batsman or bowler. Whatever that be, he can be counted to ham it to the best of his abilities.
But it is most likely that the underperforming Ajinkya Rahane will be dropped and Sharukh will come in as his replacement. The BCCI source said that though the idea to include Sharukh was part of a commercial deal, it still made a lot of cricketing sense. ‘Look at it this way, Sharukh playing in the team would seem much more acceptable than Rahane being dropped and his place inevitably going to — knowing the ways of this particular selection committee —- Anirudha Srikkanth.’
The BCCI source said it is not as if Sharukh is a total outsider to cricket. He is the owner of the IPL team Kolkata Knightriders. ‘Talking of KKR, Sharukh being picked for the Indian cricket team can still be more logically explained than Ajit Agarkar being picked for Kolkata Knightriders.’
Meanwhile, an unidentified Indian player was quoted saying that he was delighted when he was told that a member of Ra.One cast will play in the Indian Eleven in the Mumbai one-dayer. ‘But I was slightly deflated when I came to know that it will be Sharukh and not Kareena. With Kareena around, it would have been more fun, especially the team huddle’, he twinkled his eyes conspiratorially.
Elsewhere, sources in the Sharukh Khan camp said that he was happy that he would be part of the Indian team in the one-dayers. Sharukh is expected to do his Chammak Challo jig after the fall of every English wicket, providing an entertaining contrast to the current routine which now involves Suresh Raina smothering the bowler or the catcher in a clinch, which is sure to fetch a full nelson in a Greco-Roman wrestling bout.
The marketing team of Ra.One said they were also in negotiations with the Anna Hazare team to try and include Sharukh as part of their contingent. ‘We have thought up imaginative schemes like a free ticket to Ra.One for anyone actually reading what is in the Lokpal Bill,’ they said and added the only glitch here maybe that Digvijay would end up accusing a Muslim, which Sharukh is, of having ties with the RSS. ‘When it comes to unseemly publicity we confess that we come second only to Digvijay,’ they said ruefully.
Ra.One is said to be filled with many high-tech special effects. The film’s producers said that they would work on digitally-touched graphic images even after the film’s release. ‘In fact the biggest work for us remain after the film’s release, which is to make the world buy into the biggest science fiction idea known to mankind ever —- that the audience actually like a science fiction film involving Sharukh and Arjun Rampal.’
‘It’s a tough task to create that image. But we have the people to pull off the scientifically most advanced special effect. We mean we have our marketing team in place’.
(Disclaimer: Trying to spoof the over-the-top marketing blitz of Ra.One, we seem to have actually given more publicity to the film. So this joke is on us.)
(Disclaimer 2: Stay prepared for the inevitable from Sagarika Ghose: Is the Bollywoodisation of the BCCI total now?)