The Games Stupid People Play

25 Apr

I see the great Cricket by Karan Johar extravaganza has been drawing boatloads of criticism. You know… the Indian Premier League? I suppose it should rightfully be called the Cricket All Stars for the BCCI Hates Subhash Chandra Movement or the This Money is All Mine Beeyotch Cricket Club or something of similar, especially because KJo’s involvement in the whole thing seems limited to him being best friends with two of the team owners (maybe three? Vijay Mallya? No? Hmm, yeah, KJo would never let a friend of his go out in public with that kind of bling around his neck).

But come on! Cheerleaders (from the Washington Redskins squad – obviously Mallya’s contribution to the great game of cricket) and a team called *snicker* Knight Riders? It practically screams the KJo brand of “cool”. I’m surprised The Hoff isn’t singing the league anthem. Which should totally be Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham. Actually, The Hoff singing Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham? That I would watch. Hell, that I’d pay money for!

And money is what lies at the center of this whole thing, isn’t it? Who’s making what and why and wherefore and when and by what means and how and where does it all go and why does it make the little girls cry? It’s all just a matter of time before all this horrible money business ruins cricket forever and crushes everybody’s spirits until mankind’s faith in all sport will be destroyed forever, amen. Coz a fat paycheck and a pink neon outfit (oh wait, that’s the ICL huh?) are obviously worse than betting and fixing as demonstrated by… um, the English soccer clubs? Practically every American sport? Huh.

To be fair, a lot of people are cribbing for noble reasons – the Twenty20 phenomenon is apparently going to ruin cricket in some way that I don’t understand and, frankly, don’t care to understand because… well, it’s cricket and we have no love lost between us. I know! I’m a terrible person and there’s a special corner of hell reserved just for me. I just hope it doesn’t come equipped with a plasma screen playing cricket 24/7.

It might be the lamest money making exercise in the history of world sport, but it’s obviously bringing a great deal of joy to a great many people. Maybe that’s not you and maybe these are not people whom you consider to be “true” fans of the sport but let’s face it – your approval isn’t necessary.

Besides, if you are going to make tons of money through the cynical manipulation of people, then you might as well do it by making people happy, you know what I mean? It’s not like any of these people are dealing drugs or blowing people up.

Which is why I’m struck by this petition to “make cricket watchable again“. There’s been so much ink spilled on how the IPL is really this great big cattle market where players are bought and sold (wait until the trading starts. Ooh, great hairy fistfuls of fur will fly!) that I’m surprised by how little anyone’s really talked about what’s at stake here except in the most general of terms: Indian eyes.

Those eleventy gazillion dollars that everyone’s spending and taking? It’s all based on the fact that Indians will watch those games. Probably other people too but let’s talk Indians here coz I don’t know if they’re watching this in Australia or England or wherehaveyou. But I do know my mom and dad are watching it (and my dad never watches television) and my mom cusses out the TV something fierce when she talks about those ads that cut into her cricket time. I thought she was exaggerating (I’ve seen invasive ads in India before, how bad could it be?) but Raja Sen’s article makes me think otherwise:

ESPN-Star started the trend of using every single break between overs to push in a commercial or two, and we soon got used to that. Ten Sports and Sony worked the envelope even more aggressively, and began to routinely cut off commentators mid-sentence. And now this, where advertisements are repeated with such nauseating constancy they make you want to shoot an otherwise adorable pug, or attack any hair-dye buyer with a pair of shears. And we’re not even going to the horrible production values the channel is flaunting for the best cricketing circus ever.

Of the million and one controversies that have dogged the IPL since it was conceived in the angry halls of the BCCI, this is perhaps the one issue that struck a chord with me. Not because of my mom’s interrupted viewing pleasure, but because it’s A) disrespectful, B) stupid and C) par for the course.

It’s disrespectful and stupid because if you’re planning to make mega bucks off millions of people then the last thing you want to do is not put their wants first and center. How long do you think it’s going to take some enterprising Indian to figure out that Tivo would make a killing in India given this sorry state of affairs and then where will you all be? (Hey, you, I thought of that idea first! I demand a cut!) So, instead, why wouldn’t you just do what every other sports broadcaster in the world does – give the fans what they want to watch and control the ad time. In fact, seeing as how you’ve already borrowed cheerleaders from American football, why don’t you borrow a few more of their ideas and stage something like the Superbowl ads? Maybe you could make more money off it! (Hey, you, I thought of that idea first! I demand a cut!)

And it’s par for the course because Indian TV works without any rhyme or reason. Shows come on air, go off, come back, go on interminably, even Idols get recycled – as and when they like, however they like it. I’ve been trying to make sense of it for years now but I have no clue what’s going on or why people stand for it.

PS – all those people moaning about the death blow those cheerleaders dealt Indian culture with their shapely tushies? Here’s a little video for you, approprately titled Naughty Naughty, starring the son of a Congress chief minister and the daughter of two (count ’em two!) BJP MPs and national icons. Chockfull of Indian culture, they are.


Posted by on April 25, 2008 in Entertainment, Life, Newsmakers, Television, Video


5 responses to “The Games Stupid People Play

  1. narendra shenoy

    April 27, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Ranted beautifully. You had me thumping the floor at every sentence, and since I live on the 16th floor, I daresay the 15th floor guy will have something to say about all that plaster falling down.

    But the situation demands it. I knew in a general sort of way that we Indians were morons when it came to entertainment, forking out, as we do, our hard earned 100 or whatever rupees so that Karan Johar can make his pretty movies about how much people love other people in Swiss and Australian locations while dancing in the company of fifty professional dancers and changing garments every 30 seconds. This is the Indian Way, I said to myself, been happening for YEARS and YEARS. But the IPL thing is a bit thick, I tell you. And do you know why? Because the cheer leaders aren’t changing their garments every thirty seconds.

    No, seriously, because no one knows who is the goodie and who is the baddie. This was easy in the early days. Indian man good. Paki man bad. Gora man good. Non gora man bad. All person with surname ending in “kar” good, and so on. Now, thanks to the Livestock Trading Model that is followed by the IPL, no one knows which side one is on.

    Consider you are a Kolkata Whatchamacallit supporter and suppose one of the Pakistani bowlers is playing for your team. You’re cheering. And then God (sometimes known by his earth name, Sachin Tendulkar) hits him for a four. Do you
    Have a nervous breakdown
    All of the above

    See? Most stressful

  2. Gagan

    April 28, 2008 at 1:04 am

    well said. I concur with Narendra’s sentiments above even though I tend not to keep track of any sport in a regular way anymore. Think it’s not just India. I read an extended letter in sports illustrated a couple of years back by a disillusioned base ball junkie. He complained about how commercial the game had gone, pricing seats out of every day budgets and not just to meet rising costs, but just it seemed to him to see if they could keep getting away with it. There definitely needs to be some consumer backlash going all over. Great expose of the double speak of neta hypocrisy. But I suppose it makes for a great PR effort. Put a lid on those licentious gora ways and everyone will think we’re doing right by India. Hell, I’m sure political consultants pray for opportunities like this to come along.

  3. Amey

    April 28, 2008 at 9:16 am

    The biggest thing I have against IPL is the lowly tactics people are using to win this “gentleman’s game”. I mean, cheerleaders to distract players is an obvious thing, but people are using underhanded things like highly reflective helmets and uniforms to dazzle the eyes of opponents (talk about dazzling performance). But then, what can you expect from a team owned by a man who steals others’ girlfriends and fiance (and now, wives) for living 😉

  4. Amrita

    April 29, 2008 at 11:19 am

    NS – lolz, well I hope I dont get you evicted! But thats a really good point. Well, what does one do when such a situation develops in the county matches? This is kind of the blingy version of county cricket isn’t it? Not that I watch either but …

    Gagan – Yeah its like concert tickets and concession stand food: bilk the customer to the max. and they wonder why attendance is down. Maybe because people dont like to be ripped off?

    Amey – presumably they’re getting paid the big bucks to keep their attention out of their pants and in the game 😀 i dont know about dazzling outfits — I’m completely bowled over by the ICL outfits! Btw, who’re you talking about re: stealing girlfriends? Tell tell!

  5. larry and sergey

    November 19, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    umm we like your post and we want to make a google app with this in it. so give me a call love ya

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