Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Entertainment, Entertainment Aur Entertainment

A Guest Post by Agransh Anand
Agransh is a cricket enthusiast, the kind who feels disillusioned by the game owing to the entertainment based extravaganza it has been made in this IPL season. You can feel this post has been written straight from the heart, and why not? A cricket fan in India is nothing if not passionate. While I was regaling myself with thumping DD wins, another fan was mulling over some obvious trickery. Here on, Agransh takes over, to take us through an IPL journey.

I have witnessed over the years that Indian movies don't make it to Oscars, and even if they do, they are not good enough to win the coveted trophy. The surprising part however is that over the past 5 years, we Indians have witnessed some great 3 hour movies and that too not just one but in huge numbers, being released every day, for a period of two months . These not only contain some world class actors and some newcomers every season, they have got the makings of a perfect thriller, the glitz, drama, pretty faces in the form of cheerleaders, emotions running high on and off the field- consistently giving us 3 hours of uninterrupted entertainment. An increasing number of followers every season have made these movies more intense, more thrilling and have surpassed the expectations of the people when they give 'I did not expect this kind of ending' time and again. This movie, my friend, is predictably, the Indian Premier League or IPL for most of us. Produced, Written and Directed by BCCI.

I had been an ardent fan of the league since its very inception. Not only did the league threw at us names of some brilliant budding cricketers, it also changed the way cricket is played all over the world. The purists of the game have always put test cricket first over every other format but it only showed that they are sulking because of the glory these cricketers are basking in and somewhere would be feeling that they had missed the bus when it came down to the money factor. Every person is entitled to making as much money as he wants to. And by putting in those extra hours between their international assignments, they were earning all that they had ever dreamt of. It also meant that hundreds of other cricketers who would never see the light of the day in the Indian team,would not be deprived of a secured financial future. In a game which had less money for cricketers as late as 15 years, back this was a welcome change everyone had been yearning for. They were getting recognition and were awards for all the hard work they had put in over the years. They were in the limelight for the right reasons, had become households names, loyal fans were cheering for them and were being given a shot at their lifetime goal of representing their country. Ranji matches had become obsolete. No longer did the traditional old rivalry between states hold any importance in either selection of cricketers or viewership of the audience. And why would it? Here in ipl you had 19 year olds sharing dressing room with legends of the game, smacking best of the bowlers around the park and getting guided by world class coaches. For someone who does not go into the nitty gritties of cricket, from a distance, IPL seemed to be a happy picture. Why would someone spend 3 hours on a senseless bollywood movie (most of them are) when he can enjoy a fantastic spectacle of cricket daily? More so, it had become a status symbol for those who went to see the matches in the stadium. For the first time ever, the female population of the country was taking an active interest in the game, even if it was out of love for Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta or Shilpa Shetty. The biggest industrialists of the country too were caught by the bug.  When Mukesh Ambani takes out time to watch the match in the stadium, you know it is something special. If you had passes to the match, you were amongst the lucky ones and if you had jugaad to the after party you were amongst the privileged ones. If your dad's firm was the sponsor of one of the team, you got immediate respect in the social circles. In totality, being associated in any form with the ipl meant big for those who were mere spectators to the drama called IPL. The league had been a success, well written, produced and directed.

However, only a few had imagined that while scripting this success story, the roles of the actors (read cricketers) were also fixed. When egos and politics get mixed with sports, the outcome becomes ugly. It hampers the very nature of sportsmanship. There are good rivalries as well as the bad ones. India-Pakistan, Ashes- these are the ones which are good for sports. When Dhoni has a spat with the vice captain of the team, it means trouble for the Indian cricket. But when Dhoni, Sehwag, Gambhir, Bhajji have their egos getting clashed against each other, it means more fun for an average cricket fan. Each of the great cricketers having a go at the other. Life would have been simpler had a healthy rivalry accompanied by some show of attitude plus display of exemplary cricketing skills minus the swearing  would have been the order of the occasion. These players had been great ambassadors of Indian cricket. Getting selected on merit has always been the key for them. All of them at different levels had shown admirable leadership qualities and had earned respect from the cricketing fraternities. The Tamasha cricket had given them another platform to display a side of theirs which one cannot see much during the international matches. And now comes the role of the director.

In movies, you can script a story according to the taste of the public. You can make the good guy triumph, show that the villain lost in the end, long lost brothers meeting again etc. In cricket however, your role ends the moment the players take the field. From thereon, its their game, their lives, their clashes. If ever anybody wanted to take lessons on event management, there is no big event in India than IPL. But just like a good event management company, they have no say in whatever happens on the stage. By putting their foot in the wrong area, IPL has not done itself any favor.

Over the years, IPL has had its share of controversies. Be it the fake blogger of the Kolkata team, the strategic timeouts which changed the course of the game within a few minutes, accusations of match fixing, parties and the latest one being spot fixing. But as  a hard core fan, I had always negated these even though I was irked by the game changing time outs at times. Yet all these factors could not hamper the very strong following of the game.

When the Chairman of the league announces at the opening ceremony that this will be the most entertaining IPL ever, you don't take those words literally. You feel that you have seen past 4 seasons and what different could the 5th one be? Half way down the tournament you realize that you were mistaken. Not only have you not seen more thrilling last over finishes, you have also seen the most number of last ball finishes. Javed Miandad's moment of glory was hitting a six of the final ball off Chetan Sharma way back in 1985 at Sharjah. At IPL, every Tom, Dick 'n' Harry was replicating that moment at will. It took me some time to realize that what does the 'Business End ' of the tournament means. It means that when TRP's will drop, you will have a sudden surge in close finishes, giving you more viewership and commercials. It means that weaker teams who started brilliantly in the tournament will fade out and never recover from their downfall (Pune). It means that if your team doesn't boast of big names, its not good enough to generate excitement amongst viewers, no matter how good the youngsters in your team are (Punjab). And it means that if the president of the BCCI is also the owner of a certain yellow jersey team, your team has every chance of qualifying through to the play-offs. It means that three matches which had to go in Chennai's way for them to make it to the next round, will go their way. It means that a team which has lost 11 of their 14 games, will suddenly strike form and knock out two probables (Rajasthan and Bangalore) from entering into the next round. Outside the IPL, it means that if you are a part of the yellow jersey team, you get an automatic entry into the Indian team, which in due course time will be called CSK extension. That no matter how bad a player you are, you will get full support of your skipper, Dhoni and will be retained time and again. That even if you are bits and pieces type cricketer, you will get auctioned for a whopping 2 million dollars when the best in the business get paid much less than you because there is skipper's backing. That IPL ego clashes will be taken to the International matches and players will be selected based on the franchise that they represent. If the Indian skipper doesnt like his Vice Captain, lads from Delhi will hold less chance compared to those who belong to Chennai and Bangalore. If anything, Ipl 5 should act as an eye opener for millions of fans around the country who get exhausted by the end of the match in a hope that their team might pull off a turn around when little do they know that the 'Business end' has already been looked after. Going to watch a match in the stadium is a day long affair for an average Indian, fighting through the traffic, trying to find a parking space and entering the stadium after battling it out at the entry gates. To play with the emotions of people is a sin. To drain people emotionally and give them a result which you wanted them to see is a crime. Its time that the BCCI understands that IPL is what it is because of the people who follow the game so passionately. Don't play with their feelings. We would be happy to see honest contests more than the tailor-made matches.

Agransh Anand
One of the many IPL fans in India. Till now, at least. 


  1. Wonderful. The monopoly of Chennai would come to an end. Inshallah.
    We have brilliant players who can make a good captain for Indian team. My adulation for Gautam Gambhir grows each game he plays. He led India from the from whenever he gets a chance and now KKR. So far he has been the best captain of IPL5. However our selectors have shown faith in a player for futire captain who can't cool himself and prefers language of Ben*** and exhibit middle finger.
    I would like to see fair play in Indian cricket team and Gambhir as new captain at least for test matches.

    1. I much appreciate your opinion Tarique. I really like the fact that you have opinions and are not scared of putting them on public display. It conveys how passionately you feel about things.
      I do agree in parts with your belief. It is like fairplay has become an anachronism in the world today. I wish this order of things changed.

  2. Agransh Anand, hope you are fine
    this time is for getting updates of ipl 7 2014
    nice blog and keep sharing