Thursday, April 29, 2010

What IPL is all about?

As the murky deals of IPL keep emerging everyday and every news channel flashes interviews of team owners, BCCI barons and the man with the Midas touch, Lalit Modi, the thing that strikes me most is the lovely dimple of Preity Zinta (cant help it man, old habits die hard!). As I try to come out of Preity’s dimples and Shilpa’s charms, and as I maneuver myself avoiding Shah Rukh’s promised nude dance ( Saurav must be really thanked for saving us all from this promised threat! Dada ki Jai!) and Vijay Mallya’s business belligerence ( you can feel free to call it acumen if you like him), suddenly it all becomes clearer to me. Hey, this is not about cricket. And this is not about business either. The IPL rises above this. It has shaken an already shaky government. It has consumed a ministerial birth, which Twitter could not, however best it tried. It is threatening two more ministers and it is threatening the relationship between a key ally and the ruling party. Surely, this is not cricket or business. IPL looks like it has risen to a level called politics. Now, don’t jump into a conclusion and say it is Indian Political league (though the P is very tempting!). No! If it were just politics, by now, our politicians would have mastered it. In IPL, politicians have become scapegoats. They are all licking their wounds and looking at their burnt fingers. If it were a Ram Mandir , they would have played it to the hilt but this is something new. They are yet to get to terms with it. So, IPL is not just politics. It is something more.

Is the IPL all about an individual’s dream enterprise being robbed away of the charismatic leadership of a creative icon? Lalit Modi did to IPL what Kapil Dev could not with ICL (Hey, which business acumen did you see in Kapil to throw at him ICL instead of the ball? I can hear all Kapil fans emphatically saying “Can Modi score 175? Agreed ! ) Lalit Modi brought in Shah Rukh, and Preity and then suddenly the media and the ad world sensed a marriage between Bollywood and cricket and money started pouring in. The expensive tickets, the prized T shirts, the coveted regional identities, the riveted TV viewer ships propelling TRPs , the nail biting finishes with super overs, the non – stop media coverage, the auctioned world class players …. All these took IPL to an altogether different league. BCCI crushed ICL using its muscle power …er , money power with the ICC and suddenly all we had was an invincible IPL sold by a convincing Modi! And if we were to name the most aggressive player of IPL, you can’t name the dashing Dhoni or the smashing Pollard. Its not the charging Bollinger or the charming Tendulkar. No, its certainly not Harbhajan (though Srinath would beg to differ!) . You look searching for aggression and you cant look beyond Lalit Modi. This man took on PC and took IPL to South Africa. He took on Tharoor and opened the flood gates of a Water gate! He chided the media; wooed the crowds; lunched with celebrities; and kept the show on and on! Truly Lalit Modi did play a role (a big role!). But cant the IPL go on without Modi? Will the IPL not flourish further? Come on, you must be kidding … Be it Lalit Modi or Malit Lodi, the IPL is here to stay. Can’t see a bigger circus, man. So, this is not about Modi. So nothing individual here ( and Mr.Modi! nothing personal either!) .

So, what is IPL all about? The IPL is an annual circus filling the cash coffers. Look at it from a deeper socialistic angle. As the cash registers keep ringing, halt for a minute and ask yourself, just as your head spins at the mention of 1500 crores auctions and 300 crore remunerations, and just as owners talk of a fair evaluation in excess of 1000 crores per team, ask yourself who gives these crores? It is once again, the common man who buys a Chennai Super Kings T shirt. It is that Bengali who buys a ticket he could just about afford and cheer his Dada’s failures. It is that typical “Amchi Mumbai” guy who keeps chanting Sachin’s name as he watches the IPL in Mumbai’s multiplex! It is that college guy who starts playing Ungli cricket even after watching Abhishek and his deputy miserably failing to make us laugh! In society, money keeps flowing. It flows from the rich to poor; and from poor to rich; The flow from rich to poor is facilitated by extravagant goods like the Mercedes car and profligate marriages. And these days, elections are also proving to be a nice platform where money flows from the rich to the poor (with due respect to the election commission) And it flows from poor to rich in case of entertainments like cinemas. It flows from poor to rich in case of bribes. And IPL is just another medium, which the rich have invented to ensure that money flows to them from the poorer sections (poorer to them!) So its all about money, honey! As long as the movie is good, why wonder whether the director is paid more or the actor is? As long as IPL continues to charm you, why wonder whether Modi has cheated Powar or Tharoor has cheated Sonia? Why bother? Sit back and enjoy as Yuvaraj sweeps and Preity weeps! After all it is we who have paid for this circus! Let the circus go on!

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