There was a time when the excitement of a cricket match was natural. People drove around on the roads of Bombay with the Indian flag draped around them, their cars etc. This was even before a victory. It was around 2003 and it was the World Cup. It must have either been India vs Pak or India vs Australia. Heck, I gave up on my board exam and invited friends, bought snacks and waited for the match to begin.
Cut to 2008 and we have contrived excitement all over India. I just don’t understand why so much of marketing and propaganda is going into this. Forget BCCI’s revenge on ICL, BCCI’s show of might or Lalit Modi’s whims. Why is there a major build up to everything concerning IPL? Why didn’t it just stop with stars purchasing teams and becoming owners? I did like that joke of Saif in an awards function when he said, my friend here(SRK) was not allowed to watch a cricket match and so he bought himself a team!
Thankfully people watching IPL on CBN are not subjected to the countless ads. Or so I hear. I have watched, probably, 10 overs of IPL so far. I read about it here and here. Why is Sivamani there in the stadium adding to all the frenzy? I can understand if I see SRK in Kolkata or Preity Zinta in Mohali. You cannot see Mukesh Ambani often because he has a proper job. The other owners have a job that requires them to show their face at regular intervals. Lets not even get into the whole cheer girls thing. Why are these people being such a dramebaaz? Like someone remarked, if a sport resorts to cheer girls dancing, singing half of the time, the sport must be really shallow. I liked Ramachandra Guha’s comment on it though:
“All the organisers are doing by making scantily-clad white women dance in front of huge crowds is to stoke the base voyeuristic and sexual insecurities of the Indian male. It is revolting, appalling and shows the game in very poor light.”
I am all for T20 cricket but then its neither being played nor marketed the right way. It is good fun. Things take a turn in a matter of a ball. The T20 world cup showed how exciting it can be and it also showed how bowlers do have something to play for. But then having a league with players worth millions, we have a strong batting side hitting sidelined Indian players all around the ground. Add to this Sivamani, Washington Redskins cheerleaders, Bhajji slapping, Sreesanth crying and countless brands laughing their way to the bank.
A friend compared IPL to league football and said we could do with something like that in Cricket. Thats so illogical. Mukul Kesavan points out beautifully. It is very pedestrian and it highlights ignorance when you make such a comparison. League football celebrates football in all its splendor and glory. It’s proper ninety minutes of play. Not a toned down version like T20. They don’t try so hard to market themselves. Don’t tell me they don’t have to. They never did. I’ll watch Real Madrid play Manchester United at Old Trafford rather than Mumbai Indians play Chennai Super Kings. That is until they play proper cricket and inspire me to give up my board exam and invite friends home. On the pitch, that is. Not on Royal Sundaram stand with Vijay, Nayanthara and Sivamani!
On a completely different note, some of those marketing minds at work are truly gods. You can’t help but like this. Truly remarkable people at work.
(First published on Desicritics)