Monday, May 20, 2013

Of IPL's commentators, fixers, players, cheerleaders and of course...viewers!

The IPL season is approaching the playoffs stage, as I write this post. Now how did I know about the arrival of IPL this year? The same...viewers of the house settling on chairs, cheering and insulting and to sum up...out of sync with realities of life as long as the match is on. Suggest that you would prefer watching a more intellectually engaging television show and then ensures hostility. Cricket is indeed God and IPL the crown prince! There are various character types which the IPL has engendered ever since its inception. And they are only growing in strength. The first is of course commentators. Here is IPL- the king of all good cricket times. And the commentators are the masterchefs who dish out this dole for you in all its spicy drama (sometimes creating drama where none is necessary) They dabble in couplets and sometimes shake a leg. They are the paradoxically poster boys and seers, who can say which way the match can go, all of course in carefully couched terms. (Wonder why the bookies never approach them) They dress gaudy, they speak loud and after listening to their rant, the only thing you can take away is well...they dress gaudy and they speak loud. I often wonder what ever happened to the good old analysis of the game itself. Is it because the format itself offers a limited scope for a constructive and an engaging discourse? As Gavaskar right reacted to the fixing episode, I often wonder whether at the end of a televised sequence, the commentators feel like idiots. The fixers, by a natural sequence of order, come before the players. They react on twitter, play the aggrieved party, and then, turn around and fix a match. Well, what is wrong about fixing? If the match is fixed, why are we watching it? Where is the element of suspense? The Delhi Police has effectively ensured that the dramatic suspense, which is usually the staple of IPL, is condemned for the rest of the season. This has actually turned out to be quite a boon. To me now, every player is a potential fixer, and I do not mince my words while pointing this out to the regular audience in my house. They cringe, I gloat, and of course, the fixers sulk. Aggression is fine, but aggression bordering on stupidity? Breaking into impromptu jigs, gesturing menacingly, glaring ominously, all make me wonder whether I am witnessing a gladiators' fight. Heck, even Russell Crowe acted suitably dignified while battling for his pride in The Gladiator. And these players are fighting for their franchises. And in the process, what role models have they become. And how misplaced has become the notion of courage and bravery. (The advertisements have an instrumental role to play is the shaping of such perceptions...showing players as warriors??) I often feel sad for the cheerleaders. Maybe they are professional cheerleaders and maybe such practices are common in the West. But face it, they are more of a distraction in the IPL. Not to mention the fact that there is something reductionist in the fact that they are engaging in such groovy steps and mind-boggling routines only because a batsman or a bowler on the field has done something. And they have to wait till the batsman/bowler does that and then...they get on their platforms and entertain. So, in the final analysis, the entertainment in IPL (which differentiates it from other formats) is the presence of the cheerleaders. Carrying such an idea to an odious extreme is the idea of heralding commentators with cheerleaders. Don't even get me started on the camera angles.... Finally the viewers...the deluded viewers...who watch all this tomfoolery and are convinced that they have been a part of history by watching an IPL match. Add to this set, the enormous number of people who throng the matches, buy the merchandise and compromise on other crucial aspects of life...just because an IPL match is round the corner. What a waste of human resources. To any discerning person, it must be obvious that the IPL is designed to be a waste of time, money and effort, not to mention the fact that it adds a damaging aspect to the gender discourse in this country - women are frequently reduced to a status of a commodity. Wonder why no one recognizes this.