Move over Ekta Kapoor

A well-informed source tells me that over at the Balaji Telefilms headquarters, they are beginning to worry. Ekta Kapoor is understood to have called her producers and told them in no uncertain terms that they have to immediately come up with ideas to combat the emerging threat to their soap opera dominance from the IPL and the sundry noise-makers associated with it.

You can see her point — with all the drama around in the real world, who needs TV?

A day after welcoming the news that KKR has approached Abdur Razzaq with a view to securing his participation in IPL-3, reading those tea-leaves and finding among the dregs signs that there is a thaw in Indo-Pak relations, and suggesting that maybe the climate is now right for bilateral talks, Pakistan did an abrupt volte face and decided to cancel the NOCs to Pakistan players to take part in the IPL.

Let’s see, now — the PCB seems to be saying that India has no business insulting Pakistan players; any insulting that is required will be done by the PCB itself, thank you very much. [And that is not surprising either — after all, it was the PCB that pointed a match-fixing finger at its own team captain not so long ago].

Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena and its gracelessly aging leader decided to take up cudgels against a sea of troubles. That is to say, against Shah Rukh Khan, with the party’s Thane unit led by its MLA Eknath Shinde ordering a ban on all SRK films until further notice. You can’t blame Shinde, really — the Sena is a monkey-see, monkey-do party, and its loyal ‘leaders’ know nothing better than to blindly jump in whatever direction Mr B Thackeray points his finger.

Khan’s fault, apparently, is that he spoke up for Pakistan players. If the Sena means to say that anyone expressing a personal preference for seeing some of Pakistan’s T20 World Cup-winning stars in action in the IPL is to be banned, then I wonder what the Sena plans to do about Dr Manmohan Singh? Who, while remaining mum about a host of pressing issues ranging from price rise to the growing intel that India is apt to be the target of a major terrorist attack sometime soon, did manage to find time to “signal his displeasure” at the IPL and at Lalit Modi for shutting a “growing window of opportunity”.

Seriously, Dr Singh — what window of opportunity was that? Is it your contention, and that of your mouthpiece, that if the IPL had allowed a half dozen Pakistan players to feather their personal nests by turning out for sundry franchises, Indo-Pak relations would have improved to the point where Islamabad would have immediately handed over those it now acknowledges as having had a role in 26/11 to India for punishment, shut down all terrorist camps, thrown every member of the LeT into prison for life, and abjured the use of terrorism as state policy for ever?

Or maybe you were not so ambitious — you only wanted to create a conducive climate for talks? But then, isn’t it you, and your government, that has been consistently saying there can be no talks with Pakistan without Islamabad acting and being seen to act to end terrorism?

So again — could you throw your tame mouthpiece please explain what “window of opportunity” got shuttered by the IPL?

Back to the Shiv Sena: So now that the Federal Home Minister has, at the behest of the Prime Minister of this country, expressed a desire to see Pakistan players in action on Indian soil, what are you going to do?

Do you have the courage of your stated convictions, and the cojones, to threaten the Home Minister and the Prime Minister with “dire consequences” for their words? Do you have what it takes to publicly suggest that Mr P Chidambaram and Mr Manmohan Singh [not to forget the Federal Sports Minister, who also expressed similar sentiments] will not be allowed to set foot in Maharashtra? Or is your soap-operatic rage so small in scale that it can only be used against small, soft targets — a film star here, a movie theatre there?

Could it be that you are, as your friendly enemy Mr Sharad Pawar once told me in an interview, a coward after all?

PostScript: Irrelevant to the above, but interesting: Aakash Chopra talks of the futility of having premier games in the domestic circuit played out on dead tracks.

The recently concluded semi-final between North and West Zone vindicated my point of curtailing the maximum number of overs at a team’s disposal for the knock-out matches. It was, as usual, a batting paradise in Rajkot and both teams knew that the toss might just decide the fate of the match. And boy it did…that too with style.

West scored nearly 800 runs, perhaps the highest in the season, and batted North out of the game. Yes, North could have fought harder and got closer to the total but overhauling it was a forgone conclusion. But what followed after West got a mammoth 465-run lead devalues the importance of a first-class century. West opted for some batting practice instead of going for an outright win which was perhaps there for the taking. But since a first-innings lead was enough to see them through to the finals, they can’t be blamed for not forcing the issue.

See you Monday.

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22 thoughts on “Move over Ekta Kapoor

  1. While BT and his gang of goons are a perennial problem, what has also intrigued me is why SRK and his KKR did not put their money where his mouth his, regardless of other teams not bidding for Pak players what stopped SRK / KKR from bidding and purchasing the Pak players services

    • It is something that intrigues a lot of us, Bedoon, and caused some at least of us to be somewhat snarky when SRK did his number about being sad. 🙂 He basically wants to eat/have his cake all at the same time — but as you agree, none of that is a license for BT’s goon squad to do its nut.

  2. Prem,
    Enjoyed your writing style after a long time!Maybe you are now settled in bangalore.!
    How do you see this issue dying down?I also feel Sena needs a good PR agency/revamp.Instead of issuing these ultimatums,just a remark that SRK’s comments are unfair or PM’s comments are unfortunate would have allowed them to remain in the news and avoided the brickbats.

    • A little bit more mindspace now, yeah, though I am a long way from being settled — been traveling too much since I shifted base, so haven’t have the time I’d like to put my house to rights. Yahoo kindly extended my tenure at the company guest house by another fortnight, so that helps 🙂

      The “issue”, like most manufactured “issues”, will die down when the media realizes the law of diminishing marginal returns has kicked in. The first day was maybe fun, now it has become boring and there is nothing new to say. Comments like “Make Kasab your captain” might be red meat for the core group of followers, but for the larger world outside it is merely indicative of the lack of taste/class the party and its leader shows — so the actual value of that and similar comments is negligible.

      Once the media realizes this and moves on — which typically it will when it realizes there is nothing new to say — the Sena will realize there is no point in flogging a dying horse, so it will move on, too — though I suspect the party will wait for the release of My Name is Khan to try and milk some additional mileage.

      • Prem-See the economist in you(Diminishing returns).Maybe you should also cover business topics.What’s your take on Saif getting the Padma and Rajeev Chandrasekhar sending his letter to MS?

  3. Prem,

    I hope I am wrong, but is it a coincendence that you are now saying such strong words about Shiv Sena (what you say is all very valid and true, no doubt about that) since you are now based in Bangalore??

    • Prem, please forgive me if I appear to belittle your credentials , but to present my two cents on the above question, I presume that it is a coincidence. However good Prem might be in this space, he is not remotely popular as either Sachin or SRK. And they do whatever they do , to gain political mileage and public footage, not because they particularly care. And you don’t need to wait for long for the proof. Just wait till 14th of next month , and you can see on T.V. what they vie for. I am sure there must be lakhs of people in Mumbai who feel quite the same and they get troubled only when the possibility of them being beaten on T.V. cameras exists.

      • Sumit, the reason I have a blog is because it gives me the freedom to say what I think. As a journalist, you are sometimes constrained [I am not suggesting that some one tells you what to write or what not to; there is however an internal filter that kicks in]. This however is my space, and it gives me the freedom to speak as I think. If I was aiming for “popularity”, a far easier method would be to have written on Rediff — when I was doing that, each column/match report was getting several lakh page views/readers. Why people speak in the public forum as they do is their business; I’ll only answer for why I write as I do.

        • Prem,
          I am sorry if I have offended you anyhow , which was absolutely unintended. I was never trying to comment on your popularity, but just trying to say that Sena people do certain things in a certain way so that they can garner maximum publicity and eyeballs.That’s all.

    • Search for Shiv Sena and my name, and you could find out for yourself whether I have soft pedaled on the Sena when I was based in Bangalore, mate

      • Prem while the threats by the Shiv Sena is clearly condemnable I wonder if the film fraternity would have spoken out in support of the Pak players if some of them had died in the terror attacks.

        • Dude, that is needless conflation. It is not the business of the IPL or of the film fraternity to decide how to conduct bilateral relations — it can only take its cues from the government of the day. And the government seems completely unconcerned about those who died — security hasn’t been significantly upgraded; over a year after the events we haven’t done much to force Pakistan to surrender those it now says conspired in those attacks; the PM is busy trying to push talks with Pakistan and in fact is pissed with the IPL because its actions apparently shut the window a little bit on that prospect…

          So it is okay for the government, whose sworn duty is to protect us, to play footsie with Pakistan, while we hold the film fraternity to a higher moralistic standard?

  4. Prem, isn’t it a bit of fun to watch Bal Thackrey targeting these celebrities. I mean the people that he is targeting are the icons of India. Be it Sachin Tendulkar or Mukesh Ambani or Shah Rukh Khan. And when it comes to cricket or movies, i feel the whole of India is one. You will remember how Thackrey’s move to target Sachin backfired on his face. I somehow feel that even in this case, the same will happen. And seeing that will be fun. It’s just a futile last attempt by Thackrey to get his foothold back in Maharashtra which is taken by MNS.

    • Trideep, the first time was amusing, now it is merely getting tiresome. Clearly BT and his party feels marginalized, after losing election after election. Plus, nephew Raj is now getting the kind of publicity BT used to get. So he lashes out at high profile targets, knowing it will become “news” for byte starved television journos in particular, and keep him front and center for a while before he moves on to the next celebrity.

    • Hi Arun,

      Although the rest of the clip was standard Pak TV bombast, it was good to note neither the anchor or guest responded to Tanvir’s comment. That’s how it should be.

      • Hey, Arun, I saw it at the time and thought it was typical of the mindset of many of the Pak players. Some are genuinely comfortable with being in India and being friends with Indian players, but there are several who are happy to pocket the money, but whose attitude towards the country is a milder version of the LeT’s.

  5. Prem I think we are moving away from core issue here 1) Why Pakistan players were ignored at the auction? though it seems that they had requisite permission from all agencies and atleast 2-3 frabchisees wanted them, read Rajastan’s coach’s comments or SRK’s comments? It is clear that there was a definite conspiracy to ignore them? who took that decision? was sort of planning did it involve? who was responsible for handling the situation in such a abysmal manner?
    2) Why are the Pakistanis so upset about not being picked? this has nothing to do with India Pak relatiions?only a couple of Pakistani players will make a few dollars less? Eevryone is turning it into a bit of a circus which actually the IPL is? forget cricket IPL is not about cricket it is about all the juicy off field stuff with the masala which makes it so entertaining

    • The question of why Pak players may not have been picked has been addressed at length when it happened, Ruchik — and that actually speaks to my larger point, that maybe it is time for all these guys to just shut the eff up and move on.

      A franchise is not in the business of conducting bilateral diplomacy — its job is to pick the team it thinks has the best chance of winning. It is limited to the number of foreign players it can pick. Put that together, and it is understandable that franchises will be reluctant to pick Pak players, when any incident might deprive them of the opportunity to play them. Yes, the thing could have been better handled, but you can see the underlying logic, and business sense, not conspiracy, dictates it. It is a reach to imagine that eight franchises got together and decided to deliberately make a political point about Pakistan.

    • And as to why Pakistan is so upset — it is a nice little handle to peg its perennial “big brother is bashing me” lament. Makes zero sense in this case, because it is about a half dozen Pak players lining their pockets, and not a national issue at all.

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