Right, so breaking the extended radio silence by shamelessly stealing the headline of an evocative piece by Rahul Bhattacharya, an always excellent writer [Here’s more of his writings from Mint, and have you read his book Pundits from Pakistan yet? No? What are you, a philistine?].
When I find disgust peaking at the increasingly intrusive nature of the advertising, or at the overtly hysterical nature of the commentary, I wonder at times why I am in a minority; why the disgust is not more pervasive than it appears to be. Rahul looks for answers in the Indian psyche:
The highest possible figure is important because in India money is exciting and a truth. It is the parameter to judge a profession, a work of art, a life. To be able to say “billion dollars” matters. It empowers and it attracts power. And as symbolism, the IPL deals and public auctions are scarcely different from Mayawati’s garland of rupees that middle-class Indians find so repulsive.
A minority will grumble but India can accept the IPL the way it is because it is not a playing society. Its relationship with sport is not of participant but consumer. It holds nothing sacred. The IPL knows that it competes not against sport but general entertainment. “Saas-bahu se better hai,” a viewer remarks. And to compete with saas-bahu one must make concessions. Do not give them a moment to linger; cut to Deepika Padukone, a cheerleader’s thigh, a 30-second dugout interview.
I appreciate that the IPL did not invent advertising in cricket, merely took a leap further towards the logical end. That we are still not at the end is the truly frightening thought.
Read the whole piece. It is more than worth your time. Tangentially related — this time we don’t have the fake IPL player to liven things up [Oh, by the way, watch out for said FIP appearing on the live daily chat show, soon — will update re date on this space], but we do have the real, and really funny, Anand Ramachandran to provide some cutting edge humor on Cricinfo and, in this latest instance, on Sify.com. Read.
Unrelated but interesting, Akshay Sawai in Open magazine profiles good friend and lawyer/activist Rahul Mehra, likely familiar to readers of this blog as the man who first took on the BCCI and, more recently, the Indian sporting establishment.
Back to the live show, which I resume hosting tomorrow [Aakash Chopra — on Twitter, here — will continue to host the Friday editions, and other hosts will appear on other days — as always, announcements here when the details are locked down]. My recent, and mentally exhausting, trip to Delhi was lightened by Arnab Ray’s [familiar to readers as Greatbong; here he is on Twitter] debut book, May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss.
Regular readers of his blog will notice some of his constant preoccupations in the themes of the book, even experience mild deja vu at times. Familiar with his work or not, the book is light, breezy and always, underlying the satire, there are points worth pondering.
Tomorrow is Arnab’s last day in India on this trip; wind, weather and scheduling permitting, he will guest on the live show, between 220.127.116.11 pm. Links to the show, at least an hour ahead of time, on my Twitter stream; also on the Yahoo News and Cricket streams.
Questions you would like answered, themes you would like addressed? Post them here in the comments field, or on my Twitter. See you, live, tomorrow.