Mandira’s saree misadventures, noodle straps and lack of cricket sense are history. When it comes to talking of women in cricket, the focus has shifted to the cheerleaders in their obscene, skimpy, indecent, unacceptable (feel free to add to the list) attire, and their (repeat list of adjectives) dance moves. So now we have politicians butting their noses in as usual, calling for a ban on something that violates Indian culture.
Why are we even paying so much attention to the cheerleaders? When people thought test cricket had got boring, one-day cricket came in. And now that the scheme of 50 overs an innings is also looking uninteresting, Twenty20 is grabbing attention. (Next in international cricket: the six-overs-a-side games that are played in Hong Kong by the bigwigs, along with minnows like UAE. Who is next after Subhash Chandra, if the ICC refuses to recognise it?) To add to the appeal of the game, we have fireworks, Bollywood (as usual), SMS contests, and, yes, cheerleaders. They are just one of the numerous unnecessary elements in the IPL. So why not just let them be, instead of raising such a hue and cry over them? Surely nobody is fool enough to watch the IPL matches just for the girls when there are plenty of them, dressed in a similar fashion, on many other channels?
If they’re thinking of banning the girls, then they should also ban the bicep-flaunting non-entities that yak away in the studio nonstop, talking more of flat stomachs and phone numbers than the actual game. Apparently you don’t need much skill to be a presenter in cricket. You need some credentials as a model/VJ or maybe not even those, and be able to string together three consecutive sentences in English, and there you are in front of the camera, babbling away to glory in the company of better men like Robin Jackman and Greg Chappell. Every few sentences, you hand it over to a girl near the boundary, who will give you ‘exclusive’ interviews with one of the numerous entertainers (read out-of-work, quite-into-retirement ‘celebrities’), specially for the viewers. I think Mayanti Langer did a much better job with the ICL than the pretenders here. She had good screen presence and carried off the show rather well, despite the fact that many of the matches resembled the ones ageing movie stars, who last played cricket in high school, participate in for charity.
Adding to the list of irritating elements in the IPL, and perhaps topping it, is the Bollywood contingent. Why on earth do our actors feel that they simply have to make their presence felt everywhere? SRK definitely goes overboard with his antics, and to someone looking for refuge from his constant onslaught on television viewers through advertisements, game shows, movies, promos and the news, the IPL matches are certainly not the answer. Has he forgotten about the movies that he has on hand (if there are any, that is)? Is the IPL also responsible for amnesia, then?
When I look at Sharad Pawar, what come to my mind first are the air-conditioned boardrooms of the BCCI. It only strikes me later that he is also a Cabinet Minister. After all, cricket is what hogs the headlines all the time, and the new controversy involving Harbhajan and Sreesanth is only making matters worse. Cricket is important, the crisis in Vidarbha can take a backseat. For the first time, I feel more interested in the stock markets (of which I’ve never understood much), than in cricket. For the same old debates on ethics in cricket will play themselves out, we’ll have Barkha, Rajdeep, Arnab and co. conducting serious debates on whether cricket really is a gentleman’s game. Rajeev Shukla and Kiran More will be seen on three different TV channels in one evening. There will be talk of how the incident is being perceived in Australia after the fiasco during India’s trip there, and comparison perhaps with the Shoaib Akhtar-Mohammad Asif incident. Ban the cheerleaders? Maybe we should start with the news channels.
Bans seem to be the only solution to every problem in India, especially when a thing is alien to ‘Indian culture’ (which, apparently, only our politicians can define best, even if they send their children abroad). I’ve seen a sticker my father bought when he was young; it said: ‘Ban Teachers’. Of course, that is how we feel in college when we have unending lectures from self-professed experts, especially during the last period. You can feel badly about anybody or anything under the sun, but you possibly can’t always call for a ban. Rational thinking is a term that seems to have got obsolete. Anyway, if it is right to call for bans and if it does work, then I’ll call for a ban on SRK, even if I’m putting my blogging career in jeopardy by doing so.
So what is the situation like on Dalaal Street?