Tuesday, May 28, 2013

IPL: Is it Satan come to destroy the Game or Cricket of the Times???

Right from the outset, the concept of IPL has evoked mixed feelings among the cricket fans. The purists and real lovers of the game have always looked upon this version as a fast furious brainless power game, lacking skill finesse and a test of real attritional skills and character of an individual. India's unexpected T 20 World Cup triumph in 2007 led by a Captain cool, with a bunch of untried untested talent mixed with some experience led to T 20 becoming a new kid off the block ready to entertain in an era of life in the fast lane, where attention spans were shorter than ever. I cannot imagine anybody sitting to watch a Gavaskar or even a Shastri play through a whole day with less than a hundred to their name and the team with just over 200-250 scored in a day. One cannot help but point out the irony of the moment of a young cricketer called Sreesanth catching out the Pakistani Misbah off the unsung Joginder Singh, giving a nation its great moment of joy contrasted with the same guy arrested and jailed for becoming a sree 420.

While T 20  was considered a game suited to the fast life, the top class cricketers and purists reinvented themselves and adopted their games to suit this format.. The battle which was heavily skewed in favor of the batsmen, slowly became an even contest as the bowlers developed clever variations to bamboozle the batters. All this was fine till this was a variation in the multiple formats of cricket, but IPL changed everything when the game became an entertainment and a dazzlingshow and   a means to earn mega bucks for average young players and for semi retired or about to retire old players to rake in the moolah. Corporates and moneyed film stars with spare money poured it in and like in all such ventures, rules were given the go by and were flouted at will. The methods of payment, to cricketers, the auction rules were all flouted at various stages during the previous years and finally the most obvious conflict of interest was allowed when the owner of a team playing in the league was also president of the controlling authority. Players put club and franchisee interest above nation and state as the money was huge. The official figures and player pay offs were to say the least unbelievable and so absurd that one had to be foolish to believe that Satan and evil had not creeped in. And to silent the traditionalists, money was distributed to cricketers of the past. The nexus of money, show biz, drugs, gambling and all that is evil took over and now threatens to engulf the game totally. Where do the Dravids, Kumbles and Dhonis fit in? Great legends of the game stand tarnished if they turn a blind eye to this menace and dismiss the deep rooted malaise ailing cricket as an aberration. I think it is time to kill the menace of IPL and rethink this league. Money is important and every sportsman has a right to earn his due, but I am sure cricketers of integrity must be ruing their decision to associate themselves with this monster called IPL.

While one can say that the decay is symptomatic of the times we live in, I think the authorities and the wiser counsels owe it to the cricket lover to clean the game and scrap the IPL if needed. Radical diseases demand radical remedies. T 20 can continue if the game is clean and regulations are put in place which make malpractice difficult and if detected punishable by life bans from cricket and cricket related activities.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

May Queen Ball : Musings and views

Yesterday along with my family I attended the May Queen Ball, an annual event of the Rustom Baug residents association. For the benefit of my non-parsi brethren it is a beauty pageant to show case the Parsi aspiring models/actors. It has a long history and like in all parsi events become a battle for ploitical upmanship among the warring groups. Without getting into those issues, this was my first time in attending the show. Parsis are demographically an ageing declining community with a glorious past and a pioneering zeal in being the first to adopt all things modern. To this day the community can boast of some great or some average achievers in the showbiz industry of India with talented singers, dancers, actors, models and production houses headed by Parsis. Maureen Wadia the queenbee of beauty pageants in India was the most prominent of these persons present on the occasion. Fitness guru Mickey Mehta, along with TV stars many of whom were unknown to a non tv buff like me.

The main event the beauty pageant was well done, almost on par and as professional as a national level event could be, it was certainly not a crude local amateurish show, but a show which seemed to confirm that the Parsi community still had the pioneering modernity tradition intact. The girls were well groomed walked the ramp with confidence style and a panache which would do professionals proud. But as if to prove they were human and not programmed dolls most of them floundered on the question round. They tried to be over feminist little realizing that a beauty pageant is very easily an example of commodification of women something they were professing to fight against. The filler items dances and fashion walks were very well done and a mix of western and bollywood were quite good.

While there is a healthy tradition of respect for the old, I thought the beauties should have been crowned by their young colleagues and the older persons should have taken backstage. However, this is typically unlike India and so we had to go through the ritual as ordained by tradition. At the end the organizers must take some credit for living up to the expectations of the community and putting up a commendable show.

Should we take these events so seriously? Can there not be some more spontaneity and a fun approach to such contests? Probably like in all things a middle path would be just right. A little less "training"  or grooming and a little more child like innocence and sweetness can make the show better and more fun.

Vispi Jokhi