How often do we pause and ponder about industry issues that have a bearing beyond just our rigmaroles? Share insights that can further the common understanding? Or, at the very least, point at things that need to be set right. View Point - an exchange4media platform, will fill this void and become a source of understanding, action and perhaps some inspiration.
There is a new K-serial on air, it’s called K-ricket
Anisha Motwani, Executive Director-Marketing, Max New York Life
A 45-episode power-packed series with a fresh twist in plot each day. Masala, action, song and dance, tears, racial discrimination, key characters changing midway, coming back… you name it and it’s all there.
Yes, one is talking about the multi-million dollar IPL T20 Tournament that has been hyped as one which will revolutionise the sport with a heady concoction of cricket, entertainment, power and money.
It’s a cocktail that is bound to stir new emotions and leave the country with a big hangover. No other genre has ever offered a plot that has so much packed in a single episode. No wonder India is lapping it up all. The 33 per cent family viewership data released by Sony only seems to confirm that somewhere cricket, cinema and serials have crossed boundaries and stepped on to each other’s domain, mixing feelings and in the bargain diluting the passion and purity associated with each.
By the time the 45-day Tournament ends, we would have experienced all sorts of emotions completely new to the way cricket has been consumed in the country making us wonder whether it is really cricket or an Ekta Kapoor version of ‘K-ricket’ or a movie show with snacks and popcorns thrown in.
Cricket in India is more than just a sport or a game. That is the cliché all of us have grown to reiterate in conversations or in presentations to all those who wish to understand and connect to India. And, none of it is off the mark. The intensity, the engagement, the bond that cricket creates is almost cathartic. Is there any other experience in modern life in which multitudes of men so completely and intensely lose their individual sense in the larger life, which they call their country? Each game is not watched as a sport but with a passion and involvement much beyond.
When India wins a game, the whole nation erupts with joy and when they lose, the gloom is palpable. Just a couple of months ago, the face-off between Bhajji and Symonds Down Under engulfed the nation like wild fire. A cricket crazy nation stood united behind Bhajji. The media went berserk and there was a collective outcry against Aussie behaviour. “Come back, boys” was heard along with cries of “Where is the self-respect?” Such is the passion that India versus any country in the world arouses in most of us.
Are we truly watching IPL with same kind of intensity?
Bhajji is again in the middle of another controversy. This time an even bigger one – infringement – slapping an opponent on the cricket field. The media has again gone to town with the story. But whose side are you on? Sreesanth, because you are from Punjab, or Bhajji, because you are from Mumbai? Why isn’t this evoking a similar strong reaction from even Mumbai or Punjab, let alone the country? Bhajji has been suspended from IPL and still it doesn’t stir strong emotions.
What is lacking?
Ask any one of the 12.5 million people following IPL “Who is your favourite team? Chances are you’ll have to grapple with ambiguity. In fact, they may end up openly admitting to having no clear favourites as of now. Will an average Hyderabadi cheer passionately when Deccan Chargers’ Andrew Symonds belts Mumbai Indians’ Bhajji out of the park? Sachin Tendulkar versus Glenn McGrath used to be the mother of all battles in the recent past. The sight of Tendulkar dispatching McGrath straight down the ground for a boundary would bring about unbridled joy for this nation. Will the Delhiites now jump out of their seats at the sight of Glenn McGrath uprooting Tendulkar’s middle stump?
Traditionally all the bonding and euphoria that cricket creates is because we identify with teams and players. We have our favourite players, and there are teams we have grown up rooting for because our brother or dad used to love them or still do. Following a player and team allows us to experience the ups and downs and a whole array of emotions.
There is a clear protagonist (your team) and an antagonist (the other team). At the end, there is an unambiguous winner and loser. It gives us the illusion of battle, war, victory and defeat, without the consequences.
Cricket exercises all our emotions, cultivating hope when we are lagging, resignation when we are beaten, a sense of fair play for competition when we are ahead and a lot of times, sympathy for the umpires. These are strong, intense emotions that consume us and leave us exhausted at the end of a good match.
But IPL is not able to conjure up any such emotions or even close to it. In fact, the sense of detachment with which one is watching IPL is like you feel “paisa vasool’ at the end of a time pass movie or an Ekta Kapoor plot with numerous twists that leave you engaged just about enough to turn on the TV set the next day. It certainly is turning out to be a more entertaining option for the family who would otherwise be aimlessly surfing channels or else resigned to watching saas-bahu serials.
There is no doubt that it is working. More hands reach for the remote. Have no doubt that more meals than before are being eaten before TV sets tuned for three hours to see a programme featuring ‘K-ricketers’. But somewhere the emotional landscape is getting redefined to accommodate new emotions and leave behind some conventional ones.
So, which team are you rooting for – Shah Rukh’s, Dhoni’s or Mallya’s or Ekta Kapoor’s?