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Riders on the storm

Will more people come to watch Rani Mukerji and Bipasha Basu watching the Kolkata team, silly in action than the games themselves?

cricket Updated: Apr 18, 2008 01:49 IST

Without a ball being bowled, and without so much as a swish of a bat, the IPL has become a brand big enough to draw Bollywood's most luminous into its folds. It is just the kind of enthusiasm that the Indian Premier League seems to inspire. Who knew? So, will cricket surrender to the glam and dazzle of Bollywood? Will more people come to watch Rani Mukerji and Bipasha Basu watching Kolkata Knight Riders, silly in action than the games themselves?

For the divas certainly will be here (they might not actually perform given the looming threat of entertainment tax on the proceedings), as will King Shah Rukh, of course, at least for the inaugural match that his team will play at Eden. Once he breezes into the stadium and is sighted on the giant screens, will his presence outshine Sourav Ganguly’s?

See, the question arises only because this is SRK, or else can you even imagine anyone outshining Sourav at Eden?

But that, as they say, is the magic of SRK. In conversation, his team’s coach John Buchanan has confessed to being amazed by SRK’s relentless energy, charisma, and complete involvement with all things cricket, and we know it takes a lot of energy to impress an Australian.

Shah Rukh rarely misses a trick. The result has been that what his team does today, the rest ape five days later. Witness the other teams jumping on to the Bollywood bandwagon by roping in Akshay Kumar, Hrithik Roshan et al. But in most people’s minds, the face of the Bollywood-IPL merger remains SRK.

Shah Rukh has not had a moment’s rest since he took charge. Nor has he allowed anyone else to do so. Associates talk about how, in the midst of an IPL meeting at his home, he rushed off to rehearse for an awards ceremony, came back a couple of hours later, and resumed the meeting, by which time it was going on 2 am.

No opportunity to play the Bong card has been wasted – with the result that the ever-reliable Usha Uthup has been
summoned to a recording and there’s also the Vishal-Shekhar team anthem Korbo, lorbo, jitbo.

But you know what? This big, fat Indian wedding of Bollywood and cricket with megabuck prenuptial agreements may actually be fun, once the cricket takes over.

As a South African member of the Bangalore squad said, if the IPL can attract new audiences to cricket, why grudge it the glamour and glitter?