It has just about started and the IPL is already coming out of my ears. Literally. Despite all that brave talk about boycotting the matches because of the absurd media restrictions, news channels are bursting with people — from Shah Rukh Khan to ordinary folk — talking incessantly about all the teams: from the Royal Challengers (trust Vijay Mallya to leverage his whisky brand) to the Bombay Ducks, sorry, the Mumbai Indians (though how Shaun Pollock qualifies as an Indian is hard to see). Frankly, despite listening to everyone going on and on about the IPL till my ears started hurting, I still can’t remember the names of all the teams, never mind the names of the cricketers in the teams. Anyway, cricket seems to be only part of the whole tamasha. The videos, cheerleaders, songs, attire appear to be as — if not more — important.
In keeping with its time-honoured tradition of giving us Rakhi Sawant day and night, Headlines Today did a hundred-hour interview with her about the IPL (next they’ll ask her about the performance of the Manmohan Singh government — that might be the only way to get any politics on the channel). There were three of them in the studio, asking her penetratingly intelligent questions such as which of the IPL videos she likes best (and why she isn’t in any of them), which team is her favourite and so on. Rakhi wiggled her eyebrows and eyes, often both at the same time, and gave equally penetratingly intelligent answers (she favours the Vijay Mallya video because he’s in the company of men for a change). But why did Headlines Today give an ‘Exclusive’ tag to the interview? You can’t even put an ‘Exclusive’ tag for Shah Rukh Khan these days, he’s so busy giving interviews to every channel he can think of and every channel he can’t think of either.
I caught Rajeev Masand’s interview with him on CNN-IBN and I have to say that though SRK is the most exposed movie star in the country, I enjoyed the interview. Rajeev asked him whether industrywallahs had got offended with his jibes and jokes at the Filmfare awards. “It was all in good fun, really,” Shah Rukh answered innocently. Yeah, sure, pull the other one.
Back to IPL. CNN-IBN did a show called Kaun Jeetega IPL? Sahara Samay had something called Cities And Superstars. On NDTV 24x7, Srinivas Jain and Anjali Doshi interviewed a procession of people, from Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar to Sharad Pawar and Rahul Dravid. Preity Zinta even popped up on NDTV Imagine’s Dhoom Macha De Punjabi special, promoting her team, Kings XI Punjab (though why she was wearing dark glasses in the studio is beyond comprehension. Maybe she was in disguise).
So at the end of this IPL bombardment, what do I remember of what I saw? Honest confession: only the Knight Riders video (because I’ve seen it more times than I’ve seen Rakhi Sawant on Headlines Today and that’s saying something), Vijay Mallya in the Royal Challengers video (only because I thought the shot looked straight out of Kaante) and Rahul Dravid saying “I’m excited, I have an open mind” (so would I if I was getting 1.35 million dollars).
As for the cricket, well, it hadn’t started at the time of filing this column. I just hope (for the sake of people who profess to like cricket) that the cameras occasionally show us the game and not just the phoren cheerleaders.
And finally. Comedy contests continue to be a fixture on most entertainment channels. Naturally judges too continue to be a fixture of such shows. But you have to have new judges — after all, how many comedy shows can Shekhar Suman judge? So SAB TV’s new show, Comedy Ka King Kaun has pulled out Jaspal Bhatti from wherever he’s been all these years to be a judge, along with actress Divya Dutta. Somebody should start a new reality show where they hunt for talented judges.