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He’s back to entertain

After his blog became a cult last year, the Fake IPL Player has just launched a book, and plans to ‘shock and entertain’ people through different media this season of the IPL.

india Updated: Mar 15, 2010 19:15 IST
Nikhil Taneja

He is the phenomenon who shook the cricketing world in the Indian Premier League’s last season with his blog, The Fake IPL Player, that exposed the saucy and controversial behind-the-scenes lives of cricketers.

Supposed to be a part of the Kolkata Knight Riders, the mystery blogger had the entire IPL machinery in a tizzy, as massive witchhunts were launched to identify him. But he was never caught.

And as IPL’s season 3 begins, he’s back again, but this time with a book, The Gamechangers, that literally, goes beyond the blog.

How long have you been associated with cricket?
Too long. Far too long.

Your blog has become a cult. Don’t you want to reveal yourself just for kicks?
The special effort to ensure my anonymity is tiring. But I don’t particularly see many benefits in being known as the face behind the blog. On the contrary, I see several drawbacks to it. It’s best not to become famous when you’re not ready for it. Also, anonymity gives me the space to pursue my future work.

You revealed your voice and silhouette at the end of IPL season 2. Did no one in the cricket fraternity recognise you?
Don’t you think it’s convenient to assume that the voice and silhouette were indeed mine?

At first, only three of your friends, whom you started the blog for, knew it was you. Now, how many more know? How about your family?
Other than my lawyers and publishers, the number of people who know my identity is still in single digits. And each one of them has been taken into confidence strictly on a need-to-know basis.

Did you worry that Cricinfo picked up the blog because they caught on to who you were?
No. I don’t think Cricinfo knew who I was when they put it up on their website. But I think they stopped reporting about my blog when they kind of guessed who I could be.

What precautions did you take while writing the blog?
Other than masking my IP or messaging my post to a friend sometimes, I didn’t take any special precautions. In retrospect, I think I was a little reckless at times.

Why did you pick on Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR)? Did someone from the KKR management ever question you later?
I never said that I picked on the Kolkata Knight Riders. Everyone assumed that I did. And no, nobody from the KKR management questioned me.

Why did you pick on ‘Appam C**tiya’ so often? Do you know him in real life?
Appam C**tiya is a figment of my imagination. I meet him every day in my mind.

Did it amuse you when the public and authorities thought of various players who could be writing the blog?
Yes, and the most bizarre was Anureet Singh suddenly becoming the prime suspect. A random website in Patiala put it out that he had been nabbed in Durban, when the team was actually in Johannesburg. I believe half the media rushed to get his father’s sound bytes on his arrest. That was a not-so-rare moment of the media making a caricature of itself.

Did you ever hear about your blog affecting the lives of the cricketers you mentioned?
Actually, it hasn’t affected the lives of many cricketers, expect Akaash Chopra, who cannot attend a party without having to answer at least one question about the Fake IPL Player. The same, possibly, goes for Ranadeb Bose in Kolkata. And of course, one unfortunate guy, who, quite unnecessarily and surprisingly, got stuck with the ‘Appam C**tiya’ tag. To his credit, though, he seems to have taken it in his stride. Some say that he even enjoys it.

Since you’d started the blog for your friends, the initial portions of the blog had a lot of truth in it. Would you say you diluted the truth after it became popular to ensure your safety?
There has been no dilution of content. I have stayed honest to the objective from start to finish. Although, towards the second half, I had to be more careful of what I was writing. I didn’t want someone else to pay a price for the blog.

How much of your book, The Gamechangers, is fact and how much is fiction? Are there real-life parallels we should watch out for?
The book is 100 per cent fiction. We all know that fiction reveals the truth that reality blurs. Every writer aspires to create a world that comes alive in the mind of the reader. Even Harry Potter is written in a way that makes the reader believe that a world like that really exists. To that effect, like in any fiction, I’ve tried to create a world that the reader can believe in. The Gamechangers tries to take its reader on an emotional rollercoaster ride. Hopefully, the reader will be able to identify with the story, setting, and characters.

You said your book would contain details about last season’s IPL that went unreported in print.
My exact words were, “The book tells everything that the blog didn’t or couldn’t”. Since the book is fiction, there’s no reason to think about what went in print and what didn’t.

You had said in your video that if you decide to write a book, you’d become history even if the book doesn’t. Could you explain that?
During my blogging days, I lived in morbid fear of being discovered. That could have had something to do with this part of the sentence. But then, the last few days of the blog were high-adrenaline days. A host of emotions were clashing inside my system. I was working purely on instinct and my logical faculties had taken a backseat. So it’s difficult to do a post-mortem of every word said at that time.

You also said that for IPL season 3, you would use different media to shock and entertain viewers. What are your plans?
What I meant was it wasn’t restricted to only IPL season 3, it was for a longer period of time. I think the Fake IPL Player is a concept, while the blog is just a medium. Last season, the blog was the right medium to express myself. After that, the book was my medium of choice for the story I wanted to tell. I’m hoping that the Fake IPL Player concept will remain relevant for a longer period of time.

And he will come, periodically, in different forms, over different media and, hopefully, will continue to shock and entertain. The concept can take the form of another book, a film, comic strip or TV series. It could be anything. And it depends solely on the story that needs to be told. The tail shouldn’t wag the dog. The medium shouldn’t dictate the story. It should be the other way round.

Do your publishers know of your identity? Do you worry your secret could be out?
Yes. Most of my interactions have been over email and chat. I have only met the publisher twice.