Shane Warne dared — and won. Not many gave him or his team much of a chance in the Indian Premier League. But then, he won despite his reputation. And it would be fair to say that many weren’t even talking strictly about his professional rep. After all, Warnie isn’t the sort you’d describe as a gent in flannels. He’s a sort of buccaneer with his romps, his drinking, his smoking, his devil-may-care attitude, always presenting a moral dilemma for Cricket Australia, not to mention the owners of the Jaipur IPL team.
But then, his rickety moral compass — that is, his penchant for not being the goodie-too-shoes that 99 per cent of cricketers are today — may have enhanced another feature that I may have forgotten to mention: he’s arguably the greatest spinner in cricket’s history.
Come to think of it, it’s not only cricket that is facing a tremendous crunch of good old bad boys. In cinema, music and popular culture in general, the reigning spirit is that of political correctness. The Beautiful People are hugging trees with a vengeance; the stars are hugging causes because they are there to be embraced. In this bland landscape, for every Depp and Clooney there are speak-alikes whose names can be interchangeable. In music, apart from Amy ‘Wino’ Winehouse and a handful, everyone’s on a Greenpeace boat singing variations of ‘We are the world’.
Back home in India, with economic liberalisation has come the morally regressive (and, in case I didn’t say it, repugnant) likes of Ekta Kapoor’s ‘K factory’ — that cult of value-making. In Bollywood, the first joint family of Indian cinema is a shining toothy beacon of sanctimoniousness. They want to be role models to every Indian, because now, more than ever, ‘New’ India needs to show the world how well-behaved it is. The edginess of sin, that ticklish tendency towards being blasé about everything is lost to a generation that puzzles its parents by its forceful righteousness — and cucumber slices. Oh, for bad people!