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Uncertainty unites cricket & films

india Updated: Nov 19, 2008 00:09 IST
Amrit Mathur

Cricket's commercial growth has brought it closer to Bombay's films, Twenty20 is just one example of India's two buzzing industries coming together but there are other developments that show a connect.

Top cricketers are hot celebrities whose standing rivals that of spiffy Bombay stars. An out of form Sreesanth swings merrily on Nach Baliye, on the same stage Harbhajan turns and spins. Besides delivering challenges to batsmen, both have a talent for throwing tantrums .

Earlier there was the odd incident of boorishness, the occasional spat and the rare ugly exchange. Now, the bar has been raised, the unpleasantness is greater; physical contact (as with Gautam Gambhir and Shane Watson) is not unusual and open disrespect for opponents is not uncommon .

Gone are the days of Gandhigiri when cricket was gentlemanly, that formula went out with single-screen cinemas. The modern khiladi is an activist who does not hesitate in taking things in his hand. This is what Harbhajan did with colleague Sreesanth in the IPL, and now the off-spinner (supported by Zaheer Khan) has strong words and sarcastic advice for Ricky Ponting .

"I can get him out anytime," said a dismissive Harbhajan about the Aussie captain (who has scored more than 11000 Test runs!). "He has no clue about spin bowling," added Harbhajan in what is a deadly doosra, a knockout blow to a fallen adversary. Ponting is an average captain. Harbhajan must have reasons for his views but such public announcements are bizarre. Not that the Aussies are blameless in this game: Matthew Hayden described Harbhajan as an "obnoxious little weed" earlier on.

Most times, Indian players are restrained, their comments are measured and diplomatic. Sachin Tendulkar, despite provocation from Gilchrist, was statesmanlike - he only made a pained remark expressing disappointment over the incident. India's Foreign Office could not have done better .

Anil Kumble is another master of composure and cool dignity. His stand on issues of behaviour and on-field aggression is clear. "Players must ask themselves," he observed in the manner of a trained engineer committed to reason and logic, "if their acts lead to enhanced performance."

Cricket and films are marked by energy, innovation, gloss, glamour and money. We know they deal in suspense, thrills and excitement -and both are powerful glues that unite India. What they also share is complete uncertainty - cricket is a next-ball game where nobody knows what will happen next.

Likewise, the world of films is treacherously unpredictable - nobody knows what the public will appreciate, or junk, on a Friday.