When IPL boss Lalit Modi tweeted about the Kochi franchise, he probably didn’t know that he was opening the proverbial can of worms. On second thoughts, how could he not have known? (Allow me to use one more cliché — people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones).
This is the kind of controversy news channels love — with allegations flying back and forth, new developments (Breaking News!) every ten minutes, all the main players in serious trouble, uproar in Parliament etc. In the course of this drama, we've also been introduced to a brand new character — someone we hadn’t even heard of till a few days ago — Sunanda Pushkar who, like Byron, literally woke up one day and found herself famous. (Or infamous — her angry family pelted mediapersons with stones when the latter arrived in droves, as they are wont to do, at Ms Pushkar’s father’s home).
Shashi Tharoor tried to make a statement defending himself in Parliament, but since all the Opposition MPs were shouting so much, we couldn’t make out a word of what he was trying to say. But before that, he had already given a long, frank interview to Barkha Dutt (NDTV 24x7), where he responded to all the allegations leveled against him with such eloquence and fluency, you couldn’t help but be impressed. (He has an excellent alternative career ahead of him — he could make a fortune coaching politicians in the art of speaking on television. And God knows all of them need it).
Tharoor’s sophistication and clarity were quite a contrast to Modi’s inarticulate responses when he (Modi) was buttonholed by reporters. (Not that surprising perhaps — after all, isn’t Modi in imminent danger of losing his IPL job?).
News channels always tend to go overboard with the most controversial story of the moment, and they couldn’t have asked for better. I don’t think the ongoing Tharoor-Modi spat is going to die down anytime soon — specially since there are so many angles to the story even a geometry student would get confused (from Tharoor’s alleged ethical transgressions to Modi’s alleged ethical transgressions — to name just two). And also since the Opposition is busy milking it for all it’s worth (Ravi Shankar Prasad of the BJP is busy holding press conferences on the subject, other MPs are busy appearing on TV and demanding that Tharoor resign, and all of them are busy shouting non-stop in Parliament).
Back to the Shoania saga. Now that Sania Mirza and Shoaib Malik are actually married, the focus has shifted from pre-wedding chaos to post-wedding conversation. The happy couple were guests on Shekhar Gupta’s Walk The Talk (NDTV 24x7) and they have also been interviewed by Rajdeep Sardesai (CNN-IBN). I only saw snatches (the full interviews were scheduled after the deadline for this column).
But even then it was quite clear that either (a) Shoaib is a shrinking violet / Sania is not a shrinking violet, (b) Shoaib is tongue-tied in the face of all this intense media attention / Sania is not tongue-tied in the face of all this intense media attention — because while Sania chattered away nineteen to the dozen, Shoaib barely said a few sentences. But I shall reserve final judgment only after seeing the full interviews.
And finally. Star News showed us some spoofs that Geo TV in Pakistan had done on the whole Sania-Shoaib-Ayesha controversy (with ‘relevant’ lyrics set to popular Bollywood numbers) and they were truly quite funny — from ‘Shoaib’ being chased purposefully by ‘Ayesha’ to ‘Sania’ jumping up in alarm when confronted with a photograph of Bal Thackeray.