Category Archives: Sarcasm

Ranji Superball : What if India had a SuperBowl

As the spectacle of the 41st Superbowl unfolds with Peyt Manning leading the Colts towards a well contested win, miles away and hours ahead, Wasim Jaffer should be waking up to see if he can repeat his first innings century to seal Mumbai’s hegemony in the Ranji Super League Final. I can’t help wonder what would happen to Indian Cricket if Ranji Finals in India were as big as the Superbowl in USA.

A lot has been written and said about how BCCI needs to beef up its domestic cricket circuit, attract more talent, more discipline demanding professional players to play the Ranji League and more commercial support to finally produce a commendable bench of players as the Aussies have. I am not going to comment on any of that as I agree with most of it, only with the addition that it’s a chicken & egg story starting with whether the average Indian cricket fan follows domestic cricket enough. For today, I’d keep all those contentions aside and imagine that Ranji Finals were really like the Superbowl to India.

So, imagine my friends :

Right now is the sweltering heat of early June, with temperatures soaring to 45+ Deg Cel making it near impossible for you to do anything productive with your time on a Sunday evening except watch the Mumbai Dons battle the Bengal Tigers in a Twenty20 format final for the RANJI SUPERBALL I at the picturesqe and relatively cooler surroundings of the Milkfood Punjab Jatts Stadium at Mohali. Also, you would have sat together with your friends/family for a good 4 hours before the game starts, waiting not only for the real play time which would be much shorter cumulatively than the ad time on the broadcast, but also to watch the spectacle of new and awe-inspiring ad campaigns to be launched. Yes, of course, the specials from Kake da Dhaba’s Ranji Superball Menu are as delicious as the pre-event deal that you got for Mumbai Dons’ Superball 2008 Winner Team Gear at www.nike.co.in.

You don’t find yourself as surprised at the UP-born-and-bred Mohd Kaif’s captaincy of Bengal Tigers as you are disconcerted and disgusted by the needless hype created by the politcally correct media and commentators on the “Celebrating Minorities in Indian Cricket” about Jaffer and Kaif leading the competing sides. (At the back of your mind, you yearn for those good-ol’days, when Cricket was cricket and not an arena for affrimtive action champions, when Kaif-&-Yuvraj’s unbeaten stand in the Natwest Final was all about cricket and none about bleeding-heart Ram-Rahim stories)

The not-so-cricket inclined in your house do not complain so much as they do not mind the opportunity to see Abhishek and Aishwarya perform together for the first time in a public arena, during the half-time. The artistically and patriotically interested have been surely suitably impressed by the redoubtable Pandit Jasraj rendering the National Anthem to open the ceremony. Not to forget, the mouth-watering prospect of seeing the trio of Rakhi-Kangana-Deepal perform at the field during every drinks break.

Regardless of the outcome (Ofcourse, Mumbai Dons, with Sachin, Jaffer and newly acquired Zaheer, would win) and the real prospect of this fantasy coming true, those who follow Indian Cricket and American football, even superficially, would easily sight the following :

  • Some of the glamor and commercialisation of Indian Cricket as fantasized here is already happening – most visible during the frenzy that picks up in advance of any major International Cricket Tournament.
  • More Importanly : if this fantasy were to strictly come true, Cricket would be played only in India, nowhere else – even Pakistan plays a modified version ! What this means, in turn, is the following :
    1. No Ashes contest between Australia and England : This could be the best news the English have had in cricket since their Ashes win 2 years ago.
    2. No India-Pakistan matches : That’s it ! That’s the single biggest reason why this fantasy should never come true !

(Anybody offering discounted packages for a possible Super Eight Match between India-Pak dirung the World Cup 2007 ?)

Aishwarya and Gurinder: The new power couple in Bollywood

As if the colorful yarns spun on screen were not enough to keep people engaged, there has always been a parallel track of extra-marital affairs and spicy romances in Bollywood, some of which have far exceeded the drama and passion of anything that you would ever see on screen. Yesteryear couples like Dev-Suraiya and Raj Kapur-Nargis have been matched by Amitabh-Rekha, Ramu-Urmila and Boney-Sridevi in more recent times. Most of these romances have been mutually beneficial contracts with men utilizing their traditional power and influence in the industry in exchange for presumably stolen, steamy moments away from the prying eyes of their family and fans in offshore locations (Dev-Suraiya was an exception where Suriaya provided both the glamour and the power in the relationship). Women of course have benefited by landing some of the roles that they arguably would have never gotten otherwise. These romances do not fall under the category of casting couches because they usually last much longer and many times end up in marriages as well. Bollywood Couples Legendary Bollywood Couples

Well, it seems to me that there might be a new twist in the traditional role of males as a purveyor of power and influence and casting (as a director-producer or an influential star) his favorite actress in the leading role (euphemistically called the muse). As I sat watching pictures of Gurinder Chadha and Aishwarya Rai this morning at the announcement of their new movie, Dallas, I wondered why this one movie wonder (Bend It Like Beckham) keeps on torturing us? It is bad enough that the movies are sold as India’s cultural representations, what makes them insufferable is to first see the plastic maiden, Aishwarya Rai, act in them and then preen around on foreign shores with her fake smile and dimwit answers as a symbol of India. Bride and Prejudice, The Mistress of Spices and now Dallas – when does it end and why does Gurinder do it?

Then it struck me, in my eureka moment. Why did Ramu caste Urmila, a garish and unsophisticated actress before Rangeela and gave her an extreme makeover? Why did Boney Kapoor keep plunking money down Sridevi’s broad nose until it was sculpted into something sharper than a parrot’s beak? Why did Amitabh fall for Rekha in her pre-yoga/pre-plastic surgery days?

It’s love silly! What else could it be? That faith that Gurinder has in Aishwarya almost seemed touching after this realization (“maybe this time she will be able to act”). So now on one hand, we have Gurinder in a position of power and able to land plum roles for Aishwarya; on the other hand is Aishwarya, finally far away from abusive and accusive boyfriends like Salman and Vivek (or Viveik if you will!), and finding a father figure in Gurinder and together they make kitsch like never before (do they make love also like never before?). I am sure Deepa Mehta must be giddy with anticipation over the screenplay for this one (a single word movie title anyone?). Moreover, it might open the doors to a whole slew of women-women relationships in Bollywood, after all there are plenty of women who now have power to wield in the industry.

Aish and Gurinder

Will they be a legend as the couples above?

But I digress. Coming back to Gurinder and Aishwarya, I feel that we must keep faith in love. Like Urmila’s transformation from Chamatkar to Rangeela, like Rekha’s from Saawan Bhadon to Silsila and Sridevi’s from Tohfa to Lamhe – there might still be a movie that Gurinder will make for her, maybe a remake of The Young and The Restless, when Aishwarya will finally be able to act. They say that love can perform miracles and this certainly would be one miracle worth waiting for.

You go kid!

Nine year old Ajay Puri was honored by Prime Minister Singh at the inaugural session of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas. The prime minister congratulated him and asked him to keep up the good work. Other politicians were beaming and angling to get a picture clicked with the kid.

Fast forward 30 odd years

Young Ajay Puri has grown to be a real whiz-kid, in the mold of his childhood idol, Bill Gates and Narayan Murthi. Puri was today criticized severely by politicians who cut across party lines to denounce Puri’s speech in which he blamed India’s politicians for being an albatross around the country’s neck and hindering her progress. Geve Dowda, son of former Prime Minister, Deve Gowda claimed that running a company is no big deal, Puri should try and run the country or keep his mouth shut.

Puri in turn said that India’s politicians have given a new meaning to the phrase deja-vu. He said that he will retire and watch his collection of “Back to the Future” series.