IPL – Yeh Dil Maange Not Anymore

The IPL has got me into a state of confusion. I belong to a world where things are in their place; for instance politics is where it should be, cinema, media, cricket and my everyday life, each one of them are securely in the place that belongs to them. But the IPL seems to be too many things, all mired up and messed up into one big media event- it is the final victory of the cinema over cricket. Films and cricket have been distinct and parallel, both are star producing discourses and both have had huge popular support and following. But each has been autonomous, self contained world, complementing and non competitive. Of late both cricket and the cinema had been losing audiences. Kerry Packer in the early 1980’s was an attempt at rediscovering cricket to help it live through changing times, to help it survive the forces of dismemberment into history.
Cricket was a colonial affair that reached its peak with the most intense moment of colonialism, namely the movement towards decolonization. In the world of the post colonial, cricket had to lose its sheen to football and hockey. It survived in South Asia and the West Indies and South Africa, the Commonwealth countries because of a continued process of internal colonialism of a selected elite ruling the rest of us in the name of democracy. In the lands of the juntas, cricket never had a chance. Today as democracy all over the world, especially in the Commonwealth countries is facing a challenge to various non democratic ways of life and governance, cricket faces the imminent threat of losing its popularity. The cinema, whose history is aligned to cricket, has met the same fate. Both need to survive. The IPL was the cinema’s appropriation of cricket for survival.
Meanwhile cinema underwent two important transformations; one was the abandonment of ideology and the other was to become friendly towards television, its one time contender. In both such cases the cinema created celebrities, though it no longer had the monopoly to do so. With such changes within itself, it stretched its arms towards cricket and grabbing it by the waist brought it close enough to crush it, albeit in the name of dancing together in amity. The crux of cricket, the nation collapsed and cricketers who were individuals playing in a team was reduced to simple corporate entities who were mere employers being assigned into a team. The teams were better known by their owners, who were invariably celebrities from outside cricket. Similarly, a match betweem Royal Challengers and Kolkata Knight Riders was more of a battle of Vijay Mallya and Shah Rukh Khan. The teams were put together, much like the hockey team in Chak De India to fulfill the wishes and whims of their clelebrity owners. Cricket came to be owned by a few zamindars rather than by nations, zamindars, not the native ones but something like the various East India Companies, multinational and private. This recolonization of cricket was also its corporatization.
The teams were named after cities but did not contain the organic spirit of the city, much like the real estate development zones, or the SEZs that use the mere physical location of the city but refuse to integrate with its moisture and air, its mud and concrete, its vegetation and rubbish, its history and its future. If it were so, then the IPL could have raised tempers like the Manchester Union, or Liverpool as in the football league in the UK. Cricket under the IPL was ripped off its essential continuity; there was no history to a team, no memories to compare, and no discourses around it. Players performed very well, all matches were equally pitched and all outcomes were with baited breath, yet there was boredom, a boredom that the IPL tried to overcome by scantily clad, furred women, DJs, folk drummers and bright clothes of players. The serene stretches of green grass in the cricket grounds were replaced by tacky ads painted on the grounds and everywhere the calmness of cricket was interrupted by advertisements by sponsors. The image of the IPL refers thus only to itself, a spectacle that does not have a resonance beyond the immediate gratification, much like a firework that erupts suddenly and dies just as suddenly, dazzling us while it lasts but only that much…….

About secondsaturn

Independent Scholar. Polymath.
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