Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Bollywoodization of Cricket: A Business Proposal

Unless you had your eyes welded shut, ears stuffed with molten iron and your Twitter and Facebook logins disabled, you would most certainly have noticed that IPL 3 dominated the news and most of your time spent awake. And if you are even the most average Indian fan, you would have followed the tournament through its month-and-a-half duration absorbing all that it threw back at you - the annoying TV anchors, Lalit Modi's omnipresence, Yuvraj's paunch (not to be confused with the MRF blimp), Shilpa Shetty's husband (not to be confused with anonymous cheerleaders), the Tharoor twist, and perhaps from time to time the activity that went on in the background all along -- the cricket.
I do not (or, more accurately, cannot) belittle the tournament. IPL is what it is: The glorious congregation of game and glamour. Perhaps the primary reason why the IPL has flourished is that it has brought together India's two evergreen favourites: Cricket and Bollywood. That allows Anil Kumble to dine with Katrina Kaif, L Sivaramakrishnan to pose for photographs with Preity Zinta and Harbhajan Singh to (literally) sweep Nita Ambani off her feet.
My lament, if I should have one, is that even after three editions of the IPL, Bollywood continues to play a disassociative role. The glitz continues to be restricted to owning teams, appearing in post-match parties and Navjot Singh Sidhu's so-flashy-it-turns-people-blind outfits in pre-match shows. Bollywood missed a wonderful chance by not bidding for one of the new teams planned for IPL 4. It's also a foolproof business plan - why invest insane amounts of money in other teams with underperforming cricketers, inconsistent coaches and Ajit Agarkar when you can have your own folk playing on your own team?

So, dear Bollywood, it is high time you set up your very own IPL franchise. And I present to you the following tips to go about this tedious task.
Finance to set up franchise: Now there should be no dearth of money in this industry. Clearly, the calls from Dubai aren't from old friends wanting to catch up, correct?
Franchise Name: Needs to be catchy yet self-defining. How about Juhu Juggernauts? Or Film City Fundamentalists? What? I'm serious.
On-Field Eleven: A team entering the IPL arena with such high expectations deserves to carry nothing but the very best of the lot. However, I propose the following starting XI:
1. Harman Baweja - Because the direction in which the acting career is headed, a change of careers is definitely recommended. (Applicable work ex: Victory)
2. Aamir Khan - Played the role of a dashing, inspirational batsman in one of the greatest cricket movies ever made in India, directed by an unchallenged legend. You guessed it right. Dev Anand's Awwal Number. Aamir also played cricket in some movie called Lagaan.
3. Ashutosh Gowariker - Played a pivotal role for his cricket team in the movie Chamatkar and later directed Lagaan. Ironic that he should figure in a T20 XI considering most of his movies are as long as Test matches.
4. Naseeruddin Shah - Played the role of a match-tampering ghost called Marco in Chamatkar followed by that of a washed-out bowler called Mohit in Iqbal. Included in this team because -- think about it -- how many old people do you know who are named Mohit?
5. Rani Mukherjee - Same reason as Harman Baweja. Applicable work ex: Dil Bole Hadippa
6. John Abraham - Has not appeared in a cricket movie (at least, one of note) yet but managed to convince a total of zero persons with his role of a soccer player in Dhana Dhan Goal. Also, he is included because someone from the team has to look good in the ads endorsing jerseys, toothpaste, lightbulbs etc.
7. Mandira Bedi - Included in the team for the sole reason that this prevents her from appearing in cricket shows before, during and after cricket matches, thus reducing the occurrences of brain haemorrhage amongst Indian cricket viewers drastically.
8. Aditya Lakhia (aka Kachra from Lagaan) - An awe-inspiring leg-spinner from 19th century India, his claim to fame is the crucial 10th wicket unbeaten partnership with Aamir Khan in Lagaan. Also, it's fun to shout "Kachra, gola phek" on a cricket field.
9. S Sreesanth - Not an actor you say? Like the typical Bollywood 'hero', he can dance (ref. the Andre Nel incident), cry (ref. the Harbhajan slap incident), express anger (ref. pretty much every match he plays) and act kind-hearted and charitable (have you seen his bowling stats?!)
10. Shreyas Talpade - What? You thought Sreesanth was going to be the dependable pace bowler in the team? (Applicable work ex: Iqbal)
11. Mithun Chakraborty - Because Mithun can do ANYthing. Rather, EVERYthing. Period.

Bollywood should also nominate their members to the Elite Umpires panel. My two choices:
- Amrish Puri: Known for his excellent super-accurate umpiring skills, made well-known by the movie quote "Uparwala (Third Umpire) wrong ho sakta hai magar Dong kabhi wrong nahi hota!"
- Dog who umpired in Hum Aapke Hain Koun: Well, he was being typecast as an annoying dog in too many movies and wanted a change of profession. That's all.

So that's that. Let us all agree that this is a fantastic lineup and an awesome business proposition too. So if you are connected with Bollywood in some way and would like to take this idea further, let me end with these five profound words - I accept payments in cash.

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