(What happens when IPL TV commentators come on the pay-roll of BCCI?)

-By Sanjay Jha

The BCCI passed a unanimous resolution that it would henceforth compensate IPL commentators directly for their professional services. Naturally, the select panel of chosen veterans was as thrilled as the bubbly bimbos queuing up to serenade Rahul Mahajan. But with the erstwhile IPL Commissioner now under permanent exile , the BCCI big guns were prodigiously anxious; how would they ensure sponsor satisfaction of 10 on a 5 point scale? Thus, the same secret luxury resort on a beach-front  where discreet rendezvous of BCCI/IPL Governing Council is frequently held was chosen as the sacred venue. Unfortunately, yours truly was also there with a high-tech mobile gadget soon to be launched called Karbon-Copy which could read anyone’s lips from a distance of 50 m, even better than George Bush Part I. Hence, the extraordinary script that follows.


Shashank Manohar ( SM) :  Thank you Arun ( Lal) , Ravi ( Shastri )  and Sunil ( Gavaskar) for coming here for this urgent crisis management meeting. And you Srini ( A Srinivasan) and Ratna ( Prof Ratnakar Shetty) .

Prof Ratnakar Shetty was not visibly amused as for some reason he felt  like Naseeruddin Shah’s endearing wife , but he kept diplomatically mum. Sunil Gavaskar (SG)  did not.

SG: In terms of seniority and achievement , you should call my name first.

Arun Lal ( AL) and Ravi Shastri (RS)  at the same time: And me  next!

A Srinivasan (AS) : Shut up, you egotistical ex-cricketers ! You are now on our pay-roll, and now we will drive the agenda. You do as you are told to do, irrespective of your brand preferences. Am I clear?

AL, RS and SG : Brand preferences?

AS: : Enlighten them, Ratna . The purpose of this meeting is to be fully prepared for our new project—SPONSOR SATISFACTION: 100 per cent GUARANTEED  which comes into effect from the Champions League in South Africa next month. What Modi can do, we will do better. Get it???

PROF RS : Ok, I am giving  you the list of all our listed sponsors. You will huddle up in the attic above the kitchen-sink to avoid creepy media cameras seemingly  lurking around , and come up with your creative, innovative and magical interpretation of how we can maximize valuations of these brand sponsors.

He gave them each a sealed and signed envelope .

SM: We reassemble in exactly 15 minutes, as time is short and we suspect a sting operation. We want your genius at play or else you can still be disbanded or your salaries halved. Am I clear?

SG, AL and RS climbed the concealed staircase behind a large portrait of Sharad Pawar transported especially for the occasion.

Exactly 14 minutes and 32 seconds later, they returned,  arm-in-arm singing  a collective chorus as they did the salsa to “ We are Family”……..

SM: What the hell is that?

SG: Sir Ji, this is a popular song that will play before every match and we commentators will dance on the field. And we will get Karan Johar to direct it, and also sponsor it as it is his forthcoming film also . What an Idea, Sir Ji? Brought to you by Kara————–?????

SM/AS: Kya IDEA hai ! Brilliant! Magnificent! Excellent! Bravo!

Prof RS : Who is this Karan Joker?

Everyone ignored him.

SM /AS : Go ahead ! Go ahead! We are so excited. We can’t wait. Now we will teach Modi some marketing.

SG: First, everytime Sachin Tendulkar shuffles at the crease, it will be an Itch-Guard Moment.

Clap ! Clap!

RS: Sir, and as far as Rahul Dravid is considered, if he gets bowled while executing a classical Biblical flawless straight drive, we will get in Sahara:  We chase Quality, Quantity Chases Us.

Manohar did not seem too pleased with that, but did not say a word.

AL: Sir, and when catches are dropped, they will be brought to you by LIC; zindagi ke saath bhi, zindagi ke baad bhi.

Srinivsan seemed so tickled with that, he instantly rolled off the floor. He was lifted up by the stewards.

SG :  And Sir , Videocon will come in everytime there is a fall of a wicket. Experience Change, by Videocon.

RS ( looking passionately excited) : And if Katrina, Deepika, Priyanka, Vidya, Bipasha, Kareeena, Kangana………….

SM: Will you please stop reading out the list of Bollywood heroines and tell me what you are going to tell me, Ravi?

RS ( unable to control himself) : Well Sir, everytime Katrina, Deepika, Priyanka, Vidya, Bipasha, Kareena, Kangna……..

Srinivasan had begun tearing Manohar’s hair in frustration.

AL ( interrupting RS) : Well Sir everytime these heroines come on camera, that will be Hero Honda’s Desh ki Dhadkan .

In the meantime,  Shastri tried to contain his palpitation.

SM( in deep introspection) : Good idea, but  don’t you think we should give it to Pepsi for Yeh dil maange more?

Everyone was very impressed.

AS: You are becoming a  copy-writer , Shash.

There was pin-drop silence. Everyone exchanged glances. And Manohar looked very pleased with himself.

SG: Sir,  Yuvraj Singh will be brought to you by Kingfisher, Prince of Good Times for pint sized beer bottles only, that way we won’t impact King Mallya.

AL: And everytime Ashish Nehra spits on the ground for no apparent reason it will be a Listerine Moment; it is dynamite against germs crawling on the grass.

RS: And MS Dhoni’s inexplicable audacious non-text book batting shot will be an Audi Shot: Vorsprung Durch Technik, nobody will understand it only.

AS: Clever! Very clever! Very clever indeed! Even MSD will love that mumbo-jumbo.

SG: Our tail-enders rearguard action will be from Maruti : You can at least Count on Us. .

SG: Even we will get sponsored, Sir, the whole commentary team. After all, we change public opinion more than the actual game, Sir with our comments. Well, that will be by Amul .

SM: Amul? Ice cream? Are you guys seen as sweet and cold?

RS: No Sir Ji, Amul Macho inner-wear.

SG: Our expert summaries will conclude with , Yeh to bada toing hai.

AS and SM cleared their throats.

RS: We have even thought of roping in Toyota by giving them coverage when Sidharth Mallya will appear with Ms Deepika Padukone on the balconies with a confused expression. It will be a Toyota moment, Designed to inspire envy!

SM: You guys are just too good. Go ahead, Express yourself, brought to you by AirTel. Ha ha! Am I not a genius too ? Good, no?

Clap! Clap! Clap! The applause lasted 2.31 minutes.

AS: Wow Shashank, you are becoming a natural! At this rate you will send Manish Pandey out of business.

RS: Piyush, Sir, not Manish .

The animated discussion was punctuated by a sudden impenetrable stillness in the air.

RS: Sir, why has  Reebok  ditched us, sir! They are no longer sponsoring CT League.

SG: But why?

AS: They are supporting Lalit Modi even now. Crazy fellows.  Because they believe he best typifies their tag line I am What I Am.

SG: Forget it then ! We have come up with a real winner for our new government account .

RS: Whenever our batsmen take 2 runs, the Ministry of Health and Family Planning advertisement will be broadcast by us commentators.

SM: Really? How? What?

AL: Hum do aur Hamare Do !

RS: And we should get Sunil’s sunny-side up smile sponsored  by National Egg Coordination Committee.

Gavaskar looked slightly miffed with that , resembling an egg muffin, but was soon giving a sunny grin.

SM: I saw some bearded chap hanging around with a modern satellite mobile instrument outside that looked very fishy. . So let us do a TVS moment and Break Free from here quickly. But on tip toe. Let’s Go for It  by the will of Nike!

And with that they quietly took off their  Action sneakers and disappeared.

By the time I managed to enter the room there was only one steward standing there in a printed florescent  underwear.

Where have they all disappeared? I asked. Please, please, tell me!

The steward gave a smug smile, strutted around the room like a peacock and then contemptuously dismissed me with a resounding flourish : This is a Lux innerwear moment, Sir! Yeh Andar Ki Baat hai.

One comment

  1. Can prime ministers hailing from the Nehru family ever be wrong, asks Virendra Kapoor.

    Believe it or not, prime ministers from the Nehru-Gandhi family did no wrong, infallible as all three were.

    If there were mistakes, nay, Himalayan blunders, these were the handiwork of lesser mortals, not of super human beings belonging to India’s First Family.

    Constraints of space do not allow one to catalogue all that went wrong during the time Jawaharlal Nehru was prime minister. Suffice it to say, the man guilty for the bloody nose the Chinese gave India was not Nehru. No, how could it be him? No way.

    It was then defence minister V K Krishna Menon. However, if the defence forces did anything good, such as ‘liberating’ tiny Goa on the eve of the 1962 general election, the credit solely belonged to Nehru and Nehru alone.

    Of course, it was not Nehru who internationalised the Kashmir dispute by rushing to the United Nations. Why? Simple, being a Nehru, he could do not wrong.

    Now come to a huge black mark during the reign of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi [ Images ]. Of course, she was happy to be Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Durga when our valiant soldiers helped liberate Bangladesh. But if a few months later Bangladesh became an Islamic republic, it wasn’t her fault, was it?

    Mind you, snuffing out of democracy from the land for 19 months was certainly not her decision. The Emergency was the handiwork of her minions. So were those horrible excesses committed during that dark period. Corrupt bureaucrats and policemen were clearly at fault while Indira Gandhi was completely innocent. And her younger son, Sanjay, well, he was the epitome of good political behaviour all along.

    As for Rajiv Gandhi [ Images ], dearest to the current bosses of the Congress party, one seeks the reader’s indulgence, especially because one has to acknowledge the sterling contribution of one of his most enlightened followers, Arjun Singh [ Images ], as well.

    Hats off to Singh. Age might have taken a toll physically, but mentally he continues to be as crafty, as devious as at anytime before.

    Maybe the Churhat Lottery king still hoped to get a crumb or two from the table of Sonia Gandhi when he absolved her late husband and then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi of any role in the escape of Warren Anderson from these shores in the wake of the Union Carbide catastrophe.

    That at no time he wanted to tell the truth was clear from the fact that hours before actually speaking in the House, he had duly sent the text of his speech to at least two Cabinet ministers who, in turn, vetted it for ensuring that there was nothing in it that may show the great prime minister of the time in bad light even by inference.

    So it was that the wily Thakur told the Rajya Sabha during the debate on the Bhopal gas leak tragedy that then prime minister uttered not a word edgeways when informed about Anderson’s arrest soon after the latter had set foot in Bhopal.

    Singh would like everyone to believe that Rajiv Gandhi had nothing to say about the arrest and escape of the head of the parent Union Carbide Company. Now, which other prime minister could maintain such stoic silence upon being told that the boss of the company which was responsible for the deaths of thousands had been arrested?

    Clearly, Rajiv Gandhi had acquired such saintly qualities that he could be completely unmoved by mundane, worldly events. Remaining indifferent both to a huge tragedy or a great windfall is one of the prerequisites for being a godly person.

    No wonder the party led by his widow was duly engaged in deifying him, though personally the one-time Italian does have a very good reason to do so. And people like Singh were determined to bolster Project Mahatma Rajiv Gandhi in the expectation of some worldly gain.

    It was not without significance that Singh sought to blame then home minister P V Narasimha Rao for Anderson’s inexplicable release. That way he indulged his pet peeve while simultaneously earning brownie points from the Congress boss who too shares his antipathy towards Rao. And, on the whole, quite a good one at that.

    Curiously, all persons Singh named to buttress his story — and what a story it was — are no longer alive. Rajiv Gandhi, Rao and then chief secretary of Madhya Pradesh whom he named are not around to testify as true his version of events.

    Nonetheless, one is really happy that even at the ripe old age of 80, when he can hardly walk or speak, Singh has not lost his sycophantic streak, though of late he has been denied an opportunity to worship at the altar of 10, Janpath.

    The British monarch, it is famously said, can do no wrong, (even though a British monarch behaves far more responsibly and correctly than most democratic leaders in this country.) For our Congressmen, members of the Gandhi-Nehru family too can do no wrong. Be it the Bhopal gas tragedy, or the Bofors bribery scam, or the massacre of thousands of Sikhs in the national capital, then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was entirely blameless.

    Though the anti-Sikh riots took place under his very nose, the nation was expected to believe that then prime minister was completely unaware — even if he had proclaimed at a Boat Club rally that when ‘a big tree falls the earth shakes’.

    Or take the Bofors scam. Ottavio Quattorocchi had publicly claimed that he was like a member of the Gandhi family. But Gandhi, the nation was told, was completely in the dark about Q’s involvement, if any, in the Bofors deal.

    It was another matter that without the Italian agent’s powerful intervention the contract for the purchase of the howitzer guns could not have been given to the Swedish firm in preference to the French Safma which had emerged number one in the short-listed panel after rigorous field trials.

    Now, anyone with a wee bit of common sense would ask whether a prime minister who was unaware of these huge controversies was fit to rule the country. Or was he sleeping on the job?

    Admittedly, Congressmen are not expected to ask questions; they are only expected to follow the Great Leader. But must everyone else, especially the so-called independent media, give in to this craven display of cringing sycophancy?

    Meanwhile, it ought to be remembered that unlike the present system under which every minister does his or her own thing while Prime Minister Manmohan Singh minds his own business, that is, in case he has any business to mind, prime ministers from the Nehru-Gandhi family were truly in firm control of their governments.

    Nobody dared take a decision without prior consultation with them. So, to say that Andersen was released and sent back to America without Rajiv Gandhi’s prior approval is truly a cock-and-bull story which must form part of the fiction section in the parliamentary library.

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