Monthly Archives: February 2011

The 2011 World Cup : An early review

May be it’s because I have grown up, but I somehow do not find this World Cup as exciting as the earlier ones.

There is no mass hysteria this time. There are no bulk offers promising a TV, fridge, and washing machine for the price of a computer. Cricketers are not splashed all over the roads, peddling everything from hair oil to engine oil. And Coke and Pepsi have not slashed their prices.

Cricket World Cups were the culmination of four years of discussion, debates, dreams and fantasies. We used to tear off the full-page matches schedule and stick it on our cupboards and disappointingly tick off one match after the other. This World Cup seems to have arrived without much fanfare surrounding it, even though it is being held in India.

More than the lack of hysteria, there are a lot of other things in this World Cup that do not have my approval. Like the Opening Ceremony in Dhaka. I know they are an upcoming nation and need all the backing that they can get, but hosting the Opening Ceremony there is taking a bit too much. And the aerial cricket show seemed like an episode of ‘Entertainment ke liye kuchh bhi karega’. I was almost waiting for Anu Malik to break into another of his mind-numbing shayaris after the thing was completed. There were the same old dance performances and songs. I never understand, when there is talk of Indian culture, why are there always dance performances? We only dance when we are drunk, when no one is watching in the bathroom, or when our friend is getting married. Why do all the representations of India’s culture have to have dance performances??

And the Pre-match show is another disappointing part of the World Cup. Before the first match, there was a good intro by Harsha Bhogle about his experiences in the WCs. Then, the camera panned to the right, and my heart sank. Sitting to the left of Bhogle, was that man. That dreaded, feared man who can make the most interesting cricket match as enjoyable experience as smooching Baba Ramdev. Navjot Singh Sidhu is a threat to the nation’s sanity and needs to be removed from that panel in public interest. Poor Ganguly, if he is made to sit next to Sidhu everyday for the entire WC, he will retire from Knight Riders, sell his 22 cars, write an apology letter to Greg Chappel and retire to the Himalayas to lead an ascetic life.

But on the flip side, there is no Arun Lal in the commentary panel, which makes life a little better.

The advertisements in this World Cup are also dumb. All World Cups have had advertisements that have been part of the memories of the World Cup. Like the ‘Nothing Official About it’ ads in 96, the ‘Pad up Sachin, you’re on’ in 99, and the ‘Thanda Matlab Coca Cola’ ads of 2003. But the ads of this World Cup are sad, to say the least. All the TV ads show the person in the TV jumping out into the room, the insurance guys are still hell-bent on scaring you into buying a policy, and the Pepsi ads with the cricketers donning body paints on their bodies with a tight expression on their faces is too much to look at.

So with so many things to crib about this World Cup, let’s hope the cricket is at least, worth it.

BiRYANi ADAMS

So Bryan Adams was coming to Hyderabad. And Sarthak and me had tickets to the concert. And I was pretty kicked.

You see, I have never been to any real concert. I had been to an Indian Ocean concert, but the experience was spoiled because of some tasteful guys in the audience who interrupted the concert screaming, “Rock on!” and “Jai Ho”, which pissed Rahul Ram a great deal and the concert sank.

We reached the place at six o clock, and the concert was to begin at 1900 hours Indian Stretchable Time. We had got the cheapest tickets and it was pretty much the scene in a local train. People were jostling for space, and giving way to the occasional sandwich seller and Aquafina bootlegger. There was a hostess who was attempting to the entertain the crowd with utterly original questions like,

“Are you guys with me?” and “Are you guys ready?”

Just as we were realising that it is going to be an uncomfortable affair standing here waiting for Mr. Adams to come on stage, the hostess announced that Arshad Warsi was here and had ‘something for us’. What Arshad Warsi had was a cruel joke. He was promoting some film called ‘Faaltu’ and some dancers came on to the stage and started performing to some songs.

You dont mess with a crowd that has been waiting for two hours and Mr. Warsi did just that. He asked the audience to say loudly after him,

“FAAAAL – TUUUUUUU”

“FUUUUUCK YOOOOOUUU”, the crowd went, promptly. This went for about a minute, after which Warsi probably realised the plan had backfired and left the stage reminding us all about how much he loved us all. And then, Bryan Adams came on to the stage.

He hardly looks like a rock singer. His hair was neatly parted at the side and gelled, and he wore a black shirt and jeans, looking more like the head of the Indian arm in a BPO company than a singer. Once he came on stage, we realised why the film stars had bought the more expensive tickets. What we saw was a synchronised show of heads bobbing up and down to the music.

There was a lot of speculation on whether he was lip-syncing or not. “Har show mein wohi hota hai”, the wise guy who was standing in the group in front of us pointed, and after spending five minutes standing on my toes and not being able to figure out if he was in fact lip-syncing, I gave up. Even if he was, there was nothing I could do about it.

There were no long chats between songs and drunk jokes like the kind Mohit Chauhan would crack on stage. He finished one song, smiled, spread his arms out, and went on to the other song. He was egged on by some creative slogans shouted once in a while.

“Once more, once more”

“We know only one song. Play ‘Summer of 69;”

“Give us another song, or give us a separate state” etc etc

But he was a sport. The crowd generally knew a maximum of 2 lines in every song. So the sing-along concert would go like this:

PLEASE FORGIVE ME…

EVERY WORD i abrrrabaah TRUE..

PLEASE FORGIVE ME,

abbaabaabba YOU.

But when the crowd heard the first strains of that one song, that one damn song that everyone knew, it was like the crowd had collectively taken a snort of coke. In unison, they blasted off into how they had bought that guitar at the five and dime, and the dumbass chick who kept standing on her mama’s porch.

I surprised myself by knowing more than just one Bryan Adams song, but I guess that comes with having a girlfriend in the early 2000s. So I crooned along and cheered and ‘once mored’ after every song. He was a sport. He spoke to the audience, joked with them, took pictures, and asked one to come on to the stage and sing with him.

And just like that, before we knew it, the concert was over. Bryan Adams thanked us all and told us that we were the loudest crowd he has seen in India (debatable, considering Adams has never been to an Oriya wedding)

You always know the reaction of the crowd to a show by the way they come walking out of the place. When people came out of the halls watching Rang De Basanti, everyone wanted to change the country. When people came out of Dhoom, even TVS Max 100 were revving like Hayabusas. And when people came out of this concert, everyone had an English song on their lips.

Every one was nodding, or waving, or humming, and looking for the exit.