This is not my original piece for this blog. You can read that next month. I have decided to move that to my drafts folder and start from scratch. Because what I witnessed right now and what I felt as I was witnessing it, deserves to be documented.
I am the last person to write on cricket. Least of all, the IPL. Do not get me wrong. I love the game. As a teenager my brother and I grew up on posters of a menacing Curtly Ambrose and the smiling Sachin Tendulkar adorning our walls. It’s just that over the last decade odd, I have like many others I know, found myself moving away from the game. But last night, I was absolutely transfixed to the television screen.
And why not? It had every ingredient that people in our profession take keen interest in. There was sport, entertainment, drama, glamour, girls, showmen, a mild smattering of statistics and economics. For a little over four hours, we saw a number of stories unfold on screen. And each came with its own script, individual heroes, struggles and dramatic endings. It might have shown a lot of things. But what it proved is what moves us still are stories.
Stories of people just like us, and yet not. Stories of success that enamour us so, that we start believing that we are a part of it as well. How many of you who watched the final yesterday, felt that you really would rather be in that sweaty dressing room after the victory? Or at least thought, that a glimpse of the after- party wouldn’t be that bad an idea? Not just as a fly-on-the wall voyeur. But as a part of the team.
That is the awesome part.
For us, who apart from being viewers played no role in the proceedings and have no right to be anywhere even close to that dressing room, can be made to think like that. Any film director or even an artist would love it if their audience was so moved by their work that they wanted to immerse themselves so completely in it.
Now the IPL makes all the news. People love to talk about it. It’s corrupt. It’s criminal. The cheerleaders aren’t really cheerleaders. No one is quite sure how Lalit Modi can still hide and tweet at the same time. But the fact is that it has managed to keep us engaged at a human level for weeks. And that is because despite the best efforts of all and sundry to label it as an embarrassment for cricket, it is still cricket that binds it.
Puritans will deny it the status of a sport. Let them. It is always good to have a contrary opinion. It helps keep things grounded. But even these hardhearted puritans will not be able to deny the magic of it.
We saw a young lad from Haryana, who 65% of the viewers thought was a bad selection, play the innings of his life. With every flourishing stroke, one could almost see his entire family sitting in front of a television screen watching with nervous anxiety. And perhaps with the kind of pride that you only wish you could make your parents feel for you.
Every limp of Jacques Kallis, would have caused a thousand Calcutta hearts (pronounced ‘hurts’) to skip a beat. I am sure that vows to visit the Kalighat Temple would also have been made. Upon the condition of Goutom Gombhir’s lifting the cup, of course.
For every one person who saw Shahrukh Khan do the cartwheel and cringe, there would be thousands who saw unrestrained joy. This is the stuff dreams are made of. The story of the underdog. The story of an eccentric megalomaniac owner. The story of the prodigal son. The story of a young hero who appeared from nowhere. The story of the best player who couldn’t even play. It even had its cameos. The guest appearance by a mysterious Trinidadian of Indian descent, who no batsman could master. The story of a team that grew weary of the bottom feeder’s tag and decided to just go out and win.
And there are other stories as well. And you could see it on every face the camera focused on in the crowd as the game was on. The tears, the nervous energy, the numerous prayers and the sheer excitement of having them answered almost immediately. And there were many off screen as well. Like me calling up my father in the middle of the night just to shout into the phone, “Jeetaaay gechhi!”
That’s a script we all want to write. From the junior copy guy with a stutter to the brand manager with an ego, from the account supervisor to the CEO – we all want a fitting end to it all. One that is just as exciting. Just as grand. And equally well-deserved.
Trilokjit Sengupta is a photographer. He is also a creative consultant and one of the founder members of Metal Communications.