That the Indian Premier League (IPL) was all about money and money and more money was never a secret. But that it put money above anything, absolutely anything, was quite a shock.
I'm a Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) supporter, and the events which have unfolded in the past few days, on this third season of the IPL, does make me a sad panda. As you might know, the Kolkata Knight Riders is 'owned' by Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla's Red Chillies Entertainment. And trust me, these people do their bit to add that spice to the game. But of late, this tournament has taken a weird turn, at least I can say so when it comes to the Kolkata Knight Riders.
There's now, to my utter astonishment, an official fan club for the KKR. And for around 500 bucks, you can 'buy' the KKR the much needed fan following. Its almost as if the people who refuse to spend their hard earned money to get a silly hamper (with 'goodies' I might add), which includes a T-Shirt (which will be rendered redundant and useless once KKR decide to change their jersey design, again), membership card, 'exclusive' access to....well, thats not exactly specified, and oh yeah here's the interesting bit, ticket discounts! (Erm, maybe they'll give you a hundred bucks off on their 32 grand ticket)
Wait! I aint done yet.
Although the first two seasons of the IPL had official sponsors and advertisers and stuff, cricket was always the main draw. Now it looks like I'll have to get accustomed to the new lingo, for a 'DLF Maximum' is the new term for a six. And each good bit of play gets tagged as the 'Citi moment of success'. And of course the entire tournament is called the DLF IPL.
Nowadays people, mostly women throng to the stadiums not to watch cricket (honestly, since when did women have a passion for the game? Of course with a few exceptions), but to catch a glimpse of Shah Rukh Khan, Juhi Chawla, Katrina Kaif, Priety Zinta, etc etc. Never mind if the home team is losing, never mind if the game is boring, never mind if the team management is doing an absolutely nonsensical job, never mind if the integrity of the team isnt in shape, you still get to catch a glimpse of the Bollywood celebs, right? Well, when people start paying 32,000 rupees to sit next to Shah Rukh Khan and Katrina Kaif, you do start questioning if cricket is still the main draw.
And yesterday was the worst day in the history of the IPL. Shah Rukh Khan had apparently refused to 'attend' the IPL match at the Eden Gardens, unless his guests were allowed to sit in a temporary structure suited for 'best viewing'. Never mind if the state government departments havent given the organisers the permission to build the structure in the first place, after all its all about appeasing the celeb crush/fever of some freaks who happen to shell out nothing less than (okay its getting repetitive) 32 freaking thousand rupees! But honestly, if someone is paying that amount of money, the structure built for them, should be all the more well built. So, Shah Rukh Khan refuses to watch a match because, hold your breath, he is not being allowed to sit on his illegal structure at the stadium! Hence, the conclusion. KKR management (who decide the price of the tickets et al) has absolutely nothing in mind but money, money and more money! And the KKR is making an issue out of it, by (almost) making it a 'look its Kolkata's image which is getting damaged' kind of a thing. And yesterday Juhi Chawla gave the killer punch (at least she tried to). She decided to meet Mamata Bannerjee and supposedly offered her tickets to the match to be held today (you guess the price of the tickets which were on offer!). Fortunately, she refused. Or else she would have generated yet another controversy by sitting in the 'illegal' block of the stadium. And of course, that would be perfect for KKR, they could then have Mamata on their side and the Mamata vs State government agenda would take centre stage and people would forget about the 'illegal' construction. Smart move, SRK camp. But not smart enough.
For heaven's sake, these people, SRK, Juhi, and everyone else related to the IPL are only hell-bent on making money and nothing else. They want the team to win because that would earn them more moolah from the advertisers. Not becasue they want to help the youngsters or anything! I never was an ardent fan of SRK (although I do like some movies of his), I always thought of him as one lucky fellow, with mediocre acting talent, hogging all the attention only because he happens to do 'formula movies', song and dance, dancing around the trees, and other stereotyped films, (now) mostly for the NRI audiences. And guess what, I dont think this naked display of 'I-want-money-and-money-only' attitude from him has made him a greater/better (or put anything you want here) human being at least in my eyes.
Oh well, gone are the days when cricket used to be a game of gentlemen. It looks like, cricket now is a game 'for' gentlemen.