Friday, 2 December, 2022
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Meat ban, Sri Lanka crisis, Russia-Ukraine war – IPL couldn’t have been timed better

In the midst of war and economic distress, IPL 2022 offers four hours of unadulterated entertainment every evening—that’s more than what Hollywood and Bollywood can do.

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Wouldn’t you like to live in a world that is `beautiful’? A world where everything is either ‘amazing’ or ‘outstanding’, ‘terrific’ or ‘perfect’, ‘brilliant’ or ‘absolutely brilliant’ –– preferably, all of the above – and where if you say, he `set the world on fire, you don’t mean flames billowing out of the latest air raid on Ukraine but rather Ayush Badoni smashing the ball to every corner of the cricket field?

Wouldn’t you much rather watch the latest edition of the Indian Premier League (Star Sports) than the distressing sight of the economic crisis in Sri Lanka, ‘Imran’s joke on democracy’ in Pakistan’ (Times Now) or decomposing bodies scattered on the ground in the alleged ‘genocide at Bucha’ by Russian soldiers (Republic TV)?

Surely, the sight and sound of the ball hitting the meat of the bat is more appetising than the hullabaloo over halal meat or a ban on the sale of meat in Delhi during Navratri — two issues that have agitated news channels over the past two days?

Frankly, we ought to say a very big thank you to the IPL — timed to perfection just like some of the shots played by young Badoni in the last few matches for the Lucknow Super Giants. Viewers may still be concerned about the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia but they must have grown tired of seeing intrepid Indian TV reporters in Ukraine — whose numbers swell each day — crow over a demolished Russian tank with the delight of Harsha Bhogle while commenting on a six by Badoni: ‘Aw shot!’

If sport mimics war, then the IPL has already thrown up some great battles where the big guys have been humbled by less acclaimed teams; Chennai Super Kings lost their three opening matches – while the young guns are firing on all cylinders. Besides Badoni and Mumbai Indians’ Tilak Varma, there’s Punjab Kings’ Vaibhav Arora and his wicket ways with the ball.

In the midst of war and economic distress — TV news carries stories about the daily fuel hikes, daily  — IPL 2022 offers four hours of unadulterated entertainment every evening. That’s more than what Hollywood and Bollywood can do.

Think about it –– you get to watch some of the world’s greatest cricketers at play, and listen to a host of the liveliest commentators whose prose rise to new heights with the fall of each wicket and soar with every six. The number of superlatives uttered by the likes of Sunil Gavaskar, Simon Doull, Graeme Swann, Danny Morrison and of course Harsha Bhogle, in the course of one evening, equal the number of 4s and 6s in the match.

And what about the return of the prodigal? Former India men’s coach Ravi Shastri is back in the IPL studio, after seven years, and isn’t he just relishing the role…

Also read: It’s time for a women’s IPL — it’ll grow the game and churn out talented, ‘ready’ players

When ads come to aid  

The other fun part of watching the IPL, which extends beyond the boundaries and spills over into the timeouts, is the commercial breaks. The advertisements are funny and imaginative and tell you a great deal about our new lifestyles. For instance, Swiggy, a major sponsor, pokes fun at its own boast of making deliveries within 10 minutes. Watch the hapless man caught by his wife having a night out with his sons – she had returned within 10 minutes for her keys.

Then there’s the guy gorging on a gargantuan samosa at a halwai shop with no money to pay for it – enter Google Pay. Or enjoy the series of Spotify advertisements, besides the Deepika Padukone one – where young people shut out annoying people around them (like their parents) to listen to their favourite music. And see what they’ve done to an old Karishma Kapoor advert for a detergent — they’ve remade it into a commercial for Cred.

Then there’s the Healthians — the new-age medical wizards who are seen taking a blood sample test on the cricket pitch. Meanwhile, online medicine delivery company, Pharmeasy has roped in actor Aamir Khan, seen in a commercial after quite a while.

Also, what can be more imaginative and appropriate than the advertisement for Fantasy Akhada games, featuring Harsha Bhogle — kidnapped and tied to a chair? The only way he can escape from captivity is by helping his captors win the game. Bhogle is a promoter of this fantasy sports initiative.

More fantasy sports with Dream 11, which has ads by Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya among other cricketers, remembering their tough beginnings and the good Samaritan who lent them a helping hand. Just to be different because he’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Chennai Super Kings superstar is seen promoting another game, Winzo.

Back to more traditional products, we see Salman Khan in a throwback advert for Pepsi where a young ‘Salman’ from his blockbuster hit, Hum Aapke Hain Koun, is in conversation with the future Salman where everything is the ‘same’ except the fizz in Pepsi. There are sly references to Salman’s girlfriends that everyone will enjoy.

One product that perhaps owes much of its success to its advertising campaign is Fogg — ‘Kya chal raha hai?’ ‘Fogg chal raha hai’. Never made any sense to me but that was the beauty of it. It’s still going strong with a new campaign for its scent — don’t think this one will chalo anywhere.

Views are personal.

(Edited by Pranay Dutta Roy)

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