E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Most people think the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is a body that controls cricket in India. This is only partly true though.
Cricket is after all a game of cause and effect, in a manner of speaking, but BCCI controls all aspect of the game including how you should watch cricket, read about cricket stars or see their pictures. You just can’t ‘Eat cricket, Sleep cricket’ the way you want, unless BCCI has approved it.
In the 1980s, the Dutch introduced ‘Total football’ when the likes of Rudd Gullit and Van Basten moved all over the ground looking for the ball and playing every position.
In a similar manner, BCCI has introduced ‘Total Control of Cricket’.
The Indian Premier League ( IPL), only in its sixth year, has already seen life in full spectrum. After a great start it was banished to stage its second edition in South Africa on the orders of then home minister, P. Chidambaram, himself an all-rounder having handled various positions in government. Subsequently it banished Lalit Modi himself.
The issue of cheer girls issue went all the way up to Parliament with the House equally divided as in every household.
Each year, IPL has to usher something innovative in the cut-throat TRP game of television.
Now, in its sixth year, IPL6 has introduced some edicts that would put Moses’ Ten Commandments to shame.
I had a chance to talk to the affable IPL director Sundar Raman who was ever ready to dispel any thoughts of control.
We were seated at the Wankhede stadium where, for a change, commoners can come in and the king of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan, is banned.
Farah Khan and party were practicing the moves for IPL-6’s theme song ‘Jumping Zapak’‘ whose tagline reads, ‘Sirf dekhneka nahi’.
“Mr Raman, why are you so possessive about photographs of cricketers. You don’t let anybody else take pictures. I can’t even ask you a question that has the word IPL in it.”
“Look. IPL is not an acronym or a sports league anymore. It is now an international brand name on which millions of dollars ride. We can’t let all and sundry use the name, can we?”
“‘I am surprised you don’t let even the media use pictures or quotes without being risking being dragged to court or facing an IPL firing squad. Don’t forget, IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla was himself a journalist not too long ago.”
“You are referring to Shuklaji’s status long time ago. I doubt whether even he remembers that!. He is also a minister of parliamentary affairs apart from being close to the vice-president of the Congress party.”
“My apologies, I forgot to add his recent qualifications. The 8-point edict you have released on IPL reads like the dos and don’ts of a military academy for cadets joining fresh from college! It would do tribute to the best legal companies in the world like Baker and Mckenzie, Latham and Watkins, or Weil, Gotshal & Manges. After seeing your commandments they might be tempted to come to you to draft a clause or two.”
“Thank you, that would be nice. We drafted these ourselves. I drafted quite a few of them myself, when I was in my bathroom.”
“There is a particular clause which I have taken from sans serif; I hope you don’t have any objection to this,
ii. publish any photograph that relates to the Pepsi IPL or any previous seasons of the IPL that is sponsored by any third party, or contain catchphrases that refer to any third party (e.g, “Entity A’ Moment of the Match”),
“How come this covers even previous seasons of IPL sponsored by any third party?” I asked.
“We just don’t want to leave anything to chance,” said Mr Raman.
“What if a spectator clicks any player or a ball going for a sixer which Ravi Shastri would call a Pepsier? Would that constitute a serious offence and come in the area of infringing your draconian laws?”
“Again, it depends. Offhand I can’t answer that without consulting our legal team. If along the trajectory of ball there is a Samsung Galaxy blimp in the sky and the spectator knowingly or unknowingly catches it I am afraid he will be in a problem. In fact our skysweepers might arrest him.”
‘Great! What about pictures of cheer girls? They don’t wear too much of clothing anyway.”
“True. To be on the safer side, it’s better you don’t catch even an alphabet of our co-sponsors in any part of the body!” clarified Sundar Raman.
As we finished Farah Khan was making the housewives from Marine Drive dance to Jumping Zapak.