Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Commonwealth Games, Dawood's Party, what's the difference?

I firmly believe that Mallika Sherawat should have been the mascot for the Delhi Commonwealth Games, 2010. What all TV channels were raving about as a spectacle that has ignited high hopes for Delhi was nothing different from a movie awards night. People who have nothing to do with sport graced Melbourne. Who the hell is Aishwarya Rai? Rani Mukherji looks like an overweight belle and the only sport Saif Ali Khan has been reported to indulge in is SHIKAR. People were talking about Kapil Dev, Sunny Gavaskar, Ajit Pal Singh, Prakash Padukone and Michael Ferreira but the only people I saw were Priyanka Chopra and Lara Dutta, and a few glimpses of Vijay Amritraj.

But we don’t need these bollywood clowns dancing. They do not represent what India is all about. I have never seen film stars dance at any Olympic Games or Commonwealth games outside India. Singers? Yes. Theme songs should be sung. Have you ever seen even Tom Cruise perform> Which Hollywood actor danced when the US staged the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup? But when the Olympic torch was brought to India, Bipasha Basu carried it. PT Usha was not even invited to do the honours. Has a sportsman ever been asked to perform in their farcical awards function?

During the 1996 world cup opening ceremony at Eden Gardens we saw Saeed Jaffery address the English team as Zimbabwe and many more such bloopers. What a ham that guy is!! I thought others would realize from then on and keep these people out of sport. But, alas!!

The bollywood stars would never say no to all these. They work if they are paid. They care 2 hoots about India’s honour. None of them would have done this for free. But at the end of the day they are nautankiwalas and nautankiwaalis. It’s all about buying them. Be it LN Mittal’s daughter’s wedding or an awards function or a Commonwealth Games ceremony, or Dawood’s party, pay them and you can buy them, to sing and dance. I can only thank the heavens that at least the singers were good. But hold your horses, come 2010 and you might even hear Himesh Reshmiya’s nose singing.

That’s why I felt that in a mujra like this, it’d have been apt if Mallika Sherawat were to be the mascot for the Delhi Commonwealth Games, 2010.

And so many news channels, I did not hear even one of them castigate this! Bloody shame!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Is it fair?

I have no bloody clue. I am dazed. LN Mittal? Well, I once happened to read a column that wrote about the return of a prodigal son. The story, as it goes, is about a farmer. He has two sons who he managed to bring up with a lot of difficulty and happiness. The older son, one fine day, left home to earn somewhere and lead a life more comfortable than what he’d have at the village by tilling his fields. The father was shocked and shattered. The younger son held the family together. He toiled in the fields. He worked hard so that his old parents live comfortably. He provided. Food, comfort, peace of mind for years. He felt he needed to fulfill his duties as a son because he owed so much to the ones who brought him up.

One morning, the prodigal son returned. Was it because he became unwanted somewhere or he now needed his family after deserting them for years? Nobody knew. The father, who was longing to see his son for years - the son who went to lands afar without even telling anybody – was thrilled to have the prodigal child back. Amidst tears of joy he hugged his son and said it was no nice to have him back. Now the family is complete again. That night he called the whole village for a feast to share this happiest moment in life with them, his son had returned.

In one remote corner stood the younger son. He kept wondering – “I could have left my old parents in the lurch to seek comforts for myself in lands new, probably greener, but I stayed back and did my duty. I was never acknowledged and never did seek it. What is my fault that my father has forgotten me?”

The same is the story of a LN Mittal and his bid to take over Arcelor. He is an NRI. He has employed very few Indians. He has made himself a fortune, living in England. He buys steel companies abroad and makes even more money by his amazing business acumen. He now wants to buy a French company that, probably, in no way would help India or Indians. Why do we need to highlight this prodigal tycoon’s business ventures so much? Dr. Manmohan Singh also brought this up with Jacques Chirac. I fail to understand why.

After all these years Mittal has now shown an interest to do something in India. But that’s too little too late. Nothing’s happened yet. Why does our PM need to discuss something that is the personal financial interest of an NRI? Racism, one might say. One may say that what has happened to Mittal today might happen to other Indians tomorrow. Well, something even worse had ened some time back in France. Sikh children were banned from French schools as they were wearing patkas or turbans. The French had said many silly things. Don’t show your religion. It would damage the French. They might be terrorists. Cut your hair. Those people are still oppressed, because of racist and religious reasons. Our media is mum about a greater number of people. Our Sikh PM didn’t find this a moving enough thing to tell his French counterpart.

It is shameful. Probably Manmohan had his reasons. The Sikh in France don’t have Mittal’s money. Or probably Sonia Gandhi had asked him not to. Minority vote bank politics is ok in India, rather it is a must. When the reasons are right, we should shut up. LN Mittal is a very rich man. Let’s please him. Let’s pretend to appease Muslims. Sikhs anyways are a smaller vote bank, unlike Muslims. Probably, these were Congress’ thoughts.

And shame on our free press. Really, Mittal winning or losing another bid is not going to affect Indians in India in any way.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

On Cricket Pundits!

I sit on my bean bag in front of the idiot box and look at “experts” analyse cricket. I listen to the drivel dished out by the ex-cricketers and say, “blessed be thy soul of the wise man who gave J L Baird’s invention the name - idiot box.” I happened to read Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai’s blog on his very interactive website and a few lines stuck out like a sore thumb. He said “At one level, the cricket punditry is valuable. Would you rather listen to someone whose played 50 tests or someone who has never scored a run or taken a wicket in his life?” and I could not help but feel let down that a comment like that should come from one of my favourite journalists. Please let explain to you why did it hurt so bad.

I, the average cricket follower, do need expert opinion on cricket matches and cricket, in general. But anybody who has played 50 international matches does not qualify as an expert on the sport. I would listen to someone who has not played a single match, if s/he speaks sense. I cannot get myself to believe that journalists like Sonali Chander and Rajdeep Sardesai aren’t experts but people like Aaqib Javed and Madan Lal are. That Salman Butt is pushing at deliveries outside the off stump and that Sehwag lacks footwork isn’t something an expert needs to tell me. Anybody who’s watched this beautiful game would know. And what is nowadays is passed off as analysis needs to be re-looked at. Painting a Shahenshah, analysing post match conferences or what a coach said, sic ad nauseum, is not what one calls analysis. And all that load of rubbish is dished out by ex-cricketers. To top it all there’s a world cup winning hero, who aspired to be the Indian coach, who starts singing the moment he is on TV. For heavens’ sake, please get them off the tube. Its no better in print. Moin Khan got a slap on his face when he wrote so insightfully about Sachin being a spent force, and was proven wrong. That shows how well our experts can analyse. And believe me, all hell breaks loose when somebody pits two ex-cricketers against each other for analysing a game. It seems less like analysis and more like a confederation of warring tribes.

I would, and I am sure that the majority of cricket lovers would, love to see people like Harsha Bhogle, Sharda Ugra, Ram Guha, Vijay Lokpally, R. Mohan, Sanjay Jha, Ayaz Memon etc. analyse for us. None of them have taken a wicket or scored an international run but they understand the sport better and analyse it wonderfully. If anybody were to ask - “how can they criticise Sachin for playing a bad shot? Has that person played a single international match?” – I believe that person should be asked to shut up. Going by that yardstick, if one happens to go to a restaurant and finds that the gravy tastes like grease and complains to the manager and if he or she were to be told “how many cook books have you written? Only a Tarla Dala or a Sanjeev Kapoor or a Jiggs Kalra have a right to criticise”. How would you feel? I don’t need to be a cook to give my views on food. Rajdeep Sardesai and Prannoy Roy have not been in any economic review committees but are they questioned when they analyse the budget? They haven’t stood for elections but does anybody question them when they give reasons as to why Nitish won and Lalu lost? The same should apply for cricket. I am not saying that all ex-cricketers are bad. Nobody can analyse the game as well as Richie Benaud, Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri or Geoff Boycott can. But to think that all ex-cricketers would be able to reach that level, is being foolish.

Nobody seems to have a problem with a bunch of buffoons selecting the cricket team as selectors. How many have played international cricket? This is just analysis that is happening on our TV sets, why can’t we have some real experts, who’ve dedicated their lives bringing cricket to us – thru their pen or thru the camera? That is why I feel let down when I surf news channels and am forced to choose between the awful and the rubbish ad infinitum. People like Prannoy Roy, Rajdeep Sardesai, Karan thapar, Barkha Dutt etc have really raised the bar as far as reporting news and current affiars goes because they didn’t get into the trap of letting the so called “experts” analyse it. Please use the same yardsticks as far as this analysing this beautiful game goes. Please choose real experts and ex-cricketres extremely carefully. Or else the die is cast as far as cricket analysis goes. Alea jacta est!!!