When the IPL first began, I wrote about the mercenary themes that dominated many of the ads (e.g., the Kolkata Knight Riders marching around in funny military-cum-cricket gear trash talking everybody else). I’m back in Bombay for holidays and I’ve noticed a similar thread for India-Australia series (dubbed “agneepath” by Star Cricket).
There are the ads featuring Australian players warning Indians to watch out for the thunder down under (“When it’s winter over there, it’s summer down here.”). There’s the comically aggressive and ludicrous ad showing Hrithick Roshan (Bollywood star) snarling at a white man for about 30 seconds before running into him in a ball of fire (someone, please make a GIF out of that!). When James Pattinson accidentally brushed Virender Sehwag on Day 2, a harmless moment that mattered little to everyone involved received a front page box in at least one Indian English daily.
But why all the macho talk? The spectacle of cable television has sadly arrived in India, a relatively young democracy that shouldn’t have to add Fox News-style partisanship to its long list of political challenges (having watched 2 days of full Lokpal Bill coverage, my despair only deepens). I worry that broadcasters think the flashy stuff — bowlers’ celebrations; sledging; batsmen running around when they reach centuries — matters just as much as the grist of cricket (balls going past bats). Which is why I prefer print, people! Buy a newspaper today!