A cup shared is a cup halved

THERE is yaari and yaari but no yaari like Rubyaari! Kris Srikkanth and Charu Sharma must see third eye to third eye on that one. Boycott of Shilpa Shetty, for his 'Kapil Dil Se' part, India's 'Cricketer of the Century' does not believe in, coming across as the original 'dehati Dharmendra in disguise' in his miowing encounter with that resident glam puss. Shilpa Shetty was but a distracting intrusion, the Kapil Dev interface was actually with Kris Srikkanth. How eminently natural in Hindi did Kapil Dev here sound! Why in jannat's name must Kapil dogmatically insist upon responding only in 'Haryanvintage English' when he comes across as so relaxed in Hindi? No matter that this 'Kapil Dil Se' edition with Srikkanth saw that mouth-opener murder the Hindi language with the same virtuosity as our matchless all-rounder did Queen's English. But why blame Kapil when the entire SonyMax accent in the Champions Trophy coverage was on Hinglish as exemplified in the petite persona of Ruby?

On one point we must all agree - that Ruby looks best preserved among our upfront TV anchor women. So Ruby is just the foil to the still single Rahul as our best-preserved anchor man! Between Ruby and Charu - aided by Kapil and abetted by Sri - what SonyMax studiedly did was to ensure that the 'body' line of distinction between movies and cricket disappeared altogether as even ''BCCICC'' Ravi was marginalised. So much so that Charu forgot all about cricket as he quizzed Fardeen Khan on his movie life and times the moment the cricket ceased to be 'live'! That Maria Goretti got through as the least ill informed spot interviewer on SonyMax probably owed something to the fact that her actor-husband Arshad Warsi is fairly well versed in the finer points of the game.

Ruby, by remote-control contrast, was asked by Sony brazenly to hit-parade her ignorance of cricket and cricketing men. She did a swell job in this direction diabolically calculated to devalue cricket as an international contest.

If Ruby wondered why the cricket pitch could not be circular rather than rectangular, remember she grew up in Canada absorbing round after round of baseball. In her SonyMax custody, cricket turned into just another seven-letter word for tamasha.

Her reference to ghar ka khanaa vis-a-vis our players, coming on top of Charu's mouthing the "Tumhaare munh mein ghee shakkar!" Hindi movie chestnut, made viewers prick up their ears for the gaajar ka halva punchline to India cap it all.

Really how cricket was commandeered to subserve the gut SonyMax function of being a movie channel here and now and forever! That Sanjay should have been a prurient party to such a mindless scene is but proof that the Manjrekar boy is almost as good a Hindi film singer as a cricket commentator.

The Voice here is obviously inherited from father Vijay Manjrekar, a super singer of Hindi hits in the team bus. What SonyMax tried in the Champions Trophy is a deadly potion I have myself mixed with a fair degree of success in magazine journalism. Only to regret the bizarre blend the instant I saw it in cold print. Cinema and cricket, the twain could meet this vandalising way only on SonyMax with the World Cup but four months away.

Now just watch how we switch from the risibly ridiculous to the dubiously sublime as DD takes over cricket telecasting from Sony. It is like moving from a young lover to your old flame. Our love affair with DD must abide in Hindi as in English. Five-ball overs are here again as DD reports a record Rs. 51-crore India-Windies 'spot' collection. The SonyMax Mini World Cup scan - for all its trappings of the loaves and fishes of box-office - remained technically inferior to the totally crickety camerawork standards attained by espn-star.

All that reference of possibly dicey decisions to the third umpire deceived the seasoned viewer so much and no more. Yet we hardy viewers also know that DD now will drag cricket commentary to a verbose new low as Sourav's India take on Carl's West Indies. Even Nine Network could not help improve the tone and tenor of DD, Deadly DD.

DD represents a Tradition we just don't want back, Sony symbolises Modernity in a garb that makes us wonder if we are in front of the small screen or before the wide screen.

Yet the luck of the Kapil devil is what Sony had. Imagine the marketing boost this ultra-filmi Charu channel received as India eye-rivetingly made it to the Mini World Cup final. Yet a cup shared is a cup halved, so that what SonyMax had, in the end-September unfolding, was half a Champions Trophy final one Sunday, another half a final during the Monday following. Do we want Cricket, Sony Style? Or Cricket, DD Style? Neither, we want Cricket, Cricket Style. But could we any longer rationally hope to get what we want?

SonyMax has ensured that the World Cup in South Africa will come grossly packaged to us via Guran Singh. Aamir ('Lagaan') Khan must accept his share of the kudi blame for this Coca-Colonisation of the noble game. Even as its Pepsiege by Kareena Kapoor finds us in a 'brown study' where we strain to decipher her wispy catchline as: "men in blue, keep looking cute - that's it!"

She has 'it', what do you say?