Diva Lata, Sony & Sourav

THAT `Mandiracket' having exhausted the Sony second serve by the `final' evening of March 23, `The Heaving Heavenlies' of Serena Williams were back in glistening black focus. Revel in the `Art of Reveal' does the tennisy camera.


Sourav Ganguly : still Sri-stuck vis-�-vis Sony?-Pic. AP Sourav Ganguly : still Sri-stuck vis-�-vis Sony?

THAT `Mandiracket' having exhausted the Sony second serve by the `final' evening of March 23, `The Heaving Heavenlies' of Serena Williams were back in glistening black focus. Revel in the `Art of Reveal' does the tennisy camera. Our `remote' return to tennis (on the rectangular court screen) came as a reminder of how South African Kevin Curran just could not produce those stunning aces in the Wimbledon final that mattered against Boris Becker. Much like our Ace Pace Trio failing to deliver in the final Wanderers count. To the media query (on TV) about why his millions of admirers could not view him come up with those `aces' in the Wimbledon decider, Kevin Curran's response: "I can't do it every time, you know, I'm not a magician!'' Further quizzed on if (like Sourav now) Kevin was content to unfold, on TV, as the Game's No. 2, pat came the Curran shot: "Not at all! This game is all about winning. The world has no time for losers!''

But India still has all the time in the world for its losing `men in blue'! Sony `fast forward' to five days after the chastening Wanderers experience of Souravaged India. On the Saturday afternoon of March 29, at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium, Sony does not exactly endear itself to either Sourav or Sachin by persisting with `Krishnamacharioteer' Srikkanth! With Sri, in the Mock Max Panel, is one who now proceeds to affirm his Sony standing as a gate crashing bore — Aunshuman Gaekwad. The occasion — the India-Sri Lanka friendly face-off to raise funds for the Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital.

The fact that `The Lady In White With The Velvety Voice' is to be seen right up there with Sachin and Sourav ensures a full Wankhede house — a spillover of our World Cup passion. How mellifluously, still, Diva Lata comes across in the words she chooses to ensure that speech is silvern! As you hear Lata thank Sourav, Sachin, et al, telestruck you are by the lady's abiding humility in the face of being the Living Legend. Still you feel saddened to see `Bharat Ratna' Lata sans Sourav and Sachin at the prize distribution ceremony. A tell-tale telly pointer that the Sony-Sourav stand-off continues.

Sourav and Sachin just move away from the Wankhede match, midway through, somehow Sony-excusing themselves to Lata about neither of them staying on as a `prize' attraction. Sourav and Sachin want to be neither part nor lot of the Sri-emceed Sony Panel. Nor are Sourav and Sachin visible at the Airtel Cup finish, lensed by Sony! As Lata (surrounded by other TVIPs) commences her gracious thanksgiving speech, near inevitably I recall encountering her, in demure person, at her 1967 Silver Jubilee celebration (at Bombay's Taj) — with no TV to capture the landmark event. "What are you planning to sing on such a momentous day in your life'' I ask Lata. "Raju Saab,'' retorts Lata (why always "Saab'', I never did find out). "Forget all about singing, what I'm looking for, today, is a `playback speaker'!''

Still Lata made a charming maiden speech, all by herself, in spotless white. Today, of course — as we Sony beheld on March 29 — Lata Mangeshkar is the consummate speaker. So nice to see Raj Singh, too, back centrestage as a true admirer of Lata's Naushad nuggets — among them the Kedarian `Bekas pe karam keejiye Sarkaar-e-Madina'. Here is where I feel terribly let down by the spot commentary of Sanjay. How `literally' serious could our World Cup coms get even in such a playful setting! Surely you, Sanjay (as a Raag Yaman connoisseur) know enough about Lata and her `Amar' artistry? An artistry compressing, into just over 3 minutes of a 78 rpm record, the joy of a lifetime — `Na miltaa gham to barbaadee ke afsaane kahaan jaate'. So somewhere, Sanjay, should you not (as a Team Samsung triller yourself) have displayed the inventiveness to dovetail an immortal song or two of Lata's into the fabric of your commentary? No wonder your entire commentary team flopped in the Wankhede featherbed, Sanjay — by articulating such a fun match in a vein suggesting the World Cup was still not over for Sourav and his India! How could viewers dig Aunshuman coming up with that pitch report? Or Siva going at it, white ball by white ball! The whole charade was enough to make the angels weep.

``She sings like an angel!'' is how a prominent London daily identified Lata Mangeshkar warbling `Yeh zindagee usee kii hai' (on Bina Rai playing `Anarkali' in 1953). On the Little Screen now, Lata (in `Haqeeqat') was a captive harkback to some of our most treasured song moments on the Big Screen (`Khelo na mere dil se'). What could a creative commentator not have accomplished, given this Godsend of an opportunity to pick up the cue from the lilting lips of Lata? "Nightingale on the highest branch!'' is how famed dancer Padma Subrahmanyam epitomised the repertoire of Lata.

As for SonyMax, this chancy channel yet again failed miserably in its choice of coms. Coms who could have, for instance, told viewers that Lata incessantly chewed Wrigleys gum while rehearsing and recording a song! Here was a priceless Lata tip to coms — that chewing gum keeps the voice `flexible as flexible could be'. What a terrific sense of humour Lata has! No one spot-there (on March 29) to tele-explore this impish area of the Lata persona. Sachin and Sourav would be back at the Wankhede Stadium, no doubt. Not so Lata Mangeshkar who, as the Queen of Concert, now performs only beyond Mumbai's suburbs — on the way to boarding a plane there. With Sony now does Lata's vintage voice empathise. A signal to Sourav and Sachin alike to mend fences?