In `line' with the new `center'

It looks to be our last cricket season with Doordarshan. Hopefully EspnStar's Tour Australia coverage will restore sanity to the game.


THE shape of thighs to come, you never can tell on TV! But things, they are a-changing, aren't they, on the Anju limb-loosening sportive screen? As STAR squares the ESPN circle by falling in Hindi Sportsline. Tangentially moving Jason Dasey to Sportscentre. If with a becoming byline — "Sportscenter with Jason Dasey." Sportsline turning Hindi, isn't it a culture shock on a gimmicky Star Plus par? With the Simi Garewal oriented Star Plus going, overnight, the neo-literate Ekta Kapoor way? What is Sportscenter, now in English, if not an attempt by the STAR Hindi enthusiasts to commandeer and corner the captive Sportsline viewing market? An English market created by the sweat of the Jason Dasey & Co brow.

Jason Dasey... Cricketing Love's Labour Lost?-

Small drawing room comfort it was to hear Jason Dasey say he was Sportsline signing off "since my Hindi is not up to scratch." Scratch the Hindi cricket commentator and he is still groping for a visibly viable stance in the business of blending a pre-eminently English game with the earthy native ethos. The obstreperous attempt now, quite obviously, is to turn Hindi Sportsline into the kind of Spot Success Story that Hindi Star News is in its current avatar. To the 24 x 7 consternation of Prannoy Roy and his Vikram-Rajdeep-Barkha "brass band" wagon. If 24 x 7 is all about quality television journalism, Hindi Sportsline (like Hindi Star News) is only about capturing the attention of the mythically Mandiraving 46%.

The mindlessly populist trend began with Star Plus religiously wrapping (in the good old nine yardstick saree) a household Irani name. A Smriti answering to the small-screen name of Tulsi. A Tulsi qualifying to rate as the quintessential Gujju bahu. On the rolling-pin strength of her having done matchingly noisy American dish-washing at McDonald's. Dish out the saas-bahu BJPreachy formula did Ekta Kapoor with a Hinditva vengeance on Star Plus. For Pativrata Sakshi Tanwar to Parvati-follow in the sanctimonious bridal trail blazed by Smriti. A Smriti just KSBKBT refusing to turn over a new Tulsi leaf. "Now Tulsi, now Parvati" would Murdoch have viewers worship at the altar of the Idiot Box Office! As Sakshi (via Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii) grew on a credulous home grown audience. To make it a mock Tulsi-Parvati telematch. Women's Wrestling be damned!

Like a house on fire did Tulsi and Parvati get along with the Family Circle in which viewers so bovinely sat. Watching pulp serials not inclined to yield the Ma Rithambara palm to even World Cup Cricket. At least during the tourney's non-India matches. Just one break in the cricket telecast and you would have the torture serial, purely momentarily, materialising on the Little Screen! A serial moment rapturously recaptured. If a cricket moment vitally missed. Even here, so long as the camera was Sony trained upon Mandira (with Nicholas for her Man of Mark), you could be sure of no soap venturing to intrude.

Next, add the Sourav Maharaj Bengali angle to the eternal tangle. For Shweta Tiwari to emerge as the eminently Hindustani Prerna. Just the foil to the Menaka "vamp-ire" so petitely personified by Ruby Bhatia. What Ruby moues, what Ruby mannerisms, still pervade Kasautii Zindagii Kii! A Ruby bagging the third eye-holding role of Menaka Bose by a very simple device. The Stardust settled Hinglish device of trivialising cricket commentary to a point of no serious viewership return. Ably aided by Krish Srikkanth. Abysmally abetted by Kapil Dev. On SonyMax. During the Mini World Cup. In the Emerald Isle. A Ruby leaving no precious stone unturned in "Canadamaging" the ball game of cricket. To the "chivalrous" chagrin of EspnStar. An EspnStar till then vintage viewed as the Lord's-like male bastion of cricket. With a Sherry telling airhostesses that the age of "grounding" is here. With a World Cup glimpsing Sourav telling Sherry where he got off the airhostess plane.

EspnStar certainly struggled for the cheetah spots during those Sunny-Sherry World Cup voiceovers it put out — as bravely Harshaded by the Bhogle Boy. "On the white ball" Espn-Star again is now. With its DD score settling follow-ups during match days. Chances of viewers switching from EspnStar to Ekta soaps here are, at long last, remote. If only because such ketchupy serials have TVPetered out as washouts. Even the `Karishmatch' on Sahara has a 9.30 played out ring about it. Making EspnStar just what the viewer ordered. By way of an eye-arresting curtain raiser for the world classy tour of Australia to come.

This is designed to be EspnStar's superduper Channel 9 show. As we mercifully are in our last cricket season with DD, incorrigible DD. Hopefully, EspnStar's Tour Australia coverage will restore, to the game, a certain sanity. In terms of hard-core cricket commentary. A sanity Sony will no doubt Mandi-shatter all over again. Come the Mini World Cup in August-September 2004. Glossy vacuity is all on TV, Razzledazzle TV today. A TV remixing (with an Adidash all its own) Sachin and Sehwag. Cricket, Catchpenny Cricket!

In shifting Jason Dasey to the more English tinted ESPN and Sportscenter, STAR has made it dot-ball clear that it is no longer going to hold out against a Hindi takeover. If that is what Yuvraj-sells the game with the teleringing name.

The tour of Australia, therefore, is very likely destined to be our last genuine experience of cricket watching in the true Britannia sense. After that, prepare for the game to be a scream. In the far from cozy custody of commentators who know no willowy restraint. And observe none.