It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Whirl

OUR coaches always asked us to play 'in the V'. Now they might as well ask us to play 'in Channel V'! With Ruby. If Ruby goes crickety, could Ravi be far behind? So - after all that espnstar projection for Shastri alongside Sherry, Sunny, Geoffrey and who not? - overnight and day, on Setmax, materialised Ravi. To be now with the ever hypey Tony, now with the still shapely Ruby. Never forget, as our mod TV's pioneer anchor, Ruby Bhatia it was who gave Ravi Shastri his maiden break as a telecaster via 'World Masters 95' on Channel V. Yet to the Charu-Ruby combo now, not to the Ruby-Ravi hook-up, goes the dubious credit of trivialising TV to a point of no enlightening return.

TV as comedy descending to TV as tragedy, then to TV as farce - that sums up Sony's telecast of the Mini World Cup via Setmax. "All the World Cup's a stage. And all the men and women merely players" is the Shakespearean philosophy on which Sony looks determined to move meretriciously from the 'Mini' to the World Cup proper. Pan Parag Karen Shenaz David, Maria Goretti, Guran Singh, down to Ma Prem Rithambara, there is the whole Ruby bag of tricks thrown in with Charu to boot - the system. Honestly, if K. L. Saigal were living, even that legendary singer, ever emotionally indulgent, could not have objected to his 1946 Shahjehan classic being 2002 presented - in the extraaa innings remix vein of: Ruby Ruby Ruby mere sapnon kie raanee!

Frivolity apart, is this what international cricket is perennially to be in SONY-ICC custody? The ICC acted high and snooty where it came to reining in the BCCI. Yet it has no quality control whatsoever over the TV trivialisation of a Champions Trophy supposed to be the tube, tell-tale, through which we committed viewers move on to the World Cup. If this is but the aperitif, think of how the World Cup itself is going to come through Setmax. O tempora, O mores! Oh the times! Oh the manners! To think we initially felt espnstar had gone too far in showcasing Gautam Bhimani the way it did. Gautam at least remained in the game while inventively moving out of it. As for Ruby, Maria, Karen, Guran Singh, Ma Prem Rithambara and the rest of the grotesquerie, the sad part is that even Charu in their groovy company, as a cricketperson thus far, seems to think he is in tune with the Zeitgeist.

If this be the Spirit of The Times, Kapil Dev is first Commentator of the Century, only then Cricketer of the Century. Just audio-visualise how Kapil always responds, in self-conscious English, to a query Charu invitingly poses in Hindi! This kind of a lingo hang-up is okay with Mohammed Kaif as the Cricketer of 'The Century' in his own way. But even Kaif fields Hindi questions better, in English, than does the 'beSahara' Kapil - after nearly a quarter century centrestage. As for Krishnamachari Srikkanth being heard to Ayyangarnish his English commentary starting with the glam night after Hema Malini excelled in that language via Jeena Issi Ka Naam Hai (in trendy tandem with that compere beyond compare, Farooque Sheikh), our ace one-day opener at least brings a chatty informality to his exposition. While my good friend Farokh Engineer only proves that he always did excel in humming: Hyperbole re papiharaa!

This then is the BratPacker Generation in action. What a crowd, what Prediktable commentary, how much more wide-eyed could they possibly get in superstar-gazing at our cricket idols! All this while the telecast, white ball to white ball, continues in the set TWI mould, if sounding a trifle too transnational to get intelligibly across to the basic Indian viewer fed on Geoffrey, Sunny and Sherry. One plaint in this Cricket Theatre of The Absurd. Why, when a batsman gets out, does the TWI strapline, offputtingly, fail to tell us the number of fours and sixes he hit? What a shame TWI-SONY should have failed to get the spotlight on such 'vital statistics' right even in a gimmicky coverage geared to burlesque. For, cricketwise, Sanjay and Ruby look as disparately teamed as Hrithik and Isha Koppikar in that captive Coca-Cola spot. Raju Khera too, as the 'Dulux 3 in One' Karate Boy, packs a punch in tune with the setmaxim by which the ICC now comes to us painted in many hues.

As for Greigy, there is no Sangita Bijli in the audience, any longer, for Tony to try and chivvy Ravi about his Amrita connection. Even Tony knows this is old white hat. Tony, like Ravi, is a spot-on commentator still. But then with Tony - six foot seven and a half - you never do know where the running commentary ends and the gunning commentary begins. About the Setmax spots being in sync with the Tony idiom, how they looked ICC scrutinised only in the beginning. How the SET filmi ambush mob joined the fun as the game became 'It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Whirl'. It's a pantomime, I tell you, the Setmax spanning of this Mini World Cup. Boycs, for his mikogenic part, would sum it up in one word as: "Charubbish!" Here then is telly coverage, Sony style, that is as much earwash as eyewash, as the so-called advanced technology you get to view all but reduces world-class umpires to near robots. A reminder afresh of the ditty Samsung: "Technology shouldn't overwhelm you."