Spotlight and shade

Suburban Mumbai missed Brian Lara's golden Test run on telly. — Pic. AP-

HOW we in the suburbs of Mumbai could really savour Brian Lara, at his telly best, only as all was over bar the routing!

HOW we in the suburbs of Mumbai could really savour Brian Lara, at his telly best, only as all was over bar the routing! When a month-long cable dispute shuts out all juicy cricket — Jason Dasey on `Sportsline' included — it is as if you have severed your umbilical cord. Barring Sonali Chander — who gets all her `24 x 7' game punchlines right through an eye-holding persona — the other telly presenters have still to learn to pack the passion, meticulously measured, Jason Dasey does into `Sportsline' night by night. The best thing about Dasey is that he has mastered the art of sounding objective in the face of being an Aussie! Not once does `Jasey' make the cardinal mistake of becoming `participative' in Australia's endless run of tele wins. With us in suburban Mumbai denied a view of the cricket-oriented espnstar through the vital Windies phase, how about something still eye-catching enough to hold on to the remote?

Come to think of it, not since Screen Adonis Dev Anand wed, overnight, Plain Jane Kalpana Kartik do I recall the dimension of nationwide heartbreak we, mere males, were witness to — as the cheeky-in-life Rahul plumped for Vijeta Of The Dainty Dimples. To such an extent did the right royal ditch by Rahul `Ayyangarankle', in the case of Sony Sex-Kitty Meera Vasudevan, that "Om Cricketaya Namah!'' ceased to be this luscious lovely's theme mantra. No way is the Vasudevan Dame, as the Body Bountiful, prepared to buy the line that Vijeta's hooking Rahul — for all of Meera's "�m Cricketaya Namah!'' pull — is but part of the glorious uncertainty of cricket. On the rebound, Meera's muscled in on Milind Soman — as the hotshot heroine of that hunk's maiden movie production. Titled, weirdly, as `Rules — Pyar Ka Superhit Formula'.

The Meeras of the World, their cup full, have now to find, I suppose, their own avenues to cope with the spot loss of the matchless projection Instant Cricket and Instant TV gave them. Mandira, for example, virtually admitted, to Hindi `STAR News', that she had (after the World Cup) but marginal takers on the little and big screen alike. After being put on a pedestal by the suave likes of Mark Nicholas, it is a sad commentary, on the leg-showy strides made by Mandira, that she is still but a breaks-filling presenter on SonyMax. Sony must have booked Mandira, as such a ready telly exhibit, alongside turning her into their `show' piece during the World Cup. How traumatising, now, to live without the captive mileage you got, out of the men in blue, through 42 days running! Ruby somehow came to terms with it because she had a set TV personality to flaunt, long before the Mini World Cup peak she `Hinglish' scaled. Mandira's TV career, on the other hand, is best summed up as `Spotlight and Shade', after her having made iconic viewing as `Shanti'. Articulate as never before did Mandira get the opportunity to be during the World Cup. In the English language, carrying with it a prestige value, still all its own, on our glitzy TV. Now, if ever a legend, face to face with the reality is Mandi. As is Raveena. Spare a thought for this spirited fighter, for her career, through a decadent decade in films. As the `Must-Must' Girl of Akshay, then Rahul and, now, of Samir Singh (WorldTel Chief Operating Officer no more), Raveena's drainingly run the emotional gamut. Even as she made that totally shattered trip to Bangalore for one last glimpse of her Samir, Raveena's `Stumped' bombed like nobody's show business. `Stumped', thus, was Raveena for an answer to why setbacks never come singly. Single still is Raveena. With not much of a movie career in reserve. How TV-savvily Rahul said, "Sorry for the heartbreak!'' — and moved on. This is the ultimate lot of every second glam-puss `miowing' the audience. They are damned if they wed, they are damned if they bed. Married or single, insecurity is their destiny.

That is why the selectively Pepsipping Rahul, I say, made the "Yehi hai right choice Baby' in the last 10 crucial overs. Rahul-Vijeta's wedding, for all its camera hide-and-seek, eventually came through as the serenely dignified event of the cricket season on TV. This is how our `Saas-Bahu' viewership want it — in a tight finish. For all their partying modernity, this viewership still swear by ritual and tradition. While feasting their prurient eyes upon those DJ Dolls. Raveena should have known that she never really could hope to be The Anchor's anchor. A cricket superstar takes a lot of nursing. This is not something up the tinpan alley of a saucy movie heroine commanding her own distinct screen identity.

The Bhopal Tiger and the Bengal Tigress `Star & Style' wed in another era. While Azhar reached a stage in his career where he had to settle for Bijli as `current' coin. But Raveena and Rahul, the twain never really could meet. For Vijeta and Rahul symbolised just the kind of supple couple our telebuffs love to watch — Ekta Kapoorapt — on TV. Right through that Sunday of May 4. A date on which the Tamil Nadu-Mumbai Ranji Trophy Final had to yield pride of telly place to a Rahul at last in a mood to `shoulder arms'. As the camera kept urging Vijeta and the Rahul hub to get cozier and cozier. Even Cozier Tony (as my one-time fellow commentator) would have approved. Since the telefocus here, after all, was on Rahul — no threat to Brian Lara. Like is Sachin, taking Caddick and Akhtar left and right.