The Golden Age of Sony mediocrity

NO Kangaroom for doubt there, all India viewed the Bedi Dame as a pneumatic enough `Mandiraspberry'.

NO Kangaroom for doubt there, all India viewed the Bedi Dame as a pneumatic enough `Mandiraspberry'.

NO Kangaroom for doubt there, all India viewed the Bedi Dame as a pneumatic enough `Mandiraspberry'. On whom to pour the vials of our wrath for Sourav and his India being seen to gatefold up for 125. A lissom lady is always a convenient enough punching bag for India watchers male chauvinistic at heart. You could say she Mandiravishingly invited it all by being `Charude' enough to be dismissive of the Sharma Sharper — as the Holland-luckless mere male to select those cards. True, even with Mandira picking and choosing, those card compliments turned out to be `left-handed' for India. Yet, in the end result, it was Ma Prem Rithambara getting it all wrong by not being discreet enough to hold the cards close enough to her chest.

Point: Mandira only gingerly lifted the card that Rithambara proceeded, falsely, to `read' as marking a superstar-turn in India's fortunes — starting with that sad Feb 15 Australia-India mismatch. Sony thus was a victim of its own Max hype. "You're looking gorgeous, Mandira!'' remarked Charu as the one to glad third eye her in launching the calamitous 15 Feb day of SonyMax programming.

Yet full marks to Charu for keeping Mandira out of sight — if not out of mind's eye — while Duckworth & Lewis sat in value judgment during the Feb. 16 Sunday `encounter to remember' between the Bacher Bats and the Black Cats. Well could Mandira here have dropped a Sony brick, having little in mental store for a rainy day.

But then whose decision was it fatally to telly trivialise cricket commentary in India? Sony sowed the Ruby wind. Max is reaping the Mandira whirlwind. The whirlwind vein in which centurions Lara, Jayasuriya, Symonds and Fleming blasted away made it tough for such a Mandiraw anchor to keep crickety pace. But while lushly lotus-eyeing the proceedings, Mandira was improving. If you overlooked her notoriously primary SonyMax function. Which is to `Channel [V]' the game even as the `men in blue' fail to bat `in the V'. As the Shane Warne controversy raged, the `dopey' Indian segment of the Sony commentary team touched a new low in World Cup telecasting Venkatesh Prasad was a Basic English disaster from the word go. Roshan Mahanama (even before the World Cup) could not see a centimetre beyond his cricketing nose. Robin Singh came through just the way he bowled — up-and-down stuff, merely cricket-jargoning the scene. Aunshuman Gaekwad could not reach beyond the coffee table at which he had dubiously sat to `biograph' Sachin. Siva lucklessly looked a WISDEN 20:20 leftover. Arjuna Ranatunga's English shone only in comparison with the deadly delivery of Kapil Dev.

Not for a moment do I doubt the cricketing knowhow of these men. But those who know only cricket, what do they of cricket know? Commentary is also about variety as `the spice of cricketing wife'. About the better half of Tony Greig. When not the `Navjot better half' of Sherry. Verily is it the Golden Age of Mediocrity on Sony. Sanjay comes across as the best of a bad bargain basement in which viewers, clueless, have no solution in view. Here Sri is Sri, sounding exactly like he did when he began batting. But at least get your basics right, Sri. In the case of Brad Hogg's left-arm wrist spin, you identified his Chinaman, Sri, as "the left-hander's googly''! No way. Sanjay gently ventured to get you, Sri, to spot it right by noting that "Brad Hogg is bowling Chinamen and googlies''. Still Sri persisted in styling Brad Hogg's left-arm wrist-spun off-break (to the right-hander) as "the Chinaman — the left-hander's googly''! Why single out Mandira when our seasoned telecasters fail to get such fundamentals right? This is where STAR managed, by reflex action, to draw viewers to its timely `Taking Guard' when not `Follow Through'. Initially the STAR `ambush' looked a non-starter.

As you realised Harsha & Co. could not screen a single visual of the World Cup match on during the same playing day. But so offputting was the Sony idiom of presentation that it was almost with a sense of instant relief we culture switched to Sunil and Navjot, Darren Gough and Ian Healy.

Talking cricket, solid cricket. Kudos here to the Bhogle Boy — `Harshacked' in a South African studio. Only the Boycs connection came somewhat unstuck. Obviously it is one thing for Geoffrey to be there in the live idiot box. Another for Boycs to speak, crisply enough, from his distant Yorks home.

In such a setting, what did I tell you about LGenius Ravi being `Cricket Ka Asli Badshah'? With STAR by night, via Sony by day! Ravi is good, very good, in such pancake-flat Indian Sony company. Still, even here (as on DD), it is Sanjay who steals the peep-show. Maybe because Sanju is all flings to all people. Sanju tunes as resiliently with Mandira, Maria and Mridul as with Barry, Ian and Mark.

For all that, Sherry remains the original, no holds barred even on the BBC — `Face To Face' with Karan Thapar. Absorbing, very simply, because of the Sherry ability to go outside the game even while remaining in it.

The area Sherry so covers speaks volumes for where Sony's Indian commentators fall short. Clearly more money than sense has gone into designing Sony's `extraaa innings' — knowing no end. Not one new idea has Sony thrown up in 2003. Like it did last time — in the hummingly sex symbolic shape of `Om Cricketaya Namah'.