The mini on Sony

WHAT'S SONY got that STAR hasn't? A SETMAX image by which the performers you get to view on this segment of SONY are Bollywooden as Bollywooden could be. This image is fine so long as SETMAX is targeting Bollywood. A Bollywood where dames are a dime a dozen and easy virtue is its own reward. But SETMAX now gets down to the deadly serious business of bringing to the nation the Mini World Cup. A Champions Trophy coming ICC-presold to telebuffs going by the measure-for-measure controversy it has generated. Can SETMAX rise to the World Cup dress-rehearsal occasion? The channel did take a disastrously filmi start in formatting the cricketing side of its all-India coverage. But settled down in the proven crickety company of Channel 9. Yet what is TV if not trivia? It is the temptation to trivialise something so prestigious as the ICC Champions Trophy that SONY has to resist in its SETMAX avatar. 'Cricket is not Home Theatre' - a maxim SETMAX overlooks at its audio-visual peril.

Not that the STAR performer in the arena has failed to play to the gallery. Take, for instance, ESPN's 'Super Selector' programme coming over on the Sunday evening of September 1. Southpaw Yuveraj Singh you here saw and there was glamour-puss Shilpa Shetty to paw. The curves on his careergraph happily proved an instant enough reminder for Yuvy just to draw away from Shilpa, even look the other way. Not for too long though. Almost inevitably the talk turned to Shilpa as Geoffrey's Indian fixation. A connection to effect which Boycs had to take French leave! Fear of cancer or no, what amazes you is Geoffrey's abiding zest for life. On the day the cancer story so sadly broke, Geoffrey was at his resonant ESPN best - in the fateful final phase of his native Headingley Test. Thought of savouring a win for India with the Prince of Calcutta at the helm was to banish all idea of ailment from Geoffrey's vocals.

Boycs spoke with meaning and feeling as the fantasy of an Indian victory became a reality. Giving Sourav full credit for the way the skip administered the coup de grace in the case of Boycs' own England. 'Naghmark' my words, Sourav has a comprehending commentator friend in Our Man Geoffrey. All India prays for Boycs' longevity as a telecaster. Shilpa Shetty, in fact, was all bonhomie as Boycs' name was not taken in vain by compere Darain Shahidi. This emcee even prompted the svelte young lady to compare Geoffrey with Sherry. Pat came the rewarding Shetty response: "I like Sidhu, but I like Geoffrey a little better because he likes me!" Good luck to you, Geoffrey, here is someone with whom you may now empathise as a Shilpart of your life and times.

Will Geoffrey be missed in the Mini World Cup? STAR here has almost adopted a dictum of: "Those who are not for us are against us." So it will be most interesting to come to know the final composition of the SONY team. Out to SETMAX his commentary gains is Sanjay Manjrekar. Sanjay started out with SONY, so that his is not a voice in the DD wilderness. One thing is as clear as Premadasa day-and-night - that the style of TV commentary here will have to be sufficiently different to make it sound something not already heard on espnstar. Technologically, this Mini World Cup is reportedly designed to be the scale of third eye-ball to third eye-ball confrontation never experienced before. With close-ups and action replays never beheld before.

Or so the hype has it. Let us wait and catch.

Whatever be the SETMAX telecommentary team, whether or not Tony Greig is there to lead the vicarious way, the sparks are sure to fly in this Mini World Cup already full to the brim. It promises to be a 'fortnight without end' seeing how the ICC Champions Trophy is the run-up to the World Cup proper. It is a make-or-break commentary opportunity for SONY. For long has SONY been venturing to break the STAR stranglehold outside India. SONY, from this Mini World Cup point, is a towering Asian presence. At least outside India. Inside India, of course, DD still calls the spots. If never the shots.

One point absorbs me no end. This is that, whether or not our batting millionaires benefited in the espnstar bargain basement invaded by Ravi Shastri, this commentator certainly performed a hop, step and jump to the front page in a giant stride that had even Sherry lost for words. Ravi, for his obstreperous part, would now be coming full circle as a telecaster if, as the quintessential freelance, he materialised in the SETMAXimising milieu of the Mini World Cup. You can no more fetter Ravi than you can Sachin where it comes to having an MRF edge over rivals. Who knows, espnstar could be having second thoughts about the way it initially let Ravi ICC-loose on an unwary viewership. A viewership expecting, even from Ravi here, the kind of bat balance Sachin advocated in his TVS Victor spot. But the seven letters of 'balance' and the seven letters of 'Shastri', never the twain shall meet! Ravi and Greigy going in SETMAX tandem during the Mini World Cup - could you think of two commentators better 'Made For Each Other'? It could happen in a setting in which Ravi has to prove himself to be the happening thing each time he comes through the tube.