Sunday, May 25, 2008
Entertainment -- IPL style
Lights, camera, action! If this sounds more like a Bollywood script start, things were not very different at the IPL match between the Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings, at the Chepauk Stadium on Saturday. My first live i.e on site cricket match was entertainment all the way. Even before the teams had come on to the field, the crowds had started hollering and blowing their trumpets (yes, indeed you could buy these paper/plastic noise making objects I euphemistically call trumpets, just outside the entrance, just as you could get your face painted whatever coloured stripes you wanted, and buy Chennai Super King flags, banners and t-shirts), Sivamani the local Chennai percussionist was drumming away full speed and the stands were full of people waving banners, and generally having a good time. It was carnival time, and everyone was happy. Once the match started, there was a momentary lull. Every time a bowler began his run, a frisson of excitement would pass through the crowd, but each time there was a 4 or a 6 or a wicket getting out, the audience would be up on their feet, roaring and dancing with Sivamani keeping the beat. Sivamani, in fact seemed to think he was the star of the show. He would periodically uproot his drums and other paraphernalia, move around the outer circle and plant them at different points in front of the audience, perform for some time, turn around to the audience to take a bow and move on. Quite a character! Shane Warne's boys posted a daunting target of 211 and while the Dhoni boys tried their best, it was not to be and they lost by 10 runs. But it didn't seem to matter, at least to the spectators. They were having fun, and it was a thrilling match to watch. It's not pleasant to nitpick, but I can't help wondering why it is that we always fall down on infrastructure. In Stand D there was just one small single exit through which some five to six thousand people had to emerge - a situation ripe for a stampede and it's a miracle that it didn't happen. The staircase leading down was pitch dark and we had to light it with our mobile phone lights. Even that wasn't the end of the trial. To get out of the stadium complex, we had to squeeze through a narrow gap between two buildings, and since like good Indians, nobody would give way or wait a second longer than necessary, there was an enormous crowd of people jostling, shoving, pushing trying to squeeze out. Coupled with an uneven pathway with large stone blocks jutting out, and uneven flagstones, all invisible in the dark till you tripped on one, it was truly a nerve-wracking experience to get back out on the road, out of the complex. With so much money being made on this spectacle, don't the organisers feel the need to provide some basic facilities to the public -- after all, it's public patronage of these events which allow such hefty fees to be paid to the cricketers and such large profits to be made. Perhaps I am mistaken. The IPL is meant to make money for the sponsors and the organisers, the public is just the fodder for this enterprise.