Come April and it’s that time of the year when sections of people in India hate Modi. Wait a minute! Before the Modi brigade start trolling me, let me clarify. This is not NaMo the usual object of hate generally but LaMo – Lalit Modi who six years ago created a product called the Indian Premier League (IPL) and shifted permanently the centre of gravity of Cricket economics to India forever. While IPL has triggered a craze in the country and is attempting to bridge the gap between “Bat & Fad”, there are the following naysayers:
- Women: Generally speaking in an average Indian home, the remote control is by and large with the woman. I meant the remote control of the TV ‘also’!!! In between Cartoons/Disneys/Chota Bheems and Ram Kapoors/Jetha Lals/Parvati Bhabhis – it is not very unusual to see the Rajdeeps, Harshas & Barkas getting squeezed and edged out in the normal scheme of things. But come April, men who otherwise don’t get to establish their ‘control’ on the ‘remote’ have their last laugh and for 50 days – IPL takes over the airwaves inside the house. So, no wonder the moment the IPL promo ads start airing, you start hearing sounds of the grinding teeth amidst the “Gilli Gilli” sounds!
- Film Makers: Since weekends are usually cramped with double headers starting from 4.00 pm in the IPL, the usual crowd in theatres during weekends goes missing. Film makers take a break from releasing their new movies when IPL is on fearing a Box office disaster. Last year a producer who released his movie during IPL was feted with “Bahaduri Ka Puraskar” (Bravery Award) to keep the chin up of the movie fraternity!!
- Businessmen/Shopkeepers: In the pre-IPL days, weekends were times of heightened business activity as parents throng shops/outlets with children for ‘time-pass’ during vacation time and end up in a shopping spree. Not any more. They themselves have to keep a TV set in their shops and watch IPL matches to keep them occupied in IPL season. Surprising that our politicians who are against FDI in retail are not against IPL!!!
- Hotels/Restaurants: This is a no brainer. If people stay indoors – there is certainly an effect on the eateries! Smart cookies started beaming IPL matches in big screens still to get people in. The jury is still out on if this strategy is working.
- TV Channels other than MAX: It is that part of the year when all the GE TV channels just cool their heels without launching any new big-ticket programmes/Reality Shows,… So the Indian Idols, Big Boss’, Super Singers, KBCs and their ilk all take a break during IPL and return post June. As far as the news channels are concerned – they board the IPL bandwagon with their own pre and post-match programming. Something is better than nothing! In other cases, they just have to live with the ignominy of poor TRPs. Just today I saw a tweet from a news caster which goes thus :
“If blore bats first against hyd at 8pm, gayle wl also take viewers away fm my spl report on blore’s woes ahead of elex n headlines today 😦 “
Guess it’s because of the venomous curse of the above groups that Lalit Modi is sitting in the fringe somewhere in the UK these days tweeting live updates on IPL matches instead of being at the centre of action in India during IPL!!!
Having said that, jokes apart – IPL has been a revelation. Inspite of the exit of its creator – Lalit Modi and the tribulations some of the team owners are going through oflate, it’s still proving that the success in the 1st few seasons was not a fluke. And one must hand it over to Lalit Modi for first creating the product and then demonstrating how to manage the product successfully. I’ve no doubts in my mind that the last few years of IPL basically have been “Copy & Paste” of the formula Modi worked out in the formative years. Whether it is the format, the auctions, opening and closing ceremonies, outsourced Game organization, telecast, pre and post-game hype and hoopla,… it has “Modi Chaap” even today. What is missing today is the orchestrated PR plugs which Modi had a penchant for. I remember in the 1st few editions, there were deliberate attempts to keep IPL in the news during the long drawn campaign. Just when the games start getting into a repetitive monotony (same teams playing against each other “n” number of times) there will emerge some scandalous off the field story which will bring IPL back in the news (Remember Harbhajan slapping Sreesanth in 2008???)
While I started this piece on a lighter vein with an introduction to IPL’s hate groups, on a serious note, its worth looking at IPL’s effects on the economy. I read somewhere that when Brazil wins the World Cup the country’s GDP in that year expands by an additional x % as people revel in the feel good ambience and end up spending a lot of money and a Baby Boom ensues!! I feel when Brazil loses, it also spurs the economy – only that this time it’s just the liquor economy as people keep drinking to drown their sorrow 🙂
Given this connection between sporting success and economy of the country, let’s look at the IPL effect on the economy:
- The obvious one is its avatar as a “Job Fair”. Look at the opportunity it provides to so many fringe cricketers like the Gonys, Anirudhs,…who may find it hard to break into an Indian team. Then you have the band of ex – cricketers who get the chance to stay in the limelight as coaches/advisors,.. of IPL teams or get employed as experts and commentators on TV and some of them as columnists in newspapers/Web. Suddenly you find Kapil Dev who was the brand ambassador in the opposite camp (ICL) burying all animosity and doing the “Jumping Japak” routine with Sidhu and mouthing expert comments. Apart from that you have so many other indirect jobs – curators, security, catering, transport, bouncers,…,…
- Then you have the other impact on the economy – Hotels, Airlines, Media, Consumer goods,…
The positive latent effect on the economy is what Shashi Tharoor cited as a main reason for his keenness on a Kochi team in IPL which he attempted to stitch together. Rightly so.
So what if there are a few hatemongers and worrywarts on IPL? Now that the IPL-6 typhoid has set in, let’s contribute to the IPL economy. As Farah Khan exhorts in that cool IPL-6 campaign – Sirf Dekhne Ka Nahi!!!