When Dhoni did a Rajni

Cricket’s new avatar calls for a different selling pitch which replaces nationalism with glamour, regional nuances, and the pleasure of watching good cricket.
DEEPTI BHARTHUR and TENZIN PALDON run through the team videos.

Purists may frown or splutter about the lost poetry of test cricket, while the IPL guys are laughing all the way to the bank. With Bollywood brand ambassadors, promotional tie-ins, Rs 100 tickets and prancing cheerleaders nobody is a loser and everybody has fun. The ton has come to town and it goes by the name of T20. For a country that loves its cricket and all that jazz, it doesn’t get better than this when fans can enjoy their game without mulling over every move as a make or break factor for patriotic vendetta.


However the thing about jingoistic nationalism is that though it is built upon a shallow foundation of inflammatory jargon and cliché slogans, it has a remarkable way of entrenching itself in our psyches and appealing to our emotions. Especially when it comes to cricket, where we have been fed for long on a diet of Team India’s glory campaigns for us to shirk it away as a national symbol and understand it in a new light. Brand builders and advertisers have the difficult job of unmaking their original creation, of casting old rivals as new friends and bringing back the regional nuances where they were once superseded as trivial in the pursuit of the gleaming cups of international series, of carving out new fan followings from the large amorphous crowds.


Na deshyudh na dharmyudh! Yeh hai cricket ka karmyudh- says the DLF-IPL promotional video. With a sweeping statement it discards the foreign status of the players from South Africa, New Zealand, Pakistan and Australia who are part of every IPL franchise. This is the first move it makes at dismantling national loyalties .All the teams except for IPL Delhi-Delhi Daredevils team have brought out promotional videos. Each of them appealing to a new fan following, the fan who loves his city or his state, or the fan who looks up to his favorite player. The Hoot takes a look at this videos and sees what they’ve got going for themselves.


The promotional video of the Rajasthan Royals-‘Halla Bol’ follows a constant theme of regional integration. The video begins with a sweeping vista of the Amer fort in Jaipur accompanied by the traditional war cries. It moves on to showcases the symbol of team’s logo into regional contexts and settings like kites, mehndi designs, buses and rangoli. Cutouts of the team members make appearances, jutting out of rickshaws and autos and on the back of scooters. Several cultural symbols find prominent displays like turbans, tilak, dhol etc. It is refreshing because it refrains from the use of gloss and glamour.


On the contrary, the Hyderabad Deccan Chargers’ video does not make any play on regional sentiments. It can be best described as a slow motion video of wild bulls in a stampede followed by a staccato appearance by some major team members at the end, it has little recall value as the length is too long for an ad and falls short of a proper song. What it does appear to be is a convincing ad for a wildlife safari package.


Mohali¿s Kings XI Punjab Video could be safely described as being Preity Zinta and Yuvraj Singh centric. The theme song is sung by Daler Mehndi - "Panga na lo" (meaning don¿t invite trouble). The video follows the journey of the ball, that Yuvraj has supposedly struck a six with, through Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal and Punjab.  It juxtaposes shots of traditional Punjabi icons such as the bhangra, Sikh truckers, mustard fields with scarecrows and wrestlers with highly manipulated shots of Preity, along with many back up dancers wearing lion masks, brandishing swords inside the auditorium. The video sequence does not follow logically and does not have a coherent structure.


The glamour quotient is high with the presence of Bollywood stars in all the other videos. While the use of some has been creative and appealing, some look simply forced. This is the case with the Royal Challengers video which stars Katrina Kaif as a rock star. The video makes a promising start with shots of the Karnataka Assembly and the team jerseys in the locker room, but soon loses steam. Kaif performs insipidly along with the infamous Washington Red Skins on a stage in the stadium and is interspersed with visuals of team members at a locker room meeting. Icon player for the team, Rahul Dravid is highlighted and even team owner Dr.Vijay Mallya makes an appearance. An interesting parallel fan video called ‘thakath’ that has been circulating on the net finds more favor with fans.


‘Go Gold- Be a Knight Rider’ announces  SRK’s Knight Riders Video "Korbo Lorbo Jeetbo!" with its glitzy studio–ramp setting is as Khan centered as anything featuring him is. The song flows much like a Bollywood item number with team colors Black and Gold everywhere on the set. Though the lyrics attempt to appeal to a regional sentiment, what essentially comes out is -These are SRK’s Boys. It’s a case of support the star than support the team. Other cultural-regional references are made in the video where Bengali dhotis, dancers etc make appearances. The problem with the video is that it packs in too many unconnected narratives and as a result the viewer doesn’t get a clear message.


Cinema’s other wonder boy, the Adonis himself, Hrithik Roshan, stars in the Mumbai Indians Video- "Ala re Ala". The video begins with a boy asking Hrithik who an Indian is to which he dramatically replies "Indians are those whose feet are in the ground but whose heads are in the sky" Many Mumbaya references follow with visuals of traffic policemen, dabbawalas, taxi and auto drivers etc. Roshan in his usual style stumbles into a signature dance routine with the proud Mumbai Indians following him. The team’s icon player Sachin Tendulkar is represented through a hoarding.


Unlike other videos, in the Chennai Super Kings Video the cricketers sing the team song in Tamil and are shown playing cricket on the beaches and on the streets with a film poster as the background. It starts with a shot of the iconic Chennai Railway station. The song is fast paced, catchy and has a good recall value. It is also the shortest promotional video (30 seconds long). The official website claims that their players are "Fearless entertainers who play to win". It has a shot of a typical aunty from Chennai with temples in the background. The interesting thing about the video is the use of the iconic player Dhoni. Stripped of his original regional identity Dhoni becomes a Tamilian. A Pepsi Ad even has him impersonating Rajni Kant.


There is probably not a high probability that any of the videos would go down in history or stay in anyone’s memory beyond the IPL season, however most of them are catchy and are able to successfully find recall value among people. They do succeed in putting IPL on our minds and increase its salability.


Whether the IPL teams have been successful in developing consistent fan followings and team loyalties remains to be seen but they have certainly changed the nature of cricket viewing in India, where cricket is no longer a melodramatic indicator of our country’s greatness, but rather an enjoyable summer recreation.







IPL Dhoni
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