Latest India craze: Bollywood-cum-cricket

Talk to anyone from India and if you can’t comment on the Twenty20 Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament that just kicked off, odds are that you’ll be made redundant for any further communication.

The tournament is the latest craze that has hit the country, and has left people bedazzled with illusion of what will be over 7-weeks of dance, music, and sport “hungama” (madness). This is of no surprise as it involves the two things that practically run the country: Bollywood and cricket.

This is the first time that international cricketers will put aside national loyalties to play in a private tournament wherein the players were selected by a multi-million-dollar auction earlier this year. Over 100 national and international players have been offered bundles of cash to participate in the 44-day, 59-match, 8-city, cricket league in India.

The 8 teams, named after main cities in India, were also bought in an auction by Indian business moguls like Mukesh Ambani and Vijay Mallya, and Bollywood stars like Sharukh Khan and Priti Zinta.

The opening ceremony last Friday in Bangalore was a 45-minute Bollywood-style extravaganza with music, fireworks, light-shows and acrobats flown in from the Washington Redskins cheerleaders group, and attended by 55,000 people. You can watch bits of it here.

Unfortunately, it looks like this event of such hype and hysteria will not be covered by world news agencies because of a brawl over event photo distribution rights.

In India, Bollywood and cricket are as embedded in our culture as chai and squat toilets. You have to understand them to understand us. I have no doubt that this tournament will be a roaring success and I wish I could be in India for some of the matches! Living abroad has its cons. Sigh.