Summer is round the corner and so is the IPL, which is the new synonym of the season. The 8th edition of Indian Premier League starts from Tuesday, 7th of April 2015, with a scintillating opening ceremony at The Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata, followed up by a feisty encounter between last year champs Kolkata night Riders and the ‘powerhouse’ Mumbai Indians on Wednesday.
IPL was the brainchild of its former chairman, Lalit Modi, who didn’t only made IPL popular among the masses, but also made it the biggest brand of the 21st century, with its current value estimated around US $ 3.2 billion.
The current edition of Pepsi IPL has the tagline, ‘India Ka Tyohaar’, which is very apt according to what the nation perceives this event. Cricket already enjoys a status of religion in our country. Most of its fans do believe that ‘if Cricket is Religion and Sachin is its God, then IPL is definitely its biggest festival.’ Imagine, a college group from Bengaluru screams when Chris Gayle hits a Six, a young kid from Jaipur runs across the streets when Shane Watson hits the winning runs, a Chennai’s ‘Anna’ whistles all long when Dhoni leads his team through another victory or every time Hyderabad celebrates whenever Steyn takes a wicket. This has become a regular mode of celebration of the festival since its dawn in 2008.
The biggest attraction of this never ending madness is the amalgamation of Sport with Glamour. While many top notch names like Shahrukh Khan, Vijay Malya, Neeta Ambani, Shilpa Shetty and Priety Zinta owning some of the franchises, it brings in many celebrities to the grounds. From Salman Khan, to Ranbir Kapoor, from Katrina Kaif to Deepika Padukone, from A. R. Rehman to Pritam, everyone has performed at the opening ceremony, even international celebs like Pitbull and Katy Perry had set the stage on fire. All this ensures only one thing, that entertainment never ends in the IPL.
But that is only one part of the story. On flipping the coin, one can look upon a never ending string of controversies that shook the nation and raised many questions on the sport, which was once considered the ‘Gentlemen’s Game’. The news of involvement of players like S. Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila and others in spot fixing with industrialists like G. Mayappan, the possibility of involvement of N. Srinivasan and Raj Kundra, along with other names like Vindu Dara Singh worked as an eye opener and forced to look at a wider picture. Also, many big names like Subruto Roy Sahara, Dayanidhi Maran, Shashi Tharoor and its pioneer himself, Lalit Modi got ill fame while being a part of this league. It raised many questions, like: Is this league only promise to provide entertainment or is just an illusion where everything is decided earlier and is just another source of fooling audience? Because of this, the league has gained negative publicity and recently lost most of its viewership.
As they say, that every dark cloud has a silver lining around it, we can only hope that this season regains its trust and proves to be the ultimate place where people’s favorite sport meets both excitement and entertainment at its best, without falling prey for another controversy.