Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mr Shadow.

At the end of the first day’s play against Sri Lanka,

The in-form Rahul Dravid was on a serene unbeaten 85 of pleasing drives. Maestro Tendulkar is on 20” reports The Hindu

Dravid needs just 15 runs to complete his 28th century while Master Blaster will look forward to notch up his 44th ton” reports the Times of India.

Notice the epithets Maestro and Master Blaster for Tendulkar, while Dravid gets a clinical description of ‘in-form’. Also, even when Tendulkar is on 20, he is already well on his way to his 44th ton.

Siddhartha Mishra wrote a piece titled, “ The curse of being Rahul Dravid”, in the Indian Express, in which he asked:

"This batsman for all seasons presents an inarguable claim to greatness. And yet the acclaim accorded to Rahul Dravid has, more often than not, been restrained rather than spontaneous, limited rather than overwhelming. Why?

Juxtaposition of the ‘titles’ so generously used to glorify the leading Indian batsmen of this generation further accentuates the ‘great divide’. Tendulkar is ‘Master Blaster’ or ‘Tondulkar’; Sehwag is ‘Nawab of Najafgarh’; Ganguly is ‘Prince of Kolkata’; Laxman is ‘Very Very Special’; and attendant upon Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni are nicknames ringing with mass affection — Yuvi and Mahi. In Dravid’s case, the unvarying descriptions used — ‘The Wall’ and ‘Mr Dependable’ — seek to stereotype rather than highlight the batsman’s unique range and reek of condescension.

In the Indian context, there is inescapable evidence that cricket is religion and Tendulkar is god. But few human beings have reached Dravid’s levels of accomplishment. Is only a certain type of batsman worthy of mass adulation? Is hero-worship to be denied to Dravid because it has been his destiny to play in the same era, the same team as another great batsman?"

The answer actually lies in the fact that much of the English media is concentrated in Mumbai and Delhi. And it is not unnatural that those achievers who are based in these cities when they are off-duty tend to get the highest visibility. If you are successful and based in Mumbai, you can’t remain aloof. You will soon get drawn into the circuit, however introverted you might be. And where celebrities tend to show up, can the media be far behind?. It is a symbiotic relationship.

One would think that with their large fleet of vehicles, a slew of reporters and a network that spans the entire country, the TV channels can access any personality in any city in a jiffy. Surprisingly, the channels take the path of least resistance and focus on stories that unfold within a radius of 20 km from their studios in Mumbai or Delhi. That's why a Lata Mangeshkar completing 50 years of singing, 80 years of age, 50000 songs, etc will get enormous publicity, while an equally prolific S.P.Balasubramanian completing 40 years in filmdom and 40000 songs ( I am just rattling out a number; don’t check this somewhere and hang me) will not even get a passing mention. The TV channel can ask a reporter to hop across to Lata’s residence and interview her, whereas reaching SPB in Chennai is far too much of a hassle.

Every day, Tendulkar will be shown crossing and celebrating some milestone or another ( 13000 runs in Test cricket, 30000 runs in either form of cricket, 20 years of Test cricket, 150 test matches, 600 matches in all, 34th birthday, 35th birthday, 36th birthday, etc. While Dravid will be left severely alone. Maybe he prefers it this way too.

Update 26/11/09 : The 2nd day started with Dravid on 85 and Tendulkar on 20. This is how the TOI reports in today's edition:

There was a big crowd anticipating greater deeds from Sachin Tendulkar. But the little master did not oblige them and departed after making 40. Luckily for them, Dravid was there to provide the entertainment as he not only went past Allan Border's mark of 11,174 to become the fourth-highest run-getter in Tests, but also collected his 28th century.

So, even when Dravid is only 15 runs away from his century, the crowd is supposed to be anticipating only Tendulkar's century which is a mere 80 runs away. And when he gets out on 40, it is reported that "Little Master did not oblige them".


Mambalam Mani said...

The excessive hype that surrounded Sachin's 20 years in cricket (ok it does deserve special recognition) and more importantly 17000 runs (why is this a landmark when he is already the highest scorer in tests?) was too much to take.
As for the Indhi-Speaking English media's laziness to come all the way to Chennai, it is simply a state of ignorance of the fact that there are places, people and languages that exist other than the cities they come from (much like the US perception of the World as America). Since the bulk of their viewers are from those regions (how many will see NDTV instead of Sun News in TN?), they don't bother about catering to those markets in their blindspots. But, having said this, interestingly when the movie Sivaji was released there was an immense (and I really mean immense) coverage of the movie's release with minute tracking of Rajini's daily schedules, interviews and sudden interest in his earlier movies etc. I think those channels saw that as an opportune moment to draw some viewers from TN using the release of the movie. Not sure if you remember it.

Raj said...

Mambalam Mani : Actually, the viewership of English channels in the South is quite high. I remember reading a few years back that South contributes more than 38% of the viewership of NDTV 24 x7. Similarly,I have read that South contributes more than 50% of readership of most English magazines.

Sankar said...

Hey Guys

Come on. I did not expect thid persecution complex from you. Well the media sucks, but they are clear about 1 thing, RATINGS which translates into higher revenues.

Sankar said...

Hey Guys

Come on. I did not expect this persecution complex from you. Well the media sucks, but they are clear about one thing, RATINGS which translates into higher revenues.

Raj said...

Sankar, no complaint of persecution here. I was trying to provide a simple explanation on why Mumbai seems to have more celebrities. Symbiotic relationship between them and the media.

RaviKR said...

I always celebrate when Rahul Dravid does well. However, Tendulkar and Sehwag are more entertaining. This is also the difference between the people who enjoy test cricket against ODI or 20-20. I love tests and it is no surprise that I like Rahul Dravid's contributions.