Generosity runs in the bloodline of our country.
For example, a grieving Vijay Mallya shut down his airline, but vowed not to mess with the aspirations of either wannabe cricketing stars or swimsuit calendar girls. So thanks to the magnanimous Mallya, the average Indian man shall be suitably engaged in the evenings worrying about the fortunes of a cricket team with a name best suited to a middle-school quizzing team. And leggy girls will continue posing in bikinis with banyan trees, elephants etc. In his august company is Preity Zinta whose last rightful claim to fame was a much-publicized break-up with the cupcake-faced heir to one of India's biggest industrial houses.
The Last Lear, a film where she last had a role of any consequence, was released in 2007 . She continues to still make it to newspapers when she is mourning her dog or promoting a really sad-looking film called Ishq in Paris, but that is not why we should be criticising her. After all, in her times, she was a delight to watch her laugh, prattle and dance onscreen. But recently, when she is not yelling her lungs out at airport officials for daring to fly without her, she stands for a lot that is essentially wrong with the prosperous association of cricket with Bollywood in form of the Indian Premier League.
While promoting her film Ishq in Paris recently, she said: "I only wish people who are part of the IPL would take their responsibilities seriously. Finally it's not the players but the team owner who has to face the uncomfortable questions on the raison d'etre of the IPL." Now if that is not a contradictory statement, what is?
Not only does such a statement compromise the dignity of a cricketer, it also makes the game, very obviously, out to be no different from say a derby. 'Own a horse?' 'Will race,' she tells you. And the moment you define roles of the parties involved in the IPL like that - in an owner-player dimension - you basically relieve the players from feeling responsible towards the sport and the spirit it promotes. The only things you gamble off are things you don't care much for - and that's exactly what this IPL cricketers are doing!
And when the police of the entire nation is running after bookies and conducting elaborate probes, Zinta labels all of that as waste of taxpayer's money. What would she do to make sure players are not up to some mischief? By conducting 'polygraph tests' on her players. NDTV quotes Zinta:
"I wouldn't waste my time, effort and the public money conducting countless investigations. I would just conduct polygraph tests on the accused. They are the simplest and the easiest way to find out the truth," Preity offers by way of suggestion.
Now how does one conduct random 'polygraph tests' like that? Does Zinta think polygraph test kits are sold wholesale like pregnancy test kits at the local chemist? How does one choose who to subject to lie detection tests? Someone who smells particularly bad, comes to practice red-eyed or is continuously on BBM? Or does one just go the inky-pinky-ponky way to select the one who gets tested for lying? That also implies that cricketers should ideally be treated with the same great suspicion the CID people on Sony TV treat possible khoonis?
Zinta also says blaming Bollywood is not right and IPL franchise owners should be made a part of the IPL governing body. How is blaming Bollywood not right? Aren't half the franchise owners from Bollywood? Aren't they supposed to be aware of what their teams are up to and how things work in an event they have invested crores in? Surely, owning a cricket team comes with a little more responsibility than owning Jimmy Choos right?
According to reports, she also expressed her willingness to join politics very recently, if that is going to change the country. The UPA has been selling off everything from coal mines to telecom spectrum on discounts for quite some time now, she didn't have to wait for IPL's can of worms to resurface, and her film to release, to be outraged, right? Her declaration does serve one purpose though - it instantly distances her from any responsibility for being a part of something that has more wrongs than rights going on in it.
It might not be right to pick Preity out for all that is wrong with the IPL, but the hasty, implausible statements she has made about the IPL goes on to show what is a recurrent problem with the league - irresponsibility. Something that at least a game like cricket can't afford to take on. Not at least in a country where cricket is not just a sport but a language of aspiration for millions.