IPL, Television and the Theater of the ABSURD :)

I tried my best not to write about it, but now I cannot stop.
The IPL drama goes on to becoming the biggest ever scandal that India has ever seen, involving politicians, corporates, film stars and anyone who is a somebody.
I believe that if we do not come out of this standing tall, with our heads held high, if we do not support those who are trying their best to stand for that which is right now, we are doomed forever.
What can be the most life changing experience for India, should not be aborted because of politics erupting to disrupt the process of revelation of a truth that will finally destroy all worms, skeletons and demons which have haunted our country since the day of our Independence in 1947, and given nightmares to every man, woman and child.
I speak about the expose in the Outlook Magazine regarding the phone tappings of politicians by the state since 2007.
I do not object to a probe on it, but what I object to is the timing of the expose.
And what it conveys to me, as a citizen of India who is aware and alert on the goings on of our politics, is that while the UPA Government is bent on cleansing a system which involves representatives of every walk of life in India, and has cornered some of the biggest culprits of havoc caused in the country for decades now, is that this expose is designed in a way, to stall investigations and interrogations on IPL and compell the UPA to give up that which has almost reached its end.
Because it is in the last episode of the IPL story, where a final cleansing is going to take place which in turn is going give birth to a new order.
All dirty money, as they call it, will have to dissapear and legitimate funds will be the only resource for the country to function on, denial of which has slowed, blocked and diabled our development and growth for the last six decades despite humungous efforts made by hordes of people who still remain honest and committed to their country.
Nothing is a secret in India.
That Dawood still operates through various rackets in India is a known fact.
That many politicians and political parties are his proxies is no revelation.
Yet the blatancy with which things have carried on post the 1993 blasts is what makes people the world over, cringe.
These guys who sheild crime are so assured of their invincibility that they have always known that they will never get caught. The trick is to involve so many people in the crime that everyone is safe.
Intellectuals, a minority and also a vote bank not considered of importance, have watched in shock, disbelief and awe, too dumbstruck to open their mouths, despite being in positions to question the criminals.
That is the level of shamelessness and defiance that some politicians have operated with in India till date.
From land deals, to builders lobbies, from encroachments to arms deals, everything has gone on in India relentlessly in the face of its citizens and politicians have jeered at and teased their people, daring them to raise a voice against them.
The IPL story only throws open the gates to the most morbid reality which every Indian has been exposed to, virtually forcing him to live with a truth which he can neither throw up nor swallow.
This is not just restricted to Politics in India. It is the culture of business in India and Politics is a business here.
Every single business which has potential to make money in India falls into the trap of bad money and ends up in a sludge, which in turn makes it possible for only one club of individuals or the other to monopolise the game, as it is called.
I have grown up with the growth of the Television Industry in India and witnessed the worst debauchery take place under my nose, so I can confidently talk about that.
Many like me found space in a business because of its expansion in the early nineties. At a time when money lenders did not see scope in it, business was pretty much in order where a TV Channel would commission a serial to a producer and pay 50% advance for the production of a show, and hand over the rest of the money on delivery.
Stakes began to get high and the business began to show potential, when banks came into the picture and gave loans to folk like us to carry out larger orders.
Until the time a decent bank interest was to be paid against borrowings, it was alright.
But then came an era of a strange sort of dealings where the channels distanced themselves from producers by refusing to pay advances, and brought in a practice where funds would be released 90 days from the delivery of each episode of a program.
There were no telecast dates in sight, so banks which were discounting bills could not do so until bills were raised and bills could not be raised until show was delivered, and show could not be delivered until a release date was decided upon. Shows would be put into long incubation, sometimes lasting over an year.
This meant an investment far beyond the capacity of a normal talented and able producer who was not backed by bank finance, could neither get finance from some of the sources approved by the channel executives, and therefore, ended his game.
A new kind of production house emerged which could spend so much money on a production that nobody else could afford it. This house had many stakeholders, dunno how many benami, which is a common word today, and went for listing, collected public money and played as big as the IPL with it. Sisters in law and brothers in law, cousins and friends and fathers in law and mothers in law, and clans from bollywood became stake holders in it. There is much more to 'Bollywood is a family', which meets the eye.
Programs not made by just a couple of production houses which could afford the extravagance, never worked out for many reasons, but I believe it was the smart handling of executives who programmed and marketed shows, therefore could control the verdict.
Their families and kith and kin were now all in the business. Talent and creativity, the voice of people and their expression could go take a walk for all they cared.
A club was formed which monopolised the business for more than 10 years, caring a damn for what the viewer would like to see, as programs were made as propoganda for the ideology of the strain of politics of the time.
Regressive and shameful, night after night, a certain kind of decadence was meted out to helpless viewers who in their inertia remained transfixed with the pomp show and finery displayed in the shows.
A frightening spend of money on tradition, conservative value systems and violence on women.
The next generation was brought up confused and rattled because while their fiction expressed a miserable dogma of an unpalatable sense of morality, on the ground people were forced to face a different fact all together.
Rapid urbanization had fractured lives and the tradition of a joint family was fast becoming extinct.
Economic realities forced poor Indian women to step out of their homes to work and contribute to the economy of the house thereby earning them respect from their elders, but the aspirations being set for the new Indian respectworthy independent woman through stories that were being told on the tube were regressive, because the protagonists and antagonists were a pack of somewhat rich middle class ladies who did nothing but dressed up in finery and fawned over their husbands who had affairs with other women so they could be called macho, and treated their wives badly.
I know of numerous instances while travelling to make documentaries during the time, when I gathered that there were smart and strongwilled women who were actually liberated due to the circumstances that surrounded the lives of the lower classes, who romanticised and aspired to get rich so they could be laden in their bejeweled wealth and get treated terribly by their men.
However, having said that, let me get back to what was happening at the top while silly women wrote sillier serials and indulged in their traumas with dramas produced by one or two filmy producers who quoted skewed viewership research to prove their point when questioned.
It was never a secret that most of these production houses had either direct affiliations to political parties or were more than ready to induct some of their celebrities into political parties to be able to function without accountability.
On top were a bevy of men, middle men and side kicks making money off a plan which was lucrative for all who belonged to the club.
Times changed with the rise of a new progressive and well centered government at the helm of affairs, and the whole concept of the Television drama which had ruled the roost fell apart.
The channels are still floundering to find the new idiom while they continue to tell the same story masked with a social relevance which never gets addressed, but the game has still not changed.
Even now, the ones who can put together a huge investment through a particular kind of financer are the only ones who can be part of a club which monopolises the business.
It is the game played by the industry of entertainment for decades now, and a game which was introduced to the executives of the Television Industry who fell for it as they could be stakeholders through relatives, friends and family members, and nobody would ever know.
And it is the same game which got played when IPL was conceived, this time embracing politicians and beaurocrats, because the game was also that of Cricket which is a religion in India therefore in the control of the BCCI, which is run by a governing council which comprises of a bunch of them.
While some of the teams bought through dubious bids were those bought by big corporates who have reached a place where adhering to compliances is a must, three were bought by film stars.
There was a confidentiality clause to all associations where the names of stakeholders could not be revealed. This was essentially relevant for the teams bought by film stars as in their break ups were all the kick backs through stake holdings of those who now fear the revelation of the truth.
I feel bad for Preeti, Shilpa and Shahrukh who could have easily signed up as brand ambassadors for the teams they ended up owning and perhaps could have gone home with more money and unscathed reputations. I still believe they are all good people caught in a terrible web.
I felt sorry for Preeti as I watched her speak to Barkha Dutt on TV tonight, as she looked clueless about what was going on. She had danced and she had cheered. She had travelled all over the world to promote IPL and attended parties with committment.
She had done her job.
Now what was all this tumbling out of everywhere?
Where were these allegations coming from? What was the truth behind what had happened?
Sharukh is quietly rooting for Lalit Modi, still unaware of the consequences of tax evasions which he might have been party to without his knowledge.
Shilpa Shetty perhaps will let her husband will take care of things.
Karan Johar laments on twitter that he is feeling sad that politics has entered a sport like cricket!
What are you saying dude?
Did you not know that already?
And if it makes you so sad that politics has entered a sport like cricket, and if you love the sport so much, shouldn't you be asking what the hell Bollywood is doing in the sport cricket?
It was just barely two months ago that some middle men who roam the streets of tellydom came to me asking me to produce one of the big reality shows on one of the biggest channels. They wanted me to produce the show in 10% of the allocated budget which was going to be paid by the channel.
Ninety percent of the budget was being distributed amongst people who I would never meet or see.
I declined the offer, but how many would do that. Even the ten percent was such a huge amount.
Last week I went to a channel to pitch for the production of a show because I was told by a friend that things had changed.
The poor little executive boy sitting there to commission shows gave me the following brief.
"We want the protagonist to be a woman. She should be a working woman."
I smiled as he continued, "but", I cringed, "when she comes back home from work, she should touch her father in laws feet, her husbands feet and cook food. She should look after the children and be respectful to her mother in law", as he trailed on, I thought to myself, what am I doing here?
I should be meeting some guys at the top and fixing a deal. Some junior from my company should be attending these meetings.
I had lost what this poor boy was saying but I butted in saying, "Shouldn't we give this woman some character? Like maybe make her very talkative", to which he said, "Our audiences are not prepared for it. The program will be rejected in small towns". "But I grew up in small towns", I told him, "I was very talkative and people used to find me interesting", I smiled.
The poor executive boy stared at me in silence.
Then he said, "I'm sorry, but this is all the brief I have from my seniors".
Then the meeting ended.
As the theater of the absurd will unfold on IPL tomorrow, all I pray and hope for is, that this time, there should be no expose's with ulterior motives.
Outlook Magazine or no Vinod Mehta who seems to be supporting some rebellion in the parliament on Monday morning, should derail the process of unearthing facts.
This is a moment of truth for politics in India.
It is a time when the government is going to go through its most difficult test.
But this is also a moment for the UPA to tear through opposition, unafraid of the consequences of the phone tapping scandal, which perhaps will be another saga in itself, and not bend under pressure and falter with its intent to weed out filth from the system once and for all.
I doubt if the effects of this cleansing will percolate down to the poor executive boy and me, in my this life time, but I will at least be left with some hope for my children and their future.
Hope that will ensure that one day everyone will do their jobs and participate in the growth of their own respective industries instead of running to wherever there is money and glitz to demand a share of the pie which they think is rightfully theirs because they are powerful.
Hope that a day will come when Industrialists remain Industrialists, Film Stars remain Film Stars and don't get used by awfully corrupt people, Politicians do their duty and give the freedom to a Sport to be a Sport.
Then will come the day when writers will be writers, producers will be producers and directors will be directors and executives will be happy with the salaries they recieve and the position and status that they have.