However, when I saw ICC World Cup 2011 Diaries (DVD) being available at flipkart, I couldn’t resist the temptation to buy it. It would be perfect for my collection. Remember, anything for the world cup had been my motto. Hence I placed the order. The DVD was delivered very next day and I was mighty impressed with the website. I just tore off the covering of the DVD and put it into my DVD player. I was too excited to re-live those memories. Those two months were one of the best of my life.
But what followed next was two hours of extreme disappointment.
To me, Mahatma Gandhi was one of the greatest men who ever walked on this planet. As a kid, I read a lot about him. I was sure that Richard Attenborough wouldn’t have told me anything new about Mahatma Gandhi. He didn’t. Yet, Gandhi remains one of my favorite movies. No matter how many times I have seen the movie, I can watch it again. When I visualize Mahatma Gandhi, my mind cannot see beyond Ben Kingsley.
No matter how often you have heard a particular story, a good story teller will always engross you in his narration. It’s an art, the story telling.
Ashes 2005 was one of the best contests I have seen. I keenly followed this series, almost ball by ball. Each day, once the play got over, I used to search for the articles written about the day’s play. I also wrote a lot about it. It was Ashes 2005 because of which Fultoo Bakar got a mention in one of BBC’s articles.
But when I got to lay my hands on Ashes 2005 diaries, I was pretty much indifferent – I didn’t know what to expect from it. But to my pleasant surprise, what it contained was a beautifully made documentary about that series which generated similar adrenal rush like those matches had generated. Mark Nicholas, the narrator, starts it with the term Ashes Fever. The documentary moves on, match by match. They picked up some 10 people from different walks of life – actor, journalist, cricketer, ex cricketer etc, and let them talk about how they felt about it. I felt as if I was one of them. I could assimilate with each of them. Whoever made this documentary had done an amazing job.
Fire in Babylon is not the right parameter to crib about WC2011 diaries. Fire in Babylon was a class apart. If West Indies at its peak and their pace attack during those days could be explained in one word, it has to be fear. Fire in Babylon sets this tone right at the start. Seeing Robin Smith trying to save his head being banged by the red cherry weighing 5.5 ounces, you can sense the fear and starts shivering. When the expert cricketers talk, you can see the passion in their eyes. The one who stands out is Sir Viv Richards – his expressive face and the manner in which he talks shows that he could well have been an excellent actor. Maybe it was the Nina effect that has worked on him.
DVD of WC2011 diaries is light years away from such standards. A narrator remains one of the most important actors in a documentary. He sets up the tone. He tells you what you are going to see. He tells you what you are seeing. He tells you what you just saw. If you know the story, he lures you in listening to it again. If you do not know the story, he entices you to listen to it. In short, he drives the show.
BR Chopra’s Mahabharata didn’t tell anything new to us in 80s. Yet it is still stamped in our memories because it was so well made or maybe it was one of rare sources of entertainment in those days or maybe both. But if I ask you to name one dialogue from Mahabharata which you remember, in all likelihood it will be Main Samay Hoon. Harish Bhimani did a wonderful job as a narrator.
Compared to that, the narrator is almost missing from WC2011 diaries. I said almost, because he makes a rare presence during the first half to tell you - India played England in Bangalore and the match was tied.
Oh ICC, I hope you know that this product isn’t meant for mere cricket fans. Fans may not buy it. Devotees of the game will. And they are not interested in what happened. It’s the manner in which you tell them what happened, is important to them. They are interested in the foreplay that leads to an orgasm. An orgasm without foreplay is not a good idea.
Even if the USP of the product was to show unseen footages, it doesn’t mean showing Yuvraj Singh’s interview in his bedroom – Yuvraj himself looked so bored, how you can expect the interview to sound interesting.
Even if the USP of the product was to show how the spectators felt during the world cup, it doesn’t mean showing few kids shouting Bangladesh-Bangladesh and playing cricket in the streets of Dhaka.
One needs to build up a story, generate a flow, and allocate sufficient & deserved time for all the important events in it.
For example, a world cup semi final is an important event. This time Sri Lanka played New Zealand in one of the semi finals.
New Zealand’s life had been quite topsy-turvy for last few months. They had lost miserably to Bangaldesh by 4-0, were given no chance by most of the experts, and yet made it to the world cup semi final. New Zealand had beaten South Africa in the quarter final using their real strength – team work. They were not a side of stars. They were 11 men clubbed into one. Their slow bowlers had proved quite useful in the tournament whereas batsmen had either been too hot or too cold. But one place where they did not fail was fielding. They had fielded well and bloody well.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka was looking to play their second consecutive world cup final. Their in-form top order, suffocating slow bowlers and brilliant fielding had ensured them a birth in the semi final. But Sri Lanka also had an unmatched, unconquered, and almost unplayable weapon in their artillery. Lasith Mallinga.
In contrast to this, what we get to hear is classic music. What we get to see in form of build up for the match is – a butcher cutting meat in his shop, fish hanging in his shop, more fish hanging, and finally some crabs. May be the sea food signified Sri Lanka but there was another team participating. Were the sheep’s accidently edited?
In the India-Pakistan match, Sachin and Virat were batting reasonably well. Virat’s wicket was a small but important turning point as things changed after that. His wicket silenced everyone in my office. I am sure the reaction wouldn’t have been any different anywhere in the country. That reaction could have reflected and said a lot. It captured a lot.
What we get to see in the WC2011 diaries as soon as Virat get out is – a kid is taking bath in a pound, washer men washing clothes in dhobi ghaat with match-commentary running in the background.
I did not realize when did the narrator, who anyhow sounded constipated, stop talking. But he didn’t talk during the time when final is shown in the DVD. Final lasts 32 minutes and looks like highlights of the match prepared by Door Darshan.
The DVD ends with some “exclusive” clippings of the Indian dressing room, which we had already seen in numerous still photographs, and people celebrating at the streets which I saw myself. Thank God it ended.
To cut the long story short, I was a complete waste of my hard earned Rs. 509/-.
So dear ICC, kindly let me know the next time you are going to produce any documentary. I will take a break from my antipiracy stand and I will download it free of cost. I endure unbearable mental and emotional torture for every penny I earn. I am not going spend any of it to buy your torture.