April 25, 2010
That Indians are crazy about cricket and bollywood is well known. Together they offer a deadly combo this cricket crazy nation can hardly resist as is evident from the popularity and success of IPL. And now there is glamour that comes with it to make it a deadly combo offer of 3 – cricket, bollywood and glamour, which is simply irresistible. IPL is now making news for all wrong reasons with lot of skeletons coming out of its cupboard with each passing day. This controversy has also brought to the fore the involvement of glamorous and celebrity women and their involvement in cricket either as franchise owners or as brand ambassadors and not out of love for the game. Gone are the days when the celebrity women were in the news in cricketing circle just by their relationships with famous cricketers. Sharmila Tagore, Reena Roy, Sangeetha Bijlani, Kim Sharma Neena Gupta, Amrita Singh and Najma are some of the bollywood actresses known for their association with cricketers. Gone are the days too when cricket stadiums were filled mainly with men with few women accompanying them just to give company.
The coming together of glamour, business interest, cheer girls, cricket and bollywood spearheaded by IPL has gone down well with women as it has succeeded in generating interest in the game, drawing huge women fan following even from those women who are least bothered about the game. Of course the involvement of bollywood badshah Shah Rukh Khan as franchise owner of Kolkotta Knight Riders has also been one of the added attractions for women evincing much interest in cricket.
Credit no doubt should go to Mandira Bedi of the noodle strap and of “Extra Innings” fame for bringing the much needed glamour element to the game of cricket. She generated the interest of both men and envious women in the game of cricket though she made more news with her noodle-strap attire and lack of cricket knowledge very often cutting a sorry figure. Nonetheless she gave the initial momentum and glamour which cricket lacked till then. And with IPL becoming a reality 3 years back the deadly combination of glamour in cricket has been taken a step forward to bring it to where it is today.
It is well known by now that several glamorous women own some of the IPL franchises. Bollywood beauties like Preity Zina and Shilpa Shetty have been candid about their association with franchises Kings XI Punjab and Rajayastan Royals respectively and were the first one to provide the necessary glamour quotient to IPL. Of late Neeta Ambani franchise owner Mumbai Indian team has also been trying to be in the limelight trying to outwit bollywood queens. These glamorous women are present in most of the matches of their respective teams cheering their players and are always in the limelight. Preity even stirred a controversy last time around when she began appreciating players like Yuvaraj Singh with a public kiss and hug after a match-winning performance. And now Harbhajan Singh has done the unthinkable of lifting Neeta Ambani after Mumbai’s recent victory in semifinals over Royal Challengers Mumbai.
Sunanda, Laila, Supriya and Poorna
Mandira, Katrina, Deepika and Ramya
Preity, Shilpha, Neeta, and Juhi
Actress Juhi Chawla is the co-owner of Shah Rukh Khan’s franchise Kolkotta Knight Riders though she has not associated publicly in any cricket matches. From Katrina Kaif to Deepika Padukone and Sameera Reddy, bollywood actresses have been getting more and more involved in cricket.
Since the Sunanda Pushkar of Tharoor fame episode holding equity in Kochi franchise (courtesy Shashi Tharoor) coming into the open which resulted in Shashi Tharoor resigning from his ministry, the skeletons are slowly plummeting out of the cupboard of BCCI and IPL and with that the involvement of glamorous and powerful women in cricket is slowly becoming a public knowledge. First it was Vijay Mallya’s step daughter Laila Mehmood who grabbed eyeballs coming out of IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi’s office when IT officials conducted a raid and was questioned by IT sleuths. Until then the public was not aware about Laila or about her working for Lalit Modi.
With each passing day IPL issue is becoming murkier and murkier. Apart from Shashi Tharoor episode the IPL controversy has brought to the forefront the unholy nexus between politics and cricket. The latest to join the bandwagon of rich, powerful and glamorous women in controversy involving IPL franchise stake holdings are Supriya Sule daughter of BCCI President Sharad Pawar and Civil Aviation Minister Prafulla Patel’s daughter Poorna Patel’s involvement. Poorna is the IPL hospitality manager and now her name is linked to the Shashi Tharoor/Sunanda Pushkar episode involving Kochi team.
All eyes are now on the much awaited IPL governing council meeting to be held on Monday. April 26. With Modi’s recalcitrance to step down and his readiness to bare all facts about IPL one wonders whether the involvement of many glamour queens is going to be out in the open.
IPL is muddled in the hands of politicians, the glamorous, the rich and powerful as it involves big money. With many bollywood queens past their prime, finding no meaty roles in films, they find IPL as a platform to be in the limelight and also to make money. Whatever may be the outcome of the sordid saga that began with Shashi Tharoor episode it has to be acknowledged that cricket has generated the interest of glam women either as a pursuit of money making mode or as a platform of being in the limelight. No doubt they have also ignited the interest of many women in cricket.