Google fb32x32 twitter linkedin feed-icon-32x32

IPL - Indian Pop-Culture Legend

IPL - Indian Pop-Culture Legend

June 20, 2012

Indian pop culture should have more to it, but the IPL is a great place to start.

Indian pop culture when googled brings up a rather amusing list of Hindi “pop” music which is mostly Punjabi rap - everything from Daler Mehendi to Mika. I’ve never really been very in the loop with Indian pop culture thanks to my lack of interest in cricket, which is most certainly taboo and my on again off again flings with K/T/B ollywoods. At a recent meeting with some friends from very far out of town(Sweden), I was asked the inevitable questions of a person who is curious to know what defines Indian culture, the traditions, rituals and everything else that makes us seem so exotic. That long-winded conversation started with me spewing the age old tales of arranged-marriages, because it’s always fun to watch the expression of complete shock that takes over the face of the listener. Towards the end of my well-practiced monologue, I started winding down, when I was asked a question that threw me a bit, “what about the kids? Forgive me for asking, but it hardly seems like you are arranged-marriage material, and clearly you don’t wear a Bindi everyday?” That’s what got me thinking about what defines Indian youth, what does our pop culture consist of? 

The first image that popped into my head was that of Kareena Kapoor almost always clad in a Sari when she graces the red carpet at award functions. I wondered why she rarely wears dresses and western outfits. After the fleeting moment of infidelity to the thought process that had actually seduced me, I tried to make a list that would define Indian pop culture. One word came to mind - cricket. There is nothing that unites this nation like it’s fanatical love for this game. That the pulse of Hindustan is so dependent on the performance of 11 people in what seems to me like a bazillion games every year, it seems odd to me, but that’s how it is, and unity can never be a bad thing right? I’ve seen groups of scrawny young kids standing outside an electronics store in sweltering heat, just so they can watch a match, they can’t afford to otherwise. I’ve been in school with friends who climb 4 flights of stairs every hour to sneak to the watchman’s house and find out the score ( ancient history: cell phones were banned in school at the time thanks to the DPS scandal).

Cricket:IPL:: Football:EPL ?

I wouldn’t say that, but the IPL has become the definition of pop culture in India. It’s the (seemingly) perfect culmination of entertainment and cricket, the two things that India loves the most. There’s a sense of loyalty that comes to one’s own state as you root for your team in the IPL. There’s always that nagging ache in the corner of your brain, when you’re forced to wonder if the matches are fixed and the allegations floating around are true. I saw this because I’ve recently been forced to play a sounding board for a couple of die-hard IPLers who have become rather disillusioned with the tournament amidst match-fixing allegations. When almost every single match ends up being close and the decision always leads up to the very last ball, suspicions are bound to arise. That said though the IPL has given India something it hasn’t had before - a pop culture, one that unites the nation and bridges the North-South divide. Movies couldn’t be pop culture because of the nearly 438 different languages spoken in the country, and even though Rajinikanth and Shahrukh Khan are known country over as legends for reasons that aren’t always clear, the IPL has accomplished something that not much else has. This result was possibly unintentional, the primary aim of the tournament having been to make Lalit Modi very rich.

I’m not a cricket fan, and of the whole last season I’ve watched only one match because my friend was convinced I was a lucky charm who would make CSK(The Chennai Superkings) win despite their dismal performance in that particular game. I do however enjoy watching the way the tournament has managed to raise spirits. So, even if the entire thing turns out to be an orchestrated show, with powerful people placing wagers and pulling strings. There seem to a larger number who have faith and get swept away with Dhoni’s majestic plays, people whose faces crumple at a loss even if they see it coming from a mile away, people who never lose hope. That is, I believe the essence of the Indian spirit. Besides, there’s something rather poetic about watching a Sikhni cheering CSK against the KXIP. 


  • Atheist Indian
    Atheist Indian
    20.06.12 09:17 PM
    *than cricket possibly could.
  • Atheist Indian
    Atheist Indian
    20.06.12 09:17 PM
    "There is nothing that unites this nation like it’s fanatical love for this game."
    Another interpretation - there is nothing that seperates some states (nations) of India than their general disinterest towards cricket and a passionate love for football. Think Goa or the North East, where the Euro cup garners far more interest that cricket possibly could.
  • Rajpriya
    20.06.12 10:22 AM
    Introspective thinking, a well phrased write up on a subject that a nation unites for entertainment still being divided in so many ways. I am a keen follower of the shortened form because of the simple reason living in Germany we never get an opportunity or have the time sitting down to watch the longer version.

    Waiting for five days to see the end would choke me even if I had the time watching the test matches and when the shorter form ends in much less than 20 overs people don’t get their money’s worth.

    However, Lalith Modi in my opinion provided more entertainment and of course who does anything that makes them poor? Ask Anna. The one in South Africa (was it in 2009 or 2010?) provided ample proof of his capabilities as an entertainer extra class.

    One of the scrawny young kids could fill the gap when our “Little Master” says I quit. After all Thierry Henry the great French foot baller started it all on the streets.

    The secret of every match leading up to the last ball for a decision is the same as Alfred Hitchcock thrillers keeping your mouth open until the end- I call it the trick of the trade to keep the fans in the stadium until its all over. They should be given the entertainment they come for.

    Rajinikanth and Shahrukh Khan are known for the same thing. They provide the entertainment and excitement to the people who can dream to live such lives full of fun. The variety of entertainment provided to the rich and poor is indeed poetic to keep the nation united in spite of its diversity.
  • Vidhya Iyer
    Vidhya Iyer
    20.06.12 08:40 AM
    I'm not particularly fond of it either, but I have to admit it's not completely terrible. Credit where credit is due and all that.
  • Stuart
    20.06.12 08:34 AM
    Thanks for a lovely positive spin on the IPL. I'm a cricket fan who despises Twenty 20 for accelerating the destruction of real cricket, Test cricket, a sport unlike any other on the planet. So it was helpful and stimulating to read an article from a no-fan on the upside of the IPL. Thanks

Leave a comment