Dont worry Cuttack!
So you screwed up. So you threw a few bottles. So you will probably not see any international cricket again in the foreseeable future. So what?!
In just a few weeks you will get to see Salman Khan returning to the iconic Rajshri Productions banner! Prem Ratan Dhan Payo will release in Diwali, and watching a magnum opus like that is so much better than those annoyingly unpredictable cricket matches! Right?
You see, for Indians, cricket is not just a sport.
It’s a movie.
Recently, I’ve been watching a lot of Salman Khan films. He’s our family favourite you see. Not just movies which have released recently, but even his hits from years gone by (currently we’re on Maine Pyar Kiya)! And the trailers too. All this overdose of a shirtless Prem serenading his helpless heroines makes me tend to see Bollywood in everything, and blame it for the country’s woes. And so I think i'll blame the Barabati bottle storm on Bolllywood as well.
Except we all should. It makes perfect sense.
Like I said, In India, cricket isn’t a sport. We don’t go to the cricket to watch one team win and one lose. We don’t go to watch amazing skills on display (when mishits are going for six, I start to question how skills matter anymore.)
We go for the entertainment. We go to the stadiums to watch our heroes. Not watch our heroes play, but just watch our heroes, period. Even if the match were to be washed out, a glimpse of our stars strolling around the field would be enough to make it worth the while. A few autographs and selfies would be icing on the cake! It doesn’t matter how they play the cover drive. It matters whether they are fielding in a spot where we can scream at them to grant us a hint of a look, a shy smile, maybe even a wink.
Isn’t this like going for a movie? We go for the sake of our stars, not the scripts. We will watch Akshay Kumar no matter what, even if it’s in a debacle such as Tees Maar Khan. We will wolf whistle Salman Khan, no matter how hollow the acting and the storyline, and no matter how terrible his haircut (Tere Naam). We will even watch a movie with an overused regurgitated story featuring a couple of debutants, just because our Hero has sung a song in it!
Even if the more evolved part of our brains demands that we walk out at the interval, the reptilian part of the brain will take over and make us wait until the item song at the end credits!
And that is why the bottles were thrown.
You see, in our movies, our heroes always win. Always. No matter what the odds, no matter how many thugs and goons stand in the way, the hero always wins. All he has to do is switch to anti-gravity combat mode. The goons get beaten up, and the damsel in distress is rescued. Job done and good has prevailed. Always.
Everyone knows that cricket doesn’t work the same way.
Everybody except everybody that is.
Everybody had been waiting for the match to come to Cuttack for more than two months. Since the music was released, the premiere was all everybody could talk about. Everybody wanted to catch the first day first show, as there was no other. Everybody took leave from work. Everybody stood in line in the baking heat for hours to buy their tickets. Everybody paid good money for them. Everybody lined up at the stadium three hours in advance, just so they could glimpse their stars getting out of the bus, and walk the proverbial red carpet into the theatre.
The stage was set. The stars descended. Everybody greeted the hero’s entry at the toss with a raucous roar. The villain’s decision to field was even more welcome. The popcorn began flying. The theatre was packed. Everybody was on their feet! Everybody was already dancing in the aisles. India was batting, and everything was going according to script! Everybody was enjoying the movie so far!
But when the Indian batting order began its slide into the abyss at Cuttack, everybody got confused. “This wasn’t how things are supposed to happen!”” Something’s wrong!” ‘’This isn’t what I paid for! How can the villain be winning?’’ said everybody. ‘’How can the heroine not be saved?
And worst of all, how can the hero die???’’
Finally, somebody among everybody couldn’t take it.
So somebody decided to save the day. Inspired by the numerous comebacks his hero had made on screen, somebody decided to rise above his ordinary existence. Somebody decided that he would become a hero!
Even better, he would step in and save his heroes from an ignoble defeat and certain death! Somebody would thwart the villain, and ensure justice! The cheerleaders would be charmed by his courage and daring, and swoon in his arms! The portly policemen manning the boundary would genuflect before him in gratitude, Gandhi topi tucked under their armpits, hands folded in reverence. They would even insist that their rescuer receive the Man of the Match award for his services to heroism.
And thus, the first bottle flew.
And as a new hero was born, the masses followed in blissful blind adoration.