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Wanted: drama

We seem to have got to that point in the tournament where we need something more than just the cricket to liven things up

Sreesanth and Harbhajan Singh share a light moment during practice, Gwalior, November 14, 2007
Less camaraderie, more acrimony is the need of the hour © AFP

Ramiz Raja said something yesterday that made me think. At the start of the Chennai-Punjab match he said, "We must learn to choreograph our madness as best as possible." Or something to that effect. And then he laughed. And Gaurav Kapoor, the anchor, laughed, surprised perhaps that something semi-profound had slipped in through the platitudes. They both looked pretty shocked by this burst of profundity, about as shocked as Irfan Pathan was when he got S Badrinath out with the first ball of the match. Ramiz wasn't covering his mouth like Pathan was, but the effect was similar: did I just do that?

Now a slight diversion, but one that relates to the topic at hand. Someone sent me a Youtube clip a few days ago, of a group of dancers performing "Do Re Mi" in the Central Station of Antwerp. It kicks off at 8am, the peak of rush hour. The commentator's voice is droning on about trains and platforms, and then suddenly there's the sound of Julie Andrews singing the first bars of the song. People around are clearly stunned, wondering, what's going on here? And then one guy gets in the middle of the main hall and starts waving his hands about. People think he's lost the plot, until he's joined by a little girl, and another, and they're waving their arms together, and more and more, until there are 200 of them, and for four whole minutes they completely captivate the commuters, hold them hostage to their show. The miracle of it is the surprise. You don't expect a bunch of dancers to break it out while you're on your way to work. In a theatre, on a stage, under lights, yes, but not this way. This is what the best choreography sometimes cannot do, because magic often comes from improvisation.

The idea of choreography is of particular interest to me being a dancer/writer and all. Which is why when Ramiz said what he said, it conjured up all sorts of connotations. For any artist the battle is always with beginnings and endings, imagination, sustenance, stamina. Whether you're dealing with words, pictures, or movements, the trajectory is the same: how to convert the hours of daily practice to a level of quality performance?

With sport, it's a little different. The underlying notion of winning and losing is dominant, but other elements of craft and performance remain the same. Take cricket: the way batsmen reach back and forth between the wickets, the way fielders close in and out in different formations, the leaps, the dives, the jumps and catches - it is an improvised choreography of sorts. And the more I think about it, if you consider Test cricket as the game in its purest form, something akin to Swan Lake for ballet-lovers, then the IPL is something like Mardi Gras - carneval at its highest level. It has the right mix of joy, vulgarity, opulence, atmosphere, and above all, spectacle.

Having said all that, though, it's about that time in the tournament when weariness has seeped in. Commentators are sick of hearing their own voices, players don't seem to be pouncing on those balls with as much agile grace as they were at the beginning, viewers are thinking (or at least I am!), perhaps I should really be paying more attention to what's going on with the nation's elections.

What we're lacking is a bit of drama. KKR (the top source of drama so far) have sort of slunk into oblivion. Nothing new except the possible sacking of John Buchanan. Yawn. Preits and Shilps haven't got into a catfight, there have been no wardrobe malfunctions, and all that chaddi-buddy camaraderie with the players (very charming at first) now makes me want to vomit. How about a sledge now and then, a slap, something. We need a bit of masala to up the momentum, and a few injured fingers and thunderclouds (albeit dramatically beautiful ones), aren't going to cut it. Mr Modi, please could you orchestrate something? The battle of the cheerleaders, perhaps, or round two of the Bhajji-Sreesanth battle. Maybe even a stream of a thousand Bollywood dancers pouring onto the pitch during a strategic time-out to do an unexpected jhatak to "Jai Ho"? Make it as mad as you possibly can.

Tishani Doshi is a writer and dancer based in Chennai

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