It is instructive to study Harsha Bhogle’s “intruder” episode, in which the famous commentator – the “voice of Indian cricket”, as Sachin Tendulkar noted – seemed to have been attacked by an intruder in his home then which he was broadcasting live on the IPL. The live stream, watched by perhaps hundreds of cricket fans online, took a serious turn when the camera Bhogle was addressing was knocked over by someone and he shouted phrases suggesting shock and distress – ‘Oye, kaun hai? Kyahua? Kahan se aa gaye?’ His visuals disappeared, his voice then fell silent.
It looked like his house had been broken into and he was attacked by a stranger. The news spread like wildfire online and netizens were duly alarmed.
More than half an hour later, his wife, Anita Bhogle, tweeted that everything was fine and it was just “a promo that went viral and sadly has everyone worried”. Bhogle, seemingly embarrassed, apologized and tweeted that “it’s gone more viral than I expected”.
Bhogle is known for his charm, gravitas, keen cricket sense and his ability to gently elicit insightful responses from his famous subjects. With this act of “crying wolf”, he has now shown that even at 60 he is not averse to performing an alarming act for a marketing gimmick – to attract attention, to make money, in other words. terms.
The world is a stage and we are all actors, noted Shakespeare. He was right about that, as about many other things. We now live in a time when everyone seems to have a camera at all times – India, for example, had 1.2 billion mobile phone subscribers in 2021, and of these around 750 million were users of smartphones, notes a Deloitte report.
With a man, woman, and child always carrying a camera and always connected to the world with a fast internet connection, nautanki and histrionics have become extremely common. You don’t need a stage or an audience – the eye of the camera sees your performance, the internet distributes it instantly to your audience. They might be just a handful – maybe just immediate family – for minor life players, but thousands for relatively major players like Bhogle, and millions for super life players like Virat Kohli or Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The camera regulates us. The CCTV system works on us to improve our behavior – when they are there, we operate with the assumption that someone is watching us all the time. But the visuals of CCTV footage are not necessarily representative of a person’s entire life and personality. We act and behave differently when we are observed than when we are not observed.
Conversely, people in public life and celebrities use the camera to project the best possible image of themselves. It’s only natural, because we all want to be loved for being nice and kind.
I told a cricket journalist from Pakistan that it was gratifying that Pakistani YouTubers speak so positively and enthusiastically about Indian cricket and cricketers and, often, even India in general. Her response was a shocker – “It’s because they can get so many Indian subscribers!”
His opinion could explain why Shoaib Akhtar, the former Pakistani fast bowler, speaks highly of India – even if he also seems to have visions of a bloody conquest of ‘Hind’ in the future through a “Ghazwa-e-Hind”.
In a recent video by Akhtar and Harbhajan Singh, the Indian cricketer explains how the IPL has changed the finances of Indian cricketers, and Akhtar replies, “You bought six houses, I know!”
When the IPL was launched in 2008, current India captain Rohit Sharma was just 20 years old and he was bought at auction for $750,000. He needed guidance and mentorship at this stage, but he didn’t get it – the IPL party culture sucked him in. Herschelle Gibbs wrote in his biography that although Indian cricketers were not heavy drinkers, he noted Sharma’s ability to “put a couple apart”. when he does.” Sharma gained weight and his career suffered and he was not part of India’s 2011 World Cup winning squad. Such a monumental waste of such a monumental talent, people said. Sharma, however, with an effort that must inspire us all, has resurrected his career and is now a great white-ball cricketer.
Stories like hers educate and inspire. You can’t blame him for his inability to stay focused in the face of fame and wealth when he was just 20 – as the Bhogle episode shows, when it comes to fame and wealth, it’s hard to think straight even at 60.