Friday, May 7, 2010

Just Not Cricket

So, yeah I've been watching the T20 Cricket World Cup in spite of myself and my perennial dismay at the depths the Pakistan team can sink to. Actually, I have been often caught between a desire to slash my wrists and the beginnings of an uncontrollable belly laugh. What can you say about a team whose getting through to the second round was contingent on Australia beating Bangladesh (!) - which, for a while last night almost looked like it incredibly might not happen. And which, when it did get through today, managed to do everything within its collective power to self-destruct by dropping not one, not two, not three, not even four but FIVE catches!

Meanwhile, its skipper, the redoubtable Mr. Boom Boom's explanation for the dismal showing bordered on the farcical. He said (and I quote from the Geo crawler): "I don't know why the fielding has been so poor." (This from the same responsible captain who assuaged everyone's fears that he would get out early by hitting one of his reckless shots by running himself out on the first ball he faced.) You moron! Have you considered the fact that it's because the team is full of other morons as well?

But am not here tonight to harp on the cricket, or what passes for the sport in this format of the game. (Really, what's the point?) Rather, I want to talk about what I have been fascinated by these last few days, i.e. the 'television' that surrounds the matches. (If you, like most people - though unlike Geo bigwigs - watch on Geo Super, you might refer to it as the Kurleez chips ads that are punctuated every once in while by the cricket.) I have a few general questions and observations regarding the programming and ads:

1. It is my considered opinion that everyone associated with Geo Super should be lined up and shot. Geo Super now runs ads not just between overs and after the fall of wickets and as overlays on the action, but also cuts away in between the successive deliveries of an over! (Can this be called grabbing viewers by the 'short and Kurleez'?) Where is the Supreme Court and its suo moto action when you need it? Does PEMRA have no mandate to safeguard the fundamental right of viewers not to have apoplectic fits of rage? Has greed driven everyone stark raving mad at the Jang Group? And if the marketing department at Geo thinks it's such hot shit, let's see the same thing on the rest of Geo's programming. I can just see it now: Kamran Khan asks a question of Babar Awan but before his guest answers, we cut away to a Bollocks Biscuits ad, only coming back once the reply is half-way through. Cooking oil ads between every news headline. A "Do the Dew" break every time Ansar Abbasi says "Dekhain" or Dr S&M opens his mouth. Ok, that last bit might actually improve the programming but you get idea. Let's see how that works for you Geo. I can guarantee the marketing department it will earn them lots of moolah. At least for a day.

2. Is there anything more moronic, unhinged and cruel than the current Mobilink Jazz series of ads in which a slew of celebrities from Shahid Afridi to Wasim Akram and Ali Zafar tell you at the end that you, the miserable viewer, should not watch the ad at the moment but the match? Yes. We. Would. If. Only. You. And. Geo Super. Would. Effing. Let. Us!

3. Has anyone else noticed the difference in the adverts on Geo Super and Star Cricket (the other channel beaming the Cup live that I am able to receive)? Geo Super beaming to Pakistan is all about the chips (Kurleez) , the biscuits (Bakeri Bistiks, Gluco, Chocolatto or something similarly crappy), the ice creams frozen desserts (Wall's Badami), the sodas (Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Coke, Sprite) and the mobile phone services (Zong, Jazz), along with some beard colouring (Just for Men), anti-dandruff shampoos (Clear, Head and Shoulders), shaving equipment (Gillette razors) and the odd HBL Easy Finance (probably to fund the snacks and the mobile bills). On the other hand, Star Cricket - beaming obviously mainly to the Indian market - is mostly all about sex and technology. Lustful women in skimpy clothing going bonkers over men's deodorants (Zatak) and men's hair gel (Set Wet), motorbikes that dump their riders to pick up hitchhikers in hot-pants (Bajaj?) and ferry horny men to their girlfriends at night (who cares?), internet and video on demand (Reliance Mobile) and 12-megapixel digital cameras in mobile phones. What are we to make of this? Is this the basic difference between Pakistan and India? We are hirsute, itchy, eat junk and talk non-stop; they strip, take high-resolution photos of themselves naked and put them on the net over a high-speed connection?

4. I know this is kind of a tangent but I have to ask: What on earth is that Mirage Insecticide ad all about? If you haven't seen it (though it's on whenever I switch on television), here is a summary: Woman sprays insecticide, man seems to orgasm breathing in the fumes, man tries to gather all the insecticide spray cans and mosquito coils in his arms, woman beams him on the head with a frying pan knocking him out, woman says proudly "Ab chalay ga mera raj!" while holding up a spray can. ... My questions are a) Is the man her husband or a thief? b) If he is a thief, is insecticide spray so expensive now that he would try and steal it and she would seek to protect it by using violence? c) If he is her husband, what is going on in their married life that she needs to wallop him one with a frying pan? d) Was the whole thing concocted so that the stupid pun (Mirage / Mera Raj) could be used? And if so, what were the creative geniuses at the advertising agency smoking?

5. Geo Super's studio set for the T20 World Cup consists of a backdrop designed like a funky comic-strip about cricket, in front of which sits the decidedly unfunky Yahya Al-Husseini (Geo's whiny sports correspondent) with his two cricketing experts, former skipper and wicket-keeper Moin Khan and former human Shoaib Akhtar. That would be all fine and well but for the fact that because of the strategic placement of the chairs, Yahya Al-Husseini seems to permanently have a dialogue balloon coming out of his head that reads "Oh my God, please help me!". Meanwhile, whenever they cut to a single shot of the Rawalpindi Genital Warts Express, he has a box next to his head that reads "Clap!". My question is, could this be deliberate? Could someone at Geo really have a sense of humour? Would we need to reassess our opinion of Geo if that is the case?

6. And finally, see the following video / extended commercial for Pepsi that serves as the pep rally for the Pakistan cricket team at the T20 World Cup (fat lot of good it's doing them!):

Ok so it's all very pseudo-uplifting, despite the irritating mispronunciation of 'azm' as 'azzam' and its OTT macho sentiment where women exist merely to support and admire their men and any other random boys who happen to pass by. But here are my queries and observations about it:

a.) At 0:23: Since the shirt was packed away in a bag, why is it all dusty? Did a can of talcum powder explode inside? And carrying forward the metaphor for our cricketing glory (which this dusty shirt obviously is), wouldn't it have been better to have utilized the time since 1992 (by the way, we did win the T20 World Cup in 2009, in case anyone cares to remember) to actually train and practice, rather than expect glory to suddenly come springing out of a bag? We certainly could have used some catching practice for one.

b) At 0:30: When the girl shakes her head at the silly dreamworld of her brother / boyfriend / husband, does she not perfectly reflect the entire disgruntled country? No wonder she seemed happier in the condom ad.

c) At 0:56, 1:46 and 2:50: Where is Mehreen Raheel planning to hold up these signs that she's making? She's certainly not in the West Indies for sure and she never actually goes to any stadium. And if she plans on holding them up while watching television in her tv lounge, how sorry is her life? Also, is it just me or did anyone else keep wondering why she was making a placard that read "CHAR JAO" - I know now that it's just a badly drawn 'A' at the end, but can you imagine explaining that to a bunch of rowdy laundas if she ever actually managed to take the sign out in a public stadium?

d) At 2:32: Was the only reason to include a tennis player in this video because Pepsi has also signed up Aisam ul Haq? Because, you know, there's a bunch of other dedicated sportsfolk in Pakistan too. And isn't the shot of him sitting in isolation at 2:41 an apt reflection of how little appreciation they get unless they jump on the cricket bandwagon?

e) At 3:12: Curiously, all the shirts being beaten during the wash at the dhobi ghat (See? All classes are passionate about the game, the affluent get to wear the shirts, the poor wash them) are blue. Is this a subliminal message about the blue-shirted team?

'Come and see us at the dhobi ghat'

If anyone has any answers, would be happy to hear them. Personally, as far as the World Cup is concerned, the Super Eights stage may not be a sudden death round, but I think that just means our team's demise will be long and excruciatingly drawn out.


Ahsan said...

Calm down Pyalas. It's cricket, as Pakistanis, you really shouldn't care.

Muhammad Shahid said...

As far as I remember, and I'm pretty sure I'm correct, PEMRA has restrictions over the maximum time for advertisements over a 24 hour period which comes down to something like 14 minutes per hour.

This was notified to me by PEMRA around 3 years back when I sent a FoI request.

They also notified that they hire a "private" company to monitor the advertisement time compliance by channels and "three" channels had been to found to be in violation and would be "fined" if they repeated their "actions" again.

I, like all of you, am pretty sure that every channel shows more than 25 minutes of ads per hour on the average, this increases to 35 minutes during cricket matches and Aaj TV normally shows around 90 minutes of ads per hour.

PEMRA is just the censorship body of a totalitarian state. Just to shut down channels.

Omar said...

Dear lord....that was laugh out loud hilarious! Great post, I'm linking to it :)

Anonymous said...

Ah Faridi! (Sigh! Faridi)

Aa Faridi (come back Afridi)

Gulbadan said...

I haven't laughed this hard in ages.

Anonymous said...

With almost a week without posts, I thought you had died, Pyala. Now I know you were watching, at least trying to, watch some cricket :)

Anonymous said...

Did you have to mention alllllll those ads? Reading all that was like deja vu ...

Ali K. said...

That was pretty funny.

longblackveil said...

Fantastic, Cafe Pyala Wale! Very well done, hilarious and with the added bonus of a white paper on PEMRA standards. :)
Came here through TwitFeed. Will return, am sure.
-Yet Another Disgruntled Pak Cricket Fan (what other type is there?)

Krypton said...

Haha..lolz.. nice post.. But you missed the MASTER CLEAVAGE FOAM.. Whenever there is a boundary, thy do flip-flops on bed ;)

Anonymous said...

Brilliant hissy fit :)

Faiza said...

@ "former human Shoaib Akhtar"

@ Mehreen Raheel's posters

Deepak said...

"Is this the basic difference between Pakistan and India? We are hirsute, itchy, eat junk and talk non-stop; they strip, take high-resolution photos of themselves naked and put them on the net over a high-speed connection?"---> hahaha