Sep 22, 2003

Faux News bulletin

(You know it's time if it's faux pas nine!)

Newcomers impress, oldtimers consolidate

From our Sports correspondents in Bangalore and Chennai

The gains were there for all to see at the recently concluded high profile domestic cricket clashes in the Challenger and Irani Trophy. Designed as an opportunity for newcomers to showcase their talent and to give the seniors a run after a long break, these two contests showed the public the deep pool of talent that lies in the Doordarshan commentary panel.

Prominent among the youngsters making their debut on the airwaves were former Tamil Nadu opener W.V.Raman, while Venkatesh Prasad and Yashpal Sharma made their comebacks in an impressive fashion. Other voices that stood out were Delhi bi-glot Atul Wassan and L.Sivaramakrishnan who has a few Tests and numerous one-dayers under his belt. Speaking to Faux News, Narottam Puri, recently appointed the Chief Talent Scout for DD Sports, said he was quite satisfied with the form shown by the panel. "It makes selection for the upcoming series very difficult, but the selectors are happy to have this problem". According to Puri, though most of the team pick themselves, there were still a few places open.

Raman, joining the ranks of those who had exchanged one kind of box for another, namely the commentary box (also known as the "voice box" in DD Sports slang) said he was happy to be picked after languishing in retirement for a long time. Though there has been criticism about the young man. Critics point out that the former opener known for his lazy elegance on the field has carried this laziness to his new vocation. Sources confirm that the quietly potbellied Raman refused to walk down to the field to interview Siddharth Trivedi and Vinayak Mane, and then took umbrage at one of his North Indian colleagues mis-pronouncing his name as "Raman" (as in Raman Lamba) instead of the South Indian fashion of "Raaman". Puri dismissed the incidents saying that Raman was an asset to the team with his keen eyesight, following the direction of the ball even when the sophisticated DD camera was unable to do so. But Raman would find it difficult to break into the Test team, for fellow Tamil L.S (or L.S.Ramakrishnan as he was fondly referred to by Yashpal "Yash" Sharma), already occupies the Zonal berth, but can the selectors afford to ignore this exciting talent?

Wassan, on the other hand, returned fresh from a stint on Star News and NDTV 24x7 where the channels were reportedly bowled over by his all-round capabilities: he can speak fluently in both English and Hindi, sometimes opting to speak in both of them at the same time. He was given the responsibility of lead anchor and seems to have grabbed the opportunity with both hands. Sharma, on the other hand, had a horrendous start to his campaign by insisting that it was Sachin Tendulkar and not Anil Kumble who was captain of India A, but made up with his keen narration of historic Irani ties, including the one in 1984 where two umpires collided at midwicket while walking in opposite directions at tea.

Probably the most sensational comeback was by Venkatesh Prasad. Often lambasted for his halting style in his last appearance at the World Cup, the Karnataka pacer came back from his ten day training session with speech guru Sabira Merchant having lost his trademark long pause (his pause now measures 1.38 secs as against his World Cup average of 2.89 secs) and with an enriched vocabulary. So impressed has he been with Merchant that he has reportedly asked DD Sports to engage her services at the next camp. Prasad had also gone back to the drawing board, taking the mike at the U-19 Cooch Behar tournament to get some valuable match practice.

Overall, Indian commentary is looking up, a fact that makes Puri very happy. Puri also denied rumours that DD Sports was looking to get Ruby Bhatia on board, stating instead that veterans like Anju Mahendru or Neena Gupta with their historic cricketing ties would probably be approached, but only in the next year or so. As for the DD Sports commentary team, their next international assignment would be the Test series between the women cricket teams of India and New Zealand in November, which would further establish their claims to being a world-class outfit.

With inputs from PTI

Zohra and Zoya clash

by Zeenat Zia

The old lady is in a rage. Fuming red like a chilli appearing on Tandoori Nights, Zohra Sehgal, the grand old dame of Indian cinema (or "Bollywood" as Indian cinema is often known as) went public with her spat with Zoya Akhtar. In her interview on Zee TV's Zay Zomething!, the octogenarian Sehgal who once famously declared that it was s3x that was the secret of her life, spoke out on how she had been asked to play a "great-grandmother" in Akhtar's upcoming film, as yet untitled. "Am I that old that she asks me to play a par-daadi?" asked Sehgal, who has had tremendous success as a grandmother who usually turns up at reel-life weddings from Delhi to London to feature in ritual and celebratory dancing. The veteran of such films like Dil Se (in which she had an item number to a Rahman song) and Bend it like Beckham was also miffed at Zoya Akhtar deciding to drop a proposed solo dance number which had been the reason why Sehgal consented to reading the script in the first place.

Akhtar could not be reached for comment, but brother Farhan who is assisting her on the film did not deny the allegations by the senior artiste. Farhan claimed that Zoya had instead offered extensive and additional wedding scenes to placate Sehgal. Sehgal, however, has had enough. "I've taken their **** so far because of Javed, but no more", referring to her well-known affection for Zoya's father Javed whom she often helped to burp when he was a baby. So what will the two ladies do in this filmi catfight? Watch this space for more on this story and other spicy Bollywood gossip!

Jest like that!

Q: What would Sachin like his image to be like after the Ferrari controversy?

A: Squeaky Clean!
Contributed by Faux Muddler

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