While the format of Indian Premiere League (IPL) remains the same, what’s new this season, is the fact that for the first time, the tournament will be played in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. About 19 matches would be played in UAE and that’s something, anchor Archana Vijaya is really looking forward to. “Although, I would have preferred it to happen to India, since it’s the Indian Premiere League, I think this will be a very good opportunity for IPL fans in Dubai to experience it live. I think it will be fun, but considering Dubai is very hot, it’s going to be difficult.” Gaurav Kapur also echoes Vijaya’s sentiments, and adds, “India is equally hot, especially places like Chennai or even Mumbai, so it’s all right. But that’s just during the afternoon games, because the heat is pretty bearable during the evening.”
The rest of the matches will be played in India.
This is the seventh season in a row with Sameer Kocchar as one of the anchors, and he’s glad he’s been able to be a part of a tournament like IPL. “This is the only project of my life which I’ve carried on for seven years at a stretch. I can’t explain how wonderful it is to be there amidst the
crowds, and share a platform with great cricketers like Kapil Dev or Ravi Shastri,” says Kocchar.
But while the male anchors have remained the same every season, the female anchors have been changing. Last year saw Karishma Kotak and Rochelle Maria Rao on board. This year Archana Vijaya and Shibani Dandekar make a comeback.
Says Vijaya, “Everyone is talking about my comeback, but I don’t feel I went anywhere because last IPL, I was just as busy doing events for the IPL teams, so I never felt I went away.” As for Shibani Dandekar, this is the third time that she’s a part the tournament though she thinks it’s completely a creative decision to have different female anchors each season. “It’s a creative call, it’s something that the channel and people associated with IPL decide. There’s a glamour quotient attached to it, so if they feel creative changes are necessary, they get new anchors. But I’m just more than happy to jump in for this season,” says Dandekar.
Bringing it all together
Just as the teams shuffle every year at the auction, it requires the anchors to keep themselves updated with each detail and make sure they’ve done their research. “There’s a lot of study which goes into it in terms of understanding what happened in each game, knowing the aggregates and averages, and who’s been the key player in each game. A lot of people ask me if we use a teleprompter, but you can’t use a teleprompter for something like an IPL,” says Kocchar.
The preparations usually starts a month in advance, in terms of the research. “We sit down with the crew, decide on the content, look, and everything. But, for me, it started early, because I was involved with the auctions, and before that at the IPL workshop in Singapore,” explains Kapur.
The men will be seen suiting up again, and the ladies will get the glamour quotient high with a mix of various kinds of outfits, not limiting themselves to a particular style. But it’s also beyond just looking good. Dandekar adds, “When people talk about the glamour quotient involved, which I’m not denying there is, there’s also a lot of hard work. So that we’re spontaneous, we need to know a lot of things, especially when we are talking to experts and players.”
Vijaya echoes the opinion adding that the tough schedule is worth it, if you just enjoy being there.
The language is a huge problem sometimes. To bring in a mix of Hindi and English is the key. “For instance, down South, a majority of people speak in English, but then if you speak too much in English, then you aren’t catering to the audience in the North. So, you have to keep a healthy mix of both languages,” says Kocchar. But, they try to bring in that mix, says Kapur and adds, “We’re comfortable with Hindi, because both Sameer and I have grown up in Delhi, and I’ve done a lot of Hindi theatre in my college days.” But, the fact that it’s live television is also one of the major challenges which sometimes makes an anchor more of a crisis manager. He adds, “I was very scared to go live in season one. In case there are any last minute delays, you have to learn to keep the audience engrossed. Though you do have the earpiece and the director guiding you in terms of how much time there is to throw to a commercial break or to a toss, I still have butterflies in the stomach, and that I think needs to be there always.” What scares Kapur is something else though. “The challenge is not to be complacent. When it’s live, there are a lot of unpredictable things, but when you’ve done it for so many years,even with the unexpected, you sort of know what to expect. And since I started my career with live radio, the chance of saying something inappropriate on air isn’t there now. Being live is more fun. When it’s recorded, I tend to get sleepy,” laughs Kapur.
For Dandekar, IPL familiarised her more with the T-20 format, but otherwise she’s always been a cricket fanatic since childhood, while Vijaya adds, “I guess with time, you evolve and get more confident to make it look more natural.” But, at the end of it, it’s more of a mental pressure than physical one. “There’s just you sometimes addressing millions of viewers, which leads to the stress of doing well. The idea is to not get exhausted with the pressure, mentally,” expresses Kapur.
Looking forward to this season
Sameer Kocchar has recently played for CCL, wherein he was the opening batsman for the Mumbai Heroes because of which he now has a better understanding of the game and more love for it. This season, he’s looking forward to understanding the dynamics and shots better. For Archana Vijaya, it would be interesting to see how the changes in the teams prove to be. “All the teams have been swapped and they’re blazing with renewed energy. It would be interesting to see if all the permutations-combinations and strategies made on the auction table actually pay off,” says the anchor.
Despite battling the rough weather, hectic schedules, et all of that, it’s certainly the adrenaline, which keeps these anchors going! All set to go out there, their preparations begin in full swing this week!