The 2013 IPL spot-fixing saga was one of the darkest moments in the history of Indian cricket. It put doubts in the minds of millions of cricket lovers all over the country about whether the gentleman’s game was kosher anymore. The entry of huge money and glamour (post-match parties), with the annual T20 bonanza, was questioned by many traditionalists.
As a fallout of the scandal, two-times IPL winner, Chennai Super Kings, led by Team India captain MS Dhoni, was banned in 2015 from competing for two years, along with Rajasthan Royals. But yes, the former came back last year as lions to win the crown again.
Star network, which also owns IPL broadcasting rights, has tied up with well-known film director, Kabir Khan, to craft a five-episode series called Roar of the Lion, which traces the entire unfortunate sequence of events, and focuses more on CSK’s comeback journey.
This 25-minute-per-episode docudrama sees Captain Cool open up as never before. He even admitted that his unflappable demeanour has a flipside; that no one ever thought he too may need a shoulder to cry on, which, let’s face it, everyone requires, however strong they may be.
Several other CSK players (Mathew Hayden and Mohan Sharma) and the administrator also spoke about the tough time they faced back then. But the entire unit rallied around MS and they decided to bounce back with a vengeance.
MS was very clear that for him, integrity was above everything. He went a step further, suggesting that as a cricketer, for him match-fixing was an offence worse than even murder.
Interestingly, MS tries to draw a distinction between spot and match-fixing – the latter can be perpetuated only by a few black sheep, while you require many more players to throw away an entire match.
We have not seen all five episodes, so are not sure if MS has commented on Rajasthan Royals pacer, S. Sreesanth, whose life ban due to the above IPL scandal was recently lifted by the Supreme Court. The latter has taken part in rival network shows such as Bigg Boss and Khatron Ke Khiladi.
While we fully appreciate the import of what MS says, would it not have been better had he spoken in more detail about the entire ownership issue involving Gurunath Meiyappan? He just mentioned it in passing that he was not sure of his exact role.
Also, since Gurunath was the son-in-law of N. Srinivasan, who, apart from owning CSK, was also the BCCI President (he was forced to step aside), a bit more of dwelling would have surely helped. As the entire controversy dragged Team India into the picture as well, the stakes involved were much higher.
Sadly, they tried to brush aside the whole debate by saying that with CSK serving its sentence, it was time to move on. To be fair, Dhoni admitted that they deserved the punishments but he was not sure whether the quantum of it was fair.
A docudrama is ideally supposed to unearth uncomfortable facts, but here this seems to be more an attempt to clean the images of CSK and Dhoni.
Having said that, CSK and Dhoni are much loved; no wonder, ratings of last year’s IPL reached staggering numbers. It was good to note that the team admitted that they were unsure about how the public would react, once they were back. But Chennai stood behind its favourite yellow jersey squad like a rock. The fan footage is clear evidence of the same.
With IPL 2019 all set to start on 23rd March, Hotstar could not have chosen a better time to launch Roar of the Lion. It streams from today (20th March).
Some might question the length of the show, asking whether 5 episodes isn’t too much; but again, loyal CSK and Dhoni fans might want to hear more from their skipper. The poor guy anyway can’t speak much due to strict BCCI contracts. His silence during the above controversy did not earn him any brownie points.
In a calculated move, leveraging on the power of cricket, Hotstar has used this series to start a special paid service named Hotstar VIP, besides its existing premium service. Besides all sports, subscribers can check out upcoming Hotstar originals, blockbuster movies and their favourite TV shows before they are done with their screening time.
In a bid to go beyond its reported 7 lac+ paid subscribers of Hotstar Premium, the network has hugely slashed its subscription rates which were initially priced at Rs 999 per year. You can now watch Hotstar VIP at Rs 365. Subscribers who want to watch premium English content will need to continue with the old premium plans.
We think one rupee a day is a good deal for live sports and cutting edge content.
All said and done, Roar of the Lion is a must-watch for CSK and Dhoni fans, as you get a bird’s eye view of your favourite team.