Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Deconstructing Sidhu

What is it with Navjot Singh Sidhu? How does his mind work? Does it? What I wouldn’t give to crack his skull open just to study the intricate circuitry of his brain (not that I ever passed Biology in school). The skull-cracking would of course have side-benefits.

I chanced on a debate on NDTV India a couple of days ago, a discussion on various cricketing topics with Sidhu as the star “expert”. It was fascinating to watch the silly man leapfrog from one topic to the next without ever spending more than 20 seconds on the subject actually being discussed. Thank to his prolonged ravings, the channel never managed to explore any issues with any depth.

One of the topics, for example, was Wisden’s recent comment that watching Sachin Tendulkar has become a colder experience. (If you want to know more about this controversy, and how the Indian media has merrily blown it up, read this piece by Wisden Asia/Cricinfo editor Sambit Bal.) NDTV’s focus was, roughly speaking, “Has Tendulkar lost his magic?” So what does Mr Sidhu do? After making exactly one, highly dubious observation on Tendulkar (“he is the one cricketer from our country to be universally acknowledged as the best”), he picks on the description of Wisden as a cricketing Bible and commences a long rant about how Wisden can’t be compared with the Bible, the Koran or the Granth Sahib, which are all set in stone and must never be questioned by mortal man. (Where’s Dan Brown when you need him?) The poor anchor had to interrupt and say, “We have to take a short break now, but when we return we’ll hopefully get back to Tendulkar.”

The break was followed by a completely unprovoked thesis (declaimed in Sidhu’s trademark brigadier-general style) on the hegemony of white nations, how the Lords cricket ground is erroneously referred to as the “Mecca of cricket” (by now, religious references had acquired strange and unforeseen prominence on this show) and how cricket would be nothing without the money that pours in from the subcontinent. All true of course, but it had nothing to do with anything. Then, five minutes after blasting Wisden, Sidhu suddenly changed track to gush about what a high-quality magazine it is, and how it shouldn’t be accused of racism. The man has no focus. None.

The infuriating thing about NSS is that he’s still capable of producing the odd remark that’s genuinely entertaining. (On this show, again going off on a tangent, he likened Sehwag to a motorcycle rider performing in a ball of fire: “We all watch, enthralled, because he might die at any time.”) But how much boring nonsense must one sit through to get to that one moment?


  1. Completely unrelated to your post, but I just saw your comment about "Brief Encounter" on my blog. Gosh, you're right! My memory was playing tricks with me. She doesn't even look very Ingrid-like! But I do remember the pasty face of Trevor Howard. That was veddy veddy Brit, daaaaahling!

  2. Saw NSS on Cricket Controversies onver the weekend. He mercilessly attacked journalists, right in the presence of scribes like Aniruddha Bahal! Even Sonali Chander seemed displeased, and curtly asked him what his point was.

    It was a weird moment on Indian TV, NSS was as angry as a rabid dog. LOL.

    I think his inputs have become useless now. Entertainment value- yes, but substance- zero.

  3. I used to think the flamboyance was to make up for his lack of command over English, but then I heard some Hindi interviews and they were equally flowery. It would appear that he actually talks like that.

  4. His grip over the language is quite good. He can talk and talk and talk without saying anything :).
    BTW, other commentators aren't very good either. Rameez Raja is another one without any focus! In the 3rd ODI, he started with "Dhoni should play his normal game". One reckless shot later, he was saying - "He should try and build innings. play cautiously". Where's Boycott?!

  5. Jai,
    Excellent attempt at getting into Siddhu's pants. Ok, his mind. But it's easy to get confused :-)

    I also have one more peeve abt Rameez Raja, which sadly nobody else reports. Could be just me. There is something called as variation and diction when it comes to commentary. Raja has none. With his monotonous tone, he makes me go sleep. I kid you not. Anyone else here who gets similar dozes ?
    Cricket commentary is going to the dogs. I shudder to think, what will happen when Harsha retires. After all, how much entertaining it is to watch cricket with mute ON & irritating popups which occupy ~30% of screen space.
    I better go and read Nirmal Shekhar's sports articles on Hindu. People, read him if you haven't. This guys has excellent command on the language and an amazing depth of sports history. What's more amazing, writes as good on tennis, F1 for that matter any sport. For a sample read his superb take on the Dravid v/s Tendulkar debate.

  6. NSS is the king of commentary. I don't know of a better entertainer coming out of the comentary box and straight into the expert panel of NDTV. Does he talk sense, well most of the times NOOOO! But funny he is!

    Incidently, I wouldn't bank on NDTV Profit for investing tips. You never know where their experts come from.

  7. Absolute bosh - if Sidhu is funny, Asa Ram Bapu is the Sultan of Comedy. NSS is as boring and as perverse and as anti-women as the party he belongs to - the BJP. And what are these absolutely spineless jounos doing trying desperately to hang on to saying nothing? And look at this absolutely un-self-repecting anchor like Sonali Chander taking all this insult with a broad smile. You couldn't degrade Cricket any further than by co-opting Cyrus Bharuc has of the world. Cricket is reduced to a tragic farce. No wnder we are where we are because of such obnoxious TV charades. A thousand shame on those who find any fun in Sidhu's ill-c oncealed religious pravachans and their open-mouthed receptionists such as Sonali Chander and her ilk. The pity of it, NDTV. Oh, the pity of it all!

  8. U ve gone mad. NSS is gr8, so is sonali chander. she has got awesome looks, smile & voice. NDTV India, 24*7, profit rocks !!

  9. i enjoyed this discussion more than the one on TV!

  10. mr jai arjun,
    i wonder wht inspired u to be a journalist ???
    i think u're in d wrong field..
    u're extremely lucky to have survived in d field for so long after consistently writing crap n nonsense..
    it's guyz like you who actually know how to take full misuse of the freedom of expression we have
    and probably that's why,the world of indian journalism is in such a sorry state today..

  11. Last week i saw Siddhu,s comments n NDTV, by the way who the hell is he to comment about DADA, let him try look at himself b4 talking about others, wat the f is SIDHUISM, sonali is having a tough time with this half baked crack

  12. Navjot singh is overrated and lots of us are surprised that his cheap jokes, narrow minded analysis and being loud and boorish behaviour is being lauded. In a studio he NEVER ever allows any one else to speak. Even when it is someone else's turn to talk & the person is talking Sidhu cuts across rudely to give his stupid view point. It looks as if Siddhu feels his view is the only and best view in the studio or while commenting and the public has to listen to it no matter what.

    Let us take a recent instance after the sydney test. His comments that if Steve Bucknor comes to Bombay his Chaddi will be removed and he will be left to walk Naked.....he will be killed etc comes in a very bad taste. He was speaking like a racist on that occassion and it was distasteful and as Indians wew were ashamed when he passed these comments and asked the studio audience to clap.

    If you have Ajay Jadeja in the studio with Sidhu you can see the difference immediately with Jadeja's thoughtful, controlled and good analytical opinion & comments. Sidhu comes out pretty ordinary and stupid. Sidhu is too emotional and agressive like when he physically assaulted and killed a 65 year old and got away scot free and he has not changed. He is pathetic on the laughter show. His one liners are cheap and nonsense. He is pompous, arrogant and a total ass. People should learn to call a spade a spade and in Sidhu’s case a pathetic crack pot. Take him off the TV & air waves please.

  13. :-) that is the reason he judges comedy shows!