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Bonding over the Game

Friday, April 13, 2018

A unique aspect of IPL fandoms is the combination of rivalry and camaraderie that fans showcase while watching their favourite teams, says K Raj

An upmarket lounge bar in Navi Mumbai. The first match of IPL2018 is being projected on a big screen. The lounge area is about three-quarters full. Most patrons range between the mid-20s to mid-40s. The majority are men, but there is a sprinkling of women cricket enthusiasts as well.

From the reactions of the crowd it is evident that most are Mumbai Indians (MI) supporters, understandably so. But like one television commentator mentions as the camera pans across the crowds at Wankhede stadium, there is a fair sprinkling of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) fans. The situation is quite similar in the lounge bar.

Chasing a target of 165 runs, CSK lose three early wickets and their captain, MS Dhoni—MSD to fans—walks in to play. The CSK fans, both at the stadium and at the lounge bar cheer at the sight of their hero at the crease. Dhoni has the reputation as the finest finisher in white ball cricket, a reputation he has earned by performing near impossible feats for over a decade-and-a-half.

While the MI supporters are perked up because of the early wickets, they are also quietly anxious about what MSD will do. MI captain Rohit Sharma asks a rookie leg spinner Mayank Markande to bowl at the legend.

“You watch, MSD will kill him,” a CSK supporter—who later identifies himself as Vishal Vasvani—proclaims. The MI contingent just glares at Vasvani and keeps quiet. Then, the young spinner weaves a web of magic and in no time dismisses three CSK batsmen, including the legendary MSD. It seems as if CSK is crashing to a big defeat and the MI contingent at the lounge bar finds its voice again and are happily ribbing the outnumbered CSK supporters.

Then, as it often happens in T-20 cricket, the situation turns on its head in a matter of three overs. CSK’s West Indian import Dwayne Bravo blasts the MI bowlers out of the park for a series of sixers. In the lounge bar, Bravo’s every shot is accompanied by cheers from the CSK group, while the MI guys are cursing the bowlers. An injured Kedar Jadhav of CSK, who can hardly walk, takes CSK home with a six and four. The MI contingent is left speechless.

But as the match ends, the drinks flow and good-natured banter continues. The rivalry between the groups is forgotten and conversations across tables discuss the ifs and buts of the game.

Similar scenes are being repeated across countless homes, bars, clubs, restaurants and wherever people can assemble to watch the biggest sports extravaganza in India—the Indian Premier League. And the beauty is that there might be rivalry, but there is no malice—fans are bonding over cricket.

When IPL was first conceived, many skeptics thought it would be a non-starter. After all, club or franchise-based fandoms—common across the world in sports like football, basketball, baseball and rugby—did not exist in India. The only exception was Kolkatta where fans of Mohan Bagan, East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting would go delirious if their teams did well.

The doubts were not misplaced. Indian cricket fans were essentially fans of the Indian cricket team. The more diehard among them follow and cheer their state team’s performances in domestic tournaments in Ranji Trophy. But their miniscule numbers were evident from the empty stadia that the tournament played out to.

The closest cricket had come to club-based fandom in India was in the pre-Independence days of the Quadrangular and Pentangular matches. And since these teams were community specific—Hindus, Muslims, Parsis and so on—the enthusiasms of the fans often turned ugly, one reason why Mahatma Gandhi wanted the tournament scrapped.

As the 11th edition of IPL begins, clearly skeptics have been proven wrong. Each franchise has created strong fandoms. In his book, Eleven Gods and a Billion Indians, here is how Boria Majumdar describes the scenes in Kolkatta after the local IPL team—Kolkatta Knight Riders—won the trophy for the first time.

“Central Kolkatta that night was a sight to behold—people on motorbikes and in cars with KKR flags, running havoc all over the city. It was no less than India winning the World Cup. As the words Korbo, Lorbo Jeetbo Re (the team’s theme song) reverberated through the air, it was borne that IPL had indeed captured the fan’s imagination in a manner never seen before.”

The interesting part is that this fandom is not nativist. Take Vasvani, who was quoted earlier, for example. Here is what he has to say, “I am from Mumbai and I always support MI, except when they play Chennai or Bengaluru. Why? Well Chennai has Dhoni and RCB (Royal Challengers Bangalore) has Virat Kohli and I am a great fan of both these guys.”

It is to be noted that both Dhoni and Kohli are not natives to the city franchises they represent and captain. Dhoni is an import from Jharkhand and Kohli from Delhi. If further proof is needed that IPL fandom is not nativist, it should be remembered that the victory celebrations in Kolkatta that Majumdar describes in his book, came under the captaincy of another import from Delhi—Gautam Gambhir—who in fact had replaced the local Kolkatta icon Sourav Ganguly as captain.

The Board of Cricket for Control in India (BCCI), the game’s apex body, has been quick to cash in on this phenomenon of fandoms without malice and for the last few years have been organising ‘IPL Fan Parks’ across the country. The Fan Parks have matches being projected on giant screens, live music and stalls for food, beverages and team merchandise. Entry to these Fan Parks is free on a first-come-first-served basis. This year BCCI has organised 36 Fan Parks from cities as diverse as Kullu in the north to Tirunelveli in south, Agartala in the east and Rajkot in the west. IPL 2017 had over three lakh fans thronging these fan parks and the numbers are expected to go up this year.

­If you want to experience this bonding over the game check out our listing of various restaurants and bars offering excellent deals.

IPL specials
Rikē - Terrace Bar & Grill
Beer buckets and a summer menu

Rikē - Terrace Bar & Grill, Andheri, introduces a summer special menu, and offers on beer buckets to quench your thirst while you cheer loud for your favourite team! Chug some beers and enjoy Beer buckets at Rs 499 for four pints and Rs 699 for six pints.

Dig into Mexican specials like Spicy Texas Fries, Ranchero Chicken Tacos and more.

Sip on some Frozen Margaritas or good ol' fashioned Cocktails. So bring along some buddies and get ready to cheer.  

What IPL screening with offers
Where Rikē - Terrace Bar & Grill, Dream Works, C18, Dalia Estate, Off Andheri Link Road, Veera Desai Road,Andheri West
When Every day, during matches
Contact +91 9167469032

Live screening with prediction games, 'pay less drink more'

Blanco, Bandra, has curated an out-of-the-box prediction game during match hours!

Predict the toss and win a free beer or wine. Predict the score and get a 20% off on the bill. What's more? Get a Cocktail Pitcher at just Rs 999 to keep you at the edge of your seat chanting the name of the team you are rooting for! And if you like chugging beers or downing shots with your friends, checkout the ‘pay less, drink more’ menu where the more you drink, the less you pay!

What IPL screening with offers
Where Blanco, Bandra, Ground Floor, Ganga Jamuna Block, 14th Road, Linking Road, Bandra West
Contact 9833448880 / 9819243177

Farzi Café

Farzi Café has exciting offers at all its outlets. The Man of the Match offers at Rs 999 gives you unlimited cocktails or unlimited domestic spirits. This offer is on throughout the match. They also have complimentary welcome shots for all the fans wearing jerseys of their favorite team playing on a particular day.

At Kamala Mills, Farzi Café has a special treat in store on April 14 (9.30 p.m. onwards) with DJ Amann. One of the most recognised names on the party scene, his genre of music is commercial and house music. In 2013 he was nominated for the best DJ in India Award. A resident DJ of ‘Tote on the Turf’ and IPL Sahara Pune Warriors cricket team, DJ Amann knows how to keep the audiences enthralled to his music.

When Until the end of season
Where Farzi Cafe, All Outlets (Oberoi Mall, Kamala Mills & High Street Phoenix)
What Rs 999/- Unlimited Cocktails Offer (IPL SPECIAL OFFER) or Rs 999/- Unlimited Domestic Spirits Offer
Contact 8433942801/ 7400066825/ 7400091034

DJ AMANN Live at Farzi Cafe; April 14, 9.30 pm
Entry Free

The Boston Butt
The Boston Butt will be serving unlimited bottomless drinks at just Rs 629++ per inning. The catch here is that you can only order another drink once you finish the first one. You may even order one round of Nachos, Bloom Bread and House Fries at a special price of Rs 629++ to go along with your drinks. The drinks offer is valid to one inning of a particular match only; the offer ends as soon as the innings do. To avail the drink offer in the next inning one will have to do a top-up of Rs 629++.

The Boston Butt is India’s first Smokery, Charcuterie Bar Cafe. They are influenced by AmeSmokers, particularly early from Texas, Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana and have imported customized grilles/ smokers from USA. Their chefs constantly monitor the smokers maintaining temperatures during the entire cooking process.  The bacon is cured and smoked in-house along with sausages, bread, nachos, tacos, desserts, ice creams, kefir probiotic beverages, phosphate sodas--all made in-house.

What Unlimited drinks at Rs 629++ (limited to p er inning of a match)
Where 1st-floor Rampart Row 30 K Dubash Marg Opp. Max Mueller Bhavan, Near Rhythm House and Jehangir Art Gallery, Kalaghoda, Fort
Contact 022 - 69470000 / +9188790 24443

Be A sport!
Sing along

If IPL mania isn’t enough for you, pop in to Hello Guppy every Thursday for their newly-introduced property, Hello Karaoke, from 7.30 pm onwards.

From new age hip-hop to old school rock, there is a tune for everyone. DJ Glynis will be hosting the evening and will regale the guests with her singing. Those who want to bring their inner talent to the forefront can join in and sing their favourite tunes. That’s not all! Four of the best singers will win gift vouchers that they can redeem during their next visit to Hello Guppy.

What’s more, guests who visit the restaurant on Thursday evenings can avail of great deals on beer and sangria. A bucket of select beer brands will be available for Rs 769, exclusive of taxes. Those who prefer sangria can enjoy a pitcher (or several!) for Rs. 1099, exclusive of taxes. Entry to Hello Karaoke is completely free.

What Hello Karaoke
Where Ground Floor, Godrej-BKC, G-Block, BKC, Bandra (East)
Contact +91 22 26534720/ +91 7777049773
Hours All-day dining: 12 noon to 6:00 pm
Dinner 6:00 pm to 12:30 am, The venue shuts at 1:00 a.m.

Dance with DJ Cyrus

Start off your weekend on the right “foot” at Andheri’s newest party destination. Today, on April 13, rave to the finest tunes of Bollywood Commercial with DJ Cyrus. Spinning at Tipsy Gypsy, the legendary DJ promises to set your night on fire!

Where Tipsy Gypsy, Level One, Fun Republic Mall, Off New Link Road, Veera Desai Area, Mumbai
When April 13, 9 pm onward
Contact +91 7021857037

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