What’s the Big Deal? IPL Was Always Virtual Reality

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What’s the Big Deal? IPL Was Always Virtual Reality

Illustration: Palak Bansal/Arré

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tar India has announced its plan to livestream the IPL in virtual reality and everyone in India is thinking the same thing – when exactly was the IPL “reality”? It has always felt like virtual reality. With the prevalence of spot-fixing, player shuffling, and team changes going on over the years, the IPL has had a better fictional script than a soppy soap opera on Zee TV. IPL matches are a lot like an Indian marriage: People get together, sing, dance, and have a huge celebration, and all of it is scripted and fixed.

It begins with the once-bombastic opening ceremony. From the Who’s Who of Bollywood in its inaugural years to the Who’s That nobodies of today, the IPL’s reputation has fallen faster than Bitcoin’s value. For the sponsors VIVO, VR is another pointless thing they can stick their name against. VR will allow the viewers to look away from the over-the-top performances, lights, and fireworks so they don’t get cancer of the eyes.
The 360-degree viewing angle could be a game-changer for “cricket enthusiasts”, who can now look at bookies in the stands and the players sneakily signalling from the dugout, all at the same time. Betting is serious business and the advancements in technology are only going to help the viewers get a very real and immersive experience of the cheating going on in the field.

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Who doesn’t want a close-range view of Shah Rukh Khan slapping a security guard for a petty reason? IPL promises action like Bollywood, featuring Bollywood stars, and it never disappoints.

VR also offers hope through the illusion that you’re present at the ground. For Sreesanth, Ajit Chandila, and Ankeet Chavan, it’s the only way they will ever get close to an IPL game again. It’s like having a seat at the stadium, so you can see every nuance of Kohli’s contorted, raging expression when he screams “Bhenchod, madarchod!” Who doesn’t want a close-range view of Shah Rukh Khan slapping a security guard for a petty reason? IPL promises action like Bollywood, featuring Bollywood stars, and it never disappoints.

If the irony around IPL and virtual reality wasn’t already huge enough, they decided to give the project to Hotstar, another entity that seems to be an enemy of reality. Getting Hotstar to work in the first attempt is more challenging than passing the GST Bill in Parliament. Sometimes the feed is so slow, you feel like you are living in 1918 when everyone else has moved on to 3018.

While we love to crib about the IPL, it’s a guilty pleasure that we can’t resist, like diabetes, Arnab Goswami, and WhatsApp forwards. We know it may not be real, but we don’t seem to mind it. If the choice is between watching the Indian team get thrashed in South Africa and the escapism of the IPL, it’s no wonder virtual reality is so popular right now.

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