IPL will ensure that Brand Tendulkar gets an extended life

The Brand Tendulkar will get a further lift with the maestro being part of IPL-4 © Getty Images

 

By Madan Mohan

 

For a new era. An era of Indian cricket sans Sachin Tendulkar. Arguably a new era of cricket, even, given the tremendous influence he’s exerted on the game and the popularity he’s enjoyed.

 

It is not in the immediate future, but it’s imminent. We don’t know just what Tendulkar will do and when he’ll choose his time. But given his age and given that he’s conquered the one peak that had eluded him for so long, it is likely a matter of time before he quits. Then what?

 

Sachin Tendulkar and AR Rahman were the shining stars of ’90s India and benefited most from the transformed economic climate in the country. It was when marketing teams finally awoke to the power of a 250 million strong middle class. They looked for icons, for men the nation would collectively idolize and they didn’t have to look far given the rise and rise of both prodigies in that decade. There are, thus, some parallels between them, from a commercial perspective.

 

The respective turning points of their careers, commercially, too were not far apart chronologically. Dil Se and Maa Tujhe Salaam took brand Rahman to dizzying heights. Back-to- back centuries at Sharjah in 1998 along with the blossoming Sachin-Mark Mascarenhas partnership took his endorsement deals to hitherto unthinkable proportions in cricket.  Brian Lara was called cricket’s first superstar, but Tendulkar gave a new meaning to the word.

 

Within a matter of a few years, there was a lot of money to be made in cricket. It is hard to conceive an IPL in a cricket world without Tendulkar, not to say that there are no other players who enjoy a good deal of following. The other cricket boards too sensed the new found potential for big bucks. How this influenced their functioning is not something I’ll go into here. But, the party will soon be over. It’s not yet in the here and now, but it’s lurking in the horizon. What’s the hangover going to be like?

 

If we look at the film music business post-Rahman, it doesn’t make for a pretty picture. Post-Rahman is probably not a good word because he still composes soundtracks and scores for Bollywood films, but his output has surely reduced to a trickle over the last few years as he goes global.

 

Post-Rahman, there’s a huge void in the industry and it’s anybody’s guess when and how that would be filled. There is no more a single voice that everybody wants to hear, people don’t respond to the tunes of one man anymore. Instead, the market is cluttered with several composers, with few making a lasting impression on audiences. Rahman soundtracks sold like hot cakes in the ’90s. But the music release of a film is no longer considered such a big deal.

 

Will cricket follow a similar pattern? History tells us that the bigger they are, the harder they fall and so the market built around Brand Tendulkar is doomed to collapse in a heap. But, it is a little more complicated than that on account of two factors. Over the last few years, Mahendra Singh Dhoni has emerged as a bankable brand and his star must surely be on the ascendancy after being crowned World Cup victor. Whether his appeal will be limited to India or will it also transcend boundaries remains to be seen.

 

Secondly, Tendulkar may well continue in IPL for some time post-retirement. He has many friends in many walks of life in India and they may well persuade him to hang around just to keep the show going. And given his work ethic, it is doubtful if he would be looked at as a liability to his IPL team anytime in the near future. He’s likely to remain good enough to warrant selection on merit for quite some time.

 

That gives Brand Tendulkar an extended life. And some more time within which to ferret out the next pan-cricket superstar on whose shoulders shall rest the weight of big money. Without which sponsors may well brush aside cricket and look for the next big thing.

 

Given how early on in his career Tendulkar was marked out as a future great, though they probably still haven’t found the next Tendulkar. If only money could buy genius, marketing men would sleep tight.

 

(Madan Mohan, a 25-year old CA from Mumbai, is passionate about writing, music and cricket. Writing on cricket is like the icing on the cake)