A Real Interview With the Fake IPL Player

40 Comments

Before we start, a few messages from your sponsor. Namely me.

The official launch of my book ‘May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss’ will be at Casuarina Hall, in India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road on March 5th, 2010 (High tea at 6.30pm followed by event at 7pm).

Everyone is invited. Please do plan to attend.

There will be another event in Kolkata whose date has not been finalized yet. Watch this space and the Facebook group for this blog for details.

Meanwhile the book got two media mentions, one in DNA India and one in Deccan Chronicle to go along with the Tehelka one. Which is good.

Finally, the spectacularly talented Sidin Vadukut’s book Dork releases this month from Penguin and you are requested to hop over here and read more about it. This is one book I am looking forward to read.

Now coming to the main program.

The Fake IPL Player (henceforth to be known as FIP) needs no introduction. But I will give a brief one nonetheless.

Last year during the Indian Premier League, a blog suddenly appeared that was purportedly written by a fringe ‘anonymous’ player of one of the IPL’s most popular franchises. Giving a warts-and-all, brutally irreverent, fly’s eyes view of the inner workings of a doomed team and liberally peppered with salacious accounts of the off-field activities of our superstars (whose actual identities were hidden behind easily-guessable monikers –a few of which like Kaan Molu and Appam Chutiya have since become part of our vocabulary)  the FIP became a viral Internet phenomenon.

Who was this FIP? Was he a disgruntled player? Was it a publicity gimmick, stage-managed from behind?  More importantly was this the truth? Or like everything else we are told, the ardh-satya?

Whatever or whoever he be, The FIP soon became water-cooler talk in every office where cricket is discussed as people poured over screens dissecting the allusions to real players and events. Certain players were suspected to to be the sinister blogger, a newspaper even broke the so-called identity of FIP and then retracted,  the said franchise came up with an official statement on their blog, and as the FIP’s posts sounded realistically accurate, confusion became more confounded. The world waited eagerly till the end of the tournament, not just because it was overtly long but because FIP promised to reveal his identity only then.

He did. Well not really. In a video which showed his shadow, the FIP confessed to not being an actual player.

Then who was he?

Just a Indian cricket fan, but not an ordinary one.

Somebody special who during “the faceless journey of life”,  happened “to get intimately exposed to cricket. From the Kings of Bollywood to the pimps of cricket and vice-versa”, an experience that converted him into “an insider, the the fly on the wall, the ghost in the darkness.”

He left with a promise.

Being intimately involved, I think I saw a lot more happening that most people saw on TV. I saw so much. It will probably take me a book or two to spill it all in. But if I actually write a book, I will be history even if my book is not. Still, it is a story that has to be told.”

Well the FIP is back to make history. With his book ‘ The Gamechangers’  being brought out by Harper Collins. And to tell you more is the man himself in his first ever interview.

In case you are wondering, this interview with me  is not due to the fact that we are both share the publisher. As some of you may know, I won the Indiblog of the Year at the Indibloggies. Now it is normally the tradition that the winner is interviewed. However Debashish, the administrator of the award,  felt that since I had been interviewed after winning the same award before it would be better that we did an interview of someone else. And FIP, the winner for Indibloggies Sports Blog of the Year, was the obvious choice.

Enough talk. Silence.  Because here he is. The Fake IPL Player. For the first time since he stopped blogging.

Q. What led you to start the FIP blog? Was it something that you had wanted to do for long or was it something you thought of one fine day on an impulse?

The blog itself was a spur of the moment thing. What happened was, over the years, I had collected a bagful of juicy stories which I sometimes shared with my close friends. For obvious reasons, they loved them. One evening, a few days before I left for South Africa, we were sitting around, drinking beer, me and three other friends, when one of them suggested that I put the stuff out on a blog so they can enjoy the stories in real time. I said cool. It was supposed to be a dirty little black book between just the four of us. I never thought of making it ‘Private’ probably because I never expected anybody to find out about it.

But, I do remember thinking about how to make it more interesting than just a discussion board. I thought about Fakesteve and ‘War for news’. And, coincidentally, I watched the movie ‘Wag the dog’ on the flight to Jo’burg. The Fake IPL Player persona was, in some ways, influenced by all three.

Q: People start blogs and struggle to get noticed. How did you manage to create a readership so quick? More specifically, how did an initial set of people even come to know that there was this delightfully “evil” blog called the FIP?

To be honest, I have no frickin’ clue how it got out. For the first few days, it was just the four of us having fun on the blog. Then, one fine day I woke up to see 5 or 6 guys not known to me who had signed up as Followers. And several others who had started commenting on the blog. I asked my friends if they had talked about it to anyone and they all said ‘No’. I have a feeling though that at least one of them would have told somebody. [At the time I felt differently about it, but now I am not complaining ;-)] By the end of the day, the Follower count had reached double figures. I was a bit worried then. I texted the most sensible guy in our group and asked him if I should continue. His response was ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’. So I continued. A couple of days later, Cricinfo put it on their home page. I remember I was on my way to Kingsmead for the KKR Vs King’s XI game when my friend messaged me saying that the blog was on Cricinfo home page. By the time I returned to my hotel, the Follower count was 150. Eventually, it reached almost 9000. I can’t stop laughing every time I remember how scared I was when it had reached 15.

Cricinfo got to know about it very early. My guess is that either they chanced upon it accidentally or one of the earliest finders may have posted it on their facebook wall or something. I don’t know. But, I think they were amongst the first to know. They may have monitored it for a couple of days to confirm whether the stuff being written was true or not. Once they were satisfied, they probably put it up. After that, it just took off.

Q: Was it all a work of fiction or was it what film-makers call “based on facts”? If it was, did you have a source inside the team or inside the press corps?

I stand by the disclaimer on the blog, “All characters in the blog are fictitious. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental and unintentional.”

Q: Were you ever bothered about the ethics behind maintaining the ruse of being an actual IPL player (I am going by the video you put up where you talked about merely being an avid cricket lover), which if taken seriously might lead to witch-hunts inside the team and ultimately to innocent players being put under a cloud? Or did you consider the use of the word “Fake” in “Fake IPL Player” enough of a disclaimer, even though the principal appeal of the blog did come from people perceiving it to be real?

I always ensured that I gave enough clues that would tell the management who I could or could not be. I must confess that during the initial days, when the blog was still private, I was a bit careless on that front. But once it got popular and I decided to continue it, I edited out some of the earlier indiscretions and made sure I wrote stuff that wouldn’t put any particular player under the scanner. There certainly was a witch-hunt on and I followed it closely, but I was sure that no innocent player would pay a price for the blog. I trusted the team management with at least a quarter of a brain not to do something that stupid.

I was concerned when Aakash and Bangar were sent back. I stopped blogging for a couple of days until I got a confirmation from none other than Aakash himself that it wasn’t because of the blog.

To correct your question just a wee bit, while I have always been an avid cricket follower, over the last ten years or so I have had opportunities to be a little more than ‘merely an avid cricket follower’ and I think something to that effect was mentioned in the video post as well. But, you are right, I did think that the word ‘Fake’ in the name absolved me a bit.

Q: Will you ever reveal your identity? If not, why?

I don’t know about ‘ever’, but at the moment I am quite happy in anonymity.

A couple of years ago, I met this fascinating man in Paris. He was extremely well read and knowledgeable, but other than that he seemed like a regular, middle aged guy with a regular job at a French Football Club. Nothing out of the ordinary. He invited me to spend a weekend at his upcountry home with his wife and three kids. When I went there I realised that his upcountry home was actually a chateaux, he was a billionaire and part-owner of the club.  I asked him how and why he keeps such a low profile. His response was ‘vivre cache pour vivre heureux’, which means ‘to lead a hidden life is to lead a happy life’.

Q: What led you to suddenly backtrack from revealing your identity?
There was a chance that my identity would put some players I know well in a bit of a pickle. When I thought of it I didn’t feel right about putting them in an awkward situation for no fault of theirs.

Q: Do you read other blogs? If you do, which ones?

My favourite blog is thevigilidiot.com This guy is just hilarious. I actually watched Kurbaan after reading his review to see how mind-numbingly inane it could possibly be.

The other blog I love is the Inclusive Planet blog (http://inclusiveplanet.wordpress.com/). Inclusive Planet is an organisation that provides services to the disabled sector and on their blog people with physical disabilities from all over the world share their experiences. The best part about it is that you hardly ever find any sympathy-seeking sob stories there. They are intelligent, evocative, well-written and inspiring stories. Personally, through this blog I have learnt a lot about a community that I understood very little about earlier. On the blog, read jbarath’s and Gidi Ahronovich’s posts.

I enjoy a couple of travel blogs. Janchipchase.com is the blog of the Nokia head of design. He captures the world with pictures and his acute ethnographic observations which others would normally miss. Then, there’s this interesting little blog of this IT sales guy from the land of Appam Chutiya who lives in Europe and blogs about his experiences. bottomofheart.blogspot.com

I like Cricinfo’s Page 2. They have some funny writers on their panel. Jamie Alter, Anand Ramachandran, Andrew Hughes, Nishi Narain, George Benoy they’re all quite good.

Prem Panicker’s twitter feed is another favourite and occasionally I visit ‘Cricket with Balls’.

Who has been your favorite Knight Rider player? Who do you think shouldn’t have been in the team?

My favourite Knight Rider? Well, there are so many.

Chris Gayle is great company. In fact, I think, Gayle and Gibbs are the funniest cricketers in the world. Although, the funniest guy one can ever spend an evening with is David Lloyd. He should have been coach of KKR, to be honest. They would have still lost all their games, but at least they would have laughed their way to the bottom of the table.

Another favourite Knight Rider would be John Buchanan’s laptop. For the whole month it kept him hypnotised like a nubile nymphet doing a strip tease. Since he was mostly distracted by the raging sexual energy of his laptop, players could afford to breathe.

Who, I think, shouldn’t have been in the team? Well, don’t we all know that the fish starts stinking from its head?

Q: Where does FIP go from here? Will he come back this IPL season? Tell us about the book.

My book ‘The Gamechangers’, which I have been writing for the last six months, is due for release in February. It tells everything that the blog didn’t or couldn’t. I am very excited about it.

About the blog, well, I still don’t know how close I will be to the action in Season 3. So, it’s a little hazy on that front.

Q: Do you think your book will sell more due to the buzz/controversy created by the blog? Also do you anticipate any legal actions (defamation etc) being taken against you by BCCI when you reveal yourself at the launch of the book?

I don’t know about whether the book will sell more due to the blog or not, but I know for a fact that the book would never have happened if it weren’t for the blog. If it wasn’t for the blog, the folks at Harper Collins wouldn’t have thought of me as anything more than a horse’s ass.

Q: Any words for your fans?

To those who followed my blog and commented on it, a big Thank you. You really kept me on my toes.

During the blogging experience, I realised how harmful public adulation can be to one’s character. Words like ‘You Rock’, ‘Genius’, ‘Dude’ can make you bloat up with pride and ego. The result is almost always a crappy post that would get the same guys to prick the balloon with a pin and cut you down to size. I think the followers of the blog balanced the bouquets and brickbats very well and my sincere thanks for the same. I hope they will support my book too.

Also, 50% of the blog’s success was due to the comments. There were many people who’d come to the blog to read the comments. Some of them were very funny.

Thank you for your time. Here is wishing you a whole DLF maximums of Citi moments of success for The Gamechangers.

[Crossposted here]

Advertisements

40 thoughts on “A Real Interview With the Fake IPL Player

  1. FIP was sensational. and the comments section was hilarious too. as a great man once said- “even negative publicity is publicity after all”.
    i’m glad for FIP’s book and will definitely read it. in fact both GB and FIP looks like a blog-fairy-tale to me. professional from totally different genre starting a blog for fun and bagging a book contract from Harper Collins. how cool is that?
    cheers to both FIP and GB :mrgreen:

  2. Great scoop GB! Finally the air is clear about you and FIP being two different people. Like when Sharib publicly hugged Toshi on Voice of India.

  3. What? No event in Mumbai? That’s plain unfair; there’s a big number of your fans in this city I’ll have you know!
    Btw is the book going to be available on Flipkart? I checked, but it does not seem to be listed yet. Do try to see if your publishers can manage that.

  4. GB, Come-on .. Why no event in Mumbai ?? Its the most populous city in the whole damn world ..
    Sincere request to you and Harper Collins .. Please do organize the event here too … Really looking forward to it ..

  5. Dude, You Rock!

    Okay, seriously, this is an excelllent post. FIP has been he most sensational thing in cricket after dada taking off his shirt. Looking forward to his book. And your too, all the best for the launch. Will ty to be thr at IHC.

  6. My guess is FIP must be a white guy who know the innerworkings of indian culture and part of KKR. Indian cricketers do not have that much command on english language. Real blog is CWB. Go read!. http://www.cricketwithballs.com. Jrod rocks!.

    FIP had few good posts initially after that it was meh!. As long as he was giving real news it was interesting and after that he ran out of ideas and cursing to be funny was not working that much.

    FIP nick naming based on their behaviour was good one. FIP hit the top but tough to maintain that level and expectation in every post.

  7. @alex

    What an observation – a white guy who comes up with names like Appam Chutiya, Buddhiman Baba, etc. Didn’t you hear the silhouette monologue of FIP – he sounds very Indian. In fact he is a bong to the core … and I am a little saddened that he didn’t turn out to be Greatbong himself.

  8. oh no,it’s friday on 5th of march and i am in night shift. day time is my sleeping time, but still i will try to be in IHC for book launch in the hope of some intelligent and funny discussion.

  9. Congratulations for the book! It must be an amazing feeling to reach this juncture.

    I must confess this is the first time that I did not like a post on this blog. I hope the publishers have forced you to wrote this, because it did not sound like you had asked these questions. I read this interview and went back to the article ‘Faking it’ written by you for Cricbuzz. It seems unlikely that the person who wrote that article, the straight-talking, critical-minded, Great Bong we know and admire had taken this interview.

    I am also surprised this hasn’t been brought up anywhere in the comments section yet.

  10. ‘In fact both GB and FIP looks like a blog-fairy-tale to me. professional from totally different genre starting a blog for fun and bagging a book contract from Harper Collins.’

    Allow me to disagree. FIP attained stardom through cowardice, in essence using his anonymity to make scandalous accusations against players. This is the cheapest and easiest way to popularity since people, of all intellectual abilities, lap up scandal because after all what is more exciting than salaciousness of the who-is-sleeping-around type. I do not know who is on the legal team of Harper Collins but they be better be solid because taking ‘pseudonyms’ wont be legal protection when libel suits are filed, for instance if accusations of paedophilia/adultery made in the FIP blog are repeated in the blog. Fans of FIP may point to his humor but people did not read FIP for his wit but because of the sordid revelations made in it, all of which we are now told are imaginary.

    In contrast, GB is what he is because he has built his reputation through humor, sarcasm and incisive analysis, performed at a consistently high level for over five years. He has never taken recourse to getting eyeballs by making unfounded accusations under the cover of protecting to be an insider. This is what distinguishes from FIP.

    FIP as a blog, minus the allusions to scandal, is most ordinary and I have always considered him to be a Greatbong-wannabe. When people were conjecturing that GB was FIP, I was silently hoping that would not be the case since I would then lose all respect for GB. Fortunately, my respect is intact.

  11. Alex- “My guess is FIP must be a white guy who know the innerworkings of indian culture and part of KKR.”

    GB himself is a white guy. The Calcutta summers just made his hands and face brown. But if you would have had the opportunity of seeing him in the shower, you would have seen just how tan lines work. His chest is like the Irish. His stomach is like the Brits- red. His butt is like the germans. From waist downwards, he is Latina white. The soles of his feet are however nigga. His heart is Bengali.

    He once ran into a naked Bipasha Basu and Rakhi Sawant in a Maryland spa. They all had a look of shock and awe on their faces- not because they were naked, but the common tattoo that they all had brandished on them in dark blue ink- “May I Hebb your attention Please?”

  12. Rishi Khujur is a white guy with tons of freckles on his body. Hujur has so many moles on his body that he has to see a dermatologist every month. Bengal Voice is red- like the red soil of Birbhum in Bengal. Thallassa is of the same color as the Mediterranean Sea. Rohan’s skin is like a chessboard- black and white. Mohan’s is the white complement of Rohan’s. RichandFamous is as yellow as shit. Aditi looks like a race track checkered flag. FIP’s skin is fake- like Micheal Jackson. Yourfan2 is purple- like potassium permanganate. Shan is as black as coal.

    I am blue skinned- like the guy in Avatar. You are f’ing colorless.

  13. Not trying to point fingers – but I remember you did not have much love for FIP. I remember you mentioning that he called some one a “Pedophilia” and would not like to comment on him or something like that. I am a little (not very much) surprised that you did an interview with him and posted on your blog.

  14. I do not know why people are equating GB’s dislike for FIP as a reason enough not to interview the latter.

    None in right mind likes Mugabe ( almost all the international journalists hate him). But that doesn’t mean the journalists won’t be interviewing Mugabe, given chance. You don’t need to be an admirer of a person to interview her.

    FIP, for good or worse, was a big phenomenon last year in Indian sports and deserves an interview! GB interviewng him is actually a welcome break from the trite interviews we are served everyday. So, it is a very good decision of Debashish to ask GB and thanks to GB that he agreed, putting aside his personal views on FIP.

  15. @Dodo: It is not the interview itself that is the problem. What would you say if all the people who criticize Mugabe in op-ed articles publish an interview with him one fine day and forget to ask the very questions they had raised in their articles. Would you trust the motives behind the interview? As Raj mentions, they sudden burst of FIP-friendly questions, and the lack of anything even remotely critical is surprising. Especially, because this is GB. The one reason I admire this blog was because he stuck to his views and analyzed everything with a calm and detached logic.

    The worst thing is that this wasn’t a break from the line of trite interviews. It was GB asking the same trite questions the people at Cricinfo would have asked.

  16. This was planchet, not an interview. You can only interview someone real. FIP is a soul without a body. GB is dealing with the occult and the paranormal now.

    There is another school of thought that GB and FIP are indeed the same person. GB has MPD- he is not aware of his other personality. He basically interviewed himself.

  17. I like both GB and FIP for different reasons. And I love that GB interviewed FIP. I dont care if FIP was real player or not. All I know is that information was real and blog was funny and entertaining. It was better than real IPL. Can’t wait for the book from both GB and FIP. And I also know both are different people.

Have An Opinion? Type Away

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s