The real show stealer of the day turned out to be Zeba Shehnaz who made a dramatic entrance, donning the celeb team’s uniform and sporting a kit on her shoulder. But unfortunately, she had to accept a spot in the commentary box instead of the pitch
The trend of showbiz and sports stars being roped in by advertisers for shows because of the commercial value attached to them has been growing internationally. David Beckham has been immensely successful in increasing the sales of a particular brand of sportswear, while across the border, cola companies and diamond manufacturers have employed the services of stars to promote their products. This trend has also been catching on in Pakistan. Though we come across comparatively fewer commercials and live shows, still, this particular strategy is slowly picking up pace.
Recently, a match between TV artists and an airline’s cricket team was organized in Karachi at Asghar Ali Shah Stadium. Gathering both sportsmen and artists in one arena can attract a significant number of people, but the catch is that the event should be well organized. To start off, the purpose of this match was unclear till the very end. Was it a commercial venture or was it in the name of some charity? One kept guessing.
The match was scheduled to start at 7pm, but the stadium wore a deserted look at the hour. The lights of the ground and the enclosure were mostly off, there were hardly any cars in the parking lot and the chap in charge of the cafeteria seemed bored to death. When an inquiry was made about the evening’s programme, he replied, in a sleepy tone, that that was exactly what he was trying to find out.
Moving further towards the dressing rooms, some guys dressed in reddish maroon uniforms, representing Emirates, the team that would square off against the celebs, were seen. One had to contend with cats, who temporarily occupied the seats. It seemed the feline brigade was going to be the potential crowd for this particular match. After a while, a few persons in green shirts representing the Celebs XI entered the stadium. Very few recognizable TV artists and many not-so-famous actors formed the team. The fact that some members of the team had even appeared on the tube was suspect.
Among the noted TV artists who were actually playing that evening were Kamran Jilani, Jahanzaib Gurchani, Mani, Naveed Rana and Aslam Sheikh. Finally, the place came to life when all these ‘celebrities’ started getting ready to take the field. Some were warming up, while others showed off their not so amazing balling action. Many were smoking like chimneys, while some sat isolated in their chairs, looking bored and waiting for the time to enter the ground.
The real show stealer of the day turned out to be Zeba Shehnaz, who made a dramatic entrance, donning the celeb team’s uniform and sporting a kit on her shoulder. But unfortunately, she had to accept a spot in the commentary box instead of the pitch. Along with Zeba, Aslam Sheikh and Waseem Feroz shared the microphone. The classic comedienne made full use of her gifted sense of humour during the commentary. Her comments on some of the artists really infused life into the evening. One witty jab was aimed at Mani, when he missed a catch: “Mani TV par kisi kou nahi chorta, laikin catch zaroor chorta hai.” Zeba was truly in her element that evening as she played a major role in organizing the match.
The celeb team surprisingly played very well. They defeated the airline’s team by five wickets, chasing a target of 141 set by the opponents in just 20 overs. Waseem Feroz, one of the co-ordinators of the match and the captain of the celeb team, made 59 runs, while Mukhtar (Mera Ghar Meri Jannat fame) piled on 24. Mani bowled fairly well as Kamran Jilani led the spin bowling attack.
The match would have had a lot of potential if more popular artists had been invited. People, regardless of their interest in cricket, would have thronged the stadium just for the sake of getting a glimpse of the TV stars. The scale on which the match was organized was also very small. There were no sponsors, no publicity and no media coverage of the match. It mostly proved to be an entertaining affair for the actors and some of their friends and relatives who had come along with them.