Mumbai:The Indian Premiere League's (IPL's) Pandora's Box just refuses to close.
Former Miss India Mehr Jessia, wife of actor Arjun Rampal, whose jointly-owned event management company, Chasing Ganesha, organised the much-hyped IPL nights, has not taken kindly to M S Dhoni laying part of the blame of the team's poor performance on the parties.
Under fire after India's exit in the Super 8s stage of the ongoing World T20, the Indian skipper said on Wednesday that the team's jaded performance could, in part, be attributed to the glitzy IPL post-match parties and the extensive travelling during the league.
"I have been watching television and have heard what is being said about the IPL nights. Dhoni is welcome to blame these nights. I do not need to stand up and defend them," Mehr said, promising that she would talk when the time is right, but added, "Today, this has become a joke. The IPL party nights have been misunderstood. But, well, if people are saying things, let them. I also have enough people patting my back saying it (the IPL nights) was a job well done."
"A lot of foreign players attended these IPL nights and their teams are doing brilliantly in the T20 World Cup. What about them? Even the common man has the same question," Mehr further pointed out.
Rubbishing claims that a clause in the players' IPL contracts forced them to attend the parties, Mehr said, "Nobody can force any sportsman to attend the parties. Some players did not attend the IPL nights. It was not binding on them."
"I think it is very demeaning. Now, it is all about 'let us blame late night matches and parties.' Where was this thought when the players took the cheque for the IPL -- they always knew there were late night matches," she said.
When asked about allegations of womanising and alcohol being served in large quantities at the parties, a fuming Mehr said, "Excuse me? We had a mix of international and Indian models at these parties. Besides, the players brought along their friends and families, the team owners and designers had their invitees, and the playing teams had backup personnel. So it is absolutely ridiculous to say such things. We have had great IPL nights in Ahmedabad, where not a drop of liquor was served."
Mehr also slammed allegations that players did not have time to recover from parties. "I challenge you to show me any itinerary in which a team had a match, attended a late night party and then had to play the next morning. They all had a break in between, so these accusations are absolute rubbish."
The media did not escape the supermodel's ire either. In fact, it came in for rather pointed criticism. "People, including, the press, need to get the facts right. A lot of negativity has crept in about these parties, also because the press was not allowed to attend them. We had done this keeping in mind that the parties would not be the proper forum for the players to be asked questions or interviewed."
When asked about the fashion shows, with leggy models sashaying down the runways at these events, Mehr said, "Yes, we had fashion shows. A lot of players wanted to buy things for their wives and families. It was all done in good spirit. You know, cricket and Bollywood entertainment are on the same platform. The IPL nights were a great success, even if I do say that myself. They were a good way for the players to have a break and chill out."
"What the IPL nights meant to do was to bring the cricket fan closer to the player. We have had some fabulous parties and, when the time is right, I will bring the entire group of people behind the nights' success together to talk about them," Mehr signed off.