With millions of viewers glued to the game, the frenzy around the eighth edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) is at its peak. And adding glamour to this unprecedented tournament is the gorgeous girl Archana Vijaya Singh. She's hosting a show that revolutionized the way cricket matches are analyzed - ‘Extraaa Innings T20’ on Sony Max and Six.
Powered with her strong understanding of the game and her ultra-glam looks, this model turned VJ is not only one of the best anchors on television today but also the hottest presenter at IPL. In an exclusive chat with LiveInStyle.com, Archana who was also seen in the reality show ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’, talks about cricket, IPL parties, and her de-stressing mantra.
How would you define your experience as a cricket host for ‘Extraaa Innings T20’?
If there was one thing that would define the experience is that – We are like a family. Shibani Dandekar, Samir Kochhar, Gaurav Kapur and I - We all have been working together for a very long time, specially Gaurav and I. I know Gaurav since I started my career, since my first show with him – ‘Freedom Express’ for Channel V. So, I have known him for that long. All of us are very thick, we get along like a house on fire and we look out for each other. Which is kind of rare because I think a lot of people in our profession try to compete with each other. However, all of us are comfortable in our own skin and we are a great team.
You are one of those pretty girls who have broken the norms and elegantly blended glam with sports.
Someone's gotta do it, break the stereotype. Just because I present sports, does not mean I am going to glam-down to be taken seriously. If I make sense and I am doing my job, the way I look, should only enhance my skill set.
How does it feel to be on the field and hobnob with some of the most renowned players and sports personalities of the world as opposed to being on the ramp?
It's a whole different world. Besides I have to talk here unlike just sashaying down the ramp, both have a different buzz and adrenaline rush that comes with it!
With Set Max’s ‘Extraaa Innings T20’ you are in the midst of where all the action is happening and while keeping a tab on the game is important, you also have to ensure that you are looking pretty for the camera. How do you manage that?
It's a bit tough now, especially with summers setting on us like a huge ball of fire. So looking pretty, keeping that makeup together, keeping your dress from not sweating... all of it is a bit of a challenge but I manage. We are used to it now. When you are presenting live there is so much involvement mentally that somehow you forget the physicality of it.
Talking about IPL, cricket is not the only attraction at this tournament, what else defines IPL for you?
IPL is a perfect blend of 'cricketainment'. And this season of IPL has been extremely amazing because we've seen every single team play an excessive brand of cricket. We have seen last-ball finishes and even a super over this season. So, I think it's complete value for money, 'paisa vasool' as they call it. Everyone is having a great time - be it on the ground or people who are seeing it on television. People are dancing, there is music, there is a DJ. People get to see their favorite celebrities, favorite cricketers, and it is like an action-packed tournament. It is got something for everyone.
Which IPL team are you rooting for?
Oh, this is really a tough question. I am from Kolkata, I have lived in Mumbai all my life and I recently got married and moved to Delhi so I am desperately torn apart. But honestly I want a new team to win the IPL this year. I love Kolkata, and the incredible team of Kolkata Knight Riders have won the tournament twice. Rajasthan Royals too have won the IPL once; I have a softie for them as well because I think they are a very good side too. They do not boast of big names but have given young cricketers a fantastic platform to showcase their talent and, of course, they have Rahul Dravid. You can’t ignore him because he is an all-rounder and an awesome guy. So you see, I 'm confused. I can’t pick one side.
And your favorite IPL players are...
My all time favorite player is Sachin Tendulkar. He doesn’t play anymore but just to see him in the stadium is good enough. And if I have to choose a player from the current lot, it has to be Ajinkya Rahane (Rajasthan Royals). I think he is a very talented and a promising cricketer. The youngsters impress me the most because they are playing against seasoned professionals on such a big platform, and yet manage to show their talents. So Deepak Hooda (Rajasthan Royals) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Sunrisers Hyderabad) also top the charts. And look at the West Indians, from one power hitter to the other – actually there are so many players. But I think if I have to choose my favorite it would definitely be Ajinkya and AB De Villiers (Royal Challengers Bangalore).
So after a long tiring day at the field, how do you unwind?
I go back to the hotel, shower and hit the bed. It is as boring as that. I am carrying two books with me and planning to read them, but there is really no time. I am actually running between flights.
What about hanging out with the players, lounging, and partying with them?
There aren’t parties happening anymore. But yes, if I'm staying in the team hotel, then you do have a drink at the bar with the players. So that is one place where everyone sort of unwinds and relax. But nothing hectic. Not like the way IPL parties used to be. I think everyone is also tired as they are traveling and playing, and it gets a little bit tough to go all out and be crazy after a hectic day. But we do have our wrap up parties after the tournament finishes and those are really fun.
So which IPL city parties the best?
It has to be Kolkata and Bangalore. They have some great parties. In Kolkata, it is definitely Dublin, ITC Sonar that rocks the party scene and in Bangalore, it is again the ITC. I have enjoyed some of the best IPL parties here.
Are you a party person?
I used to be but not anymore. I like to socialise with my friends. But otherwise, I like to relax at home and spend time with myself. Also presenting sports brings a lot of discipline to your life. When I used to present test cricket, I used to wake up five days in a row at 5.30am every day. So in a way it instills a lot of discipline in you. You can’t be partying and you can’t live a regular life. I have not celebrated many birthdays, Diwali, Christmas, New Years… because there is hardly any time.
So what do you do in your free time? How do you de-stress?
I'm anyway extremely outdoorsy and adventurous. I love swimming and I workout. Fitness and sports are basically very much part of my life. It is tough right now to work out because either I am in a plane or at a match.
One sports bar you usually love going to?
It is Elbo Room at Bandra West.
Image Source: Shweta Kulkarni
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