WPL anthems: A layered and new expression of feminine energy

Hamsini Shivakumar, the Founder of Leapfrog Strategy Consulting, highlights crucial insights from WPL anthems. Throwing light on the insights from the WPL anthems, she emphasises the need for brands to move beyond the cliche representation of women and to recognise the role of ‘women win’ as a collective

Hamsini Shivakumar
New Update
WPL anthems

Delhi: WPL has taken off in a significant way and has exceeded expectations in terms of viewing audiences as well as monies collected, and auctioned for.  It has provided not a mere boost but a mega-boost to women’s cricket, taking it from a status of languishing in the margins to centre stage.

As a cultural analyst, what’s more interesting is the anthem videos that are part of the promotional content being put forward by the sponsors/organisers of WPL.  

These anthem videos celebrate a specific vision of femininity and womanhood and seek to put that forward as an inspiration to millions of young women across the length and breadth of India.

Being anthem videos, they integrate a vast array of signs and symbols as well as layered meanings.  And it is good fun to pick out the most interesting symbols as well as layers in the representations of women and cricket.

Cricket ka Queendom:


Yeh toh bas shuruat hai:



Har Zubaan par naam tera: 


Mumbai ki ladki aali re:


What’s common across all the videos is the Cricket imaginary - that of cricket as a game of the streets in India.  

It’s a game that belongs to the populace of India, it is played in every street and corner and playground. It is NOT an elite game played in clubs and closed-off environments. This idea of cricket rooted in men’s cricket is being extended to women’s cricket as well. Just as women have entered and conquered previously male bastions, reserved for men only, so too now with cricket. The vision is that soon the whole country will know the names of the WPL players, will identify them and cheer for them – har zubaan pe naam tera. Women can move from a space of anonymity, being unknown to becoming famous and beloved of all, through cricket. 

The radical inspiration is that young girls of the working class, who are controlled and bound in the name of women’s safety, for whom the streets represent danger and risk can conquer the streets and make it their own through the game of cricket. When young girls and women set out in groups to play cricket on the streets and playgrounds, their mothers, fathers, uncles, and aunties encourage and support their dreams rather than limit them in the name of safety and conventions.

The second aspect of the Cricket Imaginary is the tournament as the battlefield.  

Battlefields are filled with warriors exuding aggression, competitive energy and a winning attitude. The body is the sword and spear and energy is the force that wins. The women cricketers are every bit as uninhibitedly aggressive and competitive as male cricketers, with no space for shyness, shame and modesty.

The third aspect of the Cricket Imaginary is the IPL and its version of the 20-over format. 

IPL anthems over the years have been mega energy packets with music, crackers, confetti and every possible symbol of energy incorporated.  They capture the spirit of IPL-cricket.  The WPL being the women’s IPL tournament, the WPL anthems too reflect this mega energy. They take the design and communication codes of IPL anthems and give them an all-women expression.

Let’s now consider the representations of womanhood and femininity as featured in these anthems. What is the feminine imaginary as featured in these videos?

The first set of signs is the invocation to Devi Durga in the Sanskrit Shloka. This draws from Hindu cultural traditions of starting any new activity with a prayer and invocation. It also invites the presence of Durga, the aggressive face and spirit of Indian femininity into the arena. At the same time, we can also see the representations as indicating that all the young women contestants and hopefuls as well as supporters are all little Durgas themselves, embodying that combative spirit.

The second is the anchoring of femininity in the body as physical energy, strength and stamina. Aside from the very obvious cricket shots, there are many shots of young women performing somersaults and dance moves, demonstrating both control over and power of the body to enable them to express themselves. Many moves and shots are also derived from American street dances, hip-hop and rap, adapted and adopted into Indian cinema and thus becoming a part of the Indian lexicon of street dances too.

The third is the use of multi-colour in costume (especially in the 2024 Queendom video) to express the fully unleashed, almost wild spirit and energy in the women. These are not the docile, submissive, controlled and subordinated women. The women who play WPL cricket and their fans and followers are women who are free, bold and uninhibited in expressing their ambitions and their competitive spirit to win the crown.

The use of a few specific symbols is worth commenting upon:

  1. Electricity and the spark to connote the intense energy of WPL cricket and the game as also the spirit of the women.
  2. The crown and reference to Queendom connote the desire for conquest, power and rule.
  3. The women riding motorcycles, wearing the Maharashtrian saree, dark glasses and turbans.  This is a very powerful graphic blending the concept of native roots, freedom, power and authority as women’s aspirations. They intend to conquer the world outside of the home in all its manifestations and they have the power of community and sisterhood with them.
  4. The big drums and drumbeat are a part of all war-music and action-energy music.  The use of these is intended to arouse and activate the Durga Shakti which is present in every woman.

In conclusion, as per the WPL videos, a new generation of confident Indian women are here to express their collective energy and conquer the world of cricket with WPL.

Takeaways for brands that target women:

  1. Be a part of the new feminine Imaginary
  2. Take risks with expressions of women out in the world, moving beyond the cliches of previous generations.
  3. Acknowledge the role and power of the Sisterhood, women win as a collective, not just as an individual achiever and performer.
  4. Consider the power of the Street, not just the Home as the domain for Indian women.