Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Jaipur, Bhopal Delhi .. this is the headlines

Note: The title is a slight rejig and english version of this song.

The so called semi-final is now over.

The recent election was influenced by wide ranging issues on both the national front and the local front. While in state elections, national issues seldom come to the fore, this time it seemed likely to be a totally different scenario because of the enormity of the national issues, terrorism and price rise. The local issues included pricing of rice(Chattisgarh) to Meenas(no, not the actress' fan club) vs Gujjars (Rajasthan) to deaths caused by Blue line buses(Delhi).

Democracy in India keeps challenging the so called obvious patterns and theories and this time was no different. The so far highly safe Anti-Incumbency factor thrown out of the window with three out of the five state's populace retaining their existing governments.

One another point which has been emphatically made is that however big the national issues might be, in a state election local issues gain a lot more predominance. Case in point are the results in Rajasthan and to quite an extent even Chattisgarh. In both the states experts did not give Congress much of a chance. While they went on to claim Rajasthan, they also put up quite a fight in Chattisgarh. If the national issues had been at the forefront then BJP would have done even better in MP and Chattisgarh.

Development and Mr.Clean images are becoming more and more prominent in the eyes of the public. There is a new crop of Chief Ministers coming up who are increasingly being seen as corruption free, a refreshing change from the times of the past when the point of debate was who was less corrupt. BJP has benefited heavily from the good image of its chief ministers (Modi, Raman Singh and SS Chauhan) and Congress has its own trump card in Sheila Dixit.

A trend which has not been possibly highlighted enough in the mainstream media is the rising clout of the BSP. It is starting to make its presence felt in almost all North Indian states. What is more significant about its victories in this set of elections is that four out of the five states (barring Mizoram) have been bipolar states since the emergence of the BJP in the late 80s. So, to be able to make the kind of inroads that it has indicates a growing clout and meticulous planning and execution. With a maverick leader who is a past master at social engineering, we can expect more of a role for BSP in the upcoming LS elections.

Extending on the above point, it'll be interesting to see how the BJP builds its relationship with BSP. With a bitter past, relations will certainly not be cordial. However, the BJP needs the BSP more than the BSP needs BJP, considering that BSP is capable of garnering 40 - 50 seats in the past stronghold of BJP, UP. What will possibly go against the BSP joining hands with BJP is BJP's anti-minority(primarily Muslim) image given that BSP in itself does not have a presence in those communities and Mayawati will be trying double hard to gain a footing there.

The biggest winner from this election is possibly Sheila Dixit. To make it a hat trick of wins in the national capital is no mean achievement and to do so given the general tide against the Congress at both state and national level is even more extraordinary. A margin of 43-23 is the icing and the cherry on top of the cake. But come general election, one may expect the BJP to sweep the seats in Delhi given the totally different issues on hand and that it will possibly be much better prepared by then.

Vasundara Raje would have probably realized that charisma and an urban centric image does not help winning elections. Her handling of key issues left a lot to be desired, especially the Gujjar agitation which also left her alienated from her core constituency, the Meenas.

As stated earlier both SS Chauhan and Raman Singh benefited from their clean images and the anti-incumbency at state level was stemmed a bit by the anti-incumbency at the national level barring which the scales might have tilted in favor of Congress, atleast in Chattisgarh.

Rajasthan and Delhi in particular. present the first setbacks to Arun Jaitley, BJP's golden boy when it comes to election management. Having seemingly perfected the art of micro-management of elections , he now has to sit back and analyze what went wrong. Even their previously successful strategy of maximizing the number of fresh tickets to avoid public backlash against non-performing sitting MLAs has failed them in Rajasthan.

Congress, on the other hand, will be forced to retrospect more on the lack of strong second rung leadership. The only state they managed a convincing victory, Delhi, was due to the charisma and the larger than life image of Sheila Dixit. While the Congress has already started trumpeting Rahul Gandhi as the next great Gandhi and the man with the midas touch, it has to hasten the process of finding strong regional leaders and resolve the issue of infighting which is costing it majorly. Sonia Gandhi will now have to start taking concrete measures on finalizing possible alliances for the LS elections because not many of its current partners would want to carry the 'risk' of being seen as the partner of this government, come election time.

Let the games begin!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Terror struck.

9/11.. 7/11.. 26/11 ..

The calendar is getting crowded with such dates of disaster.

Yet another terrorist attack. There is a certain numbness which seems to be setting in. No, not dumbness. That's more for the likes of Shivraj Patil.

The symbol of Indian pride. This was Jamshedji's message to the British,a century before Ganguly could say "f*** you* standing on the Lords Balcony. If ever there was any building which could carry the name of Taj without any dishonor to the original monument, it was this. The symbolism is tough to miss. A group of youngster with their tops already blown blowing off the top of this magnificent icon.

Foreign interest in this is apparently very high. Can we blame them? Not often are their citizens blown to smithereens. The 1000s of Indians dead before this count for nothing to them. The 10 of theirs here do. Kashmir is to them nothing but a blur on the map and the only interest for them is the colour to give it on the maps they publish it. Oh.. Did I forget the highly sought after Kashmir shawls?

The terrorists.

What next? 18 year olds wearing MegaDeath T-shirts?


In a couple of days there will be many many stories of courage, of heroic acts in the face of death. My salutations to all those who have staked their life and those who have laid down theirs in order to rescue the rest. May your souls rest in peace.

Image Courtesy: ibnlive.com

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Why not to watch: Kaaranam Aayiram

Not exactly. The title rhymes. Thats all.

Warning: Spoilers ahead. Proceed at your own peril.

(The second line refers more to the movie.)

But then it isn't exactly far from the truth, unless of course you watch this only for Surya and believe that Gautham Menon isn't too far from being the Tarantino of Kollywood as he wishes to be.

With its music(inspirational or inspired??) rocking the charts for long and the trailers and the banners promising a colorful movie it wasn't too difficult for the hype and the hope to build up.

As much as GVM has tried to create and emotional impact with his portrayal of the father son bonding in the movie, it fails to touch the right chords. At the end of the show you feel like having sat through two totally different movies in either half.

The movie opens with a series of short shots showing Krishnan(Surya, the dad) throwing up blood, being made to rest on the bed and then collapsing dead. It is strange that for a movie which is otherwise so painfully slow, these shots of pain and suffering are in this slick editing mode.

Soon the news is conveyed to Suriya(Surya,the son) who is an army commander on board a helicopter on a rescue operation.

Unintentional comedy one: Suriya's fellow armymen then offer their condolences which sound more like apologizing for stepping on someone else's toe.

Then with cries of "Daady daady" in the background, Suriya goes into flashback mode and in a narration in narration mode, Simran is shown recounting the past to Suriya, sometime before he left on this mission of his. Ah Simran! With her each moment on screen, she makes us rue all these years which have been lost without her gracing the silver screen. She delivers the movie's second best performance (after Surya of course)and with so much ease. Welcome back Sims!

After a few more scenes enters Meghna (Sameera Reddy), Gautham Menon's latest m(o)use. What a babe! . Her histrionic range in this movie is amazing. She has managed six distinct expressions.

1) Eyes open and mouth closed.
2) Eyes open and mouth half open.
3) Eyes open and gaping.
4 - 6 ) Repeat above with eyebrows raised.

And just when a scene arrived where her emoting was a little bit more demanding , Menon managed to get Surya between her and the camera.

Unintentional Comedy 2: In her intro scene, after a long conversation in local(chennai types) tamizh, suddenly Reddy comes up with this line "Nee SESHTA panna maatiye" !! All the ambi mamas would have died a second death in their graves.

Unintentional Comedy 3: She belongs to REC Trichy. Having studied there for 4 years, I can do Mother Promise and God promise that I had not seen any one even remotely as hot as her. And then to think this was 10 years back? That she ends up in Berkeley from here is altogether a different issue. Wonder how much money my college paid to Gautham Menon. All our fees just went down the drain.

What follows is a Suryavamsam like sequence where in about two minutes Surya goes from an absolute wastrel to a succesful businessman. And then with the blessings of his father, he flies to the US to pursue.. the heroine. Whatay father, whatay son!

Unintentional comedy 4: When asked to explain how he expected to be granted a visa given his financial status etc etc , Surya gives a speech on how he is going there to pursue his love and love only.And lo and behold he is granted the visa. A five year multiple entry one at that.

After the customary heroine death, Surya turns alcoholic and drug addict. However, with the help of his "daddy" he manages to get himself off drugs and goes off to Srinagar to reclaim his old self and then to Delhi. And then follows a needlessly long sequence of him rescuing a child from a clutch of gangsters (Prithviraj on comeback trail?). Then he joins the army and passes out with his new found love Divya(a neat and dignified performance) in tow. He is then called for an emergency rescue op and is forced to leave home in a hurried fashion. The extended rescue sequence after he gets the news of his father's death seems totally unwarranted and could well have been conveyed by the voice over.

Harris Jeyraj tries some innovative sounds in the background from time to time. Though the songs are awesome, the picturization doesn't do full justice to them. Mundinam Paarthene belonging to the 60/70s and Yethi yethi to the early 90s seem to be total misfits. With both the heroines boasting of family packs, it is down to Surya to flaunt his six packs in appearing from a waterfall for the Annul Maelae song.

Despite all these negatives there are quite a few positives in the movie(Anti-Murphy's law). Surya's performance is top notch in a role tailor and ready made for him. The change in his body language as he grows up, the pain caused by Sameera Reddy's death and his struggle to get himself off the drugs are well etched and perfectly enacted. The make up for the dad Surya is also pretty neat in most scenes. The scene in the hospital when Meghna's dad comes to collect her body is one of the very few instances when your heart actually goes out to the characters on the screen, as is the scene when dad mistakenly discovers his son's drug addiction.

Though an honest attempt by Gautham Menon,it is clear that he is more adept and comfortable handling action films, as can be seen by the style in which the second half is taken in comparison to the first half.

But despite the fact that this is supposed to be a tribute to all the fathers of the world, you might not want to risk compelling your dad to come along to watch the movie. If you still want to do so, then,to quote Russel Peters, "Somebody's gonna get hurt real bad".

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Stray Wonderings Part II

The following pictures(print screen + paste into paint + add image into blogger) are self explanatory. In other words, I am out of stuff to say and have resolved to such cheap tactics to keep my blog going. Of course, I can claim that this blog has links to videos of actress in bathroom fitting showrooms. But then it is one of the oldest tricks in the blog world and therefore should have been avoided.

So here goes.

The following picture might not make sense to non-tamizh readers. What has been highlighted reads "En kanaku" which is a transliteration of My Accounts. Nothing wrong with that but usually in Tamizh(the chennai variety), kanakku refers to business, the murder kind. "Kananka theekardu" which should mean ""closing the accounts" means to "to finish a person off".

And ya, Gaptun is back. Bigger (!), better and looking smarter than ever.

[Image Courtesy Indiaglitz ]

I leave you with a quote from MS Dhoni. "Reverse swing is crucial when the new ball does not do much for the fast bowlers to come back and make an impact in the game. It has been important right through the series. We have maintained the ball well and have done it (reversing) consistently. In Delhi it did not happen much because there was some grass on the wicket and in the outfield".

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Farewell Jumbo!

As he has done quite often in his career Kumble brought alive a boring final day in a Test match at Kotla today. However unlike in the past, this did not cause discomfort and nervousness amongst the opposition batsmen. Many are the batsmen who have been at the receiving end of Jumbo's super fast flippers and spitting leg breaks and though his form had dipped quite a bit of late there will be lots of them who will be more than relieved to hear that the warrior had hung up his sword.

Many are the special memories that he leaves us to cherish. The first of those came in the Hero Cup final when he picked up 6 for 12 against the Windies when a couple of wickets came thanks to yorkers which until then, even the Indian pacers couldn't bowl accurately. It was yet again against the Windies that he would produce a sight never before seen and possibly never again seen as he bounded in with his broken jaw to try and secure a wicket for India. His performance against Australia down under was perhaps something which he enjoyed quite a bit himself. His celebration after taking out Ponting in Melbourne after he had worked him out is one of those rare occasions when he's let his emotions be so visible in the cricket field. Ans so were his reactions after getting to his maiden century at the Oval.

But perhaps the moments which defined all that Kumble stood for, came during the course of that much discussed Sydney Test this year. Even as the rest of the Indian batsmen got out or gave their wickets away, he stood there at one end determined to fight it out till the end. With his limited technique he defied the Aussies, focused on playing out every ball and taking India closer to safety. However as fate would have it, with just five minutes to go three wickets fell in one over leading to the defeat. How much it would have hurt the man is for anybody to guess. And then with the whole Indian and Australian press waiting for his sound bytes after the most controversial Test of our times, he kept his cool and came up with one single statement which said more than a five minute speech would have.

Determination, commitment, composure and dignity are words which cannot be strung together to define any other sportsman better than him. Not many Indian cricketers have left the game on their own terms, but then the timing of Kumble's departure has been on the spot, much like his deliveries. Never once has he given less than 100% on the field and the moment he's recognized that there were factors beyond his control which would not allow him to do so, he's stepped down. Memory doesn't serve up any names of Indians who have retired as captains and he definitely deserves to have done so.

There are two kinds of great players. There are those whose very presence lights up the arena and then there are those whose absence speaks more about their contributions. India have been lucky enough to have one of each kind play in the same era. The large number of matches that he has won for India and the sheer volume of wickets that he has taken are but just statistical reminders of his contribution to Indian cricket. Season after season Kumble has spearheaded the Indian attack, at times plugging away on unresponsive tracks and mostly leading them to victory with spells which are lessons for generations of bowlers to follow . As Dravid, Laxman and the rest of the team members took Kumble on a final lap of honor around his favourite piece of turf, it is only natural that their shoulders would have sunk in under the weight of this giant, who never let his own drop, at any point of time.Goodbye Jumbo, and thanks for all the wickets.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Landmark achieved but..

As Sachin guided the first ball after tea to third man yesterday to go past Lara's record it bought immense relief and pleasure to all cricket fans. But then there was also a tinge of disappointment in the timing and the environment in which he passed the landmark.

He got those runs against a bowler whose only possible future claim to fame would be the same. And by the way just for remembrance, his name is Peter Siddle.

He got those runs in a half empty stadium, and half of this half was filled with school children allowed free entry. This was not in a foreign nation but in our own land. I am sure people in any other country would have paid thousands to watch this moment.

He got those runs just two innings and a week after I had last seen him bat live on the cricket field. Yes, I would also have paid thousands to watch this moment. (For those who know me, this can be classified under Ripley's believe it or not)

And finally and perhaps most tragically the man on air at that time was Ravi Shastri.

Compare this with the manner in which Lara eclipsed Border's record. At Adelaide, in Border's own land. Against Glenn McGrath, perhaps the best fast bowler of our times. On air were some of the legends of Channel Nine. And the shot. With all the nonchalance in the world he walked across the stumps exposing each one of them and tucked away McGrath to fine leg.

But then Sachin never does bother about landmarks or the way they are achieved right? Yeah right!!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Stray Wonderings

If women like these have to resort to matrimonial sites to find their life partner(s) (though the s seems to make it grammatically correct, something about it doesn't seem right), what on earth is wrong with the Indian men??

I have always wondered what this headline meant. " Man accused of raping and brutally murdering 10 year old gets Life"

There was an ad for a a Times Interior decor exhibition whose tag line ran something like " To view the complete Interior". Naughty.

And top of the pile. An ad from VLCC. It claims to provide an offer. "Join the 20 kg weight loss program now and lose 10 kgs extra for free". Thats what i call an offer which can not be refused.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sorgame Endralum.. (Even the heavens... )

This is an attempt at adapting the evergreen song Sorgamae Endralum to the modern times. Before I commit that blasphemy, I would like to seek some retribution by first presenting the original lyrics. I would also like to apologize to the non - tamilian readers(I know.. I wish.. ) for the content which is possibly as alien to them as common sense is to George Bush.

M: Sorgame endralum adhu nammora pola varuma
Ennadu endralum adhu nam nattukku eedaguma
pala desam muzhudum pesum mozhigal tamizh pol inithiduma

Charanam 1

F: yerikarai kaathum yelelelo pattum inge edhum ketkavillaye

M: paadum kuyil satham aadum mayil nitham pakka oru solaillaye

F: vethalaya madichi maaman adha kadichi thuppa oru vazhi-illeye

M: odi vandhu gudichu mungi mungi kulichu aada oru odayillaye

F: ivvoru enna ooru nammoru romba melu

M: ada odum pala kaaru veen adambaram paaru

F: oru dhaagam theera yeedu moru

Sorgame endralum....

Charanam 2

M: maadu kannu meikka meyaradha paarka mandhaveli ingu illiye

F: aadu puli aattam pottu vilayada arasa maram medailliye

M: kaala reundu pooti katta vandi ooti gaanam pada vazhi-illiye

F: thozhigalai azhachi solli solli rasichu aatam poda mudiyaliye

M: oru yandhiratha pola ada inge ulla vaazhkai

F: idhe enge poyi solla manam ishta pada villa

M: nammoora pola oorum illa

Now comes the updated , and therefore downgraded, version.

M: Sorgame endralum adhu nammora pola varuma
Ennadu endralum adhu nam nattukku eedaguma
pala desam muzhudum pesum mozhigal tamizh pol inithiduma

Charanam 1

F:elliots beach kaathum deva gaana paatum inge edhum ketkalliye..

M:metti oli satham alaigal modum nitham paaka oru channel illaye

F:vethalaya madichi nalla adha kadhichi thuppa oru chuvaru illaye..

M:odum vandhiya idhichu mama adha pidichu escape aaga vazhi illaye..

F:ivvooru enna ooru nammooru rambha melu..

M:ada odum pala bar u, veen adambaram paaru..

F:oru daagham theerka edhuku beer u..

Sorgame endralum....

Charanam 2

M: maadu kannu meika mayor adha paarka mandhaveli ingu illaye

F: chinna thambi gaptun theerpa eduthu solla arasa maram medaillaye..

M: thanni konjam aethi katta rendu oatti vaazhum vaazhka puriyalaye

F: vaadhiyaara kalaichhu solli solli sirichu aatam poda palli illaye

M: oru thanthiratha pola ada inge ulla vaazhka

F: inge dhinam poi solla manam ishta pada villa

M: nammoora pola oorum illa

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Friday, September 5, 2008

Futurisk Trading Limited

Futurisk Trading Limited ,as a part of the name suggests, will deal with Futures Trading and as the other part reveals, will be a high risk venture. What is so significant about that, some may ask, as all futures trading is high risk. What makes this more riskier than even oil trading is that this deals with MPs of our country. (For some strange reason, deals and our MPs can never be too far away,even in a simple sentence.)

This idea stuck me after watching the stocks ("rates") of our MPs move to never before seen high of 25 crores before plummeting down to a stupefying low of 3 crores. What if there was an institution to take advantage of this? Just imagine how, if by chance, a company had seen this coming and off loaded its MPs just in time. 22 crores in a matter of a few hours is amazing money to make.

What makes this such an intriguing business is that unlike other futures trading commodities, there is no proper information stream to base your decisions on. In fact you'd have to look at at least three or four different sources to get the complete picture. And the fascinating aspect is that each MP is a totally different entity. It is not like the Brent North Sea crude and the light sweet crude, which are mere divisions and are driven by the same forces. For instance while one MP would be satisfied with a couple of crores as pocket money, others might insist on a cabinet berth and one or two might have the audacity and power to insist on a CM berth. Of course, since it becomes difficult to quantify such aspirations the company will only strictly deal with those MPs who settle for cash.

While discussing this idea with a couple of people, I got a rather cold response. My brother in fact totally dismissed it by saying this is nothing new and that there is major betting going on anyways in related matters. I figured that in that precise point lies the beauty of my plan. Why not streamline all this trading and make it official so that more people can participate in it. It will give us all a chance to make money from our MPs . Isn't it time that we got at least something from electing these people to power.

So next time you have a convict elected to the Parliament do not sulk and despair at the direction in which our democracy is heading. Instead, be sure that when the time comes for some voting in the Parliament, these are the very people who would figure prominently in the futures trading circuit. And if you want to know whom to put your money on keep watching this space.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Rock On!! Feel good sounds good.

If you live in a city on the shore, you'll understand the significance of some time on the beach. It allows you to breathe in some much needed fresh air and gives you time to stare at the sea reminiscing about the past. How many ever times you go to the beach, even though you may have the same surroundings and know what to expect it is still a refreshing experience each time. Rock On is a movie which provides for such an experience.

Rock On!! is the story of the ups and downs of the music band band Magik and the people associated with it. Very well written and almost perfectly executed by Abishek Kapoor, through its four lead characters Joe(Arjun Rampal), Rob(Luke Kenny), KD(Purab Kohli ) and Adi(Farhan Akhtar) he showcases four different paths that people take when their college dreams are shattered. Rob: Though he broods about how life could have been, ,he ends up working in a field which is connected to music and derives some satisfaction from that. Joe: A man who refuses to compromise on his first love and despite growing economic difficulties doesn't want a job which demeans what he loves. A glowing example of the everyday man, Adi as the individual who compromises in order to lead a materialistically comfortable life, while attempting to shut out the past from his life. And KD is shown to be the light hearted fellow, whose attempt at normal life includes messing up orders in his family business and trying to have a blast whenever he can.

Apart from these four "leads" there are a couple of other characters, the wives of two of the men involved, who get a lot of screen time and importance, something which does not usually happen. Debbie(Shahana Goswami) as Joe's wife plays the wife who's worried nuts about their son and the growing economic problems and pesters Joe to find a well paying job, even if it means under utilizing his talent and hurting his musician ego. She also hides within herself the agony and the pain in the manner in which Magik was disbanded and Joe was treated in that particular phase. A very tricky character to be played and one which if played improperly would have made her irritating. However, she carries off the role in a manner in which Debbie evokes more sympathy than irritation. Hats off to her for the wonderful performance. Sakshi(Prachi Desai) is possibly burdened with the most one dimensional character of the movie and is forced to play a sweety sweety wife who wants her husband to enjoy life and be emotionally more contented. A reasonably easier part to play and creditably played without any flaws.

Being a mini musical, it is only obvious that music becomes a character in the movie and Shankar, Ehsan and Loy certainly make it a part to remember with mostly cheerful and at times soulful tunes. They have carried a heavy burden and have succeeded with elan.

Full of little moments and deft touches, the movie which can be considered a little slow by commercial standards, manages to hold on to the viewer's attention through out. Wonderfully underplayed performances by Arjun Rampal and Luke Kenny play perfect foil to the more complex character of Farhan Akhtar and the witty Purab Kohli. All four of these actors have given their characters a dignity and a life like feel to it and this is possibly the biggest success of the movie. A special word of mention to Farhan Akhtar, who has proved he's as good in front of the camera as he's behind it. He plays two totally different characters in the movie, one who gives a soul to his songs and the other who lives his life without one, and he lends much credibility to both the roles.

The stand out feature of the movie is its dialogues,very natural and meaning more than what is said. The lines of each of the actors are written in step with the kind of characterization and nowhere do you find any character mouthing lines which seem to be forced.

Though saddled with a few commercial compulsions which prevent it from being a full fledged music movie, Rock On still succeeds in making the viewer move and feel with the characters and ensures that this lingers on after the viewer has left the cinema hall.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Water water everywhere..

What do people do when the rains are so bad that their car parks get flooded? This. Or atleast this is what I saw some one doing.

Additional information: The road in question is already full of slush and the part of the road where this water was "released" was perhaps the only walkable stretch.

Note: This is the author's first attempt at doing anything (useful) on image editors and he therefore seeks refuge from disparaging, and therefore discouraging comments on the image part of the blog.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

End of an ad age.

Disclaimer: The characters who form a part of the following blog are entirely non-fictional, though the events associated with them are not. The author claims protection against any possible defamation suits by claiming that all this is in good humor (hopefully).

Boost has decided that it would pull out of its deal with Sachin Tendulkar because the costs involved were getting unmanageable for them. No, Sachin did not hike his fee. (those days are either in the pre-Mendis era or when Kalki decides to pay, possibly one of the longest anticipated visits, to our part of the universe) The reason as an "inside, highly placed, credible source who does not wish to be named" put it was because of the spiralling costs in their Countdown to 11954 campaign.

In all its eagerness to be associated with the record breaking event, Boost had at the start of the Sri Lanka series decided that on some of the tv channels there will be a sort of a counter which would display the number of runs that the Little Master had to get to cross Lara's milestone. Little did they know they'd have to run the campaign for a couple of months rather than the couple of innings they had hoped for. The source (the same one as above, so i'll spare the adjectives) also suggested that, if only Tendulkar had let them know his intent of breaking the record at home against the best team in the world they would have waited before launching the campaign.

Saurav Ganguly meanwhile has approached Pepsi and asked them to include him back in their list of brand ambassadors. In fact he's offered to do it for free but has made just one request in return. He wants to shoot an ad similar to the "sympity" raising one a couple of years back, where the king of come backs is shown almost fighting back tears as he pleads the nation and the selectors to give him one more chance. Pepsi have reluctantly agreed.

This time however, plans are on to shoot the ad at the old home of cricket where Dada will be seen practicing his off side magical shots on one side of the screen and similar strokes from his still awe inspiring debut century are shown on the other. This is being described as an attempt to remind the selectors,and more importantly himself of what he is/was(choice left to reader depending on whether he/she is Bengali or not) capable of. One factor which they seem to have not taken note of is that Star Cricket has already shown that innings N-1 times where N is k/0. So the moment an image from the match comes up they will switch channels at speeds = k*speed of light (k > 0).

In the meanwhile,Kissan have stated that they are not very happy with the way Dravid has associated himself with their brand of late. They say that Dravid seems to be projecting an image of being stuck in a jam, the traffic variety. On the one hand, run traffic has stopped and on the other the pedestrian signal seems to be always green,explaining why he's almost always walking to and from the pavilion.

However, all is not lost for The Wall. Gillete have expressed a keen interest in extending their contract with him. A senior management official was quoted as saying "We have always prided ourselves on being able to provide clean and close shaves. One just has to watch the replays of his recent knocks and the number of close shaves that he has had will be very much evident. And ya, there are no cuts at all. It matters little though that instead of a clean shave, he's geting himself clean bowled more often these days."

After all, there seems light at the end of the tunnel, the one in which Indian batting stars seem to have gotten derailed right in the middle of.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sensation and Insensitivity

July 2004 : Fire rages in a Kumbakonam School and 100 odd children are, for the sake of avoiding a more gruesome word, burnt to death.

Cut to August 2008: A fake alarm of a landslide triggers, at a temple in Himachal Pradesh, a slide of humans instead and in the ensuing stampede 140 people are crushed to death.

Apart from being tragedies which evoked both anger at the administration and sympathy in a large scale for the victims, these two and many more such tragedies share another common thread. Highly insensitive reporting by the media all in the effort to sensationalize these events. The photographs in the leading dailies of our nation in addition to presenting a sad story also cut a sorry picture. For instance, The Hindu, a supposedly more conservative paper , had a dozen or so pictures of charred remains of the victims, totally distraught kin and more pictures of charred bodies splashed all across their back page . The recent stampede ensured Times of India had something other than scantily clad women to feature on their front page. What about a photo showing dozens of dead bodies instead?? Who cares as long it creates an impact.

The electronic media (television primarily) aren't exactly finger licking kids either in this respect. The most disturbing visuals were aired recently after the Kabul bombings. It showed the son of the slain individual performing the last rites of his father. How more insensitive can the media get? I am not risking my stakes at any level because just as you think reporting has reached a nadir they dig down even further. If only they dug so deep for oil across the world, we wouldn't be bothered about rising fuel prices atleast. In the recent past we have seen so many instances when the kith and kin of victims of crime are made to come on camera and then made to answer questions which only intensify the pain and sufering they undergo. Would it be asking for too much to ask the media to avoid such sound bytes?

Even a couple of days back, in one of the news channels coverage of killings in an ashram they had a parent of one of the kids sent there wailing on camera for the whole nation to see. It is one thing if someone suddenly starts weeping uncontrollably when on air and totally another when the camera is not taken off the faces of these individuals but instead, kept on them long enough, that it gets highly revolting. This is not a one off incident but something which has been happening with unfailing regularity on our news circuits. The editors and correspondents who are behind such coverage would have a great alternate career as script writers for the K series of soaps. They realize the impact that tears have in living rooms across the country.

It wouldn't be a crime to say that the beheading videos that various terrorist organizations upload on their websites are better than the kind of news items the media carries. After all when you enter the site you are aware of what you will be viewing. Imagine a 15 year old who is an avid sports page fan of The Hindu, eager to get his fill of the happenings in the world of sports first thing in the morning, turning to the last page and finding photographs of burnt bodies instead. What is the impact that it will have on these impressionable young minds. Or lets consider even a 65 year old who's seen everything in life looking at those pictures. He is not likely to be too visually impressed either. What is the point of using such photographs? Everyone knows that a tragedy has happened but not everyone would like to chew their morning breakfast looking at these photographs.

What is even more saddening is that in a decade when two of the most event defining pictures have been published in our national dailies such disturbing photographs and videos are starting to form a staple ingredient. Lets take for example the now timeless picture of that Ahmedabad tailor, terror and fear evident in every sinew of his face, pleading to be left alone, during the Gujarat riots a few years back. The photograph did not contain any images of weapons, dead bodies or blood. It told a story. In fact it did much more than that. It created an impact. It was worth a thousand editorials. The other photograph in focus is the award winning picture taken in the aftermath of the Tsunami which took more than one lakh victims. It wasn't a picture of strewn bodies. It contained just one woman who was dealing with the loss of her loved ones. It does contradict what I said about grieving images being disturbing. But this one was different. It had a certain raw appeal about it. Like the Gujarat riot picture, it put the whole Tsunami in perpective with just a single picture. The loss that the victims kin feel, the loneliness and the despair, everything was so effectively conveyed in just this one click of the camera.

When such amazing works are possible in the most disturbing situations and in tragedies of such magnitude, why can't the media work towards bringing a more cultured rather than sensational approach to stories of human suffering? Are TRPs and number of copies sold the only measure of success for a media organization? In the information era when the power of the media is ever increasing, it should try to break information barriers than be mere breaking news tools, and more importantly try to be more sensitive than sensational.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hair raising issues

A sachet of Head and Shoulders which I purchased a couple of weeks back threw me a pleasant surprise.On the cover was written the brand name in three local Indian languages, Hindi, Tamizh and another language which I couldn't quite decipher. Of course being a Tamilian it gave me some sense of satisfaction that fellow citizens of my state were such an important customer base for a hygiene related product. Maybe the next time I sit in a local bus, I don't have to worry about how many sweaty heads before me polluted the seat with the latest lice varieties.

However this smug satisfaction was to be short lived, and instead a totally different line of thought set in when I bought the same company's shampoo bottle instead. The first thing I did after I set my eyes on the bottle was of course to check whether the bottle also had writing in the Indian languages. On the contrary , this one had used just one language, English. Did this mean that the shampoo bottle and the shampoo sachet are intended for a totally different customer base? Was it possible that the shampoo bottles were more used by the middle and upper middle classes who were expected to know English, while the sachets were primarily used by people from the lower strata of the economy. If so, it presents a rather interesting insight into the spending patterns of our society.

As we go up the income classes we find that people prefer to spend more in bulk, while in the lower levels people would prefer to buy short term even though if they were to buy the bottle they would only benefit in the long run. Is it got to do with something as complex as the mind set that your growing up environment develops in you, or does it come down to something more basic as the amount of cash people have in hand at any given point of time. Also, given that there is a section of people who buy only sachets and not bottles, do they buy them often and therefore at the end of the day their frequency of washing their hair is comparable with those who buy bottles. If that were to be the case, the country's upper classes would have to give up their self righteous claims of being more hygiene conscious just because of their placing in the society.

However one thing which puzzles me is that why would the company not use the local languages even on their bottles. For one I am sure that doing so will help them to connect better with their Indian customers, however few they might be in comparison to the sachet users. For if there is one thing that companies have learnt over a long period of time in history, it is that the more you appeal to the local populace, the more your chances of success.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Awe and Shock

The recent Airtel advertisement shows Madhavan and Vidya Balan sauntering along in a train happily playing cards when a reminder comes on Madhavan's mobile about a bill payment. And before you know it, the bill's been paid, at the touch of the button. Awesome. And then they show the train moving out of a tunnel in some remote place. Scary!

So far at least if you did not pay certain bills, a few well paid body builders would come marching to your home and employing barely pacifist means, ensure that you shell out the money immediately. If you thought that the best way to escape was a nice relaxing holiday in the hills while you try and arrange money to take care of these bills, think again. The mobile phone is not only a device you can use in an emergency, it could just be the very tool which can send you into one of those emergency wards at a shady hospital in the hills. The lesson for all of us is to switch off our mobiles and switch it on only after you have paid all your bills, and not try some stunt of paying those same bills from your mobile phones. After all, wherever you go, your bills follow!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Dasavatharam: Kamal all the way

Warning: Review contains spoilers, almost all of them. It may be excruciatingly long, like the movie as some would claim.

Releasing on the same weekend as the biggest disappointment of 2007, Sivaji, comes the magnum opus of this year, Dasavatharam. Having heard mixed reactions to the movie ranging from really good to pathetic helped lower my expectations and whether this is a good thing or bad thing I'd not know for it might have jaundiced my view into looking for the positives more than the negatives.

For starters, I wonder aloud the authenticity and the logic behind the claim that the film has no story or a weak one at best. To tie up so many things into one single plot is no mean achievement and Kamal does it without any glaring logical inconsistency. The character of Rangaraja Nambi though the strongest of the lot may be touted as the weakest link. Srikanth defends it with a rebirth angle, which seems to hold credence but seems a bit forced .If true however, it offers delicious parallels between the two characters, 4 if you include that of Asin. The highly religious Rangarajan countered by the atheist Govind, Rangarajan's love for the idol and Govind's looking at it as a mere container of the vial. At the end of the day both there lives become intricately connected with the idols and while Rangarajan while being a firm believer drowns with the God he so loves, Govind is saved by the fact that the idol serves as the safe carrier of the vial and therefore in a sense it is God who comes to his rescue. Asin's parallel's though not as intriguing still makes for interesting interpretations in the way she puts her love for Nambi ahead of the idol in the first place and in the latest avatar she puts the idol before anything else.

If one were to rate Kamal's characters right on top would be that of Fletcher. His mannerisms and body language are top notch and on par with any villain of Hollywood, though some may claim its more inspired than on par, it still is quite a big achievement to carry it off with as much elan as he does. Pairing up with him, in more sense than one is Mallika Sherawat as Jasmine a rather needless character and perhaps the poorest casting of the lot, commercial compulsions being the only possible reason. Both Fletcher and Jasmine are ex CIA agents. Is Kamal trying to make a point here?

Balram Naidu provides tremendous comic relief and showcases Kamal's mastery over comic timing and few of his dialogues have the Crazy Mohan touch to them especially "Osama Bin Ladder" and "Rao odha Rao a sendhu.. " . Kamal does not seem to be able to shirk off the influence of his long time comedy dialogue writer. His interactions with his assistant Appa Rao are reminiscent of the Janakaraj comedy track in Aboorva Sagadorargal.

Another character with heavy influence from Kamal's past movies is Vincent Poovaragan who reminds you of his character in Anbe Sivam, especially the scene where he goes in for talks with P Vasu (yet another disastrous acting performance from him). Though much loved, his link with the main plot is a thin thread. Perhaps one of the wasted characters but Kamal is likely to get away with this one because of the serious role ascribed to Vincent. "Nee enna ulaga Nayagana? " is needless self glorification as much as he tries to cover it up with the ensuing dialogue of how each one is an ulaga nayagan by himself.

Krishnaveni Paati will possibly go down as the most trivial and needless roles that Kamal has essayed in this movie despite him giving it importance to her as the person instrumental in starting the second round of lets-chase-the-vial. Khalifullah Khan as the giant with a kind heart is used to stress upon the viewer the fallacies of the prejudiced view of all Muslims being anti-nationalistic. Shingen Narahasi is used better than expected and his climax fight with Fletcher is perhaps one of the highlights of the movie. And Avatar Singh is perhaps one of the most contrived of the characters. Jayapradha as his loving wife though, is a casting coup. She fits into the role with ease and her dance with Kamal at the end showing how much grace she still retains.

George Bush is the surprise package of the movie. While one expected it to be just a role for the sake of number count, Kamal uses it to rip Bush apart. Right from his faltering speech in the press conference to his enquiry on the possibility of using the Nuke to counter the Bio weapon, Kamal portrays him as the George Bush we'd all love to see , a head of state with little intelligence and even less common sense.

Kamal's performance as Govind, the protagonist can be described in one word, neat.

Of the others, and there are so many of them, only Asin has an extended role and she does justice to it. Her incessant insisting about the need to keep the idol and keep it clean, though irritating set the tone for most of the God vs No God debate and therefore can be excused.

The most noteworthy contribution from Kamal apart from the story and screen play are the dialogues. Witty at times, thought provoking most of the times, they are succinct and full marks to him for avoiding any long lectures, which would have seemed only natural given the heaviness of the topics he's handled. All the dialogues revolving around God are especially noteworthy for their overall neutrality, as at the end of the film neither theism or atheism are claimed to be the superior philosophy. The lyrics department comes out with flying colours with both Kallai Mattum and Oh Oh Sanam being top draw stuff. Himesh's music is seemed to be made better with the visuals and Devi Shri Prasad's background score is neat with him working well within his limitations. It neither adds tremendously to the on screen happenings nor does it distract the viewer. Computer graphics are the biggest let down and at times look very amateurish. Scenes involving one or more Kamals are without any hitch though. The camera work is good enough in most parts and particularly good in the action sequences.

There are a few gems which stand out in the movie and among them is the idea to not involve Govind in the climax but instead let Narahasi and Fletcher fight it out. To have Narahasi, a Japanese point out the arrival of the Tsunami stands out for the thinking involved. And are the birds flying overhead in the climax just an indicator for morning or has Kamal put in the concept of animals and birds sensing natural disasters earlier? I wouldn't bet against the second possibility. "remember Hiroshima.. " lines are outstanding and so are Fletcher's last words. The fact that the boat in which Govind, Asin and Narahasi and the all important idol take refuge in, lands up in a church seems to tell us that God is one, across all religions.

As Srikanth has claimed, Kamal has portrayed Rangarajan Nambi as a sort of a Jesus Christ and this is an interpretation which puzzles me. Also among the many tiny loopholes are the amount of time which seems to lapse between the concert and the Tsunami. Too little seems to have happened to justify 8 hours. Also how does Kalifullah seem to know that Govind has to be protected against Fletcher and how can Balram Naidu not enquire more about the two people who had saved Kalifullah's family especially after K R Vijaya's claims that they were a couple? How the little boy from the Muslim family escapes from Fletcher is also not shown clearly enough. The mix up of the ice boxes in the lift is too contrived and just about passes muster. Also we understand that a butterfly's flutter can cause extensive changes elsewhere in the world, but to keep reminding us with that butterfly on the screen is too much in the face. Agreed that here it is India which saves the world, but so many Indian flags in the background and one of them piercing Fletcher's body proves to an overdose. Asin's sudden love for Kamal and Kamal's affection towards Asin also seems too sudden.

One of the recurring themes of the movie seem to be the good arising out of the bad. Be it the most vital destruction of the vial's constituents due to the tsunami or P Vasu turning into a good man after Poovaragan's death. You notice this again when Avatar Singh's cancer is removed due to the bullet wound and Krishnaveni paati's stress release on seeing Poovaragan's dead body. It can yet again be seen when Nagesh proclaims that had they not been taken for questioning inside the mosque they wouldn't have survived the tsunami. To have Kamal and Asin unite at the beach with all the gloom in the background seems to show that life must move on despite the tragedies which happen around us and maybe even to us.

On the whole, as is this review, the movie is about one man, Kamal Hassan and in this it is easy to forget the fact that the director of the movie is in fact a one Mr K.S. Ravikumar seems inconsequential. But again,as in most Kamal movies it is Kamal's influence which is paramount and not regrettably so. He chooses to explore chaos theory and throws in questions of and about scientific ethics, religion, destruction of environment, the prejudiced views against the Muslims of the world post 9/11 and much more. He just about does enough justice to each of these causes. and all of this in the midst of a chase story. Thankfully this is no wild goose chase.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

His Highness Himalayas

The other day in the course of a chat with Srikanth, he suggested that I add a few pics to spice up my blog. I declined saying it'll be akin to using "item numbers" in movies. However in order that I try something different, I have chosen to have a photoblog, a la musical. So i present to you a few photographs taken during my recent visit to a couple of hill stations in northern India.

India's answer to the Golden Gate. Considering we have answered every other gate like Watergate, Camillagate. Monicagate etc this was only due.

What you see in the picture plain rice kept in the vessels being cooked in the hot water springs at Manikaran, a place revered by Sikhs and Hindus alike. This cooked rice is the served at the Gurudwara. The pic below is the Shiva idol in the temple. The rising steam can be clearly seen. The associated legend can be found here.

Wherever you go traffic jams follow. A clear illustration are the photographs below. This one was due to a landslide the previous day which had transformed the already single lane roads into half lane ones at places.

In the above picture focus somewhere in the middle. You'll see a line of small white dots. Those aren't rocks but cars and buses. The advantages of almost all vehicles belonging to travel agencies being white, they present a great picture even during traffic jams.

And while the human beings were suffering from bouts of hunger arising out of staying stuck in the jam for 8 hours, the horses had their fill.

Talk of each photograph speaking a 1000 words, the following speak a million and in turn leave you speechless. (atleast for me. lol. )

And while most of our activities usually begin with a prayer to Lord Ganesha this blog will end with one. Fondly labelled, by myself, as the Kit Kat Pillayar, this is what arose out of fiddling around with a kit kat wrapper.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Murphy's Paradox

If laws were to be proved, then Murphy's Law would not stand a chance, for if we tried to prove it right then whatever can go wrong will, and we'll never end up proving it. So would it be safer to label it as Murphy's axiom instead?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Picture (im)perfect

If you had watched the broadcast of Andrum Indrum Endrum, Illayaraja's live performance in Chennai a year back, on Jaya TV I am sure you will have been haunted by that lovely tune they played each time they went for an ad break. It was Ilayaraja at his mesmeresing best, not exactly a rare occasion, but almost always a breathtaking one. If however I were to ask you which movie the song appears in, I am sure you would draw a blank. I chanced upon the video while skipping through the channels, on Sun Music of course, and trust me I was totally taken aback. Waltzing, kidding of course, it can be described as walking at best, to that tune was Vijayakanth at his young and dashing best, kidding again, and a heroine whose vivacious face and curvaceous body, sorry couldn't resist it (i meant the kidding part) , left me wondering how she wasn't touted as Kollywood's answer to Parveen Babi. And the name of the movie: Auto Raja. Pretty sure that the makers of the movie Auto had this name in mind before having to settle for a more mundane Oram Po, thanks to Kalignar's tax sop to all movies titled completely in Tamizh. That he forgot to mention which dailect of Tamizh and the wonderfully creative titles which came up because of this ruling is another story altogether.

Coming back to the issue of the picturisation of the above mentioned song, it is indeed a sad situation that this is not limited to just this song but to almost all of Illayaraja's classics. Atleast in the times of MSV and before there was never a great effort made because the tunes were simple and the lyrics all powerful. Though the lyrics remained equally poignant through Illayaraja's times, the directors decided that mere walking around wouldn't be enough and they had to jazz it up with dance routines. While the intentions may have been honest,the songs suffered. Often these days, I find myself hurriedly switching channels when I come across an old Illayaraja song being aired because I do not want my love for the song be diminished by the jarring visual.

To repeatedly watch a Karthik or Murali, or even worse some unknown face, try horribly to match step with the tune is a punishment which I wouldn't wish even on my enemy. At times I wonder how Illayaraja could allow for such blasphemy. Here's a genius belting out one masterful tune after another, only for it to be picturized in such a ridiculous manner. Would he not possibly envy the Harris' and Yuvans of today whose songs are made to appear, pun intended, much better than they actually are. How Shankar might have handled a "mayanginen Solla thayanginen" or a "kadhal kasukadaya", if you haven't seen these songs on television blame it on the lack of visual appeal, is a rather intriguing thought. Would he have still gone for those gigantic sets or instead understood the innate brilliance of the song and kept the picturization simple and hence enhance its appeal? Would "podhuvaga en manasu.. " song include some umpteen jaw dropping moves if picturised on Vijayrather than the rustic feel given to it in the actual movie? These are questions which one might say are best left unanswered. One supposes its pretty much the same with Illayaraja's songs. One just wishes they had gone "unpicturized".

Monday, June 2, 2008

Branded Items Only

Once on my way to school, a friend of mine , a year older than myself, asked a kid in 3rd standard from a rather affluent family what his favorite song in Alaipayuthey was. Pat came the answer " september maadham". Slightly taken aback my friend decided to ask just one more question, "have you seen the video?". The reply was not only an emphatic yes but also a naughty smile.

Give and take some exaggeration from the above story it still makes quite a .. story. No this is not a lecture on depreciating moral values in our society. This is about a term cinema critics use: the front benchers. Should a song with suggestive moves or shady lyrics appear in a movie these critics are ready to label it as an effort to please the front benchers. Do they mean to say that the people who sit in the 2nd row of the theatre have any different emotions and reactions to such a song from someone who has paid Rs. 150 and sits in cushioned chairs with his arms wrapped, protectively or otherwise, around his girlfriend. Isn't the baser emotions what the name suggests, something basic. Despite the rather negative connotation to it, its still the same for everyone, independent of the strata he/she belongs to.

To derogate the taste of those sitting in the front rows or to claim that the "back benchers" have a liking only for quality cinema reeks of arrogance and classist tendencies. One would like to ask those who pay in excess of 100 rupees for the movies they watch if they have seen movies from Iran, Korea or Mexico where some of the best and most wonderfully crafted movies are made. I haven't seen them but that doesn't mean I look down upon a Sandai or a Arasangam. If you don't like it, then no issues. But then to claim that one's taste is poor just because he/she finds the movie entertaining is to be judgmental without being practical. After all one man's liking can very well be the other person's dislike.

Another of the prejudices that these critics carry is to judge an "item number" by the director or the star cast. A Mani Ratnam movie item number will be described as tastefully done and providing refreshing change (remember the song in Bombay,? Any other director would have been lambasted while Mani Ratnam draws cheers). I have nothing against Mani Ratnam, in fact I would claim to be his ardent fan, but what irks me is the attitude of the critics and their elitist friends to item numbers. I am pretty sure that parents in posh Mumbai locals wouldn't mind their kids watching Mallika Sherawat belly dance in Guru but would have an issue with her item number, or any song rather, in another movie.

My understanding of the situation, and I would love to hear views, contradicting or otherwise, is that what you watch and appreciate depends on what the people around you would allow you to. In other words, while the tastes of individuals is independent of the strata of society, the appreciation, and I mean the open kind, is very much a reflection of the peer group. What decides whether you are impressed by something is whether it impresses the people you want to impress that you were impressed by that something. Too confusing? This is nothing compared to the tribulations of the guy sitting next to you in the theatre wondering whether he should clap and enjoy an item number or whether it'll reflect badly on him and therefore try and give the impression he's squirming in his seat. By the time he makes up his mind on either choice, the song would have been long over and all the time spent mulling over the options is a waste. Maybe now I understand why they say these songs are meant for the front benchers. They are the ones who derive maximum enjoyment from these songs. They are free of any inhibitions and all those considerations of what the person next to him/her feels. If only the critics would climb down from the false high pedestal they are sitting on and be more open minded in their evaluation of an item number.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

One seat in the Cricket Theatre

All the world's a stage exclaimed the most famous playwright of all time. Ask Lalit Modi about it and he'll readily agree. This may not be the greatest show on earth but it certainly comes close to being the greatest show in the cricket world. (to me the India v Pakistan WC 96 quarterfinal will remain as the numero uno on that count ). When Brendon Muccullum swiped all those sixes on the opening night little did he realize that he had just clapped and said "action" to signal the start of what one can truly claim as a cinematic experience, complete with scantily clad cheer girls, crying stars and rebellious superstars. The theatrics on the field and off it (the forced hug and make up picture of sreesanth and harbhajan complete with Farokh Engineer desperately trying to remain in the picture, will remain among the most comical images of the IPL) would have impressed many a veteran actor. To see the same foreigners who would crib about playing in India in the heat of April queue up to get their share of the pie is possibly the best indicator that money is the overriding factor in anything and everything. Maybe its time for Master Card to change their slogan.

One wouldn want to be left out of such a historic tournament and when the chance came for me to be part of the action, albeit in the sedentary role of a spectator I grabbed it. So on the 21st , with free tickets courtesy Sunil, and Aadi for company I stepped into the ground pretty apprehensive about whether I'll get my money's worth. Considering that the Royal Challengers were playing that was a pretty tough ask . In case anyone is wondering what money I am talking about, it is the time that I was investing in the exercise and I believe in Time is money concept. At least that way with so much time in hand I can feel like a millionaire. With a live concert by Tipu going on, getting into the mood wasn't too difficult and we settled down pretty fast. As the sky darkened threatening showers and then delivering on it, anxiety set in about whether the match would happen. Almost everyone had a prayer on their lips to get the clouds to go away (though at the end of the match the same people were suggesting that a rain would have ensured a better result for the CSK)

As the rains went away and the chances of a full match became brighter so did the faces of everyone around. After all you don't pay in the hundreds and thousands to watch the rainfall. As soon as the match started the whole stadium seemed to ride on new found energy. The best part, about this game atleast, revolved around song and dance. The songs blaring from the PA system and the dance routine of the rather excessively gyrating cheer leaders of Royal Challengers. With a costume that would first send the local politicians to their graves with their heart stopping moves, and then make them turn in them protesting against such "unacceptable public behaviour", they were the ones inducing life into a game which had long been done to death through boredom, thanks to inspid batting performances by both the teams.

Two things became very apparent to me sitting there in the ground. One, Dhoni is pretty much the biggest selling celebrity in Indian cricket at the moment. Despite a string of failures, from his bat and his team, the cheers which greeted everything from the announcement of his name, to his arrival at the toss, his fielding and his batting entry were unlike anything seen before in a cricket ground (except quite obviously Sachin and maybe Dada at the Eden Gardens). The icing on the cake was the song they played on the speakers when he came into bat, "Singam Pola Nadandu Varan chella perandi.. "(translated as "My grandson has the majestic walk of a lion")" from Dhool. One is not sure about the grandson part, but he well and truly seems to have become the most loved adopted son of Chennai.

The other fact which became very clear was that IPL is the biggest cricket success story of the decade. As much as I hate to admit it, (yes I am one of those so called "tradionalists" who'd prefer watching Shivnarine Chanderpaul battling England all alone on the final day of a test match) IPL has brought in amazing entertainment value to cricket. It makes one feel he's got his money's worth at the end of the day. Maybe Lalit Modi does deserve a pat on the back. After all this is the second big he has done for Indian television, the other being the rights holder for Fashion TV in India. Not surprising then that he has figured out that scantily clad women and cricket are a heady mix in India.

P.S Talking about heady mixes, it is worth mentioning that the man has been arrested and jailed on the accusation of possesing drugs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lalit_modi) . That i guess just about proves that he's a seasoned campaigner when it comes to giving people a high.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Goodbye Henin

The world's best backhand has ceased to exist. If ever there was a living proof for a pocket dynamo it was Justine Henin. At just over 5 ft, she was an anomaly in the modern world of women's tennis. As teen sensation after teen sensation came out of eastern Europe, she stood still at the very top of women's tennis.

While her compatriot from Belgium, Kim Clijsters seemed to prove that nice people can't be champions, Henin set about disproving it. There has hardly been any volume raised about her behaviour on court or off it. On the other hand, she's earned plaudits for the way she has handled herself in the midst of all her personal troubles. While she was distancing herself from her husband, she got closer to her immediate family and in the meanwhile found enough strength, mental and physical to win the French Open. Later the same year she went on to win the US Open without dropping a set, a phenomenal achievement considering she had to meet both the Williams sisters en route her victory.

Watching Henin in action was a lesson in graceful motion. Her backhand was one of a kind, and it might not be an overstatement to say it was better than Federer's. The crispness of the shot and the angles she created were to be seen both to be believed and to be stared at in disbelief. At a time when brutal power ruled the courts, she proved that brain counts for more than brawn. To claim that she was this era's Hingis would only do both the legends proud.

Through her playing years Henin has endeared herself to the both the paying public and the critics alike, a sign of a great champion. Its a pity that the world will no longer be her stage and we cannot rejoice in her achievements, for in her we all see a bit of us, the person who broke all stereotypes and emerged as a much loved much admired individual. Men's tennis might have a Nadal for a Federer, but there has never been a constant second to Henin, a true indicator of her stamina and resolve .

As she began to court success on a regular basis, her many detractors maintained she was just robot like and that took some sheen away from her victories. As time progressed however, the world saw more of her human side. Perhaps, the most touching moment of her career was in the course of her French Open victory last year. During the semi-final match, present in her box was a very special invitee, her coach Carlos Rodriguez'z son. Many times before she had claimed that if he wished her she would definitely win the match. That day was no different and her wave to him at the end of the match would be one of the most poignant memories in an illustrious career. We'll miss you, Goobye Henin!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

makes me wonder..

There isn't much of a difference between sports and games. In fact its the olympic games and not the Olympic sports.

But then why does gamesmanship have a negative connotation while sportsmanship is one of the most desirable qualities??

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Trigonometry of Love

Sine Wave: The archetypical love story. The couple take some time to warm up to each other and reach their peak, but just as they start to relish the relationship it all comes down rapidly. Better than cosine in the sense that at least the couple end up where they started rather than down in the dumps.

Cosine Wave: The love at first sight story. It starts on a high. Unable to sustain the impetus it goes for a free fall.

Tan wave: The dream love story. It can't get better than this. After a slow start its a case of up, up and away. There is no stopping this wave and as the name reflects, it almost always seems tangential to the actual curve that one is on.

Cosecant wave: Married life maybe?? Marriages, they say, are made in heaven and it is only natural that this wave starts from somewhere there. And then things start degrading and its all downward for a while until it meets the sine wave. Here, realization strikes and efforts are made to make things better. Reward isn't too far away and soon things take a turn for the better and slowly but surely its back to where it all started, heaven.

Secant wave: " You cheated on me!! ". Those seem to be the words of battered half somewhere in the middle of the relationship. How else can you possibly explain the drastic change in the curve? A sudden jolt when the relationship reaches its heights, and in next to no time both of them are staring at the abyss. Despite forgiveness and conscious efforts to make things better it leaves both the parties involved scarred for life.

Cotangent wave: The fling. They came they saw and they captured each other, albeit briefly. Intense at the start it then takes a dramatic downward plunge. Somewhere in the course of the fall, this curve meets its happy cousin, the Tan curve but lessons aren't learnt and the fall continues unhindered.

P.S The above "analysis" has been done considering only one cycle of the curves starting from zero to pi. Detailed analysis considering the curves till infinity would be very similar to the above ones except for the Tangent or the Cotangent curve which maybe equated with the life cycle of a casanova.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

In continuation with the last post

Talks are also on between Australian players and CSI over whether or not the averages should be calculated keeping in mind the umpiring blunders. Australian players are claiming that these things should affect the averages because they believe these things will even out over a player's career span and in the case that certain people and teams are lucky enough to have things in their favor its not their fault, as such things do happen in the game of cricket.

Ricky Ponting is quoted as saying "Listen mate.. We got 10 lucky breaks in this match and if you look back at all the matches we have played over the last decade I am pretty sure it all evens out. You need to play cricket in the Right(ya, with a capital R) spirit mate". However he did not elaborate on what he meant by right spirit and whether standing your ground after gliding the ball into the wicket keeper's gloves and claiming a catch after having rested in briefly on Mother Earth (as if she didn't have enough burden already) would qualify as Right spirit. And also maybe crying foul when an opponent utters a word or two of aggression towards them when you've been doing this for years now. After all the game needs some cleaning up and racism will not be tolerated. Andrew Symonds in addition to being a good batsman, a decent bowler and a great fielder also seems to be in the team in his capacity to draw racist remarks from the opposition. So next time you say anything to the Australians, make sure you are facing away from Symonds lest they use it to their advantage.

Also, he claims, you get back what you give. The Aussies take good care of the neutral umpires when they visit down under and its only natural that they look to reciprocate such warm hospitality. Maybe BCCI, the richest board in the world, would do well to take note of this fact and treat the umpires well and bother about the players later. After all once the umpires make up their mind it doesn't matter whether the player is good or not or whether its out or not. All they have to do is show their finger at the right moments. As far as the Indian team is concerned they'll be justified in feeling they are at the recieving end of the wrong finger at the moment.

Scorecard changes and battle royale

Following the post-mortem of the second Test match between India and Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground the Cricket Statisticians Inc. (CSI) have decided to ring in a few changes to the scorecard. Now instead of just reading out team scores like 209 for 4, we'll be reading out individual scores in that manner. For instance Symonds' innings will go down in record books as 162 for 3, Hussey's as 145 for 2, Tendulkar 154 for one and Ponting 55 for one. This they say is necessary as they think this will be more revealing about the standards of umpiring in the match and would help in making sure the umpires involved are forced to take this to their graves. However, CSI has decided against it having any effects on averages as they feel this will be unfair on the modern day batsmen as the olden generations are likely to go unaffected due to lack of necessary documentation to apply the new rules to them. However, CSI has said that talks are on to try and fit in an additional column "Wickets Denied" to give some of the due credit to the aggrieved bowlers. Also on the anvil is the possibilty of using half an asterix to indicate when a batsman has been ruled out unfairly.

Another report coming in is about how the best of pals in the Indian team and partners in many run chases seem to be not in talking terms after altercations over who would partner Deepika Padukone. Of late both of them don't seem as chirpy on the cricket field seeming to indicate that they would rather focus their energies on settling this off field issue. It has taken on such draconic proportions that both Yuvraj and Dhoni, keen to spend as much time with Deepika are ensuring they don't stay on the crease for too long and give the least bit of advantage to the other. One only hopes that with Indian batting struggling Deepika tells them she'll prefer the one who performs better on the field. That would be the perfect script for the revival of their batting form.

Friday, January 4, 2008

How to name it (III)

Moreover, considering that the "angel" was at that point in time inside the manger's room was a positive as far as PLC was considered. Suddenly he felt in a manner unlike any other he had experienced thus far. Was this what they called "Love"? Will this mean that he would soon one among the many who called up on the dial in shows of music channels daily, to either boast of their relationship or try and put forth the problems in their relationship to a couple of people who didn't look like psychologists but did a fairly decent job or convincing the world they are indeed love experts, if indeed there existed any. Quickly banishing these rather disturbing thoughts he knocked on the manager's door half expecting him to ask him to hang on outside for a while and also hear stifled laughs and giggles from inside.

Distracted by this totally new line of thought that his mind was taking, PLC missed the first time that the manager asked him to come in and it was only when a slightly agitated manager called out to him loud the next time did he look up with a jerk and the fashion of his entry into the room did absolutely nothing to instill any confidence in him. Sheepishly grinning and eyes scanning the room to catch sight of his lady love ( yes, by now at least he had made up his mind about what he thought of her. Her impression of him be damned, at least for now) he made quite a sight and very fortunately for him the manager decided to put it down to the normal bouts of nervousness that any new comer faces on the first day of office. With a pleasant smile on his face the manager made sure that PLC was feeling comfortable and the by now settled look on PLC face seemed to convince him that he had made the correct impact on the young man. Little did he know that the look on PLC's face was more due to his success in catching the attention of the other inhabitant of the room. By now PLC had decided that she would be the guardian angel in his life and would do quite a good job at it (and it is this impression of her on PLC's mind which helps establish her name as Guardian Angel Par Excellence or GAPE in short). His focus was more on how to make a good first impression on her rather than the manager and in this moment PLC represents many of the ordinary people who tend to get their object of focus wrong at critical moments. So while the manager was discussing details of his training, PLC was busy training his eyes to follow every little movement of GAPE.

All of a sudden and with a jerk similar to the one at the door PLC realized that he had missed out on a considerable part of his manager's discourse so far. And just as he was starting to get involved in the conversation the manager decided to wrap things up and asked PLC to make a move on and get himself acquainted with the others in the office room and especially TIC who would be his mentor during his early days at work. Considering that PLC was just taking his baby steps in the organization, he decided he could do with a close friend or two to guide him through this phase. Having no one he knew earlier working here, he was forced to go through the whole process of working towards a close friendship again. Desperate as he was to quicken the process ,he hit on the strategy that had seemingly worked so wonderfully for him earlier. He had always noticed that the more you reveal about yourself and your little secrets to someone the more they seemed to draw closer to you. Deciding that he knew enough of TIC (and more than enough of CCW) for him to begin a close relationship with him. He decided to fast track the process by letting TIC into the details of the happenings in the manger's cabin, seek help in figuring out what the manger could have told him and profess his liking for GAPE. The point that PLC missed was that while it's all well and good revealing your little crushes to someone whom you have known for a while and have built up quite a bit of trust with, it's dangerous to do the same with someone whom you barely know.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


This is not about the mega budget dance and song extravaganzas which appear from time to time in Hollywood (and strangely is the description given to any Indian, or should I say Bollywood, movie in the western media). This is about the ones which last for barely a minute and appear on TV. Of late there have been quite a few commercials which have depended almost entirely on their music, to succeed. Two such which stand out and I guess this qualifies as success are strangely from the same field, mobile service providers: Airtel and Vodafone.

When, AR Rahman whose initial works include some memorable ad jingles, Leo coffee being one of them, signed up as brand ambassador for Airtel after having refused to enter the ad market till then, it caused a flutter in the industry. The question being raised was whether he was still in touch with the world of commercials to be able to churn out one more hit. He answered it in style with his theme for Airtel which , 3 or 4 years after its introduction, still creates an impact each time its on air. The sheer range of visuals it has accompanied and the perfect changes (though slight) made to the original to suit the mood, and yet not diluting the flavor of the original bears testimony to the brilliance of the composition.

Vodafone, from the Hutch days, though not boasting of a high profile composer ( at least not one I am aware of) has relied on its music to add immense value to its ads and has come out trumps. The "you and I" track remains one of the most hummable ad tunes in recent times , though sadly it is currently "out of circulation". The latest series of ads from Vodafone. on the additional services, are an absolute revelation. Highly imaginative and touching a chord with the common man in terms of the situations portrayed and yet managing to add on such a wonderful comic layer to it, is something not too many ads can boast of, certainly not those without any dialogues. This is where the accompanying music has played an amazing role, in the Art of Living ad more than the rest. The jingles manage to create a humor effect that has never been experienced before in such ads and with stupendous success.

If one were to draw a comparison between the advertisements of these two then one would have to say that while the Airtel jingle adds grandeur to majestic and moving visuals, the Vodafone ones create magic with, and not despite, their simplicity.