Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The romance with Boxing day

My connection with Boxing Day started 21 years ago to this date. Since God didn't deem me fit enough to be a Christmas present to the world, he chose the next best day or should I say the next day, to send me in. But as much as it adds significance to the day from a very personal point of view my looking forward to the 26th of December has been due a whole different reason altogether. And its pretty much the same reason why I get up at 5 every boxing day. Those religiously oriented might assume that it's because of my sense of duty towards God and my eagerness to offer my prayers and thanks to Him. Close, my ritual is intended to pay my obeisance to the demi-gods on the cricket field. As the years have gone by, the Boxing Day tests have become occasions to celebrate the spirit of cricket. The overflowing crowds (and beer cans), their tremendous spirit and many memorable performances have gone a long way in making the occasion even grander.

Apparently the year I was born England trounced Australia by an innings and more. But guess that was just my amateurs luck rubbing on to the English team, for since then as much as millions of Brits would have wanted to see it happen again England have only been at the receiving end of such thrashings. Or as they say in many Tamizh films, "inime adhu nadakannumna oruthan porandu daan varanum". I have done my bit and now look forward to someone else sharing that burden.

The memories of the cold morning of 1999 when India were facing the heat down under while I was praying feverishly at the local temple, more for my sake than the Indian teams I should admit. It was also the debut of Brett Lee who ensured, at that point of time that is, that Rahul Dravid's worst record was in Australia and also as a side job just about end Sadagapon Ramesh's test career with a brutal bouncer. One more heart break was due 4 years later when despite a Sehwag blitzkrieg on Boxing Day India managed to perform to perfection the art of losing test matches away from home despite a brilliant start (Sehwag himself has "starred" in two of these defeats, the other one being on debut against South Africa). The tales of the other teams to tour recently are no different and India can look to take heart from the dismal performances of the others in recent times.

As they often say past is past and a new beginning is what was made today under the guiding light of the "Grand Old Warrior (man is too small a term to be used to describe him)" of Indian cricket, Anil Kumble. To say the least he made my day today. It was sheer delight watching him operate today and his celebration which followed each of wickets was similar to that of a rookie earning his first Test wicket. And looking at his celebrations I just couldn't help wonder whether the number next to the age column was just that, a mere number. It is with these thoughts that I look forward to what the future holds for me rather than look back at the 21 years behind me.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Billa 2007 - Fashionable Faux Pax

Its never easy to remake a classic. Don and Billa might not have been classics according to the critics but for millions of fan across the nation (which would exclude me for I have not seen Don or recollect having seen Billa either) those two movies touched a chord and elevated the status of their lead actors from that of stars to super stars. Thus having such a big precedent to follow one should be aware nothing short of excellent cinema would satisfy the cinema goer. As already established I have not watched the earlier movies which though putting me at a disadvantage when attempting to compare the movies or the stars gives me the advantage of a perspective that most of Tamil Nadu wouldn't have.

Watching a movie on the 1st day brings with it two aspects- one positive and the other negative. The atmosphere tends to be pretty charged for you have some of the most ardent fans of the star in attendance but the price you need to be prepared to pay is that you'll not be able to hear much of the dialogues for the first few minutes or maybe more. With the fear of having to maybe miss out on a few dialogues I entered the theatre. The mad scenes that one witnessed while having to force entry to the theatre proved to be a little misleading as once inside there was little noise and whatever little there was of it was only at the start. As the movie progressed the only noise one could hear was tones of discontent.

The start of the movie pretty much set the tone the rest of the movie. Extremely stylishly shot, Ajit at his dashing best and minimal dialogues. In a way the decision to have as less dialogues as possible seems to have either been taken with some foresight or forced upon them by the utter inability to come up with good lines. The strength of any movie lies in its dialogues and more so a movie which relies quite heavily on packing a punch with minimal dialogues and that's the biggest failing of Billa. Only once in a blue moon did that really mood lifting dialogue come by and the one about Lord Subrahmanya was certainly the stand out. Another negative point is that throughout the movie one is unable to feel any emotion towards any of the characters. To portray a character as aloof in nature is one thing but it not even remotely connecting with the audience is another.

It's all fine to say that movie's do not reflect reality and therefore need not always be logical. But Vishnu Vardhan carries it too far as there is absolutely no sense in any part of the movie. Be it the way that Nayanthara, a total stranger is inducted into the group with absolutely no back ground check done (for a gang thats supposedly been chased by police in over 11 countries one would think that its a rather basic thing to do) or the way in which Velu's escape has been depicted, no sequence in the movie is completely logical. As comforting as it is to know that the Malaysian police are as inefficient as our own, as per Tamil cinema i.e, its rather stupid to think that an officer who's been carrying a pen drive with him for days wouldn't have as much sense to copy its contents on to his computer rather than fight about having it hand it over after the above said period. The director has thrown logic to the winds at all points of the movie and this is an insult to the intelligence of the viewer.

In the matter of individual performances there's very little to comment on. Prabhu as DSP Jai tries to utilize his vast acting experience but yet again fails short of delivering that one good performance that we can rightfully expect from him. Raghuman though appearing in very few scenes seems to have understood the limitaions of the role and performed as the scope provided for him has allowed. The less said about the sidekicks of Billa the better for all they seem to do is just stand next to their Don with the the same supposedly serious look on their faces. "Ranjith" is the only one who seems to have gotten a chance to display some acting skills and he doesn't quite make an impact. Santhanam who had put in good performances in a few recent movies totally disappoints.

When you have Nayanthara and Namitha for heroines one expects the competition between them to be pretty hot but at the end of the show its pretty clear who has come up trumps. Though Namitha's role isn't as much a damp squib as it was in Azhagiya Tamizh Magan she'll still be pretty disappointed at the screen time she's managed here though the screen space she occupies is another problem altogether. Nayanthara on the other hand sets the screen on fire each time she enters and its tough trying to split points between Anu Vardhan for the sexy apparel she's chosen (at times bordering on the bold) or Nayanthara who seems to have worked out overtime to fit into those. Scorching every inch of the frame she occupied she gave quite a few fans in the theatre enough reason to believe they had gotten their money's worth. As far as histrionics go both of them are pretty much on even keel with nothing much to show unlike the costumes they sported.

Ajith as Billa and Velu comes up with a credible performance but definitely not soul stirring. Displaying an icy cool that his character Billa demanded Ajit looks at his stylish best but does little more than mouth stupid dialogues and shoot at will. Complete with designer sunglasses this role does nothing to show us Ajith the actor but instead showcases Ajith at his handsome best. On the contrary Velu provides Ajith an opportunity to explore his comic timing and he seems to have got it as wrong as Dinesh Karthik against Pakistan. The line "enna koduma sir idhu" is now more or less guaranteed to invoke laughter or in the least a smile from the viewer but when Ajith utters the line to Prabhu, the man we owe all the fun to, it just falls flat and this more or less epitomises his failure at comedy. Maybe he could do with a lesson or two from the hero of the original Billa and our beloved superstar who has over the years mastered his comic timing. But of the two characters its Velu that endears at least a little to the viewer and this is perhaps the only success that the director and writer Vishnu Vardhan has managed.

The locales in the movie are simply stunning and the camera has captured them splendidly but then one gets the feeling this is more of the Malaysia- Truly Asia campaigns that we have seen so much of on tv. Its all right to pack a movie with stunning visuals but that alone doesn't make the movie. It needs a soul and in this regard Billa has nothing to bare. On the whole Billa seems more the work of a designer who has tried too hard to display all his wares. Thus, in more senses than one Billa is a fashion show gone horribly wrong.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Of Chappels and Declarations

As one of the most ardent fans of Ian Chappel the critic, I lapped up every word of his on the issue of picking Sehwag for the Australian tour. Little did I realize then that there were 5 even more ardent fans of his, who have shown yet again that age isn't proportional to wisdom. If ever there was anything as playin right into the Aussie hands this is it. In a move a la bakra style the selectors have picked Sehwag virtualy out of nowhere. One does agree that the Indian domestic league isn't the best in the world in terms of reflecting the talent of the individual but it doesn help when the men who pick the national sqaud have absolutely no regard for the goings on there. On one hand we have Akash Chopra, a man who didn do too badly in the last Australian tour either, knocking on the door for a deserved call up to the team and Sehwag a man totally out of form. Maybe its the selectors who have suddenly gone out of touch with reality. One would like to them to remeber that only a few weeks back they dropped Rahul Dravid because he had not scored for 10 matches out of the 300 odd he's played and now to pick someone who barely averages double figures in Ranji trophy this season makes one squirm with disgust. Maybe its the selectors who need to be dropped because of lack of consistency. To make matters worse Sehwag has no place in the team. At a time when Dravid is being touted as a make shift opener to ensure Yuvraj finds a place in the team it reeks absolute callousness on the part of selectors to pick Sehwag who at 29 is not the kind who can tell the press about how much of a learning experience it was to be sharing the dressing room with the "seniors".

Next to the issue of the timing of the declaration in the last test against Pakistan onw wonders when these critics would stop asking people to do what they would never have done in their playing careers. It was indeed a refreshing change to see Mohinder Amarnath defending Kumble's decision during the match analysis on Neo. Here was one man who was more tuned to reality. The same critics who are after Kumble now would have lambasted him had Pakistan won. They would have wondered aloud as to why he had to take a chance when he could have done well enough to have sealed a 1-0 verdict. Maybe its all Kumble's doing. Had he not picked up those five wickets no one would have even thought that a victory would have been possible. To draw a small parallel one would be tempted to say that had he declared at lunch or earlier he would have done a Sreesanth, needless aggression, and by declaring when he did he displayed that remarkable facet of his, controlled aggression. And what's all this talk about what Australia would have done in a similar situation? One wonders how many times the Aussies haven't enforced the follow on in recent times just because of that very very special knock from Laxman at the Eden Gardens. Wouldn one term that as negative mindset? Maybe its time that there was a little bit more perspective in the views of a few of our legends rather than a rush to give their comments and be the 1st to say what everyone else might say. After all having played the game for so many years one would expect them to have a little more insight rather rthan hindsight.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Master and his Protege

For a moment it wasn't clear who had gotten to his century, Yuvraj or Ganguly. When Yuvraj cracked one of the best hundreds seen in recent times with him at the crease, fittingly enough, was his mentor Saurav Ganguly. Friend, philosopher and guide are words that flow too easily through the words of young achievers when asked to describe their mentors but in this relationship each of these words ring true, though at different times.

Ask any Yuvraj detractor, a list growing shorter by the day and including several illustrious names like myself (lol) , the first thing that is agreed upon is that he's indeed a special talent. No objections raised. But it is in translating his talent to performances that he has been found wanting. And it was Saurav who kept his faith in him throughout his lean patches and defended him often in the face of harsh public criticism. Strangely enough , the major part of his successes have come under the captaincy of Rahul Dravid when Saurav was struggling to keep his plae in the team. But one is likely to believe that the foundation for the mental toughness that he displayed during those excruciatingly close run chases were laid during Saurav's tenure. This was the guiding part.

A very special feature of his innigs today was the grit, the determination to put to full use this one opportunity given to him in extremely fortuitous circumstances, with respet to him that is. The basic philosophy was the same for both the batsmen in the middle, to prove their worth to the team and to answer critics and a lot of them. That Yuvraj had with him at the other end, a man who has realized the value of each innings would have helped him immensely.

Through the innings and during that rightfully exuberant celebration one could see that the retaionship between Yuvraj and Ganguly had matured, much like Yuvi's strokeplay. If one though that it was still a guru sishya reltionship where a certain distance had to be maintained, the hug was clearly the indicator to the contrary. While Yuvi was soaking in the moment Ganguly could well have patted himself for finding the right prince to hand over his legacy.

The Prince is alive and kicking, long live the prince.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Smiling Assassin

"I meant to spin it one way and the ball went the other way," Muttiah Muralidaran 03/12/2007

That people, was Murail's answer to describe the delivery which got Collingwood out bowled and handed him, for at least an eternity, the record of Test cricket's highest wicket taker. And it is these words that best describe the man. Humility in the greatest moment of his life. What a man!

To understand how much he means to Sri Lanka as a nation one just needs to look at the series of stamps which have been released to commemorate this feat. All through the series of portraits one cannot miss the intensity of his eyes and the intent which it conveys. His geniality is expressed in his bowling and his love for the game in his wide grin. I say love, for passion is not the word. Passion is owed in some part to an external stimuli but love is totally from the inside. It was clear how much this meant to him, for the ever present grin just got wider and wider and it took a few minutes before some sense of calm returned to the playing arena.

It isn't often that you see children in school uniforms assemble in such big numbers to watch a test match and in this case I presume they even had the permission from their teachers to be absent themselves from school to see the wizard produce one of the most poignant moments in recent cricket history.

Warne might have been the the most charismatic of all the record holders, for he revelled in his excesses. He may have revived the art of spin bowling but Murali helped in redefining it. He may not have had the most beautiful action nor the smoothest run up but then his wrists are worth a museum display. The rip he gives the ball and the turn and bounce he extracts off the wicket are just a reflection of the extraordinary talent that he is.

The critics may claim that he owes his wickets to his dubious delivery action and in part to the number of test matches that he's played and wickets he's taken against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. In all fairness to him and as he himself rightly pointed out its not his fault that Sri Lanka's itinerary are strewn with test matches against those teams. But if there's one thing which goes tremendously in favor of Murali its his record against India and in particular Tendulkar. He can claim to be the only spinner to have dominated against India and Indians will not forget too easily his destructive spells against them. On the other hand India remained as Warne's Achilles heel and this is something he'll have to carry with him to the grave. Warne's greatness lay in his craftiness and the way he worked towards getting a batsman out. On the other hand Murali believed in keeping it simple and his untiring approach was the key to his success. And it is this philosophy that has enabled him to maintain such poise when hounded by the critics.

In his unbridled enthusiasm and child like innocence cricket has found the character that its supposedly made for- the gentleman.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Is there any word/phrase to define a state where you start to pen a few lines on as many topics as you can think of and then delete it without sparing a thought??

Saturday, October 13, 2007

How to name it (II)

Fighting bouts of nervousness and fits of boredom thanks to the continued drivel of CCW, impatience set in. As each passing second grew painfully and exponentially longer PLC was moved to the verge of taking his frustration out on CCW but given his presumed to be calm nature all he could manage was a shrug. As it so happened, at that particular moment CCW was narrating a rather painful experience of his and taking the shrug to be a display of sympathy from PLC, CCW continued his story with renewed vigor. As the tempo in CCW's narrative picked up PLC's shoulder dropped even lower. Yet again this act of PLC's co-incided with a part of CCW's story where his morale supposedly hits rock-bottom. If ever there was any law of conservation of Enthusiasm it was very much at play here. With each passing moment for every centimeter that PLC drooped there was a corresponding increase in the baritone levels of CCW.

At moments such as these, fate plays a rather defining role and this case was no different. With 5 minutes till left to go for his first meeting and apparently no escape from CCW, PLC was fast reaching his breaking point when in walked like (in the words of PLC) an angel who was the most beautiful thing God created on Earth. With his lips split apart wide enough for a Hot Wheels car to comfortably move in and park, PLC's eyes followed the new entrant all the way into the Manager's chamber. At this sight if the laws of biophysics had permitted his mouth would have split open even wider. However already having reached the elastic limits an attempt to open it further caused much hurt and with the realization that he was possibly already making a fool of himself he closed it shut like a Venus fly-trap going after its meal for the morning.

For all of CCW's involvement in the narration of his life story he couldn help but notice the change in PLC's stance. Being slightly dimwitted he was a little dumb founded as to how a guy who had shown such sympathy for some of his lesser sufferings seem so visibly excited on hearing about what he thought was the lowest moment of his life. And now for the first time PLC (or the second if you count the initial greetings) started to involve himself on the conversation. Impose would be a better word for over the next few minutes question after question was thrown to CCW about the manger. The answer to the first had revealed to PLC that the female who passed through was not the boss and this was followed by a huge sigh of relief for trying to go after a beautiful lady was one thing but going after the boss would have been pure sacrilege. Besides, chatting up with females was uncharted territory for PLC and he was no Columbus either. The next few questions directed to CCW were intended to figure who exactly this mystery female was. CCW being of the talkative nature, as established, however chose to launch into a totally not required tirade of words to start every answer. Time was running out for PLC.

As much as PLC had spent five minutes hoping to see his boss turn up and relieve him from the excruciating lectures from CCW, the sight of his fellow employees rising one by one to greet a tall, fairly dark complexioned, well dressed young man pained him now. It was pretty obvious that this young man was the manager and it was only left for CCW to confirm this fact by uttering the word "boss" twice in a hushed tone like a 5th standard student fearing a hiding should he get caught talking. Caught between his desire to continue interrogating CCW and the requirement to immediately rush into the manager's room, the choice though difficult was an obvious one for PLC to make. He trudged file in hand, into the room.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

How to name it

Preceded by whiff of fresh air, and followed by a stale smell resulting from an unwashed box of Thayir Sadam he had packed for lunch two days back Poor Little Chap (who shall henceforth be referred to as PLC) entered the office with a new found determination. He decided that he had had enough of being bullied around and taunted by almost everybody in the office. He had his group of his friends or so he wished. For he knew as well as they did that it was just a marriage of convenience.

The events of his first day at office was still so fresh in his mind. He had so looked forward to that day. The day he thought would change his life forever. He believed that this was destined to be the turning point in his life, a day which would start off the process of erasing all the forgettable memories he had accumulated through his rather "eventful" school and college life. The very thought of making new friends and acquaintances thrilled him. The first person he met was the guy who would later become his Tormentor-in-Chief ( and who will henceforth be called TIC) . Ah! There seemed to be such a natural bond. It was fate, he opined, that had delayed the introduction of such a character in his life. But, its better late than never. With all such thoughts randomly criss-crossing his mind he walked up cheerfully to TIC and what ensued was the typical first meeting. Handshakes and introductions later they were happily chatting about their respective pasts and how lucky they were to have managed a job in this company.

It was 830 in and the others started to trickle in to the office. Monday morning blues had suddenly seemed out of fashion for all around he could see so many cheerful faces. The previous night had played host to one of the most memorable moments in Indian sport. The first Olympic Gold from an independent event had finally arrived. And the fact that it came in wrestling, that oldest of Indian sports was a surprise and yet not as much a jolt as maybe if it had arrived in tennis, the latest fad amongst the dominant middle class. Not since Bhim had an Indian wrestled with so much energy and vigor, they exclaimed. One thing that never changes with us Indians is the hype which we manage to add to any notable achievement. He would get a reception that would rival that which the Indian cricket team got after they had won the T20 World Cup, beamed a television channel. A rival news channel quoted a "confidential yet reliable" source in stating that the Indian government would present a cheque of ten crores to the champion. An individual olympic gold medal is no mean achievement, but at some point we need to understand that a little bit of understated celebration would add much more value to a victory rather than frenzied reactions of euphoria.

PLC took one more look at the entrance hoping that his first day at the office would, cinema style, would also be the day when he would meet his lady love. Unfortunately in the harsh realities of the modern day world such fairy tale inspired thoughts do not bear fruit and it was with a concealed sense of disappointed that PLC trudged to his cubicle. Newly furnished and spacious to comfortably seat one person, a luxury in these times of cramped office spaces, his cubicle seemed to welcome him into a totally new world. He glanced at his watch, for maybe the 15th time in 5 minutes. Impatience was creeping in. He had to meet his boss, a unknown quantity to even those who had spent months with him in the office and to him he would remain an enigma, forever, at 9.

As he started to count each second down, his eyes fell on a guy who was glancing at him form time to time. Curiosity had gotten the better of him and it didn't seem likely to leave him anytime soon either. Desperate as PLC was to fast forward the ten minutes to his meeting, he decided to go up and speak to this curious co-worker(and as per tradition already established, this new character will also be henceforth be referred to by a shortened name reflecting his nature, CCW) of his.

to be continued....

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Maiden attempt

There are times, you wish there never was..
when the cocoons in your stomach,
decide its time for freedom and fly out..
your mind has a mind of its own..
the fingers seem to find a new rythm.,
as they move about with a new found sense of (un)purpose
and legs dance to a tune that you never thought existed,
but through all this the heart keeps beating,
as though nothing else was happening
how you wish you could afford to be like that..

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Shave sahi.. tension nahi..

It was a brief look at the mirror.. the fleeting glances at yourself that u so want to avoid.. those which u never wish u had to do as a 20 year old.. but u do come across situations when u have to "reflect" on urself.. this occasion, it was part of my routine before the dash to the lecture complex..

and there it was.. glaring and so obvious that u cudn miss it.. my month old beard was showin up pretty badly.. for 30 happy days I had put off the ritual of placing a razor on my cheeks and following it up with ten minutes of madness as it flew across the face at angles they never mentioned in geometry class and at speeds which will give light a complex.. the whole job had to be done quick, real quick.. the longer it drags the more painful it is..

they warn u at home... the first time u r so raring to go and take out every minuscule bit of hair u find on ur face they told u.. that all this will seem very exciting the first time but as time progresses u will grow to hate every moment of this practice.. ah.. how true were these words..

back then in ur age of innocence u never had to worry about such things.. life was so peaceful.. no worries about beards which irritated every ounce of flesh on your face.. but then there do come the times when u r very proud of it.. when u shape it ur delight.. the long side burns.. the goatee.. the french beard (though for me it was a disaster first time around and from then on its been a strict no no ) .. the best part always came a couple of days after you had wrenched out the beard.. the little sproutin called the stubble made u feel so good.. it gave you fresh hope.. that even beards can make you feel good...

but then the tragedy with beards occurs when you let them grow on you for too long.. initially u feel so good about it that the very thought of shaving makes u shudder.. and then follows a period of time when u let it grow, for u deem no harm can arise out of it.. this turns out to be the mistake.. for once u let it go past this period, it gets to ur nerves.. through the skin of ur face..

irritation sets in.. u think u r so much better off without it.. but by then it has become so much a part of you that u do not have the heart to remove it.. this is the time when the mistake magnifies into a blunder..

after all, not for nothin did our ancestors always maintain anything evil (in this case read: not good) should be weeded out.. not allowed to go past that stage.. once again pearls of wisdom ignored..

and as it happened to me today, there arises a new found vigor to shave.. to throw caution to the wind and go for the kill.. new found energy means a rush of blood in your hands.. and this translates into a rush of blood again, but only this time from a cut on the face.. a mark which no man likes to leave, for it shows complete lack of ability in what shud be deemed as each man's core competency.. most of the times the impression that the cut makes vanishes pretty quickly and this is usually followed by a big sigh of relief.. u'll be lucky if people do not notice either the cut mark or the sigh which follows a tad later..

but sometimes it leaves a scar.. each time u look at it, u repent the times when u could so easily have shaved it off but chose not to.. when the scar starts to hurt, u wish u never let the beard grow in the first place..

After today, I have 2 of those....

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Airtel Anthem??

On the occasion of our nations 60th anniversary of Independence, we have witnessed the ultimate insult to our national anthem No, its not some buffoonery on a stage when the national anthem is played. Its not even some one refusing to stand up to it while its being played or sleeping through it while on stage. It comes disguised as a show of respect to the national anthem.

To commemorate 50 years of Independence, AR Rahman and Bharatbala productions produced a remarkable tribute to the nation and its anthem through their compilation Jana Gana Mana. Very well placed intentions and a job which deserved all the credit it got. Ten years later the album makes a comeback a la Saurav Ganguly style. Here the credit should go to the media, though one can claim that after all they just did their usual job of hyping everything up. But on this occasion, we can pardon them, for the cause for which they have allocated screen time and space is a honorable one.

But then, at the end of a remarkably moving and poignant video comes a caption One billion people, One voice. My first thoughts on it was that it was an eyesore. Only when it played out fully and displayed the Airtel logo did the patriot in me rise, seething with anger. The demon in commercialization had just got its biggest victim yet. The national anthem. For all that one might argue that they are mere sponsors and therefore deserve to be mentioned, cool enough. But then the mention should be in that capacity only. Maybe a note of thanks to them for making this possible. The whole thing makes it look like they OWN the anthem. And what is it with a take off on the national anthem as caller tunes (JAYA HE) ?? A person choosing that as a caller tune is supposed to be displaying patriotism?? If so, that will be the most farcical of such displays. Anyone with an ounce of respect for the national anthem will twitch at this idea. For God's sake,leave the nationl anthem alone and not make it just another object to derive profit from.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Musical Journeys

Rs 4.50 . The cost of the ticket from college to Chattram (supposedly the most happening place in Trichy). Its the worst time to travel in the city, Saturday evening. The traffic (yes Trichy isn't immune to it) is painful. The number of people in the bus can be calculated as total volume available/average volume of space occupied by a person +25 . The constant is to account for children who occupy lesser volumes, though there are men and women who more than make up for it and the 20 odd people who are footboarding at any point of time. By all means one would expect the mood in the bus to reflect irritation and uneasiness, constant bickering to support it and of course lots of cursing in low volumes about the uncle who keeps pushing people and trying to make more room for himself.

Lo and behold! The speakers start to crank up some noise. Slowly the music starts to drift into your ears. Hints of recognition strike the mind. And then the volume goes up and its that "kuthu" song from the super hit movie Dhool. People start drumming on whatever solid mass they can get their hands on. Its a pretty cacophonous atmosphere but then you can not help getting into the groove. Slowly and reluctantly your hands move towards the back of the seat in front of you and in a few moments you are totally in it. The song comes to an end and you wait impatiently for the next one to start. With these guys you never know the kind of collection. They can enthrall you with some of the best songs of all time or just squander the initiative and play a really arbid number and all the drumming will come to a sudden stop. This time however the theme seems to be the recent "kuthu" hits and everyone's happy to hum and drum along. No humdrum here though.

Normally one would be hoping for the journey to come an early end, but somehow the mood is so uplifting that you pray for the bus to get into a traffic snarl. However as it so happened the bus driver seemed as charged up as we were and put one heavy feet on the accelerator and appeared never to want to take it off. The destination was reached in double quick time and light years quicker than what i had hoped for.

May the person who thought of the whole idea of songs on buses live long.

P.S In the eventuality that the person is dead, may he enjoy the company of the apsaras in heaven.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Indian Cricket team bitten by Vadivel bug??

Yes, we have credible evidence to believe so. The first hint was given by a report about Dinesh Karthik's unexpected call up to the Indian team for this world cup. The report says that Karthik, on receiving the news was so surprised by the decision that he refused to believe it. On the insistence of his parents, though , Karthik called up Vengsarkar and asked him "neenga enna vechu caamedy geemadi pannaleye??". Shortly after this we chanced upon a video of an interview of Karthik's opening partner Wasim Jaffer. When asked to reflect on his successful run of four consecutive non-zero single digit scores all he had to offer as a reply was a cry, Vadivel style ("Auuuwwwwwuuu").

Another incident which came to light recently only strengthened our suspicions. This time it was an incident from the 2003 WC. The first over of that final would forever be remembered for the flare up between Hayden and Zaheer Khan. When contacted about this earlier, Zaheer Khan had refused to divulge any details. However, recently when a reporter caught up with Mathew Hayden the whole matter came tumbling out. Apparently, after the first ball Zaheer Khan walked up to Mat and told him "Idhuvaraikum yaarum enna adichadilla". Amused by this preposterous claim Hayden shot back saying "Adhaan Ponna match adichen la??". Zaheer Khan, whose wit is reportedly quicker than his bowling, retorted "Adhu ponna match.. Na solradhu indha match"!!! The rest as they say is history ,for ,that would remain the only battle India would win on that day. Talking about World Cups, one man whose fortunes took a 180 degree turn between the two world cups was Pepsi Airtel Tendulkar. The joke in the dressing rooms around the world on this, also has the inevitable Vadivel touch to it. During the 2003 WC, whenever Tendulkar walked to the crease the opposition would be moaning "Vanduthaaya vanduthaaya". However the vicissitudes of fate so have it, that during this world cup, as soon as Tendulkar walked out of the pavilion into the ground, the opposition started celebrating the imminent fall of his wicket with cries of "kelambitaaaya Kelambitayaaa".

With our sights firmly set on what to do we decided to do delve deep into the matter. The first person we contacted in the Indian team was the swashbuckling Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He said that Vadivel had contributed a lot towards whatever little he had achieved so far. However, that's all that he would reveal. Next up was India's perennial hope for the future and Mr. Undependable, Yuvraj Singh. He too supported Dhoni's statement and was very much appreciative of the help that Vadivel had provided to them. And as if on cue he also refused to disclose much else. That kindled the investigative fire in us and as respectable journalists we had to get to the bottom of the issue. Sources, who did not wish to identified, (they wore monkey caps and mufflers while talking to us) came up with a couple of incidences which threw some light on the matter. On one occasion when Vadivel was visiting the camp Dhoni was, as usual, trying to show off his long locks to a couple of good looking females in the crowd. (Yes, we Indians ought to be the most stupid people to go watch a team in practice). Obviously miffed at Dhoni's behavior Vadivel walked up to him and taking out his comb said "enga kittayum mudi iruku, naangalum seevuvom". Taken aback at such a rebuke Dhoni decided to cut short his hair and lengthen his stay at the crease.

It also transpires that Yuvraj had gone to our man Friday and asked for advice. Vadivel in his usual inimitable style told him point blank "Un starting la nalla thaen irukku, aana un finising seriyille pa". These pearls of wisdom helped transform Yuvraj's batting more than what Greg Chappel and his team of biomedics and psychiatrists and physiologists and software engineers and chauffeurs could. What followed was a record breaking run of 17 consecutive victories while chasing a target and at the forefront were Vadivel's two protégés Dhoni and Yuvraj.

Even the seniors in the team do not seem to have escaped from this phenomenon. They were all praise for Vadivel and said they drew a lot of strength from him. When asked to elucidate, one of them said that despite some hard hitting and constant humiliation Vadivel still held his head high and took it all in his stride, and that is what they had also learned to do. They seem to be confused between movies and real life, which is only too obvious considering that they spend most of their time in front of the camera. Besides, their stint at the crease lasts just about as long as the ads that they star in. Ganguly for instance has resorted to the comedians hit line every time he gets hit while ducking for a ball pitched three yards in front of him. Totally believing in the adage "laughter is the best medicine" he looks at the bowler and says "Vendam!! Vallikudu!! Azhiduduvaen!!". But as with most things else, he seems to have misunderstood the saying. You need to be the one laughing for it to help and instead, not have everyone else laughing at you. In fact, that will add mental agony to the existing physical pain. But no one dare question Dada, for the fear that Calcutta might burn. (No! They do not have the practice of video taping it.. We'll leave that for Vivek to do)

Even the most senior statesman and always straight faced Kumble seems to like resorting to the comical punch lines. Young Piyush Chawla all eager to learn the tricks of the trade came jumping with enthusiasm to Jumbo. And guess what Kumbls says to him?? "Annen bomma trainnum, bomma planum vaangi vechuriken.. Adha vechu velaaandikittiru". A thoroughly bemused Chawla had no option but to join in in the boisterous laughter around the dressing room. The other bowlers too seem have at some point faced this treatment. A case in point being a match against South Africa. After Sreesanth got hit for 18 runs in the first over Dravid walks up to the batsman and pleads with him saying "No, Sreesanth paavam", Keeping this request in mind the batsman chose to play the next over from Sreesanth with totally unnecessary concentration and restraint. However, since the scoring rate had to be helped along they decide to go after India's number 2 bowler for the past decade, Ajit Agarkar. Having plundered a dozen runs in the over the contended batsman stroll towards each other for a mid pitch conference. Now, Dravid in a desperate bid to gain some respectability for his bowlers once again beseeches the batsmen, this time, not to go after Agarkar. Totally annoyed at these constant cries of the Indian captain they decided to go no holds barred and ended up with a total of 350 odd. At the end of the innings Dravid was left shaking his head remarking "Indian Bowling, total damage!".

Just when we were about to go to print with this unique story of comedian inspiring 11 other comedians, we got our theories confirmed. It came from the mouth of Dravid himself. At a post match conference after yet another loss (of face) in the World Cup, Dravid explained his team’s performance thus " padinoru peruma.. Summa suthi suthi maathi maathi adichaanga.. naangalum rosham vandhu adhikalaaamnu ponnapa avanga onnu sonnanga .. " ,a pause, raising expectations, "engala paarthu nala vanganu sollittaama". The dialogue delivery was so outstanding that all the press reporters ( and there were more of them than the crowd at the match) stood up and applauded. The resonating cheers reminded one of the atmosphere at Eden Gardens and for sure Dravid would have felt at home, in the otherwise hostile atmosphere.

At the end of all this we decided that we'll leave the final word to the hero of the story, (Vadivel's second such outing after 23m pulikesi). We put forward the question on how he felt to be respected and revered so much by the Indian cricket team. For once, even he seemed at a total loss of words and all that he (m)uttered was "Enna kodhuma Saar idhu??".

Friday, June 22, 2007

Political Mess(age)

This is an era of political messes. Not just in India but everywhere across the globe. We have gaffes being committed by politicians cutting across nationalities. Recently, Obama was forced to apologize after his campaign team had distributed videos which showed Hillary Clinton in bad light. Another incident involved Sarkozy denying allegations that he was drunk while attending a press conference, besides stirring up a controversy with his holiday on a yatch, immediately following his victory.

Back home in India, blunders would be a more apt term for the acts that our politicians have time and again, showed they are capable of. Be it openly speaking against their own party policies (some might put it down to freedom of expression) or throwing baseless allegations against anyone who shows a semblance of opposition, they just about manage to take the cake.
But then as always one could with some introspection before jumping to any conclusion.

The media, which oscillates from playing helpful sidekick to dirt thrower, plays a major role in playing up these little bloopers. Ever ready for a sound byte and even more willing to get their hands on anything they seem worthy of a "Breaking News" tag, they follow absolutely no standards. With the number of news channels on the bloom the fight for the TRPs only get tougher. So, when anybody who's barely a somebody, says or does something that the society in general would not expect him/her to say/do, it's blown out of proportions. And in a media dominated world, the leaders and the hopefuls can seldom hope to neglect it. With this in mind they happily go on with their spin doctoring ways. But then with almost everyone more than eager to jump onto this bandwagon, space becomes a constraint. What follows is a merry go round, with today's favorites becoming tomorrow's whipping material.

Here's where it becomes difficult to pin point the actual defaulter. Is it the politician who commits the gaffe, mostly unintentional, or the media which is only too eager to highlight every such act?? After all, the politician is also another human being, despite his mostly debauched ways, and is entitled to make a mistake once in a while. The media on its part does its job of reporting news, though sometimes they are guilty of creating their own news.

A tough decision as it maybe, but like most things else ,the best way to settle the issue will be to put the blame on the politicians!!

All's Fair in Love and War

A guy is spotted in a ladies hostel trying to get his hands on a Fair and Lovely tube. Another is "thankful" that there is something to take care of him or rather the colour of skin while he's at work. Whats' all this fuss about? Frankly it gives me a complex. Isn't brown a respectable and acceptable color anymore??

When a leading actor decides to play brand ambassador, its a surprising turn of events in a culture that has had a song extolling black, a national award winning one at that. It is only now that we men can possibly feel the angst that so many millions of women across the nation would have felt time and time again, when color was the reason for rejection and dejection. No, I am not playing feminist here. It's just the complex getting to me. Its pretty scary actually. Long gone are the days when men were referred to as dark and handsome. Its now dark and therefore not handsome. Songs like "Fear of the Dark" take on a totally new meaning. In all fairness, this is truly a dark age for colored people.

In a couple of generations people will be seen grafting white skin and couples will be altering the genes of the child in the womb, to make sure that it is born fair. A couple of centuries later kids will be queueing up in museums, to get a glimpse of the preserved body of the "dark" uncle. And maybe that's when the darker shade will make a spectacular comeback, for only when something goes totally out of vogue will it stand a chance to storm back into fashion. Isn't the seventies celebrated now in terms of fashion and culture. For all that you know, the Europeans might be first to convert to blacks and browns, tired of the homogeneity in their environs. And then we will try to ape them and start converting too. Maybe that's what it will take for colored people to be respected, for the native Americans and British to be colored themselves.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

SIVAJI - The ????

Eight hours,time taken to fully recover from the effects of watchin unfold on the giant screen, the most hyped tamizh movie of all time. The trailers were watched, dissected and analyzed for a clue as to what the movie would hold for us millions of expectant fans. Trust me, even after watching the movie I am clueless about the happenings in the movie.

It all started wonderfully well, the stylized super star logo and some hep music to go with it. And just when we were expecting him to air drop from a plane straight onto the picturesque landscape and start dancing to his intro song, Shankar surprises everyone with a drastically different intro scene, one of the few pats on the back that go to him. And then of course, all the hooting and whistling came when the super star made his first appearance on the screen.

From here till the interval its a Rajini-Vivek show. The superstar's comic timing standing out and Vivek providing perfect foil makes for some hilarious moments. And in the meanwhile our supposedlly "urbane" villain enters the film. One wonders what on earth made Shankar pick him for this role. It's frustrating to see Shankar totally mismanage his villain. The dialogue delivery is stupendously poor and the cooling glass seems to be there to do a cover up act of Suman's expressionless eyes. And one does have to say, the cooling glass does its job to perfection unlike Suman.

Shreya looks absolutely stunning and adds more than the requisite dose of glamour in the songs,which ooze class. The sets for Vaaji Vaaji and Sahana are mindblowing!! And the efforts that Rajini makes, with the help of his "mama" Vivek to capture her heart gives rise to some of the best moments in the movie. A special mention needs to be given to the banner which welcomes Shreya's family on their visit to our hero's place. In the midst of these light moments a teaser of the actual story is thrust in, lest one forgets what the movie is supposed to be about. The court scene where Rajni admits to his guilt makes absolutely no sense that too considering his defence attorney costs 20 lakhs . Either, the super lawyer doesn seem to have breifed Sivaji on how to face questions in a court of law or Shankar tries to give an image of Sivaji as next only to Gandhiji and Harischandra in trusting the power of truth. Nothing wrong with that, but coming as it does after all the tribulations where truth and correctness has done more harm than good to our hero, we would atleast like him to have some common sense.

The scenes leadin upto to the interval manage to create quite big expectations and the first scene after the interval only seems to convince us more that there are great things to come. On the contrary, the movie goes on a downward spiral that too after promising dizzying heights. What follows are a sequence of events which are very hard to put into words and even harder to digest.

Sivaji hits a goldmine by cashing into the black money of our leading politicians, industrialists, their personal secretaries etc etc. Now, he comes up with a scheme to convert all this black money into "white" so that he can put it to good use through his Sivaji foundations for constructiong hospitals, educaitonal institutes and industrial parks. Honest intentions but pathetic treatment by Shankar makes the whole matter seem like a stroll in the park. Also in the middle, rajni displays dazzling skills on his laptop, to uncover black money details, that would make Vijaykanth's antics with Widows Media Player look like childs play. It was never more easier for our Ministers,MLAs, Thalukdars and naatamais to be bashed up. The office room sequence is barely enjoyable once, but when its done thrice over it gets to the nerves. The fight sequences deserves special brickbats. One wonders whether scenes from Sultan. the upcomin animation flick about our Super star were flicked and a garb of reality tried to be cast on it. Though the first fight sequence manages to raise a few laughs the rest would barely deserve a mention.

By the time the climax arrives, weariness has already set in and Mottai Sivaji's irritating mannerism of playing percussion on his tonsured head is the final nail on the coffin. One wishes the director had used his head better.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The tale of two goals

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the following video is worthy of an epic.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Reviewing the reviews

Piping hot filter coffee on one hand and The Hindu's Friday review on the other, an awesome combo. I could no longer enjoy the first part when I left for NIT Trichy looking at 4 years of hostel life ahead of me. Then a couple of years later I lost interest in the second. As a matter of routine the reviews in the paper were becoming a farce. Any movie, barring a Vijayakanth(poor him) one, would be eulogized. Each storyline being touted as the next big thing in Tamil cinema. The histrionics of everyone from the lead actors to their parents and grand parents to the passerby who takes a curious peek into the ongoing fight scene appreciated to an extent even they would find too embarrassing. And then would follow the standard format of naming every technician and praising his role in the making of the movie. To be fair to the Hindu, its not just its reviews but those of the websites which seem to take this path.

The nadir to me were the reviews for the Thiruttu payale (Con man!!). To the unitiatated, it is a movie which at best entertains in parts. Mostly it turns into a display of skin rather than acting skills. With its share of twists and turns it made for a highly engrossing movie or so they said. What came to their rescue was the fact that the movie turned out to be a decent grosser at the box office. And this has been the case for quite a few movies that followed also, including another starring the same actor.

Now, where does this lead us to. When the reviews paint a rosy picture of any flick which releases, with the exception i have mentioned, it becomes difficult for the viewer to make a choice. In this melee even the movies which are actually good are not able to stand out in the reviews because of the same phrases and praise used here as with every other movie. Nowadays, when one wakes up Friday morning he can read the review with the same sarcasm as when viewing the flick endorsed in it.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Hairy Potter and his Earthly Hallows...

Rafael Nadal b. Roger Federer 81(82 balls).

Clean bowled if the scoreboard would allow it. Who cares though?!! It doesn't matter how you exit when you have set the stage on fire for the time you occupied it. Not often does an in individual dominate world sport in a manner that Fedex has. Well, what is a statement of praise for the swiss fizz doing in an article dedicated to Nadal. Simple, one cannot look at his domination of clay by isolating Federer's domination of the game. Sample this, today was the first time that Roger has beaten Nadal on clay, and he still has a losing record overall against Nadal.

My assurances, this is not going to peter out to a now much repeated and heated debate of who's the better of the two or anything of the ilk. This's just an attempt to put in words a mammoth achievement. Across sports you'd find winning streaks extend for a dozen games maybe a couple. But 81?? Staggering! Critics can claim it was his favourite surface and not the world number one's favourite either. Even if were to play our favourite games in our backyards against a four year old and set our own rules this is not a number we can dream of. What makes Nadal's achievement even more special is that he has in the course of this winning marathon, streak is too minuscule a word for this, beaten the past masters of clay. Players who would pride themselves on their ability to go on forever just to win a single point. Guys who's cabinets contain multiple French Opens, and even more Masters tournaments on clay. And ya, he's also beaten a player touted to be the all-time greatest, not just once but enough times to prove that each of the earlier victories were not of the flash in the pan kind, if at all anybody still harbored any doubts.

Now, we come to a pertinent question. Where does this place in history, a treasure trove and a labyrinth at the same time. No one who takes a journey back in history of any sport return disappointed nor can he come with a clear picture of what he wqas looking for. Every great achievement carries a unique weight of its own. With this in mind, the simplest thing to do is to cease to be the judge and just take in the moment and leave the tougher part to the generations to come. In the mean time let's just lift the glasses as high as we can and raise a real big toast to Rafa.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sleepless in Villupuram

It was a dark and stormy night.. or so goes the supposedly worst start to a book possible. The weather condition that night was drastically different but my experience not far from the worst possible.

The second week of may isn't exactly the time to look forward to a train journey especially if you are in the southern parts of India an that too in the midst of the hottest summers in a long time. Guess "global warming" too has its share of favoritism. And having just finished yet another semester, successful or not is a question to be answered only when the results arrive, the hero of the story , (warning: in most future blogs this habit of referring to myself as the hero of the story will continue) has a rather filling dinner before boarding the train to push off to his hometown.

The dinner proves to be thirsty in the same measure as it was tasty. What that means is that our hero has a dreadful time sleeping. Not only is he damn thirsty but is also haunted by thirst in his dreams. This means a highly disturbed sleep before he finally awakens to his now dominant need for water over sleep. Now using the cell phone as a torch he focuses it on a face believing it be of his friend's, hoping thus, to wake the poor guy up to demand some water. As it happens the person whom i am trying to wake up wakes up in one of the other berths. Lucky to have escaped the wrath of the stranger our hero quenches his thirst, or so he thinks, and goes off to try catch some sleep. The train comes jerkily to a halt and its barely two hours (3 a.m) since the previous attempt to sleep and the thirst still unsatisfied. So, getting down from the train i discover that the halt is at villupuram. At that moment a vendor arrives selling hot milk. Seeing that as a possible solution to quench this seemingly eternal thirst, not the knowledge kind, the hero quickly gulps down the glass of milk.

Five minutes pass and the dreaded thirst comes out on top again. I was certainly losing this battle. At this point an enquiry about the nearest stall selling water results in me giving up any hope of buying water for the stall is apparently located at the opposite end of the platform. Given that no train stops for more than ten minutes at any station, I deem it too risky to try get down to the other end and be back again. Now, the wait begins for the train to start and increase the possibility of getting atleast some cool,chill will be asking too much, breeze blowing into the face. Five minutes pass and no sign of any attempt to get the train moving. Another enquiry for water follows and this time the reply is more reassuring revealing the possibility of a vendor selling water just a couple of coaches away. The search for this "vendor" turns futile. The thirst just gets more dominating. Patience, cried the inner soul, urging me to wait for just a couple of minutes for the "cool breeze".

Five minutes pass and the theories of the driver having slept off are doing the rounds, in my now restless and half unconscious mind. This is when the hero feels the need to get things moving. Well, my mind in a state described earlier orders me to make a dash for the water stall. What follows is a full speed run interspersed with tense sideways glance to check for an open door for me to jump into in the eventuality of the train decided to move it. Arriving at the stall our hero quickly grabs a bottle of water and starts the return leg of his run. For the next thirty seconds, my thirst takes a backseat, and instead the thoughts of getting back into the still dormant train take top priority. Once back in the safety of my seat i take in what will remain for some time to come, the sweetest tasting gulp of water.

Now, I decide to go out once again and take in the wonderful "view" which was earlier distorted by the need for water. And just as i was about to doze off on one of the benches outside, the horn blows. To me it sounded like the sound of trumpets at the time of victory. And so, the ordeal which seemed to last for eternity, something the reader of this post can surely relate to, finally came to an end.


I would like to begin my new blog innings with a note of thanks to Google for ensuring that i would not have to look at my sins of the past each time i blog, by "forcibly" making me take to a new blog space. And one fervent wish too.. that Shastri be made permanent cricket manager, whatever that's supposed to mean, so that the cricket lovers can celebrate the comeback of ESPN Star into cricket broadcasting with a lot more happiness. Cheers!!!