Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Happy New Year... in advance..

Its been a eventful (if not wonderful) year. A particularly good year for the Indian economy one. Good cricket and good movies too which meant that I had a good time this year amidst all the work and drudgery. The finish line seems so near but what lies thenceforth preplexes. Have to wait and watch.

A good year for the Indian cricket team, a couple of sound drubbings from the Aussies not withstanding. We have proved to be the only team seriously challenging them, as the first three tests of this series have proved. Sydney might just prove to be the final nail in Steve Waugh's coffin as he departs the cricketing world. As for the other talking point these days, Sachin will be hoping for a longer stint at the crease at the SCG. Hope he does enf for another new born to be named Sydney!

Last year, this time, I was in India in the final throes of what proved to a great trip. I wish I could spend more time like that. But i guess that has to wait at least until my thesis is done. Anways, a trip to NYC beckons. A couple of friends were driving down and hence this could be a good and yet a cheap trip to the Big Apple. I jumped at the chance and here I am, blogging a couple of hrs before I leave.

Anyways guys, have a good New Year's Eve and wonderful year too! Adios.. see you next year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

For a few wickets more.. But the cost.. a few more no-balls?


Hmm.. Interesting to see how the whole Indian team mentality vis-a-vis fast bowling works. A day before a key test, this is what one leading bowler says in on of his chats with reporter that was featured on Rediff.

Sample this - Khan said his approach would be the same as at the 'Gabba -- bowl flat out against the Australians, even if he oversteps the crease a few times. "But for losing wickets on a no-ball, I don't mind [overstepping]. For me, the key has always been to hit the right length and get my rhythm going."

Is this how the team management feels? Is it not possible for a bowler to go flat out without overstepping? It looks as if Indian bowlers cannot. Time and again we have seen that from Zaheer and Co. Even slower Indian bowlers like Ganguly and Kumble (another bowler who seems to overstep regularly) don't seem to be free from this malaise.

In the last side game against Australia - A, in the first session, Ganguly seemed to be the best bowler on view. But soon after the lunch break, Ganguly in his second over, oversteped 3 times. But luckily the batsman either tapped the ball back or leaves it alone as it is wide (maybe he was too surprised, each time). But in his very next over again, Ganguly overstepped again twice and this time the analysis at the end of the over read - Nb(4), 1, Nb(4),0, 0, 0, 4, 0. The pressure that he personally had applied on the batsmen as a result of his till then relatively tight bowling (7 overs for 23 runs till that particular over) was lost.

The point I am raising is, the moment you overstep you are giving the batsmen two balls to hit when there was only one in the first place. And in this present Australian batting line up, that means at least four easy runs. And regardless of the fact that their fast scoring has proved detrimental at least on one occasion in the past, they are not going to change that aspect of their game suddenly. And every hittable ball is going to be hit and no balls are not going to be spared.

Time and again, good fast bowlers have demonstrated that it is far easier to curb the "no-ball" tendency with some extra time in the nets. If the bowler tries to bowl at full speed at the nets and simultaneously tries to make sure that he does not overstep, then there should not be any chance of him do so in a match situation. But is this happening in the Indian nets? What are Reid and Akram (who apparently made a special trip to the Indian nets at the MCG) doing about this? Reid has some responsibility to change this scenario because the Board has him on the payroll for this tour, but Akram could at least advise the Indian bowlers in this regard. Regardless of the grade of cricket, in every net session there should be someone that watches the bowler () as he bowls to see if he oversteps. I have seen this happening whenever I have played and I have had that responsibility too sometimes. But it looks as if this is not true of the Indian cricket team.

Zaheer.. Dude, no-balls are a no-no. Regardless of what everyone says about test cricket being a matter of time, with the Aussies, its a matter of runs as well. And if the match goes to the wire, as some of the test matches between the two teams, in the recent past, have gone, your no-balls might be the only runs standing between India and a victory! Pull your socks up and get us those wickets... Without the no-balls...

Monday, December 22, 2003

Will the Swami Army take on Brett Lee?

A couple of days back, Cricinfo's quote page from the England Sri Lanka series had the latest Barmy Army song on Muralitharan. Come to think about it - Murali rhymes with Brett Lee. In that thought lies the seed for what could perhaps be a good Swami Army song. Fitting heh?

Sing this aloud in the same tune as the old nursery rhyme - Row Row Row the boat.

Throw, throw, throw the ball, lifting up the seam;
Brett Lee, Brett Lee, Brett Lee, Brett Lee, chucks it like a dream!

The next two lines are optional mainly because nothing seems to rhyme well with "Air" like "Hair" and the umps for the third test are Shep and Bowden. So, continued from the previous lines,

Bowl, bowl, bowl the ball, swinging through the air,
Brett Lee, Brett Lee, Brett Lee, Brett Lee, here comes Shep... No Ball!"

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Tales from Adelaide.. Well actually from Channel Nine at Adelaide

I would not be a true supporter if I chose not to comment today just because I decided not to, about two weeks ago, when the times were a bit different and the future was hazy. Now however, it is perhaps ok for India and us, to soak in on all the adulations only for a day at the maximum. More work is at hand, guys.

But first, I have some really strong things to say about the commentary at Adelaide. Extremely partisan to say the least. Throughout the last two days of the match, at least during the sessions India was batting, one constant item of discussion was the Barbados Test of 1997, which by the way is about a light year old (well, a light year in terms of cricketing form). We have had 2 World Cups after that, almost the same number of away wins by India since then as they had in the previous 20 years, a new world record for the max runs in an innings, a team that won the maximum number of tests in a row - all records involving the atleast one team that was playing in Adelaide and still.... All the talk was of Barbados. This statement took the cake - "This pitch is similar to the one at Barbados where India collapsed for 81 chasing 120". Duh... Is comparing pitches - where the runs scored in one is almost double the runs on another, any relevant?

And read this extract from the match report - It is doubtful if any batting line-up, the Australians included, could have repelled West Indies yesterday. Franklyn Rose was outstanding in an opening spell of 9-2-19-3. He produced three near-unplayable deliveries to take the first three wickets in the first hour, giving his side the belief they could carry off a victory even they must have thought unlikely. It rivals the one here against South Africa in 1992 when West Indies took the last eight wickets for 26 to win by 52 runs.
Rose, whose length and direction were spot on, immediately removed Navjot Sidhu with a snorter that reared up just short of a length, took the glove and flew to third slip. Rahul Dravid was equally helpless when Rose got one to lift and leave him. Courtney Browne took a regulation catch.
Rose reserved his best delivery for Venkata Laxman, who had his off stump clipped by a leg-cutter. Laxman played inside the line and walked off shaking his head.


This pitch was no way similar to Barbados where bounce was very very uneven where as here, other than the rough, the bounce was true and never over the knee, unless the bowler pitches on his half. And I can safely say that the Windies attack comprising of Ambrose, Bishop and Rose (who had 3, 4 and 3 wickets respectively in that innings) were anyways a better bowling attack than the present Aussie lineup which sorely misses frontline bowlers plagued by injuries. So why were people comparing the two scenarios at the end of the 4th day? Duh.....

If one of the Channel Nine people are reading this or if someone knows them, it should be brought to their notice that Australia collapsed to India in 1981-82 for 83 chasing 142. So their record chasing totals while under pressure is not worth carping either. And will the Indian media stop giving newsprint inches to the Australian (ghost-written?) diaries. I am sure the Australian newspapers did not carry Laxman's quote that the Australians are beatable. When are we gonna learn that we don't gain anything from knowing what others think about us. The team seems to have learnt, but is the Indian media working against the team in this regard?

However even the Australian media pundits (the team's diary writers - Waugh and Ponting incl.) have almost done a volte-face. At the post match talk with Steve Waugh (Saurav Ganguly could not be found for a comment immediately after the match where as Steve was cornered right at the edge of the boundary as he was coming in), Tony Greig asked him what he felt about his record of losing just two home Tests in his 5 year reign as captain. Steve's reply conveyed more about the Aussie dread about losing the series (even more than Ponting's second day comment that the follow-on will not be enforced). He said "I hope it stays at 2". Way to go India!!!!.

The Australian media is now similarly mixed with their comments about the outcome of the series. A mere glance at the cricket section at the Sydney Morning Herald bolsters my opinion. These are the six headlines relevant to the test series on that page.

1. 1-0 India as Dravid slays Goliath

2. Send for the doctor, we've come over all gracious

3. Hussey keen to bring tourists back to earth with a bang

4. One man took the garlands, but this comeback was an amazing team effort

5. Waugh laments lessons of Brisbane sloppiness that went unheeded

6. Pace problem as Dizzy drops, Pigeon grounded

The Indian media and the people from Kolkata (which was incidently and in fact aptly, the word for the foregone on Channel Nine yesterday) have as usual gone overboard and everyone worth a bit of soundbyte is asked to give their opinion. Thank fully, the man at Raisina Hill has been spared, or did I fail to notice his statement, to fulfill his usual duties as usual, but why has no one sought Mr.Lele for his comments? His prophecy about a Aussie win with a 3-0 or a 2-0 scoreline has come to zilch too. Has he gone underground? He deserves to be buried underground!

Well done guys. But as Kirmani mentioned, one party only and back to work again... As I mentioned sometime ago - The battle has perhaps been won, but lest the victors rest, the war is still on. A series should ideally not be decided before the last day of the tour. Give us some good cricket at Melbourne and Sydney. Even the Aussies expect us to do well at Sydney (as the Channel Nine team thought it fit to tell us, even though we were winning at that very moment, mebbe with a performance that was invisible to their learned eyes). Lets live up to their expectations. But before that live up to our expectations and fight on at the MCG. We are behind you!

Monday, December 15, 2003

Is "anticipation" a euphemism for "dread"?

I may be a cynic but at least I am not a deserter. Hence I will wait, for another 12 hours or so.

But I really had a lump in my throat after I read this! One of the best ever I have read from Peter Roebuck. Thanks to Prabhu for the link!



And if the smell (while its cooking) did not repulse me, I am sure I would have gorged on that dish with pleasure. Roomie swears it tastes good. Not Down Under however! No Sir... Not tonight...

Updates: A couple of people have been asking what that dish is. Its Bombil Chi Kadi, which is dried Bombay Duck (surprise..surprise!!) cooked with a coconut and coriander gravy (courtesy UpperCrustIndia)

Friday, December 12, 2003

Ayutha Ezhuthu By A.R.Rahman (from TFMPage)

The list of songs from the next ARR-Maniratnam combo Ayutha Ezhuthu have been posted here.

Scrolling to the various responses to the posting that had this news will tell you why I don't post/read postings on TFMpage. First of all, a marked bias to any composer who's name is not Ilayaraja and then childishly abusive (not exactly mild as one particular posting on this same thread proves) postings too. Just shows that a list where anyone can post anonymously without moderation, always generates more garbage than relevant messages.

Anyways, 7 songs with all the usual suspects in there with one notable addition - Harish Ragavendar. Waiting to hear his duet with Harini, because his absence from ARR soundtracks was an issue that was raked up in almost every conversation about him. Another track worth waiting for is the one with Hariharan and Bombay Jayshree.

This news is contrary to what Guru posted sometime ago. But the person who posted it on TFMpage seems knowledgeable too. As a result of this supposed contradiction, I have just linked to the thread on TFMpage and not pasted the whole message.

But one thing is certain, Ayutha Ezhuthu is still being shot, or rather at least of December 7th, when the Hindu ran this mildly critical story on the movie's outdoor shooting on the already congested roads of Chennai. Hmm... another hint of the editorial policy change in The Hindu!!!

Also one more piece of news is that Surya, after the Saami do, has not appeared in any in public or in news photographs etc. In fact a common acquaintance who apparently met him at MGM Dizee World in Chennai, a couple of months ago, during one of the outdoor schedules of Ayutha Yezhuthu, was politely refused a photograph. A new look Surya in Ayutha Ezhuthu perhaps. Waiting for the promos.....

Which Indian film would you choose? (i.e. for the Oscars!)

Hmmmm... The time is here again......

Rediff has a message board with the same title. However, just to give us a glimpse of what their choices could be (ok, mebbe that was inadvertant), the banner on the page is a collage made up of a couple of pics from RGV's Bhoot and that new pseudo-ABCD tear jerker - Kal Ho Na Ho ! Well, I hope this collage does not reflect the final choices.

So do we assume that these two movies are in contention? God forbid if they are? But what could be the other movies this year? As far as (mainstream)Tamil movies go, I would root for Kaakha Kaakha or mebbe Pithamagan (to stretch it)!

By the way, what are the National awards for? Why not send the the movie that wins the National Award to the Oscars?

Happy Birthday to Thalaivar....


Happy Birthday Thalaiva

Iniya pirandha naal vazthukkal!!!
Ungal padam illadha Deepavali-yum Deepavali alla.. ungal padam illadha Tamizh thirai ulagum thirai ulagam alla!!

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Sandiyar..oops.. Virumandi - a return to the glory days?

Over the last couple of years, I feel that IR's work has been Rahman-esque (I know its blasphemous to say so, but I will), in the sense that it takes repeated hearing for a song to grow on you. Examples - Oliyilae Therivadhu Devadhaya from Azhagi and Elangaathu Veesudhae from Pithamagan. Most of his efforts (barring a few, incl. Bharathi) in the recent years have failed to interest me.

But Virumandi sort of changes this trend. After a long time, this is an OST from IR that did not fail to enthuse me the first time I heard it. Lazy Geek initially spread the news to out of town (town = Chennai) bloggers that Virumandi's music was going to be released on the 8th of December. In fact I think it was only on that day that Kamal chose to divulge that Sandiyar had been re-christened as Virumandi. Interestingly Kamal's costume and make up in the promo pics seem akin to Thevar Magan (which was remade as Virasat in Hindi, starring Anil Kapoor and Tabu) with a similar subject too. Remains to be seen if the movie garners similar critical acclaim.

Back to the soundtrack. Listening to IR soundtracks for all those rural subjects of yore always conjures images of a lush green countryside. It could just be me, but that has not been the case in his recent compositions. Virumandi is pleasantly different in that sense, prime contributors being no less than the singer and the director in Kamal (not to mention Shreya Ghosal, who's become a IR regular after Azhagi). As has become customary with Kamal's own productions, he gets to sing 6 of the 10 songs that IR composes. A couple of songs - Onna Vida (Shreya Ghosal and Kamal) and Chandiyare Chandiyare (Shreya Ghosal) stand out with the other songs nicely adding to the value of this IR gem. Unna Vida seems to the same mold as Inji Iduppazhagi from Thevar Magan. Karumathur Katukulae is a laudatory account of the life story of Virumandi in the theru koothu format. In Andha Kandamani and Karbagraham Vitu Samy Veliyerathu (two versions of the same song again?), you probably would find it very difficult to identify Ilayaraja (is he the one who starts out the song?) and the other singers, but Kamal stands out. Mada Vilakka and Magarasiyae Manna Vitu Poniyae are two versions of the same funeral song sung by Kamal and Theni Kunjrama respectively. Kombule Poove Soothi seems to be the fun song in this soundtrack. The chorus in the start of this song sound so 80s like.

The stars of this OST according to me:

IR - for bringing us a anachronistic (for the better) offering that reaffirms the fact that all obituaries pertaining to his "death" in TFM (brought out more or less after the meteoric rise of ARR and other MDs like Vidyasagar and off late Harris Jayraj and IR's own sons, YSR and Karthikraja) are too early. The accounts of the master's death, as Mark Twain noted, are greatly exaggerated.

Kamal - for the six songs that he sings with his usual verve and zest. But I still think sometimes whether he himself over-rates his talent and gets to sing only because of his stature. But I do enjoy hearing his efforts, all the same.

Shreya Ghosal - Has become for IR what Sadhana Sargam has for ARR. A regular who gets to sing atleast one song in any soundtrack and deservingly so.

The single formost difference between North Indian female and the male singers who sing Tamil songs is that the females - Sargam and Ghosal mainly, do not bastardize the Tamil words, the way that Udit Narayan and Sukhwinder Singh have done in the past. ARR is quoted as saying he is sorry for introducing Udit Narayan and Sukhwinder to TFM and while that statement cannot be substantiated by me, it is most certainly true that ARR has to take the blame.

On the whole, this soundtrack adds credence to the theory that the music sense possessed by a movie's director plays equal role in the success of the soundtrack along with the composer. AR Rahman's sometimes insipid efforts for movies like Parasuram also add relevance to this claim. I perfectly believe this because of the far greater percentages of hits that Rahman has churned out with directors like Mani Rathnam, Shankar and Rajiv Menon and to a certain extent Bharathiraja.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Booing Boeing!

Boeing's decline documented here. Read the peice.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

To put or not to put.... my foot in my mouth!

Yes, It is perhaps just one of the many questions that I am facing right now. I am referring to a particular post of mine. I am one of those ardent cricket fans who has been further disillusioned by the happenings down under both on and off the field and hence feel that it makes no sense dwelling upon my angst.

After months of siding with Ganguly's choices, I now feel that nothing has changed under his captaincy. Reputation still counts over form and the history of traveling journeymen still seems to continue. Not a word of good is spoken about performers while reputations are bolstered with enthusiastic comments about how X will definitely come good. Sometime in the recent past, talking over the phone, someone commented to me that I had no right expecting India to go the Australia way because we simply don't have the talent. Whoa, we have seen home grown talent these last couple of weeks and still we give them the cold shoulder.

Hence this blog shall go the JR way. No more cricket even if India wins some matches, till February at least. This is however just a sabbatical from the game, partly caused by disgust and partly because I already put "foot in mouth" to my roomie by telling him that I will stop talking about cricket if, after all his decent (if not good) work during the first couple of weeks of the tour, a certain player was left out of the squad for the first Test. This player did not make the eleven at Brisbane and hence I have to do something to save my skin during the next inquest of the Indian team. And this is the least I can do.

So adios and god speed India, even though you are already in rough waters just miles from the port of departure. I shall take the flight and meet you at your port of destination when you come in to rest your tired bottom.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

A study in contrast...

Two key contributors for the opposing teams. One the vice-captain and the other the most important batsman of his team. Both are candidates for the MVP of their teams (if such an award exists in cricket). And yet marked differences in the way they speak about team selection and their peers.

Sachin Tendulkar on India's would-be openers - "Sehwag is a very dangerous player. He can turn around and play a big innings, even match-winning innings. He has done that in the past and stroke-players like him are very exciting to watch. Let's hope we see more of him on this tour," he said.

"Ramesh has given himself a nice build-up for the series with this innings. But I can't really comment if he would play in the Tests. It is up to the coach and the captain to decide... I don't take part in that."


This is extracted from a piece that had Sachin Tendulkar commenting on various issues including the Indian team's goals during this tour (Courtesy Rediff's Cricket section.).

Contrast this with Adam Gilchrist's comments on the selection dilemma that Cricket Australia faces.

Wouldn't a senior player's kind words do a world of good for a wanna be. Sadly a wanna-be's what a lot of India's fringe players have been reduced to. I certainly would have hoped much better words from Sachin on a performance that was equivalent to his knock today, both in terms of runs and also the sheer value for the keeping the teams morale intact, if not raising it.

A small deviation of focus.. well not too far from the trodden trail

With India starting its tour of Oz-land today, this blog will focus much more on cricket and the activities on and off the field Down Under. Was tempted to start another blog, but decided that this one is enough. Let's just hope that India performs to their potential.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Is that Preity Zinta? Really?

The first picture, I got after googling for Preity. The second is from the promos of Kal Ho Na Ho, the latest Karan Johar flick directed by debutant director Nikhil Advani.

But is that really Preity Zinta in the second picture. Hmmm... What's she done with her face? You have really lost it, Preity!

Monday, November 17, 2003

Plagiarism vs. Adaptations

Two long posts in the same day. I can’t remember when that happened previously. But the comment about “blatant copying” by Maniratnam (in his early movies) has really set me off on this.

What would YOU consider plagiarism (while talking about movies!) and what would YOU say is an adaptation? Here is my viewpoint.

My point is, just because the theme is the same as another movie, it does not mean that someone has plagiarized it. Let me use three movies as examples. First one being the case of Thiruda Thiruda by Mani, which I have heard a lot of people claim as a “straight lift” from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. As I mentioned in the last post, I can’t find any similarities beyond the fact that the central characters in both movies are 2 guys and one lady. Well, Thiruda Thiruda had one more, if you consider Anu Agarwal. In Butch Cassidy, the trio go about looting banks first in the USA and then in Bolivia and get killed when one such attempt goes awry. Thiruda Thiruda on the other hand is about a cargo container full of brand new bank notes that gets heisted on its way from the central mint in India. 2 good for nothing vagabonds and an ill treated gal get to know about this and go after it. The mastermind behind the heist is also after it as does his girlfriend who wishes to escape his clutches. The police are on the hunt for the money and the trio who they think has the money. So where is the “lift”?

I would go even as far as to say that I would not consider an movie like 12-B to be plagiarized because in no occasion has Jeeva (the cinematographer who directed this movie) claimed that this is an original story, just in opposite to what some people do when accosted with a question like whether their movie is a “copy” of another. The second thing about 12-B was that the original Sliding Doors, which FYI, starred Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah (seen widely in India as Rachel Weisz’s bungling brother in the Mummy franchise) was set in England and Jeeva had sufficiently put his efforts to “Indianize” it. So I don’t consider it a “copied” movie solely for the effort that went to making the movie look as Indian as the original was British.

On the other hand, Kaante, was a scene to scene lift from not one, two movies, taking one half of the movie from The Usual Suspects and the other from Reservoir Dogs. The director denied all this and the movie got ample newsprint in India. Now we have a statement attributed to Quentin Tarantino that he is happy that Reservoir Dogs has been lifted because he claims he lifted it from Hong Kong (Read the interview with Rahul Bose which mentions this, here!). Will that give filmmakers a passport for more of this kind? I seriously hope that does not happen.

So I have three movies, all three reviled in different levels, for being “copies”. Do you agree with my viewpoints? Or am I making no sense?

Whatever, let us see what you feel. Email me with your comments and I will post if not all your comments, at least some of the most interesting ones on the blog here. Please don’t add your comments on the blog. Email it to this address (you can find it on in the comments box too). Let us see if we can generate some good discussion on this.

(P.S This is not a flame, so incase you are angry and have lots of @#$% for me, please stop. Close this browser window now, take a deep breath, count to fifty while thinking simultaneously about a beautiful girl (or a handsome guy, to be politically correct) of your choice. However, I urge all married readers to think only about their spouses when you take a deep breath and count, because you are past even your “virtual philandering” days. Others please think of anybody other than Aishwarya Rai. She is reserved for my thoughts alone! )

UPDATE: Btw, contrary to expectations, I will NOT, I repeat, I WILL NOT, edit anybody's emails to me. So please use ASCII characters in case you wanna bad mouth me. However I reserve the right to exclude posts. Give me at least that much editorial independence for the sake of ensuring diversity of opinions. And I had to put that "P.S" in bold to make it obvious that I dont intend to flame anyone and to instruct people on what to do if they think they are offended!

In defence of Mani!

A couple of days ago, Lazy Geek had posted a humor laced viewpoint about one of Bala's interviews. A couple of people did not see the humor part of it and mini-flamed him for the post. It sort of escalated into something just short of a flame war and since my comments threatened to beat the record for the longest comment ever, I decided to post it on here.

Though I agree with comments that Guru should see Pithamagan with an open mind, I cannot agree with the criticism about Maniratnam.

First - I strongly oppose the use of the words "blatant copying". Those words are I think too strong in this context. If the words had been used for some of the recent Hindi movie - Qayamat or some of those Dino Morea, Bipasha Basu "almost-skin flicks", then I would whole heartedly agree.

And though I don't share this particular person's feelings about Mouna Ragam or Pagal Nilavu or Nayakan, I cannot help but notice that though he is criticizing Maniratnam, he seems to have not noticed that all that Guru recommends about Mani Ratnam are his movies of recent years, i.e. KM, Iruvar etc. Mani has come of age now. I dare someone to find any of those scenes/subjects that fir the term "blatant copying" in these movies, unless the same mistakes that a lot of people commit when they say that Thiruda Thiruda is copied from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, are repeated.

See, all that was great about Mani's early efforts were the technical aspects. I think he cleverly used commercial elements, i.e. those time and tested stuff that is "blatant copying" to establish himself with his audiences. Do not know of anybody else who have taken the same path as Mani.

After 1991, he has moved to his own sphere. Thiruda Thiruda was an aberration - an experimental foot hold into almost a forgotten movie genre in India, something I would term the "Chase genre". It had 2 guys and a gal chased by the law - the similarities with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, that many people claim that Mani copied from, end at this point. I personally like the movie for the tight screenplay and the fast pace. His terrorism trilogy + KM (what would u call something that has four parts, lol) appeared after 1991.Dil Se was the most "unreal" of the trilogy, but original never the less.

AP was the most innovative treatment of the most repeated theme in the history of Indian cinema. I would have wanted it to be released with proper subtitles rather than a remake like Saathiya whose dialogues did not carry the same punch. Some of the parts of AP that did not have dialogues carried more punch than Saathiya's equivalent scenes. Mainly that particular scene when Madhavan runs to Shalini's train, grabs her book and spouts lines lost all its sheen in Saathiya. At least Mani should have redone it in Hindi. Though I wondered before it was released whether Mani was actually ghost directing Saathiya, I lost all those doubts when I saw the finished product.

In spite of the Godfather inspired scenes in Nayakan and Agni Nakshatram, the movies were very good because the themes were original. He just used those "inspired scenes" to complete them, to keep the lay man interested. After making sure that he had established himself, he found no reason to resort to such gimmicks and hence you find his recent movies shorn of such gimmicks.

You should also remember that Idhaya Kovil was made at the height of the success of the SPB - IR - Mohan trio and aimed to exploit the success of this combination. And it did. I still cannot find what you have found "stupid" about Pagal Nilavu, because you have not mentioned your peeve with respect to this movie. You have just committed the same sin that you accused somebody of i.e. not substantiating what you claim.

I can tell you what is realistic about each and every movie of Maniratnam except Pagal Nilavu and Idhaya Kovil. I was very young when I caught these two movies and hence don't remember much about them. But for the rest, I can give you examples. You can find unrealistic elements too, but hey, we are talking about cinema here.

To answer questions about realism in Mani's movies, according to me, just look at the various relationships. In Nayakan - Kamal's potrayal of Velu Nayakar and his relationships with his children. Ruthless in business but otherwise docile and vulnerable. In Agni Nakshatram, the treatment of Vijaykumar's bigamy (Vijaykumar is bigamous in real life too?) and the simmering hatred between the two "families". Mounaragam again had excellent portrayals by Mohan and Revathy, but was a little ahead of times with the whole divorce thing.

Bala has chosen a completely different path. Of doing his own thing right from the word go. But this path has been made easier only because people like Mani Ratnam have primed the audiences to accept alternative modes of story telling, screenplays shorn of clich├ęs (though both Bala and Maniratnam have not been able to discard these cinematic elements completely, as the item numbers in their movies would indicate) and hence movies like Pithamagan or Sethu can do well these days, in spite of the best efforts of producers to derail these efforts. In fact, the rumor is that Vikram stepped in with money for Pithamagan after producers showed Bala the door after sometime. Hence this delay in finishing the movie.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

My man makes it to OZ!

The Indian squad for Oz Land '03 runs thus - Sourav Ganguly (capt), Akash Chopra, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Parthiv Patel (wk), Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Ajit Agarkar, Sadagoppan Ramesh, Aavishkar Salvi, Deep Dasgupta (wk) and Irfan Pathan. (courtesy Cricinfo)

I think I am rightly assuming that the squad for the VB series involving the Aussies, Zimbabweans and the Indians will be announced midway through the tour. And that would be another exercise in frustration, I am sure, atleast for the Indian enthusiast. But first about this squad for the Test matches.

Surprise Inclusions - Both Ramesh and Dasgupta. This seems to be the master stroke. Everybody assumed that since a backup keeper was necessary and Dasgupta being the man of the moment, he would make the squad only at the expense of Ramesh, "since he could open the batting as well". "No Sir", said Kirmani and Co. and hence we find both making the trip! Does that mean Sehwag's Xenia Onatop impression might be meeting a climax soon or is it already over? Anyways, 3 "specialist" openers and one goalkeeper who can open too (if you ask Sidhu, who wanted to transfer him to ManU and Robin Singh) is way too ostentatious for an underperforming team such as India whose bowling department seems sparse.

And Irfan Pathan Jr. ? Hmm... Why was poor Lakshmipathi in the squad for part of this TVS series at all and what about his lion hearted performances in both Test matches against the Kiwis on feather beds disguised as pitches? Another T.Kumaran in the making?? I hope not!

Notable Exclusions - Murali Karthik. That boy is of the Srinath mold for sure. Is a musta and bowls his heart out , but is as unlucky as the 13th guest at supper. His bowling has been top class in both the matches he played in this series and should count himself unlucky. His case is just like that of Stuart McGill vis-a-vis Shane Warne, though Kumble and Harbhajan are not even half as threatening as Warne or even McGill in their backyard.

Btw, Munaf Patel's case might be turning into something similar to the hoopla surrounding this mysterious Namibian bowler who has his name spelt with a "!" no less. Hyped to beat the likes of Shoaib and Lee but slowly going back into obscurity, unless he suddenly "re-arrives" with a couple of broken skulls and a brace of hat-tricks. But with pitches like the one for the last match at the Fateh Maidan, that looks highly unlikely.

Cricinfo predicts a sound drubbing at Brisbane for his Indian team that faces a team, 6 of whose likely players make the top 10 in the world at the moment in either the batting or the bowling charts. However I am slightly more charitable than that and would say that unless this team disintegrates badly like last time, we have a chance of atleast drawing 2 of Tests, mostly in Melbourne and Sydney where we have performed marginally better previously.

But nothing shall gladden me than a win or two even if the series is not won. However by doing so, I think that we would be barraged with comments from one and all that we have performed beyond expectations and hence should be happy. And we shall all be told that this team is one of the best ever Indian teams. Hence, going by this thought, I feel that "Celebrate Small Successes" might be one Sunny Therappan axiom that I would urge the cricket fans in India to forget. Let's win every one Down Under and not be satisfied with anything else!

Update: Salvi is injured and Balaji gets into the Australia bound squad in his place. Great news for Balaji. Just that its as fishy as so many things about the Indian Team. I would actually want Kartik in place of Kumble, because by not taking Harbhajan to Oz land, we would be jeopardizing any future chances India have there. Is there any way Kartik can get in?

Update - o - update: My question that formed the last line of the previous update to this post is answered!!! (11/12/03)

Friday, November 14, 2003

Best in the world.. Food for Thought!

Rediff has an article today listing the 40 best directors (??) in the world today. I saw this article and later George’s post on this list as well as the original article from Guardian Unlimited.

However several questions arise. The first one being - why did Rediff not link to the actual article! The second question is what made them list 40 directors? Is it because, by shortening the list to 40, they could exclude some usual suspects which would in turn raise my third question. My last question is kind of linked to the third. But more on those questions later.

The Guardian Unlimited article lists the 40 directors with a small write-up on each of them. Several of my favorites make the top twenty. David Lynch, whose Mulholland Drive was recommended highly (to me by my co-workers), tops the list. My man Scorsese comes second.

The third in the list comes as a pleasant surprise. The Coen Brothers (Ethan and Joel) who have risen up in my chart in the last couple of months, during which I have seen Fargo and O’Brother Where Art Thou? (both of which were unfortunately trashed by some of my friends), feature at third on the list. I am yet to see Raising Arizona which I don’t know how I missed given my extensive must see movie list. But that list has not been updated for quite some time now due to my inability to borrow tapes from the college library. I missed Intolerable Cruelty for the sole reason that word of mouth opinion about the movie made my friends shy away from it and I don’t like to watch movies in the theatre all by myself.

Steven Soderbergh and Terrance Malik round of the top 5 in the list. Quentin Tarantino figures in the top 20 at 17 while Ang Lee (he, of The Hulk fame, yuck!) and Michael Moore make the top 30 at 27 and 28.

Now for some of the usual suspects who don’t make the list. Hold your breath. Steven Speilberg and Ridley Scott !!. These ommisions with respect to some of the people in the list makes this list pointless. While I agree with George who questions the validity of this “top 40” list, I cannot agree with his statement that guys like Ridley Scott, Steven Speilberg deserve to be out of this list. But these people have been the ones in the forefront of the technological advances in cinema in the last two decades.

Looking at Ridley Scott’s filmography at IMDB, we find that, after some TV series in the 60s, his movies from the second half of the seventies have spanned every genre. From science fiction in Aliens and Blade Runner (difficult to pinpoint whether this movie is from the film noir genre or is pure science fiction, but perhaps the darkest movie of its kind) to drama like Thelma and Louise and Hannibal and historicals like his Christopher Coumbus biopic, 1492 and Gladiator, which was nominated for a dozen Oscars incl. Best director and won 5 of them, incl. one for Russel Crowe for Best Actor. If this variety is not influential, what is?

As for Steven Speilberg, the guy has epitomized technical brilliance all through. But is grandeur detrimental to critical acclaim? It seems so, as his absence from the list indicates. Another guy who fails to make the list is John Lasseter, the brain behind the cartoon hits like Toy Story and A Bugs Life. So does that mean that cartoons do not deserve their acclaim? Food for thought!

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

End of an Era!

The most successful Indian pace bowler after Kapil Dev has retired!

Adios Srinath! It was a pleasure see you bowl and it was just as sad when you were not at your best. You made your debut when an aging horse was going after its last hurrah. And it now seems that the aging horse was so preoccupied with its efforts that it spent any extra energy making sure no colt, whatever the pedigree, was alive to give it some competition. While the other colts fell by the wayside, the fact that you kept up with your efforts speaks a lot of your dedication.

You played your first home test match and 13th overall in Mumbai almost three years after making your international debut. And it was perhaps YOUR Zanjeer and you had a Man of the match award with a half century and 5 wickets in the Test. I am sure you would have another 30 to 40 wickets to your credit if you had played more Test matches in your first few years in international cricket. Well, shortsighted selectors put the brakes on this but you never wavered. In terms of sheer numbers you are just as good as Abdul Qadir but the value that you added to a Indian attack was much more than Abdul Qadir's to a Pakistani attack that had, in different periods, bowlers like Imran Khan and Wasim Akram to shoulder the burden.

Experts say that good batsmen edge the ball much more than the novices who blindly swing their bat. Maybe the batsmen you bowled to were not good enough, as the umpteen deliveries that beat bat when you bowled, suggest. You are probably one of the most unlucky bowlers in the history of international cricket. In my opinion, your spell at Kolkota against the Pakistanis in 1999 was probably the best ever by an Indian fast bowler in test cricket. But it is also perhaps true that your going off the field after the 17th over probably let the Pakistanis off the hook. Azhar brought Ganguly to bowl and I have never been able to figure why! In the space of 10 overs, Moin Khan and Salim Malik had consolidated!

Towards the end of your reign, you made sure that the other young men making their way to the top had their job much easier than you had yours in the company of the aging hurricane. Thank you for helping to motivate and cultivate these young Turks who seem to have started to fill your huge shoes. Your presence in Australia would have done a world of good, because barring Kumble, you would have been the only frontline bowler with knowledge of way Australian pitches play and Ajit Agarkar faces stiff competition for his position.

But though we, as Indians, are as unreasonable as we can be with our cricketers, we do understand that you have had your good days and your injuries probably make you cringe every time you think about playing Down under. We however hope that you will be just as accessible to the youngsters in the team, as you were when you were in your position at mid on or mid off.

Thanks Srinath.. Thanks for everything!

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Political thinking and its pitfalls!

Almost a day after the Tamilnadu assembly decided to imprison six persons, including editors of The Hindu and the Murasoli, to 15 days simple imprisonment for an alleged breach of privilege (see the Hindu's front page, from the print edition here), comes news about the reactions of various politicians.

T.S Subramanian had detailed the chain of events that has led to this fracas in his column way back in the May 10th issue of the Frontline (read it here). But this is what apparently caused the fracas - an excerpt from the The Hindu's editorial titled Rising Intolerance on the 25th of April this year:

With each passing day, the Jayalalithaa administration in Tamil Nadu seems to be scaling new heights of intolerance. The crude use of state power against various sections including political opponents and the independent media shows a contempt for the democratic spirit that is deeply disturbing. Perhaps because she was at the receiving end of a series of criminal cases filed by the previous DMK administration, she sees her return to power as an opportunity to wield the sanctioning and prosecuting power of the state blatantly to her political advantage.

Another article that the TN Speaker mentioned as acts intended to "blacken the reputation of the government" was this one - CM taunts Marxists again.

But one thing that strikes me as strange as to why something like this be done just on the day on which the Assembly is adjourned sine die and why should this happen almost 6 months after the above mentioned articles in the Hindu? Is 6 months the usual time for a House Privileges commitee to table its report? Someone clarify this for me! I think that the same thinking that goes toward making political arrests on a Friday evening knowing that bail cannot be received till Monday morning when the courts meet after the weekend has been put to use here too. But perhaps the move has backfired.

Maybe the honorable TN CM could not fortell what her fellow politicians would react. Two Chief Ministers from adjacent states have expressed disapproval of what happened in Chennai, one in a public meeting in what can be seen as a rebuke and another in a personal phone call. Karnatka CM, S.M Krishna, while speaking at the 125th anniversary celebrations of The Hindu in Bangalore on Saturday, expressed displeasure regarding developments. AP CM, Chandrababu Naidu called up N.Ram, The Hindu's Editor-in-Chief and echoed the same comments. As did ABV when N.Ram called him up and Sonia Gandhi, who was "quoted in a New Delhi report" that she "deplored the attempts made to curb press freedom in Tamil Nadu". Even people like IK Gujral and Digvijay Singh, of whom nothing has been heard, maybe even in the last decade have got mileage with their statements expressing support for The Hindu.

What will be the ramifications of this whole issue? I am sure it will end with all cases being dropped or going sub-judice for such a long time that we will forget this whole issue. But with each passing day, TN politics is going murkier. After a good first year or two, the TN government (read the ruling party) is perhaps slowly starting to repeat its mistakes from last time. Though the whole issue of talking tough with truant Government employees was appreciated by the mainstream press, the decision of the government to build a new secretariat in the middle of a city already plagued with badly planned civic projects has perhaps not found enough takers among the people. Already the Government has been forced to retrace its steps in more than one issue - the Queen Mary's College issue being the key. But the CM's public diatribe against Mayiladurai MP Mani Shankar Iyer and his subsequent assault near Nagapattinam (apparently inside Pondicherry state limits and hence absolving the TN ruling party of all involvement) did not receive much mileage anywhere after a day or two. Is this because of the doubts that Mani Shankar Iyer used unparlimentary language to abuse the CM on stage and that the CM refused to repeat those words in public using her position as a woman of high moral standing as an excuse?

Whatever it is, TN politics is getting to be a joke. Everybody does the same thing and accuses everybody else of not doing what they said they would. But who is at a loss here? The common man of course and most don't even know it! The ghosts of the erstwhile movie star turned politician(s) are still up and about and it is about time that these ghosts are exorcised. Who do we turn to for this? Is a California style recall possible under the Indian constitution? If it is so, then TN is one main target for such a recall! But I am sure we don't want a Arnie here. That's just why we want a recall!

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Ajay Palvayanteeswaran is back?

I just found that Ramesh Mahadevan, he of the CMU (and OSU too?) and SCI fame (of a different generation though) is posting on Sulekha. If you have enjoyed his posts in MSN India a couple of years ago, where I first read about Ajay Palvayanteeswaran's adventures, you would enjoy these for sure. Read them...

And then I used the ubiquitous Google to find a page that had a link to more than 90 pieces from the farceur extraordinaire (as he has been described in the past). And I also found on the same page, what is a goldmine for a trivia junkie like me - The Asterix Notations. This when I was so bored at work. Asterix Notations, here I come!

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Memoirs of a R.C person!

One of my fellow Coolers, G (he, the "wanna-be gaboor", according to knowledgeable sources), sent me this piece as a email text forward. Being R.C is probably the single most important characteristic of a cooler, the other being that a prospective Cooler should be a male who has lost, if not all, at least some of his marbles. His comments should not make sense to anyone except another cooler and he should possess a tendency to act stupid all the time.

G's forwarded email touched a nerve so easily that I Googled it and got through to the original post on Sulekha. Read it, if u are the quintessential R.C guy! Read it...

So do us R.C's need a mask (like Mr.Stanley Ipkiss, loyal employee of the Edge City bank) to break the shackles that bind us? What da ya feel ?

Btw, the comments to this piece on Sulekha are interesting too. Don't miss. Add some comments to the page so that you help him lose his R.C tag. And yeah, that is not a place to exchange sob stories. So if you are R.C too, please refrain from commenting. LOL....

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

STOP PRESS!!!!

Thalaiva Kingsley!!! I know you got there thro Ram, but danks anyways for getting me here... Avaru Vazhi thani vazhiya irundhalum.. anbal sendha padai ulagam muzhuvadhum!!!

A hypothetical look at a desi version of "FRIENDS"

Shobha is certainly one hell of a FRIENDS buff. But so am I. I may not remember each and every guest actor/actress but I go as far as reading old scripts during lunch breaks. And I have ended up spilling food more than once over my table. Luckily haven't damaged my comp keyboard yet :). Previously when had Kazaa on my lab comp, we used to d/l old episodes and watch them at our convenience - during lunch breaks. Now no Kazaa..So only scripts...

Shobha has a FRIENDS centric post on her blog. She says a big screen version of FRIENDS would follow after the end of the tenth and last season, which begins soon. I wonder where she got that piece of info. Shobha, kindly clarify...

She also poses a hypothetical question. Who could star in a desi big screen version of FRIENDS. I started this post out on her comments box, but thought it would be prudent to post it on here. So here goes my cast for a Desi FRIENDS.

If I were to think of TV series or a movie that came close to capturing the essence of FRIENDS, it would be Dil Chahta Hai. Hence my cast is also the complete cast of DCH (weill almost)! This is the closest thing ever to the FRIENDS cast.

Imagine...

Chandler could be Aamir (funny, cynical and romantic as Akash in DCH)

Joey could be Saif (hopelessly stupid and romantic as Sameer)

Ross could be Madhavan (He's shown he can emote and also has a good comic sense, as is evident from his movies - AP, Minnale (RHTDM in Hindi) , Dum Dum Dum and Run)

Female parts... I dunno.. Cannot go beyond Preity Zinta for Phoebe cos she always seems to get these effervescent roles that make her jump up and down - a perfect fit for Phoebe. As for Rachel and Monica, this needs careful thinking.

Could we fit in Urmila for Monica? I think she could carry it off. Challenge is finding a fit for Rachel. The character is the most diverse. Because everyone else is just what they seem to be.

Rachel seems so normal at first sight, but then the things she does just gives her away.. Hmm..Sridevi could have been just right for this, at her heyday, that is. Sridevi as the bungling journo in Mr.India was just so Rachel! But then this is all hypothetical after all.. Hence Sridevi it is...

As for the supporting cast, Gunther could be someone like Rajpal Yadav (watch out for him in Mein Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon). I would have gone for someone like Johnny Lever or Vivek for that matter, but both of them seem incapable of underplaying a character or remain silent for that matter. Come to think of it, Nagesh would have done much better. So Nagesh it would be, as Gunther.

And as much as I can try, I can't find someone from Bollywood suitable to play Janice. So, I am gonna look south and it could actually be Kovai Sarala.

Now am I missing some recurring character here ? Yeah, Ross and Monica's parents. Just pick one Rajshri movie and pick a pair of elderly actor/actresses who play the uncles/aunts. These characters provide the laughs while all the father/mother characters serve to jack up the tissue quotient.

I think it can't get better than this. To summarize...

Ross - Madhavan
Chandler - Aamir Khan
Joey - Saif Ali Khan
Rachel - Sridevi (i.e. the Mrs. Boney Kapoor)
Monica - Urmila
Phoebe - Preity Zinta

What say guys... Your views.. Shobha?

Monday, October 27, 2003

Intelligent work from Intel?

Found this link on Rediff. Check out particularly the last paragraph. I hope it comes through!

Friday, October 24, 2003

YSR and Dhanush – The gains from Kadhal Konden

Some time ago, I had posted a piece of Vidyasagar’s quiet entry into the major league. But a couple of months down the line, it seems that Vidyasagar’s is not alone in the company of ARR and IR. Along comes IR Jr. – YSR. Quietly he has taken his deserving place in this esteemed company, though in several steps lower (as of now) than his illustrious father.

Starting with Poovellam Kettupar in 1999, where he had a bouquet of fine numbers (Nithyashree Mahadevan’s jarring version of one particular song not withstanding) that were embellished by the likes of Hariharan, Unnikrishnan and Srinivas, he has grown in stature today. He has been noticed by one and all concerned and I am sure that with the talent that has resulted in several hits this year, the big one is not too far.

Kadhal Konden is one such effort. While Dhanush seems to draw inspiration from roles essayed by Kamal Hassan in such movies as Sigappu Rojakkal and Guna, six pieces of YSR’s fine music combined with his strong background score only serves to highlight the angst in the life of a young man unable to forget his past as an abused child.

Shankar Mahadevan excels in Manasu Rendum which is my favorite in this set. First heard this song on the car ride to Indy on the day of the US GP and have been hooked ever since. The booming drum in the background somehow has me running the song repeatedly on my computer. Another addition to the “soul of Anti” collection. Vijay Yesudas’s rendition of “Kathal mattum” reminds me more of Unni Menon than KJY. Seriously until I saw his name on the credits of the song, I was under the impression that it was Unni Menon. A slow number that I would probably start loving on repeated listening. Nenjodu is Unni Krishnan all the way. Obviously modeled on Kanmani Anbodu from Guna, but Unni Krishnan and Sujatha lift this song to another level. Devathaiyai Kanden is one of Harish Ragavendar’s two efforts in this soundtrack, the other being Thottu thottu. Decent at best though I haven’t listened to these two songs more than a few times. However these two songs pale in comparison to Manasu Rendum.

Some of YSR’s last few efforts in the background score have hit the mark easily. Case at point - Mounam Pesiyathey. Kadhal Konden is no different and the background score only proves that YSR's earlier efforts were not mere flashes in the pan. But do I hear the opening bars of Bryan Adam’s Everything I do whenever Dhanush and the heroine share a tender moment? However it is fleeting.

As for the actual movie, Golf Dude commented that Kadhal Konden was a “well made Guna”. I would beg to differ here, only because Guna was made first. Kadhal Konden had it easy because all Selvaraghavan had to do was to build upon Guna, which I don’t think he has been successful in. In that sense I don’t rate this movie better than Guna. But full credit to the director for establishing the basis for such a character. Topics like child molestation have not yet come into focus in India and hence Selvaraghavan needs to be applauded for depicting these things on screen and yet not change the focus of the movie. An ideal platform for Dhanush to do his bit and he has done so effortlessly.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Time for Bollywood to blow its own harp?

The latest issue of Time (Asia) has Aishwarya Rai on the cover, with photo features on 10 Indian Films to Treasure and Bollywood's Players. Also featured in this special focus issue on Bollywood are interviews with Aamir Khan (check out that beard and the unkempt hair on that dude in this pic!) and Amitabh Bachchan in addition to the other three mentioned earlier.

There are several notable absentees, in my opinion, in the list of Players featured. But what irked me much more is the list of 10 Bollywood movies that mentions trash like Devdas in the same breadth as classics like Sholay and Mother India. I am not against Sanjay Leela Bhansali, but I still cannot get over the fact that Devdas was considered better than movies like Kannathil Muthamittal (to name just one deserving movie) for India's entry to the Oscars last year. To be labeled “must watch” is too much. Devdas's only claim to fame was its premiere in Cannes. The accompanying cover story on Time mentions this - Why do our films stick to stereotype?" lamented Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee after seeing Devdas, which for all its well-deserved critical praise, was still the 12th version of the same love story since the original 1928 silent movie. But look out for Bollywood's PR machine to go on the overdrive in the next couple of days. And from now on for the next one year, every single director would quote Quentin Tarantino (as if we did not have enough from Bappi Lahiri accusing Universal of cultural imperialism. ROTFLMAO! Seriously… That coming from Bappi?).

And if there's one thing that strikes me, it is the constant portrayals of Bollywood movies as the best representatives of Indian cinema. How can that be so? When most of the Bollywood movies are shot abroad and some even go to the extent of passing off the countryside of the Czech Republic and Switzerland as India? In fact one of the movies omitted from the list of must watch Indian movies was Lagaan. Aamir innings (and the last ball six) in that climatic cricket match, though being fantastical, was just as close to fantasy as Sachin Tendulkar's blazing assault on Fleming et al. in Sharjah, circa 1998.

I am still waiting for the world to grow up to the pleasures offered by GOOD Indian cinema and all the hoopla about this mediocrity makes me sick. When will the world media recognize people who have been churning clean and technically perfect movies repeatedly over the years? Does the international media know what this means – All that glitters is not gold?

Update (Nov. 13th, 2003): This post is on the BBM #34 hosted by Shanks. Thanks to Ram for the nomination!

Quotes from the new age Bollywood

Last summer, I had meetings with Robert de Niro and Roland Joffe and Mike Leigh. They'd say, "When are you available? And I'm like, "Maybe at the end of next year." And they're like, "Wow, you can't be serious." But that's my life right now. --- Aishwarya Rai (Read the Time magazine interview here)

I met Quentin Tarantino and he'd heard about Kaante, which borrowed a lot from Reservoir Dogs. And he was so thrilled. He said, "I ripped that off from Hong Kong and now you guys have taken it from me.' Imitation is a form of flattery, you see. --- Rahul Bose (Read full interview here)

With my films, I'm targeting the urban multiplexes, the sophisticated media-savvy young crowd. Frankly, I couldn't give a f--- for the villages. --- RGV (Read full interview here)

Monday, October 13, 2003

Is Hayden really No.1?

If you ask me who is the world's best batsman at present, I would obviously say Sachin Tendulkar. But if the choices were given to be Hayden and Lara, I would have no qualms in settling for Lara. However the number crunchers at Pricewater House Coopers who rank the batsmen based on their performance don't seem to agree.

The latest rankings place Hayden above everybody else, including Lara and Tendulkar. But the 380 that has propelled him into the top spot for the second time in his career is not the top ranked innings since 1990. That honor still goes to Lara's epic 213 against Australia at Kingston in 1999. Vangipurappu Venkata Sai's 281 is safe too at the second spot. Both these knocks rate higher apparently because of the bowling attack that they were made against - a full strength Australian attack.

The legitimacy of these two spots cannot be questioned. But the positioning of Hayden's knock over several others - notably Stephen Fleming's 274 against Murali this year at his best and that too at home, defies reason. Also ranking lower is Saeed Anwar's 188 n.o against India in 1999 - a knock that carries more significance (atleast in my eyes), because he carried his bat through the innings with Srinath running through the other end with the next highest scorer being Youhana with 56. Pakistan won the test ultimately by 46 runs. If that does not increase the value of an inning, what will?

Update

I posted these questions for someone from the PWC site to answer me and they did within 12 hours of my post. Here's their reply....
=====
See the FAQ for a discussion of how a batsman's innings is rated. As
to why Hayden is above Anwar....well, that's just the way the weightings
work out. If Anwar had scored 5 more runs in that innings, he'd have been above
Hayden.

rob
www.cricketratings.com
=====

Well, numbers.... I don't know !! The FAQ did not exactly help me, but I found a link on the FAQ to a site that explains the formulae behind the ratings. Maybe you can get some ideas...
Dangerous and Petty Games

An interesting race at Suzuka on Sunday. Every minute of the race, something happened to interest the average racing fan. No better showcase for the thrills of Formula 1 than Suzuka 2003! A keenly contested incident filled race from minute one. Stratergic planning, inspired passing moves, mechanical failures, mid race shunts - there was everything that a Formula 1 fan could look for. Fittingly Ruebens Barichello won the race from pole, though it seemed for sometime that he was content to let Juan Pablo Montoya win the race while he blocked Raikonen and co. from disturbing Michael Schumacher's applecart. Michael meanwhile was fighting tooth and nail to get into points position. He even got a toast of his own medicine (all the fault was his though, as he himself admitted) when Sato clipped his front wing. Micheal also showed off his trademark blocking when he veered wide to cut off Ralf who was trying to pass him on the main straights. Seems he does not care even for his brother. Not that I would expect him to! Raikonen and DC finished two and three with Montoya retiring from the lead quite early. Takuma Sato, Christian Di Matta and Jenson Button all had a good race while Ralf Schumacher finished 12th.

An eventful year in F1, thus comes to an end. A better season, though not the best so far, for the BMW-Williams and the West McLaren Mercedes teams. Another championship pair for the Jean Todt, Ross Brawn, Michael Schumacher and Ruebens Barichello combination. Championships that was won equally by back room politics and some inspired driving too. No wonder that after all the events of this year, this happens....

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Birthdays!

I don't know about you, but I'm getting sick of pretending to be excited every time it's somebody's birthday, you know what I mean? What is the big deal? How many times do we have to celebrate that someone was born? Every year, over and over... All you did was not die for twelve months. That's all you've done, as far as I can tell. Now those astrology things where they tell you all the people that have the same birthday as you? It's always an odd group of people too, isn't it? It's like Ed Asner, Elijah Muhammed and Secretariat.

Ok.. That was one of my gurus Jerry Sienfeld (click here to read/download the complete set of Sienfeld scripts, unofficial though) on birthdays. Anyways.. Thanks for all the shirts.. My wardrobe was crying out for a revamp! Thanks for the cake too. As Akash/Sameer would affirm, I would have done anything for a piece of cake, particular one as good as yesterdays. Only that my hair would have been satisfied with much less cake than it got!

Saturday, October 04, 2003

New faces!

When I last updated my blogroll, I had signed off by saying that I might have missed some one. Actually I realized yesterday that I did miss some one. Sorry George! I enjoy your pieces so much that I am the first person who is surprised to have missed adding you.

The other new face on my blogroll writes for Cricinfo for his bread and butter and maintains a weblog for fun. Part of the QED team that has won the Landmark Quiz in Chennai more than once in the last few years. A familiar face at the QFI at Chennai - Samanth Subramanian! Welcome to the fold (I meant, my blogroll ;) )!

As an aside, Samanth's team mates are Ravi Venkatesh (last seen on SRMEC's campus) and Mohan. The last mentioned, I heard, was part of the IIT(M) team that thrashed Brickbeck College, University of London, the British National Champions, at the University Challenge Quiz on BBC.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Vroom Vroom Redux

This is one of the last pics in my camera from US GP 2003. I came back with a couple of souveniers, one of them being deep disgust at seeing desi support for that damned Michael Schumacher rival the Colombian support for Montoya and Brazilian support for "Rubinho". I think I was probably only one of a handful of non-Ferrari supporters and probably one in a dozen McLaren fans among the desi crowd (definitely over a couple of hundred there) in the Brickyard on Sunday. I even spied some of them shouting "Go Ambassdor" with a fervor that would have charmed the Hindujas. This led me to seriously doubt if they ever have looked beyond the Ferraris in F1 and if it was all because of the "Me Tifosi too" frame of mind, just to feel part of the crowd. Whatever, I had a good time and barring the weather, I am sure nothing would have come between the Iceman and the chequered flag.

Montoya was (in the words of Speed Channel talk show host, Dave Despain) screwed royally by the race stewards and with all their fawning over Ferrari in the recent days, I am sure Montoya and Berger would be, in the hindsight, be grateful that they escaped with just that drive-through penalty. Its all a plot! There was talk (in the commentary box at the Brickyard) that Montoya would have to finish 6th or higher to keep alive his championship chances. But that proved to be erronous. Its all over for this year, Juan!

As for Suzuka, that damned place is the home GP of Bridgestone - a place where the !@#$%#% has been doing good over the last couple of years. But Murphy's law is very active in F1. Remember Mika San's infamous last lap blow out with a 45 second lead in Catalunya in 2001? Actually the day after the 2001 Spanish Grand Prix, one of the websites had featured a video of the last lap of the 1991 Canadian Grand Prix. Race leader Nigel Mansell was actually waving to the crowd on the last lap with a comfortable lead, when his car blew. I am still hoping for such an event to happen to Michael at Suzuka. More better would be for a second string driver stalling in the start taking Schumacher Sr. out with him. It ain't over until the fat lady sings. So am still having my fingers crossed.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Vroom Vroom!

I woke up on this morning with a splitting headache. Mebbe its because of this trip I made yesterday. I was just opposite the podium. But would have been happier with a different winner. Whatever...Tremendous experience, all the same.

And I missed this on Saturday here at OU - something that has caused a ruckus here on campus, mainly among the parents who were in town for the Parents Weekend. This was their first campus appearance and someone said - might be their last too.

Friday, September 26, 2003

The winds of change!

I recently heard and glanced through an editorial that had appeared in The Hindu about a month ago. It appeared two months after N.Ram's taking over as Editor in chief of the Hindu Group and announced a re-structuring of The Hindu and its sister publications and sought to inform the readers of its re-orientation. Now about a month after this editorial, comes the first public hint of the change. An article covering a function marking the 125th day of the release of the Vikram flick - Saamy. Is this for the good or the bad? This is but a very tiny indication of change in the newspaper and can by no means construed as representative of the magnitude of such a change. There was, as far as I know, no coverage of the recent fracas involving a couple of out-of-work actresses and their subsequent arrests, but then these events happened much closer to that editorial mentioned about. So will The Hindu go the TOI way? I hope not!

Coming back to the event that was covered. Too much praise on each other from Rajini, Surya and Vikram. The King and the heir-apparents. Another poseur - Vijay, was around too, but I think he got invited on stage just out of politeness. That he had just two words (apart from reading out a list of names) to speak did not add any sheen to his presence. Vivek apparently got mentioned in the same breadth as Kamal and Rajini, straight from the mouth of the big boss, KB. Vivek, in case u did not know, is a KB discovery from Pudhu Pudhu Arthangal. Dunno if he did any more with KB though.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Andy Flower's hypothesis on the Wall

Harsha Bhogle, whose comments make so much sense and who never fails to amaze me with his insights informs us about what Andy Flower has to say about Dravid's batting after becoming the ODI wicket keeper for India.

Andy Flower points out that Dravid's ODI batting average has actually improved a lot since he started keeping wickets for India. He explains this statistic with this reason - Dravid has the opportunity to observe the wicket when he keeps. This helps him with his batting.

But my point is, this can happen only if India decides to chase. A good way to understand if this really happens would be to see data pertaining to India's chases. If India has been chasing targets for a large percentage of the matches since Dravid has started keeping wickets, then this could be good reason why. Will try to hustle some numbers on this.

Am at work and since I answer phones, I have sometime in my hands right now to do what I want. Since heavy thesis work is out of the question (I will be disturbed at least once every 5 mins), this is the right kinda work to do when I am here at the front office at the OSA. Be back in sometime....

UPDATE

Am back after like an hour since my post. No matter where I search, i cannot find the original peice by Flower. If any of you know how to find it, do tell me. But from the stats I culled off Cricinfo, I just found out that Andy Flower's surmise cannot be backed up completely by the numbers. Found some other interesting peice of info too.

Interestingly, while Dravid's batting average has actually indeed gone up from when he was not keeping, this rise cannot be attributed to Andy Flower's surmise that he reads pitches better after he has kept wickets. Read on to understand why.

Dravid has actually kept wickets for 47 matches in which India has chased targets 21 times (45 percent). Now his performance as keeper is not different whether India has bowled first or not (28 and 29 dismissals respectively). But his batting is actually better when India set a target, with 966 runs @ 50.84 (2 centuries and 5 fifties) with a highest score of 145. When India chased, his stats are, in 21 matches, 575 runs @ 47.91 (1 century and 4 fifties) with a highest score of 109 not out.

So that would mean that his batting actually suffers when India chases. Obviously the fatigue factor. But hear this. India actually won 14 of the 21 matches that we chased with Dravid having to bat after keeping for 50 overs. That's exactly two thirds of the matches we chased. And we won 14 out of 26 games that we defended targets in. Which is around 54 percent. This indicates that though his batting has suffered, we have actually become better chasers when Dravid is keeping. This would mean a number of things, the major point being that the team is more balanced and also that Dravid's contributions are helping India win.

So Dravid has started batting better now (an average of 39+ against 32+ when he was not keeping, would indicate this) and since he has proved that he is no slouch behind the stumps, this should a added interest in Ganguly wanting him to keep wickets for the ODIs. But this can't go long too, in the interests of India's prospects abroad.

So maybe we could let Ratra/Patel/Naidu keep when we are playing at home with Dravid as a specialist batsman. A couple of changes would have to be made, but we are always better players at home and hence this should not be a problem.

But Rahul, you can do it. The Wall just moves a couple of feet from one half of the match to another. Just believe it. Just Do It!

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Enakku oru kadhai sollu

After this happened sometime ago, this was born in the last couple of days. All the best guys. Maybe me think of something to tell you too. Well, as long as one of us is not a psychopath - a la Darna Mana Hai. Okie, that was a poor joke, but a joke by any count.
The Core Competency model and Indian Cricket

When C.K.Prahalad and Gary Hamel proposed the concept of core competency in 1990, little would they have imagined that it would take at least a dozen years or so for their pet concept would have such a bearing on Indian businesses! They should be disappointed that, while a focus on core competency helped companies like Cisco in the even in the early 1990s, it has just slowly started getting prominence in India, with the rise of so many call center operations and R&D hubs in the last year or two. But one area where it still does not play any role what so ever, is Indian cricket.

Australia is just one fine example of a number of teams that have reaped the fruits of the core competency model. Ok, my use of the phrase “core competency” here (in a cricketing sense) can be defined as follows – every player does what he does best. In that sense, in Australia, you shall definitely not see Andy Bichel open the innings in the place of Hayden (though I am sure that the versatile team man that he is he would rather do well). Regardless of how good an ODI opener Gilchrist is, he shall not be asked to open in Test matches. He does what he does best – come at the fall of the 6th wicket and thump the ball around and set/continue the good platform for declaration. So, as far as Australia is concerned, the openers pick themselves by virtue of several record partnerships and fine individual performances. The numbers three and four are attacking batsmen who can pulverize any attack into submission. Number five is a dour fighter who always takes the fight into the opposition. Number six has always been fighting unsuccessfully for a place into the team and when his chance came, has been a great success. Number seven is a wicket-keeper and perhaps the worlds best all rounder. The lone spinner (traditionally) has picked himself and when he's unavailable due to either cricketing reasons or otherwise, his perpetual understudy has performed so well that critics of the master spinner wonder why he keeps his place. The three pace bowling places have been traditionally rotated between two/three permanent fixtures and a pool of 4 to 5 second stringers who have always justified their inclusion making it tough to leave them out when the regulars come back. On top of this pool, there are at least half a dozen no-shows who make us wonder every time on why they were excluded. Some of them are a regular part of the one day team and would be a part of any other test team barring this one. A couple of them are captains of their state teams as well. Now with a team like this, where at least 10 out of the 11 pick themselves automatically (with two or more claimants for each spot, barring perhaps the wicketkeeper's), the selection panel can afford to leave the selection of the captain to the last moment, till the 12 has been picked. But can it happen with India? Certainly not!

What happens in India would leave Prahalad and Hamel shaking their head in regret. People are moved about in the order perpetually to “find the right balance". But wouldn’t balance come by itself if people are picked to do their own job? The latest news is that people like Yuvraj and Sodhi decide that they can be openers and people are prepared to listen to them. Why should a batsman practice bowling out-swingers and why should the tail-ender focus on his footwork against the spinners. This does not go to say that McGrath does not bat in the nets, only that he does not have to do it as seriously as Hayden or Langer.

So here is the “core competency” model for India. Pick two openers from a pool comprising of Das, Jaffer, Ramesh and any other hopeful who has opened for his state team for at least a period of two years now. And if their first class career has not been that long, then at least the hopeful should have been opening for his state for the whole of his first class career. This should be acceptable because with Das, Ramesh and Jaffer having played decently, there is a need for the selectors to back these people now. Number three and four would be Dravid and Sachin who would pick themselves. Numbers five and six should be a choice between Saurav, Laxman and Sehwag. If these three are not satisfactory then people like Kaif, Yuvraj, Bangar, Badani, Sriram etc. should be brought into the pool. The wicket keeper should be chosen from a pool comprising of Ratra, Parthiv Patel and any other wicket-keeper who has kept wickets for at least two seasons for his first class team. Again capability should be the key and hence people like Dasgupta with proven faults should not be chosen just because they can bat. The spinner’s pool would comprise of specialist spinners like Harbhajan, Kumble, Kartik, Sarandeep etc. Pace bowlers shall be Zaheer, Nehra, Balaji, Agarkar, Srinath etc.

There are some eternal questions that will be answered by this model. To summarize, for an away tour, we should pick 4 pace bowlers, 5 batsmen, 3 openers, 2 spinners and 2 wicket keepers on each tour, which leads to a 15 member squad. If it is a home series, we pick three pace-men and 3 spinners. Alternatively, we could pick just two specialist openers (which will not go well with our selectors) and pick an extra batsman. This is true of any international team except India. I am leaving Pakistan out of this equation because in terms of volatility, Pakistan ranks much worse and there is change every second. By the way, did you notice that in this model, I have mentioned neither the word “all rounder” not the word “captain”, which I will now.

The “all rounder” is dead as far as cricket is concerned. But was there ever a description similar to that what the BCCI was always looking for? The word for that kind of “all rounder” is superman. In cricket, there are only men, no supermen. Well, if you exclude the likes of Tendulkar, Lara etc. So why are we still looking for someone who can do a number of jobs. The age is of the “bowling all rounder” and the “batting all rounder” – people who can one job very well and the other without looking stupid at it. So while Bichel would be a bowling all rounder, Bangar will never qualify in that respect.

As for the captain, when the team picks itself by virtue of current form (we can use current form as a yardstick because of the pool of talent that we are dealing with), then the choice of captain is not critical. You need an aggressive (or in-the face, as Saurav has been described) captain only to balance the non-functioning of some of the arms of the team. If the bowling/batting is below par, aggressive moves from the captain could make the opposition vary. This happens a lot with India and hence we need such a captain. But if the team does live up to its individual potential, the team does not need a Saurav – an introverted Tendulkar would do just fine, but only because the team does what it needs to do without being prompted to do so.

But none of the above has been happening so far. Right from the selection of the team to the performance of some of the players, things have not been going that well (the World Cup performance not withstanding). So India needs a Saurav Ganguly, more for the “in the face“ captaincy than for his batting. Speaking of his batting, it has suffered, but his average is still just below 35 and if the other batsmen play to their potential, this would still be enough in the long run. But other than all this, the best reason to let Saurav stay on as captain is the fact that one major rule in anything is that you never disturb a winning combination. And even though we have not won everything in sight, we have actually been doing better than ever. For that reason, Saurav will still be a part of my team – yeah, only till my version of the "core competency model" is adopted.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Koothu podu!

I am strong backer of dappan koothu! The term dappan koothu probably originates from Dappa Koothu or dance (koothu) accompanied by percussion beats from the back of a dappa (tin or box). For those of you who's knowledge of Tamil is perfunctory, Dappan Koothu is nothing but the common man's (read as someone with zero knowledge of classical music) idea of music - the Tamil equivalent of rap. Hence, most other people (incl. my father) dismiss it as trash. But if you want to dance and you lack the moves, then the best music for you would be dappan koothu.

I am a great fan of dappan koothu - the versions strongly promoted by the likes of Thenisai Thendral (LOL) Deva. For a period of time during my undergrad years, Deva produced a steady stream of such songs that have probably entered my Koothu Hall of Fame. And there have been several other composers too who have contributed lately to this list - The Raja siblings, Bharathwaj etc.

I am not a good dancer per say, but koothu electrifies me. And this is my koothu Hall of Fame (in no particular order, I should add). If you want to hear these songs, just go to Raaga.com and search for these movies. And be sure to have some empty space in your room when you hear these numbers. I am sure that you are gonna start dancing.

The Dappan-Koothu Hall of Fame.

1. Anna Nagar Andalu - Kaalamellam Kadhal Vaazhga (1997) / Deva / Deva etc.
2. Kasu Mele Kasu Vandhu - Kadhala Kadhala (1998) / Karthik Raja / Udit Narayan, Kamalhaasan
3. White Lagan Kozhi - Priyamudan (1998) / Deva / Deva etc.
4. Kothavalchavadi Lady - Kannedhirae Thondrinal (1998) / Deva/ Deva etc.
5. Vethala potta sokkula - Amaran (1992) / Adithyan/ Karthik*
6. O Podu - Gemini (2002) / Bharathwaj / SPB, Anuradha Sriram (the remix rocks too!)
7. Sarakku Vachirukken - Shah Jahan (2001) / Mani Sharma / Shankar Mahadevan, Radhika
8. Site adippom - April Madhathil (2002) / Yuvan Shankar Raja/ Silambarasan, Karthik
9. Kaathadikkudhu Kaathadikkudhu - Ninaivirukkum Varai (1999) / Deva
10. Laalakku Dol - Sooriyan (1991) / Deva / Mano

* the Tamil actor

Btw this is just my personal hall of fame - songs I enjoy dancing to. My father would not appreciate these songs as much as i love them, but if you share similar sentiments with him, I would actually ask you to see (the video) of one song - the ninth in the list.

This song is actually a fine example of what can be conveyed through these songs. Songs of this kind are quite common in street theatre and this particular song incorporates a sequence from the Ramayana (the kidnapping of Seetha), which literally comes out of the blue.

Anybody who says such songs are trash should see this song to understand the messages that can be possibly expressed through this medium. Maybe then Deva and his ilk would get the respect they deserve. But for that to happen, Deva should probably first lose the "copy cat" tag that has overshadowed even his best work.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Answers please?

Is there a cure for disillusionment? If so, please tell me!

Friday, September 19, 2003

Avast, All ye land lubbers, scurvy rats and bilge rats!

This day's for all ye privateers and sprogs to learn to speak like Old Davey Jone's himself. He's gone to his locker and so tell no tales. But all ye blue blistering barnacles say "Aye Aye Captain" and go fore now. Else ye be walking the plank on aft soon. That after ye face rope's end. Go starboard now or if ye wish, you'll feel the hempen halter.

Ye bilge rat.. Yo-ho-ho, shiver me timbers! What you staring at? Go fore now.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Six Degrees of Separation!

Ever heard about the Six Degrees of Separation game? The basic premise is any Hollywood celebrity could be linked to Kevin Bacon within 6 steps. Let me try this one. Fairly simple, but just to establish the game - Steven Speilberg to Kevin Baco.

This is done off hand with no info, so there might be a shorter connection.

Speilberg directed Tom Hanks in "Catch Me If you can"
Tom Hanks was in Apollo 13 with Kevin Bacon.
So the number of steps is 2.

This can probably be done with any Hollywood celebrity, but Kevin Bacon is typical because of his fairly large number of ensemble movies.

The reason behind this post is that, with the amazing rise in the number of blogs/bloggers, it might just be possible to link two bloggers similarly. What say Quatrainman?