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.