Au Revoir.. Hope, Optimism and Indian Cricket

Before writing this post, I wrote a 3 page long post about Indian cricket team. And then realized that I was seething with anger. Like a true Indian fan.

And like a true Indian, I am opinionated. Here are 10 things that I think should be done –

  1. We, as a nation, need to go back to celebrating one off victories and stop looking for grandiose performances. We should act like minnows of international cricket and save ourselves some heart wrenching moments.
  2. We should stop calling our batting lineup the best. We have dogs that don’t bite or bark.
  3. Our batsmen should be paid on the basis of the amount of time they spend on the crease and the number of runs they score. Dada will win the race given the amount of time he takes the score the runs that he scores. Hmmm, let me revise the metric – A function of absolute number of runs scored, and runs per minute. Strike rate is meaningless. Its like counting the number of girls you hit on without having any affairs.
  4. There should be a pay per win policy. Tournament wins would get you more money. If you beat an Australia or SA, you get 3x, if you beat SL and Pak, you get 2.5x, if you beat England, NZ etc, you get 2x, for beating minnows, you get 1x. Bangladesh has just been promoted to 1.5x.
  5. Sehwag should be given a Titan watch (TCS and Tata Group company style) for long service and be given a subtle hint to retire.
  6. Utthapa should be given a frying pan. Flash in the pan brilliance, which comes and goes like a flash. He can also be given lifetime supple of the Rs.2 Nepali batteries also. That will help him keep flashing cheaply (pun unintended) all his life.
  7. Agarkar should be asked to take motivational sessions for MNCs. How to make money by being just 66.66% accurate. His knack of being back in the team despite bowling only 4 decent bowls every over is not a skill that can be replicated easily. He can think about Patenting his Agarkarizma (If Miracle?)
  8. Tendulkar can start a TV show – Who wants to be a Tendulkar? The reason I am saying that is that it’s a fading business opportunity. He needs to cash out. Soon, there wont be anyone wanting to wear the shoes of one of the greatest batsman ever, who never led India to any important series win (well, except that one innings in Sharjah!)
  9. The entire team should be made to watch Gunda at least a couple of times. There should be a quiz on what they learnt from the movie. Things like “Nothing is impossible” (Mithun is a coolie at the Airport), set yourself real and achievable targets (Do Char Che Aath Das- Bas!), you don’t need to confirm to the conventional standards if you want to win (Gunda is a commercially viable venture), etc. are only some of the lessons!
  10. And yeah.. one big request to the media – Lets start focusing on other games. PHL is nice. Sania Mirza looks good even when she is losing. Narain Karthikeyan can do with some support. Our chess players are great. And we have soccer fan clubs in every city. Its time we grew beyond a lost cause!

Inzing Away Into The Sunset

The tall monolith, moving with a poetic gait, cause of many a silly runouts and executioner of many a great innings in the world of cricket, Inzy Bhai called it quits last night. In the face of great shame (Pakistan ousted out of world cup, beaten by Ireland), and lots of despair (death of Bob Woolmer), he waves goodbye, but the Pakistani team will miss his services and his on-field composure for years to come.

1992 World Cup, where a great captain Imran Khan brought Inzamam’s heroics to the fore, and the world saw him mark his stamp of arrival into the cricketing world (the great innings against New Zealand in Semifinal), 22 year old Inzamam was all about grace, style and ease when it came to batting. I have never been able to figure out how he managed to have so much time to play his shots (especially, with his bulk).
His 378 matches, 11000+ runs, 39.72 average and 10 centuries don’t tell you the real magnitude of his impact on the game. Usually the smiling Buddha of Pakistan team, Toronto is the only place where someone saw him loose his temper.

Faras Ghani talks about his 5 best innings, while Osman Samiuddin bids him an emotional farewell. But nobody talks about one of the biggest banes of subcontinental cricket – the enormous pressure it puts on all cricketers. Houses are vandalized, effigies burnt, and slogans shouted everytime they lose a match. Why? Because they bring shame to the nation? Those slogan shouters forget that these are the players who put a lot of heart and soul behind those matches. That it hurts them as well when they lose. That when you lose, you want your supporters to rally behind you, urging you to keep the chin up. Inzy has lived through his own set of pressures and boiling moments. And has come out calmer all the way.

And if he seems soft, lets remind the cricket world about the walk-off Pakistan team did under his captaincy at the Oval. It takes a lot of courage to take such decisions.

So Long Inzy Bhai The generation of cricketers to come would not forget that batting might be science, but it’s the artful craft of players like Inzamam-Ul-Haq that makes cricket such a delight to watch. We will not forget those effortless sixes, delicate late cuts, fearsome pulls and elegant drives.

(c)RICKETY Affair

It takes a lot from refraining from commenting on the World Cup and the Indian Cricket Team. and I have done that a bit here with my previous post on cricket being about the fight between Gavs and Ponting. That fight took multiple dimensions with the entire Aussie team trying to defend their on-field behavior by not referring to it even once, but talking about how Gavs should not have brought Hooksie in this discussion! Well, hmm.. hmph!

But thats not what this post is all about. This post is about India, the WC and the Indian team..

1. We lost to Bangladesh. Greatbong rips our performance apart here.

My biggest grievance. If you have a wound, you treat it. If you don’t, it becomes gangrene. After a while, you need to remove that rotten part of your body because the infection starts spreading to other parts of the body. At one point in time, the Indian team (even though it was administered a little brutally) did this to good effect by letting Ganguly go. The left and the deft hand of Indian cricket for a good time, Ganguly, did come back with a vengeance.

Sehwag’s situation is worse. Its affecting the whole team. The recklessness that is considered the bane of all sports became style. Sehwag was joined by Dhoni. And now it seems to be the flavor of the season! Even the perspiring Dada [who is not ready to get off the wicket in this stint of his career, even if it means scoring once in 6 balls (the last deliver, to be precise)] played a reckless shot at 67 (and later on, against Bermuda).

Bowling was petty at best, and streetside on an average.

2. We thrashed Bermuda. I should be happy, right? Am I? not quite! After reducing them to 50-odd runs for 5, we still let them score 150 odd runs. That tells me that the body language is still not one for the kill. The batsmen were having fun making records, and that explained the 400+ score. Bowlers, too comfortable after getting the top 5, started reveling in that glory!

Dada was still perspiring. Two back to back half centuries against (presumably) below average bowling attacks would air a picture of a dada dancing down the crease to clear the stands far too many times. I would have wanted to imagine a dada slashing through the gully region and driving through the covers. Not this time. It was a hard toiled effort. But still, hats off to him for perspiring.

Some of the media folks have started reading too much into the comeback of Viru! But Mumbai Mirror has got it spot on– back all swell, against Popatwadi XI. Those who saw the match yesterday would recall the umpteen hit n miss shots played by Viru. The number of times he did not get out was more than the times he would get a chance from any other team.

Yuvraj still seems to be the best bet. Zaheer remains the pick of the bowlers, ready to bend his back, slog it out.

Movie Review: Hat Trick

All right All right. Yes I am on a blogging binge. But this is part of the series of stuff I wrote over the weekend but never managed to post because of my erratic internet connection at home.

And so, here I am, trying to review another below average movie which I shouldn’t have watched in the first place.

Anyways, Hat Trick is another useless attempt by a seemingly good director (Milan Luthria) to weave multiple stories together without there being any common thread. One story is that of a rather acidic doctor (Nana Patekar) being brought to life (humor, fun n all) by an ex-Cricketer (Danny). Second – of an obsessive cricket fan (Kunal Kapoor) being brought to his senses by his wife’s (Rimi) love for Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Third- of an airport janitor (Paresh Rawal) in UK desperate to get citizenship.
Why is the movie called Hat Trick? Well, I will exhaust two guesses-
1. Three wicket taking deliveries, three audience killing stories!
2. Hat Trick requires you to really pull some magic out of thin air. Here, the crew is trying to pull a story/movie out of thin air.

Paresh Rawal, the great actor that he is, has taken his greatness too seriously. He is overtly loud in this movie. His character required a certain desperation, an ABCD kinda mentality, a clear generation gap, and a personality for whom nothing really is going right. What he does is similar to what Amitabh was trying to pull off in his “Jadugar” and “Toofan” era. Dish some crap. People won’t realize because my crap stinks better than cK Eternity!
Paresh Rawal is so loud in this movie that you are almost about to shout at the theatre guys for being in love with him and turning up the volume every time he comes on screen. But of course you realize that these guys are not DJs who turn the volume down almost instantaneously when his wife/daughter is talking. And the tragic nature of his character can be bettered only by Ekta Kapoor’s K-series.

Nana Patekar, typecast long back, sleep walks through his role with ample ease. It’s a character that he is used to playing – angry with life for some weird reason, but a gentle and nice person at heart, extremely righteous, has fun towards the fag end of the movie, etc etc. Danny shines as an ex-cricketer. But then, there is no point wasting ink and space on these two guys unless they do something that they are not used to doing – acting badly! (Which Paresh Rawal has done in copious amounts)

Kunal Kapoor is good, ok, decent, etc. But is not the same he was in movies like Minaxi or RDB. His pairing with Rimi in the movie adds a lot of absurdity to the movie. Though there are a couple of comic moments, but barely so. The pair could have been dispensed with. And while I think about it, the movie could have been dispensed with too.

The song Rabba Khair Kare is nice (situational, in the backdrop, and interspersed throughout the movie). Harsha Bhogle, in his movie cameo, is not as natural as he is otherwise. But he is better than Paresh Rawal.
And Milan Luthria, after Kache Dhaage and Taxi No. 9211, and even movies like Deewar, is expected to make a slick fast paced movie. The pace of Hat Trick is sluggish, snailish at times!

Overall – Rating 3 on 10. Avoidable! Unless, you are in love with Kunal Kapoor who does pull a Salman Khan for a couple of minutes (not the receding hairline bit silly! The bare all Salman!)

One of the finest renditions of our National Anthem

Ek Ghazal

TeriI SadiYOn meIn jii rahaA hooN maaiN

SAans lene ki kise fursat haii

MujhKo hairAani se mat dekhaA karo

Mera visAal hi aE dost merii furqat haii..

JAane do lamhon mein kyaa kyaa yahaan bikhraa paaya

JAane kis kis ki tamanNaon ka silaa paaya

Do ghadii ruk gaya to waQt badal jayega

Ajnabi aasmAan merii pehchan, merii jaroorat haii

Baandh lo mujh ko merii Umr ke viraAne meIn

TumSe firr mil sakooN bas itni merii hasrat haii…

Theatre Watch: "One Small Day"

I happened to catch a performance of One Small Day at NCPA. Not quite sure if it follows the mood of watching an idyllic sunset at Marine Drive with special someones, but the play was good in some parts, and average in some.

Backdrops first – Directed by Jayant Kripalani, Produced by Anish Trivedi, and enacted by Dipika Roy and Anish Trivedi himself, the play traces the interaction between two very different, yet similar people, caught in a room together where the lady has come to kill the gentleman (in a self-redeeming effort of avenging her sister’s death).

First, about the cast and the people. Jayant is known for his wit, timing and acting, right from the days of the TV Series – “Khandaan”. Truly a man of great theatrical skills, Jayant lends his credibility and touch to this play. Anish, an ex-Investment Banker turned playwright, with his previous play “Still Single” going off the streets after an year of performances, started the Banyan Tree production company, and has a radio show on 92.5FM. Banyan Tree is one of the largest radio programming companies in India. Theatre, has been a recent foray for Anish and Banyan Tree. And for encouragement, the previous act (Still Single) did win him some good and some bad press. Dipika Roy has also been around in the theatre circuits for quite some time and has a list of impressive plays to her credit. Anish’s partner at Banyan Tree, she is Anish’s muse for sure given her role in Still Single as well as One Small Day.

Trivia: In the initial running of the play, Jayant was acting and Anish was directing. But for some reason, within a month or so, the roles were reversed.

Back to the play, which apparently is an inspired play. The original required people to take sides, define things as right or wrong, while Anish and Jayant’s effort is more on the humorous side. It’s not an intellectually challenging play, and plays for approximately 2 hours on the humorous/ satirical side of things.

Sheila (Dipika) barges into Bollywood Producer Hari Kapoor’s (Anish) office to kill him. His crime – Sheila’s sister Seema has committed suicide, after Hari failed to live up to his promise of casting her in a role. A heartbroken Seema ends up taking her life, but not before telling her sister why she is doing it. Having had a troubled childhood (after losing her mother at the age of 18, and father at the age of 22, Sheila raises her 14 year old sister all by herself. She has lived her life by the social norms of right and wrong, doing all the right things and sacrificing her “life” in return. She blames Hari for having lost the most important person in her life- Seema. Hari, over the course of a long conversation which fairly wittily tries to address the question of different personalities, insecurities, actions, motives, reality, people, emotions, individuality, sacrifices, choices, careers, and most importantly, the futility of it all, end up liking Sheila, and making out with her (not on the stage, of course! Indian audiences are not ready for that real a play as yet!). Sheila, however, having been pulled out of her shackles in the first half of the play, digs out Hari’s insecurities in the second half, and shooting him (not fatally, though) towards the end.

The play continues to hit upon the broken dreams and failed aspirations of each of the characters (Sheila, Sushma and Hari) and the roles they played in making them the kind of people they were. And the undertone used is –humor and sarcasm. The play is quite funny, with its wisecracks. However, the essence of a powerful script is that the audience should carry the play with them when they move out of the theatre. That does not happen here!

Background score used in the play is quite involved and in sync with the theme. The stage handling is very apt, and so is the use of the stage. The two actors have played their parts well. However, some of the estrangement and grief that two torn lives should have was missing in their performance.

Overall- a good effort. Can definitely be watched. Much better than spending a weekend on movies like “Just Married” or “HatTrick”

Moview Review: Just Married

An ensemble cast full of losers, largely loser performances, mediocre editing, average music, and an ok storyline. Chef Comment – Passable Movie!

The story is about the lead couple Fardeen and Esha having gotten married (arranged marriage) and going on their honeymoon where they are staying with 4 other couples (Bikram Saluja-Perizaad, Mukul Dev- Sadia Siddiqui, Raj Zutshi-Tarina and Satish Shah-Kiron Kher). Each of these couples has its own story, set of highs and lows, and a love & hate relationship. Finally love is supposed to triumph, and so it does!


Fardeen and Esha – Its surprising how Fardeen can make Esha look like an actress! Fardeen is pathetic as usual. With 70% of the dialogues being delivered by Fardeen (explicitly or through a voiceover), it reminds me of how li’l kids participating in elocution competitions are supposed to memorize the lines by rote with no real importance to the emotional punch. The only difference being – Fardeen is worse! He does not have the kiddish innocence required to carry that off!
Esha (even without the Deol) is supposed to giggle, shy away, look confused and act dumb. She is given minimal dialogues, and I wonder if that was Meghna Gulzar’s (the director) mega strategic maneuver. Asking lousy actresses to just stand there and do whatever they feel like doing is a good way to save time and energy.

Bikram Saluja has still not realized that for anything beyond the Grasim and whatever suiting shirting ads he does, some importance is attached to how you act. People are supposed to have a bit of variation in their dialogue delivery. I wonder if his fights with his girlfriend(s) have the same tone as the romantic evenings!
Perizaad Zorabian (and sadly) Irani is wasted as she tries to put some semblance of credibility in this movie through her character. Pity, she didn’t get to build on the tragic side of her story. That she looks good and can act is something that we know!

Mukul Dev and Sadia Siddique are like a TV couple. Sadia knows how to play those small roles well and she does, and one look at Mukul tells you why he was thrown out of movies’ world!

Fourth couple – Raj Zutshi and Tarina Patel – is also a good for nothing, and I don’t know why you are there in the movie couple. Raj has few dialogues. Tarina- fewer

Saving grace of the movie – Satish Shah and Kiron Kher. They rock! Their banters as a couple, their comic timing, and the fact that they are the only ones who add what the real element this movie should have been – Comedy! The scene where both of them are sleeping with their monkey caps and mufflers on is cute and funny. While the continuous “phir bus beech mein rukwaoge” kinda comments are hilarious. And the fact that their concluding sentiment is the only message that this movie could have stood for – You need to stand by your life partner, whatever may happen!

I wonder if Meghna Gulzar identifies and relates more with that generation more than this. While her current day couples are stories that you probably can find in your lifetime, the treatment of what their problems are and what they go through is extremely shallow, her treatment of Satish-Kiron couple is just perfect!

Any other high points- can’t remember!

Overall – Watch it if you have nothing better to do. Or, if you get a free DVD or something, keep skipping to the parts where Satish Shah and Kiron Kher are! You’ll think you watched a gun movie!

Movie Review : The Pursuit of Happyness

I happened to watch “The Pursuit Of Happyness” over the weekend.

Based on the original story of Chris Gardner (the man behind Gardner-Rich brokerage firm), the screenplay and characterizations are just perfect. The movie ranges from tragic to funny to inspirational.

The title of the movie has Happiness misspelled as Happyness – in the memory of the day care where Christopher (Chris’s son) goes everyday.

Overall sentiment : Must watch.

Biggest draws – 1. The performances of Will and Jaden Smith 2. The Screenplay.

Biggest Flaw – Another story about the Great American Dream. While the story still inspires you, there is not much new in terms of the storyline

Will Smith in the lead role has pulled off another marvelous performance. As a struggling yet positive father whose only dream, probably, is to keep his son happy, Will packages poise, understated pain, downright humor in one nice packet. As most of the reviews point, Will Smith elevates the movie to a different level.

Jaden Smith, the little boy playing Christopher Gardner (Chris’s son) is equally amazing.

There are some amazing wisecracks, which I dont know if they are inspired by real life incidents that the real Chris Gardner lived through.

Reference to Thomas Jefferson’s declaration of independence and the right to “pursue happiness” keeps the theme moving. But the best is when the narrator says – probably he was right. we can only pursue happiness. We can never have it.

The wisecracks are good. (e.g. the brokerage firm interview of Chris Gardner – One of the men asks him “What would you say if I told you we once hired a man who came in without a shirt on?” Chris pauses then wittily replies “Those must have been some really nice pants.” )

There are those tragic moments as well – especially the shot where Chris and Christopher are spending the night in a rest room.

People may have different views about the movie but for me the endgame was Will Smith’s portrayal.

Some movies are not meant to be analyzed for “is it really possible?”. They are just feel-good movies (yeah! The great American dream.. hmph!). What makes such movies great are performances such as Will Smith’s.

Couple of first timers for me –
1. I watched a movie all alone, all by myself. And its a pretty good experience – if the movie is good, there is no disturbance whatsoever. If the movie is bad, you can just walk out without having to convince anyone else to walk out as well!
2. The first shot of the movie was the intermission break. Thats a neat one! The show was going to be an uniterrupted one – no intermissions later. I wonder if the popcorn and pepsi sales are higher for such uninterrupted shows (with people wondering what if I feel like having it later!)

The Big (Mouth) Fight – Ponting vs. Gavaskar

Subhra just pointed me to this post quoting Mr. (We cant do anything wrong) Pointing

I am not a great supporter of Mr. Gavaskar.. but Ponting should know the (cricket) history (at least!) right, and should not link two extremely unrelated issues without establishing the six degrees of separation!

Gavaskar was pointing to Asutralian team’s behavior on the field, and not their success rate. And Ponting, epitomising the truly defensive attitude that the whole team has about their big cavities, starts blabbering. The only equivalent that he has for his big mouth is Andre Nel!

And if the big mouth has a correlation with being victorious and good, I don’t remember the whispering deaths of 1970s (West Indies team) ever having to swear at someone to prove their point. But the pansy li’l babies of current Oz team cant help whining everytime someone slams a boundary! And I am sure the 5 consecutive one-day losses are not helping their wet pants.

Back to the quoted incident, it was more about the number of bad umpiring decisions than anything else that prompted Gavs to walk off! But of course, li’l Ricky wont remember those things.

And hmmm… isnt it high n mighty of Mr. Ponting to remind Gavaskar of what’s right n wrong!

Couple of weeks of missed reviews!

Few snippets that’ve been lost in the sands of the last few (phew!) weeks –

1. Double deal – I decided to catch up with this fairly well known play. Experience – 4-5 out of 10.
Sandhya Mridul looks very beautiful. But Mahesh Manjrekar acted better. Even if I am the only person to think so – I always got a feeling that both the people are acting at 2 levels – 1. when they are trying to have this continuous conversation in English (I find it normal for Indians to intuitively think in their native tongue and then translate before conversing), and 2. The play itself.
It must be difficult to pull these multi-stor(e)y acts!
Also, its a one-act play split into 2 halves. 2 characters. Talking continuously.
Sense of humor – ok. Sense of drama – average. plot – good. Use of stage – minimal. Use of props – minimal. Characterization – could be better. Background music used- average.
Final comment – Its that one thing you dont want to do for fun when you want to do something for fun.
2. Ghostrider – Again.. Pathetic! Of all the comics turned movies, I have ended up liking X-men and Spiderman. Superman- the older ones. The recent one was not quite there.
Ghostrider is that Ajay Devgan action movie where even if he jumped from the 50th floor to land on 2 bicycles, there would be some B-grade movie watchers hooting for him. And the director would still say – my movie is different. It appeals to a different class of people.
Nicholas Cage, and Eva Mendes disappoint. Cage looks like a doped patient of running-stomach-syndrome. I want to go somewhere but I am too doped to understand where I want to go kinda looks! The devil is useless – does not evoke a laughter, definitely does not scare. Villains are more funny with their frozen white makeup!
Action sequences are basic, stuff that can be seen in every third movie.

High point of the movie – Emraan Hashmi, the serial kisser of Bollywood, was standing next to me in the washroom. And I realized that he is shorter than me (for those who havent seen me, someone has to be extremely extremely short to be shorter than me). God bless Indian Cinema!

3. Chennai – the city deserves a mention. I was in Chennai for 3-4 months in 2003. While talking to Bonnie and Tushar, we all agreed on two things –
a. Anyone who stays here for more than x months, should be a given a certificate of appreciation. X is a function of how far north of chennai the person is from.
b. If you see a beautiful girl in Chennai, then most probably she is a tourist. And its not about them not being good looking. They just dont have the attitude to look good.

In 2006, with probably 60% of educated families having one family member who is/has been abroad, the city is down in the pits with its conservative nature. The autowallahs havent changed in the last 40 years it seems. The roads continue to be messy (though definitely better than Mumbai roads). People on the street still cannot come out of the north-south divide and their biases. Extremely unfriendly. And any johnnie can become a hero down south!

4. Saving the best for the last – Prithvi Theater– Celebrating Poetry. I was there on a saturday when they were showcasing the emergence of progressive poetry. However, the story went back to as far as Bulle Shah, Kabirdas and covered Ghalib, Nirala, and contemporary Nida Fazli sahab as well. Beautiful collection of poetry. Couple of the actors could have done better by memorizing their lines completely.

Final suggestion – The Babbar family kids (Raj Babbar’s son and daughter) – they should stay away from theatre. Those who cannot act in movies, will never be able to act on a stage. and especially, if the stage is like Prithvi!

Friends Series (2) : Those Nothing Guys!

Another Phoebe-ism
Oh, oh, but y’know, you always see these really beautiful women with these really nothing guys, you could be one of those guys.

1. The practical theory of relativity – Those guys are really “nothing guys”. They just look like “nothing guys” because they are with these awe”some” women!
and usually, if you like the girl, you are better off believing that she made a wrong choice!
2. An analogy I use – “Just because their is a goalkeeper on the goalpost, that does not mean you stop shooting at the goal” and “Just because you are a goalkeeper, that does not mean you cannot score goals”
3. Another MBA quip – Everyone who graduates out of the IIMs in this country, wants to replace the CEO of his company. Their hopes are high, but hopes from them… low! (Unhe badi umeed hoti hai, lekin unse.. badi kam!)
4. Norman Vincent Peale – with due apologies to all his lovers.. all those who have seen small town book shops at the bus-stations lined up with titles like “Dont say yes when you want to say no”, “You can be a winner” and blah and bah.. This Phoebe-ism is definitely inspired by that. I mean, come on! There are these losers going out with these babes! But they are not complete losers like Chandler 😉 They have cars, money, or girlfriends who think with something that’s kinda below the knees.
5. A phrase I love – Night is always darkest before the dawn.


Nothing is something, and the not the lack of everything!

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