Monday, May 2, 2011

Heal the world

Another mission. Another rebel killed. More rebels to get inspired. When will all this stop? When are we going to wake up without finding our news papers or channels not mentioning a bomb blast, a war threat or an impending invasion by a military super power.

If one analyses the root cause of all the so-called terrorist activities it leads to one name..The United States of America. How much more oil do they require? How many more innocent women and children will continue to die for the greed of one nation?

Why cant European and North American nations opt for a slightly lesser standard of living??

Do they always require to travel by flights when you have the option of high speed trains or publich transport served by such superb highway infrastructure? Is it necessary to have a room heater when all you need to protect yourself from the cold is a thick rug?

I thought that the US Financial market crash would make the West think deep on why it happened. People are angry when the system is so unabalanced. One nation lives in so much unnecesary affluence while others struggle to survive each day. Would Americans restore democracy (like they claim to do in Libya) in any other nation if there is no benefit like oil to be gained? Why are they allowing the Sheikhs who revel in vulgar opulence to rule Saudi Arabia and other Middle East nations?

Unless the root grievances of the natives of the rebel nations are addressed, there will be no reduction in terror attacks. Al-Qaeda is too huge an organization and more importantly, too huge an ideology to be destroyed by the death of a Bin Laden. I really hope that at least the American people understand this in the times to come.

I was waching a program in National Geographic on 'Siberian Tigers'. At the end, the narrator had this to say "The Siberian tiger only takes as much food as it requires. It hunts only enough to satisfy its hunger. All this, very unlike humans, who never seem to have enough."

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Congrats Men In Blue

We did it!!!!!!!!!!
I knew that we were going to witness a special moment. A perfect gift for that man who bore the burden of India's batting for more than decades. As a cricket, my most painful moment was when India lost the semifinal match of the World Cup. Probably that team was too much dependent on Sachin.

Yes, this time the Little Master missed his hundred. But what was nice to see is how youngsters took the responsibility on their shoulders and the captain played an innings befitting the ocassion.

And regarding the India -Pak cricket relationship..Start by taking Pakistan players into IPL. Let those Sena's who cry for bad relationships between the two nations go to hell...

Monday, March 7, 2011

World Cup memories: Down Under in 1992

After Reliance had sponsored the 1987 World Cup co-hosted by India and Pakistan, Benson and Hedges were the official sponsors of the 1992 edition co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand. This was the first world cup I remember watching on TV since the 1987 cup took place when I was in the first standard and me not even having the faintest memory of those matches.

I think one feature which I liked most about the 1992 edition more than its subsequent ones was the round-robin format. Each team played the other teams in the tournament in the first stage. After all those matches, the tournament went directly went to the semi's and then to the finals. I always thought that this format gave equal opportunity to all teams to compete and prove a worthy contender for the title.

And I remember India's first match. It was against England. And again Robin Smith proved to be India's nemesis with his bat. But even at the end the victory for England was by just a mere 9 runs. India, as usual, snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. I think it was a time when the batting got over as soon as the top 5 batsmen got out. The tail never managed to be effective with the bat. Sachin had an interesting duel with the legendary Botham till Beefy managed to get the better of the Little Master with a leg cutter.

Pakistan never started in the best fashion. They were convincingly beaten in their first match against West Indies (which had a young and flamboyant batsman called Brian Lara). But they still had the legendary Imran Khan leading them. Never ever should one write off the Pakistan team. They are to cricket what the German football team are to football. I remember the toss taking place for their crunch game against Australia. Imran was wearing a Tee shirt with the picture of a tiger. Ian Chappell asked him about the new Tee he was sporting and Imran replied "I was just talking to Border here. He also asked me about it. I told him that we are like the cornered tiger shown in this shirt. That is when it is the most dangerous". And how true it proved.

Martin Crowe tried his bag of tricks when captaining New Zealand. Opening the bowling with Deepak Patel, a spinner and one of the many Gujarati Patels who took cricket as a career in New Zealand!! Also the aggressive opening batting by Mark Greatbatch was something that went on to change the nature of batting in cricket.

On the hindsight India could have done better in so many ways. But like they say, life is not about ifs and buts. Probably Sachin could have opened the batting in all games. Probably our tail-enders could have shown more sense and judiciousness in their batting. Our fielding could have been better. So many excuses like that.

Jhonty Rhodes was a revelation in this tournament. His run out of Inzi in the round robin match proved that the new generation of cricketers were going to set higher standards in fielding. Rhodes will arguably probably go down as the greatest fielder in cricket history with some old timers still feeling that Colin Bland was still one level above him.

New Zealand had a dream run until the semis. Martin Crowe seem to do everything right. For me the turning point in that match, probably more than Inzi's blitzkrieg, was Aaqib's dismissal of Greatbatch. I think that superb slower ball by Aaqib proved crucial for Pakistan because Greatbatch, till then, had smashed all bowlers in the first 15 overs in most of the group batches. Had Greatbatch continued in the same momentum we might have seen a different result in that semi.
Australia who started as title favourites didn't perform as expected of them. They defeated teams like India (though by a single run), Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka but failed against whom it mattered most (New Zealand, England,South Africa and Pakistan).
South Africa were really unlucky not to have made it to the finals. Brought back into international cricket after being excluded from the ICC for following the practice of apartheid, they produced some brilliant display of cricket to reach the semis. But as fate would have it, even in future, they were brought down at the crucial stage.
I still remember rooting for Pakistan on the day of the finals. Pakistan has always been one of my most favourite team in cricket. For the amount of raw talent they had, it was only befitting that the reins of captaincy was taken by Imran, who commanded respect from everyone in the team. No one who saw that match will ever forget the 2 deliveries by Akram to get rid of Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis. 2 varieties of reverse swing by the Sultan of swing. I think Imran's biggest advantage was that he was never afraid of losing. So this made him a great risk taker in the positive sense. Taking Inzamam into the team after just watching him for 5 minutes in the nets was the best thing he had done during the preparation for the World Cup.
And finally, the outcome of the victory made it seem so satisfying. A cancer hospital and research centre in Lahore where even poor people could take treatment for free. Imran's dream had come true. It also proved to be a springboard for him to take the plunge into politics in which he waits to achieve the same glory that he achieved in cricket.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The elusive cup

What a match it turned out to be. 667 runs and no winner. I think the grand performance from both sides was summed up by Mike Artheton, former England captain who said "Neither Sachin nor Strauss deserved to be in the losing side".
While Strauss was brutal in his reply through some strokes which made him look, at times, like he was squatting musquitos, Sachin seemed like a 1810 wine. Absolutely vintage stuff from the legend. Never ceases to amaze us, does he? He fits into any form of the game with such eaze.

The first time I decided to watch him bat was during a Sharjha Cup finals. Unfortunately he was out for a first ball duck with Aaqib Javed destroying the Indian batting line up with figures of 7/37. But what struck me the first time I saw him was the perfect poise in his stance. I am no analyst of the game, but I think the first impression you form of a batsman is from his batting stance. No wonder that Gavaskar hailed him as the batsman who achieved perfect balance when executing his strokes.

He is another of India's short statured batsmen who commands respect from his peers and opponents alike. A genius, but not an eccentric one like Maradona or Bobby Fischer. Sachin is what he is today due to his relentless dedication, discipline and passion he has displayed for the game. So different from his schoolmate Kambli who could not fulfill coach Achrekar's dream of giving the game it's greatest right-handed and left-handed batsman.
I watched the first innings of the India Pakistan match at Centurion in the 2003 world cup at CET's hostel . When I came out after the first innings, most of them who saw the game till then were telling that India would crumble under the attack of Wasim,Waqar and Shoaib. When I saw Sachin bat for around 30 minutes I thought he had an early appointment with someone outside the stadium. He was playing an innings befitting the cricketing gods.For a while he was a combination of the Don and Viv Richards. As ironical as it could get he got out once again to a brute of a delivery from Akthar. That was the only way he could have been dismissed. Probably Sachin would have relived the moment Adam Bacher took a spell binding catch to dismiss him in South Africa during a Test match.
I don't think even he knew what kind of a bowler he was. He sometimes spun the ball more than any one else when he tried his hand at legspinners. He had his moments of eccentricites as well. Bowling the final over of the Hero Cup semi-final against South Africa was one. But the same gutsy decision had the reverse effect during IPL 2010 when he captained Mumbai Indians.
He never scored a Test century at Lords, but had his moment during the Diana Memorial match when he stamped his authority against a bowling side having Mc Grath and Allan Donald. Probably he felt something was wrong when he found he didn't have a century against his name at Lord's while Bombay duck Ajith Agarkar had one at the Mecca of cricket!!!
Women at a dance bar in Buenos Aires, Argentina said that the only time men coming there didn't look at them was when the TV showed the goals scored by Maradona. BBC Sports said "When Sachin goes out to bat, people switch on their TV sets and switch off their lives".
During the 1975 and 1979 world cup, West Indian fans used to display banners which proclaimed "The World Cup belongs to West Indies". Couldn't argue much with them for saying that. Probably Sachin needs to satisfy fans who feel his trophy cabinet deserves the elusive World Cup. I think we are going to witness something magical.
Yeh Dil Maange more.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Menhir effect

The recent Scripps Spelling Bee Contest saw an Indian American victory sweep at the final stages of the competition. Aishwarya who won the 3rd place had failed to spell the word ‘Menhir’.It was a surprise for me that the word which I had heard so often during my school days had eluded the memory of a Spelling Bee finalist.

The Asterix stories along with the Tintin series have been a source of reading pleasure for comic enthusiasts around the world. The varied adventures of Asterix and his close friend Obelix were a craze for youngsters like me at that time. Every Asterix comic started with the introduction of the Roman Empire which had conquered every surrounding territory except for a tiny colony of Goths (French tribe). The Goths have survived many attempts of takeover from the Romans. The secret to this is attributed to the magic potion consumed by the Gothic warriors prepared by a druid Getafix. Of these the popular warriors are Asterix and his close friend Obelix.

The Asterix series are filled with action, humour which at times is sarcastic and all other sentiments which made it such an interesting read. As you would have noticed, most of the Gothic character names end with ‘ix’. The chief is named ‘Vitalstatistix’, the bard who is bashed uo even before he can try to sing is named ‘Cacafonix’ and the pet dog of Obelix is named ‘Dogmatix’.

In the village each of the guys have a particular occupation and that of Obelix is to deliver menhirs (huge blocks of stone cut in a cone like shape) to the stone mason. Obelix who is supremely strong due to him falling into a pot of magic potion when he was a baby carries these menhirs on his back for delivering them.

While the initial story series centered around the neighboring Roman camps, the later ones were woven around other exotic countries like Egypt (Asterix and Cleopatra), Britain (Asterix in Britain), Spain (Asterix in Spain) and even India (Asterix and the magic carpet)!!

The funny scenes used to be that of Obelix and Asterix thrashing the entire Roman army and Obelix walking away with the Roman helmets and muttering to himself “These Romans are crazy!”

I guess the French story writers had a great sense of imagination and humour since both the Tintin and Asterix series were written by French speaking people. Tintin comics originated in Belgium whose citizens speak the French language.

Whatever it is, probably the participant at Spelling Bee would definitely rue the fact that she had missed a great opportunity to get a better result at the competition.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sagar Alias Jackey & Others

Amal Neerad's 'Sagar Alias Jackey' is all what the various reviews make it out to be: All style and no substance. A real disappointment when we know that it is scripted by the ever dependable S.N.Swamy.

Mohanlal's 2nd release of 2009 made a mockery of it's prequel superhit "Irupathaam Nuttandu" with just some stylishly shot scenes and myriad slow motion sequences converting an intended racy thriller to a collage of posh camera shots. To add to all that, when actors are looking forward to have a six or eight pack body Lal continues to act with his family pack figure. Not that he needs to get a highly toned body, but at least he could have done some work in shedding a few kilos.

A graduate from the Satyajit Ray film institute, Amal Neerad found the Midas touch with his debut film "Big B". But unfortunately in SAJ, while the side dishes(camera, locations etc.) were exquisite the main course (script) was totally ignored. An opportunity to make a fitting sequel totally gone wasted!

Also had the time to watch a brilliant film. 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' has been Brad Pitt's most challenging and exciting role so far. And, for me, it deserved the 'Best Picture' award at the Oscars. The film had many memorable scenes and the watershed was at the point of the below dialogue exchange towards the end.

Daisy: Benjamin, you are getting younger by the day
Benjamin: Yes, but only from the outside

Comparing the central character to a humming bird (the only bird which flies backwards) and his life to the clock at the New orleans railway station whose seconds needle goes anti-clockwise are noteworthy. At times the movie seems a bit dragging, but the effectiveness of the actors keep us engaged.

But as BVN replied to my comment on his blog, the movie "reminds us of Forrest Gump at times". Eric Roth may have missed his second shot at the Academy Awards but surely has left the minds of the viewerd with lasting thoughts on this film.

Lal of the Siddique-Lal seems to have made a good comeback in direction with '2 Harihar Nagar' as the movie runs to packed houses at most centers in Kerala. Maybe a lesson for the likes of Amal Neerad on how to make a good sequel??

I am awaiting the release of Pazhassi Raja which seems to be the next most promising release in Malayalam this year. Also another interesting release in the pipeline is Shaji.N.Karun's 'Kutty Sranku' with Mammootty in the lead. Interesting trials lie ahead in Malayalam cinema at the box-office this year.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Veteran actor Nagesh passes away

Pic Cortsey:

Just heard the news in Sun TV that veteran actor/comedian of Tamil film industry, Mr. Nagesh, passed away today morning of an heart attack. He was 78.

Just like Mehmood was to Bollwyood, Nagesh was to the Tamil film industry. His performances in films like Ethir Nicchal, Thiruvilayadal, Thilana Mohanambal, Server Sundaram and later films like Aboorva Sahodarangal, Michael Madan Kamarajan and Nammavar were well appreciated by his fans and friends.

For me the death of Nagesh represents the end of the early Tamil film era which comprised greats like M.N.Nambiar, MGR and Sivaji Ganeshan. With his body language, witty dialogue delivery and ever amusing mannerisms he captured the heart of the Tamil cinema auidence.

Of the next generation actors to his era, he was particularly close to Kamal Haasan. Most films of Kamal Haasan, by default, used to have Nagesh in them. I particularaly enjoyed his role of the corrupt PA 'Avinashi' in Michael Madan Kamarajan and the villian 'Anbarasu' in Aboorva Sahodarangal.

He also had great respect for the Malayalam film industry which was evident during the Surya Festival felicitation ceremony when he said that he was lucky to be felicitated in the midst of great actors like Thilakan. I pray that his soul may rest in peace and that his friends and relatives get the strength to bear this great loss.