Thursday, November 27, 2014

RIP Phil!!!

It is difficult explaining sadness – not to anybody else but to myself. Why should I be feeling sad because someone staying miles away, who didn't have any clue of my existence, whom I didn't have any chance or desire of ever meeting, has died?
But then, I am feeling quite sad right now. Like happiness, one cannot force this feeling. The feeling of sadness. Because this comes from within. This comes because deep down you have been hurt by something. I think something has hurt me.
I am sad. While the moment I read that Phil Hughes had lost consciousness after being hit on head, I was worried. I am not a medical expert but what I know about head injuries is that getting blacked out after being hit on the head is not a good news.
Alas, it didn't turn out to be a good news.
What do I know about him? First time I heard about me was when a colleague informed me that Australia has unleashed a freak batsman who was proving to be quite a headache for South African bowling attack.
Wow.
Headache for South Africans. That must be something special.
I asked back what was so special about him.
“He plays in quite a strange way. He is freak” was the answer I got.
I watched him bat once in that series. He was quite a freak. His footwork was strange. Half the time he was in the air. He must have been the tiniest of Australian cricketers. Strange he was. Freak.
Soon he lost his place in the side. Them came back I think. Then lost it.
Sometime in between that going out and coming back, a legendary phenomena was discovered –
Phil Hughes Caught Guptil Bowled Martin.
No matter where Martin Guptil was fielding on ground, if it was Chris Martin bowling to Hughes, Hughes found Guptil with precision and handed over a dolly to him. It happened four times in a row during Australia-NZ test series. Four freakish times. There were jokes all across the planet. Quite a freak way to get out it was. 
I remember making fun of Phil Hughes during Australia’s tour to India in 2013 which Australia lost by 4-0. Phil Hughes couldn't put bat to ball. Then in the final innings when all was lost, he managed to score a half century. Somehow he managed to do it.
He once came to India as well – maybe wanted to learn yoga to help improve his cricket. I laughed at that too.
Apart from that, I don’t know much about him as a cricketer. To me, he was like many other cricketers in Australia who were getting a chance to play because of the transition phase.
But when I heard about him being hit on head, I was worried. His demise has made me sad, really sad.
Well, 25 isn't the age when you close your eyes forever. But then, you do not decide it. Almighty does. What are we in front of almighty?
More than that, cricket field isn’t a place which could be so lethal. Cricket is a passion – most of us share it. Lot of us grew up playing and dreaming to become a Tendulkar or a Dravid or a Kumble. Some kids would surely be growing up dreaming to bat like Phil Hughes. Cricket field is a place where you dream and hope they come true. It isn't a place to lose life. It isn't a place to die. After all, it is just a game. And Cricket field is no war zone.
But then, he did lose his life. How? In a freak accident.
While playing, we all must have got injured many a times. We've seen batsmen getting hit on head, chest, unmentionable parts. We've seen them falling flat on the ground, being carried away, getting operated, in plasters and all that. But they have all come back. If not to the ground, to life surely.
Phill Hughes didn't. Such freak was his nature of injury that doctors have claimed hardly a 100 cases have been reported till date.
Raman Lamba’s sad demise can be attributed to the fact that he wasn't wearing a helmet. Surely, a helmet would have saved him.
But Hughes? He was well protected. He was wearing all he could. How often do you see someone getting hit at the back of the had, just below where helmet ends, on the neck. How often such injuries have been dangerous, forget being lethal.
In his case, it all happened. If it’s God who takes decisions, he did. Well, God must be quite a moody person. And death must be quite a determined tool to have found such a rare way to reach Phil Hughes.
This accident does teach us about the fragility of life. How quickly it all can end. How quickly. And we wouldn't even know it.
Hughes didn't know that he was playing the last ball of his life. I don’t know if I shall be alive next second or not. You don’t know it either. It can all end even before we realize it.
Hence, value it. Value life. Savor every moment you have because you don’t know which one could be your last. Enjoy till it lasts. It wouldn't last forever.
In the end, I have a few words for Phil.
Dear Phil,
You didn't know me. I wasn't your fan. But we shared one thing – our passion for cricket. But to see a 25 year old go while living his dream, does make me sad. Extremely sad. 
While you are travelling to up heavens, please convey my regards to that great man – Sir Don Bradman. You are in his team now.

RIP.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Gunda - A Tribute!!!

Much has been talked and written about Gunda, the Kanti Shah epic from 90s. While I always wanted to write about this masterpiece, I never had the confidence to do so. I never considered myself qualified enough to write about this cult movie. I never thought I would be able to bring any perspective which hasn’t been covered.
It’s not just a movie. It’s a complex social commentary on the situation of bad guys and good guys in India. How they evolve into what they become and how society perceives them as individuals. It’s an almanac for anyone who wants to see the progress that we as humans have made in this country not only as Gundas and Policewalas, but also in terms of means of transport available to us
Gunda has become Sachin Tendulkar of movies – one can hardly find anything to write about which hasn't already been covered.
It is a near impossible job. Yet, I have to knock off one item from bucket list before my mortality comes in effect.
Hence, here is my effort.
At least when I die and knock at almighty’s door, I can tell him – I not only watched Gunda many a times, I also wrote tribute to it. I am sure that will be my key to heaven. Even heaven will have a cinema hall continuously running Gunda.  
Legend has it Quentin Tarantino copied the concept of Pulp Fiction from Gunda. Yes, he time traveled. People have been ostracized by their friends because they hadn't watched Gunda. Marriages have been broken of Gunda. A lot has happened because of people haven’t witness this piece of sheer genius.
I remember watching Gunda quite late, sometime in 2004-2005. I remember being alone in hostel when someone offered to share the movie on IP messenger – “MithunDa’s best work, Gunda on offer”. I've always been a fan of MithunDa and didn’t even wink before accepting the offer.
Movie started.
After 45 minutes of the movie, some of my friends came to my room and found me in frozen state. Yes, frozen. I was shell-shocked to see such artistic brilliance - the golden dialogues, unbelievably great acting, brutally real portrayal of society, the vision for future and ability to capture the emotion of the viewers.
The movie was beyond imagination.
Make no mistake. Gunda is a lot about symbolism. Just that one needs to have an eye to catch it.
Shankar, the protagonist played by MithunDa, is a coolie by profession although he is always found on runways. This wasn’t a directorial blunder. This was symbol of aspirations of middle class in 90s – we all travelled in trains and dreamt of, for once, travelling in aeroplanes.
For once.
To the new generation who just login to all those fancy travel sites and book air tickets with a mouse click, we the generation of 90s used to dream about it. Air travel used to be a bucket list item.
While traveling in those sleeper class compartments, we all peeped out of the windows to have a look at the planes whenever we heard one flying. Mentally, we all aspired to be at airports rather than on dirty railway platform. Shankar showed how to dream beyond our pay grades. He did it physically. Within a few years, it became a reality.
Bulla, the main villain played by Mukesh Rishi, is a goon. He always says “Mera naam hai Bulla, main rakhta hoon humesha Khulla”.
Life, comes in shades of grey. As Dumbledore told Harry – Happiness can be found in darkest of times. Similarly, art can be found even in the hearts of most dangerous villains. Bulla’s artistic nature not only won hearts of millions, it showed us we must not forget to look for good even in the worst of souls. Bulla’s another poem when his sister is killed by a rival could have even competed for Grammy. 
Behen, tujhe lambu aata ne maar kar lamba kar diya,
Maachis ki teeli se khambha kar diya”
Politician Pote’s introduction talks a lot about political scenarios.
Mera naam hai Pote
Jo apne baap ke bhi nahin hotay”
Politicians are known to be quite selfish and opportunistic creatures. It was a prophecy which maybe someone like Kanshiram should’ve paid attention to. While he brought Mayavati to the world of politics and played role of godfather, she dumped her after few years. Alas, Kanshiram missed it.
I am sure he wouldn’t have watched Gunda. It was a prophecy LK Advani should’ve noticed. He wouldn’t have seen Gunda either. I just hope current PM watches Gunda. Well, just saying.
Each and every character of Gunda was a symbol hinting events in future.
There days we do see a lot of outrage in cases of crime against women. MithunDa’s movies have been highlighting this malice in our society for ages – ask all those who played the role of his sisters. Difference Gunda showed us was that it’ss not just MithunDa’s, the protagonist’s, sister is victimized in the movie. Even villain’s sister meets the same fate.
The message given is – all those eve teasers out there proving your manhood on weaker sex, don’t forget you too have women at your homes.
So, behave. 

Quentin Tarantino wasn’t the only man to have time travelled to watch and get inspired by Gunda. Even a guy named Issac Newton in 17th century heard about the movie, time travelled to watch it and was awestruck by it. One particular dialogue impressed him immensely
"Zalzala jaag utha hai! ab laashen aise girengi jaise chhote bachche ki nunni se peshaab
As he went back in his time, he couldn’t get over it. Legend has it that tapakna implanted the ideas about existence of gravity in his mind. Apple, as we all know, was just put up by censor board in science books.
One of the common things about lot of cult movies is that they are hardly a hit to start with. People take time understand the greatness of them. It takes time to digest the brilliance. For the first few days of Sholay, audience was so silent that makers of the movie started thinking to change the ending. Andaj Apna Apna was a flop to start with. I wonder if anybody noticed release of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron.
Gunda was one of them. It took years to attain the status it enjoys today. I wonder if anybody who has attended college in India would be unaware of existence of this gem. Everyone has watched Gunda. There is another lesson. Never give up hope. Even if you are a movie running in empty halls, if you have substance, you can become a cult one day.
In case you are one of such kind, haven’t watch Gunda, I give you two options – either watch it NOW or put an end to your life. The life which hasn’t seen Gunda is anyhow meaning less.
PS: Legend of Gunda cannot be covered in few lines. Hope to write more about it.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

MOM – Movies on Mangalyan!!!

Movies are a reflection of society. Not sure how true is this saying but we can surely find evidences to support it.
US of A is a super power and it believes in it. Not for no reason we see every time aliens decide to attack our planet, they end up attacking US or we see US taking a lead in saving the planet from a Meteoroid which would soon destroy us.
Germans are known for brilliance with minimum of fuss and it is visible in their movies too – minimalist approach producing movies which are quite intense in nature.  
Indians are known to make babies. And that’s what, or almost that’s what, the movies reflect. Most of our movies are about falling in love which is a precursor to the process of making it – result of which are babies off course.
If movie are a reflection of society, we surely don’t value our achievements as much as we should. Tell me in how many wars US has participated alone especially with hostile neighbors. Now tell me how many war movies you remember from that land. Now compare that with our movie making. You will get the drift. How many movies we have on sports, history (sans love story) and things we are proud off. How many movies we have which don’t have love stories as their main story.
However, with Mangalyan being latest feather in our cap, I seriously hope someone picks up this story, makes a movie and let the world know all about it. But who will do it? Which film maker will take a punt and make a movie on the story of Mangalyan?
Here is how it may look like.
Mangal pe Kuch kuch hota hai is liye kabhi alvida na kahna by Karan Johar – Rahul, played by SRK, is an astronaut who frequently makes visits to Jupiter, 10 Janpath and Zurich. Government of India decides to launch Mission Mars and sends Rahul on it. Rahul’s journey to Mars begins via beautiful flower valleys of Switzerland. As he looks out of the window of his spaceship, he spots Anjali, played by Anushka Sharma, – another astronaut travelling in another spaceship. Moment he sees Anjali, he knows he is in love – Anjali’s beautiful eyes, curly hair and gorgeous face make him fall in love with her. Rahul puts his spaceship in auto-mode and joins Anjali in her spaceship.
Anjali, an alien from Venus, is traveling to Mars to meet her childhood love Virat. Rahul’s heart breaks. However, three songs later, Anjali gets confused – she starts falling for Rahul but she cannot get Virat out of her mind and heart. They land on Mars and the melodrama begins – the battle of heart and emotions, the fight between who you love and who loves you, the conundrum of is it love or friendship. Rahul loves Anjali who doesn’t know what to do. Virat is in love with Anderson – another gentleman.
In the end, Rahul wins over Anjali. They all come back home and live happily ever after. Virat and Anderson decide to spend rest of their lives in Mars.
The movie ends with the line – Men make love in Mars, couples come back to earth.
I know it’s a terrible line. So is the story, isn't it?
Shankar ka Insaaf by Kanti Shah - Shankar is a coolie who makes ends meet by working at Sahar Airport in Mumbai. Shankar lives in Ooty with his widow mother “Maa” and young sister Munni. Durjan Singhis a dangerous smuggler. Once Shankar sees Durjan’s illegal stuff getting offloaded on a dock in Ooty, beats the crap out of Durjan’s men and hands them over to police. Animosity is born. To avenge, Durjan sends his brother Mangal to Shankar’s house to teach him a lesson. Mangal rapes Munni, kills her, leaves his red jacket on the crime scene and goes on doing his business. Maa recognizes the jacket – it was worn by the man who killed Shankar’s father. Shankar vows to take revenge - ”Mangal ko Mangal pe lee jaake maroonga”.  Shankar kills everyone in Durjan’s gang, ties Mangal to his bicycle, rides on his way to Mars, kills Mangal there, sings a few songs before that with his ladylove Radha and comes back.
Movie ends.
Mangalyan Returns ­by Sajid Khan – Sajid Khan will make remake of the movie made on Mangalyan. He will wait for someone else to make a movie so that he can make a remake.  
Kyonki Mangal bhi kabhi door tha (KMBKDT) by Ekta Kapoor – Ekta Kapoor’s KMBKDT will be a love story between an astronaut and the rocket – Sunny Leone will play sultry astronaut whereas Tusshar Kapoor will play the rocket – we all know Tusshar Kapoor’s best roles have been when he doesn't talk.
RGV ka Mangalyaan by RGV - RGV will wait for others to make movies on Mangalyan, pick up the best one and make such a horrible remake that people will stop making movies on Mangalyan.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

Awwal Number - movie review!!!

Making a movie on sports isn’t easy. No wonder we don’t have many – leave aside good ones. It requires presenting one of the most active forms of entertainment, sports, as one of the most passive forms of entertainment, movies. One of the reasons behind difficulty is that the biggest interest generator factor in sports – who would win, cannot be recreated in movies. In movies, you know the protagonist will win. Movies don’t have advantage of unpredictability which sports have.
So a movie on sports has to build that thrill in other ways. How well that thrill is built decides how well the movie will come out. Viewer has to feel as if he is watching it all live, he has to be taken to an emotional ride, his adrenal has to be pumped with high entropy and he should witness a perfect climax. Movie has to create all the excitement sports do. It isn't an easy job.
Many movie makers have tried and failed. Some movie makers have tried and succeeded.
But there is one movie maker and his movie stands out.
Dev Saab.
He made Awwal Number. The best ever sports movie. Forget Money ball. Forget Million Dollar Baby. Forget Fighter. Forget Goal series. Once you watch Awwal Number, you will forget every other movie.
Awwal Number will give such a roller coaster ride to your emotions that you will never forget. You will get such an adrenal rush that it may rush out of your body. Awwal Number will make you forget the world.
Before you read any further, I would like to quote a story from Mahabharata. Dropadi asked God for a husband who had fourteen qualities. God told her that one man cannot possess all the qualities and gave her five husbands. You would've read it in Mahabharata. I am sure you don’t know the next part of this story.
God went back. He wondered why one man cannot have all the qualities. He modified his process. Dev Saab was born.
In Awwal Number, Dev Saab plays role of BCCI president who had been a cricketer himself, chairman of selectors, DGP of Mumbai police, he had been posted in border areas in the past, he has led anti-terrorist squad, he could fly choppers with equal aplomb, he could shoot from one chopper to another, he is excellent negotiator in hostage situations, had composed a super hit song in the past, he is brother of India’s best batsman.
To put things in perspective, Dev Saab’s role had shades of Rakesh Maria, N Srinivasan, Dilip Vengsarkar, Ajit Tendulkar, Anu Malik and Captain Gopinath.
Movie begins with Vikram Singh aka Vicky, president of BCCI, making an announcement about the third ODI between India and Australia. He announces that although India has lost first two ODIs to Australia, we can save some pride by winning the last ODI. He also announces that man of the match of third ODI will be gifted a Mercedes. Talk about motivation. In the end, he takes you to broadcast of practice match which would decide the playing eleven.
Yes. They are broadcasting the practice match. Live. 
Team has to be selected for the third ODI. Selectors meeting takes place. Vicky is present there too – as part BCCI president, part selector. Confusion is between Ronny, a star cricketer who has five great years as international cricketers but is going through a lean patch (Yes, yes, Kohli. Ronny is also accused of sledging anyone and everyone) and Sunny, a rising superstar (No. He doesn’t even remotely look like Sanju Samson).
Ronny is played by Aditya Pancholi and Sunny, by Aamir Khan.
Ultimately selection comes down to Vicky who chooses Sunny over Ronny. When the last time BCCI president was decided fate of a certain player? Okay. I know your answer. Quiet now. Read on.
Ronny fumes. He says nation would go on frenzy and people of this democratic nation will force Vicky to get Ronny back.
No. Character’s name isn’t Kejriwal. It is Ronny.
Suddenly posters are spotted in the city that terrorists will blast the stadium during the third ODI. Nation goes in frenzy again. Mumbai DGP has gone on leave and isn’t traceable. Home ministry sends SOS to Vicky. Vicky takes charge – he used to be DGP Vikram Singh. He becomes DGP Vikram Singh.
Moment DGP Vikram Singh sees the posters, he knows exactly which terrorist group is involved. There is a flower printed on the posters – similar design was worn by a bartender in a party DGP had attended ages back.
Vicky ki khaasiyat hai ki who jo cheej ek baar dekh leta hai, uski tasveer Vicky ke dimag mein chap jaati hai. Fir use waqt ki dhool dhundhla nahi kar sakti”  (This is Vicky’s speciality that if he spots something, it gets etched in his mind. Dust of time cannot get it dusted)
He knows exactly who to call upon for interrogation – curator of the stadium and a certain Sundaram who is, as DGP puts it “multi multi multi multi multi millionaire”
DGP starts connecting the dots. Findings of his investigations shatter him. Main villain behind all this is none other than his own brother – Ronny. Incidentally, Ronny couldn’t take the disappointment of being dropped for last match, shook hands with some terrorists, planted explosives beneath the pitch and had plans of blasting everyone as the match goes on. I hope Manoj Tiwary never watches this movie. Never.
DGP starts looking for his brother. He finds him nowhere on the ground. He realizes that if he isn’t found on the ground, he must be in air. DGP rushes to Juhu Airbase. He sees a chopper has just taken off. He is told that his brother is on that chopper. He spots another chopper and enquires if there is a pilot available to fly it.
Pilot appears. Alas, he has his right hand injured so cannot fly the chopper. No worries. DGP tells him “Aap bas sath baith jaaiye. Kuch takniki baaten poochni hongi” (You just come and sit with me. All I will need to ask are some technical details)
Pilot hesitates.
DGP tells him “Ghabraiye nahi. Maine bahut udaye hain aise helicopters. Jaldi kijiye. Time nahi hai humare paas” (Don’t worry. I have flown many such helicopters. Hurry up. We don’t have time)
While DGP fights his battle in air, Sunny is fighting another battle on the ground. Australia has scored 275 and India needs to get one more than that in 40 overs.
Commentator Mr Wagle describes “Australia ne bahut bada score khada kiya hai. Agar Bharat 40 overs mein 275 runs bana leta hai to sayad haar tal sakti hai” (Australia has set a huge target. If India can score 275 runs in 40 overs, maybe they can avoid defeat). Talk about not counting your chickens before they hatch.
India loses 2 quick wickets. Sunny walks in to bat at 4. Have you seen this elsewhere? This is Goosebumps stuff.
DGP contacts Ronny on phone or something like that. Asks him to surrender. Ronny refuses.
India need 35 runs in 14 balls to win. Sunny is batting well. He is nearing his maiden ton.
DGP lets others in Ronny’s chopper know about Ronny’s plans. He asks them to snatch the bomb’s remote from Ronny. Ronny shoots everyone on his helicopter, including pilot. Pilot somehow manages to stay alive and fly the bird.
India needs 10 runs in 4 balls. Sunny hasn’t completed his 100 yet. I don’t know if Sunny is rotating strike or not. Maybe he isn’t. Maybe MSD watched Awwal Number in his childhood.
DGP again warns Ronny “Ronny, apne khel se gaddari mat karo Ronny” (Ronny, don’t betray your game). Ronny refuses to buzz.
DGP shoots Ronny and says “Ek Khiladi apne khel se kabhi gaddri nahi karta aur ek police wala apne farz se kabhi peeche nahi hatta” (A player never betrays his game and a policeman never runs away from his duty)
India needs to score 6 of the final ball. Opposition has a slip in place. Talk about having confidence in your bowling. Talk about aggressive captaincy. Talk about always thinking wickets. Yet, Sunny does it. He doesn't think too much about the slip fielder and hits the last ball for six. India wins.
The movie ends.
You are left exasperated. You are left exhausted. The movie drains you. Now get ready for a long lasting hangover.
Make no mistake. Awwal Number will sweep you off your feet. And as you will be about to fall down on your head, someone will rush to save you – it will be Dev Saab’s ghost. The same ghost would also be playing role of the floor beneath your ground, air surrounding you and the gravitational force.
Dev Saab is everywhere. He is everyone. He is everything.
Dev Saab is, well, Dev Saab.
Next Review in line -   Censor, another of Dev Saab’s classic.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The women. The Cricket. And the gossip!!!

This was expected. After a debacle as bad as it was, people had to find reasons behind it. Be it bad batting, poor bowling, lack of spine, IPL, pitches, politics, captaincy, aftermath of policy paralysis during UPA regime, failure of NDA government, lack of oxygen on Mars or anything else.  Hence, question of presence of WAGs with players, especially when a Bollywood actress was involved, had to come up.
Were they, the women, reason behind failure?
Did Anushka’s lip-job result in Virat’s monumental decline in form?
Were Gambhir & Ishant distracted because women were accompanying the team?
Was Pujara more worried about booking a table in some restaurant for some candle light dinner rather than how Anderson might bowl?
Were they really a distraction?
I don’t think so.
Well, they’ve been blamed in the past for the same – the women I mean. Here is a look back on some of such instances when women made an impact on men’s cricket.
Tracer Bullet Vs Mard Singh – News from the center was that Ravi Shastri, Kirti Azad and Amrita Singh formed a love triangle or something like that. However, someone had to give up and all three results were possible – who would give up. As it turned out - in the end, Ravi Shastri was the real winner. I just get the feeling that it was Amrita Singh who smashed and smashed hard at him. This affair hogged all the possible limelight in 80s. However, Amrita Singh broke up with Ravi Shastri to marry a Saif Ali Khan. As Saif grew younger, he realized he was no mug with the bat, divorced Amrita Singh to marry a decade younger Kareena Kapoor – maybe to average out women in his life.
Couple of years back, even Ravi Shastri had filed for divorce and I don’t know the result of that. Who knows what future holds? Maybe the love birds of 80s are destined to meet and mate again. Will there be another twist in the tale?
Azhar – Bijlani – Azhar was married, happily. I am not too sure about Sangeeta Bijlani. Yet, the rumors were too strong to be ignored. Sangeeta was seen watching India-SL semi-final in WC1996 in Eden. Some termed it as bad omen which was behind India’s loss –having an extra marital affair is morally wrong as per the yardsticks of society we live in. Azhar got a divorce. He married Sangeeta. Match fixing scandal happened. Sangeeta Bijlani’s picture with a man who was alleged to be a bookie made rounds. That added fuel to fire. Hell broke loose. Azhar was banned. The couple took the backseat. They have been living happily ever after.
Yuvraj Singh – Deepika Padukone – Well, Virat should have seen it coming. This has happened earlier. After being briefly linked with Dhoni, Deepika was seen dining and wining with Yuvraj during India’s tour of Australia in 2008. Yuvraj, was fresh from his heroics of T20WC2007. Alas, the test series which was supposed to establish Yuvraj in Indian middle order proved to be disastrous. ODI series which followed the test series sounded better not because it was. ODI series looked better for Yuvraj because test series was completely forgettable.
Wasn't Kohli hero of India’s campaign in T20WC2014? But for hopeless batting by, oh well, Yuvraj in the final, India may well have lifted the cup. Maybe during the match Yuvraj passed on the bug of 2008 to Kohli. Girlfriend travelled with him to England. Form remained at home.
Noodle Straps – Mandira Bedi is the only name in this list who isn't remembered for wrong reasons. Mandira Bedi was biggest star of WC2003 after Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting and South African calculators. With her, Sony Max tried to sell cricket like cricketainment – though they devised the name later. Well, they had tried doing it an year earlier in champion’s trophy. But WC2003 was bigger and better. It had Mandira. Legend has it that India’s performance in a match had a direct relation with Mandira’s dressing – people were either happy on both the fronts or sad. I hope you get what I mean.
Not just that, Mandira created history in another way. Chinese might have made noodles famous but Mandira innovated, added straps to the noodles and made noodle straps famous. She did her job wonderfully well. As Harsha Bhogle once put it – “Good part about her job was that she didn't try to become a cricket expert. She would have failed had she done that. She tried being a presenter and did it extremely well”. It wouldn't be wrong to say that in WC2003, Mandira wasn't just a presenter, she was presented too and was presented well.
Anushka Sharma – Last but not the least is Anushka. Well, we all know her story, don’t we? As correctly conveyed by this article in faking news – it is wrong to blame her for Virat’s failure. Do we blame Virat for Anushka’s poor acting?
I have said it earlier. I will say it again. Problem is not with Anushka. Secret of misery lies in her surname – Sharma. From Chetan Sharma’s last ball in 1986 to Ishant’s hairdo to Rohit’s abundance of talent, this word Sharma has been the bane of Indian cricket. Keep it away from cricket I say. We shall do just fine.
BTW, if you search for pictures of Munaf Patel's wife, you will find pictures of Bobby Darling. Ho figure.
PS: If your surname happens to be Sharma, let me remind you that pun is intended. Even if you are offended otherwise, please don’t be. Offence wasn’t meant. Pun was.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Analyzing in hindsight!!!

There is nothing more intelligent than hindsight. Absolutely nothing. You might have taken your most calculated risk ever but if you fail, you will have the world coming hard at you saying how stupid your move was. How failure was written all over it. Why did you do it?
If it succeeds, well – nobody has had as many fathers ever as the word called success.
Hence any analysis, of that 3-1 debacle in England, has to be discounted for the intelligence which comes from hindsight. Yet we, being human, cannot do it. We all make that mistake – all of us.
I have read a few reports on last series. Apart from this wonderful piece from Jarrod Kimber, I couldn't see a single one devoid of this malice. I used to be a fan of Sid Monga. Alas, some of his last pieces may have lost a fan in me. Here he argues how bringing back Gautam Gambhir was a bizarre selection move. I don’t remember him backing Dhawan after third test. I don’t remember anybody backing Dhawan after third test. Alas, like everyone else, Monga also had the benefit of hindsight. He enjoyed it in his analysis.
I am no fan of Ayaz Menon (@cricketwallah). No disrespect but I am not his fan. I think I have this right. I hope he wouldn't mind. But I follow him on twitter. I remember his tweet (after loss in Southampton) about how India’s strategy of going back to theory of four bowlers was defensive and indicated a negative mindset. 
Safety first tactics, exemplified by including extra batsman despite having won previous Test with 5 bowlers was the other bummer...

When I asked him how many overs did India’s fifth bowler bowled in first two tests, I didn’t get a reply. Another reason could be that on twitter, celebrities don’t reply to unknowns. I have no issues with that. I am a nobody.
Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha), after 4th test I think, criticized selecting a workhorse in Pankaj Singh over a faster but erratic bowler in Varun Aaron. It is a different matter that when Pankaj Singh made his debut, the mood all around was so good as if he had won noble peace prize. I asked him on twitter if he had made this observation public before third test started. Well, you know rules of twitter. They applied.
Jamie Alter (@jamie_alter) slammed Ishant’s bowling on third morning of last test. 
 Aug 17 Problem is not of no-balls, its Ishant Sharma. Seriously lacks a cricketing brain

I reminded him how he had praised same bowler’s similar bowling after Lord’s. 
Well bowled, Ishant. Hope this proves the change in career graph that we've been waiting for for too long #

Thankfully he replied saying bowling in Lord’s was as bad as on that day – Ishant got lucky. I showed him his tweet. The tweet had praise written all over it. He said he was hoping for future– not sure if he was hoping Ishant to improve or bad bowling to be lucky repeatedly.
My point here is not to pinpoint what Jamie had said. Or anybody said. I am just pointing out the shortcoming of human nature which often surrenders to the powers of hindsight. We all do it. We all go with what the rest of the world is speaking in what we thing world wants to listen to. Hence we just try to justify a result in a way we think everyone around us wants to. We just flow with the tide.
What am I doing then pinpointing everyone and claiming I am not doing so? Well, I am giving a precursor to my analysis of this debacle. The analysis, is obviously, has been powered by hindsight.
We shouldn't have played a 5 test series. We just shouldn't have because to play a series as long as 5 tests on a foreign soil in alien environment, you need arsenal to last. We didn’t have. Ishant was injured in second test and missed the next two. We badly missed him. The fact that India missed Ishant speaks volumes of the quality of arsenal we had. BK was looking like a sure shot contender of man of series till Lord’s. As the series progressed, he looked a pale shadow of himself. Other bowlers really didn't matter.
Logically a longer test series gives you more time to come back. But then, recent history was against us. This was a team which hadn't played more than a two test series outside India. Even their much celebrated predecessors hardly ever played a long test series. Two of 4 test series will be remembered for ever – England 2011 and Australia 2012. Last time we played a five test series was more than ten years back in West Indies and we lost it 2-1 even after leading by 1-0 at one point of time in the series. That was a much stronger side. Before that, there was a 5 test series in Australia in 1991-92 and we lost 4-0. Yes, the 4 test series in 2003-2004 was drawn 1-1 in Australia but then, Australia didn't have two of their best bowlers available – McGrath and Warne.
Other than that, we have been playing 3-test series overseas. We have done well in some of them, yes. But then, we have failed in some others as well. After winning the first test in 2006-07 in SA, we lost the next two test. Had we played two more, I am not too confident we would have won or saved. And that, was one of our best teams ever playing in SA.
So I am not sure if sending our least experienced (and probably weakest too) to play a 5 test series in alien conditions was a good idea. The team is in transition. Or rather, is in infancy after transition. When did we go through such phase last time? 1993 maybe, after the world cup and on tour to South Africa? We had some experience with us – Azhar, Kapil and Ravi Shastri. Young brigades had names like Tendulkar, Kumble, Srinath who went on to become big names. But then, there is no point talking about them in this scenarios – who knows what current crop will become in coming years. We lost 1-0 to a team which was making a comeback in international cricket after 23 years.
1996 in England – Sachin, Azhar, Kumble and even Srinath had become stable members in the side. Ganguly and Dravid made their debut in this series and rest is history. We lost the series 1-0. And that England team was weaker than this. Ronny Irani played for them.
Compared to those two, I would consider this team to be least experienced and maybe weakest too. Most experienced batsman in this line up was MSD who isn’t really a batsman in this format. Yet, he turned out to be second best scorer. Second most experienced player Ishant, was, is and will always be Ishant.
Bhogle later commented that a five test series tests you like no other. Why do you send such a team for such a test is beyond me? Maybe you can argue with the logic of throwing a baby to the water and all that, but then I would say – baby sank, you knew it would hence don’t whine about it. Or at least, don’t let hindsight lighten your analysis.
Well, if this was a 3 test series, 1-1 wouldn't have looked that bad. Reasons like testing the team, if transition is good or bad, if such a strong test will do more good than harm to the new crop, if long series has given sufficient time to Virat and Anushka to work on their relationship can all go to hell. If you are really too bothered by this result of 3-1, don’t tell me you would've been happier with a 3 test series. Even their predecessors hardly played a longer series and when they did, they failed more often than not.
Well, this isn't the only reason for the debacle. But a shorter series would surely have avoided it.
Not that we have lost for the first time. I would still consider losses in Australia and England to be worse than this. So, why the magnitude of disappointment is at its peak right now.
There is a reason.
Every time we have lost, there has been some hope of a revival. Playing for India used to be the biggest aim of all these international cricketers and we knew they would do anything to continue doing that. Alas, times have changed.
The monster called IPL gives them options.
Irfan Pathan came like a bang, gave hope, lost form, lost place, lost pace, lost swing, regained fitness, came back, won us Perth, scored a 100, lost form, lost place, got injured, got fit and played IPL. Since then, the long sentence has got shortened – Irfan gets injured, gets fit, plays IPL, gets injured, dances on some TV show, gets fit, plays IPL and then again gets injured.
RP Singh used to be a fantastic bowler who could swing consistently at 140+kph, had a good arm, and didn’t throw away his wicket. He was good. Last time I remember him doing well for India was in Australia 2008. IPL started in 2008. Since then, he has almost gone missing. When he was recalled in England 2011, he arrived with a tummy which looked to have hidden a Parthiv Patel inside it. When you are outside the team, you are supposed to be burning with desire to come back and should be ready to bowl even woken up from sleep. Alas, RP was woken up in Miami. In that shape.
If I am not wrong, RP wasn't even considered good enough to play in last auction.
Then there is Munaf who shrugs away sixes hit on him in IPL and spends rest of the year in hiatus. Manoj Tiwary is Irfan Pathan of batting. Unmukt Chand couldn't even succeed in IPL. Varun Aaron has played more IPL seasons than number of tests. Tendulkar preferred playing IPL over a test series in West Indies. Sehwag delayed a surgery because of IPL.
I am not even talking about how this tournament plays with the technique/temperament of batmen or bowlers. That’s secondary. Primary is motivation. And that seems to have become IPL.
The new generation has that option. They may not care. That’s the fear. I hope they know that decline in quality of cricket they play for India will surely have adverse impact on IPL. But then, who thinks that much. I cannot really blame them. If I can make 3 year’s salary in 2 months, why would I take the pain of coming to office every day?
How I wish all these players skip IPL2015, sign up a contract with some county, work on whatever was missing from their repertoire in this series, become better players. Maybe a county stint will help becoming mentally stronger to counter a 5 test series too. How I wish.
But then, who can say no to money. Not many.
That’s why when I read the news of Cheteshwar Pujara deciding to stay back and play county cricket in England, I smiled. I smiled with hope.
How I hoped others too had skipped CLT20, stayed back after ODIs and played a few county games. How I wish someone like Rohit Sharma does that.
But then, Rohit wouldn't do that. He think he doesn't need that. After all he has talent.
And others, others have commitment. Towards the circus. Called CLT20/IPL.