Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lord's - as I saw it!!!

Cricket is the only game I follow. Hence any remark I make about other games cannot be considered an educated one. But as per my limited knowledge about other games, they hardly involve three totally different kind of skills – bowling, batting and fielding. Hardly any game has as many as three variables – runs, wickets and time. Cricket is not easy.
While I try to put up a brave face and always believe that my team will win, if I think otherwise I have no business in following the game, I am a bad viewer. I chicken out whenever the games get close. Oh that superstition that if I am not watching, Indian team will perform.
I was roaming around aimlessly on the roads when Kanitkar hit that four. I had disconnected myself from the rest of the world when MSD got out in WC11 semi-final.
I get nervous, a bit too much.
I may well die of a heart attack one day worrying if India is going to make it.
Well we did it yesterday. I survived. Here is how I saw those five days.

Day 1 – Where is the bloody pitch?
MSD loses the toss.
“Oh no, he is not even winning important tosses now” messages a friend. I agree. How could he not win a toss when he must have?
“This the greenest pitch I have seen for a very long time” is consensus among experts. How green it could be I wonder.
I reach home. Only thing I am interested is the pitch. I switch on the TV to have a look and fail to understand the fuss about the pitch. I fail to understand because I see no pitch. They have marked some space on the lush green ground and playing on it.
If we win, I will tweet “Dear England. Growing grass is easy. Playing cricket is not. Thanks.” is what I am thinking. I am also thinking of Perth 2008. I am also thinking of Wankhede 2012. Poetic justice is what I am thinking.
We do well in session 1. We jump in a well in session 2.
Sir gets out to Moeen ali. To Moeen Ali. On this pitch. Damn.
My faith is wavering. “Drop him I announce”
From 145/7, I am used to of seeing 150 all out. From 145/7, I see end of day as 290/9.
What. A. Turnaround.
Credit goes to BK. More credit goes to Ajinkya. Ajinkya Laxman it is.
All those complains of retirements and dropping of stalwarts should be put to rest. 300 is no longer an impossible for us now. It had become in those days.
Day 1 – India.

Day 2 – England of 2014 or India of 2011?
No. We don’t get to score 300. But 295 isn’t bad. In past, our better batting line ups have folded for much less than that on flatter pitches.
“They will be in trouble. Our bowling may not be better than their bowling but their batting is surely worse” I tell a friend.
BK, like in batting, comes to fore. For a man who has links with Meerut, BK is astonishingly calm. Calmness isn’t a quality one would associate with people from Meerut.
He runs in. He bowls. He takes wickets. He raises both his arms, smiles, hugs his team mate and goes back to his bowling mark. No histrionics. No tantrums. Just plane simple bowling, batting and fielding.
BK bowls 16 overs on the go. 16.
He has three wickets. Three.
Finally Binny, India’s answer to the search of seaming all-rounder, comes on to bowl. Ballance finds the most difficult gap with precision – the gap between keeper and first slip. Oh well.  
Sir takes Root. Root says he wasn’t out. Stuart Binny says hello. God smiles and marks Rahane as “you are next”.
Yet, England are winning. They are 4 down for 200 odd.
Vijay bowls. You play five bowlers and yet it is a part timer, who doesn’t even bowl for his state side that regularly, needed before the new ball?
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the man leading this team.
Vijay gets Moeen out.           
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the man leading this team.
Remember Melbourne 2011? India were well placed just before stumps – 210 or so for 2 while Australia score 300 odd. Suddenly they lost SRT – just before stumps. Next morning, they lost RSD. They lost the match.
England are well placed. They lose Moeen Ali. Soon they lose Ballance.
Match is on. The ghosts of Melbourne 2011 has just visited England. Maybe that’s what they complain about their hotel.
219/6, the match is on.
Day 2 – Nearly India.

Day 3 – Twists, twists and more twists
There is a partnership of 50 odd. Prior gets out. Stokes maintains his consistency of trying to achieve what great Sir Ajit Agarkar achieved in Australia. Stokes fails in greatness but cannot be faulted for lack of efforts. He scores nothing. Not golden ducks but ducks nonetheless.
Broad comes. Broad slogs. Broad goes.
280/9.
We may get a lead. Who would have thought?
Oh that last wicket partnership. Not again.
319 is the score when Anderson reverse sweeps Sir. He succumbs. Poetic justice or kind of.
Such situations are tailor made for people like Sehwag, Warner. Dhawan wants to bat like them.
He does. For a bit. Then falls. I think it is that small ponytail at the back of his head that causes the problems. If he gets rid of it, he will surely have better head position and score heavily. Nonetheless.
Vijay and Pujara bat, bat and bat.
Soon it becomes boring. England seems to have resigned.
Pujara does something strange. Fishes. Goes back.
India’s #4 has a history of failing at Lord’s. Virat is trying his best to emulate his predecessor. Maybe that explains hundreds in losing causes. Maybe that explains not scoring two tons in both innings of a test. Maybe that explains failure at Lord’s. 
God decides it’s time to act on his “you are next” thing. Rahane elbows a ball to the keeper and is made to walk back.
Match on.
Vijay is stable. MSD is not. Somehow, God knows how, he avoids getting out.
What a day? What drama.
Day 3 – drama, drama, drama.

Day 4 – Sir owns the world
For some strange reasons, MSD tries to be Dravid. Whenever he has done so, he has failed miserably. Today is no different.
Binny comes. Binny goes. Oh my dear Langer. What have you done?
Vijay has been batting like Dravid in this series. He decides to do a Dravid – gets out on 95 in his first test at Lord’s.
Suddenly, India is looking in deep trouble. As Ravi Shastri would have put it “India is staring down the barrel and there is little light at the end of it”
India needs a miracle.
Out of nowhere, Sir Jadeja converts the bat in his hand into a sword. Or it is Adam Gilchrist at number 7 once again.
Sir Jadeja. The words are enough.
Full balls are cover driven with amazing power. Short balls are pulled with disdain. He has no fear. He has instilled fear in the bowling side.
His shellshocks England.
My faith is restored in him. Apologies Sir.
Within no time, the match has turned. On its head. Funny part is, England don’t even know what just happened.
319 is the target. 319 is what England scored in first innings.
Sir Jadeja at it again. Knocks of the first one - Robson.
Then there is a partnership.
A friend invites me to his house – for Chai Pakoda. When it is raining outside, who can say no to such invitation?
I enter his house expecting to watch the match. He, with another friend, is watching Holiday. Akshay Kumar is romancing Sonakshi Sinha. India has lost a big prospect of fast bowling to Bollywood. Well, Sonakshi has the built for the same.
India is looking for wickets. Akshay Kumar is looking for the head of sleeper cells.
Both are not happening.
“Finally a wicket” comes a text from a friend. Akshay shoots the main villain.
Soon there are 2 more. Then again a partnership.
4 down for 105.
6 wickets and India win.
214 runs and England win.
All two results are possible. Thirds looks a remote possibility – a tie. Clear forecast means draw is ruled out.
Day 4 – India

Day 5 – It happens
Will it be today? Or not?
JohannesburgWellington and London or Johannesburg, Wellington but not London.
I will not watch. The age old superstition.
That bloody partnership. Runs, runs and runs. Not a single wicket.
Damn. Not again.
“What a scorcher from Ishant? Made Raina out of Moeen” messages a friend. Thank God. There is a wicket. But Ishant? Scorcher? Seriously?
And there it starts. Phone just keeps buzzing. It is a collapse. It is a procession.
I have been told it is the short pitch stuff that’s doing the trick. Somebody tweets, “Can’t believe bowlers just playing with batsmen’s ego and batsmen falling for it”
What the hell is happening?
I reach home. I have got two TVs at home. I hardly get to watch any of them. I lose the battle for remote – always.
One of them is connected to inverter. Other one is not. And as luck would have it, there is no power at home.
My younger one is watching Krrish 3. For 319th time I am sure. Damn.
“Sir is Bijali” a friend texts.
“Yesssss” that’s the loudest yes ever to have come out of my mouth. I know we have done it. Somehow, after immense pleading, I get hold of the TV set. We have done it.
And how.
It is Sir running out Anderson. With a direct hit.
In movies, Mr. Anderson easily dodges bullets from Neo. In real life, Mr. Anderson fails to dodge a throw.
You know why? Because Sir is not “the one”. Sir is “the only one”. Or whatever that means. PJ.
21st July 2011 it was. Lord’s test was starting. Two of the best sides in the world were competing for supremacy – India the number one side versus England the number two.
While England was a strong side especially because they were playing at home. India fancied a win due to the team they had – they had one of the best batting line up to have played for them, their left arm pacer was having a dream run, their off spinner wasn't far away from being in top form, their young pacer had taken 22 wickets in a test series in West Indies and the entire team was on a high. Not to mention the captain who couldn't do anything wrong.
Few weeks later, it all changed for worse. And it kept getting worse.
21st July 2014 is the day we won again. At the same ground where our slide had started.
Life has come a full circle.
Hope we rise again.
Hope it is not a flash in the pan. Hope.
Hope is all we have. Hope is all we always had.
We also have Sir. Hail Sir Jadeja.
PS: Yes I tweeted “Dear England. Growing grass is easy. Playing cricket is not. Thanks.”

Image courtesy - Indiatimes and others

Monday, June 16, 2014

The War Cinema!!!

Not sure why but I've always liked world war movies – maybe I discovered this interest in days when I used to read a lot about holocaust. No, there is no animal inside me. But there was a time when reading about Hitler interested me and slowly I delved into reading about holocausts and gas chambers and concentration camps and all that.
What I learnt was that if ever there was a limit to human cruelty, it didn't exist.  What I also learnt was that amidst all the darkness, one can always find a few who bear the torch of good.
While Hitler is a character which always interested me, I slowly moved on to watching movies of his time – the world war movies. Once I almost exhausted movies in English, I moved on to German, French, Polish, Algerian and other languages. I am still not done with.
While there are a few names like “Enemy at the gates”, “Schindler’s List” which even I had heard off way before I picked up this hobby, I have watched a few not so famous ones as well. Here is a brief list of my favorites.
Empire of the Sun – I was nearly an hour into the movie when urge to find out a few more things about the movie couldn't be suppressed any further. Wiki told me that it was a Spielberg movie which wasn't really a surprise to me. Only he can make children act and make it look so real. I was more interested in finding out the name of the kid who acted as Jim, the protagonist – his acting just didn't look like acting. It looked so real. If I was moved by his acting, I was surprised to find out his name – Christian Bale.
You will find many war movies which will be full of guns, bullets, blasts, bombs, tanks, aircraft and all that one can think of war. You will find very few movies about the stakeholders who are least talked about but are nearly most impacted – people caught in the war.
Based on JG Ballard’s novel with the same name, Empire of the Sun is tale of a kid who gets caught in the war. From his life of affluence, he falls flat in to the dark and cruel world of war camp. Jim, the kid played by Bale, gets separated from his family at the start of Second World War and only manages to meet them once the war gets over. The period between these two events are all about Jim’s survival instincts to make him last one more day in the camp, the innocence of his childhood which refuses to die down, the cruelty around him and his eyes full of dreams which have nothing but fighter planes.
Empire of the Sun is a must not miss movie for everything one can like about a movie. Watch it for Spielberg’s direction, Bale’s acting, the pace of the movie and the emotional ride it provides. Watch it for the sake of cinema which thrives on the habit of venturing out to a new world.
Flags of Our Fathers/Letters from Iwo Jima - Every coin has two sides. That’s what Clint Eastwood tells us through these two movies. Flags of Our Fathers is the American version of battle of Iwo Jima – fought between US army and Japan at the far end of Second World War. The movie shows how valiantly US army fought the battle which required sacrifices of gigantic magnitudes, how fierce Japanese soldiers were who looked always ready to die in the name of nation and how atrocious was Imperial army in committing the war crimes.
The movies is in English. It shows American side of the coin and even though director has made all the attempts, does look a bit bias. It does leave you wanting to hate Japanese.
If you are done watching Flags of Our Fathers, please move on to Letters from Iwo Jima – the Japanese side of the same coin. By the time movies ends, your emotions after watching Flags of Our Fathers are completely reversed. The movie shows that the same Japanese soldier who looked a fearsome killer in the first movie was equally scared of death, was equally reluctant to leave his family to move to war front and was equally human. Oh yes, human is the word.
One incident stands out to showcase the purpose of the movie – to show two opposite sides of the same coin.
There is a scene in Flags of Our Fathers where a US soldier goes missing and his badly mutilated body is found couple of days later – the soldier’s body is nearly unrecognizable. “How cruel the soldiers of imperial army must have been” is what you think after seeing this. Cold blooded torture is what you assume.    
The same scene shows a different colors in Letters from Iwo Jima. The Japanese are shown to be totally scared and frustrated of the battle and as soon as they get hold of US soldier, they kill him out of frustration – no cold blooded torture. While they are killing him, they themselves are scared to every possible extent.
Like the end of the movie, this scene also leave you confused – which side to choose. Or maybe, that’s what the purpose of movie is- to leave you confused and let you choose the side. The message movie gives is – you don’t choose sides in a war, it is always the war against everyone else.
My Boy Jack – I had heard Rudyard Kipling’s name and knew that he was one of the prefixes in English literature in last century. But that’s about it. The reason I got interested in this movie was Daniel Radcliffe. While I had seen Rupert Grint in Wild Target, I had seen Tom Felton in Rise of Planet of Apes, I was yet to see Daniel in a non-Harry Potter movie.
As it turned out, My Boy Jack is a simple yet highly emotional movie about Rudyard Kipling and his son who went missing/believed to have died in First World War. The movie is adaptation of a play with the same name which itself was inspired by Kipling’s poem with the same name – My Boy Jack.  The poem portrays the pain of a father who lost his son in the war. The movie shows build up for this – how a myopic Radcliff is so desperate to join armed forces to serve the nation in the need of its hour, how it is a matter of pride for Kipling for his son to join armed forces, how women in the house keep a strong face in front of wishes of the men in the house but keep praying secretly that their wishes never come true. It shows the pain Kipling and his family goes through once news of their son goes missing breaks out, how a desperate mother refuses to believe that her son has died and keeps up the candle for her search and what a great writer Kipling must have been to encapsulate so much amount of pain in just few words of the poem – My Boy Jack. Oh yes, do watch it for David Haig’s acting.
There are a few more which are must watch – The EmperorThe Bridge on the River Kwai A Bridge Too FarDas Boot 
Watching World War movies is fun – not just the action but plethora of emotions they carry is worth the money. And all of them have one message which I like the most – message carrying hope. And yes, they do carry a lot of history with them. This is something I have always wondered – having fought and won so many wars after independence, it is a shame that India’s kitty of war movies is almost empty. Maybe it’s the love stories which needs to vacate this kitty first.   

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Monsoon!!!

Before the shameless days of Aa Saari Raat Besharmi Ki Height and the likes, erotica in Bollywood had a common trigger – rain.
Quite often, it was the rain which changed the mood of the scene from platonic love to manifestation of it – lust. Quite often, it was the rain which let the audience know that even though movie was strong proponent of the theory “love just happens”, in reality love has to be made. Quite often, it was the rain and the scenes/songs in it which became the selling points in movie’s posters.
Quite often, male and female protagonist would find themselves (just the two of them) in a secluded place with thunderstorms threatening an Armageddon. It is then when lightening would strike, female protagonist would suddenly try finding shelter in male’s arms, they would sing a song and just before audience hoped to see some action, two flowers would be shown fighting with each other. 
There is a similarity between movies those days and current state of affairs – we waited for rain back then, we are waiting for rain now. Well, at the onset of monsoon, let me take you back to some of my favourite rain songs – the days of rain, dance, plain chiffon saris and the unmentionables.
Yellow, yellow. Dirty Fellow (the Tip Tip Song, Mohra) – For all those who have spent adolescent years in 90s, Tip Tip Barsa Paani ofMohra has to be in one of the top songs if not the topmost song. Ravishing and bootylicious Raveena Tandon clad in a plain yellow chiffon sari, showing off curvaceous body and numerous sensuous swells – the song had it all to make you drop your jaw. As it happens, Raveena crank/prank calls Akshay Kumar to a secluded location to lure him with her dance and Maans. Somewhere at the middle of the song, Akshay’s loses control – it is the moment he starts laughing. For some strange reason, Akshay Kumar always laughs in such scenes – he is yet to disclose the reason behind it.
Forget the video, even audio of the song is awe inspiring. High pitch voice of Udit Narayan gives the song a new life – not that it was lacking before his arrival at Da da da da dooba dariya mein, khada main saahil par. Alka Yagnik has been at her mellifluous best.
This song, ladies and gentlemen, was to that year what Baby Doll is to year 2014.
Red Riding Hood (Jaane do na, Saagar) – Oh we are back to Akshay Kumar. This time he would just be a reference. Jaane do Na fromSaagar was filmed on Akshay’s mother in law and Ranbeer Kapoor’s father. Okay, to simplify it – on Dimple Kapadia and Rishi Kapoor. This isn’t exactly a rain song but much better than a lot of such songs. I just loved the way song was filmed – proves that camerawork isn’t just about lights, magic can be done with shadows too – shadow of the swimming pool along with it is filmed, shadow of people in the song, shadow of Dimple’s hair, shadow of Rishi’s about to explode tummy. All the shadows worked their magic to give the song a desired effect. So much was the play of shadows that one is left wondering – if Dimple’s sari was red or it was the shadow of Rishi Kapoor’s lips which looked so red as if they were painted.
Bleed Blue (Kaate nahi Kat-te, Mr. India) – If ever there has been a singer more versatile than Late Kishore Kumar, I would really like to listen to him. There wasn’t a single human emotion which his magical voice couldn’t express in more than one ways. He, in one single word, was a genius.
With due respect to their greatness, in the days of Sari clad Lata Mangeshkar and Gajara wearing Asha Bhoshle, playback singing did lack a bit of glamour. A few new names did appear only to disappear at a rapid pace. That’s why Alisha Chinoy is important. She brought back the glamour in the art of playback singing.
Mr. India’s Kaate Nahi Kat-te was her debut song. The blue chiffon Sari that Sridevi wore, the rustic setup, the red colour which was used to see Mr. India and eventually the rain – this was the song of the decade. Ending of the song was exactly like it should be for such songs – you wish if it had lasted a bit longer. The husky voice of Alisha saying “Love you, love you”, Sridevi’s expression of being left wanted for more of you-know-what when Mr. India leaves her to fight Mogambo’s bad guys and slow dimming of light – the perfect ending ensured that song was epitome of perfection.
Purple Haze (Baarish Ka Bahaana, Yalgaar) – Sparks had to fly when a politician romanced an accused in the case of Mumbai Bomb Blasts. Fly they did. Those were the days when SanjuBaba sported long hair, had a few muscles and was on his to stardom. 1993 was still a year away. Those were the days when Nagma still had a figure to put on a two piece bikini. For some strange reason, colour of Sari in this song and the colour of bikini she wore later in the movie – they were same. Why? Go figure. But the song had its moments.
The song most likely to figure in this list – Roop Tera Mastaana, missed out for not really being a rain song. A rain song must have three things – lightening, thunder and a wet Sari. Presence of rain in the song is always an added bonus.  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Soap Operas!!!

Oh yes, we are men. We aren’t supposed to watch or follow daily soap operas. We are supposed to detest them and detest we do. We are supposed to be cricket crazy, soccer maniac, political enthusiasts and we are all that.
But to the surprises of women, we are humans too. We are peaceful creatures who don’t like bitter gourd. To maintain peace and avoid bitter gourd, we agree to compromise – it is when Sasural Simar Ka takes precedence over that nail biting tense match between CSK and MI. With regular supply of these soap operas (or serials as we fondly call it) thrust down our throats, we do follow them.
I am no different. I have had my share of soap operas. Never ending or at least most of them have been. I am sure some of them will surely outlive me. Today I am going to talk about some of the soap operas I have followed. Since words have a habit of finding their ways to places you don’t want to, I must add I did NOT follow these soap operas, serials, forcibly just in case these words manage to find their ways to my wife’s ears. I followed them all with smile on my face, hunger in my stomach and hope in my mind – hope the cricket match wouldn’t get over by the time this crap got over.
Ek Hasina Thi – No, this is not a small screen version of Subhash Ghai’s classic Karz or Himesh Bhai’s classified Karzzzz. While Karz was an edge of the seat thrilling piece of work, Karzzz was an in-the-bed soporific work of (f)art. Maybe that’s what so many Zs signified in the end of its name.
But yes, Ek Hasina Thi is about revenge – a bit of Nirbhaya case, a bit of Jessica Lal. It has a bit of Bahaar Aane Tak, a bit of Pyar to Hona Hi Tha. It has a bit of everything.
I must say – star cast is good.
People do all kinds of things to look younger than they are. Vatsal Seth - playing Shourya Goenka, had to age many years, gain weight, tan a few shades and wear strange coloured contact lenses to look old. For some reasons, even the gorgeous Sanjeeda Seikh, playing female protagonist Durga Thakur, has put on contact lenses. Maybe it was a case of buy one get one free. Simone Singh seems to wearing a quilt all the time to ensure she looks bulky enough – after all she is playing mother of a twenty something. I remember Kishwer Merchant as a school girl in Hip Hip Hurray. Seeing her play mother of another grown up makes me feel old. It is only when I see Ayub Khan, I feel a bit younger. New characters keep appearing. Old characters haven’t yet started disappearing.
All in all, a decent watch if you don’t have an option worth fighting for the remote. Till now it has been gripping. Not sure how long it will last – to be gripping. The serial will last forever as we all know.
Pyar Ka Dard Ha Meetha Meetha Pyara Pyara (PKDHMMPP) - Nope. That’s not a song. That’s the name of a serial. Problem with such serials is in their names. Assume they start at 8:30 PM. By the time they complete announcing the name of it, its 8:40PM. Since at the end of each episode they’ve to announce – “In the next episode of Pyar Ka Dard Hai Meetha Meetha Pyara Pyara”, they need to begin announcing at 8:50PM. So there is really not much time to show real content – oh yes, they need to manage a few ad break as well. One cannot really fault the producers if such serials last a lifetime. Blame lies with the idiot who gives them such names. Even the abbreviation of the name sounds like a South Indian political party.
Coming to the story – being a product of Rajshri Production, it had a bit of Vivaah, Ek Vivaah Aisa Bhi, Hum AApke Hain Kaun, Hum Sath Sath Hain, NAdiya Ke Paar, Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon etc. For complete list, please click here.
Story has gone like this so far. Pankhudi and Aditya meet each other because someone in their family thinks they could be a good match. Initially they don’t like each other, then they do, then again they don’t like each other, soon they do – after a few months of chaos, they finally get married. Conspirators keep doing their job. Something happens to Pankhuri – she dies. Or so does everyone but the viewers of the show think. As always, viewers are right. Pankhuri reappears. Is she Pankhuri or result of that night few years ago when her dad got too drunk? Only next few episodes lasting a few months can tell. Or maybe producers will take a secret SMS poll to decide.
Why should you watch it? Well, I cannot think of a reason.
Diya aur Baati Hum- A story of achievers. An educated, wannabe IPS gets married to an illiterate Mithaiwala. First, wife helps husband win some international cooking competition where he wins by cooking Phephle. Then husband helps wife become a commando cum IPS.
While on duty she puts on police dress and gets busy catching international terrorists, political conspirators and local goons. While off duty, she puts on all her jewellery and colourful Saree to work in kitchen. Bollywood legend Rekha played ideal Bahu in Bahurani. She played a perfect police officer’s role in Phool Bane Angarey. In Diya aur Baati Hum, Deepika Singh has played both the roles perfectly in the role of Sandhya Rathi. Such is the perfection in Anas Rashid’s role as her husband that he might well have played the wife and nobody would’ve noticed.
The serial is full of drama, emotions, international issues, morality, Phephle and pictures of sweets – male protagonist owns a sweet shop. The serial is strongly recommended for those who either are diabetic or hovering around the boundary line – you aren’t allowed to eat sweets but watching won’t harm. That’s something you would get to see a plenty here.
Mahabharata – I would love to talk at length about this serial but would rather play safe in these dark times. Religious sentiments are fast becoming like a woman’s feelings - they don’t really need a reason to get hurt.
While there have been many attempts to recreate the magic of Mahabharata on TV, none could beat BR Chopra’s masterpiece.
But this one is different.
Maybe it’s the HD version. Maybe it’s the cinematography. Maybe it’s in the detailing. But this Mahabharata broadcasted on Star has surely exceeded BR Chopra’s Mahabharata in every sense. This one is surely worth watching.
I have no doubt that Mahabharata is the greatest story ever written – books can be and have been written on small parts of the bigger plot. What I have always liked about Mahabharata is that every character has its shades of grey – quite like real life. Every act of good has a selfish motive behind it. Every act of evil has a nearly justifiable reason behind it. Mahabharata doesn’t choose for you – it tells the tale and let you choose. Producers have covered this aspect well.
While Mahabharata has infinite number of characters, I always found three characters most important – Bheeshma (the right on the wrong side), Shakuni (who kept wrong on the wrong side) and Krishna (the one who makes you choose right from wrong). If nothing, watch this serial for these three characters.  Special mention for Praneet Bhatt who has done a wonderful job as Shakuni.
Well, there have been a few more in the list but I would rather end it here. After all, unlike soap operas, I would rather keep readers away from most painful thing to do while reading – wait for it to end.

Monday, April 21, 2014

IPL 7 – an IPL without Razzmatazz!!!

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a cricket tournament named Indian Premier League going on somewhere in the land which was once forbidden forever by India. If you have noticed, you must congratulate yourself for your observation skills. If you haven’t, I wouldn’t blame you for missing an event which hasn’t done much to get anyone’s notice.
While I have said this in every season of IPL starting from second season, “that this is the dullest season of IPL”, this time I can say with lot more surety. This is surely the dullest season.
Right from the ads.
Chalo Bulava aaya hai makes one feel if IPL has been played in Jammu – near Vaishno Devi. These ads are nothing compared to what we have seen in the past like the legendary Jhamping Japaak. And I am not even talking about one of the best ever ads we saw in season 1 – Mano aur Ranjan ka Baap. The phrase used in that ad – kab tak chupegi kali patton ki aad mein, kabhi na kabhi to aayegi bhindi baajar mein was creativity at its best. Compared to such legacy of IPL ads, current lot looks like an old Maruti 800 compared to Mercedes Benz.
Another problem IPL is facing is the dearth of legends. No serenity of Tendulkar’s strokes, no calmness of Dravid’s presence in the middle or irritation of Sreesanth’s tantrums. The next generation which was supposed to become legend to carry on IPL’s torch seems to be fading away – Gautam Gambhir is carrying on his form from where he left at the point of being dropped, Sehwag is giving him company and Yuvraj Singh is just a bouncer and a full length ball away from looking like he did in WT20 final.
But such days had to come, maybe they came sooner than they should have. This was inevitable part.
What is hurting most is the part which could have been avoided. One legend IPL is surely missing bears the name of wave which is supposed to have engulfed entire nation – Modi, Lalit Modi. Make no mistake, IPL without Modi is like what Baby Doll would be without Sunny Leone. Without him, every season has increasingly lost its riches. Current season looks like a poor orphan.
Let me give an example. In his days, “money is not an issue at all” was tattooed everywhere on IPL. People made money. It was well spent too. Everyone went home happy.
But not anymore.
I was bamboozled to see LED lit stumps and bails in WT20. Now when I see stumps and bails without the lights of LED in IPL7, I feel as if it is a tournament organized by poor board – totally opposite to what IPL was supposed to be, abundance of wealth. Other than the cost, I cannot think of any other reason to do away with glamorous lights. In LKM’s days, if an ICC tournament had LED lit stumps and bails, he would have put real diamonds on stumps.
If IPL needs one legend to be back, it is LKM. Maybe one slogan IPL8 must shout months before it starts, if it does, is Abki Baar Modi Sarkar.
Coming back to cricket – it has been typical IPL style.
Batsmen have been slogging and slogging well. Every shot is told us to be an amazing shot which was never seen before. Every Six is prefixed with a sponsor name. Every four is shown to be a disappointment as why it wasn’t a six.
Bowlers are pitied. Yet people are happier with high scoring matches than low scoring matches. In every match, we keep discovering a new Ishant Sharma – be it Morne Morkel or Dhawal Kulkarni. This proves that secret of Ishant’s brilliance, as opposed to popular belief, is not in his hair.
Off spinners are bowling nothing but leg spin in the name of carom ball or doosra.  Amit Mishra and Piyush Chawla are two main leg spinners. Indian medium pacers keep bowling in three different speeds – slow, slower and slowest. That day is not far away when speed of Indian medium pacers will be giving tough competition to IRCTC.
In one of the matches, Rajat Bhatia bowled at 82kph. Erapalli Prasanna would have been proud to bowl at that pace. Bhatia bowls at this pace when he runs in like a medium pacer. Imagine if he had run up of a spinner. While such style of bowling seems to be effective when batsmen are supposed to hit every ball out of park, it reduces your chances to get batsmen out bowled – I wonder if bails would get dislodged at this pace. But then, bowl slow seems to be the mantra. After all, not everyone can be a Dale Steyn. Becoming Ishant is easy as we discover in every match.
To all that hype and hoopla about modern day fielding, more catches have been dropped than one would expect. More catches are told to be extraordinary when they look quite ordinary. More fielders are trying to make simple catches look ordinary. Like any corporate presentation, fielding is turning out to be more about presentation skills than content.
Teams have changes so much that you would find it difficult to remember the original teams.
CSK has remained largely constant and mostly consistent. There was a time when we hoped men in blue to play like men in yellow. After inception of CSK, people are hoping to play in yellow to be able to play in blue.
MI looks confused at the top of batting. But then, such has been the vacuum created at their top order. They seem to be a bit too dependent on Mallinga, too confused about Pollard and too messed up otherwise.
KXIP, as it has always been, is more about the owner than the team.
People will judge Virat’s captaincy skills when he plays for RCB. It will be compared with MSD’s skills. Hope they forget it all and just enjoy his batting. If there is one team you would like to watch like the way you watched MI or RR or KKR, it would be RCB. It would be because of Virat.
KKR is playing like KKR. It must be appreciated that during all these years, they’ve manages to hold on to atrocious colours when it comes to jerseys.
I don’t know if it’s just me or to others as well - every member of RR looks like Dravid when in batting gears. Or maybe such is the aura of the man. I wish Dravid was playing for RR this season too. Alas. Time will tell if Sanju Samson turns out to be a replacement for MSD or he will join the likes of Swapnil Asnodkar and Paul Valthaty in history books. 
Quikr is one of the sponsors for DD. The day isn’t far when Quikr’s claims of ability to sell anything would be put to real test – they would be asked to sell DD. I am not sure if they would find any buyers.
SRH continues to own the most balanced fast bowling attack – brilliance of Steyn balanced by gaucherie of Ishant. They have the worst batting. On top of it, they have Amit Mishra. Enough said.
Till now, it has been typical IPL cricket. Cricket was never any different in any of the season. But then, IPL has always been more about the packaging than the product. IPL has always been more about razzmatazz than cricket.
Razzmatazz is what is missing this season and only one man can bring it back.
Hence let us all shout at top of our voices – Abki Baar….