Monthly Archives: May 2011

Joy to the World, IPL is done!

After the rant on the World Cup ads, it is only fitting that I do a review on this year’s IPL as well. For those who are visiting from Neptune, the Indian Premier League is the world’s second largest sporting franchise. In just four years, the league has created a worth of 3.67 billion dollars.

While it is true that Indians love cricket, and will watch the highlights of a Zimbabwe vs Bangladesh match on a Sunday afternoon, there is something more than just the Indians’ love for cricket that keeps the IPL going.

IPL is truly the first by-product of Bollywood and cricket. Well, there is Saif Ali Khan, but he took really long to take off. IPL has been able to cater to the two largest categories of people in India: those who watch cricket and those who watch films. The only ones left out are terrorists, babas, and the Monkey Man. And Indians are a loving and forgiving audience. How else can you explain a Sanjay Manjarekar, who had no skills to talk of managing to play for ten years? And Suneil Shetty, whose greatest competition is himself and a few trees, still manage to remain in the news?

IPL has been able to bring together both these loving and forgiving audiences and given them something new to trip over every evening, for 45 evenings a year. So Shilpa Shetty is the Big Sister of the Rajasthan Royals, and manages to bring Small Sister to the matches too, thereby ensuring her television time as well. And girls fromDelhiwould say “Yo! KKR rawx” on Facebook even though their knowledge of cricket would be limited to the idea that ‘no ball’ is a physical condition.

The biggest difference this year was the absence of the creator, Mr. Modi himself. For three years, Modi lived his dream, rubbing shoulders with Bollywood actresses, having a million followers on Twitter and the like.

Citi Moments of Success and DLF Maximum have become a part of everyday lore. There is a match everyday and the newspapers trying to make things look interesting every morning. This year wasn’t much difficult. Preity Zinta’s team still sucks, the cheerleaders still jump and laugh in joy after every boundary.

The Good: There cant be much good left in the fourth edition, excepting Rocky IV, but this year, there was something that was a treat to the fans: Chris Gayle. Its really marvellous, the impetus a nice fat package does. This IPL, he was Krish Gayle: he booted the bowlers out of the pack, took wickets in every match, and dived while fielding. I mean, when did you see Chris Gayle dive for anything? But this year, its as if Chris crashed into Mallya’s party and said “Yo maan! Wassap? Gimme ma Passat”. Turning out one champion performance after another, it really was a treat to watch Gayle when he is in that kind of form and Venkatesh Prasad is in the same team, and will not be bowling.

It was a little sad to watch Shane Warne bow his hat. Like his international career, Warnie did it with typical showman charisma. Coached and captained the leanest team to victory, and retired when he still had it. But the end has to come, and Warne, with Liz Hurley at his side, looks ready for a new kind of match, and one can only wish him luck, and remind him that it is possible to track and retrieve text messages. Apart from these two, I cant see much that was special this year.

There were a lot of things to crib about, though, and we shall analyse each of them one by one.

Advertisements: Zoo-zoos managed to retain interest, thanks to some good ads. Many of the other ads were repeats from the World Cup, but trust Shah Rukh to come up with something new for his fans.

KKR ads are like SRK films: loud and dramatic. Through all his ads, he seems to be asking his fans if they really are smarter than a fifth grader. So this year, they came up with a campaign through which fans could pass on a message to the cricketers. So how do you show that you can get your voice across to the team? Ok, how about this? We make Shah Rukh speak in the voices of the people. Very subtle.

So there are ads where SRK walks into the dressing room and asks his team to drink lassi, burst bubblewrap, and gives a player a head massage.. Fans of Dan Brown will say this could be a hint as to why Dada left the team. May Champ didn’t want a Champi from Champu.

The rest of the ads were the typical IPL ads, hastily made, and in poor taste.

Commentary: The IPL is harvest time for ex-cricketers. Everyone from Chetan Chauhan to Manoj Prabhakar becomes an expert on the day’s proceedings. Only in the IPL can Mark Boucher be on the commentary box one day and then a week later, be playing for one of the teams. There wasn’t much to talk about the commentary. Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar were at it again.

For seasoned viewers of the league, it has become like a game where you guess what they are going to say next. The World Cup victory has brought a halo on them and Sunil Gavaskar seems generally pleased with the world, and has not taken potshots at any Australian cricketer this time.

Studio and Extra Innings: This is something no IPL viewer will ever be able to evade. For a month and a half, he watches Navjot Singh Sidhu. Yes, Navjot Singh Sidhu is still a part of the expert panel. After reports of him having told a fellow commentator “Oye guru, don’t f*ck with me”, Mr. Sidhu is now part of the pre and post match analysis sessions.

Indiaas a nation has learnt to live with Navjot Singh Sidhu. So it is actually fun to watch him draw wonderful similies from thin air, a true artist of the absurd. The cheerleaders are so unexciting, not even the Shiv Sena guys bothered to file a PIL this year.

As a final touch of IPL subtlety, this year Harsha Bhogle and Sunil Gavaskar were wearing kurtas. And just so that you wouldn’t mistake them to be commenting for an ICL match, they had the IPL logo embroidered on their collars and neck.

With two new teams, the IPL has a lot of questions to ask itself. While there will always be speculation about retaining the interest of the viewer, I have a different take on the issue. I watch the IPL for a different reason. IPL isIndia’s show of strength to the cricketing world.

It is the time of the year when the BCCI can jack off its ego in front of the entire cricketing world. The IPL is also the time when every big cricketer in the world is willing to hang up his boots and come to play for a Mukesh Ambani. When South African fast bowler Wayne Parnell says Ashish Nehra is his role model. What greater revenge can India take on Symonds, than to make him share the dressing room with Bhajji for more than a month? Smile and bear it, buddies. But we have the money, and after years of sledging, and abusing, and using mental disintegration techniques, you now play for us. After retiring from your own teams.

Well, I know this is a little pompous thinking. I dont own the Mumbai Indians, but at least there is a deep sense of satisfaction, when I see all these guys – Ponting, Gilchrist, Symonds, and McGrath going ‘under the hammer’, quite literally. And see them appear in tacky advertisements for the money. I hope some Indian company signs Ponting for an ad where he gets kissed by Rakhi Sawant, just for the kick of it.

So it was fun while it lasted. See you guys again next year, slogging your asses off so that Subrata Sahara Roy or Mukesh Ambani can earn some money.

Now, lets get back to reruns of Dharam Veer and No Entry on Sony Max.

Why I was not a part of the Anna Hazare campaign

Just a few months back, my country was about to be changed. It was going to changed through viral campaigns on Facebook, and missed call campaigns. Sadly, my country missed out.

The worst thing about the campaign was that there was no scope for any argument when the campaign was going on. No counter logics were accepted, and anyone who found any flaw with the campaign, was branded as someone against the idea of a corrupt-free nation. That was the first reason for me to get disillusioned with the campaign.

The second reason was the brouhaha over the fast unto death. All across the nation, students, professionals, and others went on a hunger strike to show their solidarity towards Anna Hazare. My problem was with the modus operandi of the campaign.

Has the situation in our country become so desperate that we need to have fast-unto-deaths to prove a point? Isn’t this technique tantamount to political blackmail? Had the government succumbed to the demands of Anna and his brethren, what precedent would we be setting for the future? If tomorrow a group of people go on a fast demanding a separate state, or for special privileges, what reason would the government cite, for not fulfilling their demands? Would it then be, that Anna’s fast has more truth in it that someone else’s fast??

What disappointed me the most was that it was more or less an urban campaign. Even though India won the World Cup, the best timing was by Anna Hazare. Just when our news channels had tired of showing how Lord Shiva was helpful in winning the World Cup and how Shanidev had blessed Dhoni and hence he had shaved off his hair, they had something else to stun us with – the campaign.

India was done with the celebrating a cricket victory. Check. What next? Hey, lets kick some politicians’ ass! And lo and behold, within days, a tasty, simmering nationwide frenzy was waiting to be devoured. And how we devoured it!

I was truly in awe of the power of Facebook. Within days, walls began to be filled up talking about Anna Hazare and his mission. Emotional mails with statistics about the amount of wealth stacked up in foreign banks welcomed your morning log in. PicBadges became the most common thing, after LOLs and :P’s. Urban, educated India had found its enemy – corruption.

And the technique that was selected to fight it? Fast-unto-death? Really, guys??

By selecting the fast-unto-death mode of fighting, we were belittling the cause, equating it with any other campaign that strives for the attention of the government by resorting to scare tactics. We were no different from the organisers of the bandhs in the country. The leitmotif was the same – We have something to say. You better listen to us.

Seriously, I was disappointed.

But above all, what disappointed me the most was the tone of the campaign. Slogans were written against corrupt ministers. Nobody bothered to point out that corruption is what makes our lives easy. Corruption is truly the greatest offshoot of a democratic system. It has ensured a system where one can get away with a little rap on the knuckle, and the officer with a little tap on the shoulder, and everything works as it was.

Corruption is such a successful institution because it has got its funda right. The beneficiaries love it, it is mutually beneficial, and like an overpriced Amway product, it is chain-marketed to more people.

My main grudge against the people who were part of the campaign was that the targets were the politicians. Now, politicians are just people who are doing their work, no? You think it’s easy? Running from this mantri to that mantri, organising rallies in the hot sun, shouting your voice hoarse? They are just going about their job, ensuring some bread for their family and butter for their seniors. What harm did they do to anyone?

What about us? You and me?? What about when we get caught by a cop and flash a smile and slip our hands into our pockets? What about when we ask the peon to get some ‘chai-pani’ for the sahib? Corruption is not the luxury of the rich. It is the refuge of the middle class.

But sadly, all we could come up with, was a fast-unto-death. Ironically, the method in itself seems corrupt.

100% Luv: Review

So we decided to push our luck by going to watch a Telugu film. The poster had no men with moustaches and no women showing their midriff, so we walked in.

Let me dive right into the story.

Balu is a topper of the college he is studying in. He is proud of the fact that he needs to study for just an hour a day but tops the exams every single time. There is a Prinicipal of the college who promises to name a new block of the college to the person who has topped the exams. This person walks into the scene after every exam and says,

“Where is the party?”

“Here is the party!!”

“Enjoy the party!!!”

Exactly the same lines, each and every time. Balu also has six-seven children in his house whom he teaches. These children are called by the ranks they score, and they wash his bike and do other such work when they are not studying.

Meanwhile, Balu’s sister in law arrives from the village. She wears those half-saree kind of dresses and hugs everyone in the house when she comes. The first thing the bubbly girl notices is a hoarding of Balu, and is a fan of his. She also happens to take admission in the same college as Balu.

Balu drops off and picks her up from college everyday. She flunks an exam and cries in the house saying she cant understand what is being taught, as its in English. Balu offers to teach her and she begins to improve. Meanwhile, a guy from the college gives the girl a love letter, which is actually a poetic tribute to her navel (Yes, you read right). Balu gets irritated and later in the night reads the letter. He notices her sleeping in the bed and goes and touches her. She catches him in the act and sparks begin to fly between them.

Meanwhile, Balu loses the first rank to Ajit, and needs to get back the first rank by hook or crook. Together with the girl, he hatches a plan so that Ajit gets distracted from studies. He and the girl study together, making use of all the time they have, in order to do ‘combined studies’.

In the final exams, Balu manages to get the first rank. Balu’s grandmother feels that she is the perfect girl for Balu and both the families agree to the relation, and they are engaged to get married.

INTERMISSION

I know. I was shocked too. Just when I thought it was one of those smart Dhobi Ghat films that did not have an interval, I felt a huge boulder fell through the roof and landed on my chest.

I will not delve into the rest of the story as there is no point. The hero of the film (Nagarjuna’s son) cannot act to save his life. The rest of the characters are cardboard caricatures. The only bright point of the film is the heroine Tamanna. She is so pretty and so dumb, you fall in love with her.

Everything in the film is loud, from the music to the scenes. For eg, in the college canteen, there is a David Beckham hoarding for Pepsi. I am yet to see the hoarding anywhere else in India.

I wonder why the film was made in the first place. Was it to launder some ill-gotten money? Boost the image of the hero??

My guess is this. The film could have been funded by pharmaceutical companies to boost the sales of aspirins and Crocins.

I certainly needed one after this film.

Shor in the City: Review

I am wary of films that claim to pay tribute to a city. Most of the shots are cliched, and the characters stereotypes – slum boy, struggling youngster, cheating partners, etc.

So I was not sure if I should watch the film, but thank god for torrents!

Five minutes into the movie, and you know you are in for a ride!

Shor in the City is a medley of three stories, each a voice that is drained somewhere in the noise of the city. Tushar Kapoor and his two friends run a pirated books publishing set up. But Tushar is a man of ethics and will not publish books with missing pages just because they are cheap. He is newly married and plans to settle down by buying a Nano in a year. His two friends, however, live on the edge. The three of them find a bag full of guns and plan to sell it off to earn some quick money.

Abhay played by Sendhil Ramamurthy has returned from the US to set up a small business in India. He is approached by a couple of local goons, who demand money for protection. They threaten him, and go to the extent of stalking his girlfriend.

Sawan is a struggling cricketer who is keen to get into the good books of the selectors. His girlfriend’s parents are looking for grooms for her, and he learns that one sure shot way to get into the team is by bribing one of the selectors. He needs ten lakhs and has no clue how to go about it.

What follows is a heady cocktail of events, characters and situations you wouldn’t have come across for sometime in Hindi films. What makes the film enjoyable is the subtlety put into every scene. The editing by Ashmith Kunder is slick, and every scene seems to have the right feel, without once going overboard. The music by Sachin-Jigar has a prominent Amit Trivedi touch to it, but manages to blend with the film.

The film is finally what it is due to the performances. As Sawan the struggling character, Sandeep Kishan never goes all out to win your sympathy. Sendhil Ramamoorthy plays safe with a restrained performance, and Tushar Kapoor seems like a different actor in the film. The real star of the film, however, is Pitobash Tripathy. As Tushar’s maverick friend, he lights up the screen everytime he comes on.

Shor in the City is a little gem that needs to be watched. So that we can move beyond huge starcasts and item numbers in our films. Director duo Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K., who impressed with their debut film ’99’ deserve a pat on each of their backs and two pegs after that.

Go watch it.

Srupen

There was a peculiar practice in our school. Everytime we went to a new class, or a new teacher came to teach us, they would ask us our names, and then tell us the meanings. Srupen didn’t particularly like these sessions.

Not only did no teacher know his name, they kept making random guesses, and asking him what it meant, as if he should know. It was not until another guy named Sakora joined the class, that the pressure eased on Srupen. His name, of course, led to others teasing him with names of a sister of a particular demon. Which of course, led to a fight later on.

Srupen was a smart guy. He managed to come within the Top 10 of the class, but that did not mean he was your typical teacher’s pet. In a school where talking/thinking/discussing about films was taboo, Srupen was our own Roger Ebert. I remember him explaining the stories of films like ‘Nuvvu Naku Nachav’ and ‘Kushi’, in vivid detail.

Srupen had some problem with his teeth and had to visit the dentist every two months, which meant he could go home. He would watch the latest movies, and come back and narrate the stories to us, in Dolby Digital, and Technicolor.

We were roommates in Class Nine, and it was one of the best rooms I have been a part of. Srupen had gone home for one of his dentist check ups, and returned with a stack of Filmfares and Stardusts. ‘Kaho Na Pyar Hai’ had just released, and I got a chance to spend some intimate moments with Amisha Patel, huddled up on top of the cupboards, bunking the evening prayers.

He also brought with him some audio cassettes, and we would listen to songs from ‘Nuvvostavani’ in the night after everyone had slept off. Eventually we got busted, whacked, and informed that there was no way they were going to give us a seat in the school again.

Srupen was clear he did not want to come back to the school and so, was hardly bothered about it all. Even though he did well in the exams, he found time to play cricket before the exam, and cut a cake to celebrate 100 days of ‘Kushi’.

He also had a temper and got easily irritated. When we saw him walking in the corridor, me and KSS would call out to him:

“Sru-pen”, and when he’d turn, we’d say:

“Red Pen”, or “Blue Pen” and run away. This pissed him off no end, and he would chase us.

After we passed out, I barely saw him. He went on to study in BITS Pilani, and then went to the US to do his masters. On his return, he would give detailed accounts of his trips to strip joints, much to the agony of the others, who relied on the internet!!

On Sunday, he died in a car crash.

Just like that.

I wish I had spoken to him more when he had called. I wish I had told him what an awesome person he was, and that I didn’t really mean it when I used to tease him. I wish we had taken more pictures, and I wish he was still there so I could comment on his pictures on Facebook.

I think its times like these when you realise that all that we crave and strive for, could vanish, just like that. That people around us won’t be there forever.

I’m sure you are having fun up there, buddy. Just a matter of time, we guys will be joining you soon.

Indra

WHY I HAVE A MOUSTACHE

The world, as I have known it, has always been against moustaches. If you so much as go unshaven for a week , people (and especially girls) will go “Eeeeeeeew, kya ho gaya hai tujhe?”

So here, right now, I am speaking for the millions of people who have moustaches, but dont have the right answers to questions like “Eeeeeeeew, kya ho gaya hai tujhe?”

Reason 1: Real men have moustaches.

Since times immemorial, from mythological men to the present day, moustaches have stood for strength, valour and personality. In India, it has always been manly to have a moustache, and there was a certain pride to having a moustache, till of course, David Beckham came along.

To further prove my point, let us take the example of two men from our mythology. Indra and Narakasura. Narakasura, like many of his asura brothers, was a much-moustachioed man. Legend has it that, he had 16,100 wives.

Indra, on the other hand was clean shaven. His apsara, Urvashi left him for Vishwamitra, someone who was not exactly clean shaven.

Go away, lady! I know my moustache is sexy and all, but I got work to do.

Go away, lady! I know my moustache is sexy and all, but I got work to do.

Gillette claims that 89% of women prefer clean-shaven men. I don’t know where they got the data from, but something tells me the survey wasn’t done in South India. Real men have moustaches. The owner of the most famous moustache in India, Veerappan, ironically had trimmed his moustache, and he got shot dead.

Reason 2: Moustaches keep children and irritating girls away

Intelligent, mature girls like men with moustaches. Not the type who say “LOL !! ROFLMAO” on cute puppy videos. In fact, a moustache works like an Odomos if you want to avoid such company.

The same goes for children. The worst kind of cute children are those who know they are cute. They are so used to being cuddled, that even if you go near them, they’ll stretch their hands out, waiting to be ‘goo-goo-gaa-gaa’ ed.

Here’s where a moustache comes in handy. Not only will the child run away from you, it will imagine you as the monster who’ll carry him away if he doesn’t eat his food. A moustache is for those who are focussed on their target audience.

Ain’t no children coming near that !!

Reason 3: A moustache makes your partner look better.

Since the world is so prejudiced against moustaches, and since ‘looks’ depend on perception, having a moustache makes your partner look great in comparision.

Imagine walking into a party with a girl. The people (who obviously donot appreciate the finer things like moustaches) will first look at your moustache, and then notice your partner. “Eeeeeeeew, what is she doing with him?”, they’ll wonder.

This automatically elevates the girl to a higher position in the relationship, and gives the requisite amount of feel-goodness required. To further prove my point, have a look at the two pictures below:

I am just trying to play the devil’s advocate here, but with whom do you think she looks better?

Hoping I have proved my point, I rest my case.

I do not have to hunt for the razor in the morning, I do not look like a pickpocket when I don’t shave, and I am cool with the 89% women who like clean-shaven men. My target audience is the remaining 11%, and thankfully, we have a huge population.

Call me what you want, I am a moustachauvinist. Remember, with a mooch, you are one letter away from a smooch!!