ICC Champions Trophy Finale….

It’s was as if the Indian cricket team woke up this morning and prepared themselves for their first warm-up match against Pakistan instead of the ICC Champions trophy final.  Nobody seems to have had the slightest idea of the amount of build up created by the media among Indian fans back home. Every channel had dedicated hours of debates and discussions about today’s game and what come out at the end of the day was a massive loss. Was the Indian team overconfident ? Did Pakistan outplay India ? Or did India play poorer than usual ?  I think the problem definitely lies in both confidence and lack of control in the match.

Decision to bowl first obviously must be backed by some clear plan which surely was lacking. Pakistan did make a good start with their openers but captain Virat Kohli did not seem to rotate his bowlers or make some strategic changes to the field to pressurize them to make mistakes. Ravi Ashwin should have bowled in the first 10 once Virat realized runs were flowing freely from the Pakistani bats against the Indian fast bowlers. A few overs of attacking spin bowling from one end could have done the trick. Every experienced cricketer knows rotating bowlers, cutting down the boundaries and trying different things is the only way to break partnerships.  Indian team did not seem to have done the homework on how to bowl to a field or how to approach specific Pakistani batsmen. Dhoni’s consulting service somehow seemed unavailable to Kohli today. The game drifted further between overs 10-30 and there was serious lack of control from then on.  If the pace attack was ineffective spin attack can be called almost useless. Hardik Pandya showed glimpses of good performance but overall the Indian team seemed totally unprepared and ignorant of how many runs to concede while choosing to bowl first.

Even if we assume the bowling went wrong for some reason there was no reason for the batsmen to have not stuck to a chasing plan. I would have been happy with 60/0 at the end of 10 overs or even 12 overs while stepping up the game slowly to reach 200 within 30-35 overs considering a 100 of the last 10 is always possible in modern day cricket. India could have had a better start by seeing through Mohammed Amir’s first spell without playing any fancy shots.  Rohit Sharma’s wicket was expensive and Virat Kohli also seemed very uncomfortable reading Mohammed Amir’s line and length. Waiting for the lose balls and focusing on settling down could have been a better option in the first 10 overs in spite of the huge target to chase down. None of the senior players seemed to have done damage control while wickets were falling at regular intervals. Overall nobody in the batting line-up with the exception of Hardik Pandya who had no choice but to go for runs seemed to have shown responsibility and proper response to game situations at various intervals. While it is easy to be satisfied to reach the final winning the trophy makes a huge difference to the team’s stature outside home turf. Unless winning becomes a habit India cannot afford to see the level of dominance Australia enjoyed few years back. Overall not just a disappointing day but a day that will not come back again until next year.

 

Sachin – A Billion Dreams…

26-May-2017….Sounds like the start of a great test series  ? No. It’s Sachin rebirth day if not his birthday. How does it feel to screen a biography film after 2 decades of glory in the cricket field ? I can’t explain unless you are made to appear before a grand audience for an act of unending applause – Only difference being Sachin never had to act but just appear before all of us and tell a story. The story is not a bollywood film but a life history spanning several generations beyond one’s imagination.

Sachin was born more than 10 years before I was born (1984) but anybody can tell we are the luckiest generation to have witnessed the greatest batsman cricket has ever known. There is no lose talk when someone says Sachin is great and probably this movie and my blog is meant to explain the same. So why is Sachin great ? All of us know why without needing an explanation but for some weird reason I feel like telling the Sachin story for the newer and other future generations too.

He is great because he started playing international cricket at the age of 16 which in a way meant there was some serious talent or lack of talent in India. It feels empty without knowing how things started for Sachin as a kid in Mumbai facing his first ball at the practice nets in Shivaji Park. No cricketer can ever be taught beyond the basics and his coach Achrekar and brother Ajit had the encouragement for him to flourish. Sachin obviously has a deep cricketing brain which no-one understands unless you analyze some of his matches and the shots he plays. The film was a treat to watch just like his 100s and 50s with some memorable shots which commentators have admired and enjoyed. But behind the scenes his life is played like a somber song which speaks louder than a woman’s eyes staring at you in silence. The movie moves everyone in a heart-throbbing fashion with his wife Anjali and her kids sharing some time immemorial videos- The time he spends dating Anjali and the little time he had to spend for his two beautiful kids – Arjun and Sara.

No player has ever created a reminiscence of such a strong memory etched among fans and audience through years of tv watching and screaming in their houses, shops and sports bars. Memories flow like a river across the nation from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. All I could do is sit and be in a state of shock and awe with some fun filled screams of ‘Sachin Sachin’ ,’Come On Sachin’ etc..I played the song ‘Sachin Sachin’ several times over and over again before I could reach the depths that he had touched playing the game across countries in various pitches and conditions. Thanks to Sukhwinder Singh for presenting a song of deep inspiration.  The film tells you more about what you don’t know about Sachin than what you already know – Things like Sachin visiting the MRF pace foundation, innocent media interviews , Pakistani sledging , his captaincy , world cup winnings and loses and the various other challenges such as managing disappointment and grooming his kids.

What makes me crazy is the fact that he scored a hundred in England in spite of his father’s loss. I wouldn’t have dared to play beyond 7 deliveries before I returned back home. Such is his passion for this game unmatched so far by any other cricketer. Greatness is not some augmented reality show decorated with nice flowers and green parks but years of hard work, dedication and some no nonsense cricket standing the test of time and longevity.  I felt heavy and wildly cold by the end of the show when he receives the ‘Bharat Ratna’ from the President of India. Sachin is culture , religion , god , prayer and father of cricket in India carrying the weight of this nation and the weight of the Indian cricket team for several years without frustration. His retirement speech says it all in true colors and spirit. The movie should be no more than a inexplicable experience for even someone who has never known him. History for sure !!!

Half Girl Fired….

Haha 🙂 I can only start with a laugh about this movie. If you have read the book reading it again should make you feel better than watching the movie. Everybody knows Chetan Bhagat is good at writing girly stories without much fuss but when heroic attempts are made to convert them to a movie success comes only partially or half just like the half girl friend.

First of all being an Arian I don’t believe in any half girl friends. A girl needs to decide which guy or man she wants. If she cannot she has an unresolvable heart problem which spreads like cancer to the often poor guy. Riya Somani is a rich girl who plays good basketball while Madhav Jha is a lad from the relatively poorer but top-end communities in Bihar. Both of them meet together at Stephen’s college basketball courts and a romantic friendship blossoms among the two. Madhav can neither speak good english nor understand rich girls with split personality.

Madhav’s moves to breach the friendship lines through movie dates does not go well but Riya Somani’s moves to kiss him to death succeeds. Only difference being death comes slowly to Madhav after the poison works his way through the body and the sensible part of his mind. Riya Somani is no match whatsoever with Madhav – Neither the way he speaks nor the way he dresses nor the way he fantasises girls. Trouble arrives to Madhav when Riya decides to marry a Londoner. Innocence and helplessness spreads all over his face unable to find answers for Riya’s physical moves.

Madhav decides to go back to his village and do some marketing to gain funding from Bill and Melinda Gates foundation for toilets in his village schools.  Riya becomes his english mentor only to see him stutter and stumble in front of Mr.Gates. The story is so well conveyed page by page as it appears in the book that at one point I felt like searching for the page numbers. The rest of the story is about how Madhav finds lost Riya in New York and regains his status as her half boy friend (which is a whole load of sh*t to me in the end).

The story is meant to be emotional and acting is good in parts but believe me an assertive egoistic Arian like me will not tolerate so much from a girl like Riya. This fact is well conveyed by Madhav’s friend  in the first half of the movie and I thought his acting deserves appreciation. Riya in the end remains the insensitive, stubborn and childish girl who cannot decide beyond a worthless friend with minimal benefits relationship which I think is stupid when the guy wants to own her and Madhav remains the innocent english learning guy who struggles to match some serious richness. Worth the time ? Definitely no. Theatres were empty and probably suits boring couples who have not even read the book or know who Chetan Bhagat is.  Shraddha Kapoor as Riya Somani and Arjun as Madhav Jha should be an insult to themselves in spite of of some good performances from Arjun Kapoor.

The movie is definitely vulnerable to criticism from not so romantic guys like me who neither plays basketball nor struggles with English nor wants a half girl friend. Watch it with some tolerance programmed beforehand.

Summer , Fitness and Cricket…

It’s almost mid-May and if you have been sitting at home with a 1.5 TON air-conditioner working 24/7 for you then you have no idea how hot it is getting each day outside. I would draw similar analogy to sedentary lifestyles where we sit in the office working for long hours without realizing the long term consequences.

As I look back towards my younger days and compare the amount of physical activity I used to perform to the levels today the difference is easily mind boggling. A simple experiment of mine to get back to playing some serious professional cricket in the past one month says it all. Having spent more than 8-10 years off the cricket field I find it too challenging to even get back to basic fitness levels required for playing a 20-over game.  A larger part of this challenge is always in the mind than the body because the body simply responds to what your mind thinks.  I wouldn’t call my experiment a failure by any means because I was able show significant progress in regaining my cricketing skills by spending time at the nets and practicing during the weekends.

Cricket demands an active to very active lifestyle and it is important for your mind to think about the game constantly both on and off the field. Unfortunately my day job belongs to an industry classified in the other end of the lifestyle spectrum which is “Sedentary”. Think about the amount of activity you lose sitting before a computer for 8 hours. A cricketer would typically start his fitness routine by 6 or 7 am in the morning which could include running , stretching and some time in the gym. The evenings could include a 2-hour net session or yet another fitness routine. So almost 4 hours of solid time is dedicated for sports activity while a sedentary lifestyle will struggle to accommodate even 1 hour. Most people in the end settle for a 30-minute fitness target.

You have to be super smart in time management to ensure a good balance between a day job and weekend cricket which is good enough to meet match fitness. Using your office gym, end your day with a night run , stretching and doing basic weights at home are some of your options to bridge the gap. If you still feel out of confidence a mini summer camp or 10-day cricket camp at one of the local cricket academies should do the trick.

Kaatru Veliyidai…..

It’s obvious that the director of this movie attracts more audience than the title or the cast. Mani Ratnam has always been a no nonsense director commanding tremendous respect for anything he touches upon and Kaatru Veliyidai is no different and can be easily considered one of the top guns in his arsenal for sure. Among his recent movies  if Kadal and OK Kanmani are gears 1 and 3 Kaatru Veliydai is easily a notch higher at number 5.

If you are planning to munch a bag of popcorn throughout the movie (which is what I did 🙂 ) and come back home you are in for big surprise because this movie is meant to squeeze your heart till the last drop of tear pours out in the end. Varun aka VC and Leela are two people who are not meant for each other but find a way to stick together. Movie is set in the Kargil days of war between India and Pakistan where Varun plays the role of an air force commander and Leela who travels to Kashmir as an amatuer doctor providing servcies to the Kashmiris. Leela meets Varun in the hospital after a dramatic accident at the top of the hill and the two of them start their romantic air force spiced journey. Varun invites Leela for a ride in his military jet (which was more like a private jet) and the two of them engage themselves in some serious come close to each other romance. I hate to put these things in a funny way but I have to tell you that the romance is very serious and music is simply music to the ears.  It is easy for the audience to get bored of such romantic stories but the genius of Mani Ratnam will never let that happen.

There are two battles in this movie. One between India and Pakistan and the other between Varun and Leela. Varun is a haughty and arrogant military officer who takes lot of pride in his work and trades a lot of women for his happiness. Leela apparently is more serious to him and is mentally unable to reduce his ownership stake over her. While Leela is still contemplating whether Varun is still worth her love in return  the two of them fail to make compromises on who they are and what they want from each other. Leela neither wants the slightest show of manly force on her nor the slightest disrespect while Varun explains she is way up the hierarchy when it comes to the relationship. Typical household men vs women arguments where a woman feels she needs to be treated better than someone who makes babies.

The show goes on for a good two and half hours with some good songs and background scores (so good that you will sometimes forget about the dialogues they speak) till final punch arrives in the climax.  War separates the two of them, Varun lands in enemy jail and plans an escapade to return home, receives awards of honor and still feels empty.

Lost love is of course the reason for his emptiness and he begins his search for Leela in Kashmir. The ends arrives when the two of them meet each other after a break of 3 long years but this time with an unexpected and surprising new little baby who fails to recognize her father.  How the two of them explain this coming together is for you to watch and feel and trust me you will be in for an emotional punch. It’s beyond words. Makes it a super movie instead of a good movie.

 

 

 

 

How it feels to be a 30-something…

As I approach the end of yet another year in my 30s I explore how it feels to be 30-something and beyond.

  1. Your are more focused on accumulating more wealth in the 30s by putting your reputation and leadership to work than your talent.
  2. You are more health conscious and make daily exercise and healthy food choices a norm in your daily life.
  3. You like to spend more time on hobbies and grow your interests outside of regular work.
  4.  It’s the right time to put the theory of lost talents to work from time to time.
  5. You prefer focusing on quality of time spent than quantity.
  6. You prefer stability and clarity in your personal life.
  7. Your vacations are always more planned than random.
  8. You prefer to hang out with only those who enhance your career and business interests and distance yourself from others.
  9. You expect more respect without giving back the same amount to others.
  10. You prefer to have an experienced and wealthy identity in society even if you are not.
  11. You don’t want any surprises to your personal life, financial life or your daily routines.

And the list goes on….

Raees and the weekend gone by…

It’s yet another back to back movie weekend for me with Raees being the Sunday pick for movies. The weekend has been eventful especially with the announcement of  Sasikala as the new Chief Minister in TN creating a wave of skepticism among the TN voters.

To start with Raees the movie is predominantly sculpted by Shahrukh Khan. He gives all the shape, form and life to the movie as an underworld liquor baron. Raees is supposed to be an innocent school going child born and raised in the relatively poorer suburbs  of Gujarat.It is a classic case of how this innocent child transforms to a liquor smuggler just to buy the eye glasses which his mother could not afford. Being a mother of some weird principle of indebtedness she refuses the doctor’s offer to provide him the glasses without any immediate payment and that paves the way for little Raees to turn to illicit ways to fund his glasses.

Raees meets Jairaj, Musa and whole bunch of other leaders in the underworld liquor industry who are appalled by his talent to transport illicit liquor  at a young age. Jairaj is the man who  nurtures Raees and the rise and rise of Raees. Raees neither likes to be called the ‘battery’ nor does he believe in  businesses being small. His faith in the underworld business is relentless and reaches a point where he is ready to compete with with his own Guru Jairaj in the business. Jairaj tackles the threat by tapping  Raees’s penury and serious lack of money. As Jairaj sets a deadline of 3 days to raise 100000 rupees on his own Raees sets out on his mission to Mumbai to accomplish the same.There begins an endless sequence of violence and Raees in expansion mode.

If there is one character who can unexpectedly steal the show from Raees it is police officer Mujumdhar who enlightens Raees by letting him know that he is living in a dream world called ‘business’ which is nothing but a crime in his eyes. Officer Mujumdhar is neither the type who can be bribed or the type who can be convinced of business ethics in what is supposed to be a non-business criminal activity. Raees rises and rises in the state and becomes a close aid of even the Chief Minister of the state who is well-connected to the underworld activities. While the rise of Raees as a liquor baron to an aspiring local political candidate neither stops nor stumbles officer Mujumdar remains a major thorn in his side waiting to give him the final blow. In the end the blow comes in a way unimaginable among most audience when Raees is shot down mid-way during travel with police officers in an encounter. The ending scene deserves applause.

Like any other man Raees also has a wife  and father’s a child and has never really enjoyed his life as a gangster. Can he blame poverty for his actions ? How long are we going to blame poverty for such crimes is something that needs to be introspected in this movie.

Coming to the other significant development during this weekend which is the appointment of Sasikala as the new CM of Tamil Nadu raises questions of efficient governance in the state. Giving the baton to her simply to fulfill the dreams of Jayalalitha might not augur well with all voters. Although she has been given the mandate of carrying on the legacy and unfulfilled dreams of Jayalalitha even AIADMK voters may not be convinced of her capability. Given the fragility and weakness of the new leader when compared to Jayalalithaa chances are that she might not last long before opposition parties who are already waiting to pounce on the opportunity eat into her party’s votes.

With the state of TN already facing a cultural quagmire due to issues like Jallikattu what kind of developmental activities can we expect from the new CM. Are we going to think in the direction of providing hassle free smart cards which can be topped up online for metro rail travel or work backwards culturally to focus on village issues. No development can be possible without proper infrastructure and every CM is aware of this. A cricketer with immense talent cannot be successful without infrastructural support like proper grounds, practice nets and other modern tools like bowling machines. So I think the new CM should focus on providing the relevant infrastructure be it the farmer or the startup entrepreneur to  succeed in whatever he is doing. As everyone else I remain in wait and watch mode.