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Monday, April 30, 2007

Just shoot it

Just shot for my second short film, after Shadows in the Andamans back in January. This was a little different, being a zero-budget student film shot on a campus here in Bangalore, but interesting nevertheless. It took two all-night shifts and a third, six-hour night. Lots of mosquitoes, time spent waiting for lights to be adjusted and other glitches, but I’m glad I did it.

Its just a short student project, not more than seven or eight minutes and revolves around three characters in a cafe shack in Goa. A young girl, waiting for her boyfriend to join her, shares a table with an older hippie-type, who's been in Goa for a few years and has certain issues in life.

The director, Bharti, has a good head on her shoulders and I wish her all the best. The others too were dedicated and its encouraging to see the passion that kids in their early twenties have for cinema in India. They’re trying to be different, thinking out of the box.

And here’s a small write-up on me and others that sort of fall in the same category, published in the Hindustan Times on Sunday, April 29th. They got the age wrong, its 26, but whatever.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

MLB round-up

Tim Wakefield and Doug Mirabelli made a great combo once again, and the Red Sox enjoyed a six-run eighth inning in a 10-1 win over the Angels at Fenway. Barry Bonds continued his march towards Hank Aaron with the 736th and 737th homers of his career as San Francisco beat the Pirates 8-5. The dinosaur Julio Franco pinch-hit a single to carry the Mets past the Nationals. Toronto's Roy Halladay pitched a beauty to do one over the Detroit Tigers. The Yankees are third in the AL East. And oh, the Arizona Diamondbacks lead the NL West 7-3. Wow.

Friday, April 13, 2007

A foray into something new...

Rugby Dirt, the other website I write for, is now live. Under 'Featured Articles' all the international, non-US collegiate news articles are mine. Enjoy!

Click here to go the site.
अरे वह! क्या बात है, बॉस। तीख है, शायद मैंने यह हाई-फुन्दा टेक्नोलॉजी के बारे में काफी देर में सुनह, लेकिन मज़ा टोह आ गया। अगर तुम यह नहीं पद सकते होह, टोह माफ कीजीये । प्रणाम।

UP, UP and away

The fate of 881 candidates in Uttar Pradesh rests in the hands of 1.60 crore voters, including 75 lakh women. The second phase of elections is on.

Security has been tight in the 58 constituencies spread over ten districts of western UP. There's a reported 8, 479 polling centres being used, plus central observers, micro-observers, and some 65,000 personnel of paramilitary force deploted. Much fun will be had.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Flop acts

The Super Eights are getting pretty interesting. New Zealand lead the points table, Australia are surefire semi-finalists, and Sri Lanka - hit hard by the injury to Lasith Malinga - will also sail through. Its at the bottom that it gets interesting. South Africa have two wins, and England and Bangladesh each have one. The West Indies are virtually out of the tournament, having failed to win a game in the second phase.

While we've seen some success stories, there have also been some big flops in this World Cup.

1. Justin Kemp - Looks a decimal point of the hard-hitting batsman he is. His bowling is useless, so he plays as a specialist batsman in the lower middle order. Still cant buy a run. Looks so out of play when he comes in and early, and if he's there to have a swing, he's a waste in the XI. South Africa have the likes of Shaun Pollock, Mark Boucher and Andrew Hall to do that.

2. Habibul Bashar - Six games, five innings, 57 runs, a best of 24, and an average of 11.40. Throw in a strike rate of 42.85 and you have a captain struggling to make an impact. True, Bangladesh have stunned many by making the Super Eights, and beating India and South Africa, but Bashar's contribution has been absolutely minimal. His slowness in the rain-reduced smashathon against Australia ate up valuable time and deliveries. With games against England, New Zealand and West Indies lined up, his side could sure do with a handy score from him.

3. Michael Vaughan - He's never looked like a one-day batsman, but this is ridiculous. Back as captain after a long time on the sidelines through injury, Vaughan's captaincy has been jaded, but its inability to get bat on ball that's hit England the most. He hasn't even lasted long enough to see off the new ball, as 83 runs at 13.83 indicate. Years ago, another England captain, Mike Brearley, also an opener, famously struggled in the 1979 World Cup. Vaughan would do well to atleast emulate Brearley's ability to get the best out of his star allrounder (a certain Ian Botham)and get Andrew Flintoff out of the water and onto the park. A failure to qualify for the semi-finals could spell the end of Vaughan's one-day career.

4. Flintoff - Speaking of the big lad, his batting contributions have been, to put it in the words of Lawrence Booth, much like a curate's egg. 49 runs in five matches, of which 43 came against Ireland, is not what you expect from your best player. In the Super Eights, Flintoff has failed against New Zealand (0), Sri Lanka (2) and Australia (4). England next play Bangladesh today - a match they must win to retain any realistic hope of reaching the semi-finals - and Flintoff could well do with some runs.

5. Michael Hussey - Six matches into Australia's campaign, and Hussey has still not got into any semblance of form. He hasn't even gotten to double figures. True, he hasn't had many overs to bat when he's come in - the longest he's had is 15 overs - but he's failed to replicate his phenomenal form of late. Australia’s batting strength is such that Hussey’s place in the side has not been seriously questioned. Still, runs are missing.

6. Chris Gayle - The way Gayle plays, blow hot blow cold, you can expect him to fail a fair bit. But his World Cup form has been alarming. The stage was set for him: home conditions, small grounds, Powerplays, and the fact that he was such a success in West Indies' recent exploits. But his bat hasn't uttered a word, and his tidy offspin has been somewhat pedestrian. Much was expected of Gayle, but he's had a tournament he'd like to forget.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Bond. Shane Bond.

A good piece on my man Shane Bond.

Tracking the UP polls

This year's Uttar Pradesh polls look poised to be interesting, even though my affinity for the state has lessened with each trip through it on the way to Mussoorie. I'm glad Mussoorie is a part of Uttarakhand. Not that there's a helluva difference between the two states, but all this ruckus about minorities, an overwhelming population and new legislature doesnt seem to have gotten all the way up there yet.

I noticed that the UP government has moved a special appeal against the Allahabad High Court ruling that Muslims could not be considered minorities in the state. The message coming out is clearly, "Muslims are not entitled to be recognised as a religious minority." Thats all well and done, but UP has a history of making statements and then failing to follow through.

And then we have the Congress Party's young [half-white] Indian hope, Rahul Gandhi, heir of India's greatest political dynasty. Yes, he's drawing crowds ahead of the elections, but does he have the clout to pull in votes? UP - which elects a state assembly in seven stages - has traditionally been a bastion for the Gandhi family, but analysts have said that Rahul's charm isn't enough to win votes. The rise of regional political parties playing on local aspirations and caste and communal divides have seen Congress steadily lose support over the last two decades. Some reports, from direct communication with locals in UP, say that Rahul's focus on development seems to have touched a chord among people who say they are fed up of caste and religion-based politics. It's going to be an interesting voting process to follow.

Millions voted on Saturday in UP at the start of staggered polls, as the ruling Congress party suffered a crushing election defeat in New Delhi. Reports say that 46% of 16 million voters came out to vote in 62 of the state's 403 assembly seats in the first leg of the seven-phase elections.

Apart from keeping tabs on the news channels, I read this interesting article on the BBC. Doesnt make for pleasant reading.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar

Flipping channels once again - is that my calling? - I caught the last ten minutes of Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar.

That cycle race still kicks me.

When Sanjay wins the race, there's just so much going on in that scene. As he crosses the finish line, his arms go up in triumph, the stadium erupts, Deepak curses himself, and Sanjay loses control of his bike and falls to the ground. His father and girlfriend look to get up and help, for a split second, but then realize its not their place at the moment. Its Sanjay's.

As he lies there on his back, hurting, bleeding, a smile breaks out on Sanjay's face - something he hasn't done for most of the movie's second half - as he hears the din, and sees the appreciation all around. He sees, in is father's teary eyes, pride. The man who's looked at him like a lost cause now spreads his old chest and salutes his son. In his brother's eyes, he sees accomplishment. His brother helped coach him, and believed in him. His brother's pain has been revenged. In his friends's eyes, he's a hero. And in Anjali's eyes...well, in her eyes he finally realizes the love thats been pent up for years. In one thrilling moment, he's gone from boy to man.

Notice the number 13 on the back of his t-shirt when he goes up on the podium to receive the trophy. Classic.

I first saw this movies back in 1992, as a boarding school kid. I've probably seen it 15-16 times since, and each time the film never fails to give me goosebumps. A lot of times you watch a film as a kid, and get totally blown away by it, only to see it years later and think to yourself, "What? I liked that piece of crap?" or "Thats actually a totally bizarre, piss-poor ideology that guy's trying to push" or something like that. ET, anyone?

But even though times have changed, JJWS still remains my favorite Hindi movie. Maybe its because its set in the hills, its about inter-school rivalry, its about cycling, which I used to do a lot of, its about a guy chasing a phony existence, something I think we've all been guilty at some point, its about letting your loved ones down...but most of all, I'd like to believe it was just a damn good film.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Time for change

Greg Chappell has resigned. Wow. For Sachin Tendulkar to speak out was unthinkable. He's never uttered a word his entire career. Chappell spoke/leaked information to the media many times. Sachin spoke out once in his career and Chappell is out. Amazing. But Indian cricket is in for a torrid time. I hope the selectors have the guts to relieve Rahul Dravid of the captaincy, get Sourav Ganguly, Sachin, Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh out of the one-day side, and bring back Mohammad Kaif. India's fielding/fitness is abysmal. There is no way they can compete in the field with Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Sri Lanka. Their bowling is shoddy, perhaps above just West Indies and Bangladesh, from the Test sides, though even a bowler like Darren Powell took 2 for 35/40 every match of this World Cup.

Fitness must be assessed. It is the way of the future. Now is the time; wipe the slate clean. Get rid of any unfit, uninspiring, potentially disruptive elements (most of the names I've mentioned above). Fitness is key in the modern game. You can get away with more in the Test arena, so keep Ganguly, Sachin, Sehwag and Harbhajan for that. The ground fielding, barring Yuvraj Singh, is hopeless, worse in the deep; the throwing is the worst in international cricket. Did you see Ireland field yesterday? The four top teams save 30-40 runs a game. 30-40!! Thats an insane margin in cricket. India dont do that.

See, all these big guns will go sooner than later. You had to build the team for the future at some time. Do it now. We all know there are no replacements for Sachin. Get youngsters. Get youth. Get a new captain. Let India lose for a year, but BACK your captain, back your players, back the youth. This is the best thing to happen to Indian cricket, this mess. Its time we make changes. Get your Tiwaris, Rainas, Kaifs, Yo Maheshs, Sharmas, whoever. They're raw, they're over-rated. Leave it. They're enthusiastic. They're fit. They have no baggage. They're the future. Do you want to persist with Ganguly, Dravid, Sachin when they're not even going to see the next World Cup? What more do these three have to prove in the one-day game? They blew their shot at a World Cup title. They have over 10,000 runs in one-dayers. Stick to Tests. Revamp the one-day side. Send a bunch of rookies to Bangladesh. Let them lose. Let them try. There's only one way from this mess - up. And you arent going to do it with the bunch of crocks in the field you have. The big three, plus Sehwag and Harbhajan, are liabilities in the field. I think, now, in hindsight, that maybe Chappell's 'Vision of Excellence' was to get rid of Ganguly, Sehwag and Harbhajan as they were unfit, uninspired and disruptive. Maybe we judged him wrongly on that. He knew, more than anyone else, that youth and extreme fitness was the way to go.

A new dawn beckons. Lets hope the management and selectors can see it.