Monday, November 3, 2008

The Great Indian Cultural Show

So, the word is out that we are going to have a Diwali Event in our school with different people showing their talents and different cultures coming together to create a rocking night integrated with singing, dancing and other performance to celebrate culture of India.

I got a chance to revisit the past and dwell in the pleasant memories. Both in U.S. and in India (yes I have always been a part for all these circus events in most possible ways), I have witnessed some interesting reactions and chain of events that follow after the first word about a cultural/talent event is out. So, I am putting forward a satirical view of a typical scenario that occurs during every such event, especially in U.S.:-
  • No sooner the event is mauled over; there will be one enthusiastic guy/girl with a sparkle in the eyes and ambition, of showing Indian culture to the world, only rivaled by the one possessed by Mamata Baneerjee to save farmers of Singur. This typical creature will always seem like smoking special kind of weed because he/she will be living in a world of his/her own to neglect the lack of enthusiasm of the people forming the group in particular and community in general.

  • The most common discussion will be on kind of theme for the show and most people will come up with the “Traditional Theme”, showing different dances from different prominent states, which is as fresh as Indian food cooked couple of days ago.

  • Not to be left behind, one particular character, in a typical “eureka” moment will come up with a “Fusion Theme”, which is as innovative as a romantic song around trees in a bollywood love story.

  • There will be this particular character, preferably as boy who would be in even before the event is officially declare and all along keep on mentioning his story about how he played Ravan in one of the cultural events during his school days in India and how he never needed a make-up for it. If you squeeze him more, you will be enlightened to know that he only agreed to become Ravan because he wanted to have a chance to flirt dance with the college stunner girl who played sita but ended up dancing with Mandodari and her friends.

  • There will always be one guy, who shows the relation between his state of mind and reality by insisting on adding a bhangra step to the hip-hop section because he had seen a group doing this bhangra step at talent show during a social gathering at a place in old Delhi.

  • Without fail, like an obnoxious weed, there will be few guys who would want to participate for only one sole reason: to mingle with the chicks. This particular creature will be never interested in the proceedings but will volunteer if the matter of their fantasy is doing it.

  • All those wanna be Farah Khans and Ganesh Hegdes, the self-promoted choreographers, will be knocking their heads to create something, which according to them will be the next creative thing after “The Mona Lisa” painting.

  • Then, there will be one person who seems to have a tag “I’m an A-hole” written over his forehead. He will show up during the rehearsals for “expert” opinion and just like the smell after a fart would never leave.

  • There would be lot of different interesting characters like some guy with dance skills as good as sunny deol wanting to be the main character, some girl even shy of holding a guys hand as if holding a guys hand was the ultimate sin of modern world, somebody insisting to dance on traditional song (i.e. the song in his state language though the song may sound like a bhangra) etc.

I can keep writing but I have decided against it because I do not want to sound self-referential anymore I think you got the point.

Though, I would like to reveal my artistic side as a gesture to show my appreciation of you for reading this article. I will put forth some of the themes I had thought of but knowing that they would be rejected due to unappreciative nature of the people involved towards my artistic ideas. Here are few examples:
  • Setting contemporary Ramayan in U.S. and focusing mainly on Ravan (remember, we would already have an experienced guy playing this) and how he wrecked havoc in the world. But I think the chief guest and other guests will be offended as they would think we copied George Bush.

  • Like they use to show about freedom fighters in past, a theme on the constructive role played by our modern politicians like Raj Thackeray and Mamta Banerjee but I think they would not allow showing blood on stage.
    Portraying few Bollywood blockbuster film’s story one by one on stage but that will make the show repetitive (read again if you didn’t get it).

Apart from these, I have decided that if somebody comes up with the idea of state-wise traditional dance, I would insist to include the dances of entire 28 states and 7 union territories.

P.S. 1: Disclaimer to all the participants of the ISALB Diwali Cultural Show: This article was return couple of days before the first meeting. Any comparison to any real character is purely co-incidental. In other words, if you think some of the characteristics have been seen during the event then I think I should start predicting future.

P.S: 2: Please do not ask me which category I fall in; you can judge from all these detail description itself. Those who liked my article and had fun reading, please show your appreciation by replying in comments section.

P.S 3: After the event, I will try to upload the video of my participation and please note that I would not be responsible for any post-video trauma caused to you. Do not tell me that I did not warn you.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Karzzzz - Movie Review

Himesh is back with a vengeance and without a cap.

If you think it is the re-make of Subhash Ghai’s Super-hit Karz, think again. This is Himesh Reshammiya’s movie. In his first movie, he played himself (Himesh Reshammiya, the rock star). In this movie, he attempted to do something “different”, he played Monty, who is a rock star. Same Difference? You bet.

The story is set in Kenya where Ravi Verma (Dino Morea) a millionaire wins a property case against an evil man Sir Juda (Gulshan Grover). Sir Juda strikes a deal with kamini (Urmila Matordkar) who makes Ravi Verma fall in love with her, marry her and then kills him by jumping out of the plane with the only parachute when there is a technical fault in the plane. She and Sir Juda then gobbles all the money and property and becomes princess kamini and kicks Ravi Verma’s mother and sister out of the house. After few years, Ravi Verma is reborn as Monty and during one of his mediocre song he starts playing the signature tune which he used to hear in his past life and starts seeing the flashes of his previous life and he gets determined to find more about his previous birth. In between, he gets enough time to meet a girl Tina (Shweta Kumar) who in true appreciation of his rock star image takes him as his duplicate. The story keeps true to the original movie except the Himesh factor. Whenever Himesh is around, girls go weak on their knees, people stop doing their work and his friends keep on saying “never-said-before” dialogues like “Monty you are a rockstar”. The songs are bombarded at a regular interval and they are truly a notch down than the hit songs from himesh we are used to. When Tina goes back to Kenya, Monty follows her and meets Kamini. He then comes closer to kamini and convinces her that he is her husband by telling her things only her husband would have known (like “Tum brush kiye bina morning tea piti ho”, their suhaag raat details which unfortunately are not told to audience). But he maintains that he does not remember how he died, which is obvious because the man who remembers common, simple things like morning tea can forget shocking incidents like his death. This small “clever” twist is in trend with providing twists in the remake to bring shock value to the audience which was started by Don and unlike the later is total useless and dampens the overall impact of the film. The truth that he knows he is Ravi Verma should have been hold for the climax. Then he finds his mother and sister whom Kamini had claimed to be dead and then true to original, narrates his tale in the song sequence to expose Kamini.

The film consolidates the argument that though Satish Kaushik is a tremendous actor he is a mediocre director, who oscillates between Roop ki Rani Choron ka Raja and Tere Naam. Though, this is not a path breaking cinema but over all treatment of the film, except few instances, is mediocre. May be he was compelled to consider it as Himesh’s movie instead of remake of Karz. There is no chemistry between the lead actors as well as the characters are not properly developed. There are no tension, romance, and suspense elements in required doze, so the important values for entertainment are missing. Urmila is competent but looks the same as when he kills Ravi Verma to when Monty is born and returns as a young guy in form of Himesh. The new girl is total mis-match and what is with the use of voice of dubbing artist for newcomers. Why cannot the director/producer invest time in giving proper voice training to the newcomers or why cannot they just select newcomers with good voice? Alas, we forget that she is a star-kid (daughter of director/producer Indra kumar). If you consider the past performance then himesh has improved a lot. But that is when you consider him as himesh, otherwise, he hyper-acts. It is easy for him to play rock star but it is hard to digest the action sequence where he jumps high in the air and punches the goons. In passing though he extends his mithun-da sequence. In his first movie if he attempted mithun-da style dance, here, though voluntary or involuntary is debatable, he tries to speak dialogues like him. Hear carefully the dialogue (“Yeh Mohobbat bhi kya cheez hai…..”) before that title song, Ek haseena thi. Danny Denzongpa acts well as kabir who keeps on quoting the famous dialogues from old films. Rohini Hatnagadi does okay job as Ravi Verma’s mother but she has given far better performance then this.

The film stays true to the original except few “clever” twists and changes. So the film is based in Kenya/South Africa instead of India. And instead of killing Ravi Verma by running over and over by car, kamini kills him by crashing the plane. When this scene was going on I was wondering how would they show the plane later when kamini tries to kill monty same way as there is no way you can try to run over a person by plane over and over again but I doubted the director. He shows his skills by showing urmila fly the plane and attempt to kill himesh by running him over again and again. This scene sums up the efficiency of the whole film.

Though one thing you should give credit to himesh for whatever he has achieved today is by himself and his hard work unlike other star kids who still cannot act. Though I was fan of his music before he became rock star I am not excited to see him as an actor. And you can already see the adverse effect he this acting career has on his music. It is better he goes back to producing music instead of singing and acting. He has an enormous talent as a musician and should use it for good.

So give it a pass unless you are one of the following:

  • Fan of Himesh Reshammiya, the rock star (this movie is must).
  • If you want to know how to look young even in old age (do more research on kamini).
  • If you want to know how to not make a remake.
  • If you want to see himesh without a cap, shweta kumar without a voice and very old (in terms of age) urmila without white hair.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Happy Diwali to All

Wishing a Very Happy Diwali and Healthy and Prosperous New Year to you and your family.

Dalal Street Menu

Neelakantan found the menu of the season at Dalal Street:

Save Puri
Bail Puri

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The New Reverse Swing

Just when everybody thinks they know everything about cricket, there is always an instance where so called experts are reminded that they are just a student who has a lot to learn about cricket and the cricket will always keep on developing and innovating itself.

Since the introduction of reverse swing in last decade this art has fascinated all. Some hailed it; some saw it with suspension as if it was some kind of black magic mastered by few. And to their credit, these few bowlers who have mastered the art used it effectively and made a lot of difference to the result. There was also an accepted notion that reverse swing can only be achieved after the ball gets old, probably around 40 overs mark, which also depends on the condition of how dry and rough the wicket is to get the ball old. But it was sometimes too late for it to have any effect on the game. But then the
Mohali test changed all that. The Team India bowlers and Fielders have worked out a new reverse swing, where the ball starts reversing from as early as 8th or 9th over. G.S. Vivek has the detail story about this new art

"While several reasons have been attributed to India’s record victory against Australia in Mohali, primary reason is the Indian fast bowler’s ability to get the ball to reverse swing as early as the eighth over of the innings. Caught totally unawares by this unheard-of phenomenon, the Australian batsmen were sitting ducks as the team spiraled to defeat. On Wednesday, a day after the match ended, sources in the Indian team revealed that they had indeed managed to master a new brand of reverse swing in which, rather than waiting for the ball to scruff up naturally with passage of time and overs, the Indians managed to create this condition early. This phenomenal art, they stressed on it, was perfectly done within rules of the game.

While bowlers such as Sarfraz Nawaz and Imran Khan have been called the fathers of reverse swing — the art of making the old ball swing into a right-hand batsman at great speed — Zaheer Khan is now being tipped as the king of this ‘new reverse swing,’ which was executed with the help of bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad, deep back-end study, and the entire fielding unit.

This new style didn’t crop up all of a sudden — it was a gradual work-in-progress in coaching camps, with a dummy run in the Irani Cup match in Vadodara, where Zaheer ran through the Delhi batting on a dry wicket along with first-change bowler Munaf Patel".

He then explains how the new reverse swing is achieved
In Mohali, Zaheer and Ishant bowled a lot of deliveries cross-seam with the new ball, rather than bowling seam-up and allowing the ball to swing. A Team India member explained: “The new SG Test ball doesn’t swing much. When the fast bowlers bowl cross-seam, the ball inevitably lands on the sides. With a dry pitch like Mohali, the soft leather on the ball gets roughed up very quickly. And at the time of release, a bowler can ensure he keeps hitting one side of the ball to scruff it up more. At the same time, the soft leather can be repaired quickly, so the fielders keep shining the other side to protect it.”
Once the ball gets scruffy from one side, the worldwide formula of using mints and jelly beans for more sugary saliva, throwing one bounce, and keeping the ball dry is religiously followed.
So, what is the difference between reverse swing and new reverse swing apart from the early start point of the latter? He has the explanation:

"This new brand is different from traditional reverse swing. In this case, the ball is still hard and thereby requires to be bowled at a different length. Former India paceman Amit Bhandari who, along with Ishant Sharma, produced reverse swing in a Ranji match against Andhra Pradesh as early as in the fifth over, explains the difference. “First thing to remember is that the ball is hard. So it makes sense to hit the deck rather than going for the conventional full length. It takes a lot of effort for a bowler to bowl reverse swing with the old ball because pace is essential. The effort gets reduced drastically with the hard ball,” he says.

Bhandari adds: “The first thing is to hit the ball three-quarters of length. If you look at the replays of Ricky Ponting, Shane Watson and Brad Haddin’s dismissals, they were done in as the ball cut back sharply into them. The ball is still hard and, when it starts reversing, you can afford to pitch it slightly shorter while expecting more response off the wicket. The idea is to make the batsman play all six deliveries in an over, and the field setting is very important,” he says.

Incidentally, the opening spells of fast bowlers have been short, and Zaheer and Ishant have been kept fresh to bowl all out with the semi-new ball."

Then there is something called optical illusion, where former India fast bowler Vivek Razdan is quoted:

"Reverse swing has to do with lighter side and heavier side, not necessarily with the shiny and rough side. At the same time, the batsman cannot know which side is heavier or lighter, he can only pick the shine from the point of release. There can be conditions where the fielders work on the ball in such a manner that the shiny side isn’t necessarily the heavier side."

It’s fascinating that nobody came up with this idea before, or may be nobody was able to use it effectively. Now, if Pakistanis, who are master of reverse swing, and English, who used reverse swing so easily against Aussies in 2005 ashes, have probably never known this new reverse swing, then you can imagine the haplessness of the Aussies. Also, it has a lot to do with the SG ball used in India. We have to wait and watch how much of this new reverse swing can be achieved from other type of balls. But it surely makes the reverse swing an important factor for Test matches in India where previously the focus used to be on spin and thus puts light back on the pace bowlers of India who previously were used to make the ball old. They will make ball old but for their use instead of spinners.

One thing to note is that ball to get reverse swing; the bowlers have to bowl a touch shorter length with a cross-seam. Now, this will stop the new ball bowler from using the orthodox swing initially and batsman may use this to their advantage in most cases. Batsman will try to score more from the initial overs and at the same time make the bowl rough from both sides. But a lot of this also depends on what kind of wicket is used for the game. So,wait for the strategies and counter-strategies for this exciting new phenomenon. This all augurs well for the game of Cricket especially Test match Cricket.

Why Indian Cricket is Improving?

Is this the reason why Indian Cricket is Improving? One thing is does is to shows that not everything is bad about the Mumbai ka gundRAJ. (Thanks Mukul for the email)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mumbai Ka GundaRAJ - Part 1

I have discontinued the writing of a full article on Mumbai ka GundaRAJ because of the argument that only locals can feel their grievance. Fine. But I have few questions to ask to the supporters of GundaRAJ, against GundaRAJ and to our always silent majority.

Was the
decision to sack Jet employees politically motivated? Is this how our market should work now onwards and is this how we want our leaders to be? Who will be responsible now if the airline goes bankrupt and everybody looses job?

How do you justify
this? Was that his fault that the guy came to give a bloody examination to Mumbai? Was this guy the government whom they were targeting? Will this happen to all outsiders in other states too? Do we need so much regionalism? Whatever happened to our unity in diversity?

Will all supporters of GundaRAJ confine themselves to their state? If that is true, Why are they still living outside of their state? Why do they have right to stay in any place other then their own state whatever may be their purpose? However illogical this last question sounds isn’t this how their meaning of extremism is?

Will Marathis justify the killing of Marathis in other states? Is eye for an eye the answer?

Does any citizen of Democratic Country India need permit to work any part of their own country? By permit, do they mean permission from GundaRAJ? If I speak in Marathi in Mumbai, am I an insider (opposite to outsider)? If yes, will that solve the problem?

Will the respect for Marathi increase by forcing bigger fonts of Marathi Boards?

And the most important question.

Can Economy survive in case of 80% reservation as demanded by MNS? Will this move secure jobs or drive the Industries out to some free market place? Can reservation be the solution?

Too many questions I guess. But all I am trying to do is get logical answers for these questions before attempting to finish the article. As an outsider I may not know the local grievance but I do know what democracy means and what my rights are. I am not opposed to the their cause but to the method the so called leaders are using. And I do know that Economy survives and booms in free market (no, not the stock market, but the real market).

Do give your comments. Please be civil.

Till then take care. I am off to learning of all 22 official local langauges of india, who knows which state I need to go in future.