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.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hello - Movie Review

You read a book. You like it. It’s a best seller – meaning a lot of people liked it. You think: Why not make a movie on it. Cool idea. In Hollywood it happens, so in Bollywood now. Isn’t this a foolproof plan? too good to fail…. Right? ..nope…wrong…. Atul Agnihotri, the handsome supporting actor of 90’s and Brother-in-law of Sallu thought of the same. What he didn’t realize is that to adopt a novel you have to create enough depth in characters and story. Now, Atul has a fascination of making movies which have miracles in them. Not a bad idea either if you can pull it off convincingly. The problem here is not with the miracle, but the overall movie. It lacks depth. It looks like the characters and situation are just made to follow a path and reach a destination without going into much depth. I have not read the book fact says since it is popular, it must have depth.

It is a story of one night. It revolves around six employees of a call centre. There is Shyam (Sharman Joshi) who is about to loose his girlfriend Priyanka (Gul Panag) to a NRI because his career is shady. Varun aka Vroom (Sohail Khan) is in love with Esha (Isha Koppikar) who is more focused on her struggling modeling career for which she even makes compromises. Radhika (Amrita Arora) whose husband is having an affair which is revealed in a Ryan’s Roses style. And last is Military Uncle (Sharat Saxena) who is longing to meet his grandson who is resident in U.S. This story is narrated by Katrina Kaif at airport to Salman Khan, with a condition that he will make film on it.

Plenty of time is wasted in introducing and establishing characters and one gets frustrated for story not moving forward. Yes, I know that it is story of only one night and that’s why has to be told over the film but come on there are interesting things one can do other then taking potshots at Americans who is 35 year old equal to 10 year old Indian, which is an old rubbish joke. Also the screenplay looks amateurish. No story is well developed and Atul has tried to be all feel good. Like Military uncle is shown as longing for his grandson because his own son does not want to keep relationship with him but in novel it is mentioned that Military uncle used to restricted his daughter-in-law from working and from partying at night. There is no mention of this at any time. Even he is not shown that he is the one who handles the clients via chatting. The manager (Dilip Tahil) is shown as typical greedy boss who has become American citizen before even putting his foot on that soil with all baseball and humming of theme of Scorsese’s Newyork, Newyork. He ranges from good to irritating.

Atul never involves audience to get connected with the story. It is all taken as feel good. The movie looks good only when Sohail Khan and to some extent Sharman is on screen. Sohail has the best one liners and keeps audience from going to sleep. The track between Sharman and Gul is somewhat engaging but confusing too sometimes. Yes relationships in real are complex but what with the last scene when Gul proposes to Sharman and Sharman after the trying to win back Gul for the whole movie rejects her and after five minutes comes back and accepts her. We are supposed to laugh at this stuff (“Yeah Dialogue sirf bolne mein achche lagte hai”). I didn’t like the scene of them making out before going for all but some may find it funny. I thought it was like somebody was poking my stomach to make me laugh. Though I like the scene of Sharman with his alter ego, at least it made you chuckle. Even call center scenes could have been funnier but there is no attempt whatsoever. I guess Atul was banking on only one scene: Call from God. He may have mistakenly thought let me just pass time until at the end I reveal the call from God. Though Call from God was a little interesting, what he advises and what followed is bizarre. If Indian BPO’s did that kind of unprofessional stuff, the BPO industry will surely sink. And what with the set of call center. It looked like they were running call center from house (if you had missed the shot of a huge building showing call center). Through most of the movie one would think that call center only had six employees plus boss and a technician. Until, there was a mention that they will lay off 1000 employees.

Katrina is hardly there and Salman Khan looks like he just woke up from sleep. Even his jean is changed in post-interval. I am still wondering of a dialogue by Katrina somewhere just after interval. She says “Aur fir ek phone aya” on inquiry by impatient audience Salman about where is the call from god. So you assume that in next scene there will be call from god. Naah, not so early. It takes nearly 30-40 minutes before we get call from god. Then, why the dialogue is placed there. They might have thought to put god’s call just after interval, but then might have thought why not make movie little longer. But they might have forgotten to take out the dialogue. Or may be they might have shot all the scenes of Salman and Katrina in one go and then never took effort to sync everything in order. Who knows?

I do not know why I keep of writing negative reviews, may be it is more to do with quality of movies churning out or may be I am fed up of pure escapist masala movies.

Hello is ok movie with some funny scenes scattered over the movie. If you have read the novel, please do not get curious to see the movie. So, people watch the movie only if you are from the following:

  • Fan of Khan Family though Salman is hardly there.

  • Working in call center and love that job.

  • Want to know, how not to make a movie from a novel.

  • Read the novel and are still curious to know how would be (at your own risk) the movie on it.

  • Want to see the movie before reading the novel.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Kidnap - Movie Review

One thing Sanjay Ghadhvi does in all his films, apart from showing off his heroine’s asset in bikini, is to make sure that his movie gets across one message. In Dhoom it was bikes, in Dhoom 2 it was different stunts by Hrithik, and in kidnap it is cleavage. So be it heroine or her super sexy urban mother or hero Imran, one point on the movie is to flaunt it as much as possible.

So, we have daughter (Minissha Lamba) of world’s richest Indian Vikrant Raina (Sanjay Dutt), whose gets kidnap by kabir (Imran Khan) during bathing in ocean in bikini (of course if you do that kind of act in india you are bound to invite trouble). The kidnapper, Kabir, asks Raina to play a game with him or else be ready to loose her daughter. So far so good: both with intensity in movie and show of cleavage. But the film start loosing the former when it does not convince about the game played, I mean to all the acts Kabir asks Raina to accomplish. Come on, the guy is a billionaire. Nobody expects him to run around and do the special agent kind of stuff like robbing another billionaire, or helping a criminal to escape from jail. This all does not gel well together. All this sequence and clues put up together are bizarre. In between, we get ample dose of Sonia’s cleavage. She keeps on changing clothes - all kinds of revealing clothes though she has been kidnapped. It looked like Kabir has taken extra care of bringing her revealing clothes so that he and audience can have fun watching. Even Sonia’s mother (Vidya Malvade) wears clothes with revealing cleavage which is consistent as it explains whom did Sonia learn from. Sanjay started movie with some intensity and there are glimpse of brilliance but they are far and less in number. He also starts going back to cliché which could have been totally avoided such as songs (songs are totally unnecessary and ordinary), story which is predictable. Also the reason which is revealed for the kidnapping is so dumb that if people start kidnapping for such dumb reasons, underworld will have to look for some other job.

Imran Khan looks good in parts, but has mostly same expression throughout. He does competitive job and his chase sequence with a little Parkour is commendable. Minissha gets to flaunt all she has and can expect to get some more roles like this in near future. She does not need to act. Sanjay Dutt sleep walks through the role. There seems to be no effort put in the role. Others are just passable.

Sanjay Gadhvi seems to be little carried away. He might have thought that by showing some skin you can get away from putting in more efforts in story and screenplay. Though there were other reasons for his previous movies, other then story and screenplay, but there was still some freshness and punch which is missing in his latest film. But, after all it’s a masala film and you do not need to find logic in it. So it is acceptable. You can watch it if you like escapist masala movies. Its just timepass fare.

You should watch this movie only if you are among following or else just give it a pass:

  • If you are a fan of Imran Khan(mostly girls), Sanjay Dutt(mostly guys).
  • Your other choice are Hello, Drona & Chamku.
  • If you want to know how not to kidnap.
  • If you are really fond of any type of cleavage.

Drona - Movie Review

So, Officially this is going to be my first movie review and also my first post 1 year after I started the blog (yes I know I am bit lazy).

There are lots of movie review sites available so I am not going to bore you with all the technical, artistic aspects of the review. My review will be short and on target – Is movie worth watching??? Why??? That’s all.

So lets start.

Indian Film Industry is huge and has a diversified audience in terms of culture, education, geography, understanding, etc the list can be long and there is this catch 22 situation for a film-maker: either to target a specific group or to make movie for a larger audience. But, most film-makers forget that over time, Indian audience has become smart and there is already diversified stuff available on television to make their expectation level from a film much higher because films (bada parda) are considered to be superior to television (chhota parda). This can be all together a different topic. My point is that the film should be grand and superior from television series, not only in terms of technology but also in terms of story telling, scripts, acting, direction etc. I know I know, I told you I would be to the point but you can sense the frustration I have.

So, Goldie behl (who…??? He is hubby of Beautiful Sonali Bendre…yes now you know whom I am talking about) had a big khwab (Dream as in a fantasy story idea) at hand, great. But what he did not know was for fantasy story to work, it should novel – something we have not seen, some thing we would have just in imagination, which is bared of all cliché. He had to his disposal, a big budget, latest technology and Big stars (At least in media dominated world). What he did not have is either imagination or courage to do something out-of-box. So what we have is small quantity of ingredients picked from different films and churned together to make a pseudo-superhero movie (pseudo- coz the people attached to the film deny “Drona” being a superhero movie). Aditya (Abhishekh) lives with adopted parents…I mean foster-parents, who keep on abusing him in Punjabi style, which is incorporated to produce much needed harry potter like sympathy to our superhero but unlike the original, the scenes here fails to do the same. Our hero is shown to smile in this horrible situation only when a blue petal would come down flying and make him to chase it. The foster-parents or step-brother never looked horrible in present of AB baby. It’s only after you finish watching the movie you realize the reason. Simple, because AB baby carries the same serious expression all along the movie – may be he has got some acting lessons from Ash. So our hero is from kul of Guards (called Drona): who protect the Amrit and the evil man Riz Raizada (Kay Kay Menon) is after this Amrit but our hero does not have any idea about his true identity.

Then more cliché follows: the villain Riz Raizada, who has a habit of playing with wicked toys (he even produces his own matrix-styled clone) who is on lookout for Amrit and Drona, comes to know about Ab baby’s true identity and tries to capture him. Enter our desi matrix-styled body guard Sonia (Priyanka Chopra), she saves Aditya from gang of evil men. Smart, something unusual in bollywood movie, but……how can you expect Director to be anti-cliché, so here as soon as she saves Aditya with a convincing manner, she breaks into a dance sequence. Totally unnecessary. She tells Aditya about him about legend of Drona who guards the Amrit, his mother, queen Jayati Devi, and how she is always around protecting him. So there is one more attack during the conversation, during which Drona tries to come to terms with his new identity, then there is a son and mother meeting, cut short by evil man who turns the mother into stone statue, some mournful songs. Through all this, the hero keeps on closing on Amrit through cliché clues. Confused? Well, Aditya gives away the address of amrit written on rice to Riz Raizada to save his mother, but to save the world he starts a quest of finding Amrit before Riz Raizada. Now, here director could have used his imagination to come up with some really innovative ideas but what we get is cliché instances: mysterious village with loud colored design, a midget, a bearded man with sword right out of 1990’s Doordarshan mythological serial, few more fight sequence with black-hooded extras and some pretty waste of technology (unimaginative special effects borrowed straight from Hollywood movies as to show – look we can also create same effects, without any significance on the narration). I thought I was watching a serial on DD Metro which used to come a long time back, I think it was named “Sindabad – The sailor” or something. Total Cliché. They worked hard on special effects but do not have any impact whatsoever. The sword fight in the end is also not able to provide a punch. Consider the two: Kay Kay and Abhishekh fighting with swords. Do they look like super-human fighters as shown throughout the movie? Kay Kay portrayed as Rakshasha keeps on doing crazy things and just keeps on talking then doing anything in real, though he tries his best but there is no scope against a weak screenplay. Priyanka did a good job at the start but was pushed to back-seat to usual stuff what girls do in bollywood movie – best part is in action sequence, she looked more convincing then Abhishekh, he has same intense expression throughout. Supporters argue it is because he is showing intensity. Oh Come on give me a break. There are better ways then this to show intensity.

In all, if you are not one of this, this movie is not worth watching:

  • You are a big fan of Abhi, Piggy Chopes (or Kay Kay…???) that you watch all their movies.
  • You like fantasy films no matter what.
  • You want to travel back in those Doordarshan days and want to watch those legendary fantasy sories – I would recommend you to watch – Jumping jack’s Haatim Tai. At least you will get the nostalgia feel.
  • You have lot of time and you have nothing to kill it.
  • If you have to write a review of this movie for your blog.