Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Colourful Saturdays

Haven’t blogged in a while. Not that I was busy. I never am. In fact, that’s one of my major cribs in life-never being busy. I look around and see my friends busy doing whatever they do-long office hours, too tired to get drunk and puke in the weekends and all that sort of thing.

Although Saturdays are getting increasingly interesting. On weekdays, I come back home by seven in the evening. Come Saturday and I happily gallop back home by three. But not for the last two Saturdays. Thanks to my flatmate, who wants the flat to be vacant till six. Why, I asked? Was it because he wanted to practice occult magic in peace? Or maybe because he plays the obo on Saturdays?

Apparently, not. The reason is altogether different. Let’s not get into that.

So, to allow him to follow his pursuits in peace, I ended up watching two Hindi flicks-D and Parineeta. Now, I generally avoid watching Hindi movies on screen. Firstly, with tickets prices much higher than what they used to be, watching a Hindi movie is a risky investment. Given the high proportion of trash (71%) that gets released, there is a 71% probability that the ROI is going to be negative. Sounds snooty, I know. All this talk about Hindi movies being trash. But the harsh truth is this-forget all the new stuff that’s been happening; all this big hoopla about fresh ideas and bold approaches is nothing but bull, considerable bull. The cleavage view has improved, probability of watching an on-screen kiss has gone up by 300%, but that’s about all-the acting is still shoddy, direction and script often non-existent.

Of course, D and Parineeta are better than the average fare. In D, it seemed as if the film had different directors for the pre-interval and the post-interval phases. Till the interval, the movie had a fresh feel-good editing enlivening the pace, sharp acting and a well-written script. But after the interval, the movie moves aimlessly-the director who seems to take over is pretty sad.

Parineeta is also plagued by the same disease-of being directed by two different directors. The movie is excellent in parts-good music, very decent acting from Saif and Vidya Balan, though Sabyasachi, otherwise an excellent actor, didn’t pull off the role of the perennially villainous father too well.

The funniest thing about Saratchandra’s books remade into films is that the directors do not seem to realise that the author’s works are rather melodramatic on their own. Which is why you don’t need to add sugar (or glycerine) to already sweetened (or glycerined) coffee. Those who have read Devdas or Parineeta would know that the melodramatic content in both novels is quite high and goes over the roof on several occasions. Saratchandra was light years ahead of his time; his vision of the future, where his books would eventually be made into Bollywood blockbusters, made him sweeten his coffee. But he didn’t know that directors would add lumps of their own.

The original storyline has been changed on several occasions in the film-which is perfectly okay, for directors often need to cinematise books. Satyajit Ray did it for quite a few of his movies, as have several other great directors. But where the director gets everything wrong is when he tries to further dramatise the ending-which is melodramatic on its own and could have just been followed blindly to produce the desired effect. Instead, he ends up recreating the Ambuja Cement Ad, only that this one’s far more hilarious.

Poor Saratchandra-one would have thought Parineeta was a tragedy. But, then again, great authors have been interpreted differently in different eras.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Buffon Strikes Back:Part II

Here's poor old Ranbir getting back at Ganguly-to make the prince a pauper. How have days changed-the man who changed Indian cricket is now a butt of jokes-from Ranbir ranting about his poor form to every second joke (mostly rehashed) served with a Ganguly flavouring.

But i've always been an optimist, almost a compulsive one. So am I wrong in hoping that Saurav shall step out,dance to the pitch of all slander (or maybe not, who cares, the end result used to be the same anyway, till sometime back,at least) and thrash it out of the park?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Aged, rare scotch

Read this post on a Two-tier system for Test Cricket by Prem Panicker, the delightful cricket writer who seems to be back with a bang, with a deluge of excellent posts on Cricket.

A great idea, I thought initially. The game of cricket shall gain much from it-competition will be fierce, with Australia ensuring that they play to half their potential to stay on top and the others sweating it out to avoid being relegated to the demeaning dungeons, otherwise known as Tier-II.

It was not until I saw the constitution of the two tiers that the implications of this dangerous suggestion became clear. With West Indies down in the dumps and going through their worst phase ever, this would mean Lara alternating between butchering (of maybe refusing to, in case he considers it too demeaning) the totally hopeless Bangladeshis and Zimbabweans and the occasionally hopeless Kiwis and playing against the top teams every two years, assuming of course that West Indies is still good enough to win in Tier-II if the Kiwis drop out.

Now, that's unacceptable. As it is, the saddest day in cricket is approaching us at an intimidating pace, with the ageing Lara getting closer in terms of age (although not in form) to hanging his boots. Cricket will never ever be the same, with Lara gone. Watching him bat is like sipping on a peg of the rarest of scotch whiskeys; you roll it over your tongue, refuse to let it go-and yet, when it's gone, you crave for the next sip. And when the peg's over, you realise that such enjoyment is rare- and settle for the lowly Signatures and the Antiquities of the world instead.

What is it about Lara that's so eye-catching? Is it the fact that he's left-handed and is hence prettier to watch by default? Is it because of the long follow through, the swivel, the kingly gait-aspects of his batting that have been much discussed and analysed? I guess it's all of that- and much more. It's probably because he bats the way and plays the sort of innings that cricket lovers dream of. When, on lazy afternoons, I dream of the ideal innings in that ideal cricket match-the cricket match that will never be played and shall forever remain a daydream, I can't help wondering how close that ideal knock is to a few of Lara's own.

We all have our own ideas on how cricket should be played-and our heroes are formed on those ideas. Which is why Steve Waugh is a hero for so many-and Lara for many others.

My friend Rajk writes, in an excellent E-mail written after Lara's first innings hundred in the second test against Pakistan , that pretty much sums it up:

That's 4 first innngs 100s for Lara in 5 tests. You know what I really like about this patch? I like all the instances where he scored a 100, but I love to notice the one Test he didn't. In case you've forgotten, here's the scorecard. South Africa 588 for 6 dec (Kallis 147, Prince 131, Smith 126, de Villiers 114) and 127 for 1 (Smith 50*, Dippenaar 56*) drew with West Indies 747 (Gayle 317, Sarwan 127, Chanderpaul 127, Bravo 107) What about Lara? He scratched around for 4 in 29 balls. Century? What century, when 8 others can score it on a track as benign as that? Can't score a 100 if the team doesn't need it. I don't think he'll be bothered about missing 5 100s in 5 Tests at all. I'll never ever agree that SRT couldn't play the big innings when it mattered, but I'll always maintain that Lara could always play it when it did, and didn't care to play it when it didn't. Amazing player!

The test came agonisingly close to that ideal match-but missed out by a whisker. Why? Because Lara couldn't craft a hundred- fighting quality bowling, tough conditions and the law of averages, in the second innings-a masterly 145 to help his team achieve what I still think was an achievable target.

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