Wednesday, October 18, 2006

New on the tube !!!!

So after a long break from blogging, I am back !!!!

Now normally, I am not your regular TV watcher. The only times I switch on the TV is a). when there is a match on b) catching up on some news and c) going through the latest movie trailers. For anything else, there is neither the time nor the inclination (more of the former ;-). Also I cant watch a movie on TV with the endless breaks in between... But lately, there are a couple of shows that have caught my fancy and have actually made me sit in front of the idiot box for a length of time. Not entirely surprisingly, both of them are on a song n dance... essential ingredients of life ;-)

The first one is the popular celebrity dance show 'Jhalak Dikhala Jaa' on Sony. (for ppl who are not aware, this is a show in which celebrities, not neccessarily from the entertainment sector, team up with a choreographer and present a series of various dance forms to the tune of popular Hindi numbers. At the end, one of them is judged the winner). So you have ppl like Ajay Jadeja, Sanjeev Kapoor (yes, the chef !!), Mahesh Manjrekar etc all trying their hand at shaking a leg ;).. and boy, some of them do perform. For me, the best part of the show is the high levels of performance put in by the celebrities. Take Ajay for example. Though he was always fleet-footed at the crease, he appears very much at home here. The best part of it is the wide smile on his face while dancing. IMO, it is very important that you
smile your way through what is perceived to be a physically demanding activity. And Ajay does it really well. Ditto for Mahesh. Now its down to the semi-finals with Mahesh, Mona Singh a.k.a. Jassi and Shveta Salve (dont ask me where does she come from :-) left to do battle. May the best (and the happiest) win !!!

The other show is a new singing talent search. But for once, this is in Marathi. Talent hunt shows in Hindi are dime a dozen, so its really heartening to see Zee Marathi come up with a talent show in Marathi (Idea Sa Re Ga Ma Pa !!). Hosted by the ever lovely Pallavi Joshi, this provides a great platform for upcoming talent in regional languages (I guess they have similar shows in other states). For once, it sensitizes me to the great treasure that is Marathi music. I, as with most of my generation, have been guilty of neglecting it at the cost of Bollywood and Western music. And some of the performances are excellent. There was one show in the past where the judges had to select one of two contestants. And both of them were so damn good, they had to hold 3 additional rounds just to find the ever-so-slight difference between the two (and were left tearing their hair). All in all, it makes for great hearing.

So, these two shows, not to mention the Champions Trophy, ensure that more of my time is spent on the couch with the TV in front. Till the next, Ciao !!!!..

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I am alive...

Just to keep myself alive on the blogging scene.. :) and to ensure that I dont forget my login n password :-))).. anyways, will be back soon with .. what else... some Randomly Arbit Thoughts !!!!
Cheers till then

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Last Sunday, finally the 10 day wait was over. I entered Movietime theater in Goregoan to witness the most anticipated biggie in Bollywood... of course, the all start cast behind the movie needs no introduction.. yash raj films, kunal kohli at the helm, performers like aamir, kajol (not to mention rishi kapoor, tabu and kiron kher).. all coming together to present what was supposed to a product par excellence..
But of course, just as the world XI were thrashed by the aussies, this assortment of stalwarts fails to deliver. And why, you may ask ???? Because the biggest star of them all was missing...yes, it lacked a strong and gripping narrative. While the basic storyline of a terrorist falling in love with a blind girl is interesting enough, this could not simply be stretched to 2.45 hrs. So you had a movie, which, apart from 10 minutes on either side of the interval and 15 minutes at the end, is just like hundreds of love stories you have seen.

And quite a few cinematic liberties are taken. Both the leading pair's characters are unreal. I cannot imagine how a blind girl, coming from a small town in Kashmir to a big bad metro, can fall so badly love with a tourist guide (who incidentally, quotes shayaari's with such elan that even javed akhtar would struggle) that she can actually sleep with him in 7 days flat !!!!!.. I mean, are not people (especially those who cannot see) supposed to be more cautious in dealing with the outside world ??

And the leading man is supposed to be this ruthless hitman out to execute a diabolical plan to terrorize the world. so how can he fall in love with a simple, though beautiful (kajol does look divine) girl not once, but TWICE ?????? And in any case, how many real life stories do you hear of hardened criminals giving up crime for love ????? Simply beats me... anyway this fall-in-love-again love story takes up more than 2 hours of screentime.. no wonder I was yawning with my mouth so wide open that it hurt :)..

To cut a long story short, Fanaaahhh was a disappointment... two good things abt it ??? One is Kajol of course. she looks beautiful and acts as only she can.. And the other is a delightful little cameo from, no noo not lara dutta or shiney ahuja or tabu, one of my all-time favourite hindi hits.. 'Lag Jaa Gale ke phir ye hasi raat ho na ho, shaayad phir is janam main mulaqat ho na ho'.. Quite superb, the song, not the movie.. :)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A One-Off Classic !!!

So where were you on Sunday evening ? Match dekha ki nahi ? These were the queries doing the rounds in my office on Monday morning as a cricket-crazy country woke up after an extra-ordinary day. It was most definitely, cricket's 'I-was-there' moment. If you are a bowler, you must probably have wished that the earth would have swallowed you up that day. In any case, I caught only the last 12 overs of the match and settled down to watch the highlights on Monday night. And what I saw disturbed me so much that I actually switched off. Even after discounting that highlights show only the 4s/6s and the wickets (there was not much of those), it was really disheartening to see bowlers being slaughtered the way they were. Good length balls, perfectly acceptable on any other day, were being routinely sent over the fence and not just in one direction. Sixes were hit to all parts of a ground (and this is not some village ground with 50 yard boundaries, it was a significantly big arena we are talking about).

Ayaz Memon has pointed out in today's DNA that after Sunday's match, one-day cricket will never be the same again. I tend to agree with him. I remember during the break, when the TV channels flashed their standard 'breaking news' lines that the Aussies had scored 434, I remember telling my Dad "These guys have broken the previous record of highest team score (395) not by 3-4 runs, but by 39 runs !!!! That is awesome !!". If that was awesome, then the South Africans bettered the record for the highest successful run chase** by a mind-boggling 103 runs !!!!!!! It is when such records occur that the game is changed forever. There is always a sense of achievement about successful run chases. India's two most-recalled wins are the Natwest trophy truimph in 2002 and before that, the Independence Cup win against Pakistan at Dhaka. Both 310+ run chases. Commentators and experts are usually asked at the start of the match 'What you do think is a safe score on this wicket ??'. After March 13, 2006 I am afraid there is no longer a thing as a 'safe' score. Ten years ago, 300 was thought as a safe score on any wicket, about 3-4 yrs back, 300 was replaced by 350. But what now ? What this might do is dissuade teams from batting first especially on a flat track (as most pitches are now). Teams might routinely opt to bat second. And if they have to bat second, they must play to their strengths. So what do they do ? Well, your guess is good as mine. They will pack their side with batsman to give themselves the best chance of chasing and winning. After all, 435 was chased, so surely scores of 350, 370 should be gettable now. So we might have an Indian line up with a decently good bat like Agarkar at No 11 !!!! Have some part-timers who can send down 50 overs somehow and then back yourself to chase any target !!!!. And what if they lose the toss ? then they bat first and try and bat the other side out of the game !!. This would result in a vicious circle where the bowling is weakened which gives rise to even bigger scores, which 3 times out of 10 are chased successfully, thereby inducing teams to further strengthen their batting and so on.... Sounds far fetched ????? Well, I sincerely hope so. But chasing 435 sounded more than far-fetched as well on Sunday !!

To round off, I do hope that Sunday's match be best remembered as a classic, but a one-off classic nevertheless !!! and that South Africa's successful run-chase record is not broken atleast in my lifetime. Or else you might see the death of the bowler in one-day cricket... :(


** Incidentally, the previous best chase was, I think, 332 by New Zealand just a few months ago against the same Aussie side. This tells you that the second rung of the Aussie bowling attack cannot even hold a candle to McGrath and Warne and also, you know what to do while playing the Aussies.

Friday, March 10, 2006

A trip at last....

The last weekend holiday that I had been to was in October 2005 to Ganpatipule. Ever since then, several plans have been thought of, discussed and finalized, only to fall flat at the last moment.
But finally last week, all things finally fell into place and we were finally off to Mahabaleshwar...

Like last time, we started off early on Saturday morning.. this allows for two things, a. you get out of Mumbai very fast (in fact, so fast that we missed the right turn that hits the Goa highway and found ourselves on the Pune Expressway..) and b. you get to see the rising sun and savour the early morning freshness in the atmosphere.. we fairly zipped through the expressway and hit Pune by 8 am for a quick breakfast before proceeding towards Satara.. Being a part of the Golden Quadrilateral, that road is quite good and we moved steadily and got to the MTDC resort in Mahabaleshwar at around 10.30 am.. taking just over 5 hrs for the 320 km journey..

A quick comment on the resort.. MTDC resorts are recommended wherever you go for a holiday.. the best part about them is that they get the best locations in town.. so invariably, you will find an MTDC resort spread over a huge area with individual bungalows, cottages separated by gardens and greenery.. It makes a great relaxing experience..and they are always reasonably priced and offer all the facilities required..

Anyways, coming back to our trip, after a quick breakfast, we were off to Pratapgarh fort (around 20 km). This historic fort is best known as the place where Shivaji killed the Mughal general Afzal Khan. It has a temple on the top alongwith a very good exhibition-sale of handicrafts.. after a quick tour of the place we were back for a long overdue lunch at the resort by around 3 pm.... the lunch was also too good.. or maybe it was because we were so famished.. in any case, after a hearty lunch we hit the sack.. initially we had planned to visit a few points before going to the Bombay (Sunset) Point.. but we got up late and just about managed to reach Sunset Point in time to see the sun dissapear over the western horizon..

BTW it is also called Bombay Point because, apparently, on a clear dark night, you can see the lights of Mumbai about 260 kms to the northwest... seemed difficult to me looking at the haze all around the point.. but nevertheless we managed to get a few good snaps there..

After the sunset, we were off to the main market (with Rang De Basanti and Bluffmaster numbers blaring in our car).. the main market street in Mahabaleshwar is a nice little street.. although it was not nearly full season it was full that Saturday evening.. and the most omnipresent item was, of course, strawberry. It was present in all forms, the fruit itself being sold on the road, or as strawberry shakes or ice-cream with strawberry etc sold at the various ice-cream parlours.. all in all, it was mostly red around.. from the market we went to Vienna Lake at around 9.30 pm.. at that time, of course, the lake was closed and there was hardly anyone around.. but we did manage to find a 'buttawala' around and had one of the sweetest corn that I have eaten.. the lake at that time was looking surreal.. darkness around, stars all over you, alongwith the mist and silence for company... that was followed by dinner alongwith a quick beer and then back to the resort by midnight..

The next morning after breakfast we checked out of the resort and visited whatever points we could cover.. prominent amongst them was Arthur's seat and Elphinstone point.. the former is a good one with a viewing platform from which one can observe the valley both on the west and east... from there we went off to the Mafco's farms and store.. this is the the main firm producing and dealing in strawberry products... and guess what, between the five of us, we picked up an astounding 15 kg of strawberry's, not to mention bottles of strawberry crush etc.. all of this were dumped at the back of the car..

From there it was back to Mumbai via Panchgani with another late lunch at Pune.. while coming back the expressway looked beautiful with the sun setting and our car blazing ahead at 130 kmph in that direction.. it gave the perfect ending to a good and relaxing trip.. here's hoping that the next one is very soon... cheers..

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Road to WC 07 !!

A second consecutive post on cricket.... could not resist it.. :-)

At the end of my last post, I had mentioned that the one-dayers against Pakistan will be a tough challenge for the men in blue, and if they can overcome it, they would be considered genuine contenders in the Carribean. Now that the test has been passed with flying colours (much to the surprise of even the most ardent of supporters), its time to take stock of the team and its chances with almost exactly a year left for the WC to start..

First the question: Is this team a genuine contender for the big prize next year ? Going by the performance in Pakistan (mind you, they defeated a very good side 4-1), one would have to think so.. Most importantly, the team seems to have all the ingredients that make up a good one-day side.. two good openers, one with the swashbuckling style while the other being the once young gun turned senior statesman.. followed by the skipper with his cool head.. then you have the young brigade led by Yuvraj and Kaif and followed by Raina and Dhoni.. its significant that none of these come from the cricketing superpowers of Mumbai, Delhi, Karnataka but from small towns.. and they carry the freshness, energy and fearlessness of youth to the crease.. be it Yuvraj jumping a la Rhodes and plucking the ball, Kaif with his quick steps and hitting ability or Dhoni taking 'just 8 balls' to warm up before going after the leather irrespective of the opponent bowlers and their reputation.. sure they will fail sometimes, but these represent the new Indian team..

The bowling remains one concern though.. although RP Singh and Sreesanth have shown much promise, the bowling needs to be good enough to restrict the opposition, especially when we are fielding second. Except for Pathan, the bowling does not measure up. Agarkar remains inconsistent (and I must confess that I have been a fan of his and am quite dissapointed - also why is he not sent at No 3 remains a mystery to me). In addition, we need Bhajji to get back to form.. because the wickets in the West Indies would probably be slow turners (atleast the ones in Trinidad - where we are playing our league games, and in Antigua and Guyana where the first part of the super eights is happening). Under such conditions, Bhajji would be an important part of the side. In addition, Piyush Chawla is rated highly by whoever has seen him, his progress would be interesting to watch..

The major improvement though has been in the fielding. Besides the trio of Yuvi, Kaif and Raina, we also have some decent fielders in the team - atleast there is no one who needs to be hidden.

The next test will be to see how they cope up in the Carribean in June this year.. we are lucky that we are getting to visit the West indies 8 months before the WC starts. It represents a great opportunity to get first-hand experience of the wicket and conditions and to decide what kind of team combination is likely to have the best chance of winning.. You can be sure Dravid and Chappell would be observing each minute detail on that tour..

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Our very own soap opera !!!

Hi all... back after nearly a month's break... realized how long it had been since my last post when I forgot my user id and password on :-)

I finally am writing about my (and probably that of everyone else) favorite topic - Cricket !!!.. Resisted that for quite a while but then there is nothing much else to write about.. and like any Indian worth his salt, I have my four cents to add :-)

Anyways, the last few months in Indian Cricket reminded me of a soap opera.. infact all the characters in it look remarkably akin to soap opera characters.. the once-hero turned villian, the Mr Nice Guy waiting in the wings, the supposed schemer behind the scenes and what not... and in all this the media is having a blast.. the icing and cherry on the cake was the story from Pakistan in which the team manager was (apparently) shown on news channels calling a member of his own team the slowest fielder, lazy et et... and mind you, this was not some sting operation.. he was sitting in broad daylight in a garden and facing the camera.. next thing you know, the manager comes up with a statement that the voice on the tape was not his !!!!!!.. I mean, how ridiculous can things get ???

On the field though, the action has been a sort of anti-climax.. Bowlers being driven to helplessness.. Batsman helping themselves to hundreds as if they were avaliable on a buffet menu.. and this was supposed to be a series that the world was watching... The Men in Blue, though, look a different unit, much of it the coach's doing.. it was a good decision (though not widely appreciated throughout the country) to go into Faislabad with 5 bowlers (not that it helped though but both RP Singh and Zaheer turned in good performances, if only Pathan can find his bowling form now :-) It proved that the management is following the 'horses for courses' policy and picking the best 11 suited to the conditions and the 11 that gives them the best chance of winning.. in Dhoni, India have discovered a genuinely good hitter of the ball.. Dravid, of course, has been the wall and the rock of Indian batting for the past few years now (this coming from a Mumbaikar who loves the 'God').. however, and it saddens me to say this, the 'God' seems to be a different person now-a-days, how I wish the clock be turned back to 1998 and those halycon days.. But overall though, the future looks sound.. the first test though will be the one-dayers against Pakistan.. if India can overcome that challenge, then they would have genuinely thrown their hat in the ring as the contenders for the big prize next year..

Thats all from me rite now..

Sunday, January 01, 2006

2006 !!!!!

So, the year 2006 is upon us !!!! As I write this (10.15 am IST on Jan 1), more than half the world will have entered the new year with the usual fervour, boisterous new year parties et al.. All over the world, new years resolutions would have been made (an article in todays paper talks about how gym's across the country see a 20% rise in membership around the new year), and then broken promptly (abt 60% of the joinees in December vanish after mid-Jan :-)). But then, this is the time to make new promises. After all, there is always the hope that a new beginning, new year brings. Somehow, the morning of Jan 1st feels different. Feels like the start of not just a new day, but a new beginningaltogether. A day to get over the past and look at the future with optimism and hope.

So here's wishing everyone a Very Happy New Year !!!! May 2006 be the year that all your dreams and aspirations become a reality !!!And yes, dont forget your new resolutions :-))
Signing offAmit