Friday, February 27, 2009

Jai Ho, India !!!!!!!!!!!!!

It has been a remarkable week. Possibly each day of the week has bought, atleast for me, an event or a piece of news that in itself is significant enough for this country. And to use the flavour of the season, and the so-called 'anthem of the world' (as per NDTV yesterday), one can only say 'Jai Ho, India !!!!!'. Or you can call it the 'Jai Ho Bulletin' !!!...:)

Monday, Feb 23: Thousands of Indians awoke, switched on their TV sets (atleast the lucky ones like me who had a holiday on account of Mahashivratri) , tuned into Star Movies (which otherwise hardly 5% of u ever watch) and watched with bated breath the 'coming-of-age' of Indian cinema on the world stage. And when our very own Mozart from Madras won not one but two golden statuttes (and very deservingly so), the Indian media and the country celebrated in their own inimitable style. And the success of Slumdog Millionare was also celebrated in no less measure. In fact, I am surprised that no one in the government has thought of conferring the Bharat Ratna on Danny Boyle for 'successfully bringing the real India on to the world stage' !!. But atleast for AR Rahman, this was truly a 'Jai Ho India !!!' moment.

Tuesday, Feb 24: In another stimulus package, the UPA govt reduced the excise duty and service tax by 2% each. The media made it appear as if most things in the world were going to be cheaper (as if a 2% reduction in my mobile bill seems much). While this in itself is not objectionable, what went unnoticed is that the total fiscal deficit (centre+state) has now touched a disastrous 10% of the GDP. No wonder that the country was downgraded (in a credit rating sense) to a level just above junk !! Which now means that Indian companies will have to bear even higher interest costs for overseas loans. And while I am no financial expert, I can only say 'Jai Ho, India !!!' to the profligate spending policies of the government that has bought us this far.

Wednesday, Feb 25: Watched an NDTV report saying that the preparation for the Commonwealth Games 2010 in New Delhi are way behind schedule and at this rate, there is a very serious possibility that we would not be capable of holding the games at all. Now imagine if that happens. I shudder to even think of the thought. A country that bid and won the right to host the games, had more than 4 years to get the facilities in order but still could not deliver. That will some national embarrasement which, ironically, a completely new establishment would have to face !!!!. I can imagine the Royal Queen (head of the Commonwealth) saying 'Jaeee Hoo.. India !!'.

Thursday, Feb 26: Exactly three months since the day the country witnessed its most audacious and deadly terrorist strikes, the chargesheet for the same was finally filed. Now all eyes would be on the trial itself and how swiftly our famous judicial machine can get around to announcing a verdict and, more importantly, how quickly the verdict would be executed. Preliminary estimates say the whole process can take about 6-8 months (if this seems long, consider that the 93 Mumbai blasts case took more than 12 years to reach a conclusion). So if we can see everything done and dusted by the end of this year, it will be some kind of improvement and maybe some of us can say 'Jai Ho, India !!!'.

Friday, Feb 27: This is a personal incident and possibly the most important in my eyes. As I was going to work in the morning, the train stopped for its regular halt at Vile Parle station. In about half a minute, I saw five people spitting across the tracks. While I was walking from Santacruz station to my office (about a 15 minute walk), I saw another six people spitting on the road as if it was their own big bathroom (oh sorry, they must be keeping their bathrooms spotlessly clean !!). And atleast one of those was dressed in a crisp shirt and matching trousers, probably having a white-collar job. So if anyone is under the impression that lack of civic sense is synonymous with poverty and illiteracy, think again !!. I was so disgusted at the time, and when I saw a billboard announcing Rahman's achievement, the thought of writing this post occured to me. To the lack of civic sense in my fellow countrymen, I can only sadly say.. 'Jai Ho, India !!'....

- Amit

PS: Talking of 'Jai Ho'.. I have just finishing downloading the movie that first made those two words famous. Remember that immortal final sequence of the Mahabharat ???... 'Jai Ho, Jai Ho, aisi sati ki Jai Ho !!!'.. yes, it was that unforgettable cult movie 'Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron !'.. more about that movie, in my next post !!..

Monday, February 16, 2009

PARINDA: Reliving a classic !!!!

In every genre of movies, there are some that stand the test of time. In fact, there are some that are ahead of their times, thus growing on their audience as the years roll by. The underworld has always been one of Bollywood's favourite themes. In keeping with the truism that movies are a mirror of social life, the 'gangster-n-underworld' movie genre rose into prominence in the 1980s, about the same time when the word 'underworld' itself became part of Mumbai life (movies like 'Mujhe Jeene Do', 'Zanjeer', 'Dharmaatma' etc before that were either 'daaku'-movies or Godfather wannabes). Once the genre started growing in popularity, there followed a flood of movies depicting the goings-on in the underworld. But one of the first such movies made remains an all-time classic. In late 1989 came Vidhu Vinod Chopra and his brilliant take on life in the underworld.

About two decades on, Parinda remains a classic not just of its genre, but in the annals of the Hindi movie industry itself. And for people of my age, who first saw it while at school (never mind the A certificate then ;-), seeing it again invokes more than a standing applause for Chopra and his team. At our age now, we are able to better appreciate the finer nuances in the movie which would have escaped us before. Of course, I hardly need reiterate the storyline !!. But what stands out about the movie is its technical brilliance (even when compared to today's movies) and the performances. Some of the scenes remain imprinted on your mind forever. Everyone remembers the final scenes of the couple's horrible end on their wedding night (when I watched that a couple of days back, I could feel the lump in my throat**) and Kishen's subsequent revenge on Anna. But some other gems are the killing of Inspector Prakash at the famous Kabutar Khana and the subsequent killing of one his assailants Abdul (Suresh Oberoi) at that very spot. The other scene that I absolutely adored is the Jackie-Anil confrontation scene when Anil asks his elder brother about his activities. The reply given by Jackie ('Bas us din jo bhaaga to aaj tak bhaag raha hoon'.. and some other wonderful lines) touches you deep down somewhere. Also, bear in mind that throughout the movie there are no scenes of groups of people weilding AK-47s and killing each other by the dozen. Apart from the pivotal killings that are integral to the storyline, there is hardly any graphic violence in the film. But still, the power of the movie hits you hard. In fact, forget the violence, the movie has one of the finest music scores ever for a gangster movie. RD Burman gives us wonderful gems like 'Tumse Milke', 'Pyaar Ke Mod Pe' and 'Kitni Hai Pyaari Pyaari Dosti Hamari'. Truly remarkable music tracks for what is neither a love story or a musical !!!

Of course, what elevate Parinda to its height are the masterful performances. It would still rank as Jackie's finest performance (he received his only Filmfare award for this movie) and you have to see him in the scene mentioned above. Anil Kapoor was also amazing, conveying not just the vulnerability of a young man coming face-face with the turbulence his life undergoes in an instant, but also the ruthlessness of a man taking revenge of his friend's killing. While Madhuri was relegated to the backseat, she still managed to leave an impression, while of course looking a million bucks !!!. The movie also boasts of splending cameos, right from Anupam Kher and Suresh Oberoi all the way to Sameer Khakkar (more famous as the 'bevda' from Nukkad) as the one-legged Iqbal. And how I can forget Anna !!!.. It still beats me why Anna is not spoken of in the same breath as Gabbar and Mogambo when one considers the best of the anti-heroes of Indian cinema. In his first major role in Hindi cinema, Nana Patekar announced himself in no uncertain terms as a talent to reckon with. Inspite of his subsequent achievements, Nana and Anna are linked together not just as anagrams but as a gifted actor and his finest portryal.

Are you still reading this post ??? If so, drop it and get the DVD of this awesome movie on torrent right now (I got it from there..) !!! Download it and enjoy reliving the experience !!..


** One of the nuance I missed earlier was that the last line spoken by Anil before the couple is massacred is: 'Siddarth.. (refering to his would-be kid's name)... woh is duniya main shaanti laayega'.. Dreams of a peaceful life in one instant, the elimination of life itself in the very next !!!!!...

Saturday, February 07, 2009

More on the missed delivery by Fedex !!!!

Over the past week, have been browsing through blogosphere and have been heartened by some of the blogs put up by friends, acquantiances and others about the Australian Open final. More than the match itself, the presentation and Federer's tears seem to have struck a raw nerve somewhere. Felt good to know that apart from great writing talent that many of us have, Fedex has not lost one bit of his fan base. Some of the posts are:

1. Ketan Kulkarni has written a nice short piece (in Marathi too !!) about the tears, Read it here.

2. Kaumudi has written a moving letter to the champion herself !!. Get that here.

3. Read another piece here.

Would love to read more about a most extraordinary tennis match and its aftermath !!


Sunday, February 01, 2009

A match and rivalry to cherish........

This is my first post on tennis. This is a sport that I used to follow regularly as a kid. While in school, I used to regularly watch the Grand Slam finals on Doordarshan (no cable TV back then). I even used to stay up to watch the US Open finals at 1.30 am !!. Those were the days of guys like Lendl, Becker, Wilander, Agassi, Courier , Graf, Sabatini, and of course, my all-time favourite, the cool Swede Stefan Edberg. Then the Pete Sampras era began in the mid-90s, and as Edberg and his peers bid adieu, I lost interest in tennis. This was also about the age when the power players like Safin, Hewitt began to prosper, services started getting faster and the good ol' serve and volley game became an endangered species even at its native Wimbledon.

Then in 2003, Roger Federer came on the scene by winning Wimbledon, a title that he would not relinquish for five more years. With him, touch play was back in demand. As FedEx went about dominating world tennis, it seemed that the sport was once again going back to being a one-man show. Then from Spain came along Rafa and set about creating one of the greatest rivalries in tennis history.

Today's epic 4hr-23min, 5 setter between the two greats surely marks the zenith of the rivalry. Just about six months back, they gave us what many still call 'the greatest final in history' (another epic 5 setter at Wimbledon). I was unfortunate enough to miss that match, but if that was better than what I watched today, then I missed something really special then. But, coming back to today, the standard of tennis in the 3rd and 4th set was out of the world !!!!! (and it was really sad to see Federer falling apart in the decider). Incredible angles were constructed, lost points were won, balls that could hardly be reached by lesser mortals were converted to winners !!. And speaking of winners, we finally had the most deserving winner. Though I was rooting for Federer, I doff my hat off to the way Nadal plays. Those who dismiss him as a power player completely miss the point (of course, you do not win 6 Slams by just being a powerhouse). Nadal's greatest strength is his coverage and his ability to 'boldy go where no one has gone before' (in terms of court coverage). Its this ability that makes him so tough to beat. And Federer, even after playing as well as he could, finally succumbed to Nadal's resilience in the final set. To point out on observation (though I am no expert in tennis), Federer's best phase in the match came when he started coming to the net more often. He could probably have continued this in the last set, since you cannot sit on the baseline and beat Nadal in a slugfest from the back. And the tears at the post-match ceremony probably told a tale. It was as if Federer was acknowleding that as long as he keeps bumping into the same man of the other side, his dream of equalling and beating Sampras's record will remain just that. So someone else needs to do the job for Federer !!. As for Nadal, he is now well on his way in the journey from being just a clay-court specialist to an all-round performer. Another couple of years of this and he will be mentioned in the same breath as the former greats of the games !!!

Till then, let us remember this special match today and savour a classic tennis rivalry. Can these two gladiators treat us to something even more special ????? It would be worth miles to travel and worth a fortune to spend watching !!!