Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Doordarshan & Gully cricket : A lost legacy

I know I am running the risk of sounding like and old ‘old’ man when I say this but having watched my nieces and nephews grow up, over the past few years, I am convinced that our generation; and 'our generation' would include my peers, probably between 21 and 26 years old; is probably the last generation to have had a non digital, unadulterated, uncomplicated, out doorsy childhood.
I vividly remember the excitement that only the last paper of the annual examinations could bring in. And once the summer vacations began - the daily routine would begin with cricket in the morning, after a break for lunch all of us friends would gather around the TV and switch on Doordarshan and wait patiently for 'Fun Time'. Once it was evening, it was back to cricket, catch ‘n’ cook, dabba udali, apa dhubi, lagori and chor - police going on right up to 9 in the evenings.
The unbound joy of watching 'Gaayab aaya' and 'He Man'. And once in a while He man would be replaced by the puppet stories of 'Potli baba'. Each of these programs would be punctuated by ads of Bournvita (Mann ki shakti Tann ki shakti ,Bournvita) , an occasional patriotic 'Mile Sur Mera Tumhara' or perhaps 'Baje Sargam Har Taraf Se'. But one would rarely get to see any such programming on television that was dedicated to children during the other months of the year except f0r Sunday mornings and Saturday evenings which had the monstrous 'Giant Robot' performing PT exercises and launching missiles from the tips 0f his fingers at the orders of a small child who would instruct Giant Robot over his watch-cum-walkie talkie and the robot would easily destroy his rather ‘challenged’ Japanese enemies. Come to think of it, such simple, uncomplicated viewing - No computer generated graphics, no complicated names or stories, easy animation and an even easier name - He is a robot and he is , well, a ‘giant’ . So what do we call him? How about ‘Giant Robot’? As simple as apple pie, isn’t it?
The rare luxury of having my father rent out a VCR cassette of Tom and Jerry – the evergreen ‘Sholay’ of cartoons, would throw my brother and me into ecstasy. And it was not until we were almost out of school , did we have a dedicated cartoon channel – Cartoon Network, which had Swat Kats, Bird-Man, the Centurions etc – a far cry from the dilemma faced by today’s kids – of having to choose between Pogo, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney channel, Hungama and what have you.
Another distinct memory of my childhood is ‘Tinkle’. This monthly turned fortnightly publication by ‘Uncle Pai’ would have me and my brother fight over who would get to read it first every single month. I wonder if children today read any Amar Chitra Katha publications at all. All my Mahabharatha and Ramayana gyaan is the result of reading Amar Chitra Katha and of course the family addiction of the early 90s – Ramanand Sagar’s TV epics.

Coming back to ‘building cricket’, I just don’t see any one playing it these days. Underarm cricket, box cricket, pheki cricket – all of them surely are extinct now. Gone are the days when the building entrance gate pillar would bear the stumps marked on it with chalk and a large rectangular stone would be the bowlers bowling mark cum popping crease cum stump. And the kind of run out dismissal which was unique only to building cricket – ‘current run-out’ – where the batsman would be run out if he was short of his ground and if the bowler caught the ball and had some body part touching the stump!
And with smaller building compounds, more and more cars and lesser and lesser playing space , the only form of cricket we are going to see the kids play is going to be on Playstation, Xbox and the computer.
Now a days, relationships seem to progress fast, trends and fashion are changing even faster, life in general seems to be going by so quickly and when I happened to see this news report that said how 13 years old are active on orkut and facebook, I couldn’t help but feel sad for these kids who, have, sadly grown up too fast.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Way to Go, Jumbo!

I have always been of the opinion that Indian cricket and Indian cricketers, do not deserve even half the fanatic blind support they recieve , the emotion and the passion they evoke amongst the masses. But today , I take it all back , all for one man - Anil Kumble. http://akshaygn.blogspot.com/2006/10/celebrating-jumbo.html
I have been a faithful fan of his right through the dark ages of Indian Cricket (1992-1999/2000) where right/left arm 'allegedly' fast , full toss bowlers - Srinath, Prasad, Kuruvilla, Mohanty, Harvinder Singh, Salil Ankola, Manoj Prabhakar, Mhambrey, Dodda Ganesh , Youhannan, Noel David , etc (phew ! thats quite a lot!) would invariably lose the plot in the opening overs of our bowling. They would have Sanath-Kalu followed by Aravinda , Anwar-Sohail and then Ejaz (I hated him), and Gibbs-Kirsten hitting all of them all over the park.....and poor old Azhar and later on , Sachin would have to bring in Kumble well within the 15 overs .Instead of attacking , he would have to bowl defensively and in spite of this ,he more often than not could take wickets.He never got credit for what he did.And soon injuries , a few bad performances , some bad luck and finally Kiran More as the chief of selectors ended Kumble's one day career prematurely after the 2007 WC.
I have always been a bowler's fan - whichever form or cricket it may be. The satisfaction of seeing a batsman getting out lbw to a Kumble special rocket flipper is matched only by the replays of Murali's sadistically obscene heinous crimes against batsmen on Lankan pitches.
Yet, No cricketer's feat has brought me so much joy as Kumble did when he reached his maiden test century.....!

He is now (at the end of the 2nd day in the 3rd test at the Oval) at 561 wickets , 2 short of Glenn McGrath's 563 wickets. Lets hope he achieves two feats in the same match.

PS : Kumble now holds the record for the maximum mathces played before scoring a test century (117) , previously held by Vaas (97). He also holds the record for maximum wickets taken lbw followed by.
Shane Warne , Murali , Kumble - 3 contemporary greats will soon be at the head of the list of leading wicket takers in tests. Kumble , may not be the greatest in terms of wickets tally or average (although he has an almost equal 'wickets per match' figure as that of Shane Warne) ; but he will surely have the highest test score amongst the three here ! Shane Warne : highest score - 99 out ! eat your heart out Shane....!

Current Mood : Euphoric
Current Song : Chale Chalo (OST Lagaan - A R Rahman)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Joy to the World.

Dr. Joy Patankar

(1962 – 2006)

A Surgeon par excellence, an inventive thinker, a meticulous planner, a brilliant orator, an inspiring teacher,a son of the soil, a literature lover, a Master at word play, with an ever growing cache of interesting anecdotes and theories right from Maratha history to Hindu Mythology down to nanotechnology; a gadgetophile with a heart of gold.

It is an honour, Sir, to have learnt from you so much more than what you have taught, to have worked under you; to have worked alongside you and to have been worked upon by you.

The man who let me perform my first independent surgery,
We miss you.

PS: The arm is perfectly fine, Sir, perfectly fine.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Things I want to do in this lifetime....

"Live as if your were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."
- M K Gandhi
Driving home , leafing through magazines , surfing TV....just a few times you come across, read or see something and go "aah....wish I could do that"

Here's my list of "Gosh....I wanna do that atleast once" things...
Some of them are just stupid things i wish to do , but probably know I can never get myself to do them.

1. Watch the Monaco Grand Prix from the grand stands. - (Sep 2008 - Singapore GP)
2. Win a poker tournament.
3. Win lots of money at Vegas.
4. Go Vegetarian (Yeah Right!)
5. Recieve a standing ovation (someday....someday!)
6. Visit the Pyramids in Egypt.
7. Improve my French.
8. Go to Japan and have sushi.
9. Go for an A R Rahman Concert.
10. Stand as an umpire for a One Day match.
11. Get better at small talk.
12. Visit a wildlife sanctuary somewhere in India and watch a tiger. (June 07, Corbett , here I come !) - (DONE - Ranthambhore ; May 2008)
13. Learn to Bartend and mix the perfect drink. (DONE - ask Sumedh, Veena & Rima ! HA! )
14. Solve a Rubik's Cube .
15. Go bulemic and lose lots of weight.
16. Save someone's life (almost came close to doing it once!)
17. Get drunk and then play cricket.
18. Meet Borat in real life. . . !(Sometimes I meet him in the mirror...Not!) Sorry :(
19. Travel overseas (say Australia (March) or Italy (September)..) with my best friends for over a month on a shoe string budget.
20. Own a Sports Bar .
21. Drive a Ferrari Modena 360.
22. Make a comprehensive family tree and know who is who in my family for once and for all to avoid all those puzzled looks that come on my face when wierd relatives ask me "You know who I am , don't you?" at family weddings.
23. Stay in a posh grand glitzy hotel in London.
24. Own a Foosball table.
25. Have 3 dogs - a labrador , a cockerspaniel and a german shepherd.
26. Visit the Smithsonian National Air and Space museum , DC. (thanks Kulki!)

27. Visit all 7 continents.
28. Stay in a castle.
29. Stop allowing outside influences to determine the way I think, act, and feel; in whatever little way it does now.
30. Have a movie marathon of my favourite 5 comedy movies with my friends at my place.
31. Have a pair of handcuffs.
32. Be a police Officer for a day.
33. Get better at playing the tabla.
35. Have someone gift me a Nikon D 200. (DONE - atleast half done, I own a Nikon D80)
36. Learn to ride a motorbike . (Yes, I dont know how to ride one !)

The List will see more and more additions as I become more and more crazier.

Current mood : Nostalgic
Current song : Teri Deewani (Kalash Kher - Kailasa)
Thanks , Ashwin Kulkarni - got this idea from your

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

My Favourite Movies !

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.
What can I say about this movie ! If you haven’t seen this movie , you have probably missed out on the biggest and the best comedy movie ever. Dirty, Ugly, Repulsive , Crude , but downright funny. With its satirical pranks played on unsuspecting Americans by the main characters – Borat Sagdieyev and Azamat Bagatov , this movie is two hours of non stop laughs. (caution: after the movie , you tend to speak in a Russian accent for a few days) .
Trivia: this movie won a Golden Globe for best actor in a comic role , and an Oscar Nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay (too bad ‘The Departed’ won).
I have always seen movies like Air Force , a couple of James Bond movies where the Americans were always the good guys and the Russians the terrorists.
Well , finally the Russians have struck back and in style ! Waawaaveewah !
Recommended Watching : Any day when you are feeling low or anti American.

Andaaz Apna Apna
Crazy Movie , Crazy Dialogues , Crazy Characters and Crazy situations. That’s all this hilarious movie is all about. Shakti Kapoor in his only non villainous , non raping role in Hindi Cinema is actually funny. The first time Paresh Rawal’s comic side came to the fore with his senselessly funny dialogues like “mark idhar hai , Teja mai hoon!”
Karishma , Raveena were good. But Aamir , Salman , the Ajit look alike and Viju Khote (Robert) with their excellent comic timings make the movie an absolute winner. One of the few movies you can watch over and over again.

Easily one of the best Hindi movies made in the last 20 years. One of the main reasons I liked the movie was because Shah Rukh Khan played ‘the character’ – Mohan Bhargava , and not himself – ‘Shah Rukh Khan’. To clarify my point, I’d like to point to all of SRK’s other movies – Kal Ho Na Ho , K3G ,Mohabbatein , Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna , Veer Zaara , Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Don’t you think it’s the same character – Rahul / Raj ie. Shahrukh Khan. who is growing up and the different movies have just captured different phases of his life .
Why for that matter even in Asoka , he seemed just like Rahul wearing a different costume with his typical smile , laugh , arrogance , that tiny bit of stammering and that weird thing he does with his eye brows while kind of squinting his eyes!
Aamir Khan, on the other hand, never seems repetitive – DCH, Lagaan , Mangal Pandey, RDB . SRK- He just doesn’t come out of his Raj/ Rahul mould . BUT Swades , thankfully saw director Ashutosh Gowariker do just that. For a change Shah Rukh Khan did act well.
Amazing background score.Brilliant songs.Excellent acting by others in the cast such as Kishori Balal (Kaveri Amma) , Gayatri Joshi (Geeta). Few scenes get a lump in my throat everytime I watch the movie – the scene where the water boy is running past the train screaming “paani lo paani, pachis paisa, pani lo pani”and Mohan is moved to tears as Melaram hands over some change to him to buy a glass of water.
Outstanding movie.
Recommended Viewing : Jan 26th of Aug 15th, I guarantee you will stay patriotic for a year atleast!

Airplane !
The God of all slap stick comedies. Non sense comedy all around. This movie was one of the first few movies of Leslie Neilson. Right from the opening titles to the ending credits, not a moment that does not have some humour in it – subtle or overt.
Caution : Try not to watch the movie before flying out to some place, and definitely not while on an aircraft.

The Godfather(I)
A Masterpiece!
The only movie of Marlon Brando I have ever seen , And I do not want to see any other movie of his simply because I fear that movie might not match up to what he has done in The Godfather. Gripping right from the beginning to the end.Epic scenes : Bonasera meets the Godfather ; Godfather meets Sollozo ; Godfather meets Bonasera (undertaker) after Sonny is dead – each scene , each dialogue , each word stays with you , haunts you.
One of the finest movies to have ever been made.
Recommended Viewing : Any day any time.

Dark and realistic .Ram Gopal Varma - (RGV) ’s first of his underworld Trilogy – Satya stands out for its superb emsemble cast and stupendous acting by each of them. Chekravarthy as the protagonist – the silent intense ‘Satya’ is excellent. But the real stars of the movie for me were Manoj Bajpai (Bhiku Mhatre) and Shefali Chaya (Bhiku’s wife).
One of the first movies in Hindi Cinema to portray the Mumbai underworld realistically.
One of RGV’s finest works.


The second of RGV’s trilogy.
If Satya was brutal , crude and hard hitting ; Company was suave , sophisticated , stylish , but with the same impact. Although he got much critical acclaim for his part , I personally think Vivek Oberoi overdid his part and did ham his way through quite a few scenes. None the less , Ajay Devgan was intensity personified and he did a fantastic job.
Now blame my mallu roots or call it the effect of sub conscious Asianet/Surya TV viewing, but for me , the real hero of the whole movie was Mohanlal. Just loved him in the movie.
Be it the accented dialogues , or the typical malayalee mannerisms , he was absolutely brilliant through out the movie.


RGV’s last movie in the Underworld Trilogy. The movie begins with a note from RGV that this is his tribute to The Godfather. Similar in many ways to The Godfather yet dissimilar in many ways. Sadly Sarkar saw only a few ‘complete’ characters who had depth and some recall value – Sarkar , His sons (Shankar, Vishnu) , Rashid , Selvar Mani , may be Swamiji.
But once you saw The Godfather , you almost knew everybody –The Godfather , Tom Hagen , Sonny , Michael , Luca Brazi , Sollozo , Kay Adams , Tessio , Clemenza , everybody !
Nonetheless , Amitabh , even though essaying a role that had already been acted out in the best way possible , did a mighty good job of it. As did Kay Kay Menon and Abhishek.
Good Background music and tight editing keeping it only a little over 2 hours made it a good movie.

The Indian Adaptation of Macbeth.I haven’t read or seen Macbeth in any form. Maqbool makes you go through the whole gamut of emotions.The chemistry between Tabu and Irrfan Khan is magical. Personally I think Tabu has acted out of her skin , so much so that you start hating her for the treachery she commits in the movie.Great songs. Very Marlon Brando / Godfatheresque performance by Pankaj Kapoor. Hindi Cinema at its best.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Kimi wins OZ GP.

Kimi Räikkönen drew first blood in the battle that got underway at Melbourne’s Albert Park, the season opener for the 2007 FIA Formula One Championship with a resounding win. Leading for most of the race, he always seemed like winning the race right from the start, which saw some drama as Alonso, who had started 2nd on the grid ,dropping down to 4th position at the first corner. Defending World Champion Fernando Alonso’s new team McLaren had a great outing with Alonso finishing on 2nd position and his rookie team mate Lewis Hamilton finishing third.
Others among the points were Hiedfeld, Fisichella, Massa, Rosberg and Ralf.
The race had a perfect setting with clear blue skies, a bone dry track and 22 drivers eagerly waiting to start off.
Kimi lead into turn one which later on during the course of the day , proved to be the only point on the track where an overtaking maneuver was possible. But Alonso lost major ground as Lewis, who stealthily took the inner line into turn 1, edging out Alonso and Kubica, then swiftly splitting the two McLarens into the straight that followed.
Lewis soon dropped a place but quickly regained his composure to snatch 3rd position back from Alonso. Kimi Räikkönen, by now was already gaining a second a lap. This surely had to mean the reason he set an ultra quick qualifying lap was his light fuel load.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, who started at the back of the grid steadily was climbing up but found himself stuck behind David Coulthard, Honda’s Barichello and a very, very sluggish Jenson Button. But by lap 5 he overcame Coulthard, as Kimi set his first of many fastest laps, in the same lap.
By the 8th lap the gap between first placed Kimi Räikkönen and 3rd placed Alonso was almost 10 seconds.
Now a 2 stop strategy is considered normal in Albert Park, but was Ferrari going to spring up a surprise with a 3 stop strategy? It seemed highly improbable; Ferrari would have backed Michael to pull it off, but it just didn’t seem right here. We would have to wait and find out.
The 12th lap saw the first retirement with Christijan Albers retiring after banging his car into the barricades. The excuse: his ear plug had come off, which distracted him and he missed the braking point! Unbelievable!
The first round of pitstops were expected between the 19th to 25th laps , but Hiedfeld came in earlier in the 15th lap and came out on track in front of Red Bull’s Webber and Ralf and Trulli to claim 6th position.
Meanwhile in the middle of the pack, the train of Button, Reubens, and Massa finally saw some change with Barichello finding his way past Button at an unexpected corner.
But at the top, Alonso now looking quite settled but subdued had clawed his way past Kubica into 3rd position.
Now the 18th lap from Kimi was an absolute blinder : a text book in-lap , setting the fastest first and second sector timings , quickly in and out of the pit lane , rejoining in 4th behind the Mclarens and Kubica .So he wasn’t light on fuel after all , he was simply brilliant with the car ! Outstanding driving from the Finnish driver, but will he carry it through the race?

The Williams, Red Bulls and the Renaults had been relatively out of any action on the track but at the head for the first time in his debut race Lewis Hamilton of McLaren was leading the Australian Grand Prix.
The question now was – when will the McLarens pit?
The answer came in the 22nd & 23rd laps with Alonso and Hamilton pitting in consecutive laps, although Hamilton’s in-lap was compromised by some back marker traffic, he eventually managed to frustrate Fernando Alonso by emerging in front of him from the pit lane.
Hamilton gradually building up his lead gradually showing that even though they were team mates, the competition was fierce as ever.
By lap 28, Massa and Coulthard were the only drivers who hadn’t yet pitted.
And it seemed as if the two drivers might just pull off a one stop race.
Finally in the 29th lap, Massa pitted for what seemed an eternity, surely this was going to dent his chances of getting any championship points. But it was a one stop race for him for sure!
The 31st lap saw STR Ferrari’s Scott Speed – unimpressive throughout, retiring from the race.

The 2007 Season has brought in new rule changes – a new pit speed limit of 80 kmph down from 100 kmph and Refueling had now been disallowed during safety car periods.
And Jenson Button got an extra lesson at that with a drive thru penalty for speeding in the pit lane in the 31st lap.
By the 33rd lap Massa had crept into the top ten. The 37th lap saw some action and drama with Rosberg overtaking Ralf in stunning fashion and Kubica disappointingly retiring; he looked like a genuine contender for a podium position.
By lap 39 the second window of pit stops had come up, this round of pit stops would be rapid pit stops with only the exact amount of fuel required to finish the race going in to the car.
Heiki Kovalinen had a moment of concentration loss, spinning his Renault in the first corner of his 40th lap, with Massa gaining a place on him relegating Kovalinen to 9th place.

In the 41st lap, Kimi Räikkönen dipped below 1min 25sec barrier with yet another brilliant in-lap coming in for a super quick pit stop rejoining the race in 3rd place behind the McLarens - but they still had a pitstop each to go.
The 45th saw Alonso pitting and he came out on track ahead of Lewis Hamilton , much to everybody’s surprise. Now, had Ron Dennis asked Hamilton to pull up just enough to let Alonso come out in front? Had this been all pre planned?
It very well could have been!
Massa, by now had now come to a respectable 6th position and was only nursing his car to the finish line to get points for his team. Commendable indeed, having started from the absolute back of the grid
With ten laps to go, Kimi was now all seemed set to win, but last minute uncertainties have always been Kimi’s specialty and he was surely driving this car to its limit with almost 15 seconds between him and Alonso.
During the 50th lap, old war horse Coulthard, trying an over optimistic overtaking maneuver on Wurz, launched himself over the Williams car, resulting in both their retirements.
Heiki Kovalinen, meanwhile seemed completely at sea with yet another spin, thankfully, this time, it didn’t cost him a place. Massa by now kept chopping away at the gap between him and Fisichella and with five laps to go the scarlet car of Massa was all over Fisico’s rear view mirrors,
This is what F1 racing was all about: nail biting, nerve wracking finishes.
The battle brought back glimpses of the epic battle Imola had seen between Schumi and Alonso.
But at the head of the pack, Kimi looked absolutely cool, all set to win the first race of the season. All his critics who questioned his professionalism or rather the lack of it surely were silenced now.
First race for Ferrari - very quick, very clinical, very Kimi indeed!
Alonso, very unlike him seemed as though he had held himself back but did a good job of finishing in second place.
Lewis – what an impressive debut it had been for him! A dream race: finishing with a podium position on his debut race. The last time we saw that was back in Monza last year with Kubica doing the same for BMW Sauber.
Hiedfeld, Fisichella, Massa, Rosberg and Ralf were the others amongst the points.
The podiums saw a new combination of Jean Todt and Kimi Räikkönen which all Ferrari aficionados surely will hope to see more often now.
The competitiveness established, fierceness undeterred, spirit renewed, the F1 season ahead seems to be a lip smacking proposition. The ‘circus’ now travels to exotic Sepang in Malaysia, early April which promises to be an equally engaging cliffhanger. Cheers till then.
© 2007.No part of this article may be reproduced or quoted without the expressed permission of Akshay Gopinathan Nair .