Friday, August 10, 2007

Chak de India….It’s what dreams are made of!

I had caught the trailer of 'Çhak De India' when I went for Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix. In that one minute piece, the shots of the hockey matches impressed me. Though it was still a Shahrukh movie; I knew I had to catch it before the reviews hit the media.
And I did, being in Dubai gives you that advantage as the movies release here on Thursday , a day before in India!

I did not go with as high expectations as Lagaan & Iqbal. Chak De India might not fit in their league but it’s an out and out sports movie on the lines of the Mighty Ducks series! And yes it also highlights what girls/women in India go through irrespective of the strata of the society they belong to.

Chak De India is a story about a fallen hero, regaining his honour from his countrymen. It is about 16 girls fighting themselves, fighting politics in the game, fighting society, fighting their own demons within. It’s a story about the sports situation in the country where states still rule the nation. It’s a story about how society still deals with women.

Shahrukh excels beyond par. And it means something when it comes from me, who is no Shahrukh fan! And no he is not doing what Aamir did in Lagaan. Chak De & Lagaan can’t be compared simply cause they are two different stories, with complete different backdrops.
Shahrukh is sincere in his portrayal of Kabir Khan, his anguish when the nation scorns him, his willingness to fight the system, his love for the game, his helplessness when he can’t step onto the field to play, his toughness in dealing with the girls, his earnestness in building a winning team and finally his disbelief when he overcomes his demons and wins the battle.

The casting might not be the perfect one for the girls, but the bunch does a good job at the end. Preethi Sabharwal is attractive and confident, Komal is brash and knows she is good, Bindya is arrogant, Aliya Bose is striking, Gunjan is the pacifier, Vidya has enough to deal with her personal problems yet is the most focussed of the lot, Balbir Kaur is what our women teams need, atleast one of her kind. The rest have little dialogues but impress in their little parts.

How they struggle to come together as one team, setting aside their personal glories. They are all haunted by their own demons like jealousy, ego, pride, fear, lack of self-belief, anger, dissent, indiscipline, and most of all minimal support from people they love. Vidya from a normal middle-class family is pressurised to quit and come attend the family wedding, while Preethi from the upper class family, engaged to a high-profile cricketer gets her own dose of male ego from him. The Hockey association is as usual less supportive of them anyways.
They fight and they overcome it all, thanks to their coach Kabir.

On the technical front, I loved the second half, the World Cup tournament is shot well. Sure there were still gaps but it’s a fine effort by the director. It’s a good film to follow after his ‘Ab Tak Chappan’. He should also be given some credit for I’m sure most people are now going to take interest in hockey: men's or women's. The film will do some good to our neglected national sport! Finally, some kudos to Yash Raj Films as well, after dishing out endless glossy unrealistic movies, here is one film they should be really proud of!
Most might feel it's not in the league of a Lagaan or Iqbal but it still can get a place behind them in terms of the subject and the execution.

And before I leave, take a bow to Shahrukh Khan! It was nice to see the sincere and natural effort, Shahrukh’s Kabir Khan will be in memory for a long, long time along with Abhimanyu Rai(Fauji), Raj Malhotra(DDLJ) and Mohan Bhargava(Swades). He was and is the soul of this movie and takes it to success boldly on his shoulders!

So go watch it once, it is the kind of stuff dreams are made of!
P.S.: My favourite scene in the film has nothing to do with hockey, it's the one where the team goes to Mcdonald's and ends up bashing a gang of eve-teasers wihout any help from a male!! Oh boy I can bet every girl alive will love that scene! Oh ya that's one scene I would've loved to be part of!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Because He Loves Me....

I've been waiting to get my first vacation since landing in Dubai. The first destination was but obviously my good old Mumbai. I do not know how I've survived a good whole year without seeing that place. Anyways, mumma planned her London trip and UK trip along with my niece to my sister's place. That put me pretty much in a dilemma about my vacation , and after much contemplation I decided to plan a trip to UK.

Now at this point, a month back, I could not force MDH to join on my vacation as he wanted to save all his holidays for his younger sister's wedding scheduled in Dec this year. Though I would miss him, I still did not pester him to join. I can be a very stubborn and adamant girl but this time I wasn't. But, he did come around with me for my shopping despite his hectic schedules and prime office events.

Work was getting quite hectic (as always) before I was leaving for my vacation. I was spending long hours at the office to wrap up most of my work. In the meanwhile, MDH's business trip to South Africa got planned during the same period as my trip. That was quite a reflief for
me as it meant that he too would enjoy visiting a new country along with his work.

He then asked me for the visa application procedure for UK as his friend was travelling there. I detailed the entire application to him. One day he asked me if it was okay to give one of our suitcases to a friend as he was off on trip as well. Since this guy is a close friends of ours, I was more than willing to help. I was to leave on 17th May, Friday. The suitcase was gone by Tuesday.

On the day I was leaving, like usual I was late from office. Bags all packed , I was quite surprised to see the house in shape to lock it up. MDH informed me that he was to leave early the next day. I had one more worry on my head though, before leaving in the evening I had noticed a huge amount debited to my credit card, I could not see the details and told MDH to check for it. He did not let me do it that evening and told me he would take care of it the next day.

Our friend arrived at 10.00 p.m. to pick me up and I saw our suitcase lying in his deck, he said I will take it up to my house when I'm getting ready to leave. I said fine. Then MDH and his friend started planning a late night show of Metro after dropping me. I was quite sad cause I really did wanted to see that movie. Another friend of ours who came to see me off, tried consoling me by saying that the UK trip was far more important than a film.

So there we landed at the airport and I was about to take off when MDH caught me and said I got something for you. I said, so where is my parting gift. He kept a piece of paper in my hand, it was e-ticket for BA flight 106 to London. I looked at it and said I know that I'm allowed 23Kg luggage, he said look at the name again!

I saw his name and freaked out. His business trip was his vacation with me to London. He had planned the entire thing out after much coaxing from his friends and my sister was his partner in crime. The friend who was travelling to UK was him, the suitcase was gone for him. The huge drift in my credit card bill was his ticket since our cards are billed together!!!

The clues were all there but I simply did not take any, cause he had convinced me well that he would not make the trip.

This was my best surprise ever!!!! He has surprised me in many a ways till date, ever since we started dating. This was totally unexpected but so much like him. Only he could think of doing this. I don't even come 0.00001% close to surprising him.

Sure we fight like all couples, sure we love each other like all other couples, but I can tell one thing for sure with that his surprises are unique and none I know have received likewise!

He does priceless things like these which I treasure the most in our relationship. At the end of it all, he has and will always bring a smile to my face.

That's why over and above being a great husband he makes one hell of a best friend to me!!!!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Déjà vu…Part II

The world cup 2007 is finally coming to an end, and for me, since ’91 this has been probably the most boring one I’ve seen. Reason one but obviously India’s ouster in the first stage. Reason two: It is too long a world cup, 6 weeks is just too long. Having not watched each and every match as I have in the previous cups this one will remain least etched in my memory.

Like 2003 Aussies look unbeatable and have not been challenged so far. I thought that SA and NZ would drive them to the wall but the two most likely teams to have upset the Aussies were decimated by them in style. It speaks a word or two in the zone the Aussies are and the way they are playing cricket. The losses to England and NZ prior to the world cup was just a lapse on their part.

I love the Aussies, always have since I started watching this game. They play this game to win. They play it in their own style and are not ruffled by what others are doing. They might lose but they do not care; they stick to their nature and more often than not it has helped them come out victorious. It is such a pleasure to watch them play because they bring nothing but smiles to your face. They have established their own brand of playing cricket and the way to defeat them is not to copy their style but etch your own style and beat them. Cause you cannot better them at their own game. Tell me who will not love the Aussies.

They do not miss the Waugh brothers, Brett Lee, Damien Martyn, Shane Warne. Gilchrist’s out of form performance has not affected their game even 1%, Shaun Tait is ready to take over from McGrath while Michael Clarke is already being touted as captaincy material. Mike Hussey has been relatively quiet but his performances have spoken for themselves. The team is not being arrogant by not feeling the pinch of the stars but it just shows how good their bench strength is to deliver the same results in absence of these power houses. Full credit to them and sure they deserve to win.

SL on the other hand has been the quiet performer. I did not meet one person who placed them in the finals with the Aussies before this world cup began. SA, NZ, WI and even India were being named but not the Lankan Lions. What a performance! Every single person in this team has contributed in every match. The young guns have come out and done their land proud. Jayasurya can relax and retire in peace. There is Tharanga, Chamra Silva, Dilshan Tilakratne, the ever reliable Jaywardane. The bowling has been top class. Vaas I never doubted him, and he one Lankan I’ve always loved to watch, even against India. Malinga , Mahroof and Murali make the bowling look unbeatable and the Aussies have not had a look at the SL bowlers in the league match what with Vaas, Murali & Malinga all rested. Not a bad ploy was it even if it cost them the match. Their fielding matches up to the best in the world and I see no reason why this team won’t let the Aussies sleep tight before the big day.

This world cup has been full of Déjà vu, India’s loss to SL (my earlier post), SA-AUS semi final( like in 1999), though it did not match up to the thriller like the earlier one, and now the ’96 final match-up! We just have to wait and see if history repeats again!

On a personal note though, this cup has been the most disappointing one for me. I’ve rarely failed in my predictions so far, rarely lost a bet on cricket but this time around I think I’m losing my touch! I expected India to make it atleast to the semis, did not happen. I then backed my next favourite team, the Black Caps cause they were playing some real good cricket only to see them have their bad day in the semis against the Lankans. I definitely did not want SA to win cause I don’t think it was a great cup for them and besides I do not like their current team. They seem a little short on the sportsmanship and the right spirit to play the game; the biggest culprit being Andre Nell.

SL has never been a favourite with me. They are good bunch of players but they have always irked me, and I have no reason to justify it. Aussies, though I love them, I’m now tired of seeing them win day in and out. For me this final is a Catch 22 situation where I do not want to support any team but I would not mind if either one wins. Aussies cause they deserve to, they have been awesome for the last ten years. SL cause they should win against Aussies; as the Aussies have never given them their due respect.

It’s McGrath’s and Murali-Jayasurya’s last calling; I would want the latter to answer to it first!

I’ll be watching the final today, I hope you all do. And yes do let me know whom you are supporting this time around.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Déjà vu…

Am I at a loss for words on yesterday’s performance? No I’m not!! I’ve so much to say that I think I’ll take up Terabytes raised to n space on the web!
I normally do not react badly to India’s losses. If you’ve been watching them play for the last 16 years and have had a lovely set of rational fans around you, it ensures that you do not react to losses as any other normal fan would. I mean it’s simply a game why make a fuss about it.

I remember the WC losses against Aus in ’92, SL in semi-final in Kolkatta ’96 and the huge plundering against Aus in ’03 in the league match.

I still remember the ’92 match as a victory because we put up an awesome fight. Neither will I forget Azhar’s 93 and Manjrekar’s 47 nor will I forget Srinath’s blunder. It was a strong reminder for me that this guy will never ever think when he plays, he always proved me right!
But it was a wonderful match, yes the loss by one run broke my heart but the respect for the team grew ten folds.

In the ’96 semi-final, when I saw the crowds react the way they did I had asked my dad why are they reacting this way? Sure we made a mess of it by some crazy decisions but come on we reached the semis, didn’t we? Was that not creditable enough, considering we never had a chance to even make it to the final four?

After the ’03 league match thumping, when effigies were burnt I was wondering what is wrong with the junta, it’s only a league match, we are not out of the cup and we have so many matches to perform!
We have seen worse losses than this.

But this time around I will not put any sort of rationale to the team’s defeat. There isn’t any to put. I’m trying to see if there are any positives, if we gave it our best, if we put up a fight. The answer to all is ZILCH, ZERO, NIL, NOTHING!
What a shameful surrender it was! Did it not remind you of the ’96 semi-final? But then there was some consolation that we had made it to the semi-final after a strong performance against Pak in the quarters. But the scripts were almost similar:
  • Both times India won the toss
  • Both put SL to bat, in pressure games
  • Jayasurya was out early in both the games
  • Both times Silvas (Aravinda-96 and Chamara here) stole the game
  • Similar achievable targets (252then and 255 now)and a similar collapse…

Sigh too much of a Déjà Vu and that too at an early stage in the WC!

I dunno where to begin actually. Sure it was a great batting pitch in the second innings but it was not a pitch where we could bowl the opposition under 200 after they are put into bat first. We do not have the bowlers to do that. Though we bowled much better than we did against Bangladesh it was not good enough cause I think we gave away 20-30 runs too many at the end.

I did not see any determination in the players on the field to win the match. There was no urgency, no energy! They seemed to go through the motions as if it was another match. Yes it is only a match but your Cup future depended on it and I don’t think that realisation dawned upon them.

I feel like a fool now for having shown so much faith in the team and betting with my friends that yes they will beat SL and make it to the super 8. Mind you if this match was a do-die situation in the Super 8 or semis or finals and we had lost I would’ve been disappointed but not hurt. I would’ve known they had fought and got that far but this was shameful. You could not even put up a fight!

So 255 seemed a gettable target however I always get a good feeling if we gonna win or not and somehow that feeling had faded away when Vaas hit 14 of an over off Munaf. I kept cribbing to my husband that these last runs are not good for us and he said you are just over reacting, wait and watch.

Then I saw Uthappa and Ganguly start off, and there was nothing in their body language that inspired confidence in me that we would win. Every player who walked in had the same language. Not interested, not keen, not willing to put up a fight. Uthappa got out to a rash shot, Ganguly to one that was not needed, Sehwag the lesser said the better, I was never for him being in the team for this cup so let me not say anything more.
Time and again against SL it is a very simple ploy, play out Vaas and Murali and then its easy to tackle others. If Ganguly, Dravid and Sachin won’t last till Murali comes into play how does one expect Dhoni & Yuvraj to tackle him especially Yuvraj who dances even to a Galli spinner!

The most heartbreaking though was Sachin’s dismissal and I’m not ashamed to proclaim that I almost cried when I saw it. He did not understand Fernando’s delivery at all, he simply had no clue and out to a duck. That hurt me more than the defeat, it really did. And only the die-hard Sachin fans will understand my sentiment here.

What a meek surrender. In both the matches we lost the batsmen did not last the whole 50 overs nor did they cross the 200 mark and that clearly shows who faltered. This was a problem for us the whole of last year and we did nothing about it.

I’m not going to get into the blame game or point fingers. I could care less cause the entire exercise is not worth it. If the players are not bothered about winning I wonder why we are breaking our hearts over it?

But one word to Mr. Chappell the great. Read this in his interview on “I’m not answerable to anyone but the BCCI”
For your kindest information Mr. Chappell, first and foremost you are answerable to every Indian cricket fan in the world. If it weren’t for them there would be no money in the game, there would be no BCCI sitting on a gold mine, there would be no way your huge pay packet would come through, there would be no sponsors, there would be no players raised to the status of demi-gods, there would be no advertisements for these players to mint money. So before you make statements like that please get a grip of the game in India. I think everyone would agree with me on that you and your team are fist and foremost answerable to the Indian cricket fans all over the world and you better know that!

Oh yes and I’m proclaiming loud and clear that I’m off Indian cricket for sometime now. Not cricket mind you, only Indian cricket. Aus, SA, NZ, WI have given me enough to cheer for them in this WC so if anyone wants me to go off cricket that’s not happening as long the game is being played well. If India does not want to do it why should I quit watching the game. I’d rather they quit playing it!

So before I end, now it’s time to pray for Bermuda’s win and whole lot of prayers will go into it. But as for me I’ll pray that Bangladesh wins cause more than India they deserve to go to the Super 8. And if Bermuda wins, the Indian team, if it has an ounce of dignity and self-respect left, should allow Bermuda to proceed to the Super 8 cause we definitely don’t deserve to be there!
Do that and yes I’ll be proud of you.

You were never unlucky cause you never gave it your best. This post would’ve never happened from me if I felt you had tried your best. You know it in your hearts you simply did not!

This will be hard for me to forget but not for the board back home. There are talks of a major overhaul. Who will they drop? Dravid, Saurav, Sachin, Dhoni, Sehwag, Yuvraj? None, they could not drop Sehwag after 2 yrs of pathetic performance they don’t have the guts to drop any one of the above. They will land up sacking Irfan, Shreesanth, Uthappa, Kartik, Agarkar (the perennial scapegoat). There will be no major overhaul and things will go ahead as before.

Don’t expect a thing! That is the sad story of Indian cricket!

P.S: And on another note….GO Bangladesh!! Praying hard that you all win.

Monday, March 19, 2007

A Shocking Beginning…

On seeing the WC schedule I had thought to myself that I can relax the till the super eight stage cause the first round seemed a waste of time to me with unknown teams like Ireland Bermuda, Netherlands( sure they played the last cup but who remembers!),Canada, Scotland being involved in the WC.
Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties a saying so well-known it’s almost cliché to use it now! But time and again this saying is proved right and this time the little minnows were the ones who proved it right. I can bet my life not one cricket fan would’ve predicted Pakistan’s ouster in the first round, not one die-hard Indian fan would’ve expected defeat in the first match against Bangladesh and not even the Bangladeshi supporters would’ve expected their team to beat two big guns back to back. NZ in the warm up and India in the first match of the opening round!!! No one and if someone tells me he or she did they are lying through the roof!!!

Pakistan’s ouster was a shocker and I’m yet to recover from it. No WC is good without an India –Pak tie and yes I wanted to see my team keep their WC record intact of being unbeatable against Pak. It was definitely not their best side that they have fielded for the cup and Asif-Shoaib would’ve made hell of a difference. But to be not able to get past Ireland was tough to digest. As much as the batsmen should be blamed for the loss I must give it to Ireland for pulling an incredible performance in both the matches. No one thought they would win but as of now they are leading their group table! First the tie against Zim and then a victory against Pak. They sure have the made the entire cricketing world sit up and take notice of them. And honestly I was seeing the highlights I liked that guy Neil O' Brien. He single-handedly tackled the Pak attack with confidence. Good footwork and solid shots. They sure have a long way to go but this man did make mark!

Australia, SL and SA started off in pompous style much to our expectations and Gibbs’s sixes against Netherlands sure brought a smile to my face. It’s not against the best cricketing nation but a record is a record and with so many non-test playing nations involved these will come abound. But what the heck savour it! It does not come often and whether against top class or bottom class teams six 6s in six consecutive balls is no mean feat; proven by the fact that it is the first time in international cricket. Sobers and Shastri hold the record in first-class fixtures, so give the guy some due

I loved the way WI won. They were really struggling but having seen them hit 230 odd from 3 an over in the 20th over, I told my husband that it seems a good total to defend on a slow pitch and I’m glad they proved me right. Pakistan can only blame themselves for both the losses.

And coming to my dear team India, I felt like a fool when people asked about our chances and I proudly said yes I see them in the final four. I would still like to stand by it. Considering our record against SL in the recent past, I actually feel we can win. As for the match against Bangladesh, the lesser said the better. The batting is clearly a problem and as much as Sehwag has got a century as I’m writing this article I still feel he will struggle against the better attacks! The batsmen got to get their act right and yes if someone is near the team can you please pass on a message to our bowler that an offside- middle stump line exists when you bowl. They only seemed to see the leg-stump! How they miss the basics often really surprises me.
The only positive so far is Saurav Ganguly. I so wanted to write since his comeback that his batting and attitude has been refreshing. That is exactly what I wanted of him and a little late but it has come at the best time. He is old self and seems to enjoy his batting. He is relaxed, his feet are moving well and he is confident. There is no clutter in his head and things are clear. Batting like a dream, now only if he would continue throughout the innings and not give it up the way he did against Bangladesh.

While on India, ‘Inconsistency is Thy Name’, as my husband always puts it! Bowled out under 200 against minnows now they thrash Bermuda to get a WC record of highest runs in an innings! It is possible only with us in back to back matches!
The latest match has been halted by rain as I write this. Why am I not surprised? One, because rain gods have never favoured us, and second, we did bring it upon ourselves to this situation. So if this is a washout with no reserve day in place India will bid goodbye to the WC and then I’m left wondering for commercial reasons this WC will be in a soup! No Pakistan, no India it’s not a good thing for the WC organisers!
But Tendulkar entertained, and so did Yuvraj, but sending Dhoni and him ahead of Sachin. Not done, simply not done because the little master is in a good nick! Sometimes I feel we leave our brains behind in experimenting unnecessary things. Too much of anything is not good and India better realise that sooner than later!

Apart from the all of the above the most rude shock of the WC, Bob Woolmer’s Death. A fine, fine coach and I was completely aghast at the news. That it came one day after Pak’s ouster leaves me wondering if the pressure and stress got to him. The cricket world will miss him; the teams will miss him the most. He had so much to offer to the game in him. May his soul rest in peace.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The End of My Era....

Long hiatus, no explanations just that setting in to work and this city did take my time off from my writing! No promises to keep this going regularly but yes the world cup will get me writing more frequently than before!

The world cup begins today. Sadly the opening ceremony will be missed due to the unearthly timings of the telecast. My interest in the ODIs is going down day by day, thanks to the growing predictable and uneventful nature of the matches involved and the WC long format is not going to help my case either. However seeing the performance of the some of the teams in the last month I sure am not placing my bets on the winner right away. That could make up for another article!

So before I go onto preview matches and predict winners, here is the real reason for writing the article. In ’91 when I started watching cricket, taking serious interest in it, catching the old matches missed on all possible channels, I saw a whole lot of players emerge and become reckoning forces in the world of cricket. Seeing their amazing displays on the field, the thought of them ever quitting the game never struck my mind. It still does not, despite the fact being there right in front of my eyes, I just turn a blind eye to it.

They were players from my era! Having seen them play for the last fifteen years. I saw my friends have crushes on them, I remember making fun of them for not understanding their game, I remember having long debates and discussions with the guys over who is the better player and who was not playing upto his potential, discussing their awesome display of talent time and again.

They excited, they enthralled, they entertained, they charmed, they made me smile! The game will not be the same again. Yes it has been said before, new players have emerged and I’m not denying that better might emerge too, but these will always be special because they were one of the reason my cricket interest grew.

Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly, Kumble, Lara, Jayasurya, Inzy, McGrath, Pollock, Gilchrist, Fleming, Ponting. Cricket will not be the same again!

It still feels like only yesterday when:

  • I woke up in the wee hours of the morning to see young Sachin rock the NZ shores in ’94 blasting 84 of 49 balls when he opened first.
  • I saw Inzy being run-out by Rhodes in ’92 WC and kept wondering if he would ever create a World record for the same, but realising Pakistan had been blessed with a talent.
  • I saw a young man from the WI battle out with ease the Aussie attack and hit a masterpiece 277 to lead WI to victory. Lara won many a matches in the years to come single-handedly and I think he leads every great batmen of his era in this aspect!
  • I saw McGrath bowl super straight relentlessly time and again leading to the destruction of every batsmen who faced him
  • I was left zapped by the maddening batting display of Jayasurya in the ’96 WC who redefined opening batting in ODIs and made the cricket ball defy the laws of gravity.
  • I saw Gilchrist come at the top order and thrash bowlers all around the park
  • I saw Ponting take charge of Steve’s team and lead them to a dominating victory in the ’03 WC keeping the Aussie flag flying high.
  • I saw Kumble take the Golden 10 against Pakistan
  • I saw Ganguly dance down the wicket at Taunton and beat Kapil’s long standing record of highest ODI Score
  • I saw Dravid turn into a valuable ODI player in ’99 WC with his back to back hundreds only to end up as the best man in both matches
  • I saw Fleming’s shrewd captaincy lead NZ to an unforgettable victory agaisnt Aus from a no-win situation in the VB series 2001.
  • I saw Pollock carry his dad and uncle’s legacy ably on his shoulders.

There are many more memories of them to write about and I could go on and on. But before I end, here’s putting these blokes in a small perspective for the joy they brought this game. The next WC will surely miss:

Sachin’s Masterplay and Lara’s Faultless Display
Inzy’s Serenity and Fleming’s Solidity
Ponting’s Brashness and McGrath’s Relentlessness
Kumble’s Perseverance and Pollock’s Consistence
Gilchrist’s Bashing and Jayasurya’s Thrashing
Gagnuly’s Off-side Divinity and Dravid’s Austerity!

The next WC is not going to be the same. As much as I’m digesting the departure of the Waugh Brothers, Justin Langer, Warne and Martyn, the departure of these players as and when it comes is most dreaded!

So here is what I’m going to do, sit back and enjoy them as long as they last and hope this WC brings out the best in all of them!