Indian Premier League—Team Reviews

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With nearly one third of the IPL games over, it was time that I thought I wrote little reviews/assessments of the individual franchises. Though Twenty20 appears at first sight to be a game of brainless slam-bam, a second and a third look reveals that there is strategy, team-building, intense professional pride and more than a bit of character and man-management at play. Not to speak of booty shakes, pompoms, hugs and slaps.

[Warning: Long post]

Chennai Super Kings: Having gone for team balance with an eclectic mix of superstar foreign players in both the batting as well as in the bowling department, Chennai Super Kings are deservedly at the top of the table and are clearly the title favoritea.

With an uber-attacker in Hayden, a solidly spectacular presence in Michael Hussey, a reliable batting backup in Stephen Fleming (retired and hence guaranteed to play for the entire season) to exciting all rounders like Jacob Oram and Albie Morkel (dubbed the new Klusener), a tearaway (Ntini) and the greatest off-spinner of all time (Murali), Chennai Super Kings are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing foreign imports for their team.

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Fool Aur Chanta —Snippets from IPL

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Snippet 1: Thanks to the IPL, the concept of nation-state is perilously close to collapse. If people were stunned a few days ago seeing the Jaipur crowd booing Sreesanth for giving verbals to “local boy” Pakistani Kamran Akmal, today things took an even more dramatic turn.

Civil war became a real possibility as Punjabputra Harbhajan Singh gave Sreesanth, representing Punjab Kings XI a resounding slap, the likes of which have not been seen outside the sets of Kkusum or Kasauti Zindagi Ki. While reports that Bhajji slapped Sreesanth ten times, (nine times in slow motion with ominous music in the background) upon which Sreesanth said “Yeh thappad ki goonj mujhe yaad rahega, Obnoxious Weed” could not be confirmed ,what however is beyond doubt that “uber tough man” Sreesanth, upon being hit by the doosra, started bawling Nirupa Roy style.

[Video Link]

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The Gold Plated League Begins

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“I have never seen 18 girls on stilts” says a visibly excited Robin Jackman (he may have seen seventeen it seems) ,a part of the commentary team on “Extraa Innings”.

Ajay Jadeja speculates on the whereabouts of Laxman Sivaramakrishnan who has mysteriously vanished into the night during a cheerleader routine.

Rameez Raja, his hair dyed as black as the ashbuds in front of March, can barely conceal his glee at the overall proceedings.

The Washington Redskins cheerleaders, clad in yellow sports bras and hot pants, strut their stuff as the camera goes wide angle taking in a shot of Sharad Pawar framed by the ample derrières of two fetching women. With so much flesh around (both the Red Skin’s as well as The Power’s) one barely notices the absence of Extraa Innings’s iconic Mandira Bedi.

However the biggest boob is on stage— IPL supremo, our very own Lalita bhabi, the official Indian cricket-bhagya-bidhataa, rambling on and on, wallowing in his self-importance.

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U Me Aur Hum—the Review

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It was 2002. Stonybrook. I was watching the Ajay Devgun-Sonali Bendre starrer “Tera Mera Saath Rahen” in a company of raucous graduate students as part of “Baatcheet”, a mix and greet that the Indian Graduate Students Association there used to hold. The movie had a serious theme– that of Ajay Devgun trying to cope with the responsibilities of raising a physically and mentally challenged brother. However, with myriad side-plots, issues and songs that arrived with the regularity of pop-ups at a porn site, “Tera Mera Saath Rahen” induced more derision than empathy from the audience. When Ajay Devgun, at one point, shouts at his brother, who has a bed-wetting problem, something on the lines of: “Tang a gaya hoon main tumhare susu saaf kaarte kaarte” (I am sick and tired of cleaning up your pee), there was more than a few snickers. Now lest people think us heartless, let me say in our defense that it was not the situation but the way that Devgun delivered the line that made the audience, which I should say was bored out of their wits, react so.

For me however the moment of the movie came towards the end of the movie when Ajay Devgun, under pressure from his girlfriend, sends his brother to an institution and starts regretting the decision.

In a supposedly heart-wrenching scene with a sad song blaring in the background he wakes up at night, looks at the bed, realizes his brother isn’t there and starts crying.

At this moment of pathos, my calm was shattered, not unpleasantly, by one of the insensate grad students commenting: “Abh usko pata chala ki un dono main bistaar pe kaun susu karta tha” (Now he understands which among those two actually wets the bed).

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Race—the Review

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What if “Mohabbatein” had a twist in the end with the twist being that the Shahrukh Khan character had actually fallen in love with Amitabh Bachchan and that Aishwarya Rai committed suicide after she stumbled on them making love? What if it was revealed at the end of “Kuch Kuch Hota Hota” that Rani Mukherjee had actually faked her own death just to see if Shahrukh Khan actually meant it when he said that people fall in love once? What if “Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge” had ended with Kajol extending her hand and Shahrukh Khan twisting it in such a fashion that she fell on the railways lines and got run over by the train with the camera moving to a last shot of Mandira Bedi, sitting in the train, smiling?

Twists are inherently a good thing—-at least it would have made some movies, like the ones above, more interesting. Multiple twists aren’t bad either. But for twists to work, they have to come at a moment you least expect them to. This is what “Race” seems to forget—in trying to make a movie with multiple twists, the director duo Abbas-Mastan cram in so many twists that the arrival of a plot kink elicits as much surprise as the start of a song in your average Hindi movie.

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Of Torches, Tibet and Shakti Kapoor

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Should Aamir Khan run with the torch? Or shouldn’t he?

A lot can be said of Aamir Khan’s rather ingeniously hypocritical blog-post where he basically repeats the done-to-death moral equivalence of Kashmir, Palestine, Tibet and all the “human rights abuses” of the world, while not forgetting (and this is where the ingenuity lies) to throw in the plight of Kashmiri Pandits as a counterbalancing afterthought (as if that too is somehow an example of state-sponsored atrocity). Similarly B Raman’s open letter to Aamir Khan, correct though its central theme of how India and China differ in their reaction to dissent, can be criticized as introducing a rather tortuous “Muslim” angle —that being that the reason why Aamir Khan and Saif were asked to run with the torch was that it would be interpreted as an endorsement of China’s policies by “widely-respected Muslim personalities”

The truth, as most of us all know by now, is that Coke and Lenovo (not China or India directly), two corporate partners of the Beijing Olympics, have chosen their brand ambassadors Aamir and Saif Ali Khan respectively to run with the Olympic torch. That’s all that the torch-carrying ceremony is—an advertisement opportunity for the corporations and an obligation-discharging one for the stars on its payroll.

In other words, principles ko maaro goli. It’s all about dollars, cents and thanda matlab Coca Cola.

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A K Hangal Forever

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According to urban legend, A K Hangal, also known as the great grandfather of the nation, is the reverse Peter Pan. If Peter Pan was the boy who never grew old, AK Hangal is the old man who was never ever young.

That’s because for almost 40 years now we have seen A K Hangal essaying the role of the sympathy-inducing, doddering old man, his expressions and demeanor unchanged, as if eternally frozen in time.

How eternally I did not realize till I saw this picture in Rediff and its caption.

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