Saturday, April 26, 2008

Vaaav. Whatte story!

Great read on The Senna-Mansell photo finish at the Spanish GP, 1986.
(Pic bummed off same site. Couldn't find this image elsewhere, although be honest, I didn't try too hard.)

Monday, April 21, 2008

This new cricket buzz...

The ICL series has come and gone in a heartbreaking fashion. I will of course, not mention the events that brought the series to a close. I tend to block bad memories out. (Damn and blast.)

IPL just taking off. Let's see how this goes. As of now, all I can pray for is that Shah Rukh Khan stop inviting Arjun Rampal to matches with him if he's going to act like an absolute jackass. Which is what he's been doing on both occasions so far. (Mr Rampal, what's with that hair? Were you too busy sucking up to Shah Rukh Khan to notice he finally chopped his embarrassing attempt a whiles ago? Or are you trying to oull a Milind Soman? Because that would be truly hilarious... )
And, SRK: Vivek Oberoi? Seriously?
Anyway. So the Kolkata Knight Riders are two for two, and Bangalore finally managed a win tonight. In thrilling Mark Boucher-ish fashion.
We shall watch with interest to see if all the hoopla is sustained.
In the meanwhile, Life carries on.
And Boomsa is walking a little way away from mine. To Secunderabad. Maudlin, painful, silly post to follow on that. Which won't even begin to cover it.
I mean, I know and up and left for Mumbai last December, but does that mean anyone else can? NO....
Bwaiiiii, Anupam.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Hah. Great.

ICL India beat ICL Pakistan. Hah. Schmah.

That movie they all talk about

I rewatched Casablanca the other night. I had watched it once before when I was much younger, and had come away feeling not very impressed. This caused immense pressure on my soul as an already-confused teenager. "Why," I thought, "does everyone rave about this film in the manner they do when it really isn't all of that?"
Such were the traumatic questions I subjected myself to in addition to more obvious troubles of raging hormones and finding of feet at that pivotal time known as teenagery.
So, in order to wipe the slate clean, to form a new, better-informed opinion about this hyped-up classic, I thought I should watch the movie once more, bringing all my so-called critique and knowledge of cinema to the table. I fancy myself able to spot a good movie when I see one and I know this is a hundred percent accurate because it is true for everyone. If you like a movie, it's a good movie to you. Hence proved. (But, seriously...)
So I watched Casablanca. I watched it in an atmosphere most conducive to movie-watching: Alone, with the lights switched off and no disturbances, all my attention on the acting, the music, the dialogue, the look of the film.
I watched Humphrey Bogart do his cynical Rick Blaine, Ingrid Bergman as the lovely Ilsa, the interiors of Rick's Café Américain, the whole anti-Nazi, pro-Allies thingamajig etc and all those things that I knew to watch out for and which were always repeated time and again in various reviews or nostalgic walks down the memory lanes of Hollywood.
In the end, as it was all those years ago, I came away unimpressed again. I mean, look, I've been hearing this is one of the greatest romances of all time. One of the best movies ever made. I beg to differ. It's an okay film. And that too on the strength of the fast pace of the story, a good supporting cast (esp Claude Rains as Captain Louis Renault), and some very snappy dialogue. (Again, mostly from the quarters of Captain Renault.) Also, film noir always looks slick.
First things first. I did not like Humphrey Bogart. Forget that he's ugly and speaks funny... No, wait, let's not forget that. That may be it! I think Bogey is the biggest reason I didn't like the film all that much both times. I know I didn't much take a shine to his character from beginning till the end, even when the script tried to embellish his nature with references of his gun-running to Ethiopia, his assisting the Spanish Loyalists, when he helps the couple in his casino and his final sacrificial move at the climax of the film. Bah humbug. (Which is almost a word play for Humphrey Bogart.)
I can tell you right now that I kept thinking to myself, "Ilsa, surely you can do better than this?" I mean Ingrid Bergman deserved a hotter guy. Which Paul Henreid/Victor Laszlo was. So really, no heart-wrenching tragedy when Rick says toodle-oo to Ilsa. (Matter of fact she didn't seem too hurt about it either.) The thing is, in a movie touted to be a great romance, you'd ideally want the lovers to be together. Whereas in this case, I was gunning for the lady to run off with anyone else or at least stick to her dishy husband without so much as a glance in Ugly Bogey's direction. 'Twas never meant to be. I didn't see any crackling chemistry between the two actors even in their flashback montage. And that song, As Time Goes By, didn't do it for me either. Fuggedaboutit. I will write off Casablanca as an average film with my favourite bits being the ones where Claude Rains as the oppurtunistic, slimy, yet likeable Captain Renault makes his appearances.
I can understand why Casablanca was such a big deal in its time. The film was released in 1942, when the War was at its peak. People would have probably jumped out of their seats, cheering and clapping in the scene where the La Marseillaise drowns out the German patriotic number Die Wacht am Rhein. I mean, in its time the film's anti-Nazi motif would have certainly moved a majority of the film-viewing public. But there are countless movies which convey even that sentiment better. To conclude, I watched the movie waiting for the magic of romance to take over and that never happened even once during the film. What did happen was that I was glad the leading lady took off with Blondie instead of Bogie. (I was even hoping Ilsa'd throw a few snide comments Rick's way, about how stupid she was and what was she thinking etc.)
Oh, well.
Over-rated movie of all-time: Casablanca.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

It was a Sunday I had waited for, for a very, very long time. Two days almost. I woke up at the crack of dawn, around 12:30pm, buzzing with excitement at the impending high-action drama that was to follow. High-action on the part of my favourite sports persons, not me - I was only going to be adjusting the body into a comfortable supine position most conducive to telly-watching.
Cooked a quickie pasta lunch for the Sister since she has strange food cravings every fortnight or so and simple daal-chawal just doesn't cut it. Finished Facebooking for a bit and got down to business.
I had a packed schedule to adhere to. Beginning with the Bahrain GP.Expectations ran high and there was a palpable tension in the air of the Haji household as various family members seated themselves in accordance with their F1 loyalties. Self assumed comfy left corner slot in the McLaren stand. Cousin Suhail and Br Ozz occupied opposite right corner slot, being the Ferrari faction. Sister and mother looked disgusted and left because we made them turn off 'Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani' and switched to Raceday.
Feeling glad that BMW did so well in qualifying, I put my faith in ze Germans thinking McLaren and BMW would sweep the podium. After all, two little red spots on the radar could be overcome, non? NO! Goddammit.
Lights on, lights off, Go, Go, GO! Except Mr Hamilton remained stationary, while the rest of the field whizzed past. Massa took over P1 right from the first turn and so it remained till he came home with the top podium place. Iceman Kimi made it a comfy Ferrari 1-2. Sigh. Hamilton added to his already incredible start by trying to mount Alonso's Renault from behind (see pic)! What was this? Delayed vengeance for last year? Gadzooks! Ferrari had a thumping victory, BMW walked in tall and proud to take the lead in the Constructor's and all of a sudden Self was feeling very hard done by. Good on you, Heikki, but McLaren's been looking dodgy in these past two races.
Moments of the race:
1. The start that ended it all.
2. Impressive BMW driving and speed throughout.
3. Hamilton's screw-up with Alonso. ("Racing incident" indeed. Hmmph.)
4. Superb driving from Fisichella in the Force India team, and the great battle between him and Hamilton for three or four laps before Hammy finally managed to over take him. And really, Lewis, there was no need for your juvenile hand gesture to Fisi. Why the hell should he have moved? You were racing.
5. The Button and Coulthard tussle.
6. Fisi finishing one place ahead of Hamilton. Haw haw.
7. Superb racing by Alonso, again.

Other exciting occurrences during that evening were extraneous to the actual race. A sudden shriek from the materfamilias jerked our attention to the fact that the inverter was spontaneously combusting and that disturbing smell of burning wires was spreading through the domestic territory. In addition to this, and for dramatic effect, thin wisps of evil, black smoke were emanating from said inverter. In a frenzied manner, all of us family members started yelling our opinions on the matter and speculating on the best method to combat this hazardous phenomenon of flaming electronic devices. For a longish time nothing of any actual use was proposed until better sense prevailed and it was decided to nip the problem in the bud. Or plug. We used our 'kaanoon ka lamba haath' personified by Ozz, who stood on tiptoe on a chair, grappled with the main switch and finally managed to kill the inverter. With the result that all the power in the house was also killed. Hence ending our mouth-agape-viewing of the Bahrain GP. Truth be told, I didn't give a bloody damn any more. I learnt soon, from various taunting texts and jibes that Ferrari had reigned supreme and McLaren indeed 'had gone red in the face'.
*Shakes head*
Cut to an hour later, helpful electrician had restored power and semblance of sanity to household and the TV was ready to entertain us again.
Onwards to Hyderabad where the second of three ICL finals was taking place. With great enthusiasm, the entire Haji family plus Cousin Suhail forgot past divisions and sat down as one to cheer on the Lahore Badshahs. The Lahore Badshahs had to win, 'and of course they will today!' was the general consensus.
Nyet. Nothing doing. Scores level in the last over. Both teams at 130, and the match was to be decided by a bowl-out. Ha ha, say the Hajis. The Pakis are so good at bowling, it's a cinch. (I myself was having internal, horrified flashback of T20 India-Pak bowl-out...) And so it went. The Hyderbad Heroes kept their heads at a time they needed to. Their bowlers did what presumably all bowlers across the world, from indoor drawing-room cricket, to gully-cricket, to net-practice to international level cricket bowlers are supposed to do, viz. hit the stumps. The Lahore Badshahs screwed it all up in the end. Zero out of three hits. The Heroes got a healthy three out of four hits and it was all over. Poor Inzy, having to apologize over and over and over for his team's infuriating performances. Ah, well, still can't help loving them. 'Hai jazbaa-e-junoon toh himmat na haar' etc.
Saving grace: Abdul Razzaq won Man of the Series, a trophy woth Rs 1 crore and a cheque of Rs 40 lacs.
In the meanwhile I learnt that ManU had just barely drawn with Middlesborough, giving Chelsea a very good chance to take the top spot of the EPL. Grrr. Rooney came in with a late equaliser or else it was another huge upset in keeping with the day's events thus far. So now Man United are only three points ahead on the table at 77.

Later on in the night (the damn Sunday just wasn't getting over), I managed to catch Rafael Nadal lose the Sony Ericsson final, 6-2, 6-4, to Davydenko. I mean, I like Nikolay, but I wanted Rafa to win, okay???
A few hours later, in the middle of the night, Sister, Ozz, Suhail and self were playing spades. Girls versus boys. We drew at one game all after a sensational landslide victory in the first round. It was not a good feeling.

All in all, this Sunday was a write off. As Skinny rightly mentioned, I was in a 'talk to me and I'll kill you' mood.

Pics stolen off:, EPL site, ICL site, espn

Friday, April 04, 2008

Guess who's coming to town?

One of my favourite bands in the world - Indian Ocean. Here they be, sitting around, chatting pleasantly like a group of mellow gentlemen.
First heard them at Vasantahabba 2002, back in the good ol' days when such things used to be. Boomsa and I were the only leftovers from our overnight group of revellers and Indian Ocean were the closing act for that year. They played just as dawn was breaking around us at the very gorgeous Nrityagram amphitheater. Wowza, I was immediately smitten.
Am specially besotted by the bassist Rahul Ram. He is a little bit of too-cool. I think it's the beard and Commie headband. Not to mention the insanity. Check him out in this video, Bandeh, which was on the Black Friday soundtrack.

These guys are raw, earthy energy on stage. They're playing tomorrow at the Grand Ashok and I mean to be there. Wheee! It's been a couple of years since they did a gig here in Bangalore (that I know of). It was at St Joseph's Commerce College. Tickets for that concert were only INR 50 and there still wasn't what I would call a decent crowd. Good videos of the band are pretty hard to come by and haven't seen their music being publicised anywhere either. They have a very word-of-mouth, hardcore fan following. Shame. Because when I say 'follow', I don't mean literally. Love them to bits when they're accessible but what good does it do them?

Here's a nice subtitled video of their song Maa Rewa. Maa Rewa being the River Narmada.


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Be a sport

Have been in a very satisfied frenzy these past few days. Sporting encounters of all sorts are making one's ho-hum life all the more exciting.
To start with, the baby rebel Indian Cricket League has gripped me by the vitals on account of a certain Lahore Badshahs being part of the arrangement. This team takes one back to the wonder years of Pakistani cricket. Led by the big bear Inzy, coached by Moin Khan, and featuring all former Pak players I love, from Azhar Mahmood, Mushtaq Ahmed, Mohd Sami, Saqlain, Imran Nazir, Naved Rana, Hassan Raza, and so on and so forth. Why these brilliances were left out of the Pak national squad no one will ever know. And Pak's current dismal form is a result. So, the Lahore Badshahs are my favourites and the Lahore Badshahs are undefeated. First semifinal tonight v Kolkata Tigers. Who are going to lose!!!
And then. There's the football that's keeping us entertained. Not the bizarre American travesty where grown men wear body armor and tight pants and carry around a strangely-shaped object that they refer to as the ball. Tell me, whence foot and wherefore ball? What is wrong with those guys? The proper name of the game should be Running-Around-Handling-Leather-Thing. Eww.
Anyway, we're talking about the English Premier League AND the Champion's League. Weekends and weekdays accounted for. Man U sits pretty on top of the Barclay's board - with the even prettier Cristiano Ronaldo creating magic with Rooney. What eye candy. What legs. What fantastic skill. I love them.
Last night's Arsenal-Liverpool match was a ripper. Shame about the 1-1 draw, but Gerrard is really something else. What a game though! PS: Hleb should have been given a penalty, but the referee was really too far off and at a weird angle to see what went down. Hah. Bollocks! He was about ten yards away and had a ringside view, damn him!!! In a fair world, the final scoreline would have read Arsenal 2-1. "Fly Emirates!"
Onwards now. The Bahrain GP action starts tomorrow in the practice sessions. Hope floats on McLaren. Praying certain other teams go RED in the face after retiring/crashing/injuring pit crew and having mechanical problems.;) And that BMW continue their surprising good form. So far it's a McLaren-BMW one-two on the Constructor's. *stands up and applauds German engineering*
A little bit of tennis going on as well. Great Nadal-Blake match last night at the Sony Ericsson Open in Florida. Rafa looked down and out till the middle of the second set and then.... VAMOS! He was back, and took the match decisively in the third. Roddick-Fedex coming up too, though that's almost certainly going Fedex's way (however much people make a fuss about Roger losing his edge, that chink in his armour etc). To put things in perspective, Andy has lost 15 of the 16 times he's played Roger. Also, Serena-Kuznetsova match today. Serena, by the way, annihilated Justine in the quarters. Wha-hey!
Trivial Trivia: Uber-cool Boyd Tinsley of DMB (the violonist, duh) spotted several times at the Open.

Then. What else?
Oh, yes. The domestic sports scene. Since my brother Ozz is done with his II PUC exams, him and me make a formidable twosome as we head to the gym every night in our sports gear. We engage in great duels across a table-tennis table. It has to be said that Usman runs me over, destroys me, dances over my remains every night with cringe-inducing scorelines along the lines of "21 to nothing". That's number of games, not points. I have taken him to deuce only once. And have reached 18 or 19 on occasions I can count on the fingers of one hand. *Blush* Anyway, I don't care about that. "We play the game because we love it!" I mean to say, I really don't mind losing to him. I'm a loser.
On the bright side, you should check out my muscles now. Glutes that would make a sit-up champion envious. Streamlined calf muscles and biceps. Happy ache in tricep area. Working on abs and only time will tell. Love handles are fast disappearing. (And when I inhale deeply and hold my breath, I look quite something!)

And the movies I've been watching! Ruthie is my movie dealer. She has a kickass DVD rental shop near her digs and I go and get the latest movies from there. Plus she has her own sources for getting me unheard-of but very good Korean, Thai and other foreign language films. I'm on to a good thing here.
Acquired The Sea Inside yesterday, which is quite old. Must go watch now. Javier Bardem beckons.