Wednesday, December 31, 2008

End of an Era ?

Yesterday was a remarkable day in the history of world cricket. South Africa exposed the weaknesses of Australia to the hilt and in the process defeated them in the home series for the first time in the past 16 years. I could not watch the chase as I woke up late and learned from Cricinfo that South Africa had already won.

South Africa were in very bad situation in both the tests and with unmatched fighting spirit, they overcame all odds. It was a sensational result considering how Australia used to beat other countries like this over the past decade. In my opinion, Australia had begun their steady decline from the top when India challenged them a year earlier. Now, is has more or less led them to be the third best in the world.

One salient feature of the Australian team in the past decade was that they had players like Steve Waugh, Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist, and Ponting who could turn a match from any adverse situation. The lone survivor is their present captain, Ricky Ponting. He tried his very best as a batsman to avoid defeat at Melbourne, yet he failed as a captain with his weird strategies. Though he lacked the best personnel for the job, part of the blame has to be shared by him.

On the other hand, South Africa are truly the No 1 side in the world at present. Graeme Smith has lead them to a sensational win in the same manner as Dhoni had done 2 months earlier. All the 11 players as well as their bench strength is very strong for South Africa. It was evident in the way JP Duminy batted on the 3rd day of the Melbourne test. They have the best bowling line up comprising Steyn, Ntini, and Morkel backed up by Kallis and Harris.

South Africa will become No. 1 in the world officially if they defeat Australia at Sydney. I certainly feel that they can do it considering Australia has serious injury problems to Lee, Symonds, Watson, and Clark. For Hayden, it is going to be the last chance to make his claim for Ashes. He is a real fighter and it would be interesting to see how he approaches this match.

Irrespective of how the Sydney test goes, South Africa are the best in the world now and have deservedly stunned the world by defeating Australia in Australia. I just hope that other countries follow them and inflict more defeats on Australia which would do the test cricket a world of good. Next year 2009 is going to be great for test cricket as many countries are serious contenders for the top spot.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Ghajini (Hindi) - Review

Aamir Khan's Ghajini released today worldwide. I could not help but watch the movie today itself though I have seen Ghajini in tamil many a times. The primary reason being Aamir Khan who puts a lot of effort in each movie he acts. I simply loved watching his movies like Sarfarosh, Dil Chahta Hai, Rang De Basanti, Taare Zameen Par, Andaz Apna Apna, Lagaan, etc. I wanted to see the movie just for Aamir and of course, Asin, who gave a great performance in tamil version. Also, I liked three songs of Ghajini by AR Rahman.

I saw the movie in Huma Big Cinemas today afternoon as my friend Deven Patel got me the ticket yesterday. One problem with the tamil version was the last 30 minutes which was quite amateurish. That has been corrected in the hindi version making the movie even more slick. Technology is superior in hindi version with more concentration on details. Overall, it is a complete entertainer.

Aamir has given a stunning performance and he lives the role of Sanjay. One cannot compare his performance with that of Surya as both are equally good in different aspects. Asin has also done a great job with her role. Jiah Khan is far better than Nayantara, who did the same role in the tamil version. The villain Pradeep Rawat is also quite good. The camerawork and the locales are excellent. The songs also fit into the narration far better than the tamil version.

I really enjoyed the movie a lot and I am sure that it would become a huge hit. I recommend this movie even to those who have already seen the tamil version.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cricket and Terror

I was over the moon yesterday as I could sparingly watch the spectacular chase by India against England. I was doubly delighted as Sachin was extremely relaxed and his century was another gem. India played well as a team and achieved what only West Indies some decades back or Australia some years back would have achieved. We are certainly on the path towards greatness, no doubt about that.

I was not that interested in watching this match at the start as I was feeling that it was needless to stage this match after the terror attacks in Mumbai recently. But, this match proved to be a good diversion for at least the silly Indian news channels as they marginally reduced the amount of rumor they were spreading about the terror attacks.

Terrorism in any form is not to be tolerated to any extent. The recent happenings in Mumbai are a warning to all Indians to unite against terrorism across the border. As Sachin himself said, this test match gave mild relief to many Indians who were upset with Mumbai terror attack.

Having said that I strongly feel that India must immediately shut down all ties with Pakistan including cricket as there is now ample evidence for Pakistan's involvement in the recent attacks. There is no need to play cricket, or any other sport for that matter, with a neighboring nation having ulterior motives and the nation which keeps breeding terrorists in their territory especially PoK. I would be disappointed if the tour goes ahead due to the constant lobbying of BCCI.

I am very disappointed with Sri Lanka's offer to tour Pakistan if India pulls out. I did not expect that an experienced cricketer like Arjuna Ranatunga, who is now heading Sri Lankan cricket, would take such a decision compromising players' safety for money. As another country fighting against internal conflicts themselves like India, they should have been bit sensible and should have stood with India in their fight against terrorism.

The present test match between England and India provided great entertainment as both the countries are strongly opposing terrorism in any form. A Pakistan Vs Srilanka test match will be of least interest to anyone in the present scenario even if it produces great cricket.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho - Quick Review

I just completed reading the book "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho. It is a very well written novel about the journey of a shepherd boy towards a treasure. The author has given lot of emphasis about the obstacles he faces and the help he gets along the journey. It ends with how the boy attains his treasure with the help of the omens and some persons he meets along the way.

Anyone can relate the incidents in the novel to that of their travel towards destination in personal life. The book is written in a very simple language and provides lot of insight into the life lessons to be learnt. I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this amazing book. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in meaningful fictions.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Monastery, Sanctuary, Laboratory: 50 years of IIT-Bombay

I had the opportunity to attend the book release function of "Monastery, Sanctuary, Laboratory: 50 years of IIT Bombay" by Prof Rohit Manchanda at Crossword, Kemps Corner on Oct 6th. It was a very interactive session presided over by Alyque Padamsee. Many professors of IIT Bombay including the present and past directors and deans attended the function. Many alumni of IIT Bombay who had contributed to the book narrated their experience in detail whenever Padamsee read the relevant pages from the book. It was a great evening to remember. An account of this function is provided at IIT Bombay homepage.

I am yet to read the book. I plan to write a review of the book once I do that.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Vaaranam Aayiram - Brief Review

I went to see Varanam Aayiram at PVR Mulund two weeks back. Though the reviews for the movie were not that great, I went to see this movie as I liked the songs very much. Here, I could watch the movie without any cuts. Here is a very brief review of the movie.

There are many positives in this movie. The songs are shot extremely well which along with nice music are a treat to watch on screen. Acting is top class from all the lead actors especially Suriya. Dual role is very nicely performed by him. The first half is very fast and entertaining.

The main problem with this movie in spite of all these positives is that it lacks an original script in the second half. Many scenes are borrowed from popular movies like Autograph, Thavamai thavamirunthu and even Lakshya. The movie moves at snail pace after the interval testing the patience of the audience to maximum level.

This movie has all the best ingredients except a good script. Hard work put forth by Suriya and Harris Jayaraj sort of goes waste due to bad screenplay by Gautham Menon. However, this movie is lot sensible one than many other mass masala craps which are flooding tamil cinema nowadays. One can definitely go and watch this movie just for Suriya's performance and Harris Jayaraj's great music.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Ghajini (Hindi) - Music Review

I just listened to all songs in the yet-to-be-released hindi movie, Ghajini. Here are my comments on the songs of this movie tuned by AR Rahman.

1. Guzaarish - This song sounds great. With great humming by Sonu Nigam and vocal by Javed Ali. But I could observe that this song is ripped off from one of the Rahman's earlier songs called "Ennai Kaanavillaiye" from the Tamil movie called "Kaadhal Desam". Both the tune and beats are recycled from this song. Yet, it is a pleasant number with great visuals.

2. Kaise Mujhe - Excellent Melody with nice vocals by Benny and Shreya. I simply love this song and it is my caller tune now. I could not get the lyrics fully though I liked the premise.

3. Behka - Decent song which remembers me of Yun Hi Chala Chal from Swades. Karthik's vocal is good. I did not like this one much. Visuals are good in the promo.

4. Lattoo - It is a fast song by Shreya. A feel good number.

5. Aye Bachoo - I did not like this song after listening once. No comments.

Overall, the album is a good one with a great melody song similar to Tamil movie Ghajini which had Suttum Vizhi. It is worth listening to this album.