Monday 17 November 2008

Vaaranam Aayiram - THe Insomniac's review


"De, first half nalla irunthuchu da.Second half kadi". "Director second half sothapitaanda". "Padam romba slow da. Thookkam vanthuchu". And lastly,Times of India gives a rating of 2 on 5. All this was playing on my mind when I was sitting all groggy on my bed,having been woken up from a disturbed sleep. But Mario said the movie was good and definitely worth a watch. So I was willing to give VA a chance.

At the theatre, it was almost like a special screening. We could've sat on any seat we wanted. After the usual round of lame ads the movie started. Gowtham Menon is different. While Khaakha Khaakha can be called one of the best tamil movies in the Cop-genre, he gave us Vettayadu Vilayadu, tagging along the lines of Se7en and 88 minutes. With Vaaranam Aayiram, Menon is treading a path which very few directors before him had the guts to embark on. This is a movie which chronicles a relationship,one of the strongest and most complicated, the bond between a father and son, both roles,donned by Surya. Right from the start, the movie gripped my attention. The retching of blood maybe cinematic, some of you may argue, but then, Menon has to cater to all sections of the audience. The entire story is narrated in Flashback,Forrest Gump style, with the present making an appearance now and then.
The school boy. Surya really becomes the character

The first half of the movie is very light-hearted, with many an enjoyable scene featuring Old man Surya and Simran(was great seeing her back in action :) Simran rocks !!!). The bond between father and son is also not flimsy,by any scale. The father gives the son the space he needs, and sonny boy looks up to his dad for everything(including wooing his girl). The transition of the protagonist from school boy, to college punk to Mr.Romeo is deftly portrayed. And Sameera Reddy!!! Oh my God! What a woman! While most Hindi directors saw her as a show-piece, Menon gives us an endearing,shy and very pretty girl(and terror panduthanam REC Trichy. MS in University of Cal,Berkely!!!). I have to watch the movie again, for I might have missed many a detail during the time she was on screen. Had eyes for nothing else. Surya's Don Juan-like antics were enjoyable. The first half rode on the romantic escapades of father and son, Sameera Reddy and mild humour.Some witty exchanges will be lost in the B and C centres,though, as they are in English.
OMG!!!

Well,after the tragic-element is introduced, this is when the movie starts taking an entirely new shape. Surya's portrayal of his inner anguish is extremely mature. The guy gets into alcohol,drugs and what not! This is one of the areas where Menon has been accused of falling short. His loose treatment of drug addiction. But come on guys, let s go easy on this chap. I mean, here's a guy trying to do somethin different in a mediocre industry where any form of experimentation is considered a mortal sin, and here we are, judging him by the strictest of standards. Yes his treatment of drug addiction is loose. I maintain that given one more hour of running time, and Menon would have taken care of the loose ends. But how many people would be willing to sit for a 4-hour long movie?? And I cant understand how people could call the second half slow. There's so much happening(a little too much, I have to say). The hardening of Surya's character has a base (though not too strong) and his bashing up of the Delhi Gang is a bit cinematic. But at the end of the day, this is not a movie targeted at multiplex audience alone. So I forgive the director for that.
Surya returns home, more mature and with a clearer mind. He comes to know that his sister's childhood friend,played by Ramya has been in love with him for an eternity. She helps him get over the pain of his loss, and he slowly begins to reciprocate.
Meanwhile the father's health is deteriorationg, thanks to his chain-smoking(the scene where he asks schoolboy-surya not to smoke, ultimate :) ). But the old guy cant kick the habit.One fine day,Surya decides to join the army. Surya in the army,again, is portrayed as a heroic major (come on dude, a Tamil film hero needs to show some gethu! Again, menon is pardoned). The final rescue mission would have served as a superb climax for an action flick. Here again, Gowtham loses track of the numerous things he wishes to say. The man has loads of ideas, but he needs to do them in separate movies. Again, only constructive criticism here.
Surya and Simran light up the screen

Ok,now for the highlights:
1. Sameera Reddy !!!!!!!!!
2. Surya as a yester-year loverboy (yes. The 'Dad')
3. Surya as a school boy
4. Surya as a young father
5. Surya as a college punk
6. Surya as the lover boy
7. Surya in anguish
8. Surya the junkie
9. Surya the mature man
10. Surya as the sick old father
11. The father-son relationship, which is never overdone
12. All the emotional scenes, with never too much melodrama

Surya has once again proved that he is a cut above the rest. His meticulous work has been rewarded. This is one of my favorite performances by any actor. Hats off to you mate. And to Gowtham Menon, for bringing out many experiences from his own life to the screen. A HUGE thumbs down to Times of India and the other dailies which so cruelly criticised this film, which shines as a lone light in a dark mediocre film world.

Do watch this movie. It's definitely worth watching more than once.

One review which makes justice to the movie here- Between reviews by IE movie critic Bharadwaj Rangan. Do chech that out too. Excellent review...

Saturday 13 September 2008

Dr.Strangelove


I had started watching this movie on a couple of previous occasions, but didn't proceed to watch beyond ten minutes, for reasons beyond my control. So I was bent on watching it today, at any cost (came home today after a couple of months). I settled down comfortably on the chair, speakers on, and lights off.

When you are dealing with Stanley Kubrik, be prepared to be surprised. Who else can take the concept of the nuclear arms race tension between the super-powers during the cold war, and turn it into a political satire? Add Peter Sellers to the mix and there,you have the perfect recipe.Based on Peter George's novel- Red Alert, this movie adaptation is a comical take on the tension involved in the use of Nuclear weapons and Hydrogen bombs.

Jack D Ripper comforting poor Mandrake

The movie starts off as Brigadier General Jack D Ripper (nice pun!!), a guy with a malfunctioning cerebrum(and a perennial fear that them commies are out to contaminate his body fluids), orders a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union by making use of an anti-sneak-attack clause which allows senior army personnel to by-pass the chain of command and order a nuclear strike if something were to happen to the President. As per the clause, he seals off his base, and orders the airstrike batallion,teetering on the edge of the failsafe point, to launch an attack. Group Captain Lionel Mandrake realises that there has been no attack on the Prez. But Jack D Ripper locks Mandrake inside his room and threatens to kill him if he doesnt obey orders. Now Mandrake is one of the characters Peter Sellers plays, and he does this with perfection, flawlessly expressing the helplessness and intention of the Captain.

Elsewhere, in the Pentagon's war room, officials are scratching their heads to find a solution to this situation. The President - Merkin Muffley (Sellers again) is advised by Gen.Turgidson (George C.Scott with a memorable performance) to take advantage of this error and wipe out "them commies". Things get hilarious when the Russian Ambassador is summoned. Turgidson and the ambassador don't get along very well and the president tries to keep the peace between them. These scenes will tickle your sides. But the real fun begins when Muffley calls up the Russian Premier Dmitri Kissoff. If you were sniggering earlier, you will be in splits when you hear the "World leaders" talk.

Gentlemen,you can't fight here! This is the war room
-memorable lines by the president :)


Premier Kissoff warns his US counterpart about a doomsday device installed by the Soviets, which would trigger itself automatically, in case of a nuclear attack on the soviets. And there was no way to disarm it. President Muffley consults Dr.Strangelove( yep,Sellers again), a former Nazi scientist, on the feasibility of such a device. Now Dr.Strangelove is this bizarre guy in a wheel chair with the "alien-hand" syndrome who explains that such a device may well exist and advises the president on ways to overcome the catastrophe if the device is triggered.

The president orders the nearest army troops to fight their way into Ripper's fortress. We see an irony here, as the President warns the Soviet about the US' attack on them and sends his men to fight his own forces. Meanwhile, Mandrake figures out the code to contact the airplanes executing plan R and contacts the planes and asks them to head back

An exchange of dialog between Mandrake and Col.Guano

Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Colonel... that Coca-Cola machine. I want you to shoot the lock off it. There may be some change in there.
Colonel "Bat" Guano: That's private property.
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake
: Colonel! Can you possibly imagine what is going to happen to you, your frame, outlook, way of life, and everything, when they learn that you have obstructed a telephone call to the President of the United States? Can you imagine? Shoot it off! Shoot! With a gun! That's what the bullets are for, you twit!

Colonel "Bat" Guano
: Okay. I'm gonna get your money for ya. But if you don't get the President of the United States on that phone, you know what's gonna happen to you?

Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake
: What?

Colonel "Bat" Guano: You're gonna have to answer to the Coca-Cola company.
One plane is damaged by Soviet guns and it's radio gets blown. So they still carry on with their mission, headed by the Gung-ho Major "King" Kong, who, when the bomb is finally dropped, rides it like a cowboy. The movie ends with scenes of atom bomb blasts, with the symbolic mushroom clouds and all....

King Kong riding the bomb

Overall, fantastic movie to watch, if you sit through the first 20 minutes. Peter Sellers will make you crack up, whether it's by his bizarre portrayal of Dr.Strangelove, or the straitlaced Muffley, or poor Mandrake. George C Scott's portrayal of Turgidson also is extremely good. The performances of Sterling Hayden as Jack D Ripper and Slim Pickens as Major Kong also stand out.

Sellers' 3 roles : Dr.Strangelove, President Muffley and Group Cmdr Mandrake
Bottom line : Very funny movie, provided you are in the mood for it

The Insomniac's Recommendation- Do watch it! It will be worth your while


Tuesday 9 September 2008

The Ethi Experience

!! This one's a long overdue post !!

Not so long ago, Kalai called to tell me that,since Nitin had some work,he wouldn't be able to make it, and asked if I would accompany him to do a quiz at Ethiraj. I jumped at the chance(I mean,who wouldnt? :P). Then came the fun part of framing questions. He asked me to keep in mind that this was a quiz for girls, and that "We were directing a movie, and it should hold the interest of the girls for close to an hour and a half". As in any quiz, several hours of research went into the framing process. The day before the quiz, Kalai came to the hostel and we added the final touches(semi-final i should say,considering the last minute changes we made at the audi :) ). It was a long night for the both of us(but well worth the effort,as was evident the next day).

Come Wednesday, Kalai,Srivats and I started from our college at around 9. After a nerve jangling ride(for Kalai i mean :P) we reached the gates of Ethiraj. As we stood waiting outside,a policeman was eyeing us suspiciously. Thankfully Rishma arrived and saved us from any embarrassment. We proceeded to the audi and were faced with a technical problem, our pendrive was not recognised by the computer there. Fortunately,I had brought my friend's laptop along, and we made a few hasty changes and were finally ready, as the audi was echoing with cries of "Please Start". The sheer numbers in the audi was enough to make your insides bunch into knots. Add to that, the 30 odd faculty members seated at the front row...

Tis a great feeling to conduct quizzes,if ppl turn up to watch

It was time for me to get up there and get things started. After introductions all around, the quiz kicked off,the first event of the 2 day fest. I have done a few quizzes in the past, the biggest being Kurukshetra's Sci-Tech quiz(Kurukshetra is our coll's National level Technical Festival.It s pretty big). But I've to admit...Nothing equalled the enthusiastic audience present that day. The cheers from the girls was like a fantastic reward for our efforts. While, at most places, you ll be congratulated for doin what you ought to have done, here was a proactive crowd which was responding to every question and every answer. Had never seen anything like that before. The participants were also extremely well behaved and sportive. There were some quality quizzers on stage to light up the event,but the team from the Commerce department were running away with proceedings.



The winners-Khushi,Samhitha and Akshaya


And that completes the podium :)

It was a memorable moment indeed when our question on mother's milk was answered by one of the teachers in the audience. When we played the "Pehla Nasha" song, the audi erupted like a volcano. That was a moment to cherish too. Kalai then did the Buzzer round, where team 3 made a late charge which ensured them 2nd place. The laptop s battery died out as the last question's video was being played. It was disappointing, but nothing could spoil the wonderful time we were having there. Kalai then handed the trophies to the top 3 teams, but the winner that day was The Spirit of Ethiraj (err yeah. Too cliched when I read this a second time. :P). As we stepped off the stage, teachers came to us and congratulated us on our job.It was indeed icing on the cake.

But what impressed me the most was, the clockwork efficiency of the girls organising the events. It was indeed amazing, when the MC asked the audience to clear out to make for the girls waiting to watch the next event (Some sort of rotation system was followed), and the audi was empty in less than 5 minutes. Fantastic crowd management,it has to be said. The hospitality was awesome too. The light music event showcased the depth of talent Ethiraj houses, with so many teams participating. And the Retro Dance concept was amazing to say the least, with girls dressed up like boys, stealing the show. It was grrreat entertainment. The girls running the show were also very hospitable, and it was because of them that we stayed back,for we were feeling a bit out of place(I mean,3 guys amidst some 800 girls!!! Scary :P). And special thanks to Archana for getting us out of a spot of bother (:P).

The "Union" Girls behind the success of the event ! Hats off to you, gals!!

Oh and I almost forgot. We were also presented with a lovely memento. My mother liked it a lot too.(It s now adorning a wall in my home back in Erode. My hostel room is no place for something so pretty). I have to say,I am deeply indebted to Kalai for taking me along and giving me this wonderful opportunity.Thanks also to all the girls for keeping their faith in us and for the wonderful feedback. These are the things which make life what it is.....

And here, I must stop, as I bring my thoughts back to the present, as my eyes slowly drift back to the computer screen, as I painfully unscrew the pen cap to copy down the Server side and Client side programs on to my Networks Lab observation notebook.Sigh!

Until next time........

The Dream


I remember that night all to clearly. A guy from IIT - Kharagpur came to our hostel,to market their event - Kshitij. He told us about the various technical events happening there, stressing,especially, on the robotics events. He was like- "This is simple stuff,yaar. Even school students over there participate in these events". Wait a minute... There was not a single guy in the 1st year hostel who knew one damn thing about robotics, (apart from the cute morse-talking R2D2 from star wars,that is :P). After this guy left, me and some of my schoolmates,who managed to go to the same college, got together and started givin this some serious thought.
We approached some seniors, and with some partial guidance, managed to construct a simple chassis with 4 motors. But we were surprised that it didnt run. We didnt know that without gear coupling, the bot wouldnt have the necessary torque to move (an analogy- tryin to boil an egg without lighting a fire), which is a pretty lame mistake, somethin which would make us the laughing stock of fellow enthusiasts. But this was a start. We wanted to participate in our college's technical fest - Kurukshetra-07, but failed to garner the necessary basics. So we decided to attend a workshop which was to give us our first real taste of robotics. But 2 days was time enough to get only the basic info right. Robotics, in actuality requires loads of patience and practice(especially electronics).

The real turning point in our robotics-journey, was when we met the ultimate techie- Niranjit, and his friend- Darshan, whose grasp of mechanical design is second to none. With Niranjit's guidance, we started off with basic circuitry and stuff like that and were soon able to construct a manual wrestler bot, which managed to win a consolation prize at the ECE dept's symposium. I still remember those nights in Thala(Niranjit)'s room, which had barely enough space to house his bed. We would work all night,all the while bugging Niranjit to debug our circuit. This went on for quite a few months and we gained a bit of experience with autonomous bots. But sadly, we were the only 1st years in the college involved in robotics. We wanted this to change. And the seniors too,werent ready to handle another group of eager 1st years intent on disturbing their beauty sleep :P. That was when the plan for a robotics club was mooted. After several nights of animated discussions with the guys from CEG Tech Forum or CTF (our college's student technical body,responsible for organising Kurukshetra), we had a plan ready.

Take care of the club.Or else......... (Darshan's message to us :P)

I still remember that day when we presented the club to the dean, who half-listened to our impassioned description of the club's "Mission" and what our "Goals", both short term, and long term, were. He okayed it,as a part of CTF, but asked us not to expect any funds from the college. We were overjoyed that our dream had now been realised (if only,to a certain extent, though.But hey, it was something!). Then started the plans to organise classes. The club conducted several classes on robotics basics, with seniors giving lectures as well as hands on demos on robotics. The Orientation class proved to be a big hit, as students stared with wonder at the robot-videos we had compiled for them. We had huge attendance for the classes, sometimes overflowing so much that classes were held in two separate rooms. For any one to get started in robotics, kits are essential. So the idea of providing low cost kits (priced at around 500 bucks, whereas we ended up spending 2k during that workshop I talked about earlier) was what really gave robotics in CEG, a big boost.

Clockwise from left: Kokki, Seshatri, Me,
Darshan & Niranjit (the 2 thalais), Papu and Naren


The mere feeling of guiding friends and juniors taking their baby steps in robotics is so humbling and exhilarating at the same time. Me and my team mates ended up making some good friends among the juniors. The high point,really, was when the participation of CEG students at Kurukshetra touched double figures. From the days when hardly 5 people were working on robotics only a year ago, we were now at a stage where around 40 students had managed to construct working robots, which is something truly unbelievable. By the end of the year, the club had a strong base, the seniors had done their job well... It was really sad to see them leave college, as we had become very close over the 2 years.

This year, we decided to make the club an independent entity. The founders had appointed a board of final year members to the club. We managed to get a faculty advisor(a Dr.T.V.Moorthy, to whom we are very much grateful) and in Mr.George(who happens to reside in the same block as me), we found a very friendly treasurer. Despite not getting permission to market the club during the 1st year admissions, which is a sort of traditions where the coffers of all clubs swell, we managed well, thanks to the club orientations- 2 evenings where 1st years got to know about each club from the various presentations. The 1st class for the freshers went very well, and I can say many of them are hooked on to robotics. After the 1st and 2nd round of registration, we have around 250 members, which will increase as the weeks go by.

Yes. What we once thought would be a distant dream, has now taken shape.
The Robotics Club of CEG is here to stay !!!!

Sunday 17 August 2008

The Landmark Quiz 2008

Every year, the quizzers of Chennai (and a few guys from Bangalore, Hyderabad and elsewhere) gather at the Colosseum of quizzing on the 15th of August, to take part in the Landmark quiz, the most prestigious quiz in the city.As usual, it was me, Mario and N.Dinesh. ND came up with a cool team name(which i wont put up here for reasons personal :P) after several hours of brow creasing thought, hoping to fetch us the best team name :) . And as usual, Mario came by bicycle, wearing his cap,only this time, he was wearing full pants :) and not shorts. We found our seats and were sittin with another team from college, listening to some nice Eric Johnson and Eric Clapton tracks. This was also the first quiz where all 3 of us brought pens with us :|.

At 330, the man of the hour, Dr.Navin Jayakumar stepped on to the stage to kick off the landmark prelims. The landmark quiz had several novelties this year. One was the concept of an all India final, after regionals were held in Bangalore Pune, and there in Chennai, and this was to follow right on the heels of the Chennai regionals. Another big thing was the fact that the quiz was going to be aired on CNBC TV. After a few words about the sponsors, Dr.Navin started off with the prelims. There were some anticipated questions, like the "Maximum Khel Ratnas for which sport"(the answer being shooting), some Independance day trivia, a question on the late Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw, The Kungfu Panda question, and yeah Kuselan. The last question was a video , where we had to identify the child artist(Imraan Khan). This one, we wrote the answer even before the question was put up,due to 2 reasons - 1.Instinct and 2. We didn't have too many options to debate about :)

Overall, the questions were very good, interesting to everyone in the audi. There was one question- geometrical term for an egg shaped curve, for which, after some high funda thought, we answered- lemniscate, while the actual answer was given by a 6 year old, who said Oval. Big bulb :) . But then, we achieved a personal best of 22 on 40. The qualifying teams were announced and there were no surprises as the usual suspects took to the stage.

Round 1 comprised of 15 questions of the infinite bounce format, starting off aptly with a question on Tamil Thai Vaazhthu. The questions,as ever, were extremely interesting and the quizzers onstage were equal to the high funda stuff that was being asked. This round was followed by a round of Buzzer questions, were teams had mixed fortunes. Then came round 3 - infinite bounce again, where a question on Sagging jeans incited some creative answers from the participants and the audience. Round 4 was the one on one which would determine the Quizzer of the day. Arul Mani (4) of Metaquizzics, Thejaswi Udupa(3)- the guy who cracks the daily questions on qfi's blog regularly,Sriram(2), Samanth(3) - know him well,one of the best quizzers around, Rajagopal(5), Vinod (2) - the mensa dude and Alagar Swami(4) battled for the title, but it went to Ravi who got 6 questions right, to claim the crown.

With that round, the landmark quiz,Chennai edition drew to a close, with QED (Samanth,Ramana and JK) finishing first and "Singh may be King, But Iyer is Higher" (Vinod Ganesh, Ram Kumar and Krishnamurthi) finishing 2nd. Since this year's edition was going to be aired on TV, it was shorter than usual, and the usual Long connects, multi level connects and floaters were missing. The quality was great, all the same.

After a short break, the National final commenced, with the winners and runners from the Pune and Bangalore editions,joining the Chennai champions. The Bangalore winners- Quizzing Gouramis (Gopal, Swami and Sumo) were actually from Chennai :). Again,round 1 was infinite bounce, the questions of higher standards. There was a question on the change in color of the yolk of the egg when boiled, one of my favorites and the last question-asking contestants to connect 2 videos (The Tara rum pum pum song and a clip from Khabi Khushi Khabi Ghum) and an audio - Polly wolly doodle (of which Dr.Navin did a replay, showing off his singing skills as well :) ) was brilliantly cracked by the Chennai runners- Singh May be King. The next round was an innovative one, where teams had to choose from topics, and as the question s read and another team goes for the buzzer, the team whose question it was, had to make an attempt, failing which the team hitting the buzzer would get a chance. A bit complicated, yes, but made things interesting.
Then came another set of infinite bounce with a very nice question about Goldilocks zones(nice funda) and Rene Higuita's Scorpion kick. The "watch the birdie" question was the pick of the lot.At the end of this round, QED, backed by the home crowd were on 90 and so too were the Quizzing Gouramis, as the teams went into the buzzer round.

In the last round, QED went for with,no holds barred, but had mixed fortunes, as they finished on 85 and Quizzing Gouramis won the quiz with 95. Singh Maybe King came 3rd. It was a great quiz, thanks to the wonderful research team and Dr.Navin's amazing on-stage presence. He is indeed my favorite quizmaster.

Overall, it was a fantastic experience. I also managed to do something useful- i noted down all the questions asked (atleast the answers). If any of you, who missed the quiz, want the prelims, mail me at pdeepak88@yahoo.co.in and i ll send it to you.

Until next time............

Saturday 16 August 2008

The Thunder Bolt


"As soon as I saw I had covered the field and I knew I would win, I was very happy and I started to celebrate."

- Usain Bolt, the fastest man on earth


A 6'5" athlete + 40 strides + 9.69s + celebrations before crossing finish line = World Record :) :)

Let s face it, the Beijing 2008 Olympics 100m dash was one of the most anticipated event of the tournament, and it did indeed prove to be one of the greatest displays of athleticism in modern times. While it was widely expected to be a 3- horse race, I doubt if any horse can outsprint the champion Usain Bolt, given his electrifying form. Tyson Gay, the reigning world champion, wasn't even in the final,due to that unfortunate hamstring injury he sustained some 6 weeks ago, despite which he clocked impressive 10.05. But that was not enough. Some 30 to 40 of us in the hostel crowded around the prehistoric television set in our block to catch the action live.

As the cameras moved across the 8 athletes gunning for the 100m gold, all eyes were on the boys from Jamaica - Asafa "The Choker" Powell and Usain "The Thunder" Bolt (terror nicknames :P, yes I have been unkind to Asafa, but he does choke at the big stage.There was another Jamaican- Michael Frater,in the starting block too). As the men started off, Bolt, in lane 7, appeared to slip slightly. For the first 40 or so meters, it was a hard race to call. But after that, came the lightning surge from bolt, as he almost waltzed past opponents,his lanky frame making graceful strides down the track. As he neared the finish line, he looked sideways, and followed it up with quite an audacious finish, arms flayed wide as if sayin- "Am I the only one running, here?" , and then thumping his chest even before he crossed the finish line.


"As soon as I saw I had covered the field and I knew I would win, I was very happy and I started to celebrate."
-the champion explaining the reason behind his early celebration


The amazing thing is, he broke his own world record(with 0.0 wind assist) despite obviously slowing down (he did this during the heats and the semis too), as if saving his best for bigger races. He could have easily broken into the 9.5 something zone, which has never been done before. One more interesting fact is that his left shoelace was untied when he crossed the finish line,believe it or not :) .

Take a closer look at the left shoe lace :). It's dangling.

Let us not forget the fact that there were 7 other athletes giving their all. Richard Thomson,of Trinidad and Tobaggo, the NCAA 2007 indoor 60m champion achieved his personal best of 9.89s (.2 behind Bolt!!), which is not too bad a time (considering Carl Lewis' one time 100m record of 9.92) and Walter Dix of the United states,the 2007 NCAA 100m champion had to come up with his best performance too, to bag the bronze clocking in at 9.91s . Asafa Powell could only manage a 5th spot with his 9.95s effort, while compatriot Michael Frater clocked his personal best at 9.96 to finish 6th. It was also the first ever race in which 6 runners broke in to the 9 point something times. But the man of the hour was the 6'5" Bolt, who is pretty much the favorite to run away with the 200m crown as well.

So for those of you who missed the action live, check this out... Sorry about the quality. This was the best I could manage at the moment. And yeah, commentary is not in English either. Watch out for the tall guy in lane 4.




Tuesday 5 August 2008

The Prestige- Review



Are you watching closely?

The first time I saw this film, I was left speechless by the sheer twists in the plot. The second time I saw the film, I was sure that this was a master-piece. The Prestige, a tale of 2 magicians, is one of the greatest contemporary movies you are likely to see. Right from the start, it grips your attention, as the movie opens with the lines-"Are you watching closely", and you better be, as there are so many sub plots in the movie, and the narration too, flits back and forth in the time-dimension. The epistolary narrative (:D a word which I ve not heard of before reading the wiki article about this movie- Epsitolary means that it purports to be a collection of real documents,diaries in this case) keeps you on the edge of suspense as each scene unfolds infront of your eyes in typical Nolan style.

Borden and Angier coming out of the Chinaman's show

Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) are small time stage hands to a magician. There developes a harmless rivalry between the 2 young, but talented magicians, which later turns ugly, duty a series of events, all starting with the death of Angier's wife in the midst of a trick, for which he blames Borden's judgment. They part ways, with Cutter(Michael Caine) taking Angier under his wing, whom he feels, is the better performer of the two, despite admitting that Borden was a superior magician.

What follows is a series of sabotage attempts by both men, as they try to run each other down. I am not gonna spill any spoilers here, as it would take away the magic of the movie. One fine day, Borden unveils a new trick- The Transported Man, which Angier acknowledges,as the greatest trick ever. He and Cutter work on a copy of the trick, but nothing satisfies Angier. He even sends his assistant to join Borden and spy on him. She gives him Borden's diary, and he starts off on a journey to America, to meet the physicist Nikola Tesla. This is another undercurrent of the movie, as it is very similar to the war of currents between Tesla and Edison.


Angier witnessing some "real magic",courtesy Tesla

Tesla sees the same obsession he has, in Angier and agrees to help him. With Tesla's contraption, Angier returns to the stage and has the audience spell bound. But his ultimate aim of going one up over Borden drives him to stage his own death to destroy the life of his rival. The movie is filled with powerful twists which will hold you spell bound. Hugh Jackman plays the role of Robert Angier with great finesse. Michael Caine, as ever, is a class act. But Christian Bale stands out with his fantastic portrayal of the often-conflicting picture that is Alfred Borden(am deliberately wording this sentence to avoid spoilers). The problems he has with his wife, the fathomless love for his daughter, the rivalry with Angier, these aspects breathe life into an otherwise dark plot. Christian Bale is definitely an actor to look out for. Watching the movie a second time bolstered my impression on Bale. He simply steals the show.

This is one of those rare movies which you ll enjoy all the more as you watch it again. The screenplay and camera work are exceptional. Christopher Nolan announced himself with The Following followed by Memento (ripped off as Ghajini in tamil). With Batman Begins, he changed the way superhero movies are made, and with Prestige, he has taken movie making to a whole new level. This is one of my all time favorites. I would recommend you to watch this movie atleast twice and please email your feedback to me at pdeepak88@yahoo.co.in.

Until Next time.....................

Saturday 19 July 2008

The Motorcycle Diaries - Review





Many will call me an adventurer - and that I am, only one of a different sort: one of those who risks his skin to prove his platitudes.

-Ernesto Guevara


This afternoon, I watched one of the greatest films I have ever seen. Having come home after barely 2 weeks in college, I was back to my old ways, ie, waking up at noon. After finishing breakfast, I switched on the TV and was surfing channels,in the hope of finding something interesting to munch the minutes away. Then, I saw the scheduler saw Zee Studio was gonna screen the film- The Motorcycle Diaries. For the benefit of those in the dark, this is a first hand account by a man called Ernesto Guevara de la Serna, in plain English - Che Guevara( the bandana guy on the T-Shirts,for the few of you out there who don't know about this great man's legacy).

Call it coincidence, but only yesterday, I was reading a biography of Che on my friend's computer. I was hooked on to his adventures and exploits, but had to cut my tryst with the revolutionary short, for I had a class to attend(Anna University Attendance Rule SUCKS!!!!!). So naturally, when I learnt that this movie was on air, I was interested. And I sure as hell wasn't disappointed one bit.

The movie begins, with a short profile of young Ernesto, a medical student at the University of Buenos Aires, his asthmatic attacks, his passion for Rugby which earned him the moniker "Fuser" and his affectionate family. Ernesto and his friend Alberto Granado, a bio-chemistry student, plan on embarking on a tour of the American continent (throughout the movie, the word- America is used to refer to South America, and not the US :| a strong statement in itself). Ernesto bids a fond farewell to his family and the 23 year old sets off with his friend who is older by 6 years, on a rickety old Norton 500 motorcycle, referred to by Granado as Don Quixote's Rosinante.

The 2 amigos on La Poderosa

Their journey takes them through the length and breadth of the continent, across country roads and towns where the economic divide is a gaping canyon. The screenplay is so fluid that you will find yourself flowing with the adventurers past the wonderful landscape of America. Gael Garcia Bernal (remember Amores Perros?) plays Ernesto with so much ease and poise that he becomes the character himself. And Rodrigo de la Serna portrays Alberto Granado with a touch of Tuco-style humor(Tuco of The Good The Bad and The Ugly) and a sort of elder brother attitude towards his younger comrade. Their chemistry also adds to the beauty of this film. Trivia- Rodrigo is a second cousin to the real Che Guevara :) . As they progress through the continent, first on La Poderosa ("The Mighty One"- Granado's bike) and later, on foot, hitchhiking, on boats and by air, their friendship is all the more evident.

The movie also showcases the transition of Guevara, from a fairly-rich adventurous youth to the revolutionary that he would become. Particularly, the scene in the Inca ruins, where he attributes the fall of the Incas to Spain, to the fact that the Spaniards "had guns". There is a romance angle as well, as Ernesto spends about a week with his lady love Chichina, and when they part, he isn't too convincing with his "I'll come back for you" line. Nevertheless, Chichina gives him 15$ to buy her a swimsuit if he ever reaches the shores of North America. Throughout the movie, Ernesto holds on to this, despite Granado's frequent requests for the money,to improve their pathetic in many stages of the journey.

At one point, the duo meet a communist couple looking for work in a mine, which marks another great change in young Ernesto's character. His heart goes out to them so much that he gives them Chichina's 15 $. The movie also depicts Guevara's frequent asthmatic bouts which would haunt him for the rest of his life. Granado's loyalty to his comrade is also very much evident throught the film. The movie is dotted with several humorous incidents which make you smile one minute, and the scene shifts the next moment, making your heart ache at the sight of the sad state of suffering poor.
Granado and Guevara hiking on foot

The major turning point of the film comes when the 2 men from Argentina make their way to a leper colony in Peru, where Granado and Ernesto break conventions with their friendly attitude towards the patients, who are separated from the healthy by the Amazon. This metaphor, of the river itself dividing the people is poignant reminder of the underlying theme of the movie. The duo manage to liven up the colony with their infectious enthusiasm and spirit. They even join the patients for a football match.

The doctors, nurses and the nuns organise a big party on the night of Ernesto's birthday, which surprises and moves the young man. But his heart lies with the suffering of the poor on the other side of the lake. In a moving speech, Ernesto proposes a toast to a Unified America. Granado noticing the sparks of change in his dear friend is portrayed wonderfully in this scene. Ernesto then goes out of the party house,to the river bank. He stands there, planning to make a symbolic last journey across the river,to be with "the people" despite Granado's futile cries that it was too dark and he has asthma. Ernesto's crossing of the river,swimming against a strong current, battling not only the water but also his asthma, symbolises the triumph of human spirit, and as he is pulled out of the water on the other side by the people of the leper colony, there are celebrations on both sides.

Ernesto and Granado set off to Venezuela, after bidding a fond farewell to the people of Peru. Then at Venezuela, the 2 friends part ways, with Granado planning on settling down in life, while his friend is about to embark on a different kind of journey. The movie ends with the real-life Granado looking at a plane taking off, and photographs of the 2 friend's actual journey through the continent.

Please donot be put off by the fact that the movie is in SPANISH. It is one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. Gael Garcia and Roberto de la Serna deliver memorable performances as they take us along with them in their unforgettable adventure. This is one of those movies which will leave a lasting impression on you, with it's well crafted screenplay, great camerawork, wonderful acting, and above all, the plain simplicity, which makes you identify with the characters and scenes in the film.

I am going with a 4 out of 5 for Walter Salles adaptation of the first person accounts of Ernesto and Granado about their adventure of a lifetime.


The Actual Route taken by Ernesto and Alberto


I know you are here to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a Man.

-Che Guevara to his would be executioner,seconds before his death

Tuesday 8 July 2008

The Insomniac's Algorithm to tackle Inflated Egos

Disclaimer: None of this content is meant to hurt the sentiment of anyone. It is just my take on how one effectively tackles the egos of his fellows,when a problem seems to be brewing. Even though at places some of the text may sound err inconsiderate on my part, i apologise. I don't intend it to be insensitive,but may be for want of a better expression I may have used something which is not that good a euphemism.

At some point of time,each and every one of us must have been a victim of the bloated egoistic rampages of our fellow Homo sapiens. Most of the time, it is a non-issue which somehow gets blown to larger than life proportions and ends up costing us something(not to mention our very own hurt-pride). Having been on the receiving end of many ego-maniacs (and sometimes, people whom I have known for a while too), i consider myself to have suitable experience on this topic,which I have decided to make the subject of my next post.

First we ll try to look at the different angles from which the problem may arise.
1. It may be a misunderstanding with a friend
2. You may have pissed off someone on the road(allegedly pissed off,that is..)
3. An action of yours may have caused the ballooning up of the ego of someone in a position higher than you(like people in govt officers, the boss dude, teachers, generally people elder than you)
4. People who are frustrated with their current position, feeling they were meant for other bigger things..

Ok. Now lets start off with No.1 on our list. Friends. Now this is a big issue, especially if that person has been close to you for a long while or has been/is a room mate in hostel. But this is the one with the easiest solution. Apologize. The fault may not be yours, but don't let your own ego get in the way of your friendship. Personally speaking, I would rather be the 1st to apologise than spend days without talking to a friend. There may be some fault on your side too, and a lot of it on his/her part, but make it a point to
BE THE FIRST TO APOLOGISE

Moving on to the next case- you are the victim of the ego of a complete stranger, a very common example of which, is in India's chaotic traffic :D. Cursing a driver who has jumped a signal and made you jump outta yer skin, or the poor pedestrian who braves the traffic in trying to cross the door,the kid with the brand new bike who seems to have a paralysis of wrist which ends up locking the accelerator at full throttle and his unawareness about a concept called brake (err i ve been guilty of this when I was a noob) and everyones favorites- the bus drivers who sometimes get a notion that they are riding an F1 car in a highway, and how can I forget the usual suspect- the lorry driver who drivers over anything-from potholes to poor dogs to the unlucky biker. On several occasions, this will make your temperature boil over. It's normal for any human being (I repeatedly request my father to fit our automobile with a wacky races- like contraption which can swat away vehicles which unnerve you :D). But the best way to handle it is,forget about it and drive on. You have better things to do. You know,I am proud of Erode being my hometown. Here, people just give you a sad smile as to say- This time you re lucky next time you may be dead,or worse, put someone else in hospital. But that look says it all. One of the reasons why I miss Erode(but more on that in another post). I would request my fellow residents of Chennai to take a leaf out of their books. Please don't stoop down to the level of exchanging discourtesies with auto drivers (discourtesies lol that s one of the best euphemisms I have come up with :) though I say so meself).


No.3 on the list is where we stand to lose the most. From several experiences in the past, as well as a very recent one where it might have cost quite a bit for me and my friend(I wont get into the details :D), I have learnt that the only way out of the mess (friends who know about the incident will notice the sad pun :| ) is- SATISFY THEIR EGO. If you feel that you need to get some work done out of that person, and some action of yours has jeopardized that notion, say for example, you are accused of some misconduct, try politely refuting the charge in your humblest of tones. I ll try to chart out an algorithm for this...
1. Keep your face dead serious (a look inducing a certain amount of pity wont hurt)
2. Admit the mistake you have been charged with, irrespective of whether you are guilty or not. For all I know, that person himself couldn't care less. It's a question of hurt pride,not logic
3. Don't think twice about saying sorry. And don't stop with just a couple either (you ll mostly have covered lot of ground if you perform steps 1,2 and 3 well)
4. Repeat step 3 (do it until terminated externally) and steps 1 and 2 for every 3rd repetition of step 3. If this doesn't get you out of the mess, go to step 5
5. Say that someone(preferably, someone whom that person has confidence in and respects. Be careful not to call someone who is not held in that high a regard by your antagonizer) can vouch for your conduct. This will mostly soothe him down. But this may backfire if that person transforms into a re-enforcement,sort of like "Namakku oru adima sikkitaan" :D .
6. After he excuses you, be sure to thank him for his mercy like an accused commoner to a king.
7. The most important, put a heavy lid on your own pride and ego,coz if you let that outta the bag, yours is a lost cause to say the least, mate. :|

If this algorithm doesnt get you out of the mess, don't hold me responsible. In many cases, you will find that you losing this battle of egos has in the end, turned out for the good, for that person will involuntarily begin to respect and like you(I know this from experience) .And if you find some other solutions to tackle this problems, i request you to post it in the comments section or mail me at pdeepak88@yahoo.co.in.

Moving on to No.4, this is the case where the person whose ego you are facing, deserves more sympathy than you would like to think. More often than not, this kind of problem arises out of frustration. It may be anyone,right from your watchman,to someone who has more knowledge than is obvious by his current position in the economic and professional ladder, an under-achieving friend, grandparents who feel they are not important any more, and so on. When faced with such a situation, take a minute to put yourself in their position and you will see the frustration which blinds them. I am not saying one should pity them. But the least we can do is,show them some respect. We can involve them in some small tasks which they feel is befitting. We can talk to them and make them feel more wanted. A kind word or two, asking their suggestion on something, this may end up making their day.

Having been on the wrong side of the ego fence on many occasions, I have seen time and again that accepting your mistake without picking up a fight, you may even end up making a good friend, or it may even be a start of a good relationship with your superiors. We may have lost our pride, but when we look back, we ll end up feeling that we did the right thing. What good will it do to you had you won the argument? Nothing, if not getting you into some trouble. As our old friend Dale Carnegie put it beautifully -

You can't win an argument, because if you lose, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it. Why? You will feel fine. But what about him? You have made him feel inferior, you hurt his pride, insult his intelligence, his judgment, and his self-respect, and he'll resent your triumph. That will make him strike back, but it will never make him want to change his mind.

Wednesday 2 July 2008

Image of the week July1-July6

Here is the first of the Image of the Week series. Each week will feature a new image, which has impressed me enough to post it. What with the Euro coming to an end and all...I just couldn't keep my self from adding an image related to the tournament. Well after much thought, I decided to go with this one...

This image edged out the one featuring Casillas holding aloft the Trophy. I mean.. it's not everyday that you get to see a 69 year old man tossed up in the air like a sack'o potatoes. :D

Tuesday 1 July 2008

What I loved about the IPL



The BCCI cashed in on India's success in the T20 world cup, by launching the IPL which was a mish mash of Kapil Dev and Zee Groups ICL and various football leagues in europe. So what did I love about the IPL?
Sorry, not the cricket. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer the longer 50over and Test versions.
And definitely not the commentary (planning on doing a post about that :P)
If not these,what else?

The Ads of course :D. Wait,this can't possibly be!!! Ads?? Err,isnt that our cue to surf channels, or go get some snacks to energize us as we watch the players sweat? Well not this time,mate.

Over the past few years, India has produced some of the most creative ads one sees on television. The IPL was a perfect platform for the ad-agencies to showcase their ingenuity (and in some cases, mediocrity) as never before. (Like, where else can you get the opportunity of seeing your ad every 5 minutes for umm close to 3 hours?).

When the IPL kicked off, I wasn't too enthusiastic mainly due to the poor treatment of Kapil and the ICL. Nevertheless I found myself sittin infront of the Television, watching the Bowlers living out their darkest nightmares (shorter format shorter boundaries... Yippee!!! if you are a batsman,that is...). My interest would often wane (but would sparked up on occasions like Bhaaji and Shortfuse-Shreeshanth's Friendly fire,if one may call it so :D). But then, I started noticing these ads. Some were very creative, others, beautiful and a few quite hilarious ones as well. So here is a roundup of the Ads of the IPL :

Well I ll start off with the Pepsi ad- The comical spoof of Akshay Kumar in that quite silly ThumsUP ad.The ad features a guy lyin in bed,after apparently getting a Vadivel-like knock (only, he falls off buildings instead of having the balls knocked out of him lol) :P and 2 cool dudes making off with his babe. This trend of pulling each others leg has been going one right from the "Don't be a Bhandhar Taste the Thunder" days :D.

Then there was this one - Max New York Life, where the wife comes running up the stairs, with shopping bags and all, and oh so naturally goes to the kitchen and starts preparing something, presumably coffee, all the while, shouting out the husband's pet name in a voice which would get her no where near playback singing studios. She runs out, finds the husband in the easy chair, head flopped to one side, cup over-turned, and her worst fears seem to have come to life. The mobile phone rings and the drops of water falling add to the effect. As she approaches him, you hear a voice which says - Without Max New York Life, misfortune can strike you at any moment (a loose translation :P). Since when do companies start threatening customers? :P lol i liked the wife's anguished cries of "Sanju Sanju", and the poor guy goes- You scared me!!! Lol who wouldnt be scared if someone's yelling your name with that kind of a tone and comes sneaking up on you when you're having some rest? Fun apart, a really powerful ad indeed. Puts the message across rather effectively. Good work by Euro RSCG

And then there was this really lame ad about Hyundai Accent, where you see this guy who seems to epitomise the Expressionless metro sexual of the corporate age, drive around in the car, whose features include err power steering steering, an ok chassis and the usual luxuries. An ad,totally devoid of an iota of creativity or humor. LG came out with ads for a new TV series labeled LG scarlet, with a model trying to seduce a TV (err i heard models are dumb, but man this is the limit). However, I came to know that it was actually a fake drive :D. More on this here

There were also some really funny ones- BigFlix.com the online rental service from ADAG, which spoofs some of Bollywood's recent films (loved the dude in helmet doing the Gar Me disco =)). There was this ad for Bingo chips, where the old man in the mad scientist get-up was trying his best to sound and to look funny, but foolish,was what it looked. I guess they were tryin something along the lines of that insane Ad Orbit white (Yellow Yellow dirty fellow;White White Orbit White- beat that). While the dentist kid and the cow in the Orbit white were super cool and brought a few smiles,Bingo falls way short.Crunchy,it may be, but the ad definitely was not.

The Sprite Kohlega Toh Bolega ad was good, with Sprite breaking up the romance. But and ad which impressed me very much, was the Crab tree switches ad, where 2 guys are discussing some business proposition, while 3 dudes,with accordion and all, and a lead singer who seemed to have forgotten his lines, doing some funny "Karramba Karramba" noises are (thankfully) muted by one of the guys discussing the deal, almost like turning a switch off, making us wish everything in life was like Crabtree switches. And the Crabtree taps ad,along similar lines,where the groom effortlessly turns on and off, the tears of his wife. Great work. Then there is that classic Havell's ad with the kid with the Dragon Ball Z hair style :)) cant help laughing. Funny music as well. The new one about havell's wires not catching fire is also very good, with a lady using it like a Kidikki

One ad I really really enjoyed was the Non-Iron shirts from Park avenue,with a series of "Misadventures of the obsolete iron". One of the best ads in recent times,courtesy Dentsu Mumbai. So much meaning conveyed in so few seconds on air :).

Ok now. Moving on to my top 3 ads...
At number 3 we have the Citibank ad with those snippets capturing many everyday events in a style reminiscent of academy award winning movies, with the music to match and the very powerful Citi Never Sleeps slogan. Apparently the wise dudes at Citi had settled on "Let's Get It Done," but the campaign fizzled after 2 months and a $30 mn campaign. Then came the Citi Never Sleeps slogan, which is a very powerful statement about the company. The words- "Your dreams are wide awake" and "That's why we work around the clock" "That's why Citi never sleeps" convey a strong message about the Company.

A nice Ad indeed




At Number 2 comes the hilarious Moto Yuva Ad, and I don't have to tell you who steals the show :D. The Dad ofcourse. We see the son,modern kid, groovin to the beats of his Moto Yuva. He gets a call from his girl and struts out some youth lingo(he seemed to be anxious to get his lines right). As he goes off,leavin the mobile behind, the curious Dad, picks it up, and starts grooving,no no doing something which looked like a cross between the Coco Bongo dance by the Mask and the Twitch of Fred Flinstone :D . I loved the part where he flips the cell open and mimics his son with that - Hey Babes, see you in 15,Ciao. (especially that 'Ciao' part) rofl. And that is capped of by that mad dance with the table tennis bat. Was hilarious, to say the least. And that part where he maintains his image when he comes under the questioning glare of his wife and that "What the!" look from his son.No words. Double thumbs up to O&M for the wonderful job on this ad.

Check out the supercool "Dad Dance"





And number 1 in my list is that beautiful Vodafone Chota credit Ad. The scared look on the girl's face as the ink runs out, the tension created as the Teacher starts collecting the answer sheets, that cute little hiccup :) ,the act of help by the extremely cool kid,(with his teeth giving Chip and Dale a run for their money) and his fantastic facial gesture, which unfortunately, I am unable to describe here.Above all, the lovely little girl, with angelic innocence written all over her face, infuses so much life into this ad, with the narrator,taking the same soft tone of the ad,in describing the new chota credit scheme. Oh! How could I forget? The melodic guitar strumming in the background, was exactly in place with the ads theme. One of the most complete ads in recent times,and one of my all time favorites. I love watching this ad, never missing it when it's on air.

Dedicated to Dinesh :D


The Insomniac speaks - 1

Sometimes, as I lie in bed, I wonder if I ll ever sleep. I stare at the ceiling as if I could wither it just by doing so. I toss and I turn,but soon get tired of the exercise. Then I find myself thinking, do I really need sleep? After pondering on it for a while, I decide- no. And I go back to my old past time of staring at the ceiling


Monday 30 June 2008

7 reasons why Man U don' need Ron to don the number 7


(Disclaimer: Some people may feel that this is a Chi chi intha pazham pulikudhe(chi chi this fruit tastes sour) type of raving, but do remember that this is only my own take on the transfer drama which has been unfolding the past few days)

When I first saw Cristiano Ronaldo a few years back, I was amazed by his skill. As the seasons went by, Ronaldo matured into one of the most lethal attacking winger in the world,under the tutelage of Sir Fergie. And for his performances for Manchester United, he deserves all the accolades he gets and may even win the Fifa World Player of the year. But of late, this transfer saga has cast a big doubt. Will Ronaldo step on to the field wearing the famed no.7 of Man United? With all the hype surrounding his future, I have a bigger question.
Do Manchester United really need Ronaldo? After a lot of thought I have arrived at 7 reasons why I don't think they really do.

1. Loyalty or in this case,the lack of it:
Ronaldo is today one of the best players in the world largely because of Sir Alex and Manchester United. Had the wise old man not taken the precocious kid under his wing,he might have been yet another one of those "immense talent but didn't materialize" footballers. But Ronaldo seems to have forgotten what the club has given him and doesnt give the plight of the fans a 2nd thought.

2. Sell when you're winning:
Manchester United may well cash in on the Golden Goose when the market price for the winger is so over-the-ceiling. With that kind of cash rolling in, United can go a long way in bolstering their squad for next season(Speaking in a purely Business sense.)

3
a.Unsportsmanly Conduct:

Yes I do have the Rooney sending off incident in mind. I don't want to elaborate more on this :|

b.Simulation-Has diving/stuntman as an alternate career option:
How often have we seen this 6-foot something lad tumble down so dramatically that he could
give some of the Hollywood stuntmen a run for their money. And he has indeed won many decisions in his favour,though referees are more cautious these days :P

This video showcases Ronaldo at his err.. best :P




4. Too selfish:
Though his layoff in the recent Portugal may lead you to think otherwise. But as the old dictum goes, Once a selfish B*****d always a selfish B*****d. And yes, this also includes his monetary reasons for seeking greener (pun intended) pastures at Real.

5.Not leadership material:
Recently he's been handed the captaincy bands of both Portugal and Man United. But is he really captaincy material? I think not. He does cut a sorry figure indeed when things are not going for him, with his theatrical dives, dissent towards the officials, wringing of hands and my favorite, the ronaldo-nauseamixedwithconstipation-expression which he sports ever so admirably.

6. Risk of making United a 1-channel team:
Ok let me start off by saying that this is not the case often, but in the future it's quite likely to happen(if the greedy boy decides to stick on,of course). As was the case with Thierry Henry in his last few matches at Arsenal, very often, you see united players passing to Ronaldo expecting something to materialise.But in the grand scheme of things, they run the risk of being too predictable, as in cut off ronaldo and United are dead. But United, of course have proved this wrong many an occassion. I am only saying that this is a risk, in the future.

7.Last but not the least, The Case of the Missing Ronaldo in Big match situations:
When was the last time you remember a standout performance by Ronaldo in a really important match? I certainly don't remember. He does enjoy toying with defenders who donot have the experience or skill to cope with him(I do admit,there are many such defenders bamboozled by Ronnie). But when faced with real quality, Ronaldo is as ineffective as a sub from the 3rd division(ok very harsh,but his performances are really pathetic). He couldn't do anything against the likes of Zambrotta of Barca in the Champions League semifinal nor could he outwit the pacey Ashley Cole of Chelsea in the final(Though his goal was excellent). Even in the Euro, Ronaldo failed to make a mark, as Portugal went down against the Germans despite initial promise.


All said and done, let me not take anything away from Ronaldo's achievement of 31 Premier league goals in a season, and that, as a midfielder. He is a fantastic player and a treat to watch, but I really think that Manchester United Fans and Alex Ferguson deserve better. He also must keep in mind the flop transfers of the past- Owen among many others Henry, who struggled to adapt to a new team and a new league.Ronaldo has quality but there is a long way to go before he becomes a truly complete player. I may have written this post criticising him, but it is with a heavy heart that I will see him leave United,but does he care one bit that fans around the world will be feeling the same way? The answer will be known soon enough, as I don't see Sir Alex letting this nonsense continue for much longer......

A round up of Euro,top moments,team of the tournament

Before the Euro 2008 kicked into pulsating action, there were quite a few incidents making headlines, most prominently, the absence of the so-called powerhouse England (people tend to forget that it has been 42 years since England won a tournament, their only Trophy so far) and veteran legends being left out of the squad(yes,Raul Gonzalez is the person in question). But once the actual event kicked off, all critics were silenced. Euro 2008 has indeed been the best international tournament I have witnessed so far(have been following intl football since 2000).
While the stadia where the matches took place were by no means up to the standard of an Anfield or an Old Trafford, this tournament broke all barriers,literally, with the rival fans sitting next to each other. Friendship between opposing teams and fans alike,has been taken to a whole new level. Except for that (very apt) chant the Germans had for Ronaldo, crowd behavior was excellent throughout. The onfield discipline was also pretty good. Referees had been given strict instructions to keep players focussed on the game rather than speaking their mind to the referee and his assistance, and they have indeed lived up to that. Not many errors were made.




Now coming to the football... Euro 2004 saw a very resilient Greek team,high on team spirit, walk away with the trophy, but it was a very dull tournament indeed. But this year was a diagonal opposite. With the Dutch,Portugese and eventual champions Spain lighting up the group stages with some of the best attacking football one has seen in a while, the quarterfinals came alight when Germany and Portugal fought a tactical battle,with Germany coming out on top. Italy and Spain played the dullest game of the tournament which ended in a penalty shootout which,surprise surprise, Spain won :D . But let us not forget the heroic displays of Turkey and the flair of the Russians. While turkey seemed to get a kick from behind everytime the opposition nets a goal, and then manage to somehow stage a remarkable 12th hour comeback, the Russians were beating the high flying dutch at their own game(you can find a detailed description of their showing here).
At the end of it all, Germany, Turkey, Russia and Spain managed to stand tall.


The semifinals were entertaining too. While Turkey tried with all their might, Germany managed to do just about enough to go through to their 2nd final in the last 4 tournaments(they do get around,dont they). In the other semi, the Russians, were outclassed by the Spaniards,who seemed hell bent on breaking off from the choker tag,which has hogged them for some 4 decades. It was heartbreak for the high flying Russians under Guus Hiddink, but greener pastures lie ahead. In the end, probably the best 2 teams managed to enter the finals.


The finals of Euro 2008 has been one of the most exciting end-to-end matches of football one has seen. Spain created chance after chance after chance, seeming content only to walk the ball into goal,much like Arsenal of the BPL. Germany too,were threatening,but never really came close to threatening St.Iker in the Spanish goal. At the 33rd minute, Torres showed everyone why he is currently the best striker in the world, as he managed to out wrestle Mertesaker and out-run Lahm to chip it above the advancing Lehman into the German goal. I tell you, only Torres could have done something like this. While his teammate Villa has been featuring in most of the headlines so far,it was Torres,who was causing the most trouble for defenders and creating chances for his strike partner(who unfortunately missed out) with his blistering pace and amazing strength.He is one guy who never goes down in a tackle too easily(unlike the Ronaldos of the world). And Cesc Fabregas has been one of the players of the tournament. With his fantastic footballing brain and immaculate passing, the talismanic arsenal playmaker can create gilt edged chances out of absolutely nothing, and it was fitting that he got a start in the finals. Marcos Senna has been the rock in the spanish midfield, plugging the holes left by his more attacking team mates. While Bastian Schweinsteiger,Germany's player of the tournament,Klose,Podolski and Ballack were trying hard to find a way past Casillas, time was running out. Gomez,who has been a huge disappointment, and Kuranyi came on, but it was only Joachim Low throwing everything short of a Kitchen sink at the Spanish goal. When the final whistle broke the electric atmosphere at the Ernst Happel stadium,it was Euphoria for Spain,heartbreak for the Germans. Finally, finally after years and years of underperforming and underachieving, la Furia Roja came out on top. A well deserved victory indeed.

Well,Here is my team of the tournament.





The substitutes would include Marcos Senna, Podolski, Lahm, Semi Senturk, Igor Akinfeev, Carlos Puyol,Sergio Ramos, Ballack, Zyryanov and Pavlyuchenko.Some of the inclusions may raise eyebrows,but kindly remember that this is just my opinion.


I would like to share with you guys,what I feel,are my top 6 Euro 08 moments:

6. David Villa's hat trick: It really set the ball rolling for the Spaniards
5. Nihat's near-death winner curling past Petr Cech: Goes to show, it ain't over till the fat lady sings(this is a favorite expression of one of my friends. Mass, you reading this? :P)
4. The Dutch trample all over the world champions Italy, putting up a fantastic display of Total football
3.Cesc Fabregas getting the winning penalty: To me,Cesc has been the star of the Spanish midfield,along with David Silva
2.Russia giving the Dutch a taste of their own medicine: The night belonged to Arshavin and the rest of the spirited Russian team led by the Golden Guus. My favourite game. :D
1. Iker Casillas holding aloft the (New)Henry Delauney Trophy: The elation on his face conveyed more meaning,more joy than a thousand words......



Friday 27 June 2008

The flying ... err Russians?

I wanted to post this before the Spain-Russia semifinal @ Euro 2008. But what the heck.. I'll post it all the same. Well the stage was set,for the Dutch to clinch a place in the semifinals,after having put on a display of attacking football of the most lethal kind. Not so long ago, the flying Dutchmen beat the world champions Italy down to their knees and the other world cup finalist France was also pleading the Dutch to stop the merciless onslaught, by the likes of the extremely talented Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie. So it is only logical to think that we were in for another showing of class from the Dutchmen against the Russians,who after the return of Andrei Arshavin in the last group match, were also playing a little enterprising football of their own. But how different it turned out to be!

Right from kick off, it was the Russians who showed more hunger and they were consistently winning the ball in midfield and were making very telling passes,while the Dutch attacks seemed to crumble as soon as they started. A Yuri Zhirkov free kick was well saved by Van der Saar. Zhirkov has been one of the revelations of the tournament. While everyone was expecting the likes of Van Der Vaart and Van Persie and Robben to be flying along the wings,it was the Russian full backs- Zhirkov and Anyukov who lit up the wings with frequent surges into the Dutch half. Zhirkov has arguably been the best fullback of a tournament which features the likes of Philip Lahm and Sergio Ramos.

But the player of the night was Andrei Arshavin, the man who ensured Zenit St.Petersberg left Manchester with the UEFA cup,taking it to Russia for the 2nd straight year, was in formidable touch. After destroying Sweden with his inventive passes and incisive runs, Arshavin was orchestrating the Russian attack. The Dutch simply had no answer to this display of total football. Zhirkov was gettin on the ball in attacking areas,and the centre half Kolodin never thought twice about taking a whack at Van der saar s goal, as he sent 2 shots in quick succession,not too far away from the goal. Pavlyuchenko who has been one of the strikers of the tournament, sent out a signal to the scouts from all major European clubs, when he netted a 54th minute goal,off a cross from captain Semak.

On a night when people were expecting Van Nistelrooy to display some of his legendary poaching abilities, Kolodin reigned supreme, displaying a masterful demonstration of the art of Man-Marking, never giving the dutchman more than a few inches of space. Van the man,who can score from any angle, gave Akinfeev something to do, but the young Russian goalie was never really troubled. Every player wearing a Russian jersey was getting in on the act. Bilyaletdinov also had a good game. Saenko too worked hard in the midfield. The Dutch had their moments too, especially with Van Persie on the field,but it was just not their day. On the other end of the pitch, Pavlyuchenko came very close to his 4th as he struck the crossbar with a fierce drive.

Just when all of us were getting ready to go to sleep, Van Nistelrooy proved his class, heading in a Wes Sneijder free kick,which was the only way the dutch could have scored. But the Russians were not beaten yet. They seemed to find inexhaustible energy resources, as they dug in and closed off the match in extra time, with goals from Dimitri torbinski and the instrumental Andrei Arshavin who managed to slip one past Van der saar. The Dutch hope was over as Van Basten's men were sent packing after an amazing display of football, as it was the Russians who served up some almost Samba-like magic football.

But the Flying-Russians were brought crashing down to earth by Spain and their One touch wizardry. After an even 1st half, it was Spain Vs Akinfeev. As Guus Hiddink had pointed out, the Russians were handling the 2 strikers well, but when Fabregas came on for Villa, the tables turned. The Russians seemed to have run out of steam after 2 fantastic performances,as they were outclassed by Spain in the 2nd half. Akinfeev tried his best,indeed he has been one of the better keepers of the tournament(please overlook the fact that he let in 7 goals from Spain :P). As the match drew to a close and Spain had finally managed to shake of the "Choker tag" after not progressing beyond the quarter finals of a major tournament on 6 previous occassions, there were celebrations all around, as the boys from Iberia were dancing with joy and waiting for a chance to have a go at the Germans.

But please spare a thought for the amazing Russians, who have shown the world that a tournament can be extremely entertaining even without the overrated English, as some unkind souls expressed that the Russians were here at the expense of the English who had "more quality" according to them. But after such fine displays against the Swedes and the Dutch, the Russians have indeed lit up a fantastic tournament, proving that if you dare to dream, you can soar beyond your wildest imaginations. Thank you Russia.........