Monday, 13 December 2010

old friends (haiga)

old friends
trade smoke
and small talk

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Movie Review: Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey: 'True Story' Luxuries



Ashutosh Gowariker is back to familiar territory with KHJJS, it has a similar 'Underdog vs Goliath' scenario as the entertaining Lagaan (2001). It also has, like the Oscar nominated movie, an impressive ensemble cast. Only, this one happened for real.

On April 18,1930, a band of young teenagers and revolutionaries led by Surjya Sen, (Abhishek Bachchan) a school teacher) attacked five main centres of British-ruled Chittagong (In undivided Bengal), in order to wrestle control and drive away the rulers, at least from their little sleepy town. Their plan was to capture all the ammunition and use it against the British themselves. What happened next? The film brims with the element of uncertainty many a time, a huge plus.

That Gowariker has no luxury of twisting fiction here (beyond a limit), acts to the film's advantage. The only causalities - Surjya comes off as a cardboard-dull person in the first half, rather than the quiet simmering patriot he is intended to be. Abhishek, acts well, has his moments, but doesn't bring out the fire of a person inspiring a large group of freedom fighters. The same can be said, to an extent, of Kalpana (Deepika Padukone), one of the two women who were part of the uprising, which is more to do with limited scope of the role. The rest of the cast are all very real, especially the young teenage actors who provide an unexpected punch to the proceedings.

Sohail Sen's music adds charm, his background score is understated, a charming ally to the proceedings. The title song rendition and depiction plays well as a upbeat musical transition, the same can't be said for Nayan tere - it makes for an awkward introduction to the female characters. Lip-synching of songs don't fit in in these settings. 

KHJJS is original and poignant for most of its running time, the length is not a deterrent, as it was in Jodha Akbar (2008) and What's Your Rashee? (2009). As a viewer, I was disappointed by the lack of a powerful opening scene (Random shots of football playing kids), and the quiet introduction of Surjya Sen. Despite the flaws, this is a movie that burns slowly into our hearts. Yet, there is nothing extraordinary as we have come to expect from Gowariker.

Silent explosion
The noose around his neck, his mouth oozing blood, a man looks up as a full moon is ominously shrouded by clouds.

Movie Review:RAKTA CHARITRA II: Lost in Kill! Kill! Kill!


Stretched, a relentless bloodbath, a loud merciless background score (Dharam-Sandeep, the culprits), the overused slow motion technique, irritating upside down camera angles, and Ram Gopal Varma make up for a messed up second part of this movie - based as it on a true story. The politics of it is kept to the background, all we get to see is how revenge comes full circle for Pratap Ravi (Vivek Oberoi), as Surya (Tamil actor Suriya) has only one thing is mind - Ravi's death. Apparently, Ravi's men had killed off Surya's entire family in a murderous rampage of killing all potential enemies of Ravi.

Instead of effectively depicting how violence transmits - from a person's anger to a mass culture, what we get is an escapist orchestra of killings - bullet-holed bodies, vehicles in flames, and again the sickle. Some scenes work, like the tense slow-motion sequence of Surya's arrival at the court. Finally, at the end of it all Rakta Charitra makes a mild impact in its intended message. It certainly makes for gory, gritty drama but nothing more. The director's signature clad epilogue at the end says it all - it ends up making violence look more attractive and justified than deplorable.              

Watch it strictly for the performances and RGV's technical expertise and experimentation, and the engaging cameos.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Hamara Haiku Festival: Bhamburda Forest Clicks (Haiga)


bare
bark stretches  
claws at green 
  
winter
the tree
disrobes

dry stream
the path
curves, falls   




downhill dog
can't apply
the brakes


HAIGA according to WIKIPEDIA

Haiga  is a style of Japanese painting based on the aesthetics of haikai, from which haiku poetry derives, which often accompanied such poems in a single piece. Like the poetic forms it accompanied, haiga was based on simple, yet often profound, observations of the everyday world. Stephen Addiss points out that "since they are both created with the same brush and ink, adding an image to a haiku poem was... a natural activity."

Just as haiku often internally juxtapose two images, haiga may also contain a juxtaposition between the haiku itself and the art work. The art work does not necessarily directly represent the images presented in the haiku.

Though traditional-style haiga are still produced today, contemporary artists experiment with the form, coupling haiku with digital imagery, photography, and other media.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

At the Hamara Haiku Festival, Pune

Vidur Jyoti captures another moment at Bhamburda Forest, on the second day of the festival

This is to say that the Hamara Haiku Festival held at Kala Chhaya, Pune on November 27th and 28th, 2010 was a continuous monsoon drizzle in learning the various alternate ways of writing poetry. It was the first stage, like learning the alphabets, of the conciseness of haiku writing, the similarity of the former to senryu, the five-line lyrical tanka, and the prose-cum-haiku flexibility of the haibun, and finally the creatively boggling renku session, where each poet contributes the new delicate leaves to the bare branches of the poem.

As so much was to be imbibed, rebellion, and queries as to why poems had to be written in that particular way were kept aside. Meanwhile, let me thank all who made up for the extreme, deep, experience that the festival was, in no particular order, from the experienced, to the young, co-participants, organisers...

Kala Ramesh – Pune, Johannes Manjrekar - Baroda, Rohini Gupta - Mumbai, Dilip Daswani - Pune, Vidur Jyoti - Delhi, Rajendra Samal - Delhi, K. Ramesh – Chennai, Shernaz Wadia - Pune, Raamesh Gowri Raghavan - Mumbai, Sarat Rao - Mumbai, Mahrukh Bulsara - Mumbai, Gautam Nadkarni - Mumbai, Zalina Gamat – Pune and Nirali Shah – Pune

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Movie Review: The Social Network: Fun, stingy take on Facebook founders


Filled with characters just going blah-blah-blah, The Social Network could have so easily been a bore of a movie. After all, this is about the real and alleged founders of Facebook, the worldwide social networking phenomenon, of people who mostly sat at their desks and typed code. The great outdoors - sunshine, rain and a rowing race make fleeting appearances on reel. In fact, the film has most characters seated, most of the time.
Instead, thanks to the genius of a screenplay adaptation by Aaron Sorkin of the Ben Mezrich book - The Accidental Billionaires, and David Fincher's (Seven, Fight Club) serene, matter-of-fact vision (direction) of the proceedings, gives us a gem of a picture - contemporary, one of the wittiest and funniest films ever, giving a tongue-in-cheek insight into the world of the so-called nerds.

No other movie has yet conveyed the confined borders of the computer and Internet world with such delicious bite. Go for it!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Movie Review: Golmaal 3: Overcooked, raw, nonsense - some great laughs though...


Not thrice as fun, not bad either...

The Golmaal Series has always worked for its skit-like sequences, the storyline is a mere prop for the proceedings. Director Rohit Shetty has the undeniable thing for pulling out genuine moments of laughter and Hindi film spoof pieces.

The third film of the series doesn't disappoint. It starts with a bang with repartees and witticisms between the eight (more than ample) main characters, but paling in terms of coherent story-telling, needless plot threads, tepid, unconnected fight and action sequences (finger-bending crap), length, and the tired, repeated, mercilessly extended Johnny Lever act.

Nonsensical, asinine, cluttered, bumpy are some of the words that describe the movie, would recommend it for the genuine moments of laughter it raises in the first half, and some in the second half. The cast and the dialogue delivery adds punch to the scenario. Arshad Warsi is a live cracker, he seems to have enjoyed this the most; Ajay Devgan is good - a gem of a actor wasted with limited scope; Tushar Kapoor dumb act is still endearing; Kunal Khemu makes for freshness, making most of the opportunity; Shreyas Talpade, the amazing talent that he is, is again not given his due. Mithun Chakraborty is the show-stealer, effortlessly gliding into his badly sketched role with charm and understated lines. Ratna Pathak Shah is wasted, while Kareena Kapoor's tomboy act is a gap-filler than a solid cameo it could have been. There, that is just the main cast.

Considering the sheer talent and promise Rohit Shetty continues to display, and despite the original, not-so-run-of-the-mill stuff, the film is a disappointment for the classic movie experience it could have been. So good, yet so, so, so many 'bads'. Still, worth a watch, cut the stunt mania and add more flesh to story, we say.

Real Fun
Mithunda reprising one of the over-the-top roles of his 80's potboilers and getting to deliver one the film's best spoof lines...translated - "Thee, whose houses are made of glass, change your clothes in the basement."                                   

Friday, 29 October 2010

Movie Review: RAKTA CHARITRA I: Drowned in violence

Rakta Charitra chronicles the blood-soaked rise of Partala Ravi during the 1980's caste tensions in Andhra Pradesh. The names are suitably, understandably altered. The opening credits declare - All characters of this film are fictional...followed by the declaration in red - Based on a true story. So much for deliberate irony.

R for Revenge
The battleground is Anantpur, where a powerful local politician Narasimha Reddy is instigated by his discontent party worker Nagamani (Kota Srinivasa Rao) to kill Veerbhadra (Rajendra Gupta), his (lower caste - bleeped in the movie) trusted aide. The aide is also the leader of his community and is promised tickets for the upcoming election for his people by Reddy. This is not to be.
Accompanied by loud, unforgivable background music, the aide's elder son Shankar (Sushant Singh) goes on a murder-spree against Nagamani and his gang, and thus, vengeance is born. The younger son, Pratap (Vivek Oberoi), is forced back from his city education to the battleground. Pratap is soon sucked in to the vortex of violence, as Shankar is brutally killed. Pushed to a corner with death looming, Ravi,  late father's followers in tow slays Reddy, Nagamani and his demonic, psychotic son Bhukka (Abimanyu Singh).

Grim as the setting is, Ram Gopal Varma marks a return to decent (if not subtle) form, with disturbing yet essential scenes of blood and violence. There are sickles slashing out fountain blood, bullet holes gorging out, drills boring skulls, and an axe brandished with savagery. A grayish tint fills all scenes, there is hardly any sunshine, very apt.

Rakta Charitra I is not a movie I would like to watch again, though Varma has crafted it sincerely, technical edge adding punch and without many commercial compromises. The director's raspy voice over hinges between arresting and mockery. If only he had not overlooked the criminally insane background score and most importantly, added textures to the violence.

Sturdy performances
Vivek Oberoi is efficient, but it is Abimanyu Singh's crazy lunatic act that haunts. Shatrughan Sinha's minister take makes for an entertaining cameo, his dialogues are slightly over the top ( "Topic over," he thunders, and all turn submissive) from a otherwise well-sketched array of characters. The woman characters are expectantly given less screen space. The intensity slackens towards the end, with Pratap depicted as a kind of Godfather character, and shades of Varma's own Sarkar. That we do not get some powerful final scenes is ensured, as the film is wrapped up with glimpses of the second part (releasing on November 19, 2010) which will mark Tamil star Suriya's Hindi film debut.

Chilling / Overdone?
A pillion-riding woman is carried off by Bhukka's men, like prey in a bird's talons.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Movie Review: Ramayan - The Epic: Low qualityanimation, dull storytelling

The only saving grace in the latest adaptation, in animation, of the great Indian epic - Ramayan, is the director's knack for architecture and locales as is evident in the depiction of Ayodhya, Lanka and Kishkinda. The rest is all frustratingly average, the non-expressive faces, the lack of depth in the characters, the brief dull fight sequences, the events displayed as a formality than with any cinematic ambition. The voices of Manoj Bajpayee, Juhi Chawla, Ashutosh Rana (Ravan) and Mukesh Rishi (Hanuman) are all effective, but the dull depiction lets them down.

Such potentially arresting scenarios - Hanuman's burning of Lanka, Indrajit's fight with Laxman, the chase for the golden deer, Jatayu's valiant death, Ram's slaying of Ravan, the Sugreev-Bali fight are all pushed away like some beginner's course in animation. The background music, grating in parts, doesn't help too. A 100-minute cold dish, this is one of the most testing movies ever.

Instead get hold of...
Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama (1992) - a Japanese/ Indian animation version of the epic. The dubbed Hindi version is a treat too with the voices of Amrish Puri, Arun Govil (The1980's live-action TV serial  Ram) and a lively soundtrack by Vanraj Bhatia.    

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Movie Review: Dabangg: More comic book fun please!

Abhinav Kashyap's Dabangg is a Salman Khan show, a wannabe crowd-puller. There is no pretence made that it is a comic book masala entertainer that will please the mass audience. No morals or cinematic risk here. All tried and tested. Even exhibitionist vulgar at times. So it all boils down to the treatment. There are rare moments of comic inventiveness, the old Hindi film revenge, the invincible hero and the docile heroine. So does it work? Only just about.

Chulbul Pandey (Salman) is a corrupt yet fearless cop in small town India. He loves his mother Naini (Dimple Kapadia) but is unable to stand his stepfather Prajapati Pandey (Vinod Khanna) and stepbrother Makhanchan (Arbaaz Khan). His dubious deeds attract the local goon Cheddi Singh (Sonu Sood) who tries to rope him in. On failing to do so, he plots Chulbul's fall by creating a rift between the brothers. The abrupt death of the mother acts as a catalyst to the bitterness. 

Meanwhile, our crooked cop falls for the hot pottery lady Rajo (Sonakshi Sinha) and tries to make amends to bring the family back together. Not before some delightful over the top action, that includes Salman's flexing vengeful muscles that flings his shirt off, and how a villainous stab doesn't affect him.

Dabangg has to its advantage Salman Khan's competent performance, his undeniable gift of screen presence. Sinha makes a confident debut. The show-stealer is certainly Sonu Sood with his enjoyable wicked take on the small-town goon. The razor sharp editing ensures that there are no slack moments. A couple of song picturizations add popcorn fluff of the movie. The same can't be said of the exploitative revenge track, the honest politician track and the lack of groove on the side stories, all sacrificed for Salman's larger than life act. You could also be put off by some of the ribaldry that emanates from the film. Watch it if you want a repeated, light, half-baked Hindi film masala with a slight ting of inventiveness.

Hero-Villain Moment 
Sonu Sood aptly exaggerated to Malaika Khan's Munni badnam huvi before Salman arrives on the scene much to the villain's disgust.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Sachin Tendulkar & the eroding game of Cricket...



Cricket is an unequal contest. It has always, before the start of any match, in any format, favoured batting to a large degree. More so now, with flat placid pitches been made, boundaries shortened, and the fielding restrictions applied in one-day games (a format losing in popularity, many say) and the Twenty 20 format.

Much of Cricket's beauty lies in its leisurely pace and the individual capabilities of the players. For as much is Cricket a team game, so is it individual in its three departments - batting, bowling and fielding. A Sehwag blitz can steal a match away from the opposition, some atrocious, cheeky work from Dilshan can upset calculations. But the same can't be said about bowlers anymore. Batsmen thump the ball, bowlers send unreachable bouncers, the ball so often reaches the boundary so easily and so often gets hit out of the ground. But where are the bowlers that teams were wary of, fielders that effect those crucial run outs, take those catches? Where are the epic oscillating contests where at a moment 15 men (the fielding team,  the two batsmen and the field umpires) are deep in battle, each holding on to their fortress? The celebration? Such contests, such moments, have become rare.

Test Cricket, of all Cricket formats, has the potential to be an extended enthralling contest. It is when two teams are engaged in an intangible tug-of-war that it is enlivened. Now I am not yet talking about the audience. What are we, the indirect paymasters, filling the stadium seats, drooling before the TV, catching the updates on the Internet and the cell phone? Even our interest is no longer relentless, several other things now distract the modern viewer. Distract, not hold.

Amidst the changing face of the game, that is still played by a dozen teams if not more, and half-a-dozen quality teams out of them, stands Sachin Tendulkar, one of the game's last artists perhaps. Talented raw clay during that debut against Pakistan in 1989, and 21 years later still constructing, sculpting his art, Sachin is still going, with some deep passion (what exactly - we do not know) that drives him. Unbeatable on 201 on the fourth day of the second test match against the Sri Lankans at the time of writing, one blog post is not sufficient to convey his impact. Let us say, Sachin has made his own path in the wilderness, and is yet to diverge from it. There is no one active player who matches him today for sheer talent and beauty of his shots. Who plays the straight drive like that or the cover drive bisecting the ground fielders, always the sense of perfection coming through? We are waiting for them - the Wasim Akrams, Courtney Walshs, the Arivinda De Silvas, Shane Warnes of the modern cricketing world, meanwhile Sachin Tendulkar can play out his extended swan song. 

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Udaipur: At Maharana Pratap Smarak (July 2,2010)

The statue at Maharana Pratap Smarak

so in pure
hollywood fashion
at the battle 
of Haldighati (1576),
Chetak is said to
have leaped 
with Rana Pratap,
across the
impossible length
of two cliffs
and thus
fatally injured
died a hero 
that 
400-odd years later, 
the arabian steed
has a statue with the Rana
still urging him on to battle,
Chetak all set to go
airborne...

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Movie Review: INCEPTION: Mind Adventure...


Director Christopher Nolan has so often delved in to human psychology, the mind and its strange ways of working, as seen in his remarkable non-linear narration of Memento (2000), or the disturbing portrayal of the Joker in the Batman sequel, The Dark Knight (2008). In Inception, a science fiction cum crime genre film, he explores the world of dreams and comes up with mind-boggling, seat-grabbing stuff that keeps us thinking even hours after one exits the cinema hall.

Cobb (DiCaprio) leads a team of 'extractors' - professionals who steal information from other people within shared dreams. Then there is the seemingly impossible 'Inception', where you plant an idea in the subject's mind. An electronic control device that connects the extractors and the source, and a state of sedation makes this possible. More to it: if you die in a dream, you return to consciousness. More: In 'dream time' an hour is actually five minutes in 'real time'. There is more to it that the film will reveal.

The main plot: A businessman wants to stop a corporate rival's inevitable monopoly by performing Inception. The rival is terminally ill, nearing death, and has an young heir. The plan is to plant an idea in the heir's mind such that he breaks down his father's empire. Cobb, having experienced the disastrous results of an inception, hesitates. It is on the promise that he will be able to pass through immigration to finally reunite with his children that draws him to agree. He arranges a team for the operation, while fighting his own demons - his dead wife who keeps reappearing as his subconscious and putting the whole operation in to additional risk. Things are in place, the plan is initiated, but things go awry...


Riveting without been too confusing (needs a couple of views for 'complete' comprehension) with its science fiction literature, the film never lets you relax, immersing the audience in a web of imagination and subtle ambiguity. A stimulating experience for the senses, especially the eyes and the mind, (if not the heart), Inception is a must for all cinema lovers. Meanwhile, I have to book a ticket for another show of the film. As soon as my mind stops reeling.

The punch of punches        
A top keeps spinning and spinning and the screen blanks out. 

Friday, 23 July 2010

Day in Udaipur: The Artist's Village

Showcasing the mitigating effects of cow dung...


Still 2nd July, 2010 
 
Shilpgram is an artificial cultural village located about three kms from Udaipur. It has traditionally built mud houses from Gujarat, Goa, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. We entered one, bending down through its little door and found the interior incredibly cool, the exterior walls caked with cow dung playing a mitigating part along with the straw thatched roof.

Then there were the artists – the Rajasthani folk singers awaiting an audience during the off-season period, their bodies moving to activity as we approached the dais. Then there was the sole magician, seated hunched and disinterested on a sturdy old chair, beside a table adorned with sparkling colours of his paraphernalia. We didn't look like the money-spilling kind, probably. The maker of bead necklaces, showcasing a certificate of making it to The Limca Book of Records. Another fabric maker displayed kurtas, salwars and other Indian attire in refreshing designs, attire which we often refer to as 'traditional'.

Yes, we spent a substantial time of the trip there, and almost on instigation by the artists, ended up buying things we probably would never have otherwise.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Movie Review: UDAAN: Underplayed, real and effective...


Vikramaditya Motwane's directorial debut is a haunting mirror held to the life of a teenager, his angst and the urge to break free. There are no self-created demons for Rohan (Rajat Barmecha,fine debut act), it is his own father that he has to break away from. He does so without any exaggerated drama, quietly, so uncharacteristic in a commercial Hindi film. We like that.

A story pattern that is as subtle, mysterious and revealing as life itself, Udaan (Flight) has a brooding quality, especially in its portrayal of drowsy Jamshedpur's smoke-chugging factories as a setting and Bhairav Singh,(Ronit Roy's a surprise!) the tense, edgy and unkind father.

The characters are all real and ordinary as they come - with their little heroics, frustrations and vulnerability. Rohan's uncle and Bhairav's younger sibling Jimmy (Ram Kapoor, well cast) is supportive, but not courageous enough to support his nephew's cause. Other shades of youth are seen in the bullying, bickering ways of Apu (Anand Tiwari, a natural) and Rohan's three school friends - all varying shades of boys who can still be crybabies or dare to mock an adult. Then there is Arjun (Aayan Boradia, excellent), the six year-old who is a puppet to his father's whim.

Amit Trivedi's music that adds a nice touch to the visuals, although his soundtrack for Dev.D (2009) was much more impressive and uh,epic. Amitabh Bhattacharya's lyrics add verve to the songs that includes Kahani - the song that seems to have a hangover over the other tracks.

Overall, Udaan is a heartbreaking and rejuvenating slice of life. It's 'realness' may nudge formulaic film watchers a bit. But then the film is not meant to be another vegetable in the market. It is an unmissable piece of art and needs to be watched on the big screen.

One quibble
The story-telling sequences in the hospital where doctors and nurses gather to listen Rohan's narration needed more flesh for the audience to be drawn into it.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Movie Review: The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Nicolas Cage deserves better!


Now, The Sorcerer's Apprentice will not disappoint most cinema-going viewers. It is light and happily superficial, without much story foundation to the special-effects and heavy action.

We are not complaining, after all feuding magicians means limitless escapism and VFX galore.Then there is Nicolas Cage, impressive again as a magician, traveling through centuries to find an apprentice (Jay Baruchel, adequately nerdy) who can free him and destroy evil (again) and save the world. Thwarting him is another magician, a friend-turned-foe, played with a wicked relish by Alfred Molina (Dr.Octopus in Spiderman 2). Then there are the mandatory love interests, we see disappointingly little of Monica Bellucci (trapped as she is in a jar for most of the running time), the sweet Terasa Palmer charming in a limited role.

A bit of Harry Potter, a bit of The Lord of the Rings and some originality make up for a entertaining two-hour watch without ever taxing your mind. Director Jon Turteltaub had directed the satisfying National Treasure (Starring Cage again), and here too he adds thrills and some humorous repartee to keeps it all pleasing. Buy your popcorn and even if you blink a lot or take some loo breaks, you won't regret it. 

Friday, 25 June 2010

Monday, 21 June 2010

Movie Review: Raavan: Great treatment, fractured story



Raavan has some of the best opening minutes you will ever watch on a cinema screen. Much of its power lies in the visuals,courtesy the cinematographers Santosh Sivan and Manikandan. Its glitches are mainly the story and the lack of ample background to the characters.
The stunning locations form an apt background to the three main characters Beera - the wanted goon, Dev - the Policeman determined to catch him and Ragini - Dev's wife who is kidnapped by Beera. Then there is the Mani Ratnam touch that powers every scene, the actions and literature of each character, inspired as they are from the epic Ramayan, and yet they couldn't be more different...

The lead performances are a letdown though - Abhishek is shaky in the crazed act, Aishwarya looks jaded.  Vikram is effective in his Hindi film debut, Govinda so charming as the guide.Raavan is worth watching for the untraveled road it ventures to in story telling. If only the story was as resolute and rich.

Brilliant...
A R Rahman's soundtrack that includes Beera and Behene De, the latter imbibing the visuals so uncannily. Rahman's experimentalist background music is effective too.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

FOOTBALL SHIFTS TO TWITTER

The twitter format allows me to provide a round up of matches to my liking so for more FIFA WORLD CUP 2010 updates, go to

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

FIFA WORLD CUP 2010: Round One Match Round Up





















COMING UP

15th June
Group E
New Zealand vs. Slovakia - 5:00pm (India Time)

Group F
Côte d’Ivoire vs. Portugal - 7:30pm (India Time)

16th June
Brazil vs. North Korea - 12:00am (India Time)

*
*
*
Let's look at the results and standings of all the weekend matches. Goal keeping errors are proving costly as England and Algeria found out.
  
GROUP C, June 12
England vs USA: 1:1
Algeria vs Slovenia: 0:1

Slovenia find themselves at the top of the table after the first bout of matches. England losing their lead to a goal keeper's error and not finding it again. Slovenia also benefited from lopsided goalkeeping to register their first ever win in a FIFA World Cup. 

GROUP D, June 13
Ghana vs Serbia: 1:0
Germany vs Australia: 4:0

Ghana won a penalty in a listless match to get through, while Germany sparkled with brilliant short passes to find the net four times, Australia had no answer to such brilliance.   

GROUP E, June 14
Netherlands vs Denmark: 2-0  
Japan vs Cameroon: 1-0

The 'group of death' saw emphatic victories been scored, now it is up to Denmark and Cameroon to make it tighter for the top teams. 

GROUP E, June 14
Italy vs Paraguay: 1:1 

In the most enthralling encounter of the World Cup so far, Paraguay might well have stunned the defending champions if not for (yet another!)  a goalie error that allowed Italy to level in the second half. Both teams kept at each other till the final whistle, the passing - quick, the pace, electric.    

Saturday, 12 June 2010

FIFA WORLD CUP 2010:Victory eludes Group A on Day One, Group B latest

GROUP B, June 12

Korea vs Greece - 2-0

at the time of posting
Argentina lead Nigeria - 1-0

_______________________________________

GROUP A, June 11

South Africa vs Mexico : 1-1
France vs Uruguay :  0-0

Stuck up in a pouring monsoon shower and returning drenched to a home without electricity I missed the verve of the first match. A blog correspondent, so totally dependent on the television for coverage, has his limitations. Then, France played a lacklustre game against an average Uruguay. It took the entry of Thierry Henry as a substituiton in the 77th minute for France to spur them into action but it was too late by then. As the table stands for now - South Africa lead due to the goals scores, France and Uruguay trail. The next two matches become equally vital for each team now.   

Friday, 11 June 2010

Movie Review: Shutter Island: Nervy, surprising and potential classic



Set in the 1950's, we first see Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio - effectively edgy, nervous), a U.S. federal marshal, sea sick on a boat that is taking him with his new investigative partner Chuck (Mark Ruffalo - complementing well) to an island that houses the criminally insane. A female inmate has disappeared from her locked room, "As if she evaporated through the walls," as the institution head Dr. Cawley (a superb Ben Kingsley) puts it.

Teddy has his own share of trauma, memories of his dead wife and nightmares of concentration camps. Things seem to get worse as a storm sets in and the investigators are unable to leave the island. As Teddy suspects, things are not as they look and there is something horrible that is going on in Shutter Island. Then there are hallucinations and nightmares, as the line between reality and illusion is dissolved, Teddy seems to be falling in to a deep dark well...

Director Martin Scorsese's first attempt in the psychological thriller genre holds our attention all through, even as he turns the tables on us in a shattering climax. There are, in retrospect, some convenient plot elements put in, but they pale in comparison to a movie that is surely worth revisiting.

The punch
The eerie, yet delicately positioned background music; the last mesmerising line of dialogue.

FIFA WORLD CUP 2010: DAY 1 and GROUP A PREVIEW


 



















As every fan would know, two teams from each of the eight groups would go ahead to Round 2 (16 out of 32). One look at Group A tells us it could go anyway.

GROUP A MATCHES  
Today
South Africa vs Mexico 19: 25 hours
France vs Uruguay 23:30 hours

Pre-match brief
Mexico are fancied against the underrated hosts in the inaugural match , but playing at home may just spur the home side on. The 2006 runners-up France may seem like an ageing side, but then so was it in the last edition, and can't be taken lightly - Zidane magic or not. Uruguay, on the other hand, may not boast of classy players on paper, but they are no pushovers either. Expect a tough contest.   

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Other GROUP A Fixtures

16/6/2010
South Africa vs Uruguay 23:55 hours   

17/6/2010
France vs Mexico  23:55 hours

22/6/2010
Mexico vs Uruguay 19:25 hours  
France vs South Africa 19:25 hours  

Thursday, 10 June 2010

FIFA WORLD CUP 2010: FLASHBACK CAPSULE





















Soccer fever is on the high and I couldn't escape its joy net too. So, have been catching up with various magazine specials like our very own Sportstar and the Indian edition of Sports Illustrated. In this post let me give you a brief about the first ever FIFA* World cup held in 1930.

WORLD CUP, 1930 
Only 13 teams participated in the 1930 World Cup held at Uruguay; most teams from Europe skipping the event because of the long, exhausting and extravagant sea journey it involved. Even as the host and defending Olympic champion Uruguay crashed horns with Argentina in the final, feelings ran high. There were now no doubt that the tournament had captured the public imagination. Jean Langenus, the Belgian referee for the final, who agreed to be part of the match just hours before game commencement, had a boat ready at a harbour close to the match venue, if things went awry. He didn't have to worry as Uruguay romped to a 4-2 win. Another feature of the final was that it was played with two different balls in the either half. Argentina bought the ball for the first half, the hosts picked one for the second.

FIRST GOAL
The first goal of the tournament is still remembered, scored as if was by Lucien Laurent, a Frenchman, against Mexico, a match that France won 4-1. Laurent, speaking of it later, talked of snow that fell during the match. He also mentioned how muted the celebrations were then, "Everyone was pleased but we didn't all roll around on the ground - nobody realised that history was being made. A quick handshake and we got on with the game. And no bonus either; we were all amateurs in those days, right to the end."   
      

Footnote
*International Federation of Association Football (French: Fédération Internationale de Football Association), thus FIFA. An international governing body of association football - headquartered at Zürich, Switzerland with 208 'member associations'. Responsible for organization and governance of  major international football tournaments, most notably the FIFA World Cup.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Movie Review: Badmaash Company:Great idea, decent execution


The best thing about Badmaash Company is that it keeps the story running without going overblown for once. The con jobs that are displayed here are the most convincing and ingenious you will ever see in a Hindi commercial movie. There are no attempts at anything spectacular, everything is kept just right - within the framework of the plot, even the song sequences are pleasantly devoid of any extensive choreography. The stretched and contrived climax almost kills it though.

The cast is convincing and right there - Shahid Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Vir Das and Meiyang Chang playing the lead parts. Pawan Malhotra sparks brilliance in his bit part, while Anupam Kher and Kiran Juneja are spot on. The film belongs eventually to the first-time director Parmeet Sethi for keeping within his boundaries, not getting carried away - giving us a satisfying if not a classic film. Good, tight entertainment within its commercial parameters, not a bad watch.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Book recommends: Chasing the Monsoon

Even as the news of the South-West Monsoon reaching the Andaman Islands flows around, here is one book that I read some years ago about the monsoon, its significance and the sheer joy and miracle of rainfall. A lovely non-fiction account by Alexander Frater, the author follows the monsoon as it first arrives in India at Kerala and then follows it in one exciting journey to the 'world's wettest place' - Cherapunji, in north-east India. An ideal read as we await the monsoon.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Movie Review: Iron Man 2: Hard Metal Fun!


Gleefully light-feathered and witty in its dialogues, enlivened with mysterious and well-defined characters, Iron Man 2 is a enjoyable non-superficial ride. A contrast, if you may compare, to the very dark 'cult-in-the making' Batman movie The Dark Knight, this sequel keeps it non-serious, engaging and tight, despite a much-repeated plot of bad guys from Russia and a tedious final showdown.

Much of the movie's freshness lies in Robert Downey Jr.'s superb portrayal of a seemingly arrogant genius billionaire scientist and Iron Man; his rapid repartees with the other members of the cast - especially Paltrow and Cheadle. Then there is a zany stunning act by Scarlett Johansson, a bit part by Samuel Jackson and a solid part by that rare actor Don Cheadle. Rourke's villain is intimidating, but breaks no new ground like The Joker in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight.

All together, with each character given ample screen time to establish themselves with the audience (doesn't happen too often in Hollywood movies lately), there is an individuality in each that works well with the film's superhero drab. Fantasy mingles with fun, watch out for that last scene with the senator, the birthday party, and for Scarlett's stunning attire, among other things. Now we know why we love those fluffy comic books, Iron Man 2 is as close as one can get to a precise comic book adaptation. All said and done, the first Iron Man movie was much better though.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Movie Review: How To Train Your Dragon: A 3D delight

Finally, here is a movie that utilizes 3D elements cleverly, resulting in ample breathtaking moments and slick humour in its modest running time of 90-odd minutes.

The new Dreamworks animation film - How To Train Your Dragon (3D) is set in the land of Vikings where dragons wreck havoc and carry off livestock, apart from endangering the clan. In a family born to fight and kill dragons, things turn on their head when the chieftain's son, Hiccup ends up capturing an elusive dragon - Night Fury, and discovers that the creatures are not that murderous after all. Moreover, the dragons seem to be acting more on compulsion and fear of a mysterious power. It is up to Hiccup to figure out things with the help of his fire-breathing friend.

A roller coaster of a ride, with effective, spot-on voice-overs of the characters, high-quality animation and excellent storytelling - this one is highly-recommended for all cinema lovers.

Go for it! For the first time, we can say -  we didn't mind shelling extra for the 3D! Otherwise, post Avatar, the subsequent 3D wannabes have been looking like con jobs.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Film Review: Leaving Home: A band called INDIAN OCEAN

Asheem - Tabla, other percussions and vocals, he passed away in Decenber 2009, three months before the release of the film. The film is dedicated to him.    
Susmit - on the guitar, he started it all with Asheem  

Leaving Home: The Life and Music of Indian Ocean
There is more to this non-fiction movie that the narration, interviews, anecdotes and the music of this path-breaking band. The four free men who make up the band are a revelation. It is a call to live our lives as we want to. After playing for a week at theatres all across India, you may be lucky to catch this one still on 70mm. A DVD is worth waiting for.

Amit - drums, percussion and vocals. The youngest member of the band, the irony is that he always wanted to be a guitarist.  
Rahul - bass guitar and vocals. Completes the creative cascade that the band is...