Sunday, October 31, 2010


The Debates have died and the debris has settled. ESPN Cricinfo have finally released their list of ALL-TIME WORLD XI. It is now time to move on to a list that is far more important. The one that is going to be revealed right here, in this very page which is being visited by millions of fans world over every day (curiously though, they all tend to have the same IP address), is a much more important and a far more patriotic list than that totally biased one which had only one Indian (imagine the atrocity of leaving Sanjay Bangar from an all time XI! Truly apocryphal!). In fact this list is full of Indians. It can be called…well…let’s say, All time Ridiculous Indian XI.

Now, before embarking on such a strenuous project which had the potential to consume most of my otherwise packed office hours (apply 4 point formula or read previous post), I did some extensive research of India’s capped players from the 90s. With a strong backing from this acquired data I have now decided to let this list out. Before going to the list let me take this opportunity to tender my apologies to Sachin Tendulkar and his fans. Though it is a criminal offence to leave Tendulkar out of any list relating to cricket I hope all you guys, including the great man himself, accede with me on perusal of the list below.



· Shiv Sundar Das

· Devang Gandhi

· Sanjay Bangar

· Akash Chopra

· Sujith Somasundar

The Final Cut: Sujith Somasundar and Devang Gandhi.

This deadly duo has all the attributes needed for a successful test match opening partnership. Firstly a very strong defense; next…hmmm…what else? I surely seem to be forgetting something here…Ok chuck it. An Honourable mention at this juncture has to be Aakash Chopra. If there was ever an example for cricket being a ‘gentleman’s game’ this man was it. He was so gentle with the ball and the bowlers - A strict ‘no no’ to any shot which needed some amount of force to carry it across the inner circle.



· Sanjay Bangar

· Vijay Bhardwaj

· Atul Wassan

· Hrishikesh Kanitkar

The Final Cut: Vijay Bhardwaj, Atul Wassan, Hrishikesh Kanitkar.

Vijay Bhardwaj is the perfect one drop foil for our majestic openers. It seems that he used to have great hand-eye coordination before he started wearing spectacles. The crowning moment in the chronicles of his three test career surely has to be a defiant 35-ball innings of 6 runs on a bouncy Sydney wicket against the furious pace of Brett Lee. Legend has it that after facing Brett Lee during that innings, Vijay was convinced that he had eyesight problems as he failed to spot the ball on more than one occasion.

Atul Wassan is one of those unfortunate dyslexic Indians who gets muddled up with numbers. Confusion with respect to batting and bowling averages made this gentle giant to assume that a high bowling average and a low batting average is the practiced agenda in cricket, while vice versa was the way to go. His exemplary batting average of 23.50 and not so bad Bowling average of 50.40 gets him into our middle order (though I am aware that he was actually chosen as a bowler, I would like to stick with my selection as I feel his analysis of Batting during ‘Fourth Umpire’ is far better than his analysis of bowling or, for that matter, his bowling itself).

A swat over mid wicket in fading light against Saqlain Mushtaq to seal a famous Indian win over arch rival Pakistan is the only reason why Hrishikesh Kanitkar is in this team. It’s not very different from the reason why he was in the Indian team during his illustrious career of 2 tests and 34 ODIs.




· Sanjay Bangar (What? He can do anything on a cricket field!)

· Vijay Dahiya

· Saba Karim

· Deep Dasgupta

The Final Cut: Should we even have a speculation?


Once when Geoffrey Boycott was asked who he thought was India’s best wicket keeper, he quipped in his usual Yorkshire accent that India’s best wicket keeper was Syed Kirmani, adding that India also possessed a gem of a ‘goal’ keeper in Deep Dasgupta. Such was the young Bengali ‘keeper’s aura. He redefined the art of wicket keeping with his nonchalant, casual ways behind the stumps which often led to even the soft spoken Sunil Joshi venturing into a tirade of choicest words from diverse Indian languages. Though an International Test Century against England does question his worth in this particular line up, his wicket keeping prowess and the very fact that he generously let ‘bye’gones be ‘bye’gones more than makes up for it.



· Tinu Yohannan

· Dodda Ganesh

· Debasis Mohanty

· David Johnson

· Harvinder Singh

· Sanjay Bangar

The Final Cut: Harvinder Singh, Dodda Ganesh

Harvinder Singh was the most feared spinner and the least feared medium pacer that India has ever produced. The variations with pace (Slower ball was his stock delivery, while ‘mystery’ ball was his surprise weapon as the ball often failed to reach the batsman) along with his vast experience (his 3 match test career spanned for an astonishing 3 years from 1998 to 2001) make Harvinder a sure shot in our line up.

Dodda Ganesh was a man of less words; and lesser wickets; and even lesser pace. Three attributes which make him an auto-pick.



· Nilesh Kulkarni

· Rahul Sanghvi

· Ashish Kapoor

· Harvinder Singh

· (Of course) Sanjay Bangar

The Final Cut: Ashish Kapoor, Nilesh Kulkarni

Ashish Kapoor was the classical off spinner India were looking for after the retirement of Venkatraghavan. After he came to the fore India have decided to stop looking for such options in the future. One of the reasons why his colourful 4 test match career didn’t garner enough attention was due to his constant shuttling between Punjab and Tamil Nadu. He made it such a habit that after a while he even divided his first class career between the 2 states.

Nilesh Kulkarni got a wicket of his first ball in international cricket when he dismissed Marvan Attapattu of Sri Lanka. He immediately decided that he had to finish his career on a high right then and there. Though he had taken the decision in his mind, mundane cricketing rules made him play the whole test match. He must have been a baffled man when he was asked to play the next match- Sri Lanka the opponents again- as well. When he got picked for one more test against Australia, he decided enough was enough. His brutal spell of 1/137 on that minefield in Chennai against the clueless Aussie batting order was enough to stamp his name in the annals of history. He never stepped onto an International Cricket field again.

THE ALL TIME RIDICULOUS INDIAN XI: Devang Gandhi, Sujith Somasundar, Vijay Bhardwaj, Atul Wassan, Hrishikesh Kanitkar, SANJAY BANGAR (Captain, Vice-Captain, 12th Man and Substitute Wicket Keeper), Deep Dasgupta (gk), Harvinder Singh, Dodda Ganesh, Ashish Kapoor, Nilesh Kulkarni

That, my folks, was the All Time Ridiculous Indian XI. There were some tough choices that were made and some hard decisions that were taken. As Ravi Shastri says, in the end Cricket is the real winner.

Sanjay Manjrekar, when asked about his controversial exclusion from the line up, had two words to say – “It’s Ridiculous!”

Of course Mr. Manjrekar. And we thank you for reiterating it.

We have also decided to give away a special ‘most diverse player’ award to Sanjay Bangar for getting nominated in all categories. That is something even the famous Sachin Tendulkar can only dream of.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Disclaimer: This formula works only for those people who incorporate it diligently in their lives. The author has absolutely no bearing on the results of the formula.

Many people, especially the educated employed youth, tend to have this ‘Social status aphrodisiac’. What will he think of me? What will she think of me? What will my neighbour’s father’s friend’s sister’s brother-in-law’s 3 year old daughter think of me? Well, for those of us who do fall in that category (come on, I know you do! Don’t sit there and roll your eyes…) I have conceived a four-point formula which has, until now, worked for me.
1. Speaking Style: This point is of immense importance in work life. Whenever you are in a meeting or a conference you will, more often than not, be forced to say the following: ‘That’s a good point!’; ‘That’s true’; ‘I agree’. Always remember to add something extra before those phrases. ‘Actually, that’s a good point!’ sounds far more sophisticated, mysterious and intelligent than a mere bland ‘That’s a good point!’ Your peers and bosses are bound to be awed by you. “That guy! Look at the way he uses ‘Actually’! He must really have some layered depths of knowledge!” they start to think (Or at least that’s what I think they start to think). Instead of saying ‘That’s true’, try and say ‘Exactly!’ in a clear, ringing voice, at the same time clicking your thumb and your middle finger while pointing your index finger at some random point on the ceiling. Believe me, That creates instant impact.
2. Computer manners: Most of us cannot live, let alone work, without a laptop or a desktop. So this point comes in as the most universally applicable point. Whenever you are sitting in front of your computer, arrange your face so as to give the impression of something life-threateningly serious going on before you and you are the only person capable of handling it. When you have an office with a privatized cubicle, there is no need of auxiliary equipments like myriad documents, age old technical diagrams etc. to cover what you are actually doing (read-minesweeper, cricinfo, solitaire, Wikipedia). But when you are part of an open office or when you are at home, it’s better to keep any of the aforementioned documents open. Or at least a pre-planned excel sheet with scores and scores of unrelated, complicated and absolutely unfathomable numbers spread across important sounding columns (‘Tax Invoice No.’, ‘R05 Value’ , ‘Production quantity’, ‘minimum specification’ etc.) should do the trick. In the case of software professionals, minesweeper/cricinfo/Wikipedia should themselves do the trick. Even at home this point is extremely important. With an open, complicated excel sheet on the task bar and a sober expression playing on your face you can watch Friends/How I met your mother/Two and a half men with a free mind. This exercise also helps improve you control your emotions as you will be experienced enough to watch a sitcom without laughing or pretending to laugh along with the laugh tracks (Note: The said exercise is not recommended for Dr. Vijay, Captain Vijaykanth and T.R Films as they are in a totally different league when compared to petty American sitcoms).
3. Expand your area of work: By this, I don’t mean you have to actually butt your head into all functional departments of the organization and increase your knowledge about their respective functioning. No, you don’t need expansive work. All you need is expansive talk. When you talk about your job profile you should sound as if you are the only person apart from the CMD because of whom the company is running. You don’t need to know what are the functionalities involved and technical details. Just a lot of important sounding English words ought to be enough. ‘Product Development’, ‘Strategy analysis’, ‘Catalogue management’, ‘Market development’, ‘Software Systems management’, ‘consulting champion’, ‘Production planning’, ‘Customer relations management’ etc. Sound Important don’t they? Just brush up some support data for each of the aforesaid, actually existing, job profiles and you are good to go.
4. Complete and unabashed utilization of ‘The near-miss factor’: (Note: though this point may sound applicable only to those people who managed to ‘Bell the CAT’ and get interview calls from IIMs, only to later find out that they were mere add-ons, it is actually applicable to others also. They can actually modify it with a single letter – P. After all, the only criterion to get a call from ‘IIPM’ is to be Homo sapiens. And at least most of us fulfill that criterion.) Many of you might have got interview calls from prestigious institutes like IIM/SP Jain/IIFT etc. All others are automatic call getters of IIPM. Try to bring almost all conversations that you participate in towards your ‘thirty minutes of glory’ (In case of IIPM, just walk in to a branch nearest to you immediately to have a firsthand experience. They have perennial openings for MBA, E-MBA, Global MBA, International Executive Entrepreneurial Programme, Dare to think beyond ‘IITs/IIMs/YALE/HARVARD/STANFORD/OXFORD’ Programmes and other such exciting initiatives). Let me give you an example of how to go about this particular point. Below is a conversation I recently had with an acquaintance:
Acq: Hey Jagan! What’s up?
Me: Nothing much. Work is hectic as always. Just had these additional responsibilities of market analysis and product development thrust on me.
Acq: Oh! Great man! So much responsibility! That’s good for you right?
Me: Yes of course! But it’s hampering my CAT preparations. Also with 3 previous IIM calls (You can make that 18 in case of IIPM), there are increased expectations on me this year.
Acq: Wow! You got 3 IIM calls? That’s great man! You must be brilliant then…blah…gifted…blah…blah…prestigious…blah blah blah…toughest exam in India…blah blah blah blah
Easy isn’t it?
Thus, we come to the end of the four-point formula. These points have been made public after extensive research, firsthand experiences, market surveys, quality assurance procedures, strict conformance to international standards, customer satisfaction initiatives, simulation of business models, five year development plans, defense measures…er… stuff like that.
Have you noticed how much of an exponent of the four point formula I have become?

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Two 1st innings which were starkly similar. Two 2nd innings which were annoyingly alike. Two 3rd innings which were curiously comparable. Yet, two test matches which ended diametrically different from each other. .

The Recently concluded Border-Gavaskar Trophy between India and Australia proved to the world that the calculated aggression of one day cricket or the mindless madness of the T20 is no match to the layered drama and unpredictability of test cricket. Just the last innings alone provided extremities with respect to situations and positions of advantage. While in Mohali, Aussies called the shots from the first ball of the fourth innings until a certain Superhero christened ‘Lax’man blew their hopes apart with deft touches, soft caresses and wrist work which was almost biologically improbable, in Bengaluru, the Kanga‘rue’ was nipped in the bud itself by a toddler learning to walk on an international cricket pitch and a veteran who could actually bat with a walking stick. Such has been the beauty of this series; such has been the beauty of test cricket all along.

If there was ever a time when test cricket needed a vaccine to protect itself from the rapidly spreading T20 virus and the dangerous ‘spot-fixing’ bacteria, this was it. Even purists were almost ready to show the red signal to test cricket; what with one-sided series, empty stadia and abysmally low TRPs on one side and stomach churning scandals involving spot fixing on the other side. Test cricket needed two teams who could turn the tide for it; two teams who could never play dull cricket even if they tried; two teams who, irrespective of rankings and ratings, brought out the best in them while facing each other. India and Australia together shouted ‘Aye Aye Sir!” to bring cricket’s purest form the respect and laurels it has always deserved. Pitch conditions took a back seat; toss result was given but a second glance; Umpiring errors were long forgotten after instantaneous moments of disbelief. What lasted was passion – pure, frantic passion. If VVS Laxman’s murderous gestures towards Pragyan Ojha in the dying moments of the first test gave weightage to the theory of test cricket’s ability to build up unbridled passion even inside the softest of individuals, Sachin Tendulkar’s vigorous punch of the air and the emotionally charged up expression on his face at the end of the second test simply shut out the doubts regarding the said theory. No other format of cricket could bring its most loved son to such heights of delirium. Tendulkar, for a brief moment, became the 10 year old curly haired boy who hated losing even plastic ball cricket matches played amidst the busy streets of Bandra. That little boy had given test cricket its due on his behalf. Test cricket has always paid rich dividends to those dues and will continue doing so.

There might be nail biting last ball finishes in One day cricket. There might be Ties followed by insane scenes involving super overs in T20. But nothing can match the sheer purity of the game which is exhibited only in test cricket. May the oldest and unblemished form of the game continue giving us sustained happiness and that rare sense of fulfillment even after having sat motionless and unproductive for five continuous days. Long live Test cricket. Long live its masterful artistes.

Friday, October 8, 2010


  • Rahul Gandhi's RSS, SIMI Equation
  • Railways on a Recruitment Frenzy
  • LED Displays on Vodka Bottles
  • India's Last Gasp Victory at Mohali
  • A 'Golden' Twist to the CWG Tale
In some unusually blatant remarks, Rahul Gandhi has described RSS as ‘Fanatical’ and no different from the banned terror outfit SIMI (Student Islamic movement of India). The fundamental reason behind his comparison is the fact that both groups held ‘Fundamentalist’ views. “I only know that both RSS and SIMI hold fundamentalist views”, he said. On being pointed out that RSS, unlike SIMI, is not a prohibited group, he reiterated that he only knew they were fundamentalist. “As I said, I only know that they are both fundamentalist. That supports my theory. All this crap about RSS not being a prohibited group doesn’t help me, so I don’t know about it”, he stated nonchalantly.

Indian Railways have started a recruitment frenzy and plan to fill 2 lakh vacancies in 6 months. Mamta Banerjee, the Raliways Minister, unveiled the conceptual brilliance behind this recruitment drive. “Anyone found staring lovingly at an Electric/diesel Engine or the respective coaches will be recruited with immediate effect”, she announced. Following the announcement there has been mad mobs of dewy eyed youths at most railway stations across India. In a totally surprising but related development, Indian off spinner Harbhajan Singh’s name was found on the first recruitment list. Apparently he had given a playful hug to Indian ‘Coach’ Gary Kirsten which was taken right into cue by the Recruitment board.

Two New York based Liquor Lovers have come up with vodka bottles that carry a programmable LED display that scrolls a personalized message of your choice in bright lights around the bottle. Medea vodka is the first one to start the quirky and innovative message-on-a-bottle trend. Like a news ticker, words scroll by, delivering birthday greetings, sweet nothings - even a marriage proposal. “We were always seeing dazzling displays on our Vodka bottles after drinking from it, so we thought ‘hey! Why not!’ and that’s how this happened”, they say proudly. To a question on whether any sort of message display is possible they say that though the desired display is possible, the best effect is felt when you drink from it and then look at the display. “That way you can see any message you want. Heck, you can even see a movie!” they say, causing instant panic in the Indian Film Industry.

V.V.S. Laxman played a soldierly knock to guide India to a thrilling 1 wicket win over Australia in the first of the two test series in Mohali. Battling back pain, a determined bowling attack, an ambitious opposition captain and an Indian captain confused about the concept of By-runners he steadied a sinking Indian Batting order to reassure their dominance in World Test Cricket. Speaking about his knock, Laxman said that he was happy to be of help in a winning cause. “I am very happy to have contributed to the win. Hopefully I repeat the feat if I get picked for the next test”, he said. On being reminded that he was no longer playing for his place in the side and was now a permanent member of the test side, Laxman sounded surprised. “Is that so? Gosh! Nobody said anything about this. That’s why I have kept on playing like my place was up for grabs. Well Well. That does put things in a different light doesn’t it?” he winked sending out strong signals to the Indian dressing room.

Meanwhile, in a surprising twist to the CWG 2010, Actor Vijay has claimed that the main reason behind India’s brilliant performance and Mad Rush for Gold in the CWG has been his JOS ALUKKAS Advertisement.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


The Objective View:

Right from the moment the title starts rolling you get the sense of something grand in store. When the movie does run its full course you realize that grand is too less a word for the spectacle.

Enthiran takes Indian Cinema to heady levels in terms of visual effects, CG and animatronics. Stan Winston studios which did VFX and animatronics for Jurassic park, Avatar etc. have been roped in for Enthiran and their expertise indeed makes the difference. The way Shankar has used the VFX giant is also commendable. Right from the simulation of Rajni’s mannerisms into a robot to the breathtaking ‘Arima Arima’ song, the realness that animatronics brings to the movie is palpable. Shankar shows that he is a master when it comes to choosing the best and making sure they get roped in.

Coming to the script (I talked about the VFX and Anmatronics first because they get top priority without a shadow of a doubt), Shankar has managed to adapt Sujatha’s ‘En Iniya Iyanthira’ beautifully to the silver screen. Though the film was touted to be a ‘ten year Shankar dream’, the director himself will be the first to admit that he was inspired by the late writer’s brilliant mini-series which was published some two decades back. Shankar has astutely reworked the script in such a manner that it suits Rajni and at the same time doesn’t bog down Shankar’s vision of ‘Enthiran’. The script can be summarized in one line- What happens when a Humanoid Robot develops human emotions?

Treading this one-lined script is indeed a tight rope walk but Shankar has managed to pull it off quite stupendously. The first and foremost fact about the scripting that hits you on the face is it’s striving for logical plausibility. Shankar has made sure that the story is logically almost infallible. He has used the leeway that is generally given to sci-fi movies to a bare minimum level. Even the most farfetched of sequences in the movie have a loose thread of logic woven around them. Stunt sequences are a treat to watch (Peter Hein’s best ever work till date) and here again, Shankar has been shrewd enough to make full use of the fact that ‘Super star as a ROBOT has unrestricted license to perform death defying stunts’. Sabu Cyril’s designs and themes are mind boggling and add grandeur to the already present splendor. Dialogues play a minimum but effective role and Sujatha’s touch is clearly evident in many of them. Sample this:
Fellow Scientist: Kadavul Irukkara Illaya?
Chitti the ROBOT: Kadavul na enna?
Fellow Scientist: Kadavul dhaan enga ella manidhargalayum padaithavar.
Chitti the ROBOT: Enna padaithavar Vaseegaran (the Scientist Rajni). Amaam, Kadavul Irukaar…

If A.R.Rahman's album managed to give feelers to the movie, on-screen viewing justifies the aptness of the musical score to the movie. Kilimanjaro stands out for its brilliant music and scenic visuals and Arima Arima is simply too overwhelming to express in words. Other songs work to the expected levels.

There is not much to talk about in terms of characterization. This is not because it is inappropriate or inadequate but more so because the script demands very few characters. Aishwarya Rai Bacchan looks stunning and her lip sync is brilliant (other so called Kollywood heroines can do with a lesson or two from her). She is the usual Shankar movie heroine – glamorous but not substantial. Santhanam and Karunas are mere add-ons and evoke a few laughs in some scenes with Chitti. Danny Denzongpa doesn’t do much and dies a premature villain death.

Coming to the focal point of the movie- Superstar Rajnikanth- Well, what can you say! He literally carries the entire movie on his shoulders. Be it the underplay of Vaseegaran, the expressionless brilliance of Chitti or the unmatchable arrogance and gait of CHITTI (the bad one), Rajnikanth proves that he is an actor par excellence. The change in mannerisms when Chitti gets transformed to CHITTI is brought out in such a seamless way and showcases the bundle of talent that is mostly dormant inside our Superstar. Chitti is adorable, enjoyable and brings the roof down with his interactions with the general public. CHITTI is menacing, haughty and brilliantly evil. He simply steals the limelight from literally everyone, including Shankar, in the brief 40 minutes he appears on screen. Many people might talk mostly about CHITTI and to an extent about Chitti. But amidst those two portrayals, the brilliant underplay and helplessness of Dr. Vaseegaran goes unnoticed. The very fact that it goes unnoticed is a tribute to the ease with which Rajni has got into the skin of that character. Superstar lifts the movie, carries it forward single handedly and sets the screen on fire with his panache and persona. It was indeed a fortunate turn of events that Shankar roped in Rajni for his ambitious dream after contemplating with Kamal and ShahRukh Khan (Goodness knows where that might have lead!). With Enthiran, Rajnikanth reiterates the fact that he is the most bankable star in India and a force to reckon with internationally.

Go watch Enthiran, only in theaters, not because I am an aggressive activist against piracy, but because it will be utter futility to watch the pirated version, even if you have a home theatre. Some things in life are made to be experienced in a certain way and a certain way only. Enthiran is one of them…Go for it. Again, again and again!!

The Fanatic View: