Dear Know it All – Being on the wrong side of offside

Welcome to yet another edition of ‘Dear Know it All'(or DKIA as my millions of readers like to call it). I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise to my millions of readers(have I mentioned them before?) for the slight delay(six months) in getting this edition out. So hold on, sit tight, and say goodbye to those pseudo-know-it-all hacks that you may have turned to in the interim.

Our first question comes from a cricket fan who finds himself lost in the football fever that has gripped the nation. Very current-affairs and all:

Dear Know-it-all,

I am an honest, god-fearing, hard-working and simple cricket fan. My life was going absolutely brilliantly – I was the life of every party with my abundant knowledge of cricket trivia. People were always in awe when I rattled off scintillating facts like the number of times Sachin Tendulkar has been out on 17, while playing with his collar up, in the second innings of a match, which started on the third Monday of a month. But off-late, things have changed. People don’t seem to be interested in listening to my detailed analysis of Sachin and Dhoni’s favourite nursery rhymes, and how they’ve applied the learnings from them to improve their cover-drives. All they want to talk about is football and some guy with cleanliness issues(messy, I believe he’s called) and Ronaldo(who seems to have made a comeback after fixing his tooth and having grown some hair – people have conveniently forgotten that Sehwag and Bhogle were the pioneers in that field). I decided to watch a game or two but I was extremely disappointed by what I saw. How can I ever get behind a game where mastery over off-side play is considered to be a bad thing? I am losing friends at a faster speed than Ravi Shastri’s tracer bullet and I’m very unhappy. Please help.

– feels like the perpetual thirdman in this cricket match called life

Dear feels like the perpetual thirdman etc. etc.,

This is an extremely serious epidemic that has plagued the cricket-buffs in the country. The ICC has sponsored a lot of research programs to find a permanent cure, but they’re no closer to one yet. One home-grown solution that seems to have worked in alleviating the associated stress for some people is to lock oneself inside a room for a month and watch that channel which shows Sachin making his Sharjah century, all day long. Chanting ‘Whadddaaplaaayaa’ in Tony Greig’s voice seems to bring relief too.

If you absolutely must go out and mingle with the football fanatics in this period, it is advisable to take proper precautions which include memorizing a few phrases:

‘Cricket has been become so commercial! Everything’s fixed!. That’s why I switched to watching a proper sport like football when I was 4.”

“Baichung Bhutia is not the only good player that India has produced, okay? There’s also that guy. You know who I’m talking about!”

“Brazil are favourites. But I wouldn’t discount Argentina,  Germany, Italy, Uruguay, Cameroon, Ghana(just list the names of all the teams that are still in the running). This world cup has been so unpredictable!”.

If all else fails just scream the following every couple of minutes:

Is the referee blind??! That was clearly not off-side!”

And now for the most important tip of all – while bluffing your way through these conversations, it’s very important to remember that Manchester United is not playing in the World Cup. Many a reputation has been sunk that way.

You’re welcome.

 

Ghajini – Movie Review

ghajini_hindi

Just came back from a screening of Ghajini. I must say that I expected a bit more from an Aamir Khan movie. It’s not that the movie was bad, it just that its execution wasn’t any different from the other attempts in this genre.

The acting by Aamir and the leading lady Asin is definitely top-notch. Asin in particular manages portray the role of a chirpy, kind-hearted romantic excellently. This helps make the few comic bits in the movie fun. Jiah Khan is not very convincing and her accent and dialogue delivery let her down a bit. The villain with his inexplicable Punjabi-South Indian accent doesn’t do the role complete justice. You do end up truly despising him, but its more because of the story rather than his performance. Maybe, Aamir’s character should have been pitted against a mightier foe(taking a leaf from the Superhero flicks) to add a new dimension to the retelling of the story.

The plot is pretty much the same as the Tamil version (which itself is loosely based on Christopher Nolan’s ‘Memento’). The problem with the storyline is that it is extremely predictable and formulaic. I haven’t seen the Tamil version, but I could still guess the direction the story would take at a lot of junctions, especially at the climax of the movie. I expected a few plots twists, purely because Aamir Khan was involved, but they weren’t to be found. Also, I was surprised at the numerous plot loopholes that were overlooked or ignored by the writers.

The thing to watch out for, apart from Asin and Aamir’s performances, is the brilliant cinematography. The special effects are top quality and haven’t been overdone and some of the scenes are good enough to frame. I’m pretty sure there’s going to be a Ghajini themed art show(if there hasn’t been one already) in the near future.

The musical score by Rehman, is surprisingly(the man is immensely talented), displeasing to the ears. It is evident that he’s tried to do something different here but it doesn’t really work. The background score is not bad though. The song sequences are picturised well, but are blatantly forced and just don’t fit within the narrative.

All in all, its a nice action-thriller which will keep you engaged for its duration. A bit predictable, but better than the usual fare that’s dished out by the industry. Worth a watch.

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Cup Le India! India wins the Twenty20 World Cup

What a game! It was a fitting finale to a tournament that’s succeeded in totally rejuvenating the game of cricket. Half a billion fans from the sub-continent got to see what was arguably the most topsy-turvy India-Pakistan encounter ever.
There really were no losers today – both teams gave it their absolute best and anyone could have won the trophy. India eventually won it because they got their basics right – they held their catches, hit the stumps when it mattered and most of all bowled to a plan. RP Singh and Irfan Pathan’s disciplined bowling took the game away from Pakistan’s grasp. I don’t remember ever seeing the Indian bowlers rattle the stumps of so many batsmen in a single tournament. Gautam Gambhir probably played the most important innings of his career so far – a level headed 70 which helped India reach a respectable total. Pakistan bowled well and would have considered 155 a very gettable score. Imran Nazir’s blitz at the start almost took the game away from India and the direct hit from Uthappa that sent him to the pavilion changed the course of the match – and this match changed course as frequently as a drunken biker on glycerin! Every single player contributed to India’s victory – something that’s begun to happen very often in Indian cricket since the youngsters have arrived. The game was never short on drama. Just when India seemed to have got the match won, Misbah and Tanvir exploded into a flurry of sixes – four on the trot which got them within 12 runs of the Indian total with one over to go. A lot of people would consider Misbah’s shot inappropriate but no one can even come close to estimating the kind of pressure he was under. He played the shot he thought would clinch the game for Pakistan and unfortunately for him, it didn’t work out. Another day and it could have been Pakistan’s game. That’s the beauty of Twenty20 cricket – you just don’t know whose day it’s going to be.

No one thought the Indians had even a smattering of a chance to win when the tournament began. But they showed that a team could achieve when it plays together.
The Twenty20 World Cup was everything the 50 overs cup wasn’t. It didn’t go on for eternity, it was unpredictable, and most of all – it was lip-smacking, slog-sweeping, stump-smashing, nail-biting fun! New heroes were made, new strokes were invented, new field placements were discovered, but most importantly a new zing was injected into the game. The format is here to stay and so are the thousands of new spectators it has attracted to the sport.

Rush Hour III – Movie Review

The first fifteen minutes remind you of a low-quality Chinese soap opera with a bad story and dialogues that begin with ‘promise me that you’ll’ and ‘you must’. But you’ll be in for a treat if you survive that bit because the movie really picks up after that and how! Chris Tucker is great with the incessant, in-your-face comedy and the fight sequences are excellent and inspired. As with all Jackie Chan movies, there are the usual fast and outrageous stunt scenes, lots of people flying all over the place and a hilarious bloopers reel at the end. The story is laden with cliches and could have done with some originality. Yet, it is a very enjoyable movie and one that you wouldn’t want to miss. Highly recommended.

Top four comic strips for geeks(or Read ’em and Geek)

As long as there have been computers there have been computer geeks. And as long as there have been geeks there have been geeky comic strips. Here are some comic strips that register high on the geek-o-meter:

1. Dilbert(www.dilbert.com): Arguably the most popular comic strip of all time, Dilbert has been the torchbearer of the disgruntled cubicle worker for years. Full of wit and ‘the same thing happened to me’ moments, Dilbert is a must read for everyone.

2. Monty(www.comics.com/comics/monty): A surprisingly not-so-well-known comic, Monty tracks the travails of a inventor/nerd Monty and his robot friend as they take on some everyday and some not-so-everyday problems. Highly recommended.

3. User-Friendly(www.userfriendly.org): This is the geekiest of them all. A certain level of familiarity with geek-speak is required here. Programmers and in-jokes abound in this one. Bookmark it. Now!

4. Penny-Arcade(www.penny-arcade.com/comic): This is one of the few webcomics to have made it big. Very out there and very popular among the geeky. You have to read it to believe it.

I’m sure most of you have other personal favourites that tickle your geek bone. Don’t forget to share them with the rest of us. For the time being though, read ’em and geek.

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Kabul Express – Review

Kabul Express sets out with a very clear message in mind and manages to get it across with finesse. The screenplay is excellent, the acting is believable, the locations are mesmerizing and the comedy is intelligent. The movie tells of the turbulence in Kabul from the perspective of two outsiders and how they learn about life as is lived in war-ravaged Kabul.

 

The movie moves quickly and does not drag at all. The absence of song and dance sequences trims it down to a very entertaining two hours. There can be absolutely no complaints as far as the acting is concerned. All the actors have done a convincing job. Arshad Warsi’s comic timing is masterful and he manages to make the movie his own. John Abraham has very little to do in the entire movie but he does all right. 

Kabul Express is definitely not your run-of-the-mill ‘post-war-crisis’ movie. The creators have done extremely well and sand dunes have never looked better. This one is a must watch. Four big stars out of five!

 

Please have a look at this article too.