Sunday, November 13, 2011

Peter Roebuck - a tribute.

     News about the death of Peter Roebuck was about the kind of thing none of us hoped to see on opening the cricinfo website on a lazy sunday morning. I was dumbstruck and filled with a profound sense of grief. He wrote great pieces and did it often.

      For a cricket fanatic, his writings are a must read.  In my book, if you haven't read Roebuck, you haven't read enough about cricket. The most stunning facet of his writing to me was the way he established contexts. Contexts that a lot of other renowned writers of the game could not think of. How to look at Tendulkar's batting in the context of a progressing India, how to look at Sangakkara's speech at Lord's in the context of an in-transition Sri Lanka, how to look at a rebuilding Australia in the context of their domestic setup or how to look at Zimbabwe's boycott in the context of India, Lanka n Zimbabwe tri series. These are a few examples. I routinely re-read stuff written by him years or even decades back and still end up enjoying the freshness they retain. Here's a link to a collection of some of his articles. Peter Roebuck

    His was the kind of writing that filled one with a sense of satisfaction while at the same time forcing to contemplate. He would a write a sentence with a hundred words which was exactly what you thought about the issue and then end that paragraph with a short, crisp sentence that would blow you off your feet. He did it pretty much everytime. A deep thinker, he somehow managed to keep pace with his thoughts and put every bit of it into writing.  It is not so easy when one sees the number of aspects he brings into his write-ups. For the game of cricket, he was a custodian, a historian and at times a soothsayer.

      One of the most important chores of my everyday life is to go to the 'Surfer' in Cricinfo and see if there are any new articles from the master. It is something that would not happen from now on. It is a void that won't be filled. As Gideon High remarked, "I don't think anyone in cricket writing had a voice like Peter's when he arrived on the scene in the early 1980s. You only have to contrast the way we wrote about cricket in the 1970s to the way we write it now - Peter has been responsible I think for a lot of those developments." Perhaps, for the same reason, I see a bit of Roebuck in most of the writers now.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

How august is the15th of August?

what significance does the 15th of August hold for me?

15 years ago...It was a day to look up to. It was a day we spent days waiting for. The repeat march pasts, the repeat salutes - everything for the sake of that one moment when the Principal would hoist our National Flag in the center of my School's green lawn.

14 years ago - It was a day made extra special by the great AR Rahman releasing his 'Vande Mataram'. 50 years of Independence then.

13 years ago - It was still a day to look up to. A day when I would sing the national anthem in front of a few thousand people and know how it felt when it is sung with the parade band. The kick I got out of it, the goosebumps it gave, the adrenaline it fuelled.

10 years ago - Still a day to look up to. A different place, a different gathering and a different movie. The day I saw Lagaan for the first time. Undoubtedly the cricket match that I watched the most number of times.

And now. The country has grown (population and GDP). But what is it that I look up to, when someone talks about15th August? This - "Is it on a weekend? Is it going to be a part of a longer weekend? "  Why is this intensity towards 15th August weakened? - Why should I feel like celebrating when I see a shanty settlement right next to my 2 bed room apartment? Why should I feel like celebrating when someone begs at the place where I eat? Why should I feel like celebrating when someone is ready to go on a hunger strike to protest against a weak lokpal bill? Why should I feel like celebrating when someone thinks freedom is to jump a traffic signal? Why should I feel like celebrating when there are daily soaps running on most of the channels inspite of this being a day to celebrate freedom? Why should I celebrate when the government is the one elected by a minority of the population?

Do I look at the negatives more than the positives? Who gets lucky when prosperity marries poverty? who gets lucky when diversity marries violence? who gets lucky when progress marries fundamentalism? The product is today's India. I am lucky to be alive, lucky to be writing this.  I would consider myself unlucky for writing this too, for it would have been so sweet to talk a lot about rosy things. Independence days during school were nothing but that, rosy!!!

PS : Why do we need to celebrate an Independence day as well as a Republic day. Better save those expenses. Cut the crap.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

My thoughts on Buddha Hoga Tera Baap.

I was eagerly waiting for BHTB(Buddha Hoga Tera Baap) for two reasons. Reason 1. I have never seen Mr Big B(aka Angry Young Man aka AYM) in a full fledged hero role in a theater. Reason 2. I wanted to see if Mr Puri Jagannath (PJ) could handle AYM with the same flair as he had done with Mahesh Babu in Pokiri.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and it works big time. AYM is a complete product and we know he can handle any kind of cinema. The big question was with Puri Jagannath(PJ from here on), the main reason being whether the transition to Hindi would still keep the punch(I would prefer to call it rawness) in his dialogues alive. I must admit that the dialogue writers did a commendable job. The Puri touch was there. That for me is the biggest plus of this film. Big B needs no introduction and even if this movie goes on and becomes a blockbuster, nothing much will change for him (except that he will still remain the only superstar in the industry by a distance).
            What this film does do is to catapult Mr.PJ into the big league. In the past couple of years, we have seen southern directors and southern style of film making, making a mark in Bollywood. Ghajini, Wanted, Dabangg to mention a few. It is important to remember that Mr PJ made, the mother of all mass entertainers, Pokiri. That was mastery over this kind of filmmaking and Bollywood didn't yet experience it. Personally, I don't put Murugudoss and Prabhu Deva in the same category as PJ.  So with Ghajini or Wanted, the essence was there but the class was missing. PJ brings it big time with BHTB and looks like he is ready for the next level. I thought he hit the glass ceiling with Pokiri and though he continued making movies in the same vein, he wasn't at the same level Pokiri. To make the transition to Hindi was a challenge to him and probably that is what has spurred him to hit his peak again.

    Another important point to take note of is the length of the movie. It is under two hours and for this kind of film making, anything more than that would hurt the tightness of the product. It was smart to stick to a shorter running time. This movie also could have done without a song, but this being an ode to the Big B,  a medley of his popular numbers could not be avoided. The background score would have been better and its high time PJ gets this aspect right.

Last but not the least, the southern directors know better than anyone about making movies with superstars.