Movie Review: Mujhse Shaadi Karoge

Another product of the David Dhawan factory minus Govinda. Instead we have Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan and Priyanka Chopra. Akshay Kumar and Salman are good friends, separated since childhood, Priyanka is Salman’s love, while Akshay provides the comedy, along with Amrish Puri and Khader Khan. Standard stuff with different permutations, a handful of plug and play songs, a couple of stunts sequences and there you have it another David Dhawan product. The grand finale of the movie involves a bunch of cricket stars — Kapil Dev, Irfan Pathan, Kaif, Harbhajan, Srinath and others. If you are in a mood to leave your senses behind, have a few laughs and enjoy some standard desi masala this could be your fix for a Friday evening.

Movie Review: Phir Milenge

Saw Phir Milenge, the Hindi movie starring Salman Khan, Shilpa Shetty, Abhishek Bachhan. The story is based on the successful Hollywood film, Philadelphia. To give you a quick synopsis: Salman (Rohit) and Shilpa (Tamanna) are lovers. Abhishek (Tarun) plays a lawyer. Salman goes to US, picks up AIDS unknowingly and infects Tamanna while in India (pre-marital sex). Then, he return s to US, finds out that he is infected with AIDS, returns to India. Meanwhile Tamanna gets to know that she is HIV+, gets fired because her boss can’t stand having someone infected with HIV in his office She wants to sue, can’t finda lawyer, until a happy-go lucky Tarun comes along to fight the legal battle of his life. This in short is the story. Some key highlights and thoughts:
  • The movie is well made and definite worth watching. Revathi (former south indian actress) is the director and has done a really nice job. Can you imagine, there were scenes when I felt Salman-bhai was actually acting! Hats of to Revathi.
  • Abhishek Bacchan, the Ajit Agarkar of Indian films. Appears in almost every film but can never turn a hit. But someone appears to have taken it upon themselves to make a success out of this guy. While his papa might be the one, I always wonder who Ajit Agarkar has as his prime sponsor. When the onus of carrying an entire film is not on him, Abhishek usuually does a decent job (though there are many movie watchers who can never be convinced of this!), as I think he did here. (If you belong to the “I can’t stand this guy” group, I have a request, please forget that he is Amtabh’s son when you assess his performance. Its completely unfair to the guy).
  • Shilpa Shetty for once gets a chance to act and does a fine job. One could argue that her glamorous looks right through the film are a shade inconsistent with the theme of the film.
  • Music is decent, but I’ll need to hear it a few times before I latch on to any of the songs in a big way.
  • Salman Khan was bearable. I am glad he didn’t show his body for a change. I was expecting a raunchy dream sequence given Salman-Shilpa duos typical portrayals, but I was pleasantly surprised not to see one.

In summary, a very well made film. No unneccesary masala, histrionics etc. simple, to the point, and well presented. I hope Revathi directs more films. The movie had a strong south indian feel to it (it felt like watching a malayalam movie). Some of the actors, the one who acted as Tamanna’s sister and her boss, both spoke slowly and carefully like they were not native hindi speakers. Plenty of lines in English were thrown in, perhaps to suit ome of the actors who prefer english over hindi, if possible!

Butt kicks for Indian cricket team, time hopefully for a wake-up call

Pak beat India fair and square at the Eden Gardens, one of India’s best grounds, at the momentous occasion of the platinum jubilee of the BCCI. If this comprehensive defeat is not enough for a reality check, I don’t know what is. Hats off to Salmam Butt, a very calm, composed and talented player with a bright future ahead of him.

The only thing consistent about the Indian cricket team are its consistent defeats. For a team that is packed with talent and plenty of bench strength, its clearly a sad state. Here are some thoughts on a new look towards approaching selection of the one-day team for India.

  • Full time keeper an absolute must: Dravid as the keeper has to stop. Whenever Dravid is the captain, he always brings in a specialist keeper. There is no better proof that India’s star batsmen does not approve of the 7 batsmen formula. The formula is no longer working and its about time its abandoned.
  • Kumble permanently out of one-day games: Bhajji is clearly a better choice for one-dayers. Then why bother with Kumble in the 15. If Bhajji is out of form, as a replacement, Murali Karthik is always a proven option who can perform as well as Kumble if not better. Or hunt the country for some fresh talent.
  • Laxman out of one-day games(though he faired decently in this match): VVS is by no means a great fielder, a poor runner between wickets and his batting form is not the best currently. Most importantly, I think he is a mis-fit in the one-day game. He can always be brought back into the test team, provided his form is predictable.
  • Time to kiss good-bye to Agarkar: Can someone tell me what on earth this guy is still doing in the team today? He has had enough opportunities to prove himself and barring that one test performance in Aus and a century at Lords, he has nothing to show for all these years in international cricket. Time to send him packing.
  • Captaincy change: Ganguly appears to have lost his magic and it might be worth re-thinking the overall captaincy issue. Undoubtedly, Ganguly has a record as good or better than any Indian captain. In fact, he has groomed a fighting unit unlike no other captain in Indian cricket history. At the same time he has to bear the brunt of the responsibility for all the recent defeats. To be fair, I think the selectors should influence Ganguly to re-think the overall team strategy. If he continues to be totally inflexible and hell bent on simply repeating the same old strategy, retaining him as skipper will simply mean more of the same thing.

In my opinion, the reason Australia is able to perform to the highest quality so consistently, is that they never compromise on quality or form. In other words, only the best make it to the team. Can you imagine someone like Katich being dropped after his recent performance? If he were playing for India, he would be a fixture in the team for a min of 5 years after such a performance! Unlike test cricket, there is little room to recover in one-day games, once errors are made. So if India were to dream of winning with some level of consistency, then they have to be brutally honest in its assessing players. One easy way to look at it is to assess each player against the four aspects involved: Bowling, fielding, batting and current form. Based on assumptions derived from these aspects, let us analyze the team competition.

Criteria 1: If possible all 11 players should be top notch fielders and excellent runners between wickets. If you strictly apply this criteria: Laxman, Ganguly, Kumble, Nehra are all candidates who won’t make the cut. Zaheer Khan is also a borderline case.

Criteria 2: 6 batsmen and 5 regulars bowlers who can consistently be counted to bowl their full quota is the ideal formula. The 7 batsmen-makeshift wkt keeper-4 bowlers formula has failed miserably. If you apply the criteria that all 5 bowlers must be counted on to complete their quota of 10 overs. Agarkar is certainly the first one to not make the cut. Nehra having been axed based on criteria 1, plus the fact that he has been injury prone, plus the fact that he has very few noteworthy performances, opens up two bowling slots.

Criteria 3: The team needs five rock solid batsmen, plus one wkt keeper batsmen. Sachin, Sehwag, Dravid, Yuvraj, Kaif are automatic first choices because they clearly are not impacted by criterias 1 and 2. Dinesh Karthik is the current choice for keeper.

Criteria 4: If possible all players in the team must be in peak form. This not always possible. Besides, its not good to disrupt the team by tossing players in and out. But there has to be some basic ground rules. Ideally, I think there should be a 3 strikes and your out rule. That is, fail in 3 successive games and you are out the door for a break. Several domestic stars who deserve to be consider for the team could be beneficiaries of the three strikes rule include: Badani, Sriram, Venugopal Rao, Ambati Rayudu, among others.

Criteria 5: India needs an allrounder, ideally a heavy-hitting allrounder, the elusive Kapil Dev replacement. Romesh Powar looked like an option, but the guy was hardly given an opportunity. Other press stories indicate he was out of favor with Ganguly. In any case, a player who fits this profile is an absolute must in the team. This player must ideally be able to bat in the last 15 overs or sent up the order for pinch hitting. Currently, the only players who are capable of big hitting in the Indian team are Sehwag and Ganguly (Shahid Afridi, Flintoff, Symonds, Abdul Razack, Ricardo Powell, Chris Cairns or examples from other teams).

Based on the above analysis, Sachin, Sehwag, Dravid, Yuvraj, Kaif, Karthik, Zaheer, Irfan, Bhajji make the top 9. Also, it means that, the two remaining slots have to be players who can be counted to deliver 10 overs in every match. In other words, ideally they should be bowlers who can also bat. If its a turning track, Murali should take one spot as a specialist bowler. If its not a turning wicket then one of the many bowlers (Salvi, Bhandari, Balaji, SS Paul) should take this spot. The other spot is the allrounder spot which in my opinion is completely up for grabs. Until India can find one, maybe Ganguly should take this spot, continue as captain with a new strategy, and drop down the batting order. If he is hell bent on batting up the order, then Sehwag has to drop down the order to play the role of the big hitter. Lastly, it should be made clear to Ganguly that time is running out for him and he has to deliver. The other alternative is to pick a captain from among the top 9 players and rotate the all rounder big hitter spot among currently available talent across the country. My pick would be to give Ganguly another 4-5 matches to revise his strategy. What would your pick be?

Predictions on cricket

Lately my predictions have been hopelessly wrong. In fact, the opposite of what I predict usually happens (President Kerry, for instance!). So here are a few:

  1. India will loose the fourth test against Australia.
  2. Sachin will score 50+ in second innings. (Sachin losing magic, When a god called Sachin fell!)
  3. India won’t score more than 150 runs in the second innings of the fourth test.

Democrats in a hopeless state

Boy, that’s quite a defeat for the democratic party. Its party time for Bush and his team. After four years of economic downturn, rising deficit, war etc. etc. the voting patterns across the US don’t seem to have changed despite the “far-right” stance of the Republican party.

I am surprised that the democratic party did not make a more concerted effort to grab one of the states in the heartland. It appears that they completely disregarded these states. From this perspective, in hindsight, it might have been better for Kerry to have chosen Gephardt or some other VP candidate who could deliver at least a state or two.

I think the moral of the story for the democrats is that they better find a Presidential candidate who can carry a couple of red states in the American heartland (a la Bill Clinton) in 2008. Hillary Clinton, perhaps! At least you can be sure that the best democratic campaigner will be out there in full swing.