Movie Review: Lion

Movie: Lion
Language: Malayalam
Starring: Dileep, Kavya Madhavan

Given the election season in Kerala, this movie’s timing could not have been better. The movie is a “take -off” on former Kerala State Minister Balakrishna Pillai and his son actor turned politician, Ganeshan. In this movie, the Dad is portrayed as a crook, while the son is an up and coming conscientious politician with great commitment to serve the masses. The movie is all about the rise of the son and fall of the Dad. The hero’s brother-in-laws are thrown into the mix as corrupt accomplices to the Dad. As expected the hero rises from the grassroots, contests against Dad, exposes corruption and does a clean up job. In between he finds time to dance to a couple of numbers set in New Zealand with a desperately over-weight heroine, Kavya Madhavan. One of the songs sun by Hindi singer Udit Narayan is terrible to say the least. His Malayalam is horrible (not surprisingly) and the song just exposes him even more!

The movie in general is fast paced and an enjoyable watch. It has some typical underdog “pay-back” moments from the hero which are customary in most masala films. Dileep does a seasoned job for what is typically a Mohanlal role. The film is huge hit apparently. This is a good product for a re-make in one of the other languages. 🙂

Yahoo Mail (beta) is Really Cool!

The Yahoo Mail (beta) is huge improvement over the current Yahoo mail. The design is pleasing. Its easy to use. Has some cool features like drop and drag, tabbed email view etc. If you are a user of Outlook Express the transition will be completely painless.

Interestingly enough it didn’t work in the new IE 7.0 beta 🙂

Btw, you have to request access for Yahoo Mail beta and wait for a few months before you get access to it (at least that was my experience).

Fighting the Press with The Press

President Bush picked conservative commentator Tony Snow as his White House press secretary. Given his sinking approval ratings this seems like a desperate attempt to win over the press and thereby beef up his ratings. Despite being hailed as a sounded strategy by many, I suspect this is going to backfire. While Tony Snow knows what the press wants, I am not sure he will be able to deliver it once his constraints of operating within the White House become apparent. As a commentator he probably had a lot of freedom to speak his mind. Unfortunately, as Press Secretary his opportunity to do so is going to be limited and might frustrate him and fail to meet the President’s goals. This transition might not be easy. Besides given his background he has expressed views on so many issues that he might have a hard time dissociating himself from them while striving to do justice in his new role. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Lara back as Captain

The WI selectors had no choice but to return Lara to the helm. The team is completely dependent on him. None of the players in the current WI team come anywhere close to him both in terms of record and stature. Chanderpaul was a complete failure as captain. Understandably Lara is difficult to work with. Can’t think of a better solution than to make him incharge. Captaincy is less of an issue for WI. The dismal performance of the current team and the complete lack of bench strength should be a of greater concern. Lara has not been a hugely successful captain, so its unlikely he can help with either of these issues. At a minimum he’ll be doing WI a huge favor if he recovers his own form in return for being conferred the captaincy!

Selectors Do Well to Retain Team to WI

The selectors decision to retain the same team for the WI tour is a sound one. Notice that despite the questionable form of Viru and Kaif, the cries for change are minimal. It is a growing sign of increasing focus on team performance and less on individual milestones by both the selector and the viewing public. The fact is that not all players are going to be in the best of form all the time. As long as the team succeeds those who have proven their class must be given an extended run to regain their form. The best part is that the likely replacements (Venu, Robin, Raina) for these two players are already part of the action and waiting to step up if called upon. Viru partly silenced his critics and justified the team management’s faith in him with a fine knock in Abu Dhabi. Kaif will have to do the same in the WI to earn his berth to the WC.
Despite the continuing victories, none of the members of the current team can take their place in the WC team for granted. For the first time, it appears that performance counts and those with proven class will be persisted with. Credit should go firstly to Chappell (and the selectors for a change!) and secondly to Dravid for the excellent planning and execution from match to match while still keeping the long term team perspective in mind.

India-Pak: Second ODI in Abu Dhabi

India once again looked the champion side it has proven to be lately. This match saw the welcome return to form of Viru, Dravid continued has run of form, and Dhoni showed once again that he is more than bull power. Very often victories give teams the luxury of overlooking the weaknesses. Here are a couple that were apparent.
Acceleration in the last 10 overs: This is an area India really struggled. India was well set before the last 10 overs but simply failed to step on the gas thereafter. The popular wisdom is that a set batsman must carry his bat through and play to the very end. This is a sensible strategy provided the team has a plan when both batsman are fairly set. In this case, we had both Dravid and Dhoni at the crease going into the final stretch. The right strategy should have been for Dravid to attack so Dhoni can bat to the end. Unfortunatey, both got bogged down and then both got out! For once, the team looked like they had no clear plan despite the captain being at the crease. Credit should go to the Pak bowlers who did a fine job at the death barring Yuvraj’s fine 24 run cameo.
Opening bowling attack: Irfan Pathan is an ideal “happening” cricketer. If you observe carefully, he is the kind who is almost always in the thick of action. He takes wickets or scores runs or he excels on the field (sometimes). But the truth is that he is always a player who is involved in the action. Ian Botham, Kapil Dev, Flintoff etc., all belong to this category. Irfan has shown all the right signs as far growing into this mould is concerned. On the other hand, its possible that his being in the thick of the action might result in his limitations not being exposed. Despite taking wickets, it appears that his bowling has rapidly deteriorated. He appears completely exhausted in his very first over! His speed has reduced significantly. He picks up wickets but the number of loose balls he sends down are pretty alarming. In the second ODI his first break was certainly a lucky one. Imran Farhat was unlucky to be given out lbw. If his wickets dry up, his opening the bowling might turn out to be a liability more than an asset.

7th ODI: India wins, yet again

Batting second seems to have become Team India’s big plus these days. The last three series have shown this ability ample number of times. Once gain, Dravid deserves credit for leading from the front.
Robin Uthappa: Uthappa did a superb job of staking a claim for more opportunities. He played a controlled innings and appeared determined to crack a century until his dismissal. With Viru sorely out of form, Uthappa is bound to have a few more chances in the months ahead. Hats off to the team management for trying Uthappa despite a fairly ordinary domestic season after his fine show at the Challenger tournament.
Sreesanth: Finally, he had a creditable outing. His performance this series has been fairly inconsistent and with Munaf around he will still have to fight for a spot in the playing 11. VRV and RP Singh haven’t performed very well this series and one or both of them might not make the WI tour. India’s fast bowling pool seems to be pretty good, though a tearaway fast bowler is still lacking (barring Munaf’s occasional burst).
BTW, is Balaji ever going be fit again?
Dinesh Karthik: He did a fine job behind the stumps. This went completely unnoticed, unfortunately. Understandable though, given the Dhoni phenomenon and the other performances in this match. Dinesh held on to two superb catches.
Yuvraj Singh: He has been in tremendous form. He does strike the ball with great confidence right from the word go. I fully agree with David Gower who recently compared his batting style to that of Brian Lara. He strikes the ball with a lot of power and has a huge backlift. His consistency is questionable at times.
Suresh Raina: He is clearly the find of the series. He showed his class with three crucial fifties and some superb fielding. He is a perfect replacement for Kaif if it came down to it. Unfortunately, his bowling was never tried this series.
A word of caution: All the recent victories by Team India are great. The Ganguly scandal is behind us. The team is winning matches (ODIs) with amazing consistency. There are many youngsters who are performing exceptionally. The future looks bright. But one must remember that all this recent action has occurred on sub-continent wickets. Playing in other parts of the world will most likely be a different ball game. It remains to be seen if the magic can persist!
The WI series will be a good test.

Rajkumar: Death of An Icon

The Kannada film industry lost its biggest ever star.

Its unfortunate to hear and read all about the rioting in Karnataka. Thankfully, no other Kannada star comes anywhere close, so rioting of this nature is unlikely to happen anytime soon in Karnataka!

I haven’t seen a whole lot of Rajkumar films. Of what little I have seen I must admit its a complete mystery to me as to why he is so popular. Actually, I think he is a better singer than an actor!

He was different from other south indian megastars in that he never dabbled in politics, though he stood up for issues that he thought were important to Kannadigas.