Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Whats wrong with cricket?

Owing to the sudden and unprecedented  increase in the level of interest in my blogs (had all of  two visits in the last month) i am back in the blogging business.

Because of a temporary dip in confidence about my capabilities as a movie critic this is not going to be a about movies. I want to talk about cricket.  Another area about which i am uniquely unqualified to write.

I know what you are thinking.. here is another "day after" pundit going off about how India lacks the killer instinct or why the fab four (or three?)  should retire . Don't worry i am not going to do any of that.  I want to talk about the game of cricket. How the game has some fundamental flaws which will cause its demise as a spectator sport.

I have only seen one cricket match at the ground. Australia was playing India in Cochin. The first international match in kerala. Stadium was jam packed , we were inside the stadium from 7 am for the match starting at 9 . Although there was to be 21 other players who were going to be in action on that day , there was no doubt that majority in the stadium (me incuded) was there to see the great Tendulkar. His dual with shane warne was  one for the ages and we all hoped that we would see something special that day. 
Match started , India was batting first . 5'th ball Tendulkar Out!!!  Although India won that match, it got me thinking.  Is it fair that a player as talented as Tendulkar be forced to sit out the rest of the match (he can field and bowl but we are not there to see him do that). He made one mistake , a momentary lapse in  concentration and his is match is over. and the match is over for the millions of his fans too.  I have tried  researching and did not find a comparable rule any where else. I guess they all knew that its sensible to keep your players on the field doing what they do best rather than have a rule which kicks them out of the game for making a single mistake.  How about giving an option to the team of either bringing the batsman in when he gets out or allowing him to continue but the runs scored by him would be reduced from the total? 

Another thing that bothers me about cricket is its lack of short term goals.  The teams can control the tempo of the game and matches slow down as teams go on the defensive when they are in trouble or when they have  50 overs to score 15o runs. This makes good cricketing sense but kills it as a spectator sports. There should be rule changes that force teams from slowing down the game. one could be to dock a run for every three consecutive dot balls or something like that.

With 20/20 cricket has probably unearthed the format that will ensure its popularity for another 100 years and maybe increase cricket's geographic reach. But i am willing to bet that
 the one days and the test format will die in another 10-15 years. Remember you read it here first!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Calcutta news.

Well the news ain't good..

I should stop here and this would be the world's most economic movie review. But i need some practice at this thing .. so i will pen my 500 words about this movie.

Calcutta news is Blessy's fourth movie . I was looking forward to watch this one because Blessy was attempting a thriller (or so i was misinformed) , and i thought it would be interesting to see what his take on the genre would be.

The movie turned out to be nothing like i expected. It can not be put in the thriller genre for sure. There is nothing to keep the viewer guessing . Pretty much most of the plot is revealed in the first half hour and from there its just a long drawn out bore fest.

The movie begins promisingly. A dead body is found near a rail track. Dilip who is a TV journalist recognizes the body as that of a malayalee with whom he had a minor argument few days back. He follows up on the story and meets the dead mans wife. She (played by Meera) is an orphan who has just been brought to calcutta after her marriage. She know next to nothing about her dead husband. Sounds promising doesn't it. A launch pad for a nice thriller with one or two plot twits?

Sadly that's not the case .The questions are all answered pretty early in the movie The husband was no saint.. He was a pimp who wanted to sell Meera to the highest bidder. He got greedy and got whacked by some bad guys . And we have not reached interval yet. From then it becomes sort of like a love story between Dilip and Meera with some psychiatric mumbo jumbo inserted in between in an desperate attempt to hold the viewers attention.

In short Blessy falters here. As i said earlier the movie held a lot promise. A different locale not frequently used by malayalam movie makers and a plot with lot of possibilities. I felt biggest draw back of this movie was that the writer/director did not keep any cards close to the chest. Everything about the plot was revealed early. It would have been so much fun if things were not quite the way it was shown in the beginning. I was hoping/expecting for a plot twist which would make Meera's character the bad guy and indrajeeth a victim.. But instead you get a half baked psychiatric angle which is laughable. Come on Blessy... OCD? Thanks to the brilliant detective serial on TV called "The Monk" lot of people are familiar with Obsessive compulsive disorder.So please do better research. I am sure your teacher would not approve of such amateurish work

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Katha parayumbol...

When we were younger we all dreamed of becoming some kind of huge popular star... For some it might have been sports or movies or maybe music. But as time passed we (well most of us!!) realized that this was not going to happen and became accustomed to a life of relative anonymity. But in the back of our minds our fascination with popularity and stardom remained.

Katha parayumbol , the new srinivasan movie is based upon this fascination. This immensely enjoyable movies is set in a village of melukavu and follows the life of Balan the local barber played by srinivasan himself. Balan who has had a monopoly over the "heads" in melukavu is quickly losing ground to the new barber in town. Sarasan (Jagdeesh) , the new barber has opened a modern shop next to Balan's shop and is aggressivley trying to run balan out of business. Balan is trying hard for a loan to modernize his shop. But his straight forward approach and his acid tongue ensures that he does not get one. Balan's family (wife played by meena and three kids) although affected by his money problems seems reasonably happy and always have a joke to crack about their troubles. The elder daughter especially ..She has some of the best lines in this movie.

melukavu is home to some interesting characters. Salim kumar plays the town poet Laurette whose creations are unintentionally hilarious. (I don't know if sreenivasan reads Astrix but this character reminded me of cacaphonix .. ) . Mukesh play's a struggling parallel college owner who is constantly hatching plots to collect long overdue fees from his students. Innocent plays Eechapayn err.. sorry Eepachayan the local moneybag who roams around with his henchman played by kottayam nazeer.

The film picks up pace when a movie crew lands up in the village. Villagers are all excited that the reigning super star Ashok Raj (Mamooty in a movie stealing cameo) of the time has come to their village. Around this time a news spreads through Melukavu that Balan is an old friend of the super star. This makes the villager see Balan in a whole new light and his life is changes overnight. The rest of the movie is about the question of Balan's and Ashok Raj's friendship. The director and script writer does a good job of not giving too much away and keeping the viewers guessing on that question the climax of the movie.

And it is come climax ..The whole movie revolves around the question of Balan's friendship with Ashok raj. So the scenes where these questions are answered are the core of the movie. That is when you realize why mamooty was needed as ashok raj. Mammoty delivers a knockout finale to this movie showing that you don't need hours of screen time to make an impact if you have the talent.

Overall a well written,acted and directed movie. But i wonder where in kerala would you find a village like melukavu now? I think since the advent of TV (especially cable) we have been bombarded with images and stories of movie stars. This has definitley destroyed the aura that surrounded movie stars earlier. I don't think a movie shooting would bring life to a standstill anywhere now ,maybe in can see this happening in the 80's or earlier.

I realize that this was not directed by Srinivasan but any movie which he writes no matter who the director is, get stamped a "srinivasn movie". He again proves that he is the best writer of movies in malayalam. He movies tell you that you don't need complex plots to make an enjoyable movie. A wafer thin plot when told using interesting characters in interesting situations make an interesting movie.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

City of Gods

One good thing to come out of the bone chilling cold this winter is our discovery of Netflix.. Netflix for the uninitated is this amazing movie delivery service. You order online .. movies get delivered to your door step. Works like clockwork..

So no surpise that we have been freaking out..(well mostly me..Sowmya does like the occasional rom-com). I have been slowly working on my must watch list of movies over the last few months. And latest in that series is "City of God"(Cidade de Deus)

I had read about this 2002 brazillian movie earlier. Something about the reviews made me add City of God to my movie wishlist. And it did not dissapoint. I would put it in my top ten movies list.

The real city of gods is a sprawling slum to the west of Rio-De Genaro. Its a crime infested locality ruled by local drug cartels. The movie is shot here and majority of its cast members are real life residents of the slum.

The story ( based upon real events ) follows the life of a group of youngsters growing up in the city. The movie is essentially about how some of them manage to evade the life of violence, some are forced into it and some just embrace it.

The movie manages to suck you in for two plus hours into their world. You are watching a movie in a language you don't understand (its in Portuguese , i just found out!), watching a set of amateur actors who have never faced the camera before but none of those things matter. By the end of the classic opening sequence you are hooked and for the next three hours you are immersed in this weird world..

Its a movie with stunning style and amazing substance. Must watch i would say..

Saturday, October 13, 2007


If you really think about it we should be seeing more malayalam movies based in the middle east. Apart from the very forgettable "Dubai" i dont think there has been another movie that has significant percentage of it set in the "Gulf". Arabikatha that way is the first mainstream movie set in the middle east which does a decent job of capturing the life's of malayalees in that area. (Well it seemed like it did , never lived there long enough for me to know for sure).

In Arabikatha, the directer brings together to very different malayalee realities,Communism and the Gulf dream. These two are poles apart but we malayalees embrace both and when they two meet there is ample scope for interesting incidents. In the movie you will mind many such incidents, all make you laugh , lot of them make you think.

Without giving much away, Arabikatha is the stoy of Mukundan a staunch communist and leader of the party in a small town/village in kerala. He is a leader on the fringes of breaking through to the big time. He is shown as the kind of worker who blindly toes the party line and never questions the logic of the actions he is asked to take.

The drama begins when he is tricked by his political rival and his capitalistic friends into owning up to a huge debt that he must pay back. He is forced to do what an average malayali does first when faced with this problem, that is "Go to Gulf". He lands up in Dubai thinking that he can make some quick petro dollars and pay back his debts.

This is when the movie really picks up steam.The director has the luxuary of exploring two different angles here. First is the "communism in dubai" angle which results is some hilarious sequences. Mukundan is slowly made to realize that his brand of communism has few takers in dubai. Director makes fun of some of the archaic policies that the communist parties in kerala are famous for. Their fight against computerisation and the cola gaints are ridiculed in two memorable sequences. This scenes which deal with this angle is what i enjoyed most.
The other angle is ofcource the life of the malayali expatriate. Director exploits most gulf malyalee stereotypes here.
The "back stabbing" malayalee who snatches a good job from mukundan , the dad who misses his daughters wedding, the guy who struggling to build a house back in kerala all show up in the movie. Though there are no points for originality here , all of these episodes touched me due to some competent acting.
Mukundan meanwhile goes and falls in love with a Chinese lady. That was bound to happen since he considers china a dream nation and all Chinese to be passionate Communists. But she breaks his heart when she disappears along with a large amount of money.

Rest of the movie is nothing much to write home about. It mutates into a revenge drama with Mukundan realizing that he has been tricked into coming to Dubai. he Finlay returns to his home town, still a staunch communist but definitely one who is better in tune with his times.

Though i found the movie quite enjoyable i do have few bones to pick. First and foremost is the characterisation of Mukundan itself. A person who is being considered a likely M.L.A candidate can be anything but dumb. He has to have a large helping of smarts to get to that position. I cant believe mukundan would be such a naive simpleton. I am thinking the writer was a bit lazy here. If he had made Mukundan smarter he would have had to work harder to come up with scenarios that bash Communism.

Overall an enjoyable picture. I enjoyed it more as a movie about the life in the middle-east rather than a political satire. Also have to mention the revolutionary poem that is part fo the sound track. Just loved it..

That was my take on Arabikatha. My first stab at a movie review (don't worry i am not quitting my day job) .
If you stumble across this post please tell me what you though about it and then go get a life!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

yeah rite

i have started a blog.. finding a name was a pain (but i think i found one that i liked in the end..)
Knowing me i would'nt be surprised if this is the last post u'll ever see here,
so if we dont meet again peace out yo!!