Friday, December 18, 2009
It is a typical Iranian film, much like the films of, say, Majid Majidi. The film boasts of many familiar Iranian qualities: a simple theme, straightforward and flawless narration, and characters grappling with their inherent weaknesses and surviving with their inherent strengths.
The main character of the film is the owner of a hall, which is used for hosting marriage functions and functions related to funerals. The opening scenes establish that he is having psychiatric problems, as they are getting orders of funeral functions only. The psychiatrist advises him to sell the hall. The next day one person comes along with a real estate agent to have a look at the hall. The owner then announces the staff that he would be selling the hall within 20 days. The rest of the story is about how the decision affects the staff members, five of them, and how they react to it.
This is a black comedy by the renowned Mexican director Arturo Ripstein. He made the film to look like a celluloid spoof of epic Hollywood films. The film narrates the events in the camp of a Christian sect, called New Jerusalem. The sect is headed by a virgin who is to bear the god’s son. The present head is an old woman who has many health issues. Troubles start when she selects a young new comer as her successor. She starts to give strange orders.
The film’s objects of sarcasm are wide ranged: from Christian beliefs to Hollywood epic films. The most memorable scene of the movie is undoubtedly its climax.
Man by the Shore
This is a beautifully conceived political movie – the story is told the memories of a girl, whose parents went missing after a coup in Haiti. I have to say that this is a fitting finale to any film festival. The film has many things in common with the first film I watched in this festival: The Last Supper. Both show fights of ordinary people against the mighty.
Details of Winners
The Golden Crow Pheasant Award (Suvarnachakoram): About Elly and Jarmal
The Silver Crow Pheasant Award (Rajata Chakoram): My Secret Skys (a South African film directed by Madoda Ncayiyana)
The best director: Nosir Siadov (director of True Noon, a
Audience award for the best film: True Noon
FIPRESCI award for the best film: A Fly in the Ashes (an Argentine film directed by Gabriela David)
NETPAC award for the best Asian Film: Jarmal
The best debut Indian Film: Harichandra Factory (directed by Paresh Mokashi)
NETPAC award for the best Malayalam Film: Kerala Café (a film comprising 10 short films; produced by Ranjith)
FIPRESCI award for the best Malayalam Film: Patham Nilayile Theevandi (directed by Joshy Mathew)
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
IFFK 2009 - Day 6
I watched three films today. I had planned to watch four films. However, I could not watch any of those four films because of a seemingly endless traffic jam in Thiruvananthapuram city. In the end, I managed to watch Ploy (an Indonesian film by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang), Once Upon A Time (an Italian film by Francesco Rosi), and About Elly (an Iranian film by Asghar Farhadi).
Ploy is a kind of not-so-good not-so-bad film. It deals with a decaying marriage life, or what is famously knows as the seven year itch. The protagonists, a man who runs a restaurant in
The wife leaves the room afterwards and ends up being drugged and raped. In some separate and slightly unrelated sequences, the bartender and cleaning girl of the hotel makes love in another room. The only thing that links the detailed love-making scenes with the main plot is Ploy’s reference to a dream she had in which she sees the same people making love.
One good thing about the film is what can be called visual humor. Some unusual sequences and camera angles create subtle humor without the help of any action or any dialogues.
The film started 15 minutes late, as the director, Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, could not reach the venue in time. In the end, screening started without the director making his customary introductory speech. It only helped in spoiling the film-watching plans of many delegates.
Once Upon A Time
This techni-color movie starring Omar Sharif and Sophia Loren is indisputably the worst movie I have watched in this festival. Some of the older folks may have got a feeling of déjà vu and nostalgic memories by seeing Sophia Loren. However, the response of the delegates gave the impression that most of them were plainly bored by the film.
This is a competition section film. I won’t be surprised if it wins the award (though I pray that Soofi Paranjha Katha or Madhyavenal win the award). It is a deftly woven film which reflects many complex issues of life and human psyche by narrating some simple things.
The plot can be described as follows. A group of young couple go for a picnic in a seaside town. One odd person in the group is Elly, the nursery teacher of the daughter of one of the couples. The first half shows typical incidents of a picnic. The mood of the film changes when a young boy of the group is trapped in the waves. The grown-ups somehow rescue the boy, but then they notice that Elly is missing. They search frantically for her, but to no avail.
However, the incident slowly reveals many uncomfortable issues between the couples. Soon, the whole group gets entangled in a web of lies. What was seen in the first half of the movie as pleasant interpersonal relationships start getting bitter. Towards the end of the movie, Elly’s fiancée too enters the fray, complicating things further.
The director, Asghar Farhadi, remains impressively non-judgmental and impassive in the treatment. The viewers feel like peeling an onion called life. The outer layers seem bright and easy. However, as one goes inwards, the texture and complexion of the layers change, and the characters appear unrecognizable from the ones shown in the first half of the movie.
The media coverage and the coverage on bloggosphere about IFFK have been subdued, compared to the previous years’. Two notable blogs about IFFK are dear cinema and passion for cinema. The writers are knowledgeable, passionate about films, and write seriously well. IFFK this time has an official blog too. Kanikonna, a Malayalam website, too publish stories occasionally. It contains many interesting posts. Delegates and guests can contribute to the blog by sending their posts to email@example.com.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I could watch only two films today. Elevator to the Gallows by Louis Malle and Jermal, an Indonesian film directed by Ravi L. Bharwani and Rayya Makarim.
Elevator to the Gallows
This is a well-known and widely-appreciated classic, which should have used up reams of newsprint and megabytes of internet server space by now. It was vintage New Wave stuff: emptiness of urban life and wickedness of fate, all shown through a fast narrative laced with subtle humor. However, watching this film confirmed one doubt that I had for some time. French New Wave films are probably the first of the classic films that would succumb to the test of time.
Jermal is one of the Competition Section films of IFFK 2009. The film is set on a magnificent backdrop. Almost the entire film is shot in a fishing platform (Jermal) in the middle of a sea.
The film starts with the shots of a boy (Jaya) being taken to the Jermal. There he was introduced to his father Johar, who refuses to accept him. Jaya finds the life in the Jermal difficult as the senior boys in the group subject him to cruel ragging. The back-breaking work in the Jermal too takes a toll on him.
The narrative flows through two streams. The first is the relationship between Jaya and his father. The second is how Jaya rebels against the tyranny of the leader of the boys. As the life in Jermal moves on, Jaya gets new friends, most of whom are attracted towards him because of his ability to write. His new found confidence reflects in the arrogant attitude towards his father. However, his father’s mind travels in the reverse direction. The more he sees his son, the more his stubbornness towards his son melts.
By the time Johar realizes the extent of his paternal affection, Jaya had become an entirely different personality. He even beats up the hooligan leader. It was then that Johar decides to tell his son why he abandoned his wife and why he leads a secret life of exile in the Jermal.
This is a realistically shot and well-crafted film, which for the most part, oscillates between the seriousness of a difficult father-son relationship and a more mirthful world of some rough boys and their tricks.
Monday, December 14, 2009
I saw two films today in IFFK 2009: Anti Christ and Dream. Considering the frantic rush for these two films, watching them in itself should be considered as an achievement. Both films were good and memorable in their own unique way.
Anti Christ: Passion, Guilt and Crime
This is a gruesome, yet daring story of a couple, whose only toddler son falls down through the window and crashes to death, while they are passionately engaging in sexual intercourse. The opening sequence of the movie dramatically shows this incident. Thereafter, the movie is divided into four segments: grief, pain, despair, and three beggars.
The guilty conscious soon catches up with the wife (a later scene shows that she has actually seen the child about to fall, but has not done anything in her excited state of orgasm) and starts playing mental tricks. The husband is a therapist and soon takes the responsibility of treating her mental problems.
They move to an isolated cabin in a forest, where the entire family spent some days in the previous year. There, the activities grow more grotesque. Soon, her mental condition improves (she herself proclaims in one scene that she has come out of the problem); however, the husband starts to have problems. The animals, insects, plants, and all around him begin to frighten him.
As he tries to figure out the meaning of the notes that she wrote during their previous stay, she attacks him with a piece of wood. What happens later is … well, I am not spoiling it. It depends on whether you watch a Catholic or Protestant version of the movie. Apparently, IFFK received a protestant version. In a nut shell, she destroys the organs that were the root cause of the child’s death.
This is a difficult movie to watch. Even the dialogues (which is in English and hence no subtitles) is not very clear in some scenes. However, visuals are splendid and convey the mental turbulences of the actors. I would have watched the film again, if not for those gruesome scenes. Maybe, when or if computers take over, this might well be the only film they preserve.
A large number of people assembled at Kripa Theater to watch the movie, despite this being the second screening. Some newspaper reports about the explicit sex scenes in the movie obviously catalyzed spectator interests.
Dream: Whose Dream Is Your Life
It has been established today once and for all: Kim Ki-Duc is the best-loved and most sought-after director in IFFK. There were long queues in front of Dhanya-Remya theater complex that prompted security guards to wonder why all these people want to see this film. And when the name Kim Ki-Duc appeared on the screen, there were thunderous applause and cheers from the viewers.
The screening of the film, which was to be started on 11.45, started 15 minutes late. The fact that the previous screening at Dhanya concluded only on 11.35 complicates the matters further. After a determined effort in the heavy rush, I managed to get into the theatre. However, once the film started, all the sufferings were easily forgotten.
The film has a bewitching story line. A man sees dreams and a woman enacts the dreams in her sleepwalking self. This leads to some complex, occasionally humorous, and almost always beautiful sequences. The opening scenes establish this curious link between the protagonists. The film goes on to narrate how it changes their lives.
Verdict: A simple and bright movie that deals with some complex issues surrounding human psyche.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
I saw two films today: Sweet Rush by the acclaimed Polish director Adrezej Wajda and Bad Day to Go Fishing by the Uruguayan director Alvaro Brechner. Both films failed to match with the standard of the movies of the previous two days.
Poor planning forced me to miss one film. The first film, Sweet Rush, at Remya theatre, started at 10 am and finished around 11.30. It left me with only one choice in the second screening time segment – Nothing Personal (a Dutch film directed by Urszula Antoniak) at the same theatre. However, there was a huge rush for this movie and I could not even enter into the theater. Rumor has it that a particularly attractive poster of Nothing Personal, with a naked lady lying in a bed, caused this unprecedented rush.
Sweet rush is a “grass-like plant growing in wet places and having cylindrical often hollow stems”. The movie is based on a novel, in which the plant is an indicator of disasters. The movie has a two-layered structure. The first narrative structure is an actress’s monologues about her lover’s disease and about the problems about making a movie called Sweet Rush by Adrezej Wajda. The second narrative shows the movie in which she is acting. At one point towards the climax, both narratives intercept.
The director has shown deft craftsmanship in intercepting the two narratives. However, there is no point in hailing the narrative skills of a master like Wajda. The whole world knows it. Despite the narrative brilliance, the movie fails to engage the viewers.
One can find some of usual themes of Wajda’s films here also: The Second World War, existential questions, and personal grief and sorrows. Still, the lengthy single frame shots of the heroine’s monologue are monotonous and painstakingly slow. One feels like listening to an audio novel at times.
Bad Day to Go Fishing
Well, this is not boring or slow-paced. This is a happy film that deals with the life of an exiled wrestler and his cunning agent. The film opens with an ambulance, taking a body of an unconscious man to a hospital. The rest of the film actually reveals who is that unconscious person and how he ends up in the hospital bed.
The agent makes a living out of taking the “world champion” to various villages in
In this particular village, they run into problems. The arranged opponent was arrested after drunken brawl in a bar. In addition, a strong-willed woman comes on behalf of her strong-bodied fiancée to challenge the world champion. The circumstances force them to accept the challenge. Despite the determined efforts from the agent, the challenger and the fiancée refuse to accept his terms. The agent tries to flee on the previous day; however, world champion intimidates him to stay on. Eventually the fight takes place and one of them ended up in the hospital bed. Well, I am not spoiling the climax by saying who it is.
This is a well-made film, suitable more for commercial box offices than festival circuits.
No Monday morning blues
Tomorrow is going to be a big day (for once, I am eagerly waiting for a Monday). I have reserved seats for Anti Christ by Lars Von Trier and Dream by Kim Ki-Duk. I think I will have to miss Puska's
How to book balcony seats through sms
This is simple enough. You need to send an sms to 9446301234. The sms should have the following format: Reg. no.[space]password[space]date[space]theater[space]film code.
Although it looks like a programming code, it is really simple. One can get the reg. no. and password from the delegate pass. Date refers to the day (that is, 14, 15, 16 etc.). Type the exact spellings of theatre and film code from the IFFK schedule. An ideal sms would look like this: 1160 PSUB7X3 15 KAIRALI CS05
Well, this much you get from one of the umpteen sms’s sent by TM-IFFK. This is only the theory part. Practical is somewhat more difficult. Before going to the practical, one must learn a bit more theoretical aspects.
The SMS reservation facility for a particular film starts two days before the date of screening of the film. Say, if the film is to be screened on 16th, the sms reservation facility starts on – yes, you guessed it right – 14th (remember the Godard’s equation: cinema = truth x 24 frames/sec). The reservation facility starts around 10’o clock in the morning.
The early birds do not have to sit in the front row and crane their necks. Nor they have to stand in random queues as shown in the picture on the left. However, one has to be fully prepared to tackle the situation. Practice the following tips and you can walk into the balcony with your head held high when others quarrel and plead with the hapless security guards at the entrance.
1. Be prepared for balcony reservation two days in advance. That is, if you plan to book tickets on 16th, carry out all these activities on or before the morning of 14th.
2. Type your password and user name on the messaging window of your mobile phone. Type this number on the “To:” box: 9446301234. Then save the message as draft.
3. I assume that you have done the research about the movies (Suggested references: IFFK schedule, google, wikipedia, and all that jazz) and have finalized the films that you are going to watch on a particular day. Find the draft message you have saved in your phone and open it in the edit window. Type date, theater, and film code so that the message has this format: 1160 PSUB7X3 15 KAIRALI CS05. Save a message for each reservation that you want to make. This is easy. Change only theater and the film code of the original message and save it as a different message.
4. Around 9’o clock or a little later, you will receive a message from TM-IFFK informing that the reservation facility for a particular day (say 16th) has just been opened. Act on war footing now. You can forget any other job (including watching movies!) for some seconds. Straight away take the saved draft messages and send them one by one as soon as possible.
5. Make sure that you receive a confirmation from TM-IFFK (this may take up to 30 minutes).
6. Lastly and most importantly, make sure that you reach the venue 10-15 minutes before the screening and show your card to the security personnel. Otherwise, you will have to muscle your way through a crowd who are waiting snatch up the unoccupied seats in the balcony.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
True Noon, a Tajikistan Film directed by Nosir Siadov, is a delightful, yet poignant film about how people’s life change by the interference of the governments. A number of films have dealt with this theme. Still, this film is fresh and beautifully shot.
The story happens in a mountainous border village between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, two former Soviet states, which have become independent states after the fall of communism. The film develops around Kiril, an old supervisor of the weather observatory in the town, and his beautiful apprentice, Niloufar. He wants to leave to his Moscow to be with his wife, children, and grandchildren. He wants to hand over the duties to Niloufar, but there are many hurdles. She is about to be get married. They have to persuade the husband and other relatives about sending her to work after marriage. In addition, she does not have a formal certificate.
All such problems go to backstage as the army makes its appearance on the town. The army personnel put a barbed wire fence right across the village. Schools, hospitals, and many other institutions are on one side and many people are stranded on the other. It leads to some funny scenes, where a teacher stands and teaches on the one side of the fence and students sit and learn the other side.
Kiril is forced to cut the barbed wire, when the Niloufar’s mother feels pregnancy pain (her husband is determined to get a son). However, sensing this, the army men put mines on the path. The situation becomes dangerous as the marriage date of Niloufar nears and leads to a tense climax.
True Noon reminds one of a famous short story in Malayalam: Nalam Lokam (The Fourth World) written by NS Madhavan. It deals with the problems take place in a space shuttle, jointly launched by India and the then USSR, after the fall of the Soviet Republic. But the film is not as satiric as the story.
Reservation: Official versus People’s
More people arrived at IFFK 2009 on the second day. At least in some places, tempers started to fray. People are still to come into terms with the advanced reservation facility. In most places, not all people who reserve seats in the balcony bother to turn up. This led to many vacant seats in balcony; that too, when unreserved people are sitting in the front row, craning their necks upwards to watch the movie.
People soon learnt about this aspect somehow. Today before the screening of True Noon, some people demanded entry into the balcony even though they do not have a reservation. They actually tried to force their way in. It led to some angry arguments between the staff and the delegates. Perhaps, it is a fitting introduction to a film that deals with the trouble that an official decision brings to people!
However, the problems here are absolutely not the fault of the organizers. They have done well to provide even a simple sms reservation facility. Perhaps, they should start a cancellation facility too. I think they should also ban further reservation option of those people (at least a ban of one or two days) who do not turn up after reserving a balcony seat.
Perhaps it is the high expectation. I must say that Broken Embraces does not create the same kind of magic that some of the previous films of Almodovar created in previous IFFKs. By no means is this an ordinary film. Everything that we have seen from Almodovar is there; but only those things, not anything beyond. We are becoming too familiar with the celluloid phenomena of the so-called planet Pedro.
The story revolves around a writer-director who has become blind and, in his own words, “has become his pseudonym”. As we watch the film, the gripping story of how he has become blind and his pseudonym unravels. It would be an injustice if it is reduced it to the storyline. (Interested people may check the Wikipedia article here). I have to say that the story does not have the sharpness or complexity of some his previous films. However, there are some typical Almodovar moments in the movie: beautiful frames, a natural flow of sequences that only the masters’ films possess, characters with strange and intertwined history,another film within the film, and sharp and witty dialogues.
Judging by the response of the audience, soon we may witness the formation of an Almodovar fans association in Thiruvananthapuram. There were thunderous clapping when his name appeared on the screen and when particularly spectacularly scenes appeared on the screen. Penelope Cruz too seems to have her own share of admirers as her introduction too was received in the manner usually reserved superstars in Malayalam and Tamil.
Next I am going to Kairali for watching my first Competition Section film in this year’s IFFK: True Noon, a Tajikistan film directed by Nosir Siadov.
I watched two films today so far. The Other Bank by George Ovashvili and Tales from the Golden Age by Cristian Mungiu, Loana Maria Uricaru, and Hanno Höfer.
The Other Bank is a film about a 12-year old boy, a refugee in Georgia, who goes in search of his father to forbidden territories. The film portrays his life, his journey, the incidents during the journey, and the life in the warring regions of erstwhile Soviet Union. It is an engaging film, with fantastic performance from the boy who plays the lead role.
The second film, Tales From The Golden Age, is a dig at the Communist-ruled Romania in 1980s. It is a laugh riot – satire at its best. The film comprises five short films. The best among them is the one about the official inspection in a village. Any Keralite who has seen the organizing of government official functions in Kerala can easily relate with most of the incidents in the short movie. The one about official party photographer is also hilarious. Others are too are filled with sarcastic moments about the party and life in general.
Now, I am going dash off to Kripa to watch Broken Embraces by Pedro Almodovar. I have reserved tickets. Hope I get a seat!
Friday, December 11, 2009
I had planned to watch Adrezej Wajda’s Sweet Rush, as I always trust the old guard than the flashy new comers (as in Cricket). However, I changed my plan in the last minute and went to watch Land of Scarecrows, a South Korean film directed by Gyeong-tae Roh. It is a remarkable film in that it is a rare blend of cinematic beauty and social criticism and yet provides insights into human nature and the environmental concerns.
Most of the events take place in two places, in Philippines and Korea, which is a bit hard to figure out in the initial stages. However, the picture post card beauty of the still frames (the camera never seems to move) captivate the viewers. Slowly, the main characters emerge: Jang, who feel she has become a man after the wet land near her home was filled with soil: Rain, a Philippino girl who wanted to marry a Korean and whom Jang marries in a made to order marriage ceremony in an obscure town in Phillippines, and Loi Tan, who is in search of his adopted Philippine father.
In some comic scenes, which break the monotony of charming visuals, Rain discovers that her husband is actually a woman. Then she meets Loi and there starts a silence romance.
The story of the characters is a secondary theme in the movie. The main theme is captured in an expletive-filled sermon of a spiritual guru, whom Jang consults to find a cure for her trans-gender problem. He says the cause of all the problems these days is “putting human’s soul in monkeys’ in humans, …. Carrot’s in onion, and onion’s in carrot”. One cannot agree more.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
I watched two films so far today. The Last Supper, by the Cuban director Tomas Gutierrez Alea, turned out to be a great film. It is satirical, philosophical, and even has a revolutionary flair.
The story happens in in the 18th century, in a sugar mill in Cuba. A large number African American slaves are made to work in the mill like, well, slaves. The owner of the mill, a white, pious Christian, is concerned about the religious beliefs of the slaves. He gives them a supper, much like the original Last Supper. The film is often hilarious, and clinically exposes the double standards of the so-called religious capitalists. Perhaps, a politically correct film from Cuba, but well-made one.
The second film, Eastern Plays, by the Bulgarian director, Kamen Kalev, was not so impressive. It provides a kind of strange viewing experience. Every time you tend to feel bored with the sequences the director comes up with a gem, a great dialogue, a stunning visual, or an unexpected incident.
The protagonists are a wood carver and his jobless younger brother. The film deals mainly with the insecurities and hopelessness of the elder brother. The film moves at a slow pace, sometimes, too slow. However, brilliant dialogues and visuals that capture the mood of the protagonist keep the viewers enthralled.
The signature film has become one of the hotly anticipated items in IFFK. This year's turns out to be cool. Perhaps the best signature film seen in recent times at IFFK. Sanju Surendran is the man who seems to have done the impossible: satisfying almost all delegates.
All these can serve only as a good appetizer. The main course starts tomorrow. The list of films is mouthwatering. Most of the usual IFFK suspects are there: Almodovar, Kim Ki-Duk, Zanussi, Godard. The Makhmalbaf family seems to be the only notable absentees.
As always, the film screening of IFFK starts at 9 am in Kalabhavan. This time the unofficial opening movie is The Last Supper by the Cuban filmmaker Tomas Gutierrez Alea. The official inaugural movie is A Step into the Darkness, a Turkish film directed by Atil Inaç, which will be shown at Nishagandhi Open Air Auditorium at 6.15 pm. In between these two films, several other films are going to be screened tomorrow.
I am finding it difficult to finalize tomorrow’s schedule. The first one is easy as there are no other shows in the 9’o clock segment. After that, I think, I will watch Eastern Plays, a Bulgarian film directed by Kamen Kalev, though there are other potentially good catches, such as 7 Years (the debut film of the French director Jean-Pascal Hattu) and
I am planning to watch Sweet Rush by Adrezej Wajda in the afternoon, who just edges out another veteran of the previous generation François Truffaut (whose Jules and Jim will be shown at the same time segment). Two other notable films in the afternoon session are the South Korean film Land of Scarecrows (by Gyeong-tae Roh) and the Iranian film Be Calm & Count to 7 (by Ramtin Lavafipour).
Enough for a curtain raiser. Caution: More to follow after watching the movies.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Certain films I saw in last year’s festival are still running successfully in the box office of my memory: Three Monkeys (by Nuri Ceylan), The Photograph (by Nan T. Achnas), and Blindness (by Fernando Meirelles) as well as Ashes And Diamonds (by Andrej Wajda) and The Magician (by Ingmar Bergman).
Strangely, I have not seen a film from a cinema theatre since the last IFFK. Thought of watching some films, such as Oru Pennum Randanum (A Climate for Crime, directed by Adoor Gopalakrishnan), Slum Dog Millionaire, Pazhassi Raja, and a Tamil film called Nadodikal. Adoor’s film vanished from the theatre by the time I had managed to arrange an appointment with it. Bad reviews from some of my friends encouraged me to abandon the idea of watching the other films mentioned here. Living in a village helps too in avoiding a lot of trash films (even if I miss a rare good one). I can’t imagine being able to do this if I were still living or working in Chennai or Thiruvananthapuram.
So, IFFK has become the only cinematic concubine I have. Hope they will show some good films this year as well and do not screw up my time. After all, I am about to use all my creativity to fabricate excuses for some days’ leave from my office.
Friday, November 06, 2009
"U can do any sin when Sachin is in the crease,God will not punish u,
bcos even god wil be watching him play !! "
-a famous quote on the maestro
What makes Sachin so special ?
Is it his technical perfection, fine tuned improvisations, perseverence,commitment,humility or is it his never dying passion for the game ?No definitions can define him,no metaphors can compare him...and probably thats how an art should be !
The crowds rise,rivals perspire,and partners are inspired, when this man enters the pitch.The lone warrior who carried the team and the hopes of a million countrymen on his shoulders.The very presence of the little man spreads an aura of faith,confidence and elegance all around.
The records queue up in his footsteps waiting to get broken and rewritten.The high standards set by himself has placed him in an elite class of his own.But he has managed to handle the burden of expectations throughout his stupendous career that has spanned for almost 2 decades now !
Ofcourse there is not even a tint of doubt in his abilities as a batsman but as a finisher he has miserably failed in many an occasion.The latest being his blistering innings of 175(141 balls) in the 5th ODI against the, no longer "mighty", Australians at Hyderabad(5 nov 2009).Only to end up in the losing side, with the team falling just 3 runs short of the target.It was his 45th ODI century.He also passed another milestone in the process-17000 runs in ODI cricket.But it was nothing less than heartbreak for his "worshippers" who were craving for such an innings,to see his valiant effort go in vain.
All through the innings you could see the glimpses of his prime time.May be the last big sparks from the greatest cricketer ever,easing to the twilight of his glorious career!!
Monday, September 28, 2009
Monday, July 06, 2009
FEDERER vs RODICK 5-7 7-6 7-6 3-6 16-14 !!
If last year’s Wimbledon final was an epic then what was this year’s? It was yet another magnificent performance from the legendary Federer-the man who has taken men’s tennis to new horizons. And he can now sit on the throne of men’s tennis alone with a staggering 15 grand slam titles in his shelf. Each time we feel this is the best we have seen, he comes up with something more, keeping us wondering what next ? What makes him a true champion is supreme skill, graceful movement, perseverance, dedication, self confidence or may be a rare blend of all these.
In the absence of Rafael Nadal, the defending champion and world no:1 it was expected to be nothing less than a “cake-walk” for Federer at the All England tennis club this year as no one other than Nadal have come even close to the genius of Federer, especially on grass. But it was not to be, with a resurgent Rodick putting his everything for his maiden Wimbledon title. He was on command from the beginning firing on all cylinders with his huge serves above 140kms/hr . Something which reminded the body line bowling of the old legendary West Indian fast bowlers. Federer could not find the code for breaking those bazookas from Rodick which was extending the match for so long. But Federer held on for life with some neat serving sending down as many as 50 aces. Both players pushed hard as the game was turning into a marathon. Sometimes it’s too cruel a sport that, in the end, someone has to fall and this time it was to be Rodick. He was finding it hard to hide the tears of desperation at the presentation ceremony. But he can go with heads held high. With the kind of performance he put up, he has finally lived up to the expectations to be the man to represent America in the tennis world in years to come.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Electing to bat first the Lanka's had a flying start with Dilshan and Jayasurya on the cockpit. Sohail Thanveer really had a wrong spell with his wrong foot, his first over had as many as 11 run ups which includes 3 wides, two front foot no-balls and three boundries. Srilanka put forth a total of 150 with Dilshan topscoring with 46. The Pakistan innings crumbled in the beginning as their opener’s didn’t waste much time in the crease. Shoaib Malik came in with a handy 28 which includes 3 consecutive boundries against Mathews.Younis Khan(50)and Misbah ul Huq(21) put a partnership of 66 for the fourth wicket , which could have turned the match around.Misbah's departure was followed by an "avalanche effect" and pakistan was bundled out for 131/9.Malinga claimed three wickets and Murali had two in his pocket. Dilshan ,the top scorer in the tournament was the player of the match.
SCORES AT AGLANCE
SRILANKA - 150/7 in 20 over’s (T.Dilshan - 46, Jayasurya- 26)
PAKISTAN - 131/9 in 20 over’s (Younis Khan-50,shoaib Malik - 28, Malinga- 3/17)
SRILANKA won by 18 runs
The only part of the game which belonged to India was the partnership between Yuvraj Singh and Yusuf Pathan. Yuvraj played (or had to play) the saviour role yet again with a handy 67 off 43 balls when the team was in real trouble. His most beautiful hit was a sweetly timed chip over mid wicket which went for a six! The loss will certainly raise many questions. Dhoni’s batting form (or style) being on top of it. The lack of experienced players in the team is also telling off as the team finds itself difficult to adapt to high pressure situations. It’s time for the team and management to rethink and analyze its tactics, better sooner than later. In the present scenario, team India is in a do or die situation and should come up with solid performances to keep alive their, as well as a billions’, hopes of defending the title.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
England won the toss and elected to bat first. The top order trumbled in front of the hostile bowling from Dale Steyn and W.D Parnell. Rescue operation by Owais Shah(38) helped them to put a score of 111 on board. Jacques Kallis(57*) and Hershelle Gibbs(30)steadied the innings for South Africa after an initial wobble, and they went past the chequered flag with 10 balls to spare. Jacques Kallis was named the player of the match for his allround performance.
It was demolition work undertaken by New Zealand at Trentbridge when they thrashed Ireland by 86 runs. Ireland won the toss and elected to field, a descision that gifted the match to the Kiwis. Debutant Aaron Raymond showed his class with a well made 63 of 30 balls.He reached his half century in 23 balls.Later fireworks from Martin Guptill and Scott Styris put a massive target of 198 in front of the Ireland. The Irish were bundled out for 111 by some excellent bowling by Nathan Mccullum and Kyle Mills. Aaron Reymond was adjudged as the man of the match for his memorable knock.
SCORES AT A GLANCE
Super eight Match 1
ENGLAND - 111 in 19.5 overs (O.Shah- 38, Parnell- 3/14, D.Steyn-2/19)
SOUTH AFRICA - 114/3 in 18.2 overs (J.kallis- 57, gibbs- 30)
Soth africa won by 7 wickets
Super eight match 2
New Zealand - 198/5 in 20 overs (A.Raymond- 63, M.Guptill- 45, S.Styris-42)
Ireland - 111 in 16.4 overs(N.Mccullum- 3/15)
New Zealand won by 86 runs
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Today India can boast of having the most number of match winners, ones with the capability of turning the match in its head. The team has the classy Gambhir and the blazing Sehwag at the top, followed by talented youngsters Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina, who are in fact stars in the making, and a solid middle order of Yuvraj Singh and Dhoni. What more can u expect from a batting line up? And with the Pathan brothers to follow with their fire woks at the lower middle order , India seems to be something like a giant banyan tree with strong roots which is too hard to topple over. And having a highly inspiring and determined captain in Dhoni India just seems to have finally got that knack of winning, and winning consistently.
Dhoni follows the often said tactic in football that attack is the best form of defense. He never lets the opposition to get over and doesn’t let the momentum go down at any stage of the game. Dhoni, who started off as a dasher in his early days, is being criticized for becoming more of a nudger these days. Now, he relies more on keeping the scoreboard ticking by quick singles and gentle pushes on both sides of the wicket. According to him, and may be rightly so, there should be a person in the team who can play the anchor role, especially when there are too many stroke players around.
The bowling department is also well settled with youngsters Ishant Sharma and Ojha coming up with performances that outshine their senior counterparts. RP Singh, one of the leading wicket-takers of the IPL, having a quiet time in the dug-out itself speaks of the strength of the bowling department.
And what more? Everybody in the team seems to be enjoying their game. Everything is well and fine as long as the team keeps winning. Good luck India!
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
In the first match of the fifth day, Pakistan batted and bowled sufficiently well to put an end to the Orange revolution that many Dutch fans and Indian fans had hoped for. Their performance was scratchy despite the win, particularly their fielding. It still remains a throwback to pre-Jonty Rhodes era.
Batting first, Pakistan scored 175 for 5 in 20 overs against a bowling, which was industrious, but not threatening enough. Kamran Akmal, the man of the match, top-scored with 41 (of 30 balls). He was well-supported by Shoaib Malik (30 of 28 balls), Younis Khan (36 of 20 balls), and Misbah-ul-Haq (31 of 20 balls).
The Dutch needed to score 151 runs to get through the super eight by virtue of a better net run rate. However, they catapulted in front of a do or die situations, much like their more famous and illustrious football teams in recent decades. They were all out for 93 runs in 17.3 overs. Shahid Afridi was the star of the Pakistan bowling by taking four wickets for just 11 runs.
The Dutch batsmen gave the impression that it was the first time they see a leg spinner bowling googlies and top spinners and appeared flummoxed by that fact.
Pakistan fielding was similar to what we see in beneficial veterans' tournaments. Pakistan fans knew that luck was on their side when they saw Salman Butt actually holding on to a simple catch, after dropping some similar and easier ones in this match and the previous one.
Score: Pakistan (175 for 5) in 20 overs beat the Netherlands (93 all out) by 82 runs.
South Africa prevails in a photo finish
It's really embarrassing that South Africa hasn’t yet won any form of the world cup, whether it is the traditional 50-50 or the recent 20-20. It’s a team with immense manpower lead by a young and dynamic captain. The Proteas has made their intentions clear with their second consecutive win in the tournament, albeit a narrow one against New Zealand. It was yet another nail-biting last ball finish with South Africa emerging victorious with the slimmest margin possible.
South Africa set a total of 128 in 20 overs with the help of some cautious batting from Graeme Smith (33 of 35 balls), Jack Kallis (34 of 23 balls), and JP Duminy (29 of 23 balls).
In reply, Brendon McCulum (57 of 54 balls) and Ross Taylor (22 of 31 balls) seemed set to take the Kiwis past the target. But some great bowling from Van der Merve sealed the fate of the match in favor of the Proteas. Jacob Oram (24 of 18 balls) made a valiant effort. But South Africa, for once, held their nerve. Van der Merve was adjudged man of the match.
Score: South Africa (128 for 7) beat New Zealand (127 for 5) by one run.
Monday, June 08, 2009
The fourth day saw the tally of casualties expanding to three, when Bangladesh and Australia joined Scotland in the departure lounge. So far, seven teams have qualified for the super eight: India, South Africa, England, and West Indies in one group, and Sri Lanka, New Zealand, and Ireland in the other group. Either Pakistan or the Netherlands will join the latter. If the Netherlands qualifies, which is very much possible, one group of super eight will have New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Ireland, and the Netherlands. Super eight? No way. "Modest four" might be a better label.
Match 1: Ireland hunts Bangladesh
Bangladesh needed to win this match to keep their super-eight hopes alive. However, Ireland proved a tough nut to crack. First, they bowled and fielded with good discipline to restrict Bangladesh to 137 for 8. Had it not for the pyrotechnics of Mushrafe Mortaza (33 in 16 balls) in the last over of innings, which resulted in 20 runs, they would not have reached even this score.
However, the score eventually proved inadequate as Ireland chased down the score handsomely with 10 balls and 6 wickets to spare. The O'brian brothers, Niall (40 of 25 balls) and Kevin (39 not out of 17 balls) – the lesser known brothers in the tournament amidst the Pathans, Husseys, and the McCullums – did the bulk of the scoring. Niall O'brian was chosen as the man of the match.
Scores: Ireland (138 for 4 in 18.2 overs) defeated Bangladesh (137 for 8 in 20 overs) by 6 wickets.
If the same thing happened to Australia two years back, it would have brought a bit of embarrassment; but this time it was rather expected from them. One doesn't need an autopsy to find the causes of this fate (rather ill-fate), because things are quite clear as the white skies. The primary reason is that they yet don't have a perfect replacement for the "eternal three", Adam Gilchrist, Mathew Hayden, and Shane Warne. The second is their lack of team coordination. You don't expect someone like Andrew Symmonds to be court-martialed for boozing. Anyways, all eyes are now pointing to Ricky Ponting, "the punter", the king who has lost his crown.
The Australians would be glad they don't have to face their home fans quickly, as they stay in London for the ashes. The Lankans clinched the match with an over to spare, when Kumar Sangakkara played a captain's knock with a well-made 55 supported by Dilshan's 53.
Score: Sri Lanka (160 for 4 in 19 overs) beat Australia (159 for 9 in 20 overs) by 6 wickets.
Tail piece: What will be Ponting saying in the press conference today? It might be something like "ini kaavile paatumalsarathinu kaanam" (Jagathi Sreekumar challenging Mohanlal in Yodha).
The third day' play produced two boring, one-sided games. In the first game, Scotland felt the powerlessness of minnows against the all-round efficiency of South Africa. There is nothing much to write about the match other than the scores.
Score: South Africa 212 for 5 (de Villiers 79 from 34 balls and Kallis 48 of 31 balls) beat Scotland 81 all out, by 130 runs.
In the second match, Pakistan's performance in the ground mirrored the state of affairs in the country. The only thing worse than the law and order of Pakistan seems to be their cricket team's fielding. England was not complaining though. The return of Kevin Peterson provided the much needed firepower to their middle order.
England, put into bat by Younis Khan, exploited the power-pay overs better than they themselves might have imagined. Luke Wright (34 of 16 balls) provided the early impetus. Peterson (58 from 38 balls) maintained the run-scoring tempo and England finished with a decent total of 185 for 5.
The decent total soon became a formidable one when Pakistan started their innings. Wickets fell at regular intervals and run rate kept on climbing. It appeared that only Younis Khan (46 not out of 31 balls) was interested in actually chasing the total. Pakistan finished with a paltry 137 in their quota of 10 overs.
Score: England (185 for 5) beat Pakistan 137 for 7, by 48 runs.
What this means is that England has virtually ensured their super-eight berth because of their superior net run rate. Now, it is a toss-up between Pakistan and the Netherlands. Pakistan has to beat the Dutch by a big margin to qualify for the super eight. Incidentally, England will be in the same group of India and South Africa.
Sunday, June 07, 2009
The stage is well set for Roger Federer to ascend to the zenith of men’s tennis. If he wins today’s final he will equal Pete Sampras’ record of the most men's singles grand slam titles. He will also become only the sixth man in the history of the game to win all the four majors. The only man who had stood in between his lips and the crown for the last 3 years is not in the picture this time around. It's never easy-pickings in a grand slam final but this man seems to be in a class of his own. Such high are the standards set by himself, that even reaching the French open finals in four consecutive years appears modest or just average. However many tennis fans would really miss the grueling , yet exotic Federer-Nadal tussle that they got used to in the grand slam finals of recent times. The Swiss master has been haunted by the Spanish nightmare for more than enough now, and it seems all he had lacked was this small bit of luck.
Tail piece: The other finalist is Robin Soderling…. Robin who?
Saturday, June 06, 2009
The second day of the capsule cricket world cup witnessed more sixes and more brutal hitting than in the first day, but no upset of seismic proportions. Scotland failed to emulate the Dutch, though they did manage to give a scare to the Kiwis. West Indies, absurdly ranked 11 in this tournament, produced what one can call an upset, by pulverizing Australia. Finally, an efficient performance from the "rock stars of cricket" ensured that Bangladesh did not repeat their 2007 World Cup performance against India.
Scores in brief
Match 1: New Zealand (90 for 3 in 6 overs) beat Scotland (89 for 4 in seven overs) by 7 wickets
Match 2: West Indies (172 for 3 in 15.5 overs) beat Australia (169 for 7 in 20 overs) by 7 wickets
Match 4: India (180 for 5 in 20 overs) beat Bangladesh (155 for 8 in 20 overs) by 25 runs
Match 1: Kiwis wins the cricketing sevens
The first match of the second day, between Scotland and New Zealand, was reduced to a sevens match – that is, seven overs per side, and not seven players per side as in the football version of the sevens. Scotland were nursing hopes of an upset win similar to the Dutch victory over England on the first day. They raced to a backyard-cricket- or school-ground-cricket-like score of 89 for 4 in 7 overs to raise hopes for yet another upset. Gavin Hamilton is the most familiar face in the Scotland team. But he did not have to bat, as obscure cricketers like Ryan Watson (27 in 10 balls), Navdeep Poonia (27 in 15 balls), and Kyle Coetzer (33 in 15 balls) produced a slog-fest.
In reply, New Zealand were not as generous as England had been. They reached 50 in 2.4 overs, and then went on to score the required 90 runs with one over to spare. Jesse Ryder (31 from 13 balls), Ross Taylor (21 from 10 balls), and Brendon McCullum (18 from 8 balls) were the main destroyers. Despite the heavy hitting all around, the man of the match award went to Ian Butler who took 3 wickets in 2 overs by giving away "only" 19 runs. He gave away just 8 runs in the last over. In fact, the last three balls of the innings resulted in wickets. But the second wicket was a run out, so I think it will not be considered as a hat trick.
Match 2: Calypsos slaughter Kangaroos
The second match of the day, between Australia and West Indies, turned out to be a total mismatch – but not the way one would imagine. It is Australia who looked like the West Indies in recent times. West Indies in fact looked like the fearsome Windies squads of 1970s and 1980s. Jerome Taylor is no Michael Holding or Malcolm Marshal. But yesterday he was good enough to send back Shane Watson and Ricky Ponting in the first over of the match. The score of 3 for 2 soon became 15 for 3, when Fidel Edwards got rid of Michael Clarke. But Australia recovered and scored what appeared then a challenging total of 169 for 7, thanks mainly to a subdued innings from David Warner (61 of 51 balls). He was supported well by Brad Haddin (24 of 19 balls) and the Hussey brothers, David (26 of 16 balls) and Michael (28 of 15 balls).
West Indies started the innings as if they were playing against the newly formed team from Afghanistan. Before Australia knew what hit them, West Indies had reached their 50 (in 4.1 overs). At first, the runs came from an unexpected source – from Andre Fletcher (53 in 32 balls). But soon Chris Gayle (88 in 50 balls) took over. He was in a murderous mood in the fifth over of the innings bowled by Brett Lee – 27 runs including 3 sixes and 2 fours. More than the number of sixes, the manner in which they were hit must have hurt the bowler. Two of the sixes went out of the ground. In fact, Brett Lee's bowling figures resembled that of Ajit Agarkar in the recently concluded IPL: 3 overs no maiden 51 for none. Ricky Ponting tried many things and made several bowling changes. The Windies never lost their momentum and surpassed the "challenging" total with 25 balls to spare. Chris Gayle obviously was the man of the match.
Match 3: India kicks away the Bangla banana skin
The match against Bangladesh was a potential banana skin match for India, similar to the 2007 World Cup match in Port of Spain against the same side. India had lost that match, and eventually made a tragic first round exit from the tournament. Yesterday too, it appeared that they had sighted a banana skin somewhere and were cautious to avoid it. After a streaky knock from Rohit Sharma (36 of 23 balls), who partnered Gautam Gambhir in Sehwag's absence, Gambhir (50 of 46 balls) and MS Dhoni (26 of 21 balls) were too cautious and relied on singles and twos to get the scoreboard moving. Dhoni got out when he tried to accelerate the scoring. In came Yuvraj Singh and he kicked the banana skin, if there was any, emphatically out of the ground with a typically belligerent 41 of 18 balls. Irfan Pathan chipped in with 11 runs in 3 balls and India reached a respectable total of 180.
Bangladesh started the innings with their typical giant-killing ambitions. They took only 32 balls to reach the 50 and looked good for a fight. However, the introduction of Pragyan Ojha changed the course of the match. He took 4 wickets 21 runs in a man-of-the-match-winning performance. Bangladesh eventually managed 155 for 8 in 20 overs. Junaid Siddique (41 from 22 balls) was the top-scorer.
Tail Piece: Seeing the way Gayle and McCullum blazing away yesterday, one finally gets answer for this oft-repeated question: who was responsible for the debacle of Kolkata Knight Riders? Pluto, dear Pluto.
It was indeed the greatest day of Dutch cricket when they outwitted host England by 4 wickets in a nailbiting last ball finish. The curtain raiser for the second edition of T-20 world cup thus ended with a big-bang. The england fans would never forgive Stuart Broad for his missed run out oppurtunity in the last ball which actually gifted the match to the Dutch.Thus the 6th of Jan would indeed become a dark day in the history of English cricket, something like "the Marackaana disaster".
The sporting world was stunned 7 years back when Senegal defeated France in the opener of the soccer world cup. One wouldn't have heard of El Hadji Diof or Henri Camara untill that day. The same thing has happened here. One could hardly remember a Dutch player, except Nannes who plays for the Delhi DD in the IPL. Stuart Broad wouldn't have expected anything worse than Yuvaraj Singh's six sixes in the previous edition of T-20 World Cup.
England did not start the match all that badly. Ravi Bopara(46) and Luke Wright (71)gave them a good start with a century partnership, which helped them set a target of 163. It was indeed a pretty decent total - or so everybody thought.
Chasing a total with a required 8.1 runs per over, the Dutch stareted briskly reaching 50 in 5 overs and 100 in 11 overs. Thanks to some bold batting from Reekers, Tn de grooth and Borren. Towards the end RN Doescate and Edgar Shiferli held their nerve to take the Dutch's "Noah's Arc" across the sea. The Dutch team burst out in jubilation after scoring, what i suppose, the first in a Cricket world cup. For them, it is no less than clinching the title.Tn de grooth was the player of the match for his hard fought 49 of 30 balls.
The Dutch have made it clear that they did not come here for the usual "fill the gap" routine. This is all about T-20, you can expect the unexpected, and you can see a high octane action every time. You see the ball dissappearing into the stands , feilders at backward point floating in the air defying Newton's laws of gravity, and some times burst of emotions like the one we saw at Lord's. Anyways there's lot of action to come in the next 2 weeks.