Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A weekend of cricket and football (soccer)

Last weekend saw me largely plonked in front of the idiot box. It started off with me watching Rang De Basanti. Yes, I am one of the half a dozen people, I guess, who have still not watched the movie. And I say still not watched, because I could only manage to be attentive till the Intermission. Maybe it was the pressure of expectation, but I did not find it outstanding, so far.

This was on Friday evening. I spent Sunday morning following the first Ashes test. The coverage, as always when it comes from australia, was excellent.

In the evening, it was time for soccer. The English Premier League had Bolton Wanderers playing Arsenal. Now both of them are among my favourties in the EPL, with Bolton a notch higher simply because they are not as well known as Arsenal. But they have some good players, who play strongly as a team, led by Sam Allardyce (Big Sam, as he is called!). And they showed just what they are capable of by demolishing Arsenal 3-1, with 2 superb striked from Nicholas Anelka. This has almost completely dashed Arsenals' title hopes for this season. I am wondering just how much of a role Patrick Vieras' exit has played in this slump.

I woke up early on Sunday morning to follow the Ashes. And it was worth it. Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen took the fight to the Aussies, and for a while, looked like they were winning. But the stand-in Australia captain, Adam Gilchrist persisted with Shane Warne, who rewarded him with the wickets of Collingwood and Andrew Flintoff towards the end of an entertaining days' cricket.

Sunday afternoon saw India take on South Africa in the third ODI. India made a great start, having South Africa reeling at 76 - 6. Then I had to step out to Big Bazaar at R Mall in Mulund for household shopping. By the time I got back, the Indian innings had started, Sehwag was out, and we were chasing a target of above 270! When Tendulkar followed Sehwag back to the pavilion shortly thereafter, I knew the game was as good as lost. Sachin failed yet again, precisely when the team needed him the most. One must really start to question his motivation to continue playing cricket for India. Yes, he has given us all tremendous joy, made us proud, but it is clear that he is no longer the batsman he used to be. Dhoni saved us some blushes, but a second successive 100 + run loss really hurt.

But the biggest match for me was yet to come - Manchester United vs. Chelsea in the EPL. It lived up to its reputation, with fast paced end to end action. Chelsea fought back well to equalise on away turf. I had to agree with Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho, who said that Man U had lost a chance to take charge in the race for the EPL champion.

All these hours of sports action on TV was too much for my wife! So I think next weekend will be different!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

So India lost another cricket match...

While it came as no surprise that India lost another cricket match, and that too, miserably, what was surprising to me was the reaction of the loss among my colleagues who are avid cricket fans. There was a sense of resignation, as if they really don't expect India to win. And this does not augur well for the game.

I wonder what Zee TV was thinking when they made such a high bid for the rights to broadcast cricketing events. It's time the media wakes up to the reality that cricket is losing its' following among the early adopters, who are the key target audience for advertisers. It's only a matter of time before the TPRs amongst this audience starts dropping for cricket matches.

But crickets' loss will hopefully be other sports' gain. Let's wait and watch...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Brian Lara vs. Sachin Tendulkar

Now that Brian Lara's scored another scintillating double century will start the usual comparisons - Is Lara a better batsman than Sachin? For me, the answer is clear. Sachin is a mighty fine batsman, but on the greatness scale, Brian Lara scores higher.

Brian, along with Ricky Ponting, has the ability to score when the team needs him. Even Sachins' critics would agree that he has failed for India on that score. Be it the last World Cup Final, the present Champions Trophy must-win match against Australia, Sachin has just failed to deliver when needed to the most.

For many years now, he has been carrying the weight of shoring up a weak batting line - up, and has done it with some style. The same cannot be said of Sachin. He has had the luxury of having strong batsmen to support the team. While the weight of expectations on Sachins' shoulders is high, Brian Lara also has the responsibility of leading a considerably less talented West Indian line - up. And he has managed to do it with some degree of success lately. And we all know how miserably Sachin failed when the responsibility of captaincy was thrust on him.

Lara also has the ability to convert his knocks into big ones. 6 of his centuries have been converted into doubles, one was a triple, and was a 400! In comparison, Sachin only has one knock above 200, and experts agree that it was one of his worst knocks.

I have nothing personal against Sachin. It is commendable how he has managed to keep his head, when all around him seem to have lost theirs. My gripe is against the coterie of media and advertising people, who have created the hype of Sachin - the greatest ever batsman. Sachin is a good batsman, even possibly a great one, but it would be a stretch to call him the greatest ever.

Monday, November 13, 2006

About 2 Movies - The Departed and Andaaz Apna Apna

I watched "The Departed" on the back of some strong word - of - mouth. Surprise, suprise, it was almost a housefull at PVR, Mulund - the first time I am seeing that happen! For a movie released on a low budget advertising campaign, the word - of - mouth, coupled with the star cast, seems to be doing quite well, into its second week now in Mumbai.

This is not a movie review - I am sure there will be plenty of reviews in the blogosphere. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie - nearly 3 hours of it meaning that it was quite late by the time I got back home. It made quite an impact, with an interesting script, and some great performances. If anything, the violence was a bit over the top, but as the character of Jack Nicholson said in the movie, "Don't move till you are numb"! And the movie succeeds in numbing you - reason alone to watch it.

The next day, I watched an old favourite on Zee TV - Andaaz Apna Apna. It holds a huge nostalgic appeal for me. The movie was released when I was studying for my engineering degree in Pune. I remember one of my friends with whom I went to watch the movie literally jumping up and down the aisle, at some of the dialogues! After that, another friend and me used to watch the movie every time it was re-released, enjoying it every time. And the movie has lost none of its magic. Amazingly, my wife had not seen the movie, and while she laughed along, I am not too sure she appreciated it as much as I do!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Don - A review

We watched a movie after a long time on Saturday - "Don", at PVR, Mulund. I like watching movies at PVR - fancy interiors, comfortable relaxing chairs, and excellent pricing at Rs. 70 for a morning show!

I enjoyed the movie - it was fast paced, and entertaining. I have not seen the Amitabh Bachchan starrer, but couldn't help wondering that Shah Rukh is not a patch on Amitabh, at least in this role. Shah Rukh Khan just does not have the screen presence required of the role. Though he did manage to redeem himself at the climax with his unbelievable intensity.

Kareena was another, who just could not pull off the role. She does not have a great figure, nor is she a good dancer. Boman Irani was good in a typical role. But the actor who really shone was Priyanka Chopra. With a stunning figure, she exuded screen presence. It is not easy to outshine King Khan, but Priyanka managed it effortlessly. Not for nothing was she voted Style Diva by eBay Indias' community of users.

The music was excellent, as one has come to expect from Shankar - Ehsaan - Loy. They have taken the old tunes, and given them a contemporary feel, without taking away the original melodies.

Slick direction and editing rounded up this good entertainer. Farhan Akhtar has made a successful comeback after the not so successful "Lakshya".

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Tata Sky

After a tough time with the 'home delivery' of the hardware (which never happened), I finally bought and installed Tata Sky DTH a couple of weeks back. All praise for the installation engineers who arrived promptly (within a few hours) of the hardware being delivered at my house. They had to install the dish on the rooftop, as the window adjacent to where my TV is placed was not in the right direction.

The clarity of the channels is wow! It is as claimed by the company - DVD quality. I had initially connected the audio output directly to my amplifier, and the audio quality was great as well (though not sure about the claimed CD quality). I later connected the audio output to the TV, with a line out from the TV to my amplifier. This is more convenient when you want to watch a show without any great music involved. But there is a noticeable drop in quality.

It is cool to view the programme shedule on your TV. And very convenient to be able to read what's running on other channels without having to surf. The Active Sports helps give a different perspective when the game gets boring :-). The Highlights is a useful feature. Hopefully, we will get this feature on more sporting events in the future.

I strongly recommend getting one, makes watching TV far more pleasurable.