Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sporting a step motherly treatment?


-By Swetha Amit
Numerous households have reported cases where partiality between siblings is exhibited knowingly or unknowingly.

Irrespective of the achievement or talent inherent in one child, it’s always the other one which manages to retain the favorite tag. The former ones tend to ponder over the inexplicable preferential treatment meted out to their counterparts. Being ignored, these faultless beings tend to feel hurt and unwanted. This portrays the untoward step motherly treatment in spite of belonging to the same family/category. The lack of appreciation can either result in withdrawal symptoms or manifest itself into a rebellious stance.

Such is the case between Hockey and Cricket despite the fact of belonging to the same genre-sports. While the well deserved adulation is showered for winning the world cup, it’s shocking to see the lack of attention and acknowledgement given to the national sport-Hockey especially on winning the Asia cup.

It was an unmistakable ravishing reception which the men in blue received from their fans. Each of them were given a special mention. While the welcome ceremony was taking place in the maximum city, it certainly didn’t receive a welcome response from the hockey players who were offended at their victory going in vain and being ignored.

It was an understandable feeling on these national sport players to encounter bouts of disappointment, dismay and misery for having been neglected and not given the due recognition. Especially when they too won a nail biting game with equal amount of perseverance passion and patriotism against Korea. This apparently has instigated them to protest, with a decision to go on a hunger strike along with their coach and manager.

While many may perceive it as a desperate means of vying for attention, a similar behaviour can be attributed to the politicians who seemed to display a voracious appetite for media’s attention and the limelight. This probably explained the generous amounts of money handed out as prizes and also the back seats that were given to the players. Yet the same politicians chose a stingy approach when it came to awarding and rewarding the hockey players. This behaviour has put the nation to shame. A pertinent question is bound to arise with the unjust and harsh treatment given to Hockey which almost seems non existent due to the meager amount of resources and coverage given even by the media. Not fair is it?

Isn’t it high time that other sports are encouraged in an impartial manner in order to motivate the young generation? India depicts varied talent in every aspect which with a push of propagation can eventually make our tri color rise with pride on several occasions and not just in the game of cricket.

One needs to remember that a token of appreciation can create a magic spell of inspiration and motivation in the long run. Haven’t we all yearned for that one look/word of praise even for a small thing? Is it not our duty to at least give a decent appreciative stance and coverage for the upcoming hockey players who indeed did do our country proud with their wonderful win? Learning to acknowledge and applaud the deserving will prevent such unwarranted rebellious occurrences in the future.

The appetite for appreciation has resulted in a hunger strike. Isn’t it time that these strike rates occur in a Hockey game rather than indulging in a strike due to the insensitive behaviour of all the concerned authorities?

Written for www.msn.co.in

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A flamboyant farewell


-By Swetha Amit
“So long, farewell, its time to say goodbye.”....

Some adieus’ are bid with a heavy heart while others are exhibited in a grand manner. The Ganpati Visarjan is one such instance which portrays the unmistakable flamboyance of saying goodbye in a remarkable manner.

It was the 11th day of the Ganesh Utsav yesterday which is declared as a public holiday to prepare for the magnificent departure of the elephant faced God. The maximum city truly exhibited its maximum stance on a literal basis. The swarming diverse crowd of millions, the undoubted ardor depicted in large amounts and the glorious celebration; Mumbai displayed an illustrious and illuminating effect.

Trucks were beautifully decorated and carried the idols of various sizes with tremendous splendor. Crackers were burst, making it seem to be like a Diwali celebration. The city depicted a delightful glow and radiance. Decorations, music, lights, it seemed like more than one reason to indulge in this pompous celebration after India’s marvelous victory the day before.

The processions equaled that of a ‘wedding barat’ with immense grandeur accompanied with the beat of the drums and people swaying to the foot tapping beats. The young, old and middle aged showed no qualms about swaying as they all seemed to be in a devotional trance. There was also no distinction between the classes as they sang and danced along till various collective points.

The Chowpatty beach in Mumbai was one such destination that witnessed the crazy crowds that showed no hesitation in portraying their abundant affiliation and affection towards their favorite God.

The trucks were halted and the ‘aarthi’ was taken before the immersion. This was similar to that of a religious mother who performs it, as her son/daughter gets ready to take leave for a long annual period away from home. The idols were pampered before being immersed gently on to the rough waves as though ensuring the well equipped Stan of the God to face the arduous journey ahead. Individuals surrounded the ‘murthis’ in a fiercely protective manner like a family would, of a beloved member. While the smaller ones were carried delicately in the individual hands, the larger ones were led by a group of people towards the huge waves.

Life boats were floating to and fro guiding and setting the statues on the right track and ensuring their inability to return to the shores. They also assured the safety of the enthusiastic and ecstatic people who entered deep inside the water. The ardent adulation bestowed on the Almighty truly denoted the exuberant idol worship. This indeed makes one feel that Lord Ganpati is the real ‘Indian Idol.’

From evening till midnight and probably even up to the next day morning, the festive celebrations tend to prolong. All endings are also beginnings while looked at from both sides. While Ganpati Bappa arrives into the city, these ten days create a void in his heavenly home while we are on seventh heaven. There is a tinge of wistfulness, yet an eager feeling as the people look forward to the Lord’s visit the next year. Their bountiful joy explains the maturity of letting the adorable God return to his abode where he resides.

‘Visarjan’ is a manner of giving him a flamboyant farewell just as we give him a grand welcome. Rather than tears of sorrow, it’s the jubilant shouts of ‘Mangal Murti Morya’ that he wants to hear before he looks forward to his next visit, ensuring the spread of happiness all around while saying goodbye.
Written for www.msn.co.in

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The maiden world champions


-By Swetha Amit
After 1983, it is time once again for many to open bottles of champagne which is sure to ooze out with a whoop of spectacular delight. Millions were crossing their hearts; fingers and what not as this do or die game proceeded with twists and turns. It almost equaled to watching an edge of the seat thriller or going on the biggest roller coaster ride.

This unpredictable match was almost like a see-saw, swinging from one side to another. It was a steady and sturdy innings by Gautham Gambhir who scored 75 and supported by Rohit Sharma which brought the score to 157. It was decent, yet fell short of India’s aim to reach 180. The responsibility of cruising through a victory fell on the delicate yet firm shoulders of the bowlers who geared up to put up a fierce fight against the expected rain of sixes and fours.

R.P Singh was at his usual best; a consistent form displayed in the entire tournament. However Sreesanth had a tough time battling Imran Nazir who took 20 runs from his first over. It took a spell of reliable bowling by Irfan Pathan that helped in knocking off crucial wickets and put Pakistan under tremendous pressure.

It almost seemed that India was going to have a sweeping success of grabbing the cup when a thorn in the form of Misbah Ul Haq appeared. Sounds familiar? He is the same aggressive batsman who has been the vital backbone for Pakistan throughout the series. The unbroken record of losing against India was almost broken in the first match which finally brought out the much talked about unconventional tie breaker.

The danger man swept the field with his sixes which swung the game in their favor, setting tension levels on a rise. It almost felt like the opponent was going to snatch the cup when the phenomenal catch by Sreesanth in the last over made several let a sigh of relief ultimately rejoicing this vibrant victory. A cry of jubilance went around and it wasn’t only from our beloved players. Indian flags waved furiously which appeared that they were in their own spell of euphoria.

It is one of the unforgettable moments in Cricket. The stupendous record is retained with India not succumbing to defeat to their arch rivals in the world cup ever. After the disastrous exit of India and Pakistan in the World cup ’07 few months ago, this has been a marvelous comeback for both the teams. The best part lay in both teams qualifying for the grand finale.

There are many a memorable moment to treasure with ardent nostalgia and to look back fondly over the years. The might oz getting stumped initially by the minnows and then by India and Pakistan is a true delight to the fans of the respective teams. The consecutive six-packer over by Yuvraj and his scoring 70 out of 30 is another moment to reminisce.

M.S.Dhoni is well applauded for his remarkable leadership and charisma. His cool and calm endurance even during the toughest situations has manifested itself on other players who refused to be cowed down under any pressure. The team now depicts a glow of passion and positivism accompanied with youthful enjoyment. It has also brought about recognition of new talent from the youth of humble backgrounds who have made it big with their perseverance and hard work such as the likes of Rohit Sharma and the Pathans.

Overall the T20 triumph has set wanderlust for a new phase in Cricket. The lack of experience of any team having played this fast and furious series has left many speechless with the win of the maiden world champions.

India has truly set a trend and a world record in more than one way. Not failing to disappoint their well wishers, they have set a round of celebrations with dazzling fireworks across the skies. It seems like heaven has descended upon earth. Not surprising at all, as millions are either on seventh heaven or on cloud nine aren’t they?
Written for www.msn.co.in
Appeared as story of the day

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Indian march into the grand finale


-By Swetha Amit
It was the most awaited match which started off with India electing to bat, exhibiting their stance to pose a challenging total against the haughty Kangaroos. After a moderate start the scene was perfectly set by Yuvraj which portrayed the Sig(h)ing of yet another spectacular innings and scoring 70 out of 30 balls. This helped in contributing to the grand total 188 along with Dhoni’s aggressive support.

However the Aussies were in no mood to bow down and charged their shots like fiery bullets shooting their sixes and fours, which were all in vain. The fast bowlers came like raging bulls and devoured the crucial wickets at the right time, putting Australia under immense pressure. The 18th and 19th overs bowled by Harbhajan and R.P.Singh respectively, sealed the match for the men in blue who successfully managed to hold on fiercely to the game like a prized possession.

It was euphoria, relief and exhilarated cheer when the Indians came out in flying colors which set the Indian flags flying high. The men in blue managed to put the Aussies under the spell of blue as the latter unbelievably walked away with their heads hung in dejection. Meanwhile the Indian team was filled with ecstasy and joy. The young jubilant men were immersed in their own celebration as they cruised through victory over the world champions.

There seems to be a new found energy under Dhoni’s captaincy which has exhibited freshness and enjoyment with which the team is playing the game. Intelligent and clear cut strategies have worked wonders so far. This has made several feel the youthful and vibrant spirit that has brought out the visible best out of each player. No longer do they succumb to pressure despite of having being generous with a few overs or losing wickets at the wrong time. It is pleasant to see this novel form of the men in blue which apparently seems to have surrendered to the magical spell of motivation that has delighted their ardent fans.

This triumph proves to be a double treat not only with India’s win but also the final against Pakistan which has always set adrenalin levels high even on an ordinary day. The grand finale is something that millions will be looking forward to. Considering the past record, Indians have never lost to Pakistan in a world cup match. This has set many to hope that the record is still retained in this vital match as it’s a golden opportunity to set another round of scintillating fireworks across the dazzling skies.

Meanwhile it’s an eager wait to watch yet another nail biting game-which isn’t far away before the fast and furious champions emerge.
Written for www.msn.co.in

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

The super six Singh


-By Swetha Amit
Thunder and lightening struck the Kingsmead ground in Durban yesterday. And it certainly wasn’t the spell of showers but the rain of super sixes in the 18th over by Yuvraj Singh that left the enthusiastic crowd spell bound and ecstatic.

The strong foundation by Sehwag and Gambhir left India in a solid position before they lost their wickets to the colonial team. Things took a quiet turn around the 16th over when they lost yet another precious one of Uthappa’s. A sight of dismay went around when the fans were dejected at the loss of the trio.

It almost seemed like calm before the storm until the lighting in the form of Yuvraj walked into the field with grit and determination written all over his face. He was already shown doing a few warm ups as though gearing up for an energetic performance which ended up taking the game to a different level altogether.

This ‘Punjab da Putar’ indeed gave an opportunity for millions to do a jubilant Bhangra dance, making the crowds go "balle balle" with his continuous stupendous sixes in the 18th over. Every electrifying stroke sent the ball soaring high along with the spirits of the elated supporters that were no less than sparkling fireworks.

This retaliation of the vice captain’s five sixes hit by Dimitri Mascaranus of his bowling in England was well applauded by the mass along with his accomplishment of a quick half century and a mighty boost to the overall score. It was one of those rare moments in cricket where every ball bowled truly bowled over the viewers completely. The ball whiz past like a magic spell cast from the wand in the form of Yuvraj’s bat and rose above like a dazzling star in this do or die game.

The faces of the England players projected an unmistakable expression of dismay, baffle, indignation and felt as though they were being slapped like little school boys for their under performance. This helpless team looked on, in bewilderment, unable to do anything but just gape at the reign of sixes that were descending upon them like heavy rain drops, which eventually snatched the game from them .

Though the latter gave a fighting chase scoring a 200, it was indeed the super sixes of the Singh that made a huge difference cruising India to an essential victory.

While the vice captain’s feat is highly talked about, there is bound to be great expectation from the next match against South Africa. Millions are pinning their hope for yet another stunning game which will give India a spectacular entry into the semi finals.
Written for www.msn.co.in
Appeared as Editors' choice and story of the day

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

An unconventional tie-breaker

-By Swetha Amit
India-Pakistan matches have always generated a stir of commotion and excitement for the viewers. Yesterday's play proved to be no exception especially when the victory for India was crucial to qualify for the super eights.

The match was completely a sea-saw with Pakistan rattling Indian wickets initially. However they managed to put up a decent total of 141 on the score board, something which seemed like a cake walk for Pakistan to chase. But the Indian bowlers managed to pull back their opponent by taking wickets at quick intervals which ultimately put pressure on the batting team.

The game droned on as levels of adrenalin surged like the waves on a high tide. It was the fight by Misbah Ul Haq which brought them inching close to victory with 17 runs taken from the nineteenth over bowled by Agarkar. Pakistan just needed 12 runs from the last over. After a couple of fours, the equation came down to one run required off two balls. It almost seemed like the latter would snatch the match from the men in blue. The dismayed Indian fans were in for a pleasant surprise when the last run was withheld by a brilliant run out which resulted in a whoop of delight and the unconventional tie breaker.

The contrast in emotions displayed by both the teams was as apparent as black and white. The men in blue managed to successfully put their opposition into the blues who were devastated at their unexpected pressure they were engulfed into. The T20 rule of not allowing a tie between teams forced the ‘bowl out’ to come into being. This is similar to the penalty shoot out in the game of football in order to acclaim the winner.

Tension filled the air once again with everyone portraying an edge of restlessness and secretly praying for their favorite team. It all rested on the bowlers to perform their feat in order to set their respective flags flying. Starting with India, Sehwag managed to score a point followed by Harbhajan and Uthappa who were jubilant and their joy knew no bounds when Pakistan scored zero points with their shocking inability to hit the stumps.

Though 22 yards seem to be an easy target from the camera, it is surprising to note that even a strong bowling team like Pakistan conked under pressure with their inability to hit the bulls’ eye when required.

The runners' up in this game looked deflated like a lifeless balloon and their dismay equaled that of a child whose toy had been mercilessly snatched away. On the other hands, the Indians were all smiles and displayed tremendous exuberance of living up to the record of not having lost to Pakistan in any World cup match till date.

This unconventional tie breaker has caused millions a flurry of emotions and an unforgettable roller coaster ride. Not surprising, considering the twists and turns of the game which resulted in surprises, shocks and finally in an exhilarated triumph which bowled over the fans completely.

Written for www.msn.co.in

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Ganpati Bappa Moraya


-By Swetha Amit
It’s that time of the year again, where millions in the maximum city are awaiting their divine guest with great zest and eagerness. Mandals along with decorations and festive items are all over the market places and are hurriedly being purchased by several. There seems to be a strange yet transcendental buzz in the air.

Yes, Mumbai’s favorite God has arrived once again to bestow his bountiful blessings on his ardent devotees; embarking the beginning of the popular festival ‘Ganesh Chathurthi’ celebrated in Maharashtra and in South India. The exuberant and elated Mumbaikars look forward to this 10 day visit by their holy visitor and get ready to pamper this adorable elephant- faced God.

It has become a culture in every colony and residence to celebrate this festival with great pomp and splendor. Bringing in joy, a sense of unity is developed as they get ready to fold their hands humbly before the Almighty.

They pray hard to offer a token of appreciation for all what is given and also beg their pardon for their unintentional misdeeds. His omnipresence leaves them to encounter a strange feeling of being in seventh heaven as each one of the days is spent in offering him his favorite delicacies-"Modaks", guavas and other sweets. Music and other performing arts form a part of these ten day festivities, seemingly to entertain the Lord.

It is indeed pleasant to see the otherwise hurried Mumbaikars not failing to devote time to their much loved deity irrespective of their busy schedules. Proximity towards divinity is attained in these ten days and the feeling of Ganapati almost being like a distinct family member set apart in en’lightment’ is experienced. No sooner than they get used to their idol guest than the time has come to say goodbye. This is the custom of ‘Visarjan’ on the tenth day where the Lord gets ready to depart to his abode.

The sea portrays a queer restlessness as they get ready to accommodate the elephant faced God in his journey. The half hearted Mumbaikars get wistful about bidding farewell and it certainly isn’t an easy task to say goodbye with respect to anything/anyone is it?

These feelings can be drawn parallels to when a beloved relative/friend visiting from far for a long period gets ready to take leave of us. A tinge of sadness is bound to engulf all as we realize a peculiar void in our homes.

Many accompanied with their families gently carry the little God in their hands and get ready to see him off. The beaches are swarmed with crowds of zillions from evening to midnight. Very reluctantly they place the deity on the sea shore waiting for the cascade of waves to do their part, feeling a wave of emotion as they do so.

The impatient and restless waves however disrupt their thoughts as they seem to say ‘let go’. At the same time they get the telepathic signals from the Lord who reassures of his return next year. The sinking sun depicts their sinking hearts as they watch the idols wave goodbye. It equals to watching a near and dear one on a train constantly as it slowly chugs away gently with a departing yet cheerful whistle.

Sometimes the statues are washed ashore and are found strewn about the next morning. Maybe its nature’s way of sensing our unspoken desire of hoping that the Almighty graces his presence for just one more day. Or perhaps our half hearted effort fails to see him off in the middle of the ocean which does not give even a slight chance of a return.

Several aspects are learnt in this yearly spiritual quest. It is always blessed to give and giving provides that wonderful delight which ironically isn’t experienced to a large extent when we are at the receiving end. Blind folded faith placed accompanied with earnest prayers is always rewarded only with the probability of its effect occurring over a span of time, if not immediate. Doing anything whole heartedly certainly bears fruit.

Well good things always come to an end for a short while only to come back again with equal amount of grandeur and radiance. One can be rest assured of getting numerous more opportunities to chant ‘Ganpati Bappa Moraya’ along with the dazzling crowds yet again at the same time the following year.
Written for www.msn.co.in

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Mighty champions stumped

-By Swetha Amit
‘Never underestimate anybody’ is an oft quoted saying.

It makes one to trace back to the hare and tortoise story, the end of which was an unexpected victory for the latter. The hare’s arrogance and over confidence cost its expected win only to emerge shame faced in front of its otherwise sluggish opponent.

It was a similar situation of the above case in the second T20 ODI yesterday.

The tournament favorite- Australians were counted on for a breezy win by a large margin and trash their so called ‘underdog’ team which made their fans place their safe bets blind folded. Who would have thought that the assumed occurrence will work the other way around. It came across as a pleasant surprise and probably a horrifying shock to Australian admirers when Zimbabwe stumped their beloved mighty champions on a literal basis.

Right from the ICC champions’ trophy 2006 to the WC 2007, the Kangaroos have spelt success and triumph which gave them a psychological edge. Especially over other competent and strong teams which seemed to crumble with nervousness and failed to put up a fierce fight.

The first innings in yesterdays match consisted of Australian batting. Those who were awaiting a phenomenal score were shattered to bits with the marvelous restriction by Zimbabwe to just 138/9. Wickets were taken brilliantly and the crucial one that being of Andrew Symonds in between who would have otherwise devoured the deliveries with a ferocious appetite for runs. The early fall of wickets boosted the confidence to Skipper Prosper Utseya’s men who were determined not to be on the receiving end this time as they were usually known to be trashed by their opponents-champions or no champions.

The rusty Kangaroos who haven’t played in a long while portrayed a tinge of cockiness in their countenance. It was apparent that they had taken this match lightly which worked against them and were taken aback with their inability to put up a large score for a chase.

Meanwhile Zimbabwe was experiencing a sense of glee as they geared up for the second innings which certainly wasn’t a piece of cake with the aggressive Australian bowlers to face. No sooner than the fiery batting started with Vusi Sibanda’s scoring 23 off 15 balls than wickets began to fall. However the continuous scoring began to create an edgy feeling in the Australian skipper who was found restlessly pulling out notes to calculate the runs needed according to Duckworth Lewis method if nature emerged as spoilsport. The expected showers from the skies almost created havoc from snatching the match from Zimbabwe when the kind gesture from above obliged the continuity of the game.

From there arose a tension filled atmosphere with the adrenalin levels rushing in full force with only 12 runs needed from the last over. A stupendous four sent a spark of delight and from there emerged a jubilant victory accompanied with a new hero-Brendan Taylor.

A look of dismay cast on the Kangaroos like a dark cloud casting gloom on a cheerful sunny day. Probably taken things for granted, their game proved to be rather unimpressive with a tinge of scorn which resulted in a deserving smack and a jolt.

While Utseya’s men are celebrating their new found triumph after their uptight struggle, they exhibit a profound surety in their body language. Their win is indeed a whack on the faces of those who expressed their haughty stance by undermining them.

This provides a learning lesson to Australians’ along with others who can apply these morals in their lives. No matter how much one is gifted with any talent, doesn’t give them a right to under estimate anybody’s potential or let triumph conquer their level headedness.

Success is always achieved with confidence and not by over confidence and cockiness. Overplaying your strength can ultimately result as a weakness in you in due course. It teaches one not to take anything for granted, instead it enables one to keep indulging in continuous perseverance and betterment which will bear rewards.

Nothing is impossible in this world. The magic and spirit is in all of us which when truly used to the maximum is sure to guarantee a victory even when the opponents are lions-in this case Kangaroos; as seen in yesterdays case.

What seemed as a child’s play is a lesson that the Australians aren’t quite likely to forget that easily. Their attitude of slack and laid back only led to a set back leaving them stunned and stumped simultaneously, propelling them to take the sport a little more seriously.

Meanwhile it’s proved that action speaks more than words can say with Zimbabwe’s sweeping success which is truly a slap on those who underestimated their worth.


Written for www.msn.co.in

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Dhamaal: Get ready for a blast

-By Swetha Amit
Comedies seem to be the ruling genre for most Bollywood flicks off late, taking the audience on an unforgettable joyous roller coaster ride. After Partner and Heyy baby its now time for the viewers to gear up for yet another roar of laughter and an exciting entertainer.

Four jobless men, a hidden treasure, a wild goose chase with series of hilarious antics in between; Dhamaal indeed promises one to get ready to have a blast only this time without any bombshells.

Boman (Ashish Chowdhary), Roy (Riteish Deshmukh), Aditya (Arshad Warsi) and Manav (Jaaved Jaffery) are four bosom buddies, unique in their own special way and are perennially on a quest to make money by hook or crook. However, an accidental stumble upon a wealthy dying man Bose (Prem Chopra) provides them with an unexpected stroke of luck. He reveals his secret of a buried treasure of ten crore in a Goan garden. Gleaming at this golden opportunity, the adventurous four set on a mission to find this prized possession. But Inspector Kabir Nayak (Sanjay Dutt) who was after Bose for long is now after the hidden treasure too once he worms out the information from the foursome.

From there begins a cat and mouse game with each of them trying to outdo one another to reach his destination and is inserted with numerous and humorous sequences leaving the crowd in splits.

Whether it is Jaaved Jaffery’s unaware goof ups letting out confidential information unintentionally much to the exasperation of others’; Riteish Deshmukh’s funny encounter with a dacoit in a hijacked bus; Arshad Warsi’s annoyance with the comical South Indian narrating his name which is equivalent to a long list of names prevailing in Chennai’s directory; Ashish Chowdhary’s and his father Nari’s (Asrani) priceless flying expedition aided by an unhelpful and droning air traffic control personnel or Arshad Warsi pleading to Sanjay Dutt while collecting mud a la Sholay one; it certainly provides a difficult task for one to choose the best amongst them and say ‘wah kya scene hai!’

The entire journey to Goa is an expedition with amusing twists and turns. The greedy and unstoppable chase for the hidden treasure accompanied with a run after a hot air balloon finally ends up in a noble cause in an unexpected manner. And the last ten minutes of the film provides a touching message enabling one to realize the true significance of money.

The comic timing is fantastic for all actors, even for a first timer like Ashish Chowdhary. Music by Adnan Sami is good with the first two songs getting your foot tapping. The movie is well directed by Indra Kumar with never a boring moment in between and tickling your funny bone throughout. Giving a social message towards the end makes several hearts melt along with a lump formed in the throats, choking with emotion.

Comedy, craziness, constant chase and lastly the unmistakable message; all rolled into one ensures the viewers of being elated throughout, making them say ‘Dhamaal ekdum kamaal hai!’

Written for ww.msn.co.in


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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Darling: A confusing haunt

-By Swetha Amit
The theme of extra marital affairs isn’t alien to Bollywood. Numerous films have been made in the past which were either an emotional saga or a horror stricken tale.

However Darling refuses to fall in neither category trying to carve a niche for itself. This proves to make one’s cognitive aspects cringe with considerable amount of confusion.

The film starts with Aditya (Fardeen Khan) being portrayed as a lust craving man with erotic fantasies in spite of having a beautiful and homely wife Ashwini (Isha Koppikar).His irresistible temptations propel him to have a torrid affair with his hot secretary Geeta (Esha Deol) who loves him madly too. Having the cake and eating it too makes Aditya feel on top;making the best of both his worlds.

However his castle comes crashing down the minute Geeta announces her pregnancy. His inability to marry her infuriates and enrages her. A huge fight breaks out followed by an unfortunate accident resulting in a fatal mishap of Geeta. Horrified at this unexpected occurrence, Aditya buries her. No sooner did he realize that things would return to normalcy than a terrible twist occurs.

His dead lover is out to avenge her death and makes his life a living hell on a literal basis. This brings in the comic element of the film. Whether it’s watching over Ashwini seducing Aditya on their first anniversary or making him look like a fool in front of two crime branch officers, Geeta’s ghost creates discomfort for Aditya in every possible way, making him break out into perspiration and a pool of nervousness. She becomes an invisible stalker in his life and a perplexed Aditya soon sends everyone down the road of bewilderment.

Aditya begins to regret for his impertinent folly and a series of events follow. The final turn reveals a ‘spirited’ gesture which reminds one of a Hollywood flick.

Darling is well directed and some scenes leave you with a tinge of spooky feeling yet at times bring a smile to your face. It provides one with sincere performances. Esha Deol is excellent as the furious lover with an element of madness in her. Fardeen Khan is very good as the harassed man who is continuously taunted by the ghost of his past. Isha Koppikar plays her part well and has more substance in the second half.

The sequences with the crime branch officers tend to tickle a funny bone. Especially with the pair of a chatterbox cop Reddy with his opposite, silent, stoic and stern faced colleague Malathi. The scene where Geeta’s father pleads with Aditya to find his mysteriously missing daughter is moving. Music is decent with the song ‘Tadap Tadap’ already doing well in the chart busters.

The movie tends to portray shades of Raaz and Bhoot yet fails to send shivers down the spine like the former two. Though better than Ram Gopal Varma’s previous release Aag, it isn’t his best and maintains its cat on the wall stance. Neither it provides a hearty laughter nor does it scare one out of their wits. It can be summed up as a horror flick which thrills one and at times evokes a titter of laughter.

It may seem queer, puzzling, peculiar, weird, slightly cheesy in the end and probably a little eerie which makes one all the more believe that overall, Darling is indeed a confusing haunt.

Written for www.msn.co.in

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Those last few overs

-By Swetha Amit
The fours(ce)ful finish by Robin Uthappa yesterday has submerged millions under the pool of exuberance and elation.

It was a huge chase for the men in blue when England put up a score of 316. The second innings were watched with bated breaths and yet with a ray of hope as the spectacular partnership between Ganguly and Sachin laid a fantastic foundation.

No sooner when the smiles were back on the Indian fans than a dark cloud descended upon them as wickets kept falling like pelted bricks from an old building in ruins. The foundation was losing its initial grip. What seemed like an achievable target was next to impossible especially in those last few overs. Glee began to show on the faces of the England team as India got ready to accept the defeat.

However the killer instinct in the form of Robin Uthappa prevailed as his grit and determination refused to give up without a fierce fight. India needed ten runs in the last over to win. It was like an edge of the seat thriller when no runs were scored in the first delivery. But the next three ones saw winning strokes.

His marvelous finishing four sent a roar of applause and delight as India rose to a stupendous victory.

Uthappa was a hero and should have ideally shared the man of the match title along with Sachin according to many. He performed exceedingly well under tremendous tension filled atmosphere and pressure with the odds against him. It was certainly an arduous task especially when surrounded by the opponents who were waiting greedily to stump him. The last stroke snatched the match away from the English who looked in disbelief at their unexpected defeat.

One can draw inspirations from this memorable incident to keep a cool head in spite of excessive stress. When the whole world has placed faith on your delicate shoulders in such scenarios, it requires calm and collected yet a mature stance to combat such forces to emerge as a winner in the end.

An unforgettable match which has made many to look forward to yet another nail biting final one on Saturday. Let us hope that the men in blue play with equal amount of passion and determination and do not give a chance for us fans to go into the blues.

Instead they should give us an opportunity to say Chak De India, this time for cricket!!!!
Appeared as story of the day

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Teachers' day:Learning is a continuous process

-By Swetha Amit
“Learning is a continuous process” – an oft-quoted expression to motivate oneself and others to attain and gather the ocean of knowledge, which is subdivided into chapters that impart the lessons of life at each stage. Such valuable anecdotes are implanted in our souls by the learned, wise and knowledgeable individuals termed as “teachers.”

This special day to acknowledge the presence of these personalities who have made a difference in our lives and which also happens to be the birthday of Dr. Radhakrishan, one of the most learned scholars, is celebrated every year on September 5th as ‘teachers day.’The concept of a teacher can traced back to the historical era of great Indian epics like the “Mahabharata”, where the embodiment of the word ‘teacher’ is that of the enlightened yet strict Dronacharya, the noble soul, who imparted the knowledge of artillery skills exclusive to the royal household. This concept has evolved to great personalities yet not so strict like Mahatma Gandhi and Gautama Buddha who preached ‘Ahimsa’ and principles of life that form the basis and essence of moral science for the present generation. And how can we forget the teachings of Lord Krishna, Jesus Christ, Prophet Mohammad, Guru Nanak and Sai baba?

The word ‘teacher’ evokes varied emotions and perceptions by different age groups amongst us. For instance, a school kid may perceive a teacher as a stern faced individual wanting to hand out a punishment for the failure of completing an assignment or whispering to a classmate during classes. Or even a replica of the cozy mother- figure they are so used to at home. A high school or college goers may either view the faculty as a guinea pig to play pranks on or as a guiding factor to higher levels that assist in reaching the pinnacle of success.

Only as we mature into young adults, the essence of a teacher is realized in the form of expression of gratitude for having spent most of our formative years in educational institutions with these noble souls, who have helped us in shaping up our personalities, intellectual capabilities, ability to identify our strengths & weaknesses and be a guiding factor to specialize in our own fields.

However, in the modern day scenario, where incidents like the murder of professors due to sheer politics and accusing the same of sexual harassment of students have depicted the extent to which times have changed, that words like respect to teachers seem alien.Teacher’s day is celebrated world wide in order to express our sincere gratitude and revered thanks to acknowledge the amount of time invested by these individuals to mould us into what we are today. It can range from learning to add or subtract numerical data, Newton’s law of gravity, chemical reactions, different bones in the human body, prose and poetry, wars that occurred centuries ago, about the mighty mountains and seas of the world, to art, music, dance, cooking, sewing, sports and to learning about people, society, politics, worldly experiences and lastly about spirituality.

The success that have encountered our lives at every stage whether its coming first in class or winning first prize in extra curricular, or shining among one in a million as a star in our professional or personal lives, is attributed to these educational mentors.

It is indeed nostalgic to walk down the memory lane and analyze those experiences of having being lectured, scolded or probably even being handed out a punishment or two. What seemed like bitter experiences initially, turned out to be the actual, realistic, practical tests that we have passed in order to gain that courage and inner strength. The absence of these so called unpleasant experiences would have never motivated or inclined us to raise our curiosity levels and channelize our energy to the learning pathway.

As one ages and matures one realizes that teachers are not just the ones attached to educational institutions but the definition of the word has evolved into a much broader meaning and can be said to include people from whose life experiences and personality traits we learn from.

These may be our parents, relatives, friends, acquaintances, bosses, co-workers, neighbors and other broad spectrum of people, encountered in the journey of life. Experiences undergone by such individuals provide valuable lessons that are not taught in schools to an extent that it enables us to grow and evolve into higher planes, thereby discovering a novel side to us and hence dawns upon us the purpose of existence. Time is then ripe for us to don the garb the role of imparting knowledge to the next generation.

Thus teacher’s day is a tribute not only to our faculty but also to our counterparts who act as our guide and philosopher at some point in time of our lives that has enabled the unconventional method of learning.

Often, we let certain days come and go without giving much thought to it due to our busy schedules. However today being an important day-teacher’s day, it’s essential to pause about all those people who have assumed the roles of teachers whether its in educational set ups or in our various encounters through the journey of life.

Let this day be made special for everyone including ourselves as we also are teachers in our own way by learning from our own mistakes. Grateful thanks to the Almighty for blessing us with good teachers and to life itself; from which we can draw valuable lessons. Lastly, teachers are considered someone next to our parents and before God Himself as the Sanskrit saying goes “Mata, Pita, Guru, Deyvam.”

Appeared as Editor's choice

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Janmashtami: The divine lad of Vrindavan

-By Swetha Amit
Birthdays depict the significance of entry and existence. As we grow older, it is realized that our reason to be born in this world is to fulfill a certain duty after which we depart gracefully from the world of mortals. Celebrations occur with great pomp and joy as each year passes by like a whizzing cloud before we accomplish our main aim. Till then numerous and memorable instances from our childhood to that stage form the exciting pathway to our journey of realization and awakening.

Lord Krishna’s birthday is one such day which is celebrated with love and zest all over the country. ‘Janmashtami’ as it’s known as is the day when the Lord himself decided to descend upon earth in his eighth avatar and on the eighth day of the waning forthnight, for the destruction of evil.

The multiple roles played by Krishna were enough to mystify many. He was perceived as a naughty boy who would steal butter with his mates. On the other hand one would never have imagined such a young lad to hold a mighty mountain with his tiny finger. While he playfully teased the colorfully clad gopis, he would portray his valor by diving into the Yamuna only to emerge with immense pride by dancing on the hood of Kalia-the poisonous serpent.

The exasperation of his mother when he swallowed mud converted into a spellbound shock as she viewed the entire universe captured in his mouth. Uprooting trees and tackling a mad bull indeed proved this young lad to portray a feather to his crown. While his play boy image exhibited his flirty flamboyant charm, his heart’s special beat was devoted solely to Radha, whose love for him went beyond words of description.

His colorful garments described certain revered qualities of him. The peacock feather adorned on the crown symbolizes immense pride. The traces of green depict his eternal serenity and calmness of that of the leaves swaying along with the gentle breeze. Yellow portrayed his pleasant and cheerful self like the ever smiling sunshine. Bits of blended red showed his passion beneath his tranquility towards preaching and determination in slaughtering the vile. A dab of brown showed his unmistakable humility which was proved in his role of a ‘sarathy’. The flute illustrated his musical side which would mesmerize the white herd of cows and the village folk transporting them into a short magical journey.

Lastly the Chakra denotes the weapon carried by him was used to slay many evil personalities. It also symbolizes life’s circle of ups and downs neither of which is permanent.

From being a mischievous lad of Vrindavan to slaying his Uncle Kamsa to the role of a charioteer to Arjun, he emerged with great poise and dignity.

He was also a great teacher and preacher and his words of wisdom are compiled into the ‘Bhagavat Gita’ which is the biggest philosophy of life.

The Gita emphasizes on the ‘law of karma’ which advocates the fact of what goes around comes around. Every act of a human being is rewarded/punished for in an appropriate manner at the right time in an ironically unexpected manner. A feeling of either joy or sorrow caused to another will come around in some other form. In other words, one is solely responsible for the occurrence of high and lows which is based on one's past deeds, in thought or action.

It talks about doing our duty irrespective of what the other person’s stance may be. It also teaches us to stand up for our right. It does not mean making a first move in waging a war. However, if someone attacks our territory and right it accentuates us to fight back and not cow down to the enemy. This is appropriate in every circumstance and situation in our lives.

Propelling us to do well is what our holy book preaches to protect ourselves from our own wrath to enable us to reach a higher plane. The preaching of the ‘Gita’ emphasizes to be blind followers which will prevent us from entering into our own ‘Chakravyu’. In other words, we don’t want to be the cause for our own destruction, do we?

Today we celebrate his birthday as a happy occasion with great splendor and zeal. Breaking pots of buttermilk as a token to his child- like mischievous gestures and enjoying this custom with enthusiasm, one must also remember his wise preaching as we warmly welcome the Lord in our homes.

Written for www.msn.co.in

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Monday, September 03, 2007

RGV's Aag:Goes up in smoke

-By Swetha Amit
In the present era of remakes, comparisons are inevitable especially when the original was a sizzling blockbuster like Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay.

One cannot help but draw parallels of RGV’s hyped project to its exemplar. Simultaneously one tends to screen Sholay in ones mind immediately on hearing the similar and nostalgic background score. The story of course is no mystery and sticks to that of the original. It is adapted and attuned to the contemporary yet overplayed theme of the dark underworld. However this is no novel idea for an RGV product.

Raj (Prashant Raj) and Heero (Ajay Devgan) [Amitabh as Jai and Dharmendra as Veeru respectively in the original] are best friends cum con men who have had several escapades in jail. Their uncanny valor is what makes ex-Inspector Narsimha (Mohanlal) [Played by Sanjeev Kumar as Thakur] hire them for a mission which would avenge and heal his wounds from his traumatic past.

It involves the live capture of the dreaded Don, Babban (Amitabh Bachchan) [Amjad Khan as Gabbar Singh in the former].This purpose of accomplishing the rather uphill task brings them to a village and their encounter with Ghungroo (Nisha Kothari) and the widowed Durga Devi (Sushmita Sen) [Hema Malini as Basanti and Jaya Bachchan as Radha respectively]. How they achieve their risky quest by destroying the vile villain forms rest of the narrative with romantic angles inserted in between.

Aag is a disaster and puts a test to one's patience and tolerance levels. This is apparent as a few are seen walking out of the movie hall in the middle of this supposedly flaming flick.

In spite of the tremendous advancement in film making technology, it fails to recreate the charm and magic present in Sholay. Several significant aspects in the former are conspicuous with its absence in Aag.

The prime thing being the star cast itself with its inability to do justice to its earlier established one especially in the roles of Jai, Basanti, Gabbar and Veeru which is a big disappointment.
Ajay Devgan looks fresh at the start only to possess a jaded look as the film progresses and is no match to the effervescent Veeru. Prashant Raj fails to live up to the dry and straight faced humorous character of Jai’s. Sushmita Sen is just about average. Nisha Kothari desperately needs a course in voice modulation. Her role of ‘Ghungroo’ makes one feel that the sound of a ghungroo would have been more soothing to hear than her crass and hoarse ‘tapori’ accent. Amitabh Bachchan looks old and does not generate shivers down the spine. His haggard and limped walk with his psychotic bouts of laughter sound more like hiccups making one instantly want to offer him a glass of water.

It portrays the fact that Gabbar Singh is irreplaceable and his popularity as the legendary villain can never be re created. His punch dialogues have stamped their authority over the decades. Not even a veteran actor like the Big B can pull off Amjad Khan’s unique poise and style.

The dialogues fail to make a mark. Some unforgettable ones include “Arrey o Samba”, “Ab tera kya hoga kaalia”, “Kitne aadmi the?” sent a roar of applause and proudly stand out even today like the orange-red flames of the fire with a beautiful blaze. Music is horrendous and makes several minds bleed as they recollect the ingenious compositions of R.D.Burman. The peppy track of “Mehbooba Mehbooba” jived by the phenomenal and graceful Helen is not lived up to even by the sultry Urmila Matondkar who looks old and worn out. Direction is pathetic, with the abrupt ending of one scene before moving on to another.

One couldn’t help noticing the lack of chemistry between Raj and Heero which was sizzling between Jai and Veeru and its trademark being symbolized with the track ‘Yeh Dosti’. The original close friendship looked like a stoic professional partnership in the remake version. Also the film was devoid of the comic elements which were present in the former making it an all out entertainer. The jail sequences and outsmarting the jailer were memorable.

Many scenes in Aag included unwarranted bloodshed adding fuel to the fire on a literal basis as many hearts were bleeding as it is with this disgrace. Sholay had astounding ones such as Dharmendra’s drunken scene claiming his love for Basanti which was horrifyingly portrayed in a cheap manner in the latter version. The confrontation scenes between the Thakur and Gabbar were equally outstanding and here it was completely dominated by Mohanlal. The coy and silent glances between Jaya and Amitabh in Sholay proved to be a class apart unlike in Aag. Also the scene where Basanti was held captive and asked to dance to save Veeru’s life was handled gracefully and RGV’s product depicted Ghungroo’s abduction in a gruesome way.

The only saving grace of Aag is Mohanlal who is stupendous in his performance as the ex-Inspector Narsimha who is haunted by the ghost of his painful past. He portrays the emotions of anger/mental anguish with utmost conviction. The scene where Ahmed’s (one of the victims of Babban’s vindictive wrath) father talks about fighting fear and putting the villagers’ interest aside his own grievance of the loss of his only son speaks about his selflessness. This is something one can learn from when fighting for a common cause.

Aag has generated feelings of disgust amongst millions especially the loyalists of Sholay at this pathetic attempt of remaking their favorite movie. It’s high time that originality is concentrated on instead of insulting 70s blockbusters on the pretext of paying a tribute. It only proves the fact that old is gold and can never be retold.

In short, Aag goes up in smoke; fails to ignite the minds and extinguishes the spark of its fiery original.
Written for www.msn.co.in

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