Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cricket at a cost?

-By Swetha Amit

The IPL bidding saga took the breath of millions away by its billions.

Auctions that were usually associated with material things once sadly have been extended up to what is considered more than just a sport for many. Throwing and making money seems to be the motto as the franchisees gleam with every bid of their ‘precious’ players being bought over along with national loyalties. It certainly raises pertinent questions about the ‘premium’ or pride for respective countries.

The sportive essence is being replaced and regarded as a mere property for monetary gains under the pretext of social responsibility. After watching the unicolored team jubilant after a stupendous victory; a multicolored or rather ‘money’ colored group is what will be displayed. The national fervor and flavor is bound to be missed to a large extent much to the dismay of true lovers of this game. Cutting across the unilateral stance and shuffling them in different directions seems like a card game being played. Dispersing them in a cluster sampling mode; is cricket going the football way?

While it may indicate a lump sum amount for many players, the undue pressure to match the exuberant cash flow will indeed soar along with expectations of their owners. It will tend to rob the young and budding players out of their time to focus on their international games and careers. Even before they are nurtured fully to develop and evolve as matured players, such commercialization will end up defocusing and will dissuade them from the true spirit and passion for the sport. Lack of motivation unfortunately will kill their growth potential in its early stage before it blooms into a blossoming talent in making their fans and country shine with pride.

The trend of choosing club over country will spread like wild fire as the players may choose to skip international tournament at a much higher opportunity cost literally. Shifting their entire focus towards these leagues will result in the gradual decline in the excitement with regard to international tours. The power of the cricket boards may come down as franchisees will slowly exhibit their new found authoritative stance by controlling every move of these players, both on and off field. The once upon a time mighty batsmen and bowlers dancing to the tunes of their new control boards will eventually end up being like a puppet show.

Rather than generating such huge amounts into glamour and glitz, it would have been useful to utilize the same for the development of domestic cricket instead. The undue pressures of International cricket have made the seniors prone to injuries. Hence it is important to have a pipeline of players exposed to the pressures of the same and ready to assume the mantle for their country. Proper infrastructure facilities and opportunities could have been provided in the recruitment and training of potential young blood.

There are zillions who aren’t too happy with these takes which has exhibited a large stake in the rich man's world for expected soaring profits. While the saying goes that “everything comes at a cost” ,it is indeed a sign of despair to see cricket too coming at a cost-at a very mediocre one too considering the price it has to pay for its earlier status of a noble ‘gentleman’s game’.
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Sunday, February 17, 2008

'Jodhaa Akbar’: Grandeurs of the golden era

-By Swetha Amit
Mughal history has always mesmerized its readers with its magnificent aura by being imprinted from historical chapters into our hearts. To an extent where it has inspired a reminiscent revival amongst filmmakers to cruise the viewers through this royal and magnificent era. Several elements of power, pride and prestige have been illustrated lavishly yet not without the essence of true love; the latter either exemplified unconditionally like that in ''Mughal e Azam or the not so emphasized one during the ‘golden’ era.

Ashutosh Gowariker’s Jodhaa Akbar is a majestic saga of a mighty emperor Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar and a defiant Rajput princess Jodhaa; and their culmination of love for each other. A lot of speculation has been made regarding this particular epic. Yet the film convincingly portrays the powerful theme along with other dimensions of Akbar’s noble personality and attitude towards treachery, injustice and plight of our country.

Set in the 16th century, the film starts by showcasing Jalaluddin Mohammad(Hrithik Roshan) at a very tender age being exposed to wars and bloodshed and winning. His strategy of strengthening relations with the Rajput kings propels King Bharmal (Khulbhushan) of Amer to offer his daughter Jodhaa’s (Aishwarya Rai) hand to the emperor. The alliance proves to be an arduous task as he tries to woo the headstrong princess and goes all out to fulfill her two conditions as well.

What initially starts off as a political gain and merger to consolidate his kingdom takes a different turn altogether as this romance blossoms slowly like a bud into a blooming flower. Acting as an illuminating eye opener Jalaluddin learns a thing or two about winning over people and his queen than just mere battles. It brings out the greatness in the emperor which showcases nothing less than his winning streak in every aspect as he earns the title of ‘Akbar the great’. Amidst all this is the display of deception, chicanery, misunderstandings and greed from various sources which is all warred against with wrestling combats resulting in a triumphant victory accompanied with righteousness.

Jodhaa Akbar is astounding and makes the audiences spell bound with its lavish sets and glorious costumes and jewellery. The entire lighting, background scores, extravagant appearance, power packed performances makes one feel that the time machine has transported one back to the glittering period of the Mughals.

Hrithik Roshan is absolutely brilliant as the valiant Akbar and gets into the skin of the character so much that it makes one visualize him as none less than the historical character whom he portrays.. Aishwariya Rai fits into the shoes of the fiery Jodhaa and gives a fabulous performance as well. Rest of the cast is equally awe inspiring. Music by A.R.Rahman doesn’t disappoint and the background scores are fantastic. Ashutosh Gowariker indeed has produced a stupendous film which not only portrays romance but lessons that many can imbibe into the present day scenario.

Some of the sequences in the film deserve a special mention which sends implausible goose bumps amongst the audience. The one where Jalaluddin is taming a wild elephant portrays the dangerous game of life and death and is profoundly shot in a way that propels an enthusiastic round of appreciative claps.

The two conditions communicated by Jodhaa to the emperor eliciting a mixed reaction of amusement and bewilderment in the latter are portrayed with tremendous coy and conviction. Agreeing heartily to her unwillingness to convert her religion and a request for a small shrine in the palace exhibits his liberal, unconventional and secular attributes; a rarity especially in that era. Also the sword sequence between Jodhaa and Akbar where the latter is wooing her back to his kingdom after a tiff; proves to be romantic in its own manner and portrays the clash of egos rather than the tinkering of the weapons.

Putting his nation above everything his righteous and valiant stance is exhibited even if it means wrestling a mighty combat with Sharifuddin Hussain his brother in law. Uttering this dialogue 'Hum Hindustan ko galat haaton mein jaate nahin dekh sakta' sends cheers and thunderous applauses.

Prodigious qualities of the emperor are displayed exquisitely as those of the unique jewels adorned on his crown. Unlike other Afghan kings, his interest lay in the welfare of India and showering it with prosperity instead of plundering wealth of its rightful abode. Flourishing the country and addressing queries of the common man, his golden heart was exhibited unmistakably in such instances. Though he lost his heart to Jodhaa its golden essence remained along with the nine gems in his court-‘Navaratna’.

Though the duration of this film may prove to be a limitation and tests the patience levels of its viewers, it is definitely a must watch as it is bound to fall into the caliber of good arty films. No doubt it depicts the grandeurs of the 'Mughal' golden era.
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Friday, February 15, 2008

The irony of Valentine’s Day

-By Swetha Amit
Heart shaped balloons, candies; chocolates and cakes depict the fact of heart-to-heart gestures symbolized by a proposal for a lifetime or on a temporary basis. Such is the hype and festive of Valentines Day-the day when one solemnly declares his/her puppy or adult love eventually turning into adultery love.

It makes one to think about the meaning of love. Unconditional affection, trust, commitment are words that can be strewn together to form a garland of enchantment. The strong will to stick to one another fiercely even through trying times is slowly giving way to impatience, intolerance leading to break ups like a piece of china ware developing cracks and perishing ultimately. Such is the case of this so called contemporary love where practicality and convenience seem to be the dominant factor. Sadly today, lavish lifestyles and monetary gains are what form the union between some individuals Superficiality aspect seems to have gained supremacy over the heart as fluctuation in several relationships is observed with the ever increasing break ups, divorces and separation. What makes it worse is the agility of partners to switch over to another individual before one can say ‘Jack Robinson.’

What initially was a simple, pure and deep emotion is being made complicated and twisted like a spider furiously spinning its webbed abode. Being faithful seems to be alien to many as a rationale for gaining ‘stimulation’ or the inability to control their ‘instincts’. Strangely such individuals who do not hesitate to shamelessly utter ‘I love you’ to their respective partners, seem to lose their communicative mode when it comes to dealing their problems or bridge the gaps in their ‘not so great’ relationship. In order to ‘cover’ up for their guilt, they indulge in cakes and exuberant gifts to convince themselves and their spouses about their ‘true love’.

Is such brash indulgence the only method of expressing love? Is their ‘quality of life’ determined only by being materialistic? The selfish motive of wanting to be seen in the most elite places is what has propelled some to take their partners out and showcase of their false bliss to the society. What happened to integrity and honesty with one another? Celebrating Valentine's Day to them has become more of a showy stance than their genuine fondness towards their better halves.

On the other extreme, there dwells a dark side to this intense feeling where on the pretext of it, people are even willing to indulge in violence of varying degrees. Or there are those who give up their lives for soulful love forgetting the same feeling from different sources like their family/friends.And yet much hype is being made about February fourteen. With such murky elements present it makes one wonder about what exactly is being celebrated? Or is it just a mere aping of the west? Even if it is the case of the latter it is essential to keep in mind the ‘real’ essence of this entire emotion which should not restricted to only ‘once’ in a year.

One should remember to eliminate the feeling of being taken for granted and that ‘little’ things make a ‘huge’ difference. Sensitivity should surpass superficiality. Standing by one another through thick and thin is what denotes a ‘healthy’ relationship and not JUST by flamboyant flying kisses in the air across the dimming lights of a disco. Respect, being non-judgmental and unconditional acceptance of one other is what eventually makes one a ‘better’ half. A mature stance of compatibility, expression and commitment needs to be adopted before sailing into this journey of love. Else the whole spirit will wither away like dry leaves before the onset of winter.

The absence of the above constituents can indeed make one ponder about the irony of Valentine's day or for that matter the existence of the concept of ‘meaningful love’ and that too just on that single day!!

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Insubstantial violence

-By Swetha Amit
Secularism seems to be diminishing slowly like the fading light of the twilight time zone only to engulf the nation into a gloom of ignorance and absurdity. India was once known as the abode of Indians. However due to the stingy and narrow mindedness of certain ‘STATE’ments of a political personnel on the pretext of declaring loyalty and love for his state, a spark of insecurity has spread like wild fire.

Inter-rivalry between the political parties is unfairly affecting the common man on the streets. The bashing up of glass panes of taxis and causing havoc on the pretence of ardent affection for their localities; ironically ends up in destroying the entire purpose with the loss of lives and injuring the same community individuals. Humanity seems to have been lost with obsessive fanatics’ mindlessly indulging in ‘Communal PARTYing.’

Generating fear amongst many and instigating the shopkeepers to shut down their shops proves to be an unjustified malfunctioning in more than one aspect. Anticipated attacks exhibiting their irrelevant stance is causing havoc to the routine lifestyle of people who are gripped with anxiety to drop everything and rush back through the pool of vandalism. Is it fair to disrupt normalcy of such individuals due to some extraneous emotional outrage? Does this depict the so called love for the ‘MAHARASTHRA? It’s a shame to portray such hooligan behaviour all over the state and lose innocent lives. Death tolls seem to be increasing at an alarming rate which is horrifying and needless. Such senseless on goings need to be put to an immediate halt.

It is high time political leaders come together to end this meaningless battle which is resulting in an unwarranted stampede and mobs. Unconstitutional mindset seems to be threatening Indians even out of their own country and restricting them from entering their otherwise friendly neighboring states. Curbing their movement even within their own country proves to be stifling; drawing parallels to a bird fluttering helplessly in a cage. Ironically, it almost equals us to the status of refugees in our own country with such impudent conditions imposed on us; even when foreign countries are ready to welcome us with open arms.

Such division of communities tears apart the ‘wholesome’ attitude of our nation. At this rate India would become fragmented and is bound to become an easy target for the forces that are waiting to divide our nation. This is uncalled for especially with enemies waiting to grab such opportunities like a tiger on a prowl for a lonesome prey.

Gestures by leaders should propel us to raise our heads in pride and not bow down with shame and horror. Terrorist attacks spell uncertainty as they prey on our lives and homes mercilessly. Do we need another set of incorrigible squad to instill fear of the fact whether our homeland is really our home or a place that depicts nothing but war cries, slogans and insubstantial violence?
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Monday, February 04, 2008

Not a MINOR issue

-By Swetha Amit
Brutality seems to be another name for justice; at least according to certain civilians who are far from exhibiting any civil stance. It appears strange as to how the superior ‘fight for right’ phenomenon crops up selectively, especially when the guilty party proves to be inferior or rather a minor in this case.

The appalling incident that took place in Murshidabad in West Bengal has infuriated many. A seven year old was mercilessly tied to a pole and beaten black and blue over a mere suspicion of having stolen something. To make matters worse, such horrifying behaviour was justified as a so called reprimanding act to teach the lad a lesson. It would probably be unforgettable to the young boy physically, spiritually and psychologically.

This draws a lot of resemblance to the incident that took place a few months ago in Bhagalpur where a petty thief was mauled in a similar way. The only difference being that this time it was a child traumatized in a ‘beastly’ manner on a literal basis. Being ‘roped’ in by a large number brings about a shame to the factor of ‘man-kind’ as the lack of ‘kind’ness is unmistakably exhibited. Several hearts bleed with the severity depicted towards a kid when all it required was a gentle explanation or a reprimand to shape the young one’s values and integrity.

Attacking ferociously like wild hounds is certainly NOT the solution. If such adults lack maturity, compassion and understanding, how is it possible for a child to distinguish between the right and the wrong? If they feel so strongly about injustice what happens on those occasions when murders occur during the broad day light? Is the fear factor prominent due to the possession of a lethal weapon that makes these mob packs shrink like timid mice under the harsh glare of a ferocious cat? Or is it an apprehension to attack an equal? Are they proving their ‘might is right’ aspect by shoveling a weaker opposition in order to massage their raging egos?

It shook the heavens when a nineteen year old ‘Abimanyu’ was crushed to death by numerous attackers which was against the rule of the Mahabharata war. This occurred despite the awareness of this rule amongst the elders. In a similar fashion it is enraging for millions to see such ‘Man’handling or rather mob handling in this case. Especially when it’s against the law of humanity to torture a kid in an inhuman manner.

None can fathom this unjustified act on the pretext of fighting against ‘injustice’. It makes one wonder about the extent of psychotherapy that such people require to deal with such issues in the future. It doesn’t cease to view such heartless gestures from ‘human’ beings. Especially when such individuals are parent figures themselves. If only a moment's thought is flashed by images of their own kith and kin, will such merciless treatment be meted out?

This calls for a serious approach by human rights commission and renowned psychiatrists world wide in order to restore humanity before it diminishes completely only to be superseded by barbarism. After all this isn’t a ‘minor’ issue anymore is it?

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