Category Archives: General Lunch Time talk

Aditi’s portrayal of Sameera in “Sammohanam” was effortless and graceful

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Beautiful Aditi Rao Hydari from Sammohanam (Pic courtesy pinkvilla)

Let me start off with a confession, I haven’t watched any of Aditi Rao Hydari’s Hindi films except for Murder 3 few years ago. So, when I saw Mani Ratnam’s “Kaatru Veliyidai” last year, I started off with a clean slate. I was mesmerised with Aditi’s portrayal of Dr. Leela in Mani Ratnam’s rather confusing romantic tale between a fighter pilot and a MBBS doctor.

But watching Sammohanam last week further emphasised what a brilliant performer Aditi is. I don’t think anyone could have played the role of Sameera Rathod as brilliantly and gracefully as Aditi did in the film. I am not for once saying that Sammohanam is a classic, it was far from it. It was a feel-good entertainer which had a brilliant first half and a bizarre second half. The performances from the cast though cannot be faulted.

There were couple of scenes from the movie which lingers in my mind still, one where Sameera and Vijay have a conversation in the terrace and the other when Sameera hears Vijay say “I love you” in the climax and breaks down. Both those instances showed the range Aditi possesses as an actor and her ability to bring the right kind of emotion to every scene. Even in a space thriller like “Anthariksham”, which I watched yesterday only because Aditi was in it, he performance was brilliant and I really enjoyed her ability to speak through her eyes. Not many actors currently can do that.

Thanks to Mani Ratnam for bringing Aditi back to South Indian films. I am saying bringing back as she had begun her career down south in 2006 before moving to Hindi films. This is a fantastic time for female actors down south especially in Tamil. There are some strong characters being written for women by the young directors and the producers are now receptive to scripts with strong female leads. Even though Malayalam cinema has been doing this for a while, Tamil industry is finally catching up. Aditi Rao Hydari is a brilliant actor and I hope she gets more amazing characters to portray in the future. I also hope that she does more films down south as well as in a short career, she has managed to do some memorable roles here.

I haven’t still caught up Aditi’s Hindi films, and probably will do so in coming months. I just got done with her two Telugu films but her Hindi filmography is little longer, so will take a while for me to get to them. I also don’t normally write articles raving about actors on my blog but again Sameera Rathod of Sammohanam compelled me to write this and I am now a huge fan.

Cuddalore Chapter 1 – The nightmarish 8th Grade

School memories are special for everyone. Everyone at some point in their life when they look back, School forms major part of their lives. For me though I don’t remember much about my first 7 years in school. It just feels like a hazy blob without much structure, so let me directly skip to 8th grade of my school life. My parents both worked in a bank so transfer was a normal occurrence. This time they were posted to a rural branch close to Cuddalore. Since Cuddalore was a closest town/city to their branches we decided to make that our home for the next few years.

For me though moving wasn’t alien as we had already moved from Delhi to Chennai when I had completed my second grade. Cuddalore was a nice small town, it had 2-3 major schools, 4-5 theatres, some beaches and overall a good vibe. The biggest challenge for me was always adjusting to the new school. Even when I think about it now, 8th grade in that school X (Let’s call it that) in Cuddalore possibly was the reason I went in to my shell even more. I was never an extrovert but again the experience in that school in Cuddalore possibly pushed me over the edge.

I was never a brilliant student let me be very clear about the same, I did okay in my studies and probably sometimes punched above my weight. This is not to say I wasn’t interested in studies but I needed some good guidance and teaching to understand the concepts better when compared to others. I wasn’t in the top 20% of the class, nor was I in the bottom, I was somewhere in the middle. The Indian school system is brilliant for the students who are probably in the top 20% but have no proper method to deal with the rest.

Going to a new school that too in a place you are not familiar with was a daunting experience. I was new to the town, did not know many people and me being an introvert did not help either. Making friends in that school was tough. I don’t know for some reason the students in the class saw me like an alien and it was hard to gel with them. I had some terrible experiences in the class and I felt miserable throughout the year. Thanks for my one friend, let’s call him V who helped me to get through that nightmarish year. V was the typical top 20% student in the class but also was a great guy as he did not make friends only on the basis of marks and ranks. I also had my neighbour let’s call him JP, who became great friends with me when I moved in and we spent lots of time together and kind of shared similar problems at school.

There were some bullies in school and the fact that I wasn’t doing great in the class did not help matters either. The teachers in that school weren’t very helpful either. I wasn’t grasping the concepts and it became difficult to concentrate on anything without understanding what was going on. Maths became the toughest of all for me through the entire year and I really struggled. I still remember the one day when in the chemistry class, the teacher asked me a question and I did not know the answer. The guy practically humiliated me in front of the class by repeatedly asking me more questions, making fun of me along the way and also suggested something like I did not belong in 8th grade. That episode kind of left a deep scar in me and it made me to never ask any questions in the class even if I had a doubt.

The funny part is that the teachers in India do not realise that each student has different needs and all of them cannot grasp things at the same level. Scolding or hitting someone for not understanding something will not make them to understand it better. In such situations students do couple of things, one they try really hard to understand things on their own or resort to blindly mugging up the answers without understanding the concepts.

It is kind of inspirational for even me as to how I was able to turn a corner as the year progressed with all the subjects except for maths. I was able to improve through lots of hard work and dedication and was even appreciated by my class teacher in the class. That was one of the very few proud moments in that year. I should hand it to the math teacher though as she was the only person who actually thought she should do something about my troubles with her subject. She offered to spend some time after the school hours to teach me the concepts which she could not do in the class and it really helped me a lot. I really thank her for that. So the absolute nightmare which was the 8th grade was finally coming to an end and we were nearing the finals. My continued struggle with Math meant that I needed to do well in the finals to actually pass the year and my friend JP who had already failed a year had to pass this year to save some face with his family.

We both approached the final exams with lots of sincerity and thanks to my sister who spent a lot of time with me before the math exam, I think I did reasonably well and felt confident of the results. Exams were over and the summer break had started and I was extremely relieved to have gotten that break. Two months had passed after the exams and this was the time people get their results in the post. Those days it would be a post card from the school which will say either “PASS” or “FAIL” in it. Strangely both for JP and me the card never arrived. We spoke to some of our fellow students and realised that all of them had received them and my only friend V from the school had also received the same. Now both of us started panicking and did not know why we did not get the results. We decided to go to the school and check it out and since the school was closed for the summer break no one was in there.

When we started to reminisce what could be the problem we realised that couple of months ago we had a small tiff with the local post man. I don’t remember the exact reason though now but that was the reason for our cards not getting delivered. Both of us immediately reached the local post office and stood outside and spoke to few post men there and they advised us to apologise to our post man. We went in apologised to him and he finally handed over the card to us. The guy got a sadistic pleasure which we could see on his face when we came in all panicky looking for the results. We just gave what he wanted and he handed over the cards. All this was happening while we both still had no clue what that card said. When we finally got our cards, we saw the four letters we wanted to see “PASS”. The year was a total nightmare and possibly one of my worst school year and it rightly ended with equally stressful week or two.

Even though I felt happy for myself and JP I was dreading the fact that I need to go to school again in few weeks and have to spend another year with the same bunch of guys who made my life miserable the year before. I was just hoping for a better school year ahead and probably some new faces and friends when I start my 9th grade. All in that I was happy that I at least had V who would be with me in the year to follow as well. With that thought in mind I continued to enjoy the rest of the break with JP and rest of my neighbour friends who were fantastic by the way while waiting for another year in School X.

Their squad announced, can India defend the Champions Trophy?

The Indian squad for the upcoming Champions Trophy 2017 was finally announced after threats from BCCI to pull out.

India will begin their title defence on June 4 with a game against their arch-rivals Pakistan.

The Indian squad has as much as 9 players from the victorious 2013 campaign.

Please click here to read the full article.

Have Australia picked a one-dimensional side for the Champions Trophy?

Now that IPL is out of the way, focus shifts to the 2017 Champions Trophy, kicking off on June 1 at The Oval, where the hosts take on Bangladesh.

Australia have won the tournament twice and are one of the favourites to lift the trophy. Most Australian players were involved in the two-month-long IPL and have just few days to recuperate before they play their first warm-up game, against the Sri Lankans.

Read the full article at The Roar

Vishal, producer’s council and YouTube reviews

The recently concluded producer’s council elections in Kollywood was laced with lots of controversies. Like the Nadigar Sangam elections actor Vishal was in the midst of the action surrounding the election. This article is not about the elections and let me conclude by saying that Vishal was elected as the president at the end of it all. The topic I wanted to touch was the press conference the new members of the council had after the win. Vishal who is the president requested the online reviewers to postpone their reviews by few days to help the movie industry.

It was an odd request to be frank. In this day and age, asking few YouTube reviewers to postpone their reviews isn’t going to stop people from voicing their opinions on social media. If Vishal and the new members think that things can be returned back to the olden days with the reviews being postponed, they are living in a dreamland. Let us for example take 90’s as a case study. I am not a movie historian and don’t have statistics but from my experience (Since that’s the decade I am more aware of), there weren’t so many movies releasing every week. We used to wait for big festivals like Pongal, Tamil New Year and Diwali to see big star movies. Only during such big festivals we used to see multiple movies release at one go. Now coming back to the current decade, there are 3-4 movies release every week. It is even hard to keep track of what the movies are and who is acting in it.

The producer’s council should first regulate the amount of movies being made and make sure that the movie they are producing has decent content. Releasing 200+ movies in a year is not going to help the industry. Some movies which release are so amateurish that it is hard to sit through. New producers wanting to enter the industry need to be educated as to how to choose a script before investing a huge sum of money. It is always easy place a blame on a soft target such as YouTube reviewers and call them as a reason for decreasing audience in the theatres but the truth is far from it.

Reviews are personal opinions, people are free to express their opinion in any platform they want. They are the people who go and spend money to watch the film. It’s not like all films are ripped apart, movies like Managaram, 8 thottakal, Bahubali, Aandavan Kattalai, Power Pandi, Pizza, NPNK etc. all got overwhelmingly positive responses from the reviewers. This is the age of good content and if the industry is producing mediocre content, they cannot cry about decreasing audience. I am not talking about piracy here, which is for a completely different topic. People are going to look for review before watching films and that is going to continue. No one is going to stop that. Taking a family of four to the theatre is an expensive ordeal. People would want to make sure that the expense is worthwhile. When we go to a store, the first thing we do before buying a product is to look for reviews. If majority of the users of the product have given positive reviews people purchase that product. In the age of digital media, you are never going to fight that.

If the content is good most of the reviews are going to be favourable. People do look at multiple reviews before making a call and if a movie is good not everyone is going to bad mouth a film. The producers need to get together and think about what they are producing and what content is being screened to the public. If you want people to watch films, reduce the number of movies being produced, produce good content, educate new producers to invest smartly and give the films enough time to publicize their content before release. These would some of the solutions to get the audience to the theatres. By asking reviewers to postpone their reviews, you are basically saying that even if the movie is bad, since we invested, let the people spend the money like they did in the 80’s and 90’s before they found out that the content was horrible. Sorry Vishal, that is not a solution and audience are never going to fall for that.

Strategic Break, really?

Yesterday’s game between KKR and RCB was interrupted by rain. The game was on hold till the rain stopped and the ground was ready for play. The game stopped when RCB were 100/3 in 14.1 overs. After the match resumed, the bowling team just bowled 5 balls and the umpire called for strategic break. Are you kidding me? Why would either team want to strategize when they had just spent about an hour in the dressing room with the coaching staff.

What is there to strategize after just 5 balls when nothing much had changed? If BCCI wants to give an advertising break, why not just call it that? It is funny that BCCI dictates and forces teams to take a break when they don’t want to and thereby cause unnecessary break in play. If BCCI wants to sell airtime to make money they should call the break as advertisement break. If they really want to give the teams a strategic break, it should only be taken when the teams want to take it.

It was extremely funny when teams had just come in after a 45 minute break and within 5 deliveries had to go back in to strategize nothing.

India’s home season

India’s long home season ended with a brilliant series win over touring Australian team. India were brilliant throughout the season and it was a dominant home performance. India also reached the top of the rankings table during the season and have taken a nice lead over the second ranked team. The team had lots of positives over the season which spanned 13 tests none more satisfying than the performances of the pacers. Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami were excellent and provided timely breakthrough’s throughout the season. They both were pacy and kept their intensity whenever they were called up on by the captain. Bhuvneshwar Kumar also was brilliant in the chances he received and pocketed couple of 5 wicket hauls on wickets which assisted him. Ishant Sharma did not play a lot during the home season but he did give his all whenever he made the X1.

The spin combination of Ashwin and Jadeja were devastating throughout the home season. Ashwin was brilliant in West Indies as well when India toured last year for a 4 match test series. Jadeja though kept improving throughout the season and ended up as the number 1 bowler in the world at the end of it. The left-armer was brilliant with the ball and by the end of the season was contributing with the bat as well. The duo was also received good support from Jayanth Yadav and Kuldeep Yadav in the games they made the X1. The biggest positive for India though was the fact that they played as a team throughout and most of the wins were a thorough team efforts. There were many instances of young players stepping up to the challenge and putting in match/series defining performances. Jayanth Yadav’s maiden test hundred against England, Karun Nair’s triple hundred and Kuldeep Yadav’s 4-fer all were extremely important in the context of the match and the series.

The senior members also stepped up to the plate when required. The captain himself was brilliant throughout the season except for the Australian series. Murali Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane, Saha, Ashwin, Jadeja, Lokesh Rahul all made crucial contributions throughout the season. The all-round contributions from Jadeja and Ashwin, gave Kohli the opportunity to play 5 bowlers when required. The solidity which Saha discovered during the home season also gave Kohli a great chance to experiment with the X1.

Now that the home season is done and dusted, the team would know that they are in for much tougher challenges in the coming year or so. Overseas tours are not something new for this bunch. Most of the members from this present team were part of India’s long overseas season from 2013-2015. The team already knows what to expect and would hope to be better prepared this time around. Kohli’s first challenge obviously would be to defend India’s Champions Trophy crown which would be right after the IPL. This Indian team has shown that they could compete on any type of wicket and now they would want to put in more consistent performances overseas. Things are really looking exciting for team India under the leadership of Virat Kohli and as Ashwin had mentioned in his interview, hope he can take India to the newer heights in the coming years.