Nov 28, 2011

Legend Before Wicket

If he was a character in the world of Asterix, Shane Warne's pseudonym could be "Climax" (no, not because of what you are thinking, even though this is Shane Warne we're talking about). I refer merely to his uncanny ability to, as they say, write his own scripts. Thanks to Gatting Ball, no one remembers the hiding he got at the hands of the Indians at home. He snatched World Cup glory in 1999, almost single-wristedly. Then came back from a dope scandal in Sri Lanka to take ten wickets, nose ahead of his great rival Murali to the 500 wicket mark, and eventually give Australia the series. Got a Test hat-trick. Made it to 600 wickets. Struck an appropriately purple patch leading a greenhorn side to the maiden IPL crown.

Hollywood, they called him for his blond locks and superstar attitude. Now, you could put it down to his irresistible sense of destiny. The Great Scorer above is in cahoots with the Great Scripter.

The other modern script-God was Brian Lara, what I call Lady Luck's own favourite love-child.

Meet Sachin Tendulkar, Mr. Anti-climax. No Hundred in his 100th Test. World Cup only in his 6th attempt. No Man of the Match in the final! No Chennai-Test-win.

I think what people demand of him and his guardian angels are the fairy-tales. He's done the long-suffering boy-on-the-burning-deck-act. But there's been a distinct lack of gold-dust, that ephemeral moment when destiny collides with opportunity, and bang! an aura that no amounts of botox or naughty-texts can mask.

That the gods would forget to sprinkle some love on the boy-genius seems strange, after the start he had in life: three consecutive first-class hundreds, that massive Shardashram partnership, and a bloody lip in his first Test.

Do you live like the Prince or as the King?

Nov 14, 2011

"Half Ticket" - my article on some children's films in India

I have always felt that making films, writing stories, or composing songs for children is harder than many other creative endeavours. Think children's films and the Disney boilerplate animations is what comes to most people's mind, until Pixar tore that notion apart. Unfortunately, the genre of children's films in India has been criminally under-served so far. But a few have stood out.

I wrote an article two years ago on Children's Films in India, and thoroughly enjoyed revisiting some of these films. Today's a good day to point you to that:

1. Previous blog post with a scanned copy of the article (has images): at this link.

2. Plain text version:

Nov 7, 2011

An archaeology of Pune Landmarks

Human culture evolves in many ways, and is often more apparent than other forms of evolution. Trends in language, for instance, or fashion. This is also true of the culture of a place, and cities like Pune exemplify this evolution.

The Punekar has always been famous for his complaint/lament that "Pune was not like this earlier". Some of it can be blamed on the "Rosy Retrospection" effect, but much of it emerges from drastic (and tangible) change experienced within even a generation. Obvious markers of such changes are evident in population growth, traffic patterns, and the rise in cosmopolitanism. A subtle indication of these can be seen in what are perceived to be landmarks of the city.

Someone asks you where Manney's bookstore is. A decade ago, you'd say: "near West End or Dorabjee's". Today, you might say "opposite SGS Mall". Or you are issuing directions to Aundh. You suggest the driver "take the flyover above University Circle" only to be met with a puzzled stare. "What Circle?". At a school quiz, when trying to mentally place the statue of Rani Laxmibai on J.M. Road (the answer to a question), the nearest landmark that came to a participant's mind was the nearby Pizza Hut, and not Bal Gandharva Rang Mandir or Sambhaji Park.

Only time will tell if the likes of SGS Mall, Pizza Hut, or Wadeshwar on FC Road, will some day evoke the kind of nostalgia as some of the old places. Many of these 'landmarks' are eateries or retail outlets, so it is inevitable that the march of time and economics consumes and produces new winners. What's boring is the sameness of many of these new landmarks: they tend to be malls or franchise outlets. A city needs some character in its landmarks, which often comes from being remarkable for what it can offer or for its quirks. Pune's old city landmarks still retain most of these traits, while the newer, often posh-er areas, are maddeningly homogenous.

For the discerning and the inquisitive, there is perhaps much to gain from an archaelogy of landmarks in a city: a lot is happening below the facade, even if it isn't 'happening' by modern standards. So the next time you give out directions to help your newly migrated colleague, perhaps you should slip in the odd reference to an odd place. Then direct that puzzled stare into a meaningful insight about the city.

Some older and newer landmarks

    University Road: Rahul Cinema vs E-Square
    Nehru Memorial/Dorabjees/West End vs SGS Mall
    University Circle vs the University Flyover
    Cafe Goodluck vs Wadeshwar