Bangalore Ultra 2014: 75 Kms Run!!

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Ever since I registered For 75 Kms in Bangalore Ultra, I would say, my months of practice was always accompanied by loads of skepticism about completing the race, about getting injured due to the extra mileage I was putting in to the practice, about the adequate hydration on the race day and myriads of such thoughts.
When I had attempted 50 Kms in 2012, It was easy to push my mind and body, as I could always say, it's just 8 Kms more than a Full Marathon. I did not have such 'easy' formula for 75 Kms. What do you say to your tired legs and unwilling mind - just 33 Kms more than a Full Marathon distance..? Naah. Once the race route was published by the event organizers, which was of 25 Kms lap, I decided it to take one lap at a time. Not easy as it may sound, but I had no other choice!
The Race Day:
I was jittery at the start line at 5:00AM, trying to brush aside the negative thoughts by stretching and cheering the co-runners. When the whistle blew, I started slower than my average running pace.
1st Lap (0-25 Kms):
Quite comfortably finished it. Was hydrating well in aid stations. The company of bustling fellow runners made the distance easier to cover. 
2nd Lap (26-50 Kms):
This is when most of the runners hit the wall and every one starts fighting their own personal battles. The smiles on the faces evade, cheers to the fellow runners become faint. Though I thought I had the right intake of water+salts, I had the crystals of salt formed on my face. Sweat and color of urine are good indicators for any long distance runner. I stopped taking Enerzal and other salt supplements at the aid stations and had more water in subsequent aid stations. The Sun was harsh and few blisters on the toes decreased my speed.
3rd Lap (51-75 Kms):
After finishing 50 Kms, I rested for 10-15 mins. Had boiled Sweet Potato and Eggs which I had carried in my bag (that was kept at baggage counter). The tough part was to resume running, the easy part was, that was my final lap :) Around 60th Km mark, the blister on the small toe of left foot bursted. I could feel my socks getting wet. The burning sensation was severe. I started limping. The problem with such altered posture is, it impairs the whole balance and my ankle and shin also started paining. One of the volunteers handed over the band-aid and surgical tape. I wrapped it around my hurting toe and started walking! The finish time of 10 hours seemed very distant. All I wanted at that point was to cross the finish line.
At the finish line:
After walking for almost 10 last Kms and being on the running trail for close to 12 Hrs, I was there at the finish line!! With a sense of accomplishment and a big smile on the face :)
Lessons Learned:
  • I should have had few practice runs in the afternoon that would have made my body more prepared for the run in hot Sun
  • I should have run the entire distance at least once before the event!
  • My running shoes were best suited for tarmac or hard surfaces. It wasn't for trail run.
Things to cheer about:
  • No major cramps and dehydration problems mean, my diet before and during the race was just adequate to push me to the finish line
  • Apart from the usual exhaustion of the muscles, No runners' injuries
  • I never gave up!

Every time, I run such a distances, I get amazed about the human body. It’s a wonder machine. You grease the joints, fuel it well, it just runs..!! :)


Posted by Anantha | Posted in , , | Posted on Monday, March 10, 2014


Dir: Imtiaz Ali
Cast: Randeep Hooda, Alia Bhatt

Veera is a pretty doll from a filthy rich family, Mahabir is a rugged abductor. Imtiaz Ali weaves a very beautiful relationship between the two when Mahabir kidnaps Veera for ransom. Knowing that Veera's father is a very influential person, instead of backing out from the plan, he sticks to the plan and flees with few of his aides in his truck with Veera gagged and hogtied at the back of the truck.

When Veera is held captive by Mahabir's gang and her life is hanging by a thread, I found it incomprehensible to accept the casual blabber of this girl, she not missing her home and parents but, when she tells him about the traumatic episodes of her past, I started connecting the dots and it made sense. When one of Mahabir's aides tries to misbehave with Veera, Mahabir slaps that guy. Mahabir's motives are very clear, he has an angst against the rich and he wants money in return for Veera's release. Veera's confiding to Mahabir about being molested by one of the family friends does not seem so wrong now. It plays a significant part in the turn of events. Had Mahabir's aide not misbehaved with Veera and Mahabir had not rescued her, would she have trusted Mahabir? I dont think so. Having seen a paedophile who belongs to the clan, it does not surprise me if Veera starts trusting a man who rescues her from getting raped, though being her abductor!

After that cathartic talk, Veera just stays near the door of the truck only to thank him for lending her the ears and help her blurt it out, which she might not have told any one in the past. He opens the door of the truck (like a gentleman?!), but she hugs him as a token of gratitude. At this point, I am not sure what Mahabir thinks of this gesture. He puts her arms around her hesitantly feeling sorry about her past.

I do not think it is love between a couple that exists between the two, but there are more dimensions to it. At times, it was like a father and his daughter -- he shares his chaddar with her when they would be travelling atop the bus and she leans on him, when Veera breaks free and dances to the seductive tune of 'I wanna mashup', Mahabir smiles at her as if a father is looking at his teenage daughter dancing. At times, it was like a mother and son -- lullaby scene and also she pats him back to sleep when he wakes up of a nightmare at the back of the truck and he slightly curls his body indicating the fetal position, Then in the most heart wrenching scene of the movie, where Mahabir fails to collect all his courage to enter the house seeing Veera preparing food for him and breaks down hysterically outside the house, she hugs him like a mother hugging a child. I still get goosebumps remembering this scene.

Veera once clears this out to Mahabir, "Mera, tumhaare bachche palne ka plan nahi hain... shaadi kar ne ka bhi plan nahi hain.. kuchch bhi plan nahi hain". She just wants 'this whole thing' to last for some more time. Ironically, by saying she has no plans, she makes clear to Mahabir what she expects out of this relationship. Until then, was Mahabir also so clear about what to expect out of this relationship? This is debatable.

The movie is full of many subtle symbolism that are beautifully evocative and at the same time, not contrived. Veera, born and bred in palatial mansions and not being an out door girl, feels claustrophobic inside the dilapidated building where she is held captive. She shouts to her kidnappers through a window that she feels suffocated inside and asks their permission to come out and sit in Sun and get some fresh air. And the kidnappers oblige to her request which even her parents would have denied her! It's so ironic but so beautifully put. In another scene, Mahabir leads her to a small shop to buy her new clothes and she nudges him about his mother's whereabouts and asks him to promise her that he would meet his mother soon. When they are out from the shop, he follows her! The whole power equation changes after that conversation in the shop. The truck driven by Mahabir with Veera tied and dumped at the back of it, wiggles through dark alleys in the beginning and by the end of the movie, the truck will be amidst the open mountainscapes. Mahabir even chucks the truck he drove till then and travels with Veer in public transport as if he has given up on controlling their journey and has left it to the driver called fortune.

Alia Bhatt is charming as Veera, suits the role well. Randeep Hooda is awesome, hope he gets many more such meaty roles in future. 

For me, the movie was as much about Stockholm Syndrome and women raising their voices against child abuse, it was as much about two souls longing for love and finding that in their journey on a highway however brief lived that platonic relationship was.

The Lunchbox

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Thursday, October 31, 2013


Dir: Ritesh Batra
Cast: Irfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui

Sajan Fernandes (Irfan) is a loner working in claims dept of a government office which is decades behind the age of computers, the employees work on big fat hardbound files there (in two of the scenes you see Sajan diligently marking lines with a ruler and a marker). Sajan is about to retire in few days. Even after working for 30+ yrs in the same office, he does not seem to have any friends in the office, he sits alone for lunch, he doesn't say 'hi-bye' to anyone in the office. What made him so or has he been like that all his life, we don’t really bother to ponder over that when Irfan Khan plays Sajan! His long pauses before he answers, his empty gaze out of the window of a bus etc convinces us pretty much that Sajan Fernandes must have been like this since ages. Lovvvved the way Irfan pauses and says nothing when Nawazuddin Siddiqui asks him, 'kaise lag raha hai sir... Itne saal ek hi dept mein the aap.. Abhi retire ho rahe hai'.

Ela (Nimrat) is a housewife, another lonely soul in one of the stacked up flats of an apartment in Mumbai. Her husband seems severely disinterested in her. After sending her daughter off to school, she often tries new recipes with the help of an aunty upstairs. That's her only break in the monotony.

On one of those rarest of the rarest days, instead of Ela's husband, Sajan gets the dubba sent by Ela. That leads to a chain of conversations between the two through the written letters exchanged in lunchbox. I loved the way their conversation builds and a very beautiful camaraderie blooms between the two. Though their conversations start with the taste of food, it meanders through quite esoteric plateaus ranging from Bhutan's gross happiness index to Sajan seeing his dead grandfather in the bathroom. There are more esoteric things in the movie like the aunty upstairs saying she cleaned a running fan and Ela's mother saying she is feeling hungry sitting in front of her husband's dead body. I personally did not like Sajan naming Ela and projecting her as his girl friend when he goes to Nawazuddin's house for dinner. I wish he had stopped at the long pause there. Well, that could be my way of perceiving Sajan.

What made them not exchange their mobile numbers? I think the telephonic conversation could have never been a match for the fun of writing those handwritten letters and exchanging them hidden inside the lunchbox. I think Sajan and Ela knew that well! The movie has moments which tugs at one's heartstrings. For example, when Sajan suspects the lady who committed suicide with her daughter could be Ela or when Nawazuddin almost tears Ela's letter with the roti in his hand.

Loved Irfan, Nimrat and Nawazuddin. Kudos to Ritesh for giving us such a beautiful film.

PS: Not an ounce of doubt on the caliber of Irfan but on a whimsical note, just had this discussion with a friend of mine about whom would we want to see as Sajan if not Irfan. Hmm.. Anupam Kher - might have suited well too. Paresh Rawal - Hmmm.. I dont think his expressive eyes go well with Sajan's persona. Naseeruddin Shah - Bingo... Would have nailed it!, Boman Irani - That could be interesting. He would overdo certain mannerisms of  Sajan, but would have given his own interpretation to the character of Sajan (could have drifted away from the Sajan, Ritesh conceived!). However, I want to see Boman in such roles. Who else... Anant Nag from Kannada! Well, that's an interesting choice too!!  Let me know your choices :)


Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013


Dir: Pawan Kumar
Cast: Neenasam Satish, Shruti Hariharan, Achyut Rao

The movie begins with a voice reciting 'nee maayeyoLago, ninnoLu maayeyo (are you part of the illusion or is illusion a part of you)?' - a famous devotional song by Kanakadasa. The protagonist is Nikki, who calls himself just another sheep out of 90 lakh people in Bangalore (he says he is from Chikkanaayakana doDDi... Got the pun?). Nikki does the odd job of a torch shiner in a debt struck talkies - it's a thankless job where everyone is led to their respective seats in the darkness but the torchman remains faceless and anonymous. Life is pretty much smooth going for Nikki except that he suffers from insomnia. A chance encounter with a 'jadi booti vaid' gets him Lucia - the pills which not only gets him sufficient sleep but also makes him hallucinate and live his wishful life in dreams. The first night of taking Lucia, in Nikki's dreams, he has become a reputed movie star. His coveted life in dreams is shown in B&W but his struggling reality in color (with a purpose to be revealed at the end). To Nikki's amazement, the characters in his dreams are the manifestations of the people around him in reality. His theater owner Shankranna is his manager in dreams, the police who played a prank in real life is actually a much obedient cop who protects him in his dreams, his love interest - the pizza shop girl of real life is a wanna be heroine in his dreams, a dangerous money lender is an extortion caller in his dreams. Night after night and pills after pills, the movie progresses with his dreams and real life in parallel. There is professional jealousy, arrogance, detachment and alienation in dreams but a struggle, contentment and innocence in his real life.

It's time when it's time! His dreams and reality crash into each other and the audience are brought down with a thud. How real were his dreams or how dreamy was his reality? Or was it magical realism? (I thought 10 times before using this word. The word reminds me of a famous Japanese writer whose stories I never understood but bothered me for weeks after reading them). Was it insomnia? Or was it a fair dose of philosophy? Why were his dreams B&W, why was his real life colorful? Finally who is real? Nikki the torchshiner or Nikki the actor?  With a fair amount of topics like Euthanasia, the police investigation and the science behind hallucination thrown in, the director holds together a magnificently creative concept till the end (the effective background score in the climax which raised my heartbeats exponentially is worth mentioning).

One of the very few complaints I had was, wish it was shorter by 10-15 mins. It could have been crisper. The other complaint being, the heroine’s role could have been etched out better.

Hail Pawan!! His first movie Life-u IshTene was much loved, Lucia is a movie to remember for many years to come in Kannada! Don’t be surprised if a movie buff tags Lucia along with The Machinist, The Butterfly Effect and The Inception! When I say that, I am not comparing the grandeur of the making but the creative quotient of the script!! Go, watch it... Its with English subtitles too.

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , , | Posted on Saturday, July 20, 2013


For me, the movie was a well laid argument of Wings vs Roots, though with a convenient solution to it. Kabir (Ranbir) is a dreamer who dreams to visit thousands of beautiful cities across the globe. Maintains a scrapbook with each page dedicated to the destinations he plans to visit. He is ready to live a life of a nomad with no attachment and commitment to his family. The movie is his journey to places and how he struggles to stay grounded. Aditi (Kalki), though a boisterous lass in Kabir's gang - is the first one in their gang who understands the needs to adapt to the conformities of the world. Avi (Aditya Roy Kapur), a carefree boy who pretty much remains glued to his addictions to liquor and gambling till the end. Naina (Deepika), who falls for Kabir in their Manali trek very early in the movie, is a nerdy medical student (yes, Deepika could look nerdy :-p) who is little possessed by the idea of being the best in everything she does from studies to reaching the summit in their trekking to her dance in the sangeet party. She is the one who keeps Kabir rooted too, well.. Almost.

At the end of the Manali trek of these four, Avi gets to know that Kabir is all set to take off to foreign shores for his studies. Though Avi and Aditi feel little betrayed that their friend hid the news from them, Kabir tells them that he wanted to surprise them on the last day of the trek. Avi and Aditi come to terms that they had to part ways at any point soon due to their career options and stuff, Naina returns heartbroken from the trek. 

Years pass on and we are shown Kabir with cameras in exotic cities around the globe as part of some travel show, living his dream. With not much whereabouts of the exact locations he is in, I loved the brief disconnect I had with Kabir during this time in the movie. I believe that was an intentional one by the director to make us feel what his friends and family feel for him.

Eight years later, when Aditi decides to marry a rich but a nice man (Kunal Roy Kapur), it is the time for reunion of the four. Avi's addiction to liquor and gambling has grown, Naina is still in love with Kabir (thank God she is not married to one of Rahul Khannas or Abhishek Bachchans or such cameos), Aditi is pretty much sure of her decision to lead her life with her husband, having covered many of the places in his wish list - at the cost of missing his dad's funeral and missing his freinds - Kabir is still in love with the nomadic life. In the fun and frolic of the grand wedding, Naina makes Kabir understand how important it is to slow down and enjoy the present moment than to rush towards meaningless goals. She also confesses to Kabir that she always loved him. Guilt struck for not seeing his dad for the last ever time and realizing what he had missed in life, the man who always craved for the speed and rush ironically yearns to stay in Naina's embrace for few seconds. Kabir realizes pretty much that, he has been the man who was everywhere but ended up being nowhere. 

When we feel Kabir is going to 'settle down' finally, his visit to his home where his widowed step-mother lives, turns things upside down. Kabir confesses how guilty he is for his deeds but, his step mother gives a nod for his dream quest, saying that’s what made his father proud of him always. That gives a boost to Kabir's wander lust again and now he plans for his future in remaining destinations on his scrapbook but, this time with his lady Deepika beside him. Had it been his real mother, would she have been so forgiving when her own son did not turn up for his father’s funeral? I believe the answer is NO. That must be the reason to have the character of a step-mom for Kabir. Moreover, would Kabir have continued his wanderlust after marriage with Naina? What if Naina was a career oriented girl? These are the reasons, I said the argument ends with an easy and impractical solution.

I have been a big fan of Ranbir, he plays these roles with superb ease. I liked Farookh Sheikh in the role of Kabir’s father too. It feels so good to see these yesteryear actors in pivotal roles. If you are ready to bear the heroines and some bimbettes in designer clothes in Manali trek, and a gracious but unwanted cameo by Madhuri and few minute necessary evils of a commercial cinema – it’s a nice watch…

It's not funny

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Saturday, June 29, 2013


When TOI had this ad of Chennai Express on the front page some time back, with SRK and Deepika in 'South Indian costume' and dark, fat lungi clad goons in the background, I said to myself  'oh no, not again'. Does the cultural stereotypes in films/ads/reality shows/daily soaps bother me? Yes, it bothers me, but as equally as any other stereotypes.

Talking about the cultural stereotypes - it equally bothers me when Hindi films have actors talking with 'that' accent when they are playing the roles of south Indians as much as a Nepali is shown as goorkha as much as a Punjabi is shown as loud and always ready-to-dance-for-a-bhangra beat or as much as a stingy Gujarati or as much as a Rasagulla and Mishti Doi craving Bengali. If these are inter-state portrayals, coming to Kannada movie, why does an old Coorgie gentleman always have to be a rifle wielding ex-army personnel with handle bar moustache and a Mangalorean has to start every sentence with 'enta maraya, manDe bechcha aagide' (an idiom in coastal Karnataka to say one is tensed) and a Uttara Karnataka guy always has to spout cuss words.

Though I never consider Rohit Shetty a 'thinking film maker', but these stereotypes irk a little when you see too much of them all around. Agree, comedy sprouts from exaggeration and the intention of many of these gags is to be funny, but these gags misfire when the exaggeration is remotely authentic and characters become mere caricatures. I know jokes are subjective, but for me it stops getting funny when the undertone is 'you are like this only' and becomes utterly funny when the undertone is 'we are like this only'. I hope that distinction summarizes what I find funny and what I find offensive. Now is the tricky question of who are 'we' and who are 'they' rather more precisely, when do 'they' become 'we' and ‘they’ fail to become ‘we’. The simplest answer I would like to give is - it's 'we' when we embrace all idiosyncrasies of all the languages and cultures across the length and breadth of India and make fun of 'our own' ethos. A good friend of mine – forget any effort to learn Kannada – he cannot even distinguish between Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam even after staying in many southern states for more than 10 years. Mind you, there is a clear distinction between ignorance and reluctance. This guy is plain reluctant. Isn't that a complete failure to understand Indianness and a missed opportunity to become 'we'? 

Enough of defining the offensive cultural gags. Let me also mention few nice playful characters where the director knew the nuances of the cultural barriers and successfully treads the tight rope walk.

1. The cultural clash of the Punjabi family and the Bong family in Vicky Donor. I found it funnier when a Punjabi friend of mine explained me some of the intricacies of the dialogues and the gestures.

2. The role of protagonist’s father ably played by Sundar Raj in the Kannada movie Pancharangi. Sundar Raj was the perfect middle class English loving Brahmin uncle, whose use of Kanglish and mannerisms are just too funny. We friends laugh our hearts out how many ever times we see that movie.

These are the ways to be funny without offending any one’s sentiments. I wish all the film makers were this sensible…

PS: Oh! by the way, read this post by one of my favorite film critic Bharadwaj Rangan which inspired me to scribble some of my thoughts on this topic.


Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Saturday, April 27, 2013


Too much in my mind to blog and too little patience to draft it as separate posts elaborately, hence is this itsy-bitsy post again.

  • One of my favourite playback singers of 60s/70s, P.B.Srinivas is no more. Many of his songs are my all time favourites. ‘Tam nam tam nam’, ‘baaDi hoda baLLiyinda’, ‘baara olidu baara’, ‘aaDisu noDu beeLisi noDu’, ‘aakashave beeLali mele’, ‘ide nanna uttara’, ‘baare baare chandada cheluvina taare’, ‘barede neenu ninna hesara’, ‘vithala ranga..’ are some of the ones coming to my mind right now. He was the voice for Dr Rajkumar for many many years until Raj himself started singing in his films. P B Srinivas’s voice was very soulful, earnest and there was some ‘truthfulness’ in his voice which holds my attention till date. All the music lovers will surely miss him.
  • Another person I liked breathed his last breath last recently. It is famous film critic Roger Ebert. Quite frankly, I was introduced to his reviews very late. I was led to his reviews on Suntimes site by a fellow blogger. Only after reading Roger Ebert’s reviews, we would know how shitty the reviews we come across in umpteen news papers and websites are. Most of his reviews were insightful references for me. At times, for some of the movies, I have read his reviews only to understand and appreciate the movie better. At times, I have gone to his site like a kid approaching a teacher to understand a complex maths theorem. Reading his reviews was like discussing a movie over a coffee with a friend!
  • Continuing the chain of sad thoughts, Armstrong was denied to compete in a swimming competition in Texas recently. I am dead against doping in sports but for some reason I have blind spot for Armstrong. When I say that, I do not support what he did in those 7 Tour de France titles, but I feel the mentioned incident and the likes are little too harsh when he has paid for what he has done. That reminds me of a tweet I came across when he was just stripped off the Tour de France titles. Some dude had tweeted, “Uske bachchon ke haath par tattoo karwaado ki ‘mera baap dope maar ke cycle chalata tha’”. Man, that’s really really rude for the family of a once sporting hero.
  • I’m glued to TV set since the start of the IPL. Enjoying the nail biting finishes as much as the light hearted conversations of the ex-cricketers with Gaurav Kapoor and Samir Kochar in Extra Innings. Hosting the show since the start of season 1, these two guys seem to have got the knack of talking to people and keep the show going. I am thoroughly enjoying it.
  • What is IPL without new Ads, ZooZoo is back with all its cuteness of the ZooZoo world. Of the other new ads, I like the Havells fan ads with ‘Hawa Badlegi’ theme a lot. Particularly the ads in which the guy surprises everyone by willing to change his surname in the registrar office and the one in which the maid is told by the family to sit with them for dinner. What struck me the most in them is the bang-on acting by the actors. I liked the way the guy says with great conviction, “nahin madam, yeh Shanthi Pandit hi rahengi, Main banoonga Vikas Pandit”. And in the other ad, I liked the way the maid sits uncomfortably on the edge of the chair and smiles acknowledging the complements for her sabzi. Kudos to the casting also here. In the short duration of few seconds, to tell a story with such superb acting and also to sell an idea is not an easy job. It reminds me of an article of Harsha Bhogle in ESPNCricinfo some years ago, in which he had defended the idea of T20 games as cricket has evolved catering to the changing needs and the short attention of span of cricket fans. I remember he mentioning T20 games are like the TV commercials, just because they are short, it does not mean there is no creativity, there is no good acting, in fact it requires a different skill to be an ad film maker than to tell a story in 2+ hour movie, comparing the movies to the longer formats of the game. It is not necessary that people perform well in both the formats as different formats require different kind of talent. Isn't that example just apt?