I'm a social investor now!

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Thursday, October 07, 2010


Ever since Muhammad Yunus got a Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, the idea of Microfinance has always fascinated me. I think Microfinance as one of the earnest modes of economic inclusion of the poor and needy people. I was more than happy when I was introduced to Rang De through Srinidhi. After a bit of initial hesitation and procrastination, I decided to become a social investor by lending Rs.5000/- through Rang De.

I let Rang De decide the borrowers for my investment. Below are the profiles of two borrowers, both from Orissa who are going to be benefited by my money.

I will be more than happy if both Tara Bai, Khileshwari and many such women in India are able to setup / flourish their businesses by the concept of Micro Finance. Read the FAQs in Rang De if you are interested in becoming a social investor. Watch this interesting video about Rang De too.

An interesting categorization

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Monday, October 04, 2010


While watching a special report on the South Indian cinema in CNN IBN recently, an interesting quote by former underworld don, currently an editor and a film maker Agni Shridhar caught my attention. When the talk was about the type of movies and it’s categorization, instead of the stale terms like art, commercial, parallel etc, Agni Shridhar says, "For me, there are only two types of cinema. One which makes you remember things and the other which makes you forget things"

Now, that’s a very very interesting and profound saying. I leave that to you for your understanding...

Did you know this about Big 10 bus logo?

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Saturday, August 28, 2010


Well, for those who already know this, this could be a 'duh' post. But for those who did not, the creativity behind the Big 10 bus logo will surely amaze you.

I think Big 10 buses which ply between some important city locations were introduced in late 2008 or early 2009. I wonder how come I never got the amazing creativity behind their logo design, until my friend Hemanth told this recently. It is quite common that every one reads Big 10 in English fonts, but to get amazed tilt your head to the left and read it again...

Don't you see the letter B as 'bi' in Kannada and the letters I and G when combined as ardhaakshara 'ga' in Kannada..? Isn't that awesome..? We all must have seen some amazing logos of international brands with calligraphic designs and negative spaces, but to combine two different languages and making such a logo of this kind is really laudable. Dig Design Studio has designed it. Hats off to those guys.  

Watched Pantha in Ranga Shankara

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Thursday, August 26, 2010


Watched Pantha, a Kannada play in Ranga Shankara yesterday. The play is an adaptation of Anton Chekov’s short story named ‘The Bet’. The play is directed by Prof Sudhindra Sharma, belongs to the genre of narrative theatre and CheSwa [Chennabasava Swamy Hiremath] alone plays the roles of narrator, lawyer and the banker.

It all starts as a serious conversation between the intellectuals at a dinner party, the topic of conversation being the best between death sentence and life sentence. This turns int to The Bet between a young Lawyer and a rich Banker, with the former agreeing to lock him self up in a room for 15 years to prove his argument right and Banker agreeing to pay Rs. 2 crores if the Lawyer succeeds to do so. One of the terms of the bet would be that, Lawyer could request for any number of books of his interest to the Banker and the Banker would provide them on time. With Lawyer reading lots and lots of books during his self imposed imprisonment, the subject of the play ultimately transcends into money vs knowledge. Watch the play to know who or rather what wins at the end.

Both Prof Sudhindra Sharma and CheSwa are talented actors and well known to people who watch Kannada TV serials regularly. CheSwa plays the role of Dheeraj in the serial, Muttina Torana. I have seen monologues before. It is really a tough job for a single actor to entertain the audience for the entire duration of the play. This one being a narrative theatre play, CheSwa did a good job of switching the roles and enacting all of them convincingly. In few places I felt he was loud in his gestures, but I think it must have been intentionally done to add the visual impact. But when it comes to the climax of the play, where CheSwa delivers a really lengthy dialogues of the Lawyer, comparing money and knowledge, I wasn’t into the play at that point of time. Some thing in the play had let my attention go. So I did not have the impact of the play at the end. Last but not the least; I must say the lighting was just superb on stage. Try it, it wont disappoint you..

Run bhola run

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Friday, July 30, 2010


Being a fitness conscious person, I have been jogging for quite a few years now, though not regularly on a daily basis. But, distance running is a bug that has bitten me off late. Believe me, distance running is one of the best stress busters! What actually started as a stress buster for me has now become a passion. Sankey being my favorite spot in my neighborhood, I started distance running around Sankey few weeks ago. I usually run there in the late evenings after returning from my office. I cycle to Sankey and run till the Sankey gate closes at 8PM. Quite a few times, I have even ran from my home near Malleshwaram Rly station to Sankey and then after I have finished few rounds around Sankey too. Distance running you see.. ;)

The last Sunday evening I achieved my first ever 10K mark [6 rounds around Sankey] in 52:57 mins. That's certainly not a bad clocking for a starter of distance running. Hoping to better the record both in terms of time and distance some time soon. btw, thanks to RunKeeper for a detailed activity planner.

Some interesting gyan

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Thursday, June 24, 2010


My dear friend Jagadish who has also been a guest blogger of my blog in the past, who comments on my blog by names Deva and Anonymous is bitten by philately off late. Or should I say, his craze for it has grown exponentially in the past few months [Jagadish, correct me if I am wrong]. Every time, I chat with him, he proudly passes on the URL of the stamps he has recently bought online. He also shares the collections of other passionate philatelists. One such is a dude named Karthikeyan from Chennai who has some amazing collection of some rare stamps, which he has shared here. Though I still have preserved few stamps that I had collected during my school days, I can not call myself a philatelist when compared to Jagadish and people like Karthikeyan who are more serious and are passionate about this hobby.

Every time I see a collection of stamps, what interests me is the theme of the stamp, rare shapes of it and most of all, the geographic details of the unheard of countries they belong to. I can boast of identifying many such remote islands and countries on the world map now because of this quest of mine. One such island is privately owned island called Sanda Island with a total area of 0.58 square miles (!!), situated at the south of Scotland. Below are the stamps of that island owned by Karthikeyan.

Surprised to see the pics of Gandhiji and paaduke [wooden slippers] on it..!? Though I could not find any information on why Sanda Island is having stamps of our dear Baapu and paaduke, but what blew my mind is that Sanda Island's population is 1!! I mean a single bloody person is living on that island. This sole resident being the European tycoon named Michi Meier who bought this island very recently on 30th March 2010. It seems that the previous owner of the island Dick Gannon, 59, was owning this island for past 20 years! It is also reported that Michi Meier wants to use this island as his bolthole and may not encourage tourism unlike the previous owner Dick Gannon. Read the complete story here. Now you might wonder why some one would release stamps for this one manned island? Find the answer in Wiki here.

Philately is really interesting hobby isn't it..?

Rabba luck barsa!!

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , , | Posted on Tuesday, June 22, 2010


This is the first time I am mentioning Himesh's name in my blog! Let me confess, I have liked his music in movies like Tere Naam, Humraaz, Run, Namastey London, Kyon Ki.., Aksar, Aashiq Banaya Aapne etc etc until he went overboard with his nasal singing and forayed into acting. Albeit the whole world hates him, but there is some thing about his music and singing that is extremely inflicting and deeply penetrative. Or should I say,  once you hear his music, you can't get rid off it however hard you try. You try harder and harder to forget that one song and those catchy repetitive words, but the song is going to loop infinitely in your mind for days together. The tune displaces your favourite and often hummable song without your knowledge and the song spills out from your mouth involuntarily! Then you suddenly become conscious about if any one around heard you humming Himesh's latest tune. A recent article in Sunday supplement of Deccan Herald rated Himesh's tunes as one of the top guilty pleasures of Indians!!

Remember the title track of the disastrous movie 'Shakalaka Boom Boom'? Yes, I confess again, that irritating tune had run in infinite loop in my mind for days together. Now is the turn of the tune, 'Rabba luck barsa..' from his yet to be released movie 'Kajra Re'. Watch the video and  start singing 'rabba luck barsa... rabba luck luck luck.. rabba luck barsa' :)

Ye maya chesave - it's magical

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , , | Posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010


This is my first Telugu film reco for you guys. I was prejudiced that Telugu films are only about mass masala run of the mill movies, but I was wrong. I saw 'Ye maya chesave', the Telugu version of Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa. Let me confess that I can understand Telugu in bits and pieces only; I was able to get the complete meaning of the dialogues only when the main characters uttered some lines in English. Forget that, I don't even know exactly does the title mean! I just know, it means some thing similar to 'fascinate me' or some thing of that sort. But there was some thing magical about this movie which surely mesmerized me. Just finished watching it and cudnt resist myself from writing this post.

I wanted to watch this movie badly after reading the review by Hemanth here. A simple 'yes-no-yes' love story is made extremely believable and adorable by Gautam Menon. Hemanth had said, Naga Chaitanya is unlike the other Telugu star sons who are miles ahead when it comes to the screen presence, dancing, stunts and other heroic mannerisms. I totally agree with that. This guy worked for me in this movie, because he does not look like a star! He is 'the perfect' boy next door. He is not great when it comes to acting, but a good director like Gautam Menon can brush his weaker virtues under the carpet. I mean I cudnt think of any hero who could do the role of boy next door so convincingly. Portraying Karthik who is 22 year old mechanical engineer and an aspiring film director - he is not the bravest character who can do any thing for his love, at the same time we get to see his  foolhardy traits play peekaboo throughout the movie. He hides inside his house when heroine's parents come to his parents smelling some fishy things happening between Karthik and their daughter. He sheepishly and helplessly sits in the church when his love is about to get married to another guy. He looks coward in those moments. At the same time, this guy follows the heroine all the way till Alleppey just to say sorry! He is even capable of hitting heroine's brother when you least expect him to do it. Though he is just 1 film old and not a gifted actor, but Naga Chaitanya pulls it off!

Coming to Samantha playing Jessie in the movie, she seems to be better equipped with acting abilities than Naga Chaitanya. Samantha looks pleasant on screen and ravishingly beautiful when she is saree clad! How can a guy's heart not skip a beat when she wears all those green and orange sarees. Samantha is made to speak in husky voice in the entire movie (not sure if her voice is dubbed by some one). The way she checks if any known person is checking them out when she is talking to Karthik or the way she pulls back strands of her hair behind her ear lobe, I simply loved it. I was smitten by this lady! Just not the screen 'pleasance', her character is also carefully etched by Mr Menon. Her reaction to Karthik when he proposes her, her mood swings, her tantrums over his profession is all made to look so natural.

Camera work by Manoj Paramahamsa is awesome. The best scene for me is when Jessie calls off the relationship with Karthik in the night near the compound of their house - the light and the shade playing on the faces of Jessie and Karthik and the hand held camera zooming in and out slowly during their entire conversation is amazing. Add some classic background score bits in this scene by ARR - this is my favorite scene in the movie. Talking about the music, few weeks back I had argued with a colleague that ARR's music is not so great in this movie. I eat my words now after watching this movie. I know ARR's music is slow poison, but this is one of the movies where I have liked music more after watching the movie. The frequent bits of violin and guitar being played in the background in many scenes is so apt, just adds to the mood of the scene. I do not remember any recent Indian movie, where the background music is used so effectively. Kudos to Menon for perceiving this and kudos to ARR for proving his brilliance yet again.

This movie is a refreshing tale about first love... Dont miss it.

PS: Now having seen this Telugu version, I am curious about how Simbu and Trisha would have played these roles in Tamil version. I also want to watch it for the sad ending in Tamil version of the movie.

Pic courtesy here

No-Federer-grand slam-semis after 6 years! :(((

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Wednesday, June 02, 2010


As the battle was heating up with the 16 pre-quartet finalists in Roland Garros for this year's French Open title, I had changed my wallpaper of my comp to the below one.

Federer was cruising through until the quarter finals which ended just few minutes before. Soderling avenged for the loss in last year's French Open finals by defeating Federer in a four setter match. I was left shattered to see Federer losing it so easily to the big serving Swedish giant. This is going to be the 1st grand slam in past 6 years where Federer will not be playing in the Semis! He had appeared in 23 consecutive Semis after 2004 Wimbledon championships. That indeed is sad news for Federer fans.

Being a die-hard Federer fan, I am not looking for excuses for his loss. But this rain hit match was interrupted many times and it is easy for the players to lose concentration and to lose the momentum. Moreover when the match resumes in such conditions, it becomes easy for the big serving guys like Soderling where the ball becomes heavy. It was evident from the serve speed of Soderling which even reached upto 240kmph in last few games. Whatever are those reasons, we have to admit that Soderling adapted well to the conditions and gave no chance for the Master to come back into the match.

With Murray being ousted by lesser known Berdich, Nadal seem to kiss French Open trophy yet again this year. Let's see if Djokovic or Soderling has any plans of devouring the run of 'The Bullfighter'.


Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Saturday, April 10, 2010


If you are a regular TV surfer, the chance of you not hitting Highway On My Plate (HOMP) on NDTV Good Times is very very less. And if you belong to this minority, let me explain what is HOMP. Evident from the title, it is a travel cum food show. The program is hosted by two witty and burly gaurmets named Rocky and Mayur. These guys travel to nook and corner of the country tasting yummy local cuisines in hotels, dhabas, chat streets, bakeries and less likely in star hotels. Basically their quest is, interesting Desi cuisines across India. In the just finished first season of the show, Rocky and Mayur have tasted various dishes from Idlis of Murugan Hotel in Chennai to Tunda kebabs of Lucknow. The show is currently running the successful second season where Rocky and Mayur have gone to phoren to taste the exotic cuisines. Usually in each of the episodes, they travel to a new destination where they cover 2-3 famous hotels. After belting, they neatly lick their fingers and then rate the taste, ambience, service of the hotels. In most of the hotels, they even engage the owners, cooks of the hotels in hearty conversation, where they try to share the information with the viewers about how some special dishes are prepared.

As a matter of fact, I see lot of travel cum food shows. 'Around the world in 85 plates' - hosted by one named Magandeep Singh in NDTV GT again, The Foodie in Times Now, Chak Le India etc etc. But what makes me feel great about this show is the witty one liners Rocky and Mayur deliver spontaneously. I dont think all of those are scripted, in which case they must be good actors and I know they are not. Rocky and Mayur having known each other for 32 years(!!) share a great chemistry on screen. It is quite weird that Mayur being a hard core vegetarian, is one of the hosts of such a show. When both of them get to visit hotels best known for non veg food, Mayur does all the talking about the place, about the ambiance, about the history of the place etc etc but food. Rocky after belting the non-veg, comments on the taste later. On any given day (episode?), both of them keep pulling each others legs, mostly Mayur ending up in the receiving end when it comes to taunts of Rocky about what all Mayur is missing in life by being a vegetarian. It is a great treat to watch them together. Rocky blogs about some of his experiences during the shoot of the show in his blog. Do read to know the pain of being a food show anchor and some serious side of him which you do not get to see while he is hosting the show.

Some of my favorite one liners that I remember right now, cracked either by Rocky or Mayur are - "The closest thing to my heart is my stomach", "Eat till you fall asleep, sleep till you wake up of hunger". What else can you expect from the guys, whose basic mantra in life is 'eat and let eat'. Ohh.. by the way, never miss the faltu food quote at the end of every episode that Rocky and Mayur utter in unison, punching in for-the-sake-of-rhyming words, that never fails to bring a smile on your face, no matter how silly or stupid they sound :)

Sports and Genes

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Wednesday, March 17, 2010


India was hosting the prestigious Hockey World Cup this time. Media publicized the whole event quite well. Hero Honda roped in Sehwag, Priyanka Chopra and Rajyavardhan Rathore to promote Indian hockey. People had forgotten about the rift that had erupted between the Indian hockey players and the FIH just few months back. Sports enthusiasts were ready to keep aside some time of their TV watching for hockey matches. After plundering their arch rival Pakistan, Indian hockey team got back into their groove with miserable losses against Australia, Spain and England. By the end of the tournament, India managed to finish 8th in the tally table. I do not follow Hockey much, have never touched the hockey stick in my entire life, but that is never a criteria for me to not notice that we guys were never a match to the Europeans, South/North Americans or the Australians in this sports. They were quicker on the field, their passes were precise, they had stronger legs. Our guys looked totally illeqipped and underprepared when compared to their counterparts. That reminded me of a discussion I once had with one of my friends about the athletic ability and genetics. On a serious note, this can not be an excuse for the dismal performance of our sportsmen in any sport, this is just a parallel thought on the role the genes could play and how influential they are.

None of us can deny cricket is the only sports Indians seem to have excelled in. At the same time, I do not consider Cricket is an athletic game. Hope you all agree with me. Let me consider some athletic games (case study kinda). In Tennis - though we have soft corners for Paes, Bhupathi and Sania Mirza but let's be frank in accepting that they can not even come close to win a singles grandslams tournaments. Football - we hear the names of Bhutia and Chhetri now and then, but Indian football is ranked 130th in the world currently. That says it all. So in which other sports is our 100 billion populated country good at? When it comes to Track & Field events, it is sad that I can remember only PT Usha and Anju Bobby George - former  won at least an Olympic medal, latter cant boast about the same. Swimming, Gymnastics... I do not know a single Indian who has shone in the international level.

Enough of scratching our heads to get the names of Indian sports personalities. Now try answering these:

Name a white athlete who holds the world record in sprinting (100m / 200m).. It is always a Caribbean or black Americans who have ruled this sport. 

Name a black guy who has won an Olympic medal in swimming (any style, 100m to 400m).. It has always been the reign of white people in water.

Why Chinese gymnasts always dominate that sport...?

Why Kenyans / Ethiopians always win marathons..?

Don't these questions ring a bell in our minds..?

Researchers say, athletic performance is affected by genes (particularly the genes which regulate cardio vascular endurance, lung capacity and muscle fibre type) and there are also more important external factors like motivation, training and equipments, nutrition and environmental influences. Apart from them there are also characteristics that are less influenced by genes such as reaction time, agility and balance. Check this, this and this for more info. Myriad of research papers would have been published at the expense of millions of dollars all over the world, but till date genetic scientists have not been able to pin-point a gene/set of genes that affect the athletic performance of human beings. So it is a secret yet.

Until then, Indian athletes, footballers, tennis players, hockey players have another excuse for their under performance - their 'inferior genes';)

Women's Day Quiz!

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Monday, March 08, 2010


On the occasion of Women's Day, I wish all my female readers, friends, cousins, colleagues a very happy Women's Day. And a special salute to my Amma and sis.

Below is a mail FWD I got containing a collage of 25 famous Indian female personalities. Name them!

I will keep the contest open for few days and will update the answers in the end.

Update - 15th March:
My friend Rekha had forwarded this mail to me. It is always fun to answer these Who's who kind of quizzes, especially pictorial ones. That is why I posted it in my blog. Without any help I could recognize 22 pics. I could not name 13th, 14th and 15th pic. Then an intelligent Google search revealed me the name of the person in 15th pic. Rekha gave me the answer for 14th. I still am not convinced about the answer for 13th pic. 

So here is the list of answers:
  1. Madhubala
  2. Indra Nooyi
  3. Arundhathi Nag
  4. Kirron kher
  5. Medha Patkar 
  6. Kalpana Chawla
  7. Sudha Chandran
  8. Shabana Azmi
  9. Kiran Mazumdar
  10. M.S.Subbulakshmi
  11. Usha Uthup
  12. Sania Mirza
  13. Kiran Desai (I doubt this...)
  14. Kamala Selvaraj
  15. Rukmini Devi Arundale - famous dancer
  16. Shubha Mudgal
  17. Arundathi Roy
  18. Karnam Malleswari
  19. Shobha De
  20. Kamala Das - Rebellious bilingual (Malayalam & English) poet who passed away recently. She had gotten converted to Islam and had assumed the name Kamala Surayya in later part of her life.
  21. Barkha Dutt
  22. Kiran Bedi
  23. P.T.Usha
  24. Shanaaz Hussain
  25. Mira Nair

Update - 19th March:
13th pic is of 26 year old Lakshmi Venu who joined as board of director for TVS in August 2009. 
Thanks to Rekha for giving me this answer too.

Gem of a medley

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Thursday, March 04, 2010


The almost forgotten face of the singer Bela in this post of Deepak Iyer, brought me back the memories of my school days. Those were the days.. yes, how can nostalgia be explained without the phrase, 'those were the days'. Those were the days, when TV shows were not riding a tiger named TRP, those were the days when singing shows were taking baby steps, those were the days when (few) singing and (very few) dancing shows were not bitten by the bug named reality, those were the days when judges of those programs were treating each other with respect, naively critical and never harsh on the participants Those were the days when participants never begged for TV audiences' SMS votes standing in front of the camera making faces. Those were the days when the contest winners were neither lured by crores nor by brand new cars. Those were the days when a Final was called a Final and not a Grand Finale. Those were the days when there used to be music and only music in the singing shows unlike today's reality shows which brims with high intensity drama every minute. Those were the days when the singing shows were unadulterated unlike today, where every week a celebrity pair appears in the singing shows to promote their new movie or music. The only purpose of those programs was to entertain the audience with sheer quality music.

Those were the days, when TVS Sa Re Ga Ma was very famous singing show on Zee TV. It was then hosted by the small screen heartthrob, chikna Sonu Nigam, who shot to fame after this TV show. I would not be exaggerating if I say, this TV show taught me to enjoy music. Below is a clipping of ONE OF THE BEST MEDLEYS I HAVE SEEN ON TELEVISION by Jagjit Singh. It was the Mega Final of Sa Re Ga Ma, where there were 10 'mahaan hastis' of music industry to judge the penultimate male and female winner.  Naushad saab, Anil Biswas, Rajkumariji, O P Nayyar, Pt Jasraj, Khayyam Saab, Begum Parveen Sultana, Kalyanji, Anandji and Jagjit Singh himself - were the judges. In the third episode of the Mega Final, Jagjit Singh renders this gem of a medley.

Almost all the finalists sitting around Jagjit Singh are quite big names today. From left to Right are Bela, Sudeshna, Sanjeevini - debuted as lead singer in Kareeb with Chori Chori jab nazre milee, Mohammed Vakil - though he is not much heard of these days, he was and still is my favourite singer, Mukund and Parthiv Gohil - debuted as lead singer in Saawariya in 'Yoon Shabnami' song.

Last but not the least, TVS Sa Re Ga Ma was a brain child of Gajendra Singh, who is now directing Amul Music ka Maha Muqabala in Star TV. But the two shows are incomparably poles apart.. Those were the days... :-/

Alex and Emma - Another enjoyable romantic comedy

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , , | Posted on Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Whether it is after a hard day's work or on a lazy Sunday afternoon or when I am feeling low, good romantic comedies always work for me. I know no better way to pep myself up. A light plot, an apt cast, cutesy scenes and dialogues sprinkled with humor that does not fail to bring a smile on your lips. And when you are walking alone down the road, sitting alone at home doing nothing or when you are walking up the stairs of your office, you remember those scenes, think how silly yet cute were they and bring a smile on your lips again unmindful of the world around you.

I saw one such movie few days back. Was bored to hit the sack and started surfing TV. Sony Pix was airing Alex and Emma, starring Luke Wilson and Kate Hudson. The movie is directed by Rob Reiner, of When Harry Met Sally..., A Few Good Men and The Bucket List fame. The movie is about an author Alex, played by Luke Wilson who is in need to churn out a novel to repay his debt to Cuban mafia within 30 days. Having got his laptop destroyed, he hires a stenographer Emma, played by Kate Hudson. Alex with a perfect author's mindset and Emma with a mind of a not so keen literary enthusiast, give us the viewers some real funny moments through out the movie.

The movie also shows us a parallel narration of the fictitious plot set in some unmentioned era on some imaginary island, where Luke Wilson himself plays the role of the protagonist and Kate Hudson plays the role of a nanny. It is fun to see the nanny changing from Swedish, to English, to Spanish, and finally as Anna, an American - all played by Kate Hudson herself, as Alex changes the nationality of the nanny in his novel as per the needs of the story. Predictably, Alex and Emma fall in love during this transcription process towards the end of the movie. A hitch is introduced to the storyline with characters in Alex's novel being inspired from his past experiences that make Emma doubt Alex's love for her. But in the end, the differences vanish and movie ends with Alex and Emma locking their lips..

A perfect movie for a boring Sunday afternoon..

16th kiss!

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , , | Posted on Tuesday, February 02, 2010


To know who kissed whom or what, and why am I counting them, read this.

The spotlight was on Andy Murray, the runner up of Aus Open 2010. Whole of Rod Laver Arena was silent to hear him speak.. And he broke down uttering "I am sure I can cry like Federer, but I am sorry I can't play like him!” Yes, this time too the runner up of Aus Open was in tears like Federer did it after losing to Nadal in the great 5 setter finals of Aus Open 2009.

I could see only the third and the final set of the finals, thanks to KPTCL there was a power cut in my locality. I kept messaging my colleague who is also a Tennis maniac for the updates till the power came back. When the power came back, the third set was going on. Murray was fighting hard to stay in the match, taking the set to a tiebreaker. For the first time in my life I wanted Federer to lose that set! Only to satiate my thirst of seeing him play another set. But Federer not only denied me the pleasure of watching him play, but more importantly crushed the dream of Andy Murray to become the first British to win a Grand Slam. British press always has projected Murray as the next-big-thing on tennis court, the tennis experts say he has got the near perfect techniques to match Federer on any surface, he might be a capable guy but personally I do not enjoy his game!! There could be lot of factors why Murray lost so easily to Federer in that match, the fatigue would have taken a toll on the young chap, there could also be a great amount of pressure on him as he is yet to win a Grand Slam. Though I am happy as a fan of Federer, but as a fan of tennis, the match did not excite me much. It seriously looked one-sided with Federer winning the first two sets so easily. I think Murray fought hard only in the final tiebreaker. Only the third set had some awe moments.

Looking at Federer's journey to final, he never played 5 sets in the whole of the tournament!! He got to play with very few big names in his draw; Lleyton Hewitt(22) - who is not as menacing as he was 2-3 yrs back, Nikolay Davydenko(6) - not a serious threat to Federer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga(10) - who is playing the best tennis of his career. Where as the other draw had many big fighters; Andy Roddick(7), Juan Martin Del Potro(4), Andy Murray(5), Rafael Nadal(2), Marin Cilic(14), Gael Monfils(12). So comparing them, I feel Federer had relatively an easier draw this time.

I am keeping my fingers crossed for the French Open, expecting the battle for title to be fiercer and more aggressive with hopefully Nadal back to his usual fitness and many other hungry contenders.. Lets hope for a great tennis season ahead.

Lastly I want to quote an excerpt from ‘The master and the apprentice’ - "If Federer plays as he did in the semi-final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the Frenchman believes that no one can stop the Fed. And if Murray plays like he did in the quarter-finals against Nadal, Nadal does not think anyone can stop him either.
The only certainty is that if both men play to the peak of the abilities, we are in for a belting final". I totally agree with that.

Pic courtesy: Australian Open

Best and worst Hindi movies of 2009

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Posted on Friday, January 15, 2010


In 2009, I have watched 20 movies in theater (to be precise 13 Hindi, 4 Kannada and 3 English). That's more than 1.5 movie per month on an average. That is really a huge amount of time and money I have spent for movies in theater compared to any other year in the past. Though I usually post the reco/review of a movie I have watched, I could not do it for all the good/bad/worse movies I watched in 2009. As the year 2009 has ended, here is my pick of some best and worst movies of the year. I have rated them purely on the basis of how much I liked or hated sitting through those movies, not bothering about their Box Office collections.

Best 5 Hindi movies
5. Luck by Chance
Dir: Zoya Akthar
* cast: Farhaan Akthar, Konkana Sen Sharma, Rishi Kapoor and a whole bunch of cameos
A classic cover drive to the fence off the first ball by Zoya!
This is a story very very well told about a struggling actor becoming successful in his career. His talent combined with his street-smartness and also luck playing a major role in his success, but in the bargain he loses his girlfriend who had supported him in his tough times. The movie seriously makes us ponder over some of the important questions like, 'what is success?', 'Is is OK to compromise on some values to achieve it?', 'What role does luck play in our lives?', 'Does always a street smart opportunistic guy outsmarts the hardworking guys in the race of life?' etc etc. All this with a mockery of the stereotypes in Bollywood to make you LOL, the movie is a great watch. Though Farhan Akthar gets pretty much predictable with his expressions, but suits best for the role of Vikram (This role landed in Farhan's kitty after most of the Bollywood biggies declined it). Konkana Sen Sharma is just brilliant and I have no second thoughts to say she is the best actress we have in Bollywood today.

Scene to watch out for:
Check out the scene where Isha Shervani tries to seduce Farhan in his hotel room. I call this a sheer act of brilliance by Zoya to think of such a scene where Isha had to be shown with a childish charm but at the same time she had to be portrayed that she is not as dumb as she looks.

4. Dev-D
Dir: Anurag Kashyap
* cast: Abhay Deol, Mahi Gill, Kalki Koechlin
What initially was a storyline proposed by Abhay Deol to Anurag Kashyap about a boy falling in love with a stripper in LA was later groomed into a totally different and very bold version of Devdas, compared to all the other adaptations of Saratchandra Chattopadhyay's novel. Shifting the locale of a Bengali Brahmin, Devdas Mukherjee of 1900s to a spoilt Punjabi brat, Devender Singh Dhillon of the modern times is really commendable. Comprehending to the complex relationship Dev shares with Parminder and Chanda, movie is quite dark and layered and also abstract in many places.

Song to check out:
No... not emosanal atyaachaar, Im tired of it. Listen to 'Payaliya..' sung by one named Shruthi Pathak. I liked her husky voice as much as the song.

3. Kaminey
Dir: Vishal Bharadwaj
* cast: Shahid, Priyanka
I am not really sure if Vishal Bharadwaj has consciously adapated Guy Ritchie or Torantino's style of movie making in Kaminey. But what I am really sure about is, Vishal Bharadwaj is one of the best directors in the industry today.
The story is about twin brothers Guddu, a stutterer and Charlie, a lisp, who would be living their own happy lives in Mumbai with former working in an NGO which fights against AIDS and latter working as a horse race bookie until one day when fate decides to intertwine their lives with a regionalist politician, two police cops, two African drug peddlers, an Indian drug lord and 3 Bengali brothers! Shahid, for me was good in playing both the roles, but was not excellent. Priyanka Chopra was superb as Sweetie. Tenzing Nima as Tashi and Amol Gupte as Bhope Bhau are surprisingly brilliant. The movie has a great music score composed by Vishal Bharadwaj himself.

Dance step to check out for:
In the song Raat ke dhaayi baje, check out Priyanka in typical Maratha bridal green saree doing 'that particular step'. U know what I mean.. :)

2. Wake Up Sid
Dir: Ayan Mukerji
* cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Konkana Sen Sharma
Another promising director forays into Bollywood! The story of a slacker was never told so well before. Yes, we had Lakshya, but I felt Wake Up Sid is way better. A perfect casting of Ranbir as a slacker, Konkana as a strong headed career oriented girl living with her own petty insecurities, Supriya Pathak as a doting mother who tries hard to bond with her son by speaking in faulty English, Anupam Kher as a caring but concerned father - the casting could not have been better. With many of the nuances of human behaviour and relationships well depicted, I liked this movie a lot. A last word on Ranbir, I was surprised to see him slipping into the skin of Sid so well and with such an ease.

Song to check out for:
No doubt 'Iktara..' sung by Kavita Seth is brilliant, but the Punjabi male version of the same song sung by Tochi Raina is utterly soulful.

1. 3 Idiots
Dir: Rajkumar Hirani
* cast: Aamir Khan, Madhavan, Sharman Joshi, Boman Irani
I rate this movie the best of 2009 not because movie is flawless, not because there are no unquestionable scenes but for entertaining me and indulging me into the movie for every minute of it. I think Raju Hirani has mastered the art of preparing a heady concoction for any screenplay - with great concept and a message to convey, with enough twists, some great lump in throat moments, superb humour, some special 'Hirani Tadka' and last but not the least, a consistent 'flow' of the story. 40+ year old Aamir has adapted some mannerisms to slip into the body of an engineering student, but according to me Boman Irani beats Aamir in this area. Boman was exceptional as Dr Asthana in Munnabhai and he matches that performance here as Viru Sahastrabuddhe!

Accent to check out for:
Every word Chatur Ramalingam utters in his Uganda born, Pondicherry brought up accent is hilarious.

The movies that deserve a special mention are: Paa, Gulaal, Love Aaj Kal
The movie that I missed watching: Rocket Singh

After the best, now comes the turn of the worst. Wherein the above movies were the best of 2009, the below are the worst among the 13 Hindi movies I saw. There were many other worst movies that were made to torture the audience, but these are the tortures I went through.

Worst 3 Hindi movies
3. All The Best
Dir: Rohit Shetty
* cast: Ajay Devgan, Sanjay Dutt, Fardeen Khan
First of all stop calling Rohit Shetty a new master of comedy. Only Golmal was his best (that too was a remake of a Malayalam movie), Golmal Returns was miserable and then All the best is a classic torture. Making a comedy movie is the most difficult thing, watch this movie to see how director and actors fail to make you laugh.

2. Wanted
Dir: Prabhudeva
* cast: Salman Khan and Ayesha Takia
I have said enough about this movie here.

1. London Dreams
Dir: Vipul Shah
* cast: Ajay Devgan, Salman Khan, Asin
Why the hell this movie is so silly!?! Not a single sequence made any sense to me. The so called friendship between Salman and Ajay looks so synthetic, the so called ego clash between them looks funny!, Ajay introducing Salman to drugs and Salman coming out of the habit is hilarious!!, the gem of all this is Asin as a 'dancer' in a Rockband!!!

Trek to Bandaje falls - Part 2

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , , | Posted on Thursday, January 07, 2010


Renting a 'farmhouse'
Walking down for few hundreds of meters with the help of marks that we made on the tree trunks, this time we saw the door of that house open. I went there and spotted a lady there. She said the falls is not that far away from there but she also said from her house we had gone in an opposite direction to the falls! It was disheartening to hear that. I wish some one was here in that house when I had come there while trekking up, we would have reached the falls by then. The sky opened up and big drops of water started falling on the dry leaves on the ground with a thud. With that our last option of trekking down also withered. By then the lady gave us a ray of hope that in the supposed to be direction of falls, there is an empty outhouse owned by a family living close by. That news was sunshine for us in that heavy rain. The lady asked us to follow her, as she herself had to go to that house. On crossing the bamboo fence of that house, she pointed her fingers towards the outhouse saying that was the one she was referring to. We all looked at each other thinking, there could not have been a better ending to our trekking for the day and to celebrate New Year if we get that house for a night's stay. We crossed a small stream of water and entered the house of our potential tenant for the night. There lived an old farmer's family. The lady who had brought us there, explained our situation and requested the outhouse on our behalf in Tulu to the old lady of the house. Though our heavy bags and drenched bodies had almost convinced her how badly we wanted a roof to spend the night, I started requesting again in Kannada to that old lady. The lady who had come with us cut me short saying the old lady does not understand any language except Tulu (Do not be surprised; There is a huge populace in Daskhina Kannada and Udupi who speak only Tulu and does not understand a bit of Kannada. I had seen so many such people near my aunt's house in Udupi). Hearing that I turned to the old lady and uttered, "Tulu barpujji (don't know Tulu)". Listening to that, the old lady grinned showing her stained teeth and replied, "yenka Kannada barpujji (I do not know Kannada)". That was the verbal rental agreement the four of us made with the old lady and her family. The old chap who knew Kannada unlike his wife, inquired if we had carried food for the dinner. I replied in content saying we have enough food. Byre smacked his lips looking at the brood of hens running around in the yard.

The old lady gave us a broom to clean the outhouse before entering in. Jumping in joy for getting a 'farm house' to spend the night, we thanked the farmer's family as well as the other lady and headed to the outhouse. Opening the latched door, we found a spacious hall with a door to the left leading to kitchen. The entire floor of the house was covered with some bird shit. We spotted few bats clinging upside down to the roof. Byre threw an empty plastic bottle to scare them away. The bats gave away hitherto their residence without any resilience to the unexpected guests. We cleaned the bat shitted dirty floor with the broom, spread the tarpaulin we had carried and threw our bodies on the floor. It was still raining heavily outside, after changing our wet clothes we belted Jowar rotis, Sharath had packed for all of us. Tired bodies caught sleep soon after the late lunch we had. After an hour or so we all woke up and saw the rain had stopped, Sun had set. We all went to the nearby stream to freshen up. Returning to the outhouse, we lit a candle. Sitting around the candle we chattered till we started feeling hungry..

Needless to say, the trek to Bandaje falls was a flop. But who cares! Four friends sitting around a candle in a cozy room in the cold night of the Western Ghats munching delicious food to greet a New Year.. I don’t think it could have been better.

Trek to Bandaje falls - Part 1

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , , | Posted on Tuesday, January 05, 2010


First of all, I want to wish all the readers a very happy and wishful new year.

Here is an account of another wild New Year eve celebration with my close buddies. As we friends do every year, this time too we had plans of welcoming the New Year atop any hill or amidst any thick jungle. The plan was to trek to Bandaje Falls near Ujire (near Dharmasthala).

Byre, Sharath, Pujar and me boarded a red KSRTC bus to Dharmasthala on 30th night at 11 PM. The ride was smooth till the bus crossed Sakleshpur. The road after that till Dharmasthala churned out all the internal organs of our bodies not letting us even blink our eyes for the rest of the night. We reached Dharmasthala around 6 AM. The place seemed to be crowded with most of the guest houses and hotels hanging out 'No Rooms' board near the reception. Lord Manjunatha being Byre's family deity, he has been to Dharmasthala umpteen times. He knew every inch of the place and led us to a guest house where he was sure of getting a room. We alighted our heavy bags, freshened up in the shared rest rooms of the guest house. After resting for a while there and having the most terrible breakfast of my life we headed towards Ujire in bus. About the shared rest rooms, terrible breakfast available in the hotels of Dharmasthala and the Darshan we had of the Lord on the next day, I am planning to write a separate blog post, because it deserves at least some hundreds of words to describe what I under went and what I feel about the place!

It was surprising that some locals and auto drivers in Ujire, seemed unaware of Bandaje falls! From the details we had collected from the net, it was said that one has to go to a place called Mundaje from where the trail starts towards Bandaje falls. We hired an auto from Ujire to Mundaje, till the point we saw a board reading Bandaje falls. Bandaje falls is visible from this point, at least a kilometer right to the highest peak in the range of mountains. In many of the blogs and sites, it was advised to hire a guide to the falls from a local landlord named Narayana Gowda. The board had his contact number too. Underestimating the dense jungle trek to the falls, we planned not to hire any guide but to explore the route on our own. The auto guy was kind enough to give us some tips to camp near the falls during the night. He also warned us about the wild elephants on the route to Bandaje Falls. The four of us started our trek with our heavy bags loaded with food, water bottles, sleeping bags and other necessary items to survive in the wild.

Raise to the falls
The hot merciless Sun of coastal Karnataka shone above our heads. We kept walking on the mud road, reconfirming the route from the unfamiliar but friendly faces peeping out from the stranded tile roof houses. The distinct brownish red colored tile roofs amidst the green Areca nut plantations in Karavali and MalenaaDu region are always a treat for the eyes. After walking on the mud road nearly for 4 Kms, we got what we believed as Narayana Gowda's house. Firm on our decision of exploring the route on our own, we did not stop at Narayana Gowda's house for a guide. After walking for a while, the mud road narrowed down to the gate of a house. Inquiring there, we were told to follow the main trail to reach the Bandaje falls. I know that is really a vague way to direct some one when the path itself is less traveled. After freshening up near the stream of water there, we marched ahead in the Areca nut plantations which appeared to belong to the house where we had last asked for the directions to the falls. We hit the hedge of the plantations with no clear path beyond that. That is when Sharath murmured, "I think it is better to hire a guide"...

We walked back for few meters and took the deviation from where the hedge had a clear trail further up the jungle. At that point, we thought that was the last point of civilization and we would be facing the wild jungle from then on. But later we got to know that there were many other houses hiding their roofs in the greenery of the Western Ghats. After crossing the hedge, it got steeper and all of us started sweating profusely except Byre. I have trekked for hours together with Byre earlier too, what I have noticed is he does not sweat out a single drop of saline from his body pores. I do not know if it is some rare disease or some thing ;), but it feels so awkward to see a fellow trekker without a droplet of sweat on his forehead when the rest are profusely sweating. The sight of the peak and Bandaje falls was hidden behind the thick canopy long back. It was a combination of our instincts, sense of direction and the pale trail which was the 'guiding' force for the rest of our trek.

Trek n untrek
There were many deviations that kept confusing us. In all such moments, one or two of us would go in each of the directions for few meters and find out if there was a distinct trail ahead or not. Also, we used to scrape the trunk of a tree as a mark of the path we took, thinking it would help us while trekking back. This act of doing and undoing continued till 2:30PM. The sky which was bright and sunny when we had started the trek turned out dark and cloudy. We spotted a house there - While Sharath and Byre explored the trail further, Pujar and I went near the fence of the house to ask for the directions of the falls. Unfortunately no one was there in the house to answer us and we had to again rely on our 'guiding' force to trek ahead. The trail led us to the thick jungle from there on and the ticking clock and the dark sky made us rethink our decision to continue our trek to the falls. All of us sat down munching some snacks and discussed about our altered plan. It was evident that we had given up the idea of going to Bandaje Falls by then. The concern then was to find a safe shelter in case it starts pouring down. This time we did not have tent and all we had was a tarpaulin. Knowing the frenzy of the rains in Western Ghats we thought of trekking down before it starts pouring.

(to be contd...)