Milind Soman and team are on Greenathon Run of 1500Kms from Delhi to Mumbai

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Greenathon is an NDTV-Toyota initiative to address environmental issues and spread awareness about usage of alternative sources of energy, wild life conservation, restoring forests and also whole lot of things. This year's Greenathon is a 4th annual event which kicked off on Earth Day on 20th of April. Model cum Actor cum Ultra Marathon runner Milind Soman has been actively taking part in this initiative every year. This year with a team of 4 runners he has started his run of 1500 Kms from Delhi to Mumbai in a span of 30 days!!! That means the team has to run a Ultra Marathon of 50 Kms at least everyday for a month...!!!!! Along the route, he would be meeting school students, social workers and other common people who have worked towards the cause. Some of the local runners too could join the team on and off.

The updates by Milind on his run and videos from NDTV team could be tracked here on daily basis. Today is the 6th day of their run. They must have covered over 300Kms already. Some of the videos in the site shows the team running mostly during the night to avoid the scorching summer Sun of Delhi and Rajasthan. Guys, running a marathon itself is not easy. For 2 days after running my first ever marathon, I did not feel like getting up from my seat for a  sip of water. That's the level of fitness we common people have. Now imagine running an Ultra Marathon everyday for a month in peak summer. It is just superhuman! Kudos to Milind and his team members - Sajjan Dabas, Apurba Kumar Dass, Raj Vadgama and Sumedha Mahajan. I wish them all the best and pray for their health.

Masoom (1983)

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Sunday, April 22, 2012


Dir: Shekhar Kapoor
Screenplay, Dialogues, Lyrics: Gulzar
Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi
Music Composer: R D Burman

I just wonder how could I miss such a wonderful movie for all these years. The movie I am talking about is Masoom, directed by Shekhar Kapoor and written by Gulzar saab. D K Malhotra and Indu [played by Naseeruddin Shah and Sabana Azmi to utmost perfection] is a happy and loving couple living in Delhi with their kid daughters Pinky and Mini [adorably cute Urmila and Aradhana]. This perfectly happy family gets devastated when Naseeruddin Shah gets to hear the news that he has an illegitimate son from his once classmate Bhavana [played by Supriya Pathak] out of their brief affair they had in one of the school reunions in Nainital, that too when his wife would be expecting their first child back home in Delhi. Bhavana would have concealed this news from Naseer to save his marriage with Shabana. After Bhavana's untimely death, Bhavana  and Naseer's masterji would be the caretaker of their illegitimate kid Rahul [played by Jugal Hansraj]. Eventually, when masterji dies, Naseer would be left with no option but to bring Rahul to his home in Delhi. Further, the story delves into how Shabana initially hates to accept other woman's child in her life, how Naseer is torn between his dutifulness to his illegitimate kid and regaining the trust of his loving wife, how Rahul gets to know that Naseer himself is his father.

One of my observations in the movie was - how could the scenes and the dialogues can look so real. For instance, check the scene where Shabana Azmi talks to Naseer in the bedroom. She speaks so incoherently finishing her chores for the day- "Main bol rahi hoon, main us kutte ko nahin rehne doongi (referring to the puppy Naseer would have brought home)", "Yeh Bela bhi nahin aayi aaj(must be the maid)", "Maine kitni baar kahaan ke woh cheshma utaar ke phenk do", "peet ka dard kaisa hain tumhaara" all interlaced with Naseer's brief answers. Though it seems so incoherent, it comes across as a very real private conversation of a husband and wife. I read in Shekhar Kapoor's blog that he used to insist the cast of the film to have lunch/dinner together so they bond together as a family. And the result is very evident from the on-screen chemistry. It was even mentioned by one of the members the cast that, he used to curiously observe the kid actors on the sets and incorporate some of their playful tricks, rhymes recitals and interpolated them intelligently in the script. No wonder, their fights, their incessant questions, their dance, their pillow fights look so perfect as done by toddlers of that age. It's so rare to see kids in movies appearing the way they are and not as how an adult director would conceive they would be. It is for this reason, the kids immensely contribute to many of the lump-in-throat moments in the movie.

The characters of Indu and  D K Malhotra are made to look of flesh and blood by monsters of the actors Naseer Saab and Sabana ji. Check the way Shabanaji emotes when Naseer breaks open the secret about his affair.. check the scene where Naseer confides about the same to his buddy Suri [Saeed Jaffrey], his very posture on the chair says volumes about  his acting prowess. All the three kids are adorable and cute. How can this movie reco be complete if I do not mention about Pancham Da's music. Almost all the songs in the movie are very very melodious. 'Huzoor is kadar..' jointly sung by Bhupinder Singh and Suresh Wadekar is my favourite of them all. I liked the playfulness of the lyrics and amazing renditions by both the singers.

One of the beginning scenes in the movie where the puppy at home drops the photoframe of the family contaning pics of Naseer, Shabana and their daughters to the last scene, where the camera focusses on the new family pic with Rahul sitting along, the movie is surely going to remain close to my heart.

PS: Not a complaint, but just an observation about Naseer Saab's acting in drunken scenes! I feel he is "caught acting" when he overdoes some little things when he has to act drunken. Observed this in "Huzoor is kadar.." song, I had the same feeling when I watched him swaying at the last ever scene in "Ibn-e-batoota.." song from Ishqiyan!!

Tad more on superstitions, particularly in Cricket

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Thursday, April 19, 2012


In my last post I had mentioned few of the superstitions the sports persons follow, as quoted by Mathew Syed in the book Bounce. Incidentally, Ed Smith - one of my favorite Cricket columnists whom I regularly follow, has written about What makes cricketers superstitious?

An excerpt from this column:
"...But cricket, surely, remains the most superstitious of all sports. Why? Partly because there is more time to observe - well, invent - correlations between patterns of behaviour and runs scored. The Indian psychologist Ashish Nandy has a different theory: superstition is built into the structure of the game because there is such a high degree of luck. Nandy explores the theory in his left-field book The Tao of Cricket: "It is a game of chance and skill which has to be played as if it is wholly a game of skill… Cricket is nearly impossible to predict, control or prognosticate. There are too many variables and many of the relationships among the variables are determined by chance.""

Now, don't try to rationalize these things. Enjoy these quirks along with the game :)
This book, Tao of Cricket by Ashish Nandy seems very interesting. I think I am going to pick this up soon...

Bounce by Matthew Syed

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Friday, April 13, 2012


I must say, this is one of the most impressive sports books I have read. Sometime back, in one of my blogposts - Sports and Genes, I had mentioned about my assumptions - mostly assimilated by generalizations, about the impact of genes on sports. Why do always Kenyans or Ethiopians win Long Distance running  events, why Asians are better in Badminton, Gymnastics and Table Tennis, why we do not see many black swimmers qualifying for major Swimming events? When I had written about it, they perfectly seemed like valid questions to me. After reading Bounce, I feel the questions were really vague. In this book, Mathew mentions about fallacies of these generalizations. When the research says, the gene pool of people in Eldoret, Kenya (the cradle of long distance runners) itself is so diverse, I realize how wrong it is to say 'Asians are good at Badminton' :)

Matthew Syed is a British journalist and was the No. 1 Table Tennis player in UK for almost a decade. In the book, ‘Bounce – How Champions are made’ Matthew Syed discusses about environmental influences, motivational sparks, the social strata of sports persons, child prodigies, superstition in sports, choking of sports persons at crunch moments, performance enhancing drugs and most importantly about ‘the myth of talent and the power of practice’. A hardcore believer of practice, mentions that it was possible for him to become No.1 TT player of UK only because he had put in thousands of hours of practice under supreme coaches with special and efficient techniques and it had absolutely nothing to do with his superior ‘genes for TT’ (if such thing exists), as both his parents had never ever wielded a TT racquet in their entire life, nor did he have any maternal or paternal relatives who were good at TT. 

Many of the first few sections of the book emphasize the concept of 10,000 hours of practice - a theory by Malcolm Gladwell. The author gives some contemporary examples from Tiger Woods to Williams Sisters to few skating champions who would not have reached the pinnacle of success if they had not practiced hard. With many case studies proving this and quoting from many scientific researches Matthew lays his argument open to the readers. With no substitute to hard work, the author breaks our assumptions about in born talent too. Also sneaks into the childhood of Mozart and disproves why Mozart is not a child prodigy - for that matter, according to the author, child prodigiousness is a myth. With a strict father who was musically inclined, Mozart had already practiced for thousands of hours of music before even reaching the age of 10-11. But to the world, he was a child prodigy. Matthew also cites the example of Hungarian Chess teacher Laszlo Polgar, who challenged the world to raise all the three of his daughters as the best chess players in the history. The youngest of the daughters being Judit Polgar, the most successful of the three and also who was in news for beating our own Vishwanathan Anand and Anatoli Karpov and the likes.

To accentuate, when author mentions thousands of hours of practice, he means effective practice and not just hours spent aimlessly on any skill. The book also cites from a research that why Brazilians were once so invincible in Football. The secret behind their success being their superior practice technique called Futsal. When a player like Ronaldinho himself says, any player who masters the art of tackling and passing with the smaller and heavier ball in Futsal can never ever fail in the game of Football, there certainly must be truth in this practicing technique. 

Superstition of sports persons is seriously debatable and at times equally amusing topic. It seems Serena Williams carries her shower slippers in her Tennis Kit for every match and most of the tennis players pitch the ball certain number of times before each service. Matthew jokes, sometimes it makes him wonder whether Wimbledon is a contest of Tennis or a contest of superstitions. It is really funny to think that the color of the shoes or whether the batsman steps into the ground with his right or left foot in, influences his performance on field that day. Mathew says, as long as their beliefs are harmless and it helps them to give their best, who are we to tell them not to do it. By the way, did you know even pigeons are superstitious, and superstitions could have descended to humans through evolution..?!

Apart from all these interesting topics, the obvious undertone of the book comes across very effectively, that practice makes us perfect. It is a must read for all those who give up mid-way of achieving, thinking that they do not have it in them to achieve. I would like to end with a quote from Malcolm Gladwell - “Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good. It's the thing you do that makes you good.”