Shaitaan – Not quite Devil

Shaitaan is the new ‘film-made for critical applause’ from the dark stable of Anurag Kashyap. The film set against upper middle class young generation of today’s Bombay or Mumbai deals with drugs, smoking, alcohol and just every kink today’s youth has. The generation is fearless, mindless, easily enraged and at times rudderless. The movie directed by Bejoy Nambiar is actually an upgraded version of Anurag Kashyap’s debut unrelease film ‘Paanch’ made a decade earlier.

The actors are mostly unknown and somewhat amateurish which gives a genuine look to the whole act but also at times looks like they are hamming as one does in a drama school. Kalki is the NRI suffering from a mental trauma of losing her mother who moves to Mumbai with his father and step mother whom she dislikes. Here she meets up with gang of friends Karan, Dyshyant, Zubin and Tanya. Together they do everything what today’s young generation considers hip which is drugs, parties, alcohol abuse, late night drives and midnight buffets, stealing cough syrup from a chemist and semi-porn jokes. And then they get into trouble. To save themselves from that they commit more crime and enter an endless loop of crime and violence from where the only way out is to end it all. Rajeev Khandelwal is the fiery suspended cop investigating the crimes committed by this gang.

The movie begins haphazardly not establishing any character properly almost making us believe that this is another adaptation of popular ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ but only for few minutes, and then leads into fun and games and then the big crash. By the interval the movie has a clear plot established and looks interesting but then the 2nd half it loses the plot and it becomes a mindless scenes of running around, action and violence on repeat. The story loses its key plots and the end is very predictable and the movie just fizzles out like a soda bottle. The plot about Rajeev and his wife fighting and filing for divorce and then getting back together doesnt make any sense in the film. Incidentally Rajeev’s wife doesnt utter a single word in the film. Also the main crime committed by the young gang of running over innocent people is just forgotten in the end. There are quite a few plot holes and even geography of Mumbai is wrongly depicted and only a true Mumbaikar would understand that.  The police is portrayed as almost buffoonish and police commissioner asking a suspended cop to take up the case because he has ‘good network’ is ridiculous. The cop hardly uses his network and the case gets solved by itself actually. The movie clearly had a great potential but the maker tried to put every genre of film-making into it instead of making just a thriller. It seems that the director gave away the reins of the film to the DoP and the editor and action director. The central theme of ‘there is a devil deep inside all of us’ is actually forgotten by the end and as most characters attain redemption it actually proves that whatever the devil in you does, in the end always your good conscience wins !! If only the makers had concentrated on a proper story line rather then super slo-mo camera actions we would have got a better movie.

To do something different for the sake of doing different is what hurts the movie most.

Technically this film is right up there. The photogaphy and editing is top-notch. The impossible and sometimes weird camera angles, super slo-mo shots and playing with colors makes this film technically a superior film. Background score is effective and ‘Khoya Khoya Chand’ remix and ‘Pintya’ played during key chase-action scenes fits wonderfully. The DoP does a wonderful job in chase sequences as well.

Acting wise Rajeev Khandelwal tries to break his softy image and plays a tough cop and almost succeeds as well. He is not at his best but when you compare it with others in the film, he is the one holding the film. Kalki Koechelin has talent, no doubt and she does emote well too and she is the only one with a defined character. Kirti ,Shiv, Gulshan and Neil are the other actors who as I said earlier look amateurish at times. They are decent in most scenes  but ham up a lot in real important scenes. If only there were better actors !!. Rajat Barmecha in the cameo makes a fool of himself. Even veterans like Pavan Malhotra and Rajat Kapoor ham up.

Overall the movie incidentally loved by most critics would appeal to the urban young generation for the theme but cinematically its nothing great and almost disappointing. Of course its not half as bad as other movies doing the round so its definitely worth a watch.

My Ratings : 6.5/10 –  Urban youth – under 25- generation would love it. Watch it if you have nothing better to do.

IPL 4 Predictions

IPL 4 begins tomorrow 8th April 2011, with opening match in Chennai. Each of the 10 teams play 14 games with 7 home and 7 away. Making it 70 matches. There would be 4 more maches to determine the winner of IPL 4, the final match to be held on 28th May in Mumbai. The format for the final 4 teams is slightly different with the top 2 teams getting an extra chance to qualify for the final  thus getting to the top 2 positions important in league phase.

The top 3 teams of course qualify for the Champions Trophy, later this year.

12 Cities play host to the matches. Pune team has their home base in Navi Mumbai and Kochi team plays couple of matches in Indore while Kings XI Punjab play few matches in Dharamsala. With 74 matches in 50 days it would be a tough schedule for every team, what with travelling across India

With Lalit Modi, the architect of the first 3 versions, nowhere to be seen it would be a different tournament at least from the glamor point of view. Which is good as well as concentration would be on good cricket rather than good looking models and parties.

 

 

My predictions – Mostly based on team compositions, players, captains and coaches and mostly gut feeling.

MI, RCB, PSW and CSK as the top 4 and Kochi and Rajasthan Royals the bottom 2.

Just a  wild guess. Lets see.

Let the fun begin.

I WAS THERE ….Historic day !!!!

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Those who know me know how much passionate about cricket I am. I follow cricket on TV, internet and live whenever and wherever I can. This was world cup, finals in my home city and with India reaching the finals only a natural calamity would have kept me away from  Wankhede on 2nd April, 2011. Now a gold letter day in Indian cricket !! It was THE match. India vs. Sri Lanka in the world cup finals at my home ground. What are the odds of having that ever again, in my lifetime?

I had booked the ticket long back and though I was offered serious money ( 6 figure number) I never once had a thought of selling the ticket in black market and encash the huge gains. (Hint – I could have bought a Tata Nano car with AC with that money). I am way too passionate a cricket fan to let go off this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Match was to begin at 2.30 pm IST and gates were to open at 11.30 am. To avoid the rush of getting in and avoid standing in huge queues I reached the venue at 10.30 am all dressed in world cup t-shirt armed with…well nothing except the ticket, wallet and mobile phone ! Yes this time the cops were to allow the cell phone and that was a huge relief as it meant I could communicate with friends and family ( how wrong I was) and can even take pictures with cell phone camera, although not of a great resolution. I have been to the stadium many times in past and it has generally meant a tough time for spectators with little to eat and drink inside and cement slabs as seats, shoddy restrooms and general chaos. But this time it was different. This was world cup finals and Wankhede had been renovated completely for this event, this day.

Now we had enough security to last a war with our neighbor, checking and frisking at every corner and I was frisked 4 times at different points and a very decent standing in line experience I had. It also helped that I was about 5th in line and generally chaos happened close to match time. As the gates opened I was further checked and I slowly made my way to my stands and my seat which was on the top tier, front row of Garware Pavilion, which meant a spectacular view of the entire ground, right besides players dressing room and VVIP boxes. The view was simply breathtaking as I entered my empty stand. I settled down made call home reporting my safe arrival and took general pictures of the ground, the pitch and whomsoever I could see. It was T-3 hours.

The crowd kept filling in slowly and steadily. I made several new friends who all had brought huge banners which we tied it to front of our stand for easy visibility. ‘ Dont Go Gary’, ‘Sach is Life’, ‘Dhoni the Boss’ and there were several more. Some of them cannot be printed here 🙂 I was checking out every corner of the stadium and occupied myself by having some decent sandwiches and drinks and generally made more friends then the first day of my college. It was T-2 hours.

At about 1 pm or so players started appearing and huge cheers went around whenever anyone from both camps appeared for practice, warming up which included catching practice, throwing balls at stumps, slip catching and some mild exercises. Sri Lankan nets was right under our stand but of course everyone in the stadium was looking out for Indian stars and one particular man. The in-house DJ was warming up now and the fantastic audio system inside the stands was blaring the latest hits and favorite Indian cheering songs with an occasional Sri Lankan song too. The moment Indians came in ground, the sound level doubled and when everyone spotted the ‘God’, all of us rose from our seats to bow to the almighty, the one and only Sachin Tendulkar. If you dont know who he is and why he is called God, then please stop reading this RIGHT NOW !!!

T-30 minutes and toss time. There was some confusion during the toss but then Lanka won the toss and elected to bat which was slightly disappointing as we all know its always a good thing to bat first in big matches. Then came the national anthem when the players lined up to sing the anthems for both nations. It was a historic moment when the entire stadium barring few sang ‘Jana Gana Mana’, it was goosebumpish to say the least. The crowd was full, stadium jam-packed with almost all seats taken. Must give credit to the excellent security arrangement, ushers and cops all around to help. The stadium is as world class as it can be. Comfortable seating ( almost) , superb view, airy stands, neat and clean rest rooms, lobbies to walk around and quality food stalls make it a great experience now.

The match begun and I am not going to write a ball by ball report of it as I am not best equipped for that and most of you reading this already know what all happened. Just to summarize the in-stadium experience that it was an experience of a lifetime for me. Huge crowds, cheering every Indian run or a super fielding effort and egging our players by singing songs, shouting slogans, creating giant Mexican waves which went around the stadium multiple times and even booing the opposition at times. Watching our favorite cricketers in action on a world stage was something all of us have a dream off, I certainly did and today I was getting my dream realized. The match as all know had its ups and downs and as Ravi Shastri would have said. ‘ It was swinging both ways’. The atmosphere was electric to say the least and the 300o0- plus strong crowd just had one ambition, to see India lift the world cup, to see Sachin complete his glorious resume by getting the world cup medal. Everybody from common laborer in the ground to the biggest of celebs ( and there were many) all had just one wish today and it was to see Dhoni lifting the world cup and gifting it to the ‘God’

India of course started well and till about middle of Lankan innings we all had hopes of restricting Lanka to about 230 or so but Jayawardane played a brilliant knock  hitting a century in world cup finals, with nice support by Sanga, Kulasekara and Perera in the end to reach a solid figure of 274. A score that has never been chased in a world cup final. No centurion in a world cup final was ever on a losing side. The signs were ominous and chances of an Indian victory were bit distant now. The crowd was slightly muted and nobody wanted to predict the outcome at the break. The cellphone service inside the stadium had died by now and hardly anybody could make or receive any calls but strange SMS’s were doing round about how the match was fixed and how certain things would happen. Of course the messages were as dumb as it can be as I got 2 messages with same details about the match but one of them had India winning and 2nd one had India throwing the match. I of course chose to ignore all such foolish stuff and knew that all of them were nothing but idiotic claims by conspiracy theory experts and were as dumb as April Fool jokes told to me by my 5 year old son !!

Going back to the start of Indian batting, the moment everyone was waiting for happened. God entered the ground in his customary style and you could hear the voice sitting in Shivaji park. The match had more twists in store and when we lost Sachin and scoreboard read just 31 everybody started worrying, 1996 collapse was remembered and world cup seemed distant at that moment. I had my hopes high and I had seen the Lankans batting on that pitch and deep in my heart I knew that if India batted 50 overs, it would get the runs. The pitch had no cracks or no vicious turn in it, neither it had any big seam movement. In fact it was bouncing very well and I knew our batsmen would relish that true bounce.

I was in top tier front and cameramen ( some Afro guy) came up and asked us to sing some ‘Indian victory’ song…this when Sachin had just got out..of course all of started cheering India back and I had a huge Pepsi finger in my hand too, which I was waving almost in the camera lens…after all this jugglery …I think I spotted myself on big screen for about 2 seconds ….I don’t know if Live TV caught us as it was between overs and in stadium feed was not always same as Live TV. This was at about 7.45 pm IST. My two seconds on the giant screens on the historic day, justified my existence !!

We started rebuilding thanks to Gambhir and Kohli and Dhoni and banners were furling again, horns were blaring, clapping and Mexican waves all around, song and dance blaring from the in house system and DJ was playing the best club tracks by now. The lights were on long back and every run was cheered for by the privileged few in the stadium. The in-house entertainment was on all the time and between overs we had mini contests and advertisements and songs and dance on big screens. Hope was slowly getting back in the hearts and mind of all of us.

As India inched closer to the victory people were getting more anxious and to hide their anxiousness they were shouting at the top of their voice. I took few strategic food breaks to settle my nerves and the last 5 overs was a stuff legends are made of. Dhoni and Yuvraj hitting the runs clinically and when Dhoni hit the winning six over long on fence,  it was the biggest moment in Indian cricket. Everything froze, I was jumping on top of the seat while shouting at top of my voice and throwing my cap high up and I noticed history being made. The moment billion people had been waiting for since 28 years. The world cup was our. India were the champion. The most exhilarating moment ever and I WAS THERE !!!!!  Dream was now reality, victory was ours and Sachin had that final wish completed. We had won it, won it for India, won it for Sachin and I WAS THERE to witness it from the grandest of grand seats screaming at top of my lungs, with tears in my eyes. I could no longer control myself.

I WAS THERE !!!!!!!!


Post match presentation, players hugging and dancing and doing a victory lap when Yusuf Pathan lifted Sachin and did a victory lap, when Harbhajan and Yuvraj cried and then danced to ‘Ganapati Dhol’ , the flow of emotion on the ground and all the speeches and interviews are worth watching over and over and perhaps I will watch all of them all day long and I wont get tired ever watching them.  This is the experience we all tell our grandchildren about. This day, 2nd April 2011, I will never forget. This day my favorite hero Sachin got his final wish fulfilled and I was there to watch the historic moment. As Virat Kohli rightly mentioned in his interview that for 21 years, he had carried the burden of billion dreams, it was time for his teammates to carry him for victory lap, tonight. That sight was fulfillment of everything to me. Dream achieved. Time to dream new dreams now.

All of us partied in the stadium with players and spectators dancing to the DJ tunes and sounds of dhols. Nobody wanted to leave and there were firecrackers everywhere, people on the road, traffic jams everywhere and Indian flags on every corner and on top of every car. It was like India achieved freedom once again. I reached home at unearthly hours and even at that hour my wife, mom and elder son were waiting and we discussed the entire match and my experience in details and I couldn’t sleep all night and I had to write this. I still cant sleep.

In 1983, I watched India win it at an hour which was way past my bed time then. I was 9 1/2 years old then and could only imagine what it actually meant. Today my elder son is 9 1/2 years old and as they say history repeats itself. Just experienced the circle of life.

Lastly, to all the moronic conspiracy theory experts who think this match was fixed, here’s my self-censored message “GO TO HELL”. To all the special people who watched this match Live in stadium, ‘Best Decision ever”

I can write on and on but now will stop and perhaps sleep, if I can.

To summarize, when Dhoni lifted the cup and gave it to Sachin, life was complete for me and I WAS THERE !!!!!!


P.S. I have lots of pictures of stadium, players etc. which I shall upload when I return back to earth !!

Here’s link to some of my pics on Facebook

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=378005&id=523247305&l=2d5f8cfaa0

Cricket World Cup 2011 – Who’s your Favorite?

Dhobi Ghat – Arty Ode to Mumbai, Disappointing !

You are warned that this film does not have an Interval. You are warned in the newspaper ad, then at the cinema, then by the ticket seller and then by the ushers and popcorn sellers. They want you to buy the cola and the chips before the movie.  The movie is 95 minutes long, you can survive without a break for that much period, cant you?

Dhobi Ghat is a docu-drama about Mumbai and 4 characters who try to fit into the rhythm of the city and failing to do so.  The city gives you hope and makes you make an attempt to achieve what you have set out for. But ultimately the city is a silent spectator to your life.  This was what was presented in the well made promos.

Kiran Rao’s debut film shot in a 16mm format ( thats why the big cinema screen doesnt fill up) and with handheld cameras shot in guerilla style as they say has 4 characters. Aamir Khan’s Arun who is a reclusive painter searching for a new house every 11 months and not finding anything that suits him. Prateik is the Dhobi Munna who also works as a rat-killer at night. Monica Dogra is Shau, USA based investment banker on a sabbatical to Mumbai to pursue her hobby of photography and understanding the city. The 4th character is Yasmin played by newcomer Kriti Malhotra who is the Muslim housewife who records her life in Mumbai which begins on a happy note and ends up with a shock. Each of these 4 characters interwine as Arun watches Yasmin’s recorded videos in his new apartment and Shai falls for the loner Arun and Munna Dhobi with film acting ambitions fall for the super rich Shai. There are issues of class divide tackled in a subtle way. Issues of love found in unusual place.

The above para tries to describe the characters and the movie, however I am unable to go beyond that as the movie tried to do all that mentioned above and didnt do it well enough. The movie is a confused look of a confused director in a confusing city. Every known cliche of Mumbai is used to show the city’s character.  From Gatway of India to marine drive and bylanes of slums and Mumbai lifeline its railway and drug dealing, prostitution, streetside food, dhobi ghat to rat-killers and narrow lanes of Mohhamadali road to menace of underworld. Every known theme about the city is explored.  But it is just that. It is an arty ode to the city and nothing more. The movie is as confused and slow and boring and at times even 95 minutes looks long. At one moment I missed that Interval !

Many of the times the editor has forgotten to edit and the movie does nothing for minutes togather. The background score by Spanish Gustavo Santanolia doesnt provide much help either and sounds almost the same note throughout the movie. The theme sounds promising but surprisingly not much used in the movie. Camera work is real nice and captures Mumbai beautifully and in a different way at times from regular movies about the city.

However overall this is a ‘pseudo’ version of an art film. Just by taking away entertainment from a film you do not make an art film ! Art films also do have important stories and anecdotes and its moments but here there are hardly memorable moments and a complete lack of story and structure. The four characters all begin on a happy note and by the end it is revealed that all the 4 characters are not happy but have to compromise. Mumbai as the fifth character is a mute spectator to all this.  This huge ‘metaphoric’ stuff is difficult to grasp and understand for most of us ‘ignorant’ viewers. Audience was left speechless at the end of the movie , not by its brilliance but because nobody had anything to say about the movie. It was almost like watching a Films Division documentary on the city with no real meaning in the movie. If this is World Cinema then I am happy with my regular Bollywood masala entertainment !!

Aamir Khan is confused and his character is shallow plus the English he speaks sounds fake. Prateik is okay, I mean most reviews compare him with his mother Smita Patil but I think at this stage of career he is more like his father Raj Babbar then mother. Although he is indeed a charmer but thats it. Monica Dogra, the singer turned actress actually fits to the tee in her NRI banker character. Her accent is just like NRI Parsi would have and she is impressive. Kriti Malhotra tries her best but her character is not at all defined.

Overall its an experiment by Kiran Rao, well supported by husband Aamir Khan thanks to which the movie is seeing light of the day and getting a proper release.  More of a showreel of what all Kiran can do. I have seen world cinema, I have seen arty films and they all have good stories to tell, but here all the director has managed is to put in some fake anecdotes without any emotional coneect with its audience.

My Ratings – 5/10 Dhobi Ghat is disappointing, watch it if you want to see a well made ode to the Mumbai city and yes dont forget the popcorns, remember no intervals !

Rajasthan – Ranji Champions – Playing by the ‘Rule’

India’s premier domestic cricket tournament Ranji Trophy has 27 teams divided into Plate and Elite League. Each year top 2 teams from the plate league are promoted to the Elite league and bottom 2 of the elite are relegated to the plate. This is the Ranji Trophy format since last few years.

Rajasthan has been a perrenial under achiever of the Indian Domestic Cricket over the years, especially in the  Ranji Trophy. They have been playing in the plate league for couple of years and when they reached the elite phase few years back, they were whipped by most teams and relegated once again to the Plate league. This year they were one of the teams in Group A of the plate league. Nothing much was expected from them.

They had a not so prominent coach in Harish Joshi and an average team squad. They had Pankaj Singh as their premier fast bowler who was on the fringes of Indian selection but still not quite there. They decided to ‘import’ batting talent in the form of former Indian opener and Delhi batsman Aakash Chopra,  former Indian middle order batsman and Maharashtra player Hrishikesh Kanitkar. Kanitkar was made the captain. The draw was quite favorable to them and they had to play all their 5 league matches at Home again opponents like Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Goa, Tripura and Hyderabad.

They started with a bang. On a green top at Jaipur they dismissed the Hyderabad team for a paltry total of 21 only, which is one of the lowest score in Indian first class cricket in long time. In doing this they discovered a new talent Deepak Chahar, all of 18 and right arm swing bowler who literally bamboozled the Hyderabad side for his figures of 8/10 for a match haul of 12 wickets. Captain Kanitkar struck a fine 193 to seal the win and Rajasthan won the match quite comfortably by an Innings and 256 runs.

The next match was against Goa. This match ended in a draw but Rajasthan won points for having a lead in the first innings. Opener Vineet Saxena this time hit a century.  Goa fought back well but first innings lead was good enough for Rajasthan.

The next match against Madhya Pradesh turned out to be a tough one with Rajasthan scoring 523 runs. Madhya Pradesh also managed to score 415 / 5 however the match could not be finished and since the 1st innings of both teams had not finished neither teams did get any points.

The next match against Tripura played on a green Kota track was almost one sided with lowly Tripura being bowled out for less than 100 in each innings and Pankaj Singh taking 14 wickets in the match.

The final league match against Jharkhand at Udaipur was also a big scoring match and batsmen Aakash Chopra and Rashmi Parida scored big hundreds to take the first innings lead and win the points for the team. Thus Rajashtan qualified for the Plate league semi finals as the Group A leader. They were drawn to play against solid Maharashtra team at Nasik.

Plate league semifinal are very important as the 2 winners not only get to play in Quarter finals of the Elite league the very same year but also get promoted to the Elite league for the next year. Considering this it was really crucial for the Rajasthan team to win against the strong Maharashtra team.

Maharashtra won the toss and elected to field on a slightly wet track however they misread the track completely and Rajasthan batsmen made them pay for it. Opener Aakash Chopra scored a grinding triple century 301* for the score of 641 in the first innings. Next task was to bowl out Maharashtra for less than that which the Rajasthan bowelrs successfully did. Leg break bowler Vivek Yadav alsong with Pankaj Singh and Deepak Chahar bowled out Maharashtra team for 349 and the match was won as the 4 day match ended in a draw and due to the first innings rule Rajasthan advanced to the Ranji Elite league quarterfinals and also got promoted.

This was a big event and most plate sides are happy to go this far and reach the elite league. Most of the plate sides are not much a match for the Elite level teams and usually end their run in the Elite league quarter finals. Rajasthan had not so envious task of taking on the mightiest side in the Ranji trophy and previous year champions ‘khaddoos’ Mumbai in their quarter finals. Mumbai team was known for his talent and their never-say-die attitude plus it boasted current and past India stars. Led by veteran Wasim Jaffer this was the team favorite to win not only the match but the Ranji Trophy.

Mumbai won the toss and batted on a not so easy track. This was bad news as Mumbai is known to post high scores and then run through their opponents. However Pankaj Singh bended his back and bowl a fiery spell to claim 6 wickets. Mumbai batamen were far too reckless and played some horrible shots to bowl out for 252 which looked okeyish on that track, however Rajashtan batsmen had other plans. They decided to grind in, bat defensively, score slowly but steadily. Their Goa import, Opener Vineet Saxena and Captain Kanitkar both scored centuries along with young prodigy Ashok Menaria who also scored a ton. Rajasthan scored 589 ant they batted Mumbai out of the game. Mumbai fought back but there wasnt enough time to force a win. Unebeleivable had been done. Ranji champions Mumbai had been knocked out by Rajasthan from plate division. Mighty had fallen.

Next step for Rajasthan was the semi finals against Tamil Nadu, another favorite team with some star players in the side. Tamil Nadu won the toss and inserted Rajasthan in. Again Rajashtan batsmen decided to play slowly and steadily and build a huge score. Aakash Chopra and Kanitkar both scored a hundred and Rajasthan posted 552. The total was good enough however Tamil Nadu had some good batsmen who could bat for long hours and going by the track the first innings lead was what mattered as a result was not possible in 4 days.  Leggie Vivek Yadav again bowled fine spells and Rajasthan managed to bowl out Tamil Nadu for 385 with lone Badrinath fighting with 175*. Thus Rajasthan reached the Ranji finals again thank to the first innings lead rule. This was a feat unmatched and no Plate division side had ever reached the Ranji Elite league finals. Rajasthan had been in Ranji finals 8 times but has never won the Ranji Trophy and this was a golden chance for them.

The Ranji trophy finals were to be held against Baroda side in Baroda, another formidable team who had defeated many teams on the strength of their explosive batting and incisive bowling. However due to the international schedule the key players like Yusuf Pathan and Munaf Patel were not available for the finals.

The finals begun in Motibagh Stadium in Baroda on 11th Jan, 2011, perhaps and auspicious day.However Rajasthan yet against lost the toss and were put into bat. They continued their slow and grinding batting style on a difficult track to bat on where the ball remained far too low at times. Run scoring wasnt easy but all the top order batsman contributed and Rajasthan reached 394 a total very good on that track. However Baroda Captain Pinal Shah understood what was needed on this track and their batsmen batted equally well.  However Rajasthan bowlers were better on the day and Baroda managed 361, just 33 behind Rajasthan. The Ranji final is a 5 day affair and hence chance of an outright result could not be ruled out. By the rule of ‘First innings Lead’  Rajasthan were ahead by 33 runs and only way Baroda could now win was by forcing an outright win. In the 2nd innings Baroda bowler started very well and Rajasthan lost 4 quick wickets for not many runs. However veteran Rashmi Parida and new boy Ashok Menaria found a groove and settled down and by end of day 4 took Rajasthan’s lead to 234 runs with 6 wickets in hand. On the final day Baroda needed not only only 6 quick wickets but to score those runs and the task looked impossible barring some miracle. And no miracles happened as India’s Under-19 Captain Ashok Menaria scored another hundred and Baroda were set a stiff target of 375 to win but giving them just about a session to do so thus effectively winning the match.  Rajasthan won the match on by now their favorite ‘ first innings lead’ rule. They lifted the Ranji Trophy for the first time ever. The souls of veteran Rajasthan players like Raj Singh Dungarpur and Hanumant Singh would be at  peace now.

Coming from the Plate league, not losing any of their match and qualifying for the elite leagues was a big achievement in itself for Rajasthan. But defeating teams like Mumbai,Tamil Nadu  and Baroda and to win the Ranji trophy was unthinkable even for the veteran team players like Aakash Chopra and Hrishikesh Kanitkar. They had their plans and strategies right in place. Their players responded every time they were needed to. The batsmen stuck out and scored big hundreds and bowlers bended their backs and emerged as leading wicket taking bowlers in the Ranji trophy this year. They played as per their strength and played by the rules.  The ‘first innings lead’rule has been used by many a teams in past to win points and emerge as winners.  Rajasthan were surely not the first one to do so and wil not be last one either.

This was a perfect ‘zero to hero’ story and surely an inspirational lesson worth learning for every cricketer and sportsmen that to never give up on their dream and always believe that nothing was impossible in cricket and for that matter in any sports. Veteran players like Aakash Chopra and Kanitkar who had played for India earlier,  Ranji veterans like Rashmi Parida and Pankaj Singh and young players like Vineet Saxena, Vivek Yadav, Ashok Menaria and Deepak Chahar gelled together to make up the team the did the impossible. It was a complete team effort with Rajasthan bowlers emerging as leading wicket takers in the Ranji trophy and their batsmen scored the most runs.

If Rajasthan were an underdog baseball or american football team in USA and achieved something like this, Hollywood would have surely come up with a winning script and screenplay from the above story and created a memorable sport film, however this is India and chances of any such things are remote. However if ever there was a movie to be made from this Rajasthan Ranji trophy success story then an apt title would be ‘Playing by the Rule’.

Destination Diveagar

Location: Diveagar ,  District Raigad, Konkan , Maharashtra.

Diveagar is a small fishing village located on the Konkan Coast on the Arabian sea located in Raigad District, about 5 hours drive out of Mumbai city. It has some of the most unexplored beaches as its really a small fishing post untouched by commercialism and normal touristy traffic. In fact not many people seem to be aware of such a place, at least from the people I know. Of course there are two sides to every thing. Being a non-touristy place also has its problems as well and good things too.

The place has minimal infrastructure and very few hotels. The people staying there mostly accommodate tourists. Restaurants barely exist and Genuine Maharashtrian food is the only option to eat there. Being in Maharashtra it also has issues of frequent power cuts and cell phone signals were weak or non-existent. It is really a place in middle of nowhere yet just a few hours drive away from Mumbai city.

Good things are quite a few as well. It has some of the most beautiful and virgin beaches in this part of the nation. The beach instantly remind you of the beaches in North Goa with perhaps 1% of the crowd that is present on a normal Goa beach.  The water was warm and waves were soft but it was astill soothing in the kind of weather we went there. The beach was long and never ending with green vegetation all around.

For nature lovers its a mini-paradise with coconut trees lining the beach and all kinds of ‘vadis’ producing fruits all around. With Minimal pollution and barely there streetlights the place is also an Astronomer’s delight at the night. The place is really good if you just want to laze on the beach, read a book and forget the world around you. ( weak cellphone signals help).

We went in April, which is Not a good season to be there though with harsh sun beating down and temperatures in mid 30s, not to forget frequent power cuts. Ideally winter should be the season for any such place. I would recommend this place to nature lovers, adventure lovers and beachbums.

How to Reach: Its about 170 Kms from Mumbai and Pune is also the same distance away. From Mumbai you can take the Panvel bypass and then the Mumbai-Goa road till you reach Mangaon. From Mangaon you take the right turn towards Morba Ghat to Mhasala and the further from Mhasala you take the road towards Diveagar. It takes about 4-5 hours to reach. Nearby places include Shriwardhan and Harihareshwar – both places also have wonderful beaches. The road from Pune via Mulshi Dam is hilly and not so good. That road makes you reach Mangaon on Mumbai-Goa road.

What to Do: Nothing. Laze around on beach, enjoy nature, bask in the sun, enjoy the arabian sea, walk on the beach, watch stars in the night. There is a Golden Ganesh temple in the place which every tourist visits

Best Season to go: Winter – November to February,

Clothes: Beachware,  Cotton

Where to Stay: Very few hotels and guest houses around, most with minimum basic facilities. Stay in a Hotel/ Resort with Generator backup.

My Experience with Tata IndiCom

Here’s sharing my experience with Tata Indicom, one of the leading private telecom operator who provides services ranging from Mobile Phone service, broadband connection, wireless broadband card etc.

Recently, tired of my frequently disconnection MTNL Triband connection, I decided to take advantage of an offer Tata Indicom was offering. I was getting free installation, wi-fi router and much better promised Internet speed with a lot bigger download limit. I contacted the local agent and pronto within 2 days my home was installed with the necessary wiring and the router was configured and I was surfing the net at twice the speed of my MTNL connection. What more could I want ??

Next of course comes the bill, which was well within the normal range I thought of. I being totally impressed by Tata Indicom decided to be their best customer and pay the bill right on time, well before the due date that is. No problem with that too except the twist in the tale. Next day my connection is disconnected !!!

After endless calling the agent who had installed the whole thing and their customer service agents, who every time verified my birth date and demanded all sorts of explanations,  finally I was told that I have a pending bill amount 5 times the bill amount I paid. This was for the bills which I did not pay in 2005 ( 5 years ago…)

Flashback: 2005

Shifting office from one end of mumbai to another is a nightmare in itself. After moving all the computers and the furniture and the files and other mundane stuff I realised that I needed telephone lines for the office if not for communication than at least for the dial-up Internet connection ( those were the days).

Any government of India service is rules out when you need something fast and I needed the phone lines urgently. Thats when I stumbled upon an agent who promised Tata Indicom telephone lines within 2 days flat !! I was of course impressed and happy to do away with rigidness of MTNL telelphone lines, I paid the advance for the same.

After a period of 3-4 days , after repeated calling the agent I was made to understood that I had applied for a WIRED line which wasnt possible to install so i had to go for WIRELESS phones, WALKY as they were called, they still are. I had no choice but to pay additional money and obtain those WALKY phones within a promised turnaround time of 48 hours !!  It was well past 7 days when I heard from them. Someone informed me that the engineers were on their way to install WALKY phones in my premises. That was the last communication from Tata Indicom to me. No engineers came, no phones were installed and I was still  without telephone lines. Repeated complaints and trying to connect the agent, customer service etc. yielded no result. I was told lines WILL be installed or my money would be refunded. Neither happened.

I still needed the telephone lines and the only choice I was left with was good old MTNL and I went through the procedure and obtained the required telephone lines within a then record period of 5 days flat.

Thus Tata Indicom had not installed any telephone lines and infact never returned my advance money. I like a typical lazy overworked Indian businessman with 100 other important things on mind forgot about the whole issue and even the money.

Now Tata Indicom had suddenly woke up from their long induced coma and discovered that I had not paid bills on the telephone lines that were in effect never actually delivered to me.

This time I decided not take it lying down, not that I had choice, I took my fight to them. I sat in their customer services cell ,explained my case to their representative, her immediate boss, the area head and so on. No one quite understood what was going on. They just had in their records that the bills of certain amount were pending from me. They did not have copy of the bills, copy of the work order, installation documents, delivery confirmation of Walky phones.  I had the right documents, the copies of payments I had made etc. Yet they knew one thing, I was suppose to pay, because their system said it or else they would not restart my broadband connection !!!

It took me better part of 3 days and some  ‘aggressive’ talking to some really senior people in the company. I refused to bow down and pay the ‘pending’ amount according to their records. Perhaps somehow someone sensible at the top realized what was going on. They agreed to restart my broadband account !! voila !!

Everything was fine and smooth till I completed the next billing cycle and …as history repeats itself , I started getting reminder calls for paying the long-standing bill. Only positive part was that this time they did not disconnect my broadband connection.

Tata Indicom not only didnt provide me service but didnt even refund my advance amount and on top of it are asking for the ‘unpaid’ bills for the same service which they did not even install !!!

Now, as I write it has been 3 months and I keep getting a reminder call /email every other day for the pending payment. But my internet connection is on – atleast yet and I have been paying all my current bills well within the stipulated time interval. I do not know what more to do and explain. I would continue to use this service as long as the ‘system’ does not disconnect me again and ask for pending payment. Next time it happens,  I am going back to MTNL.