Saturday, July 31, 2010

“Mou”re Formation Blues

Marca has dubbed Mourinho’s arrival to Madrid as the second coming of Jesus, while Sport has labeled the subsequent signings as a “failed summer of devalued players”; two extremes, which have left fans with their knickers twisted around their ankles, that is to say, an uncertainty of what to expect from The Special One, who is known to do unexpected things.

There’s been plenty of talk in the press about how this Madrid side is going to play under Jose, some of the supporters justifying that with a side comprising of Ronaldo, Benzema, Kaka and Higuain, it is Impossible to play defensive football as if there is such a term in Jose’s dictionary. If you tell him to and give him enough time, Jose can serve up some of the most turgid football you’ll ever see in your lifetime with a team brimming with attacking talent; that’s how he is. Obviously, this trait has people like me, who have a weakness for those little moments of flair and artwork (known colloquially as “Beautiful Football”), very worried. So, I’ve tried to analyze the possible ramifications for a Real Madrid under Jose Mourinho. Essentially, I see only two ways the team can line up under Mourinho, broadly a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3, employed in different manners based on the opposition and the tournament. So, my discussion here will be based around this premise.

Let us inevitably rewind to the UCL semi-final 1st leg of Inter Milan vs Barcelona. Now assume it was Real Madrid who faced Barcelona that night (Yeah right, wishful thinking!); we’d see our team lining up in the manner shown in the diagram on the left.

Though the positions of Kaka, Benzema and Ronaldo have been shown advanced on the pitch, if it was the first leg, we would’ve seen them lining up in a more withdrawn role, with Benzema omitted altogether in preference of Marcelo. However, even with the withdrawn roles, it would mean a distinct lack of defensive quotient in the team, because Kaka and Ronaldo are not really known for their work rate in defending. Another thing to concentrate on is the dotted arrows. Again, you can observe the distinct lack of movement and interchanging positions; but then a counter attacking formation doesn’t really allow you that luxury since you spend most of the time defending. All in all, this would mean suicide. So a point to those who feel that it’s impossible to play a defense oriented formation with Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka in the same team.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Gracias 7egend, The Golden Boy of Spain (1995 - 2010)

I wonder how many people back then in the 1990s would've thought that the sprightly boy who initially was part of the Athletico Madrid youth setup and later moved to their bitter and cross town rivals Real Madrid and who drove a nail into the Atleti fans by scoring against them in only his second home game, would be hailed as a Blanco Legend 15 years later. I wonder how many people in the last 2 years actually thought that Raul will leave the club and play for another one. I wonder how many people are thinking about the fact that Raul might play against Real Madrid in this season's UEFA Champions League.

Like most accepted notions, people always took for granted that Raul will retire at Real Madrid. That very fact has been blown to smitherness with Raul departing to play for Schalke 04. Raul was the symbol of the club, the Golden Boy of Spain, so much so was his position in the club that people have always referred to Real Madrid as Raul Madrid. It is indeed a travesty to see this great man don another club's jersey and I'm going to feel very gutted the day I see it happen (as if I dont feel gutted already). I've never been a big Raul fan, but I do know that he epitomized the club. The name Real Madrid was synonymous with this great player and almost no one in today's date can offer to the club that much which Raul has. Raul always delivered on the biggest stage of them all. As he leaves Madrid, he leaves a trail of gold to follow for youngsters aspiring to be like him. He leaves the club as the club's all time top scorer, La Liga's all time top scorer, UEFA Champions League's all time top scorer and the current top scorer for Spain.

Raul was never a pacey striker, neither was he one of them step-over infatuated, flashy kinds of striker. What he had in him was an excellent first touch and an uncanny ability to ghost in thru the opposition's defence and latch on to a thru ball and score, unerringly and effeciently. The sheer number of goals he has scored is testament to that. Raul upheld a long pedigree of number 7s for Real Madrid. From Juanito to Butragueno, the Real Madrid number 7 has always passed on to Spanish players who've gone on to become Legends and Raul kept pace with that long standing tradition. I will always miss Raul for all those moments that he provided and I sincerely wish that he returns back to Madrid. For a guy who never got a red card in 24 long years of service to Football, I can safely say that he'll make a great boardroom director for Real Madrid.

Adios 7egend. Muchas Gracis. Respect.
In Raul's own words...

Before I begin I would like to thank everyone in attendance, and thank you to the president for his kind words. I love football more than anything, and to play for Real Madrid is the best dream I can think of. I feel like a footballer, and I want to continue doing so as long as time and my body permit.

Throughout the years I have always tried to stay true to the values of Real Madrid. Today more than ever before I want everyone to know that I tried to give my very best in every play, every dribble, every shot and every gesture on the pitch. That is what Real Madrid is to me, and that is why the word surrender never existed in my head.

Today is a very emotional day. Today is a day of powerful feelings. Today is a day that cannot do without my gratitude and thanks. It is impossible to name each and every person who over this time have stood by me and helped me. They know I will never forget them because they never let me down and they always stood by me even in the worst of times. Thank you to all the presidents and directors because they always made me feel at home over the last 16 years. Thank you to all the teammates who I shared a dressing room with. Their sacrifice and commitment helped me be a better player. Thank you to all club employees, because they are essential and they make our work easier. Thank you to all the coaches and coaching staff who I shared day-to-day duties with and who I shared victories and defeats with. Thank you to our opponents, because I always felt your respect. It was an honor to play against you. Thank you to the media as well, because whether it was by praise or criticism, you also helped me make it to this point. And thank you to my people. You know who you are because you are always by my side. Thanks Jorge for giving me that first opportunity. For many it was a crazy move by a football poet, and thank you to Florentino Perez, because I know you always search for what is best for this club. I am convinced that this will be a great season and I hope that Real Madrid win many titles this year. Thank you, of course, to the millions of Real Madrid supporters who always want us to win and who suffer with every defeat.

I will never forget that their strength was also my strength and fortitude, and also to the Santiago Bernabeu, where I always felt loved and respected. Thank you everyone for everything and for so much. And finally, thank you from the bottom of my heart to my family, because thanks to them, nothing, not even football, would make any sense.

The time has come to make a decision. I have worn the shirt of the best team in the world for 15 years. I am now 33-years old and it was my last chance to experience playing football outside of Spain. It was a long, hard decision, but this isn't a goodbye, but rather a see you later. I will always support Real Madrid wherever I go.

I want to thank Real Madrid for their patience in allowing me to make this decision
without haste. I have thought about with my family and the club in a calm manner. It was difficult because there was a new coach who counted on my services. I had to look at the situation from a certain perspective. I made a decision and it is a painful one, but I think it is also the correct one.

I have many fond memories and to think of just one is impossible. I think the greatest moment for me was when I got home on Friday 28 October and told my mom that I was traveling to Zaragoza with the first team and that I was going to play. My mom could not hold back her happiness, which was the greatest thing I have ever seen. I will stick with this memory because it was the first, but there have been thousands.

Number '7' is very symbolic for Real Madrid. I am sure that the players who wear it will do so as they should. You must enjoy the moment and not live in the past. What is important is not the number, but rather the crest. That is what I consider most important. The number is important because of its tradition. I am sure that whoever wears the number '7' will do it well.

Jose Mourinho made me think long and hard about my decision. He is a great coach and I have always admired his work. We spoke and he told me that he counted on me and was looking forward to training me. But I decided to make my decision from a different perspective.

I cannot end this speech without sending my love, support and deep admiration to our maestro, Alfredo di Stefano. I hope that one day soon he is able to again sit in
this balcony, from where I am sure that during every match he will want to move
the ball with his eyes and thoughts.

Football is and has been my life. Real Madrid has been my home and here I have experienced unique emotions. Today is the first day of my new life, during which I will try something so complex and difficult as it is to be as immensely happy as I have been at Real Madrid. Many years have gone by since I suited up in white for the first time. With that time now passed and on the day of my farewell, I reassert more than ever my commitment to this club and my loyalty to its values. I will always be available for whatever it needs. Thank you from the bottom of my footballer heart.

Hala Madrid.

Guti (1995-2010) - 15 Years in Number 14

I have my favorite players in ronnie and zizou, but as a madridista, i've always preferred Guti over everyone else. Probably the fact that he's been a part of the club since the time he could kick a ball, or all that I-am-supreme-and-you-are-mortal attitude goes a long way in making him my favorite madrid player.
He is the only player i associate with being a true madrid player, someone who's always bled white. It's because he's got everything real madrid epitomizes: class, arrogance, cojones, attitude, pride and a never-say-die attitude and to top it all, Guti has always had ice in his veins. You can bring him on when the team's down by 3 goals and still expect him to salvage the situation. The amount of stars Guti has seen pass thru Madrid is unimaginable for any other player. Yet, he survived. It's truly a mark of a great player; his career numbers speak for themselves and as he leaves this institution, Guti doesnt have anything more to prove. He has played everywhere as a player except in defence and as a goalkeeper. He has done that, time and again, in his 15 years with the first team and 26 years overall (26 years is one less than my total age).

I cannot bring myself to imagine real madrid without Guti. Since the time I've followed the club, I've always seen Guti; his antics, his passes, his goals..both the crass and the class. I know when the chips are down, I'll always have that wishful thinking that "This would be the time Guti joins the fray and opens up the game", but Guti will never join the fray anymore. That is his legacy to us as fans; to keep remembering him.

Like he said in his last reveal-all press conference "I have no regrets about how my life turned out, if I had the chance to rewind it, this is still how I'd like it to be". Attitude, Class. Respect. Like the great Zidane commented, "Guti can do things with the ball even I or any other players cannot imagine".
You will never be forgotten, our (yet another) blonde arrow. Muchas Gracias, Guti. You will always be missed.

\Legend/ ..Respect.
In Guti's own words...

Thank you all. I leave knowing Real Madrid will always be my home. Part of my
heart stays here today. I would like to return after retiring as a player.

I would like to thank Real Madrid for being so good to me. I've been at the Club 24 years and I achieved something very important to me: to play for the best team in the world and grow both as a player and as a person at Real Madrid. I owe half my life to Club because it's been like a family to me. The values this shirt represents have all been instilled in me. I've had good and bad moments here, but the fans have always been there for me and I am very grateful. The fans are great and I've had a great connection with them over the years.

I know Madridismo loves me. The fans have given me a lot and we've shared many joys together. If they miss me then I've done a good job. I am about to begin a new and exciting stage in my career and I wish to enjoy being in a new country to the fullest. This has been a beautiful and glorious experience, but these things happen in football all the time. Younger players need to be given way and I feel proud and happy for having played here.

I'd like people to remember me for my passes and for having been a Madridista that gave his all for the team. I always wished to play for Real Madrid and I did my best to stay, refusing very tempting offers to play elsewhere. One of the best things I've experienced is the great mixture of star players and youth teamers on the team. I am proud of that.

I wouldnt have been able to achieve all this without my team-mates. My best relationships on the squad were with Raul and Alvaro Benito, who were also from the academy. Real Madrid have to promote players from the youth system. I know the Club is working hard on that. I'm sure new Gutis will come out of the academy.

Monday, July 19, 2010

If Everyone Cared

The first four incidents have been described verbatim from Nickelback's "If Everyone Cared"

1984. Bob Geldof, a music journalist turned punk rock front man was inspired by a news report about Famine in Africa. Geldof organized the world's first Global Charity Concert called "Live Aid". Live Aid raised $ 1.5 million.

1976. Betty Williams, a mother and housewife, witnessed three children killed in the political turmoil in Ireland. She organized a peace march with 10,00 people which was disrupted. One week later, she organized another march. This time it was 35,000 strong. She was awarded the 1976 Nobel Prize for Peace.

1961. Two students raised their glasses in toast to freedom and were arrested. British lawyer Peter Benenson, shocked by this, started a movement which is today known as Amnesty International.

1920s. A boy from South Africa dreamt that equality would prevail in his country. He was charged with Political Treason and kept as prisoner on Robben Bay. In 1990, after 27 years he was released. Nelson Mandela then led South Africa to its first ever democratic presidential election. He won, ending the racist apartheid regime prevalent for 46 years.

2010. Three friends, fuelled by the love for their favorite football club met up for beer and mourned for the loss of another friend, a fellow fan who had succumbed to cancer. They sent out a flag bearing the logo of their favorite club on a journey across the world; people from four different continents and who knew Paulo Martin in his life, signed on it with their goodbye messages.

...While this last act didn't cause a blip in the world news, It was something we really loved to do. If I'm asked what was the most humane thing I did in my lifetime, it would be this. It was our way of giving something back to a dear friend, whom we never met, but knew just as well as any of those whom we meet up and hang around with.

This post was long in coming, but I had to write it myself after approaching certain football journalistic sources with the story and getting rejected. I'd sincerely urge everyone to contribute in whatever little way they can towards cancer treatment. Anything that you donate helps in giving someone a new lease on life, it helps in research for cancer treatment and ultimately in making the world a better place. Who knows, a rupee you've spent today would help you some years later in the treatment of someone you care for who has fallen to this disease.

And just like the song, this post too ends with a quote from Margaret Mead...

"Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has"

Esto es para ti, Paulo. RIP.

Nickelback - If Everyone Cared
Jitesh Shahani
Ashwin Iyer
Nikhil Rane

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sibling Rivalry

As much as I like it, this post is not about the song "Sisters" by Pain of Salvation. But well, its here at last. The World Cup is over with lots of scintilliating memories and now I'm looking forward to resuming a love-and-hate relationship that I share with those on the darker side.

All in all, its like a sibling rivalry. Each wants to be loved more, each has its own unique identity which it thinks is superior to the other. Each entity doesnt want to imitate the other and yet there's always a nascent introspection at the sub-conscious level done by looking at the other, the management's and fans' efforts all sub-consciously directed towards bettering that which is achieved by the other club's. Its a rivalry beyond anything known to mankind. Yet, at the same time, both the entities have to co-exist; they cannot do without the other. They live in an environment which they've sculpted, plundered at their own will and to their advantage. The playground is a sparring ground only for these two entities, and each year one or the other triumphs leaving the other to bite the dust. Lately though, there's a grudging hand offered to help the rival back to its feet, after which its given another almighty smack and told to come better prepared next time. The respect is there, veiled, but the hate is ever obvious.

The rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona is actually a rivalry between Madrid, the city, and Catalonia, the autonomous state. It is not limited to a football match; it is just always prevelant. It resumes much before the footballing season begins; there's rivalry in who's doing a better pre-season tour. There's rivalry in how many signings each club is going to make and of what kind. There's rivalry in how much revenue either club has amassed over the last financial year, a rivalry in how many fans either club has won over the last year or rivalry over the average attendance figures. Hell, there's even rivalry in who's jersey looks better and Nike and Adidas can make some accurate forecasts about sales looking at the initial reception and squabbles between either set of fans.

So, we're here at last. 2010-2011. Let La Liga begin. Let the rivalry resume. Here's a small taste of what it is to be part of it...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Class & Crass: Part II

So, Here I go, playin' Star again...There I go, Turn the Page...

The Elite Hall of Shame:

A twist to Mike Shinoda's "Remember The Name", this name here will be remembered by more than a fair share of million African people. I mean, nothing can get worse than bottling up a 120th minute penalty, and Asamoah Gyan did just that shooting into the top stand (Did they have a "Hit Me and win an all expenses paid World Tour" banner up there?), thereby breaking the hopes of millions of Africans around the world and writing his name forever into the Elite Hall of Shame comprising of Roberto Baggio and David Beckham. While this is crass, Gyan was still one of the revealations of this world cup. Crass: 8, Class: 4

Dani Jarque, Siempre Con Nosotros:

A Friend, In Deed! Iniesta scored the 116th minute winner for Spain, the only goal of the match, and the goal which landed Spain the world cup, and instead of going mad with joy, he flashed his undershirt at the cameras displaying "Dani Jarque, Siempre Con Nosotros", which in English means, "Dani Jarque, Always with Us". It was a tribute to the late, Espanyol player and dear friend Dani Jarque, who died under tragic circumstances leaving a 9 month old pregnant girlfriend who heard him dying over the phone. You cannot get classier than that. Class: 100, Crass: ZERO

Critically Acclaimed Acts:

I'm actually spoilt for choice here. Like its previous editions, this World Cup has had its fair share of stand out performances; the difference being that the stand out performances came from totally unfancied players. I'll go with two of the best. Its only a quirk of Fate that both have links to Maradona. While '86 was graced with the Class & Crass of Maradona, '10 saw another El Diego take home the Golden Ball. Diego Forlan carried his team and his nation's hopes on his shoulders to the semi finals and almost secured them the 3rd place berth and a bronze medal by a last gasp free kick which bounced off the crossbar; the only true master of the Jabulani. While the new El Diego reminded everyone of Maradona's class, a sprightly 20 yeard old kid reminded everyone of Maradona's crass. Yes, Thomas Mueller walked away with the FIFA Young Player and The Golden Boot award, demolishing Argentina in the process by scoring 2 beautiful goals. He was the same kid who infuriated Maradona so much at a press conference by sitting next to him that Maradona walked out. I am sure the moment when Maradona was labelled as Maragona by the
press, he'll have a cemented a fact in his drug infested brain: Never second guess the kids. Class: 10, Crass: 10 (Obviously, the crass points are for Maradona)

Best Supporting Act:

Too many times you see the attackers take away the limelight. However, this world cup, right from the outset was about not conceding goals first and scoring later. Its no surprise then that Spain (7 clean sheets in 8 matches) won the World Cup. The biggest stand-out performance from a defender was probably from Sergio Ramos who topped the Castrol World Cup Player Ranking (for all players) and who handled pretty much everything thrown at him, including the kitchen sink. And to think that Jose Mourinho wanted Sergio Ramos to play as a center-back; now that would've been an enormous waste of attacking talent. Ramos has once again proven his critics wrong and firmly established himself as one of the Top 5 right backs in the world. Sergio "Peek-A-Boo" Busquets playing as a holding midfielder was the most fouled player in the tournament and you may be forgiven for assuming that he was kicked that much because people wanted to see his Oscar winning theatrics. Jokes apart, he was one of the best holding midfielders of the tournament. And a big shout to Iker Casillas, for carrying Spain through to the finals and winning it, saving one-y-ones and a penalty in the process. Class: 10, Crass: 0

The Best Comeback:

No, I'm not talking about the Italy-Slovakia game, though it was probably the best comeback games of this World Cup. I'm talking about a comeback of a different kind. Spain lost their first game to the Swiss and the erstwhile media in England cited dubious "Spanish" media sources as reporting that Iker Casillas was distracted by Sarah Carbonero (his TV Journalist girlfriend who covered the action from behind the former's goalpost), and conceded the goal. While this little nugget of dubious information was laughable in itself, it was rendered all the more uncredible by the fact that Casillas had saved the shot and it bounced of Pique on the way in. Casillas did have his go at the media though, by kissing Sarah on national television in the post match interview after Spain won the World Cup. Spontaneous Love! Class: 100, Crass: ZERO

The Best WAG:

One word: Sarah Carbonero. Okay, that's two words, followed by some more. Here goes.. Sarah is much better than any of the normal window shopping, glory hunting, blow-your-football-lover's-hard-earned-money-for-a-4000 Euros-Lingerie WAGs that you see. She is a TV Journalist, an earner and those homely girls that you generally do not see associated with football players (that is if you discount Kaka who has married a nun). A lot of Class points to Sarah and double Crass points for other WAGs.

...Well! To Quote Forrest Gump, "That's all I have to say about that". I'm sure I've left quite a few of other moments out like the Vuvuzelas and the cursed Jabulani. But I'd like some choicy comments from you about those moments.

Class & Crass : Part I

Its funny how I hear the now already time-honored cliche that World Cup 2010 was unmemorable with one of the most boring finals. It set me thinking whether that actually is the case, and unsurprisingly it isnt. This world cup is very much similar to its predecessors; its got its oomphs and aahhs, its own moments of the Class and the Crass. And the final itself finished in extra time, which is kinda a no brainer seeing as one team was playing football while the other, rugby. Inspite of this, its a damn sight better than WC '06, WC '94 which finished in penalty shootouts. And so like the more respected names in football journalism, I come up with my list of Class and Crass...

Oracle & Media Bytes:

What started as a fun prank turned into an international phenomenon, when an eight armed mollusc predicted the correct match results for Germany. What most people did not know then was that the little octopus named Paul (an English citizen by birth and a German by naturalization) has been predicting the outcome of Germany's matches since Euro '08 and had got only 1 prediction wrong, that of the Euro final where he sided with Germany and lost. Experience has made most of us they we are today, and Paul is no exception. This time he was wiser and sided with Spain and continued his new found love for Spain by tipping them to win the world cup. The by-product of this was that the Octopus, in the last 2 weeks garnered more media bytes than most prominent humans on the planet, got a replica trophy of his own which he hugged with a disposition of sublime supplication and all this amidst Germans and Argentinos demanding that he be served as lunch for them with the Spanish offering him state protection. Insane! This is one of THE moments of this world cup. Class: 10, Crass: 0 (The Class & Crass rating is heavily influenced by money seeing as almost half a million dollars were made by people who sided with Paul, while a similar amount was lost by those who bet against him)

Inglourious Basterds:

Honestly, its quite surprising and disgusting seeing how many people are trying to justify Suarez's hand ball on the goal line with the anyone-would-do-that-for-their-country line. For me, it was a downright disgusting act and an insult to the game, and I feel that going forward deliberate fouls or hand balls on the goal line should be punishable by allowing the goal to stand and / or awarding the offender with a multiple match ban and a fine. Talking about bans, Nigel The Dong and Van Pummel were lucky to stay on the pitch after their attempts at kickboxing. Trying to keep up the spirit of the game must've been so hard for poor Howard Webb who showed immense courage in awarding them only yellows. Had Spain not won, he would've been suffering from an enormous media backlash from the Iberian Peninsula. FIFA should make an example out of both and ban them, especially The Dong who had the audacity to claim that such tackles were quite alright earlier and such things happen in Football. Apologies to Quentin Tarantino, but there's nothing glorious about these Inglourious Basterds. Crass: 10, Class: 0. And a generous 7 Crass points to the ones who are justifying Suarez's actions or agreeing with The Dong's rant.

Bomb at the Box-Office:

Messi went from being the Messiah and Maradona's Hit to a teary eyed baby who said that his pattering duck feet couldn't do any more and yet foul mouthed Maradona never got the deserved, generous dose of floor cleaner shoved down his throat. Torres went from being a Kop Hot to Pork Chop, while Ronaldo, marooned high up on the flank and distinctly out of ideas, lived up to the haters' banner name of LOLando. Personally, I never expected much from Rooney, and while The Shrek lumbered about at the head of a distinctly overrated english squad, he did a very good impersonation of the Looney Tunes once back in England, by whipping his son and wife off to vacation to avoid the indignity. Four commercial hits could manage just 1 goal between them and people blamed the pitch and the ball. If I was that big a hit, I would've been confident of scoring a screamer in the world cup with an egg, team or no team, coach or no coach. I've never looked up to these Fab four with the same kind of adoration I generally reserve for Ronaldo (The Real One), and Zinedine Zidane. Yeah Yeah, one banged trannies and the other banged his head against Materazzi, but still one holds the record of being the highest goal scorer ever at the World Cup, while the other carried a Domenech un-inspired France to the World Cup Final. And that brings me to the biggest show on Earth at that time apart from the World Cup, Domenech's France NT. If it was not for the fact that the show happened as part of a football tournament, the resulting movie would've been a chart topping one. And I feel that 10 Crass points are just not enough! .......Oh, are you expecting any class points?!

To be Continued...

Friday, July 9, 2010


Its almost a thumbrule in my sorry life to give a miss to Hindi movies because I hate the whole love-sing-dance-fuck (censored)-breakup-makeup routine woven into any kind of weird story possible. I also hate the poster boy of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan. That guy is a slimy git who made his name in Indian Cinema through plots bordering on the extra marital side of affairs and with little or no acting talent. And nowadays, he needs three to four actresses in each of his movies. As the days go on, instead of doing mature, real to life roles (and with age seemingly visible on his face), he has gone the opposite way with multiple lead actresses and portraying something akin to a college pass out kid or a poor man's Forrest Gump. And that is NOT the crap I like to watch. Oh did I mention I hate Aishwarya too? She looks like a bad avertisement of a female suffering from PMS.

Hindi movies which interest me are generally movies for which the Indian audience is not ready or which generally drop at the box office inspite of being critically acclaimed. And so this brings me to the enigma named Anurag Kashyap. I'm waiting with drawn breath for the release of Udaan which promises me to be yet another masterpiece by that genius script writer / director / producer. After all, he's the guy who brought us period classics like Satya, Kaun, Black Friday, Dev.D, & Gulaal. For me, he achieves with a shoestring budget what big banners like Yash Raj Chopra fail to do. His movies make you think, make you concentrate on the little things that he throws in (In Dev.D, Abhay Deol steps out of a pub and you see the poster of the slimy git starrer Devdas on one of the walls in the background) and they're such a refreshingly honest attempt at making movies. No, he hasnt paid me to go all dewy fingered over his upcoming release, but I feel that for a guy whose two movies (around the time he started his career) were blocked by the great Indian Censor Board, who incidentally are quite okay with passing crap like Teen Patti, he's done pretty well.

I think, its only because some section of that Indian audience does care...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Breaking Stereotypes

A week where we saw an octopus garner more media waves than Cristiano Ronaldo, Barack Obama and Rafael Nadal combined has ended the way it was scripted to be, with Spain winning. But then why is everyone surprised? After all this world cup has been about breaking the accepted stereotypes.

The Brazilians played like Italians do while the Italians were out before they realized that they were supposed to play Football in South Africa and not babysit their grandchildren. The Germans were very Spanish, while the Spanish were very German. There's nothing "Total" about the way the Dutch play football anymore. The French did what the Dutch do; self implode, while the Uruguaians played like the French, complete with handball and all the works. The Chileans did a passable imitation of the Brazilians, but without the talent they were going to go down, and they did. The only three unbroken stereotypes in this world cup were:

The English, who once again walked into a tournament with their nation believing they've already won only to walk out after lots of fretting, and realization that inspite of all the hype generated, their players are mediocre when confronted with their other European and South American counterparts.
The Argentinos who were as classless and imbalanced as they always are, relying on red cards or individual brilliance and at time fists to pave the way for them to the final. Pity, none of that helped this time and the last I heard was Maradona putting out an ad in the Classifieds inviting sellers of cocaine, so that he can spend his hard earned money as a (ex) coach of Argentina.
The Portuguese who came to the tournament as the perennial dark horses, only to be swallowed by always.

This world cup also broke other stereotypes in that the big names in world football viz. Ronaldo, Messi, Rooney, Torres all managed just 1 goal in between themselves, while a 20 year old boy who pissed off the great Maradona so much by sitting next to him at a press conference that Maradona stormed out, has scored 4 goals with 3 assists in 5 outings in his first ever world cup. The vuvuzelas replaced team chants and a beachball replaced the football...

So why are we still surprised?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

So-U-R-In Zen

What is wrong with Facebook these days? I know it's just that way it has been programmed, and not one that would be looked upon as a flaw. But come on! You cannot suggest a Real Madrid fan that just because he "likes" the Real Madrid page, he should hit "like" for the FC Barcelona page as well. That's like asking St. Peter to operate the gates of Hell as well.

Talking about mutual hate, I was overjoyed to see Uruguay knocked out of the world cup by the effective dutch. The team which should not have been in the semi finals will most probably go home Empty Handed (note the pun) because they'll face either of Germany / Spain for the 3rd place play off. Justice is served and I think I should wind up my hate propoganda. Luis Suarez can take home the flawed Jabulani caressed in his skillful hands seeing as he doesnt know what to do with it with his feet; one less of 'em cursed balls would be good for the sport.. I did feel sorry for Diego Forlan though. He could've done better with a squad that was a shade better skillwise.

It's just struck me that this was one of the best summers I've had since the last four years, if you dont count the slight blip caused last summer by my club's free wheeling spending. Football simplifies Life. If you take out the other constants like family, friends and lifestyle obsession, you're left with one inexplicable thing. Your job. Why do you do it? I know why. I work so that I can earn to pay my TV and Internet bills, and probably save up for a visit to the Santiago Bernabeu.

That's all for now. Ciao.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Happy Independence Day

How weird that this blog post, which deals with criticizing Indians for americanizing themselves and then later jumps the other way to take their side, should start in the aftermath of the American Independence Day.

I see a lot of my contacts sporting "Had the happiest Independence Day of my Life!!" as their status. While this is all well and good, but the crucial point to be noted is that I'm Indian and so are these contacts of mine. And no, I did not see this status on the 15th August, which incidentally is India's Independence Day, when finally after a lot of bigotry and politics-to-serve-one's-own-means, we were finally given our Independence by a weak England who were too bothered with themselves than to put up with our feeble attempt at "revolution". So, where was I? Ahh yes, So i see this status on the 4th of July. No, they're not NRIs either, they've been in US for like 2-3 months. What went wrong / right to effect this change? Where's your patriotism bitches?

But then as I thought about it, I realized that we (Indians) live in a cliched society where rules contradict each other and progress keeps tripping over itself just to satisfy the egos of a handful few. The smart ones get out, and those with a misplaced sense of pride hang on and get fucked (like me). Suddenly the feeling of Independence started making sense.

Okay, for a first post, this is pretty weird and confused, but Hey, Thats Me.
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