Sunday, December 26, 2004

HRV's Top 5

Like you're interested. But still...


1. Kill Bill Vol. 2
Quentin Tarantino's follow-up is slower and heavier than Vol. 1, but it's a juicy bite all the same. 'The Cruel Tutelage of Pai-Mei' and 'Face to Face' had me squirming with pleasure. And Tarantino's liberal usage of Western (read cowboy) type
film score brought back memories.
The Official Site

2. Big Fish
Now my favourite fairy tale. And favourite moral story. Hansel and Gretel moves to second place.
The Review

3. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
The pulpiest pulp film I saw last year. Sheer mayhem. Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Kiera Knightly and Geoffrey Rush ooze character.
Many Reviews

4. The Incredibles
Takes the whole superhero comic genre another step...what if your superhero was forced to adopt his normal alter-ego as full-time persona and junks his superness? (Of course Bill in Kill Bill points out that Superman's alter-ego is Clark Kent, and his normal self has x-ray vision and all those wonderful stunts up his cape).
How does Pixar make an animation film?

5. Lost in Translation
Even I felt wonderfully middle-aged, out of place, balding and paunchy after this one! And Scarlett Johan Johansson is special.
The Scarelett Johansson site!


1. Dante Club - Matthew Pearl
Great tale of intrigue, with a peep into Boston in the 19th century plus insight into the Divine Comedy.
The Official Site

2. Education of a Wandering Man - Louis L'amour
A sort of autobiography. Only this one talks about the books L'amour read on his way
to becoming an author. Wonly for hard-core fans.
An Introduction

3. City of Djinns - William Darymple
Made me understand Delhi after staying here for almost two years. Now I think I even
love the place.
Buy it

4. Broken Music - Sting
Mesmerising prose from the master lyricist - Broken Music is also a great tale.
The Review

5. And Why Not? - Barry Norman
Film-critic Norman's glittering sarcasm on screen comes to life on paper along with real insights into famous movie personalities.
Norman's Top 100 films


1. Andre Agassi beats Andy Roddick - Cincinnati Masters
The 34 year old master with creaking bones vs protege with fresh legs and a thunderous serve. Agassi displayed complete control over Roddick, making him run from one end of the court to the other, even though A-Rod kept them comin'. Both displayed vintage stuff, and in the end experience won.

2. Portugal beat England - Euro 2004 Quarterfinal
6-5 on penalties; we were a sharply divided group and I kept shifting allegiances much to everyone's irritation.

3. Australia draw India in Sydney
Steve Waugh's last dance was a treat. And Anil Kumble bowling his heart out to win India the series was almost heart-breaking.

4. Pakistan beat India by 3 wickets in Birmingham
I was there. Watching cricket in England for the first time...the crowd was just fabulous.

5. Australia draw India in Chennai
This wasn't the first test I saw live, but this was where I really learnt to read the game properly. And interviewing Shane Warne was nice.

Sunday, December 12, 2004


M S Subbulakshmi passes away after about 80 years of utter devotion to Carnatic Music. To my disgust, not a single TV news channel plays out a proper obit. All of them are content with just a story announcing her demise, and another tracing her life chronologically. Being a TV professional, I know how much time that would have taken - not more than a couple of hours.

Where was the stuff talking about why MS is considered so great? Was it because she was the principal exponent of an art form, or because she redefined it? Was MS special because she took Carnatic music from the Brahminical domain to the masses? The answers to these questions could have been addressed in a story not longer than a minute and a half in duration. But no, we don’t care, even if some of our viewers do.
Forget journalism, MS was also an opportunity to wean traditional viewers onto our channel.

In the same session of channel surfing I came across Tom & Jerry. In an ad for a mosquito repellent. So now even they have fallen prey to commercialism, after Garfield and Mickey Mouse. Next we’ll even have Calvin fighting Hobbes for your friendly neighbourhood space toy, available for just Rs 99.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

The Nature of the Beast

The hunt for soundbites and 'exclusives' has turned many budding tv journalists into slobbering piles of goo. Here's one example - On the day the Indian bowler Anil Kumble bagged 434 wickets, equalling Kapil Dev's record - one 'reporter' managed to corner Chetana Kumble (Anil's wife) for an 'interview' at the airport. The following is a literal transcript - so all the typos are because our reporter spoke that way. All the italicized comments are mine.

Reporter: Ma'm big day for you as Anil keeps sayings that you have supported him. How big a day is it for you?
Chetana: This is a very big day for me and I'm really very happy that Anil broke the record.

Now, the first question doesn't yield a juicy enough answer so here we go again.

Reporter: Now that Anil is the best bowler in India, how does it sink in to the wife of the best bowler in India?
Chetana: (Polite bewilderment) It really hasn't sunk in yet. (Smiles)

It isn't long enough, answer needs to be atleast 20 seconds long.

Reporter: Was he tense like he was not getting wickets in the last three days and like he was very close to the record but yet so far...
Chetana: No he was very calm, he was really not thinking about the record. (she runs out of things to say) He's just thinking about making India win...probably.

Reporter: How you inspired him? (other reporter butts in)How you inspired him after a long 13-14 year in international?
Chetana: (Suddenly realises she has something clever to say and starts jerkily) I mean I don't know how I have inspired him, you have to ask him that.

Reporter is bemused; usually people are happy to speak, speak and keep speaking, but this one's just sticking to monosyllables. So he tries again.

Reporter: But he always kept sayings that while and during the shoulder injury you were a big support to him. Can you tell us something about that time to us?
Chetana: No, I mean, I've just made it known that I've been I'm going to be with him that's all. I don't know...

Chetana seems to have misunderstood the question - and anyway the innocuous questions are getting uncomfortable; she's awkward and unwittingly sheds light into Anil and Chetana's life before marriage (she was getting out of an unhappy marriage)

Reporter: Were you happier today, or when he took the 10-wicket haul?
Chetana: No each moment is different so you can't compare one with the other.

Reporter knows he's got something, but here's one last question just for luck's sake.

Reporter: When did you come?
Chetana: Ah. I came about a couple of days ago.
Reporter: Thank you.

This 'interview' was edited into one 24 second bit after the reporter filed it. It consisted of three chunks interspersed with white flashes.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Three leetle tales

I ambled across to the old shelf, and picked up a book of short stories I'd never read after borrowing it from my dad. So far, I've managed to read three tales-

1. The Lottery Ticket (by Anton Chekov) -
Could never figure out why Chekov was known as master of the short story as a kid. Weaned as I was on Saki and Jeffrey Archer, I always thought a good short story has to have a twist in the end. It was only later that I realized, the beauty of a Chekov story was in its telling, in its humanity. These days though, even Chekov doesn't move me.

2. How The Camel Got Its Hump (Rudyard Kipling)The only stuff I've read of Kipling are his poems, and an essay or two. (Nope, I didn't read Jungle Book) And this little tale bemused me - not because it was so simplistic, but what was it doing in a "Classic Short Stories" compilation anyway?

3. The Open Window (Saki)
Hadn't read a piece by Saki for a long time, and this one really surprised me. Even the twist in the tale (slanted reference very much intended) managed to steer clear of cliche and it wasn't so bloody pretentious anyway.

But reading these stories reinforces my belief that the literature of the 20th century is Science Fiction/Fantasy. Nothing compares to the genre's breadth. And it's a pity that people steer clear of the vast body that is available today. If you want pulp (a la Da Vinci Code), read Isaac Asimov's Robot series. Is it social commentary you're after? Read Robert Heinlein. What about romance? You'll find all you want in fantasy. This list can go on and on.

Friday, October 01, 2004

On Gandhi and Gandhi-bashing

Not too long ago, a friend of mine called Mahatma Gandhi a 'bastard who allowed partition to happen'. I was angry enough to consider giving her a black eye - I reasoned that being a tv news anchor, she should atleast know the truth (or what passes for the truth). But when I cooled down a bit, I realised that even I didn't know enough about the man. My subsequent attempts to win her over to my side of thinking used self-righteousness as the weapon of choice, rather than information and cool logic. Needless to say, I wasn't very successful.

Now living in these times, I'm sure you'll realise that Gandhi-bashing is fashionable. But I've never been part of that camp, except for a brief while when Outlook magazine ran a cover story on Gandhi's sexual experimentation or something like that.

I picked up a number of books on Gandhi including his Autobiography and a biography by Romain Rolland. None of these books however, talk about the era post-1940, when a number of incidents took place, including the partition, the subsequent riots, independence and of course, the assassination.

A history student once told me that it's up to us to make what we can of the past, and not believe any one source. I believe that as well, and so I suspended judgement on the tricky subject of Gandhi's influence in the shaping of India - after the civil disobedience movement. But this much I'm certain of - Gandhi makes for a great role model. His politicking was based on his convictions & his beliefs were based on a lifetime of experimentation. There wasn't a false bone in his body.

His autobiography in particular is inspiring - read it, and you'll know why.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

London Eye

Back from London after 18 delicious days of covering cricket. The Indian team loses before the semi-finals hastening my own return back, but it isn't just cricket that I'm taken with there. Everything is a new experience. From the dust-free roads to the squeaky clean sidewalks, the impressive buildings to the cuisine. The city of London shows you what the likes of Bangalore, Delhi and Bombay could be like if they got the careful attention that is needed to get them to bloom.

No. I don't go to Madame Tussauds, nor to do I venture near Buckingham Palace or take a walk through Hyde Park. After all that time in London stepping into the trains, jumping into buses and whistling for taxis, I begin to feel I belong - and pray tell me which Londoner feels the need to ogle at the palace? On more careful reflection, it also seems that I deliberately left the 'sight-seeing' incomplete so I can go back someday to complete it. I meet a lot of whites, blacks, browns and yellows. And twice I feel the undercurrent of racism. The second time being when I ask a British-Indian waiter to get me a table at a restaurant. (Not too surprising, is it? After all we Indians are as racist as anyone else, only our atttitudes only harm ourselves in the end).

Come to think of it, London has changed my life and the way I look at some things. Boy, how I needed this trip.

Saturday, September 04, 2004


It's an ID crisis. That's why I've been off blogger for so long. Of course, it was also because of the Olympics, but even amidst those crazy work hours, I'm sure I could have a slipped in a line or two -bBut for that "where is this blog leading to" kind of thing.

I now know I'm not letting this writing thing go up in flames. But dear reader, do expect some changes in the future.

Sunday, August 01, 2004


Enough is enough dammit.
I've gotto get back to Bangalore....But how??

Anyone out there with any bright ideas?

Monday, July 26, 2004

Once upon a time in the west

When I was a kid, the word 'movie' was a synonym for some tortuous tale of a gun-totin', whiskey swillin', cigar smokin' unshaven loner who blasts the world away with his 6-gun (Or a sawed-off shotgun, for that matter). And of course, the best of these were The Good, The Bad and The Ugly or a For a Few Dollars More - both directed by Sergio Leone. I saw both these films with my dad in Bangalore's theatre Bluemoon (non-existent today) and ever since then, I was a convert.

Last week, I saw Leone's most acclaimed, but least famous film - Once Upon a Time in the West. And I was blown away once again. It's simply awesome, can't talk about it enough.

Once Upon a Time is lower on testosterone and higher on feel and mood when you compare it to the more famous Clint Eastwood starrers . And it's a telling commentary on how the world moved on as the railways moved from the Eastern coast to the Western coast in the US. The movie's full of intoxicating close-ups, stunning landscape pans, heavy on ambience and even normal scenes are choreographed to echo some bygone western classic. The opening sequence with the credits for example is a tribute to High Noon.

Whatever they say these days in film appreciation workshops (I've been to one) - those sphagetti westerns, as they've come to be called since Sergio Leone filmed them all in Italy, are definitely classics. Just see one of them, and you'll know why.

Here's an excellent site about Sergio Leone and his films

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Boris Becker

Just finished reading Boris Becker's autobiography - a deeply satisfying read, after so many crappy bios of sportspersons. It's deep, brutally honest and answers most questions you would have had, if you grew up watching Boris' generation at Wimbledon.
An additional surprise - some sections in the book have passages written by someone else - Becker's mother, John McEnroe and Ion Tiriac to be precise.
For more, here's one review that appeared in Guardian's website before the book was published -,,1077478,00.html


One supposes that all you need to do to make a GOOD film in Bollywood, is break all stereotypes. It's that simple. Tweak that dance-around-the-tree routine a little bit,place the tear-jerker scenes at some point BEFORE the climax, give all songs in the film a proper context - and you're there. Farhan Akhtar, director of Lakshya did this, and a little bit more to make a truly watchable film.

A word about Lakshya - as a genre film first. What is it? A war classic on the 1999 Kargil struggle? Or is it simply the tale of a guy letting his destiny choose him. I think it's the latter. Lakshya is simply too thin on war details to be called a war film. Nor does it pretend to be, at any time. I'm sure most people will agree, no one really knows what happened during the Kargil struggle in the first place. And the army for sure, wouldn't want all the details leaked out.(Ironically Lakshya is more impressive when it's talking about war than the other big bannerflicks we're seen recently - LOC Kargil and Border being cases in point)

Karan, (Hrithik Roshan) is goofy, floppy haired and simplistic - who knows little about what he wants out of life. But his honest and pure heart earns him the love of Romi, (essayed by Priety Zinta) who's focussed, ambitious, impatient and bubbly. Karan applies to the army on a whim and makes it to the Indian Military Academy. But he deserts in just 4 days. However, eye-opening reactions from Romi and Karan's father convince him to go back and prove a point. Which he does, by passing out on top of the class and getting posted to Kargil. Meanwhile, Priety has got that dream job and is a journalist/anchor. She meets a multinational yuppie and gets engaged to him. This is when war breaks out, and the movie's terrain changes - and the climactic scenes are rounded off in thundering fashion.

Nothing too hot in the scripting. But we know Farhan Akhtar doesn't need a ground-breaking script, don't we? Give him something decent - and he'll turn it into something that will break frontiers in Bollywood, like he did with Dil Chahta Hai. Akhtar was very young when he made that film about India's youth coming into their own. And in Lakshya it's almost like the characters in Dil Chahta Hai go one step further to to confront their destiny.
One can be forgiven for thinking these two films loosely chronicle Farhan Akhtar's own rise. What then, we wonder, would his THIRD film like?

One thing for sure - if films like Lakshya are getting more and more accepted, and I'm sure they are, what will become of Bollywood? All those Rajshri films types in their creaky Prabhadevi offices in Mumbai had better watch out.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Inspector Morse and a little bit mo'

I wish I'd discovered Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse earlier.

As an aside, I was reading Daughters of Cain today at the
Deputy Commissioner of Police's office.
Now you're going to ask what I was doing there.
Well, I've been casing the office for the last 3 days, looking for
that all-elusive signature on a form, which says NO
POLICE VERICATION NEEDED for my passport application.

Anyway, an interesting thing happened today. While I was waiting at that
afore-mentioned office, a gang of dacoits with black polythene
bags slipped over their heads were marched inside. And before too
long, a lot of my fellow-reporters assembled taking shots of
poor sods and generally making a nuisance of themselves. Before
too long there was the mandatory PRESS CONFERENCE. And since I
was tired of waiting, I decided to tag along, and even managed
to compose my face with a midly questioning look, while all the
journalists fired their questions.
It turned out that the dacoits had made a career out of stealing
medicines from warehouses. Low risk venture and all that.
Anyway the whole thing got over in about 30 minutes, and at the end
I realized NONE of the reporters asked the one question I would
have wanted answered. How did the police CATCH THEM?

Maybe I thought of that, because of Inspector Morse.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Ninjai - The little Ninja

Stunning use of perspective, minimalistic composition, precision
sound and almost noirish in its use of black & white, Ninjai - the little Ninja
is a must see for all film buffs. And what's more you don't
have to pay for it. (Except for that net connection)
Ninjai is an animation series available on
and is easily downloadable. The site also has a lot of other short films
and I've just started exploring it.

Wanna see the series? It's here.

Friday, June 18, 2004

The Wasteland

For five days, each time I went to the loo, I went
with a copy of TS Eliot's The Wasteland.
(Come dear reader, do not think of any obvious puns, I'm trying
to say something here)

Since random observations seem to be the flavour of the month,
here're some -

1. The poem is impossible to understand, unless you're a scholar
in the classical languages.
2. Annotations will help - but only to a certain extent.
3. Great fun to read aloud - because Eliot's fractured
prose has great power and even a certain rhythm.
4. Eliot's imagery reminded me of some horror films I've seen,
most notably Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula. And it reminded
me of The Garden of Earthly Delights - Hieronymous
Bosch's infamous painting.
5. Someday, I'm going to figure the whole thing out.
If you want to read it, here it is: The Wasteland

Monday, June 14, 2004

Obscure incantations

It's been a while since my last thought-out post.
And that's because I've being doing too many things -
not all of them work related, though things are
buzzing in that department too.

Here are some random realizations I've stumbled upon
in the last few days -

1. If you fill your days out with too much action, your brain stops
and distilling your experiences for future reference.
2. I'm at the age when I'm beginning to properly appreciate
what my parents have done for me.
3. Lost in Translation, Bowling for Columbine and Straw Dogs are
truly sublime films.
4. Sports journalism is worth doing forever.
5. Zinedine Zidane never ceases to amaze.

Friday, May 28, 2004

More than five point something

'Languaga is a virus', said junkie writer and post modern icon William S Burroughs.
In other words, he tried to say language - any language was too structured and could not
communicate the full range of emotions. And that you need to break
rules of word-building and grammar sometimes in order to drive a point home.

I suppose that's the only way to approach the new book "Five point someone"
by Chetan Bhagat. It's a semi-autobiographical tale of the writer's adventures with
his pals while studying at IIT-Delhi - one of India's elite institutions.
The writing is erratic, and there are large gaps or continuity jumps in the narrative.
But at no point are you fooled into believing it's not genuine. You can almost
hear Chetan Bhagat speaking - in that curious mix of insipid english and clever
phrases only an IIT-ian could have imbibed.

Bhagat also finds it difficult to resist the temptation to digress. At least at
two points in the book, he goes off at a tangent, and the resulting passage
does not take the narrative forwards.

But incredibly, pointing out its glaring pitfalls feels like nitpicking. The story itself is a
nice little snapshot of IIT, Delhi and people living in different strata of society. And it adds to a
still-small but growing body of Indian literature that isn't encumbered by the burden of history.
Definitely a step in the right direction.
Link - fivepointsomeone

Friday, May 14, 2004

overheard... office. 5 conspiracy theories as to why the NDA govt lost the

1. All the IIM institutions pooled in their collective resources
to bribe the people to swing the other way.
2. Italian PM Silvio Berlesconi paid party workers of the Trinamool Congress,
AIADMK and the TDP to defect.
3. Nostradamus predicted the Roman empire would rule in South Asia by 2004, and
you can't beat that can you?
4. China did it and we don't know how, but the metereology dept suspects they
manipulated our atmosphere to create 3 years of drought in south india.
5. The BJP's grave was just another dastardly communist plot.

Go figure.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

natural (s)election

The great dance of democracy ends tomorrow. Or does it actually
begin? One way to look at it is that elections are ending & the results
will be out. But what if it's a hung parliament? In that case we will
see a lot of politicians dancing to some other leader's tune.

Oh look, a purple tied anchor.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004


Office. 8:40 pm.
Election analysis is on in full swing. So our leetle
sports desk decided to play 'guess the olympic record'.
Here's what we realized -

1. Mark Spitz and Carl Lewis have 9 olympic golds each.
2. More than 10,000 athletes participated in Sydney.
3. There are 28 Summer Olympic disciplines.
5. The Javelin record is 80 odd metres.
(I said 200 m)

Monday, May 10, 2004

The Da Vinci Challenge

Two moons back, I finished reading The Da Vinci Code.
And a little later while browsing the web, I chanced upon the
Da Vinci Challenge, a web quest.

And today (I'm proud to say )my friend and I solved it!!!

It's simple. And that makes it a little bamboozling.
But it's DEFINITELY the most fun on the web.

Do check it out. It's a great ride.
Here's the link - Da Vinci challenge

Monday, May 03, 2004

Gastric conundrum

When you're working on the night shift, food is a big problem.
You have two choices usually.
1. Don't eat while working, have breakfast after work. Go home sleep for 4 hours.
Have lunch at lunch-time. Go back to sleep. Get up have dinner.
2. Have 'breakfast' after sleep in the evening. Have 'lunch' during work. Go home
in the morning, have 'dinner'. Sleep uninterrupted.

I've tried both ways. And now, I think I've stumbled on the third way.
Eat when you're hungry, otherwise don't. Works for me.
It just occured to me the call-centre types would have all whittled this little problem
down to a fine art.

(If that sentence doesn't make sense, blame the night-shift)

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Norah Jones denied

I don't buy many CD's, but when I do, I expect them to work. No such
luck with Norah Jones' latest offering Feels Like Home though. The CD is
Copy Controlled, which means you cannot copy it or play it on some
systems such as car stereos, Apple computers and some DVD players.

Good, the music industry is doing something about piracy, but is this way
right? Some lawsuits have halted the flow of these CD's in the US, so what do these
companies do - they dump into India.

For those who want to know what this technology does and what it doesn't do, check this site out.

As for me, I'm going to see if I can rip this CD to play on my player. I paid for it, didn't I?

Thursday, April 29, 2004

The Da Vinci Code

Reading The Da Vinci Code is like tumbling down a staircase with
unexpected turns and bends. It's packs a punch and packs in a lot of information as well.
It re-told me what the fibonacci series is, revealed the priory of sion and exposed the
secrets of Leondardo da Vinci's life and his motivations.
If you like codes and ciphers, this book is something you should read.

Da Vinci Code should also effortlessly blend into your shelf, no matter if your reading preference
is Books I'm Proud Of Having On My Shelf But Don't Read...or Books I'd Love To
Recommend To Others And Make Them Think I'm Cool... or Books I'm Going To
Read Before I'm Going To Die... or Books That Are Effortless To Read
or...Darned Good Read.

Okay, I'm a pagan so that should explain half the excitement.
Anyway here's the link for more - The Da Vinci Code

Wednesday, April 28, 2004


The novelty of having a new e-mail id hasn't yet worn off.
Especially when it's gmail - google's meta new offer which
allows you to 1 gb of storage space. The thing is lousy
with brilliance, but there's that 'what's the catch?' feeling
too. Anyone interested in a review - click on this link.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004


Today is when
You lift the corners of your mouth
To form what everyone must see

To contemplate any other way
Brings out fearful landscapes and pictures
Of what you really don't need right now.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Tighter and tighter

The man's grip on the sport is showing no signs of slackening.
Yes, I'm talking about Michael Schumacher who just won his 4th
consecutive race this season. 4/4 to be precise.
It's quite disgusting. Of course die hard Ferrari Fiends assure
me its like a karmic wheel. At any given point some team or the other
has a better car. But better car cannot fully explain Schumi's domination,
does it. And that means there's only one (distasteful) explanation left -
that Schumi is really so good it's almost divine.

Pity the guy is so two-dimensional though.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004


I had this strange experience while flying out to Delhi from Bangalore. I got scared.
Yes, that means I was scared the plane would crash before I could do all those
seriously cool things in life. Here's what I did prior to taking the flight. Maybe it
will give a clue -

1. Read copiously about actress Soundarya's death by air crash.
2. Read the Prelude to Clive Cussler's Dragon which talks about a bomber
crashing into the Pacific Ocean.
3. Starting reading former New York mayor Rudolf Guiliani's book on Sept 11th
in which three planes crash, as you all know.

That very same morning I tried to vote. But since my name wasn't on the
rolls there was no use trying. Just accompanied my parents, and one friend
to the booth and tried to steal a glance at an EVM.

Needless to say, a policeman stopped me before I could enter a booth without
the pass.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Road trippin'

I'm baaack. After seven grimy days of pre-election stories on the road.
My route took me from Delhi to Bangalore (by flight) and from there to Mandya,
Mysore, Mangalore, Udupi, Shimoga and back to Bangalore (all by road).

It all began when someone in office decided I should be sent to tour
Karnataka because I know the lingo. Here's some of what I did -

Mandya - unlike Bangalore which is next to it, Mandya seems like an
amorphous collection of little settlements spread across acres of heavily
irrigated farm land. Met a few farmers. Saw how a field is ploughed with a pair
of bullocks for the first time. Waded through sugarcane plantation with
mike in hand, mouthing an inane intro to my story. Dipped a finger into the river

Mysore - nice hotel, nice people, nice palace. Met Kannada film superstar Ambareesh who is standing for a Lok Sabha seat in Mandya. Was surprised
to see he acts and speaks exactly in the same way as he does in reel life.
Yes, even that patented "aaaaiii, baro illi!!" to those familiar with the lingo.
Met the current Wodeyar prince who bitched about people in Delhi, the
colour bias against South Indians and of course politics.

Mangalore - saw the house where I lived for the first 6 months of my life. Went
aboard a Persian fishing boat into what I call the deep sea to see how fish are

Shimoga - cool drive from Mangalore. Saw a thousand cardboard cutouts
of former Chief Minister Bangarappa.

Tailpiece - since I was on the move, I subsisted on fresh, sweet bakery bread. Mysore's is the best.

And yes, the BJP is going to win.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

"Better to burn out...

...than to fade away." About 10 years back, when I was a bumbling teenageer
I discoverd Nirvana. I didn't know it then, but I started listening to the riffy, catchy
strains of Nevermind - their multi platinum album around the same time Kurt Cobain
took a shotgun to his head. And a few weeks later I even remember choking over his suicide
note, published in the Rock Street Journal.

Dead or not, Cobain was to be a major influence, along with bands like Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains
and Stone Temple Pilots. We even had a band, called Moksha for a short time influenced by
the grunge scene. Anyway, the point of all this is that today is the 10th death anniversary of Kurt. And this my own
quixotic tribute to one of the few men who re-invented rock in the nineties.
More about him in here

Sunday, April 04, 2004


I still can't become a professional blurb writer...


Autistic differences

Christopher sees the world through literal eyes. Metaphor holds no meaning for him,
though similes come to him more easily. He understands logic and is very, very
good at maths. He is not capable of feeling, and even he is hurt
he cannot demonstrate it any socially acceptable manner.
Yet, are our worn coping skills, any better than his? (As one reviewer put it)

I'm talking about this book I recently read "The curious incident of the dog in the
night-time" by Mark Haddon. Yes, if you'd thought about it and made the connection,
the central character is Christopher. He is an autistic 15 year old, who embarks on a mission:
to solve the murder of a neighbourhood dog Wellingdon.
The writing is effective (deeply empathetic, funny, sad and crystal clear) and the story
also incorporates maps, diagrams, quadratic equations and some puzzles.

An unlikely story, but one that will keep you thinking for a long time.
Wanna know more? Here's the link

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Piling it on

When team India beats Pakistan, and it's a historic test win, we go
beserk. (No I'm not talking about the fireworks which were very much
conspicious by their ABSENCE. Because it was a test match, not an
ODI encounter.)

I'm talking about what poor sports tv producers have to do to please
the news hungry public and the leech-like bosses. It's sordid.
It's obscene and it's profane.
We did 16 stories. Sixteeeeeen stories. Imagine! All in one shift.
And they call tv journalists self-indulgent*.

* heh, heh, heh (evil grin spreads slowly across the face).

Monday, March 29, 2004

Backward glance

I feel I must talk about the last piece of fiction I truly enjoyed. This was about 3 months back, before
I decided to jettison all 'stories' in favour of biographies. This was my reaction to it:

In a I-don't-know-what-else-to-do trip to the British Council Library (a regular feature of my life in Delhi)
I came away with "Espedair Street" by Iain Banks and two other books. Just last night I finished reading
"Espedair Street" - and felt insanely happy. Read on and I'll try and explain why.

"Two days ago I decided to kill myself...
Last night I changed my mind and decided to stay alive.
Everything that follows is...just to try and explain"

For starters, this blurb on the back of the book hooked me. Because I'm a sucker for inspiration.
(Maybe that's why I read so many biographies) But we're meandering, let's get back.
Espedair Street is about Daniel Weir, an ex-rockstar in a late-seventies behemothic rock band.
Now he's 31 years old - 6 years after Frozen Gold (the band) reached dizzy fame doing the sex,
drugs & rock n roll routine.

It is a journey of self-discovery (ha! which book isn't these days) but where Espedair
Street differs is its written by a master. Iain Banks manages to get into the skin of Wier
and about half-way through you begin to feel what Wier feels and heck, you can almost
predict what he will do next. Its sad without being depressing, sentimental without
being maudlin, and rip-roariously funny. And, it has a nice ending.

Not like some of those books which are so depressing that you're trying hard to see what was the frickin
point in the first place. Sometimes you need to be stoned to understand these Brit writers.
(Nothing against the Brits at all - they are after all the best writers you get these days).
The Americans are incomprehensible, and we are trying hard to write the next Great Big Indian novel.

Now lets see what the other two books bring. I have a good feeling.

Postscript: I only read one of the remaining two - Twelve Bar Blues. Another nice book.
I'm dying to read fiction again.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

The old cliche?

India and Pakistan. These three words are enough to make me want to skip the article,
change channels or just switch off completely.

Pity really, because the cricket series so far has gone beyond any stereotype. And I'm not just talking
about the matches. It's the little things you don't see on tv or even in the newspapers.
I can't really appreciate the whole thing as much as the lucky few who're covering the series in
Pakistan. But this much I know - that India and Pakistan cricket have been more about
emotional cricket than we can even imagine. And in a good way, that too.

There are a few articles on the net which tell it like it is. One link to many such reads is here

Saturday, March 20, 2004


Didn't I mention something about reading only autobiographies and bios this year?
Well, it's not going too well. No, not because fiction has led me astray, but rather...
i'm not able to finish what I've started.
Here's what I've read since December -
Rahul Dravid - by Vedam Jaishankar (informative but otherwise nothing more to it)
Lee Iacocca - by Lee Iacocca (cool even if a bit outdated)
And Why Not? - by Barry Norman (a good read)
The story of My Experiments with Truth - by M K Gandhi (more on this in future posts)

Now here's a list of false starts -
Living to tell the tale - by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (deferred until I can appreciate the prose)
Straight from the gut - by Jack Welch (finished one chapter, then friend took it back)
Dalai Lama - by Dalai Lama (finished two chapters, left it with my dad in B'lore)
Man's search for meaning - by Dr Viktor Frankl (finished half the book, left it with friend in Bombay)
Krishna - author forgotten (my current read)
From Bengalooru to Bangalore - author forgotten (planning to tackle it after Krishna)

By the way, am back in Delhi.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004


Okay, I'm back from Dharamshala, but in the meanwhile, I've had to
go down to hometown Bangalore. Laats of happenings. Full fast forward.

Shall update in a couple of days.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Into the hills

Am going to Dharamshala, monastic abode of the Dalai Lama to cover cricket for 5 days.
As my friend would put it - Shambo...

Update when I get back.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Floatsam & Jetsam

It's 2:16 am in office, my shift is long over, but being a compulsive workaholicafterworkhours, I've been scratching about
at the sports desk (did I mention I work in TV?) eyeing the new shift people with karmic indifference and a satiated air.
My mind casts back to yesterday, when I saw two American war films in pre 20th century era...

The first of these was Cold Mountain, nominated for an Oscar this year in just about every category. Nice film, well-shot,
cleanly edited, nothing bad with the script and great performances. But somehow it failed to shake the very core of my being.
The other was The Patriot, winner of, what was it- 2 Oscars?? Anyway, the film irritated me. Typical Mel Gibson swashbuckler
without the swashbuckle.

What's happening to me? I normally love even crappy films. Am I getting to be like, discerning?

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Who would you prefer?

When it comes to cricket commentary, who would you prefer, Mandira Bedi or Rameez Raja?
Mandira Bedi may sound like a simpering floozy. But she actually makes sense,
and even has the decency to keep her mouth shut most times. Added plus: she doesn not
grace the commentary box. But she won't be seen during the Indo-Pak series. Ten Sports has
decided to eschew Bedi in the interests of 'serious' cricket (clap clap).

We do have a problem though. That warped, evil man called Rameez Raja will be in the commentary box.
I suppose that's better than having Raja AND Amir Sohail together. The two of them together would make Richie
Benaud, the father of cricket TV commentary turn in his grave. Never mind if he isn't dead yet. And certainly it is
better than having Raja and Sohail with Shaqoor Rana umpiring.

But here we're just rationalizing the whole thing. Rameez Raja is plain bad and cannot give a straight view on anything.
When Pakistan is winning, they're the best team in the world. And when they're losing, he begins to play selector, which
he is being Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board.

It's quite disgusting. I'd prefer ad breaks.

Monday, February 23, 2004

The Cousin who came home

I was off for 5 days last week even though I didn't even leave Delhi.
It all began with my cousin (actually my as-old-as-my-mom-cousin's son)
announcing his trip from Bangalore, and culminated in me asking the boss
for a few days off. Here's what we did.

The Return of the King, the film
Watched Part three of Peter Jackson's movie on Tolkien's book
The Lord of the Rings. Amazing battle scenes. That's all I have to say.
Would like to say more, but I'm still trying to figure out if the movie did
justice to the book.

World Book Fair
Took us most of one day to wade through all the book piles in Halls 18 and
16. Couldn't even check Halls 8 - 14. I ended up buying one book, From
Bengaluru to Bangalore. More on that after I finish reading it.

Delhi Metro Ride
Went for a joy-ride. In an air-conditioned train from one part of North Delhi to another.
Sounds like London or New York? No wonder I didn't see signs of the average Delhi citizen's
favourite pastime - putting paan-stains on surfaces not covered by someone's feet.
They must be real proud.

Khakee, the film
Nice concept, crap direction. I had once taken a vow not to watch Rajkumar Santoshi's
films after a particularly bad experience - watching Lajja in theatre. Only decided to watch
it after someone in office insisted it was a great film. Never again Mr Santoshi.

Jantar Mantar

Took lots of pictures, had inane conversation about West Bengal's inept governance
with one visiting Bangla Babu who was shooting the breeze on top of the monument.
The good thing about being a journalist is you can talk with saying anything.

The Walk Through Chandni Chowk
Not so nice. Spent half the time avoiding hordes of fellow-pedestrians, and the
other half jumping clear of paan jets.

Light & Sound Show, Red Fort
Very nice, though it's time someone decided to change the voice-over
which refers to the 20th century as the present century. It's not even like
time stands still at the Red Fort. Each time, the voice-over goes silent, you can
hear traffic sounds from outside the walls.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Serious - John McEnroe unbound

If you loved or hated John McEnroe, you can read his new autobiography 'Serious'.
But if you can't be bothered to buy/borrow it, then this Guardian review is an interesting read - youcannotbeserious!!!

Write or wrong?

I just realized this whole blog is crap (Whoever said the truth will set you
free?) It's like this - I've forgotten to write well. Maybe I never even knew in the first place.
3 years of work ex in broadcast journalism, and I can write only in a certain
way. The formula goes like this:

First you think of a short sentence that will hook the reader, the shorter the better.
Then you qualify that, with another short sentence. Okay now that you have two lines,
writing the third, fourth & fifth line is easy. In five minutes, you've composed a couple of paragraphs.
Now you look for an easy ending. Once again, you seek refuge in that short sentence that will wrap
everything up neatly. If you can't think of something suitable, you finish with a self-deprecatory line
that need not be about anything specific. Even this entry is typical.
The whole thing won't usually take more than a minute and a half to read - just
like a typical broadcast script.

Maybe if I keep doing this I'll turn it into an art form, like haiku or something...


We've had many cover stories and news reports on the rise of broadcasting. We
know many new channels are going to launch in the near future. We know more
and more people are going to be employed in the TV industry.
In short, we know the boom is yet to come. We also know that you and I, are
going to stake a claim for ourselves in this booming, brave new world.
(loud ironical laughter in the background fades out)

If you want to know more read this article, written by the chairman of Reliance
Entertainment, no less. The link is here - clickmepleasethankyouverymuch

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Kannada or Sanskrit?

"Being the son of a Samskruta vidwan preserve the legacy of Samskruta"

A serious friend of mine gave me this piece of advice.
There was no short answer I could give to him. I do have a soft spot for Sanskrit, and wish
I'd studied it in college as well. Someday, I hope to read some of the literature. But Sanskrit
is a dead language, to put it bluntly.
Kannada, however is still alive, but only barely it seems to me. It has a rich literature as well.
But each day we use it less and less.
It is Kannada that needs saving, although Kannadigas don't take pride in their language, unlike
say the Tamils, Malayalis, Bengalis or the Telugus.

On the with the revolution!!

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

And Why Not?

Barry Norman is probably the most famous film critic on the planet.
And probably the best too, but I can't be too sure of that.
He's certainly the best I've seen or read, but to be honest the only
two movie critics whose names I can recall are Pradeep Sebastianm who
writes for Deccan Herald (not sure if he's still there) and Khalid Mohammed,
editor of Filmfare.

Anyway, the point is, if you've enjoyed Barry Norman's film reviews you'll
enjoy his autobiography And Why Not?
And because the medium is not television, his writing is unfettered by the need to
write to pictures. Not only is his own life interesting, he sheds some light into the
personalities of some very famous people - from John Wayne and Arnold
Schwarzenegger (who he didn't like and who disliked him) to Richard Burton,
Elizabeth Taylor and even, Alistair Maclean.

Since we're all voyeurs, it makes for very good reading.
The book is also honest, and you get a good peek into Barry Norman, the person
as opposed to Barry Norman, the critic.

Monday, February 02, 2004

1 + 1 + 1 = 6

True especially when you combine your favourite activities. Like reading, eating and travelling.
Exactly what I did on my off-day.

It went like this - got up at 10 and started And why not? autobiography of
Barry Norman famous film critic who fronted BBC's famous film show.

Well into the book I had tea and toast at home. Then upped and left
for Connaught Place. Ate tomato soup and garlic break at Cafe 100
just as Barry got the boot from Daily Mail.

Then took bus to Priya complex in Vasant Vihar, the route was pretty scenic
through India Gate and Shantipath. Delhi in the clutches of windy winter looks
like Russia I swear. That is if you look at the sky and only include the tops of
trees and buildings in your frame. (Just for the record, I haven't been to Russia)

Okay onto lunch - Irish veg sandwich and hot chocolate. Barry is talking
about early childhood and World War II. Bus back to Connaught Place.
Bus from Connaught place to home (Old Rajinder Nagar).

Then French Fries at local McDonalds - where Barry is talking about his days
on Fleet Street. Polish off with Dairy Milk chocolate at home. Time to watch
Spiderman on TV. Barry can wait.

Epicurean. That's me alright

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Australian Open 2004

My second most favourite Grand Slam has endeth, with recently crowned
World No 1 Roger Federer taking the men's title, beating unseeded
Marat Safin.
Federer is definitely the most exciting player to watch - he's been
credited with bringing 'touch' back into the game, though he can
cook up a mean serve as well. To quote someone else, he's not another
double-fisted baseline basher like just about anyone else on the circuit these days.
His backhand is a beauty to watch.

But still, I wasn't rooting for Federer. Why? It's like this. I know he's going to win many
many Grand Slam titles and break a zillion records, so this one should have go to Marat Safin,
climbing back to the top of tennis after a year of injury.
That's why I was rooting for Agassi too - the man is 34 years old and how many days
does he have left in the game?

A year back when I wasn't following tennis too closely, the collective opinion
was that the golden era of tennis is gone. Forget Boris Becker or Stefan Edberg,
there's no Sampras even, can tennis get worse was the thinking.

But with Roger Federer, Andy Roddick, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Marat Safin, Lleyton
Hewitt and Rafael Nadal - all of them under 25, the stage is set for some
ferocious dogfights and rivalries. The best is yet to come.

Women's tennis - well now, that's a yawn. Its usually either sister vs sister
(Venus Williams and Serena Willams) or Belgian vs Belgian (Justine
Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters)

It was nice to watch Leander Paes and Martina Navratilova on court. Their
chemistry is amazing, like watching teacher and disciple playing together.


Friday, January 30, 2004

Master & Commander

You can't understand the nautical references and parts of the dialogue in
Master & Commander - The Far Side of the World.

But big deal - it's still a good film to watch. I've seen it twice.

I was broke the whole of last week. So when I got my salary yesterday, I went to the nearest
theatre. I'd already seen it more than a week back, but I went anyway - just to trip
on the pictures and the music.

The film's cinematography is unbelievably good. It is set in the era of the Napoleanic Wars
and being a sea adventure, every frame in the film looks like a painting.
Watching it is like seeing the works of Constable and Turner on film.
Both these painters lived during this era and were famous for their sea & nature stills.

The film is based on Patrick O Brian's famous book series "Master & Commander".
In preparation for the film, I'd started reading the first part, but haven't finished it yet.
Good thing too, because I'm still determined not to read fiction this year.

I suddenly don't feel like saying anything else.

Monday, January 26, 2004

The return of the Zulu

Lance Klusener is back. After almost a year of oblivion.For the uninitiated,
he's a South African all-rounder (though the term hardly does him justice)
who was kicked out of the team after SA's failure to qualify for the super sixes,
during the World Cup last year. Apparently, he was being punished for insolence and did
not get along with new captain Graeme Smith.

Now it looks like bygones will be bygones - Klusener made a comeback in the first
ODI vs West Indies yesterday and even took 3 wickets in just 5 overs.

Why does the Zulu's return make me happy? Let me see.
For someone who's grown up in the nineties, South Africa's return to international cricket was the
BIG event. And the Proteas actually played a brand of cricket not seen before - Jonty Rhodes diving
and making catches out of nothing, Hansie Cronje taking to the field with a earpiece,
Lance Klusener smashing the cherry to all parts of the park, the list
goes on.
Plus it all coincided with the dawning of day/night cricket, white ball, coloured clothing
and 15 over restrictions. No wonder I looked up to the South Africans.
With Klusener back, South Africa has the world's best bowling attack.
But that, is for another day.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

No fiction please

No more stories please, only non-fiction. That's been my resolution this year.
The idea is to read only essays, autobiographies, magazines and newspapers -
something that I can't do if I'm busy burrowing my nose in a Dick Francis thriller,
Fantasy novel, British fiction or Sci-Fi.

In keeping with the mood, I started 'Living to tell the tale' the first part of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's
autobiography. A few pages later I jettisoned the idea, because the prose was too delicious and
hence to be savoured later.
In a more pragmatic manner, I re-read Lee Iacocca's autobiography and have started
on what is proving to be a fascinating read - "The story of my experiments with truth".
Yes, I'm reading grandaddy Gandhi's autobiography. More on that later.
And I've also read two cover stories and many newspaper editorials.

Now if I could only do the abdominal crunches as well...

Thursday, January 22, 2004

pray this works.