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Saturday, 29 December 2012

Braveheart- You Live on

Brave heart – You live on

What a sad way to end 2012

I woke up this morning with a bad headache which worsened looking at the headlines streaming across the social as well as print media. Yes I am referring to the 23 year old  rape victim and now survivor who got gang raped in a gruesome manner and has brought the nation to a standstill because of her untimely death This is not a one off case and the bastardly act has touched the entire geo political landscape  across India eons ago.
The idiot box and the social media is abuzz with demonstrations and RIP messages streaming across all spectrums for the Brave Heart (  Sad-we don’t even know her real name ) whose plight and misery due to the Rape resonates with the entire nation irrespective of class or caste standing shoulder to shoulder. The visual media may have gone a bit overboard with the emotional rhetoric but heck if that’s what it takes to make the white elephant dance … then so be it.
Spare a thought for the 23 year old rape survivor (I prefer the moniker- survivor instead of victim though she does not live to see the change) who would not live to see the dreams, live a fuller and a larger life because of some random beasts who decided to rob the girl of her modesty in the worst possible act in a  grotesque manner. I feel gutted and shamed when I read the graphic details of the rape and it sends a shiver down my throat and entire being.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Shakaal ka koi baap nahi hota hain

While flipping through the numerous channels on the television I spotted on an old re-run of the 80’s multi ---starrer -Shaan and it got me thinking what is it about this campy movie that the channel plays endlessly every weekend to garner eye balls and TRP's.

Shaan was directed by Ramesh Sippy , yes the man who made  the inimitable spaghetti curry western Sholay and I am sure his epitaph would surely read “here lies the man who made Sholay and the rest is history”. Shaan was an entertaining film in all aspects- Stellar Star Cast lead by the likes of Sunil Dutt , Rakhee , immensely likeable Johnny Walker and the Trimurthi of Shotgun Sinha , Shashi Kapoor and yes of course the Superstar Par Excellence – Amitabh Bachchan complemented in no small measure by Parveen Bhabhi ( she could kill it in a silver gown) and the lively Bindhya Gowswami.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Life of Pi-mind boggling visuals,profound narrative and story telling at its best

Life of Pi- a must watch

It’s quite apparent going by the trailers and the buzz generated by this movie that its all about a young man’s survival from a terrible ship wreck and a certain Bengal Tiger ( named Richard Parker for mildly amusing reasons) during a storm in the Pacific Ocean. A middle aged Pi ( with a generous mop of curly hair , played by the subtle and extremely engaging Irrfan Khan) recounting his tale to a wide eyed Canadian novelist.

The older Pi takes the novelist down memory lane and in the process paints a picture postcard of Puducherry, the zoo owned by his rational and strict father and his innate faith in godliness, religion whetted by his curiosity during the adolescent years. The parents had a different perspective on religion  and spirituality – the father an atheist and the mother – mildly encouraging and endearing do not impede the young boy’s religious intentions giving him the wherewithal to choose his own path.His life is not devoid of love as Pi in an understated manner states " We both had just enough time to break each other's heart"

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Jab Tak Hain Jaan - the alternative review

Teri aankhon ki namkeen mastiyaan
Teri hansi ki beparwa gustaakhiyaan
Teri zulfon ki lehrati angdaaiyaan
Nahi bhoolunga main
Jab tak hai jaan, Jab tak hai jaan
Tera haath se haath chodna
Tera saayon ka rukh modna
Tera palat ke phir na dekhna
Nahin maaf karoonga main
Jab tak hai jaan, Jab tak hai jaan"

The movie starts with the leading hero going by the nomenclature of Samar Anand ( Raj???) driving away from the sunset on the arid bad lands of Ladakh with just his priceless bullet for company against the above mentioned poem playing while the credit lines roll. This brief does sound good on paper and is a pre curser for the events to unfold.

As a struggling immigrant SRK  shacks up with a fellow Pathan , sings Punjabi songs for a living in the cold climes of London  by the day and does odd jobs till he lands a job at a decidedly upmarket restaurant as a waiter.Meera played by the ethereal Katrina is a daughter of a rich business man going by the chauffeur driven Bentley she glides in. Samar and Meera represent different spectrums of society and the director does not dwell much on it. The pauper and the princess do fall in love after a series of encounters in different environs and yes music does play a supporting role here.

As is his wont, The director focuses on the lead pair and their relationships without really getting into details on the choices they make. He does try to marry the old fashioned romance with a  contemporary treatment of love with astounding results. Case in point Srk does a little bit more than just pecking his heroine and breaks his no kissing clause, cavorting with his heroine in phone booth and making out in bed. There is a  special appearance by a celebrity couple who have played star crossed lovers many a time in YRF movies and they do add a positive spin on infidelity .The fairy tale romance hits a road block thanks to a deal with god based on life and death post which the lead pair separate and the male protagonist comes back to India

Cut to the present. Ten years down the line Samar has grown into a bomb diffusion expert , rechristened by his fellow colleagues as” the man who cannot die “ ( that’s a nice job description to have )  difusses bombs and has  a certain pocket diary for company killing it in sun soaked Kashmir and Ladakh. Enter Akira- a feisty independent documentary film maker  who believes in  instant make out and break out ( sounds like a advert for instant noodles!!!) and has a bucket list of making out with men having different accents ( colorful!!!). She is instantly drawn towards Samar , his brooding intensity and predictably falls hook , line and sinker for him.

The second half is a mash up of clumpsy plot twists ( similar accident happening twice , a certain spot for amnesia , loud conversations with god and the obligatory confrontation scene between the leading ladies) The  story telling is quite indulgent and drags its feet in some portions. The movie is a tad too long at 180 minutes and requires enormous patience.

The movie does have loopholes in its story- pray how does SRK transition from a dejected lover to a bomb diffusion expert, the love saga spans a time period of 10 years only shows the leading hero growing old in the form of a scruffy beard (and I thought the armed forces was very particular about their male officers being clean shaven) while Meera has not aged at all with no trace of wrinkle or laugh line to boot. The Leading man  in a foreign land is allowed to diffuse a bomb in the train based on his incoherent mumbo jumbo on the chemical make of the bomb. In spite of all the loopholes the movie has the yrf stamp on It.

The movie focuses a lot on  the SRK aura and his moments. He does try his hardest best to  sell romance in only the way he does and he does try ( akin to selling ice to an Eskimo) but is let down by the leading lady’s lack of acting skills ( fluttering eye lashes, pumped up lips and one energetic dance number just cannot cut it) .SRK infuses a fair degree of sincerity as the hurt lover as well as the subdued bomb diffusion expert ( watch out for his eyes  and you will get the answer).Anoushka as Akira starts on a very shrill note and is quite irritating initially in playing the exhuberant lass ( though she does infuse a lot of energy in the jiya jiya re song) and has one delightful line on love in different times at the end of the movie.

Yash Chopra has the innate  ability to make heart ache so enduring and noble that the lead characters effortlessly wear it like second skin.This movie is for die hard romantics , please don’t go looking for logic in this one.

PS- Given a choice to pick between JTHJ and SOS , The majority would pick JTHJ. There in lies the answer.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

The name is Bond .... 'James Bond' of course!!

James Bond – everybody needs a hobby
Villain – so what’s yours?
James Bond – (cryptic and sardonic as ever) resurrection

Yes the man with the most famous alpha male sir name is back and is he is on a resurrection drive. The movie starts with an elaborately mounted action sequence starting from a non descript marketplace in the latest low cost location for shoots (a busy marketplace in turkey) staged on all man –made machines – mini truck, motorbike, train , JCB machine  culminating in a man to man fist fight with Mr Bond and a random villain fighting it out till death do us apart and then  James Bond is  shot by one of the MI6 Agents accompanying him on the wild goose chase.

James Bond is pronounced dead and his obituary is written in an appalling manner by Madame M . The security of  the MI 6 agents are compromised as there is a creepy villain- Silvia  who has an old axe to grind with Madame M and he hacks into the security system of MI 6 containing classified information causing mayhem by revealing lucid details of the Agents to all the terrorist organizations of the world
Bond does come back from the dead with a day old stubble and crinkly eyes to save the Madame M from the ignominy of a fast looming retirement and save the world at large from the menacing villain. As per his job requirements (would love to have a look at his job description ) he criss crosses across Shanghai and Macau bedding the mole to get to the elusive villain . There is quite a bit of intrigue build around Silvia and the way his devilish mind work ( He’s all blonde hair and matching eyebrows and can build a story out of rats – inspiration from the pied piper story gone bland ) Bond does need a villain who is more substance than style and Silvia does pack a mean punch.
Silvia does get caught by the MI6 and there is a certain element of suspicion on how such a crafty villain is captured so easily… a few frames later one understands the bigger reason for his capture and how he benefits from it. The film in a nutshell is a revenge drama between a deranged person ( ex agent gone hostile) and the indestructible Madame M with James Bond caught in the crossfire.

The film makes James Bond appear very vulnerable, an irresistible potion  of no nonsense and old fashioned stubbornness( yes he does have a thing for objects which are sharp – complementary for the morning ablutions and killing the villain in the end)  and senor does fill into the suits well minus the accompanying belt. One just feels he likes to get on with job and has the gambling instincts of a street fighter- raw and visceral  Judi Dench as Madame M is solid as ever and carries her reputation as a no nonsense hard taskmaster with elan .There are a few additions to the supporting cast ( we will be seeing more of Ralph Fiennes in future installments, Q has a younger , nerdy avatar and there is a back story on the introduction of  Eve Money Penny). Javier Bardem as Silvia is creepy and and creates the aura of a wily villain ( read – Joker from Dark Night minus the clownish makeup) and this is one villain who has bad dentures and a smooth face
The film has quite a few stand out moments. Primarily – the electric introduction scene between James Bond and Silvia ( a hint of homoerotic happiness here) , the brilliantly shot  action sequences which speak a language and have a color of its own  ranging from the gun fight in the minister’s office to the pre climax action sequence which incidentally is brilliantly shot against the dull ,dreary climate of Scotland . Hell there’s even trivia on James Bond’s parents and where he spent his formative years.

The film looks beautiful and the color as well as the tenor changes  as the story develops from the busy market place of turkey to the myriad dragons of Macau and the skyscrapers of shanghai City. The villain fittingly is killed in an old run down church (resurrection remember)

The Film has everything for James Bonds Aficionados in plenty and there’s one more coming soon to a theater near you.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Vijayan calling Vijayan

There are moments in your life when you look back at the years gone by with all kinds of emotions thrown in. The last three years has been eventful in more ways than one and the one that's on top of my list is dad's untimely death dying due to pancreatic cancer leading up to an heart attack. It was heart wrenching exercise for all the close family members in having all the strength , determination and never say die attitude to see Dad up and running but alas that was not to be . Temple trips and endless vows and promises to the almighty up there did not make any difference. I guess when you have to go you have to. I was positive for one and reposed all my faith in the doctor hoping he could do wonders, but human he is also. Sixty nine  is certainly not the age to pass away especially when you have so much to look forward to but then god would have something special for dad up there. I can still remember the day i came back to Bangalore and nothing seemed right in the morning . You leave for work with a headache and a heavy heart cause its thinking about Amritha Hospital and a particular Mr Vijayan who was battling his life there and i was hoping deep down inside that he would make it through knowing his steely determination and his strong inclination to turn things around. Just when i was lost in my thoughts in the middle of the sundry bangalore traffic,my better half calls me and gives me the news which gives me the creeps ( your dad 's pulse rate is dipping ) in between[ sobs!!!. the mind goes blank , unable to think clearly , overcome by emotions i cried...regaining my composure i drive back home arrange tickets to coimbatore , take a taxi to the airport and quite strangely ( noor e khudha from my name is khan was  being played on the radio and i fought with god , questioned him/her for taking my loved one away from me )  land up in coimbatore late evening and meet with extended family members and then the drive from coimbatore to palakkad is the longest i would have thought , the thoughts running in your mind ( will i have the strength to see this through). The crowd of people swarming Kshemam( our house in kerala) was a sight to behold with my mom along with the near and dear ones teary eyed looking blank.I met many well wish wishers from all strata of society having a kind word for dad , now thats what makes the difference , they all had a common thread for dad ( gregarious,endearing,large hearted  and the ability to call a spade a spade ). There was a particular driver who made an observation – Your dad was one of a kind and it’s a big loss to humanity. My heart swelled with pride on hearing these postive attributes again. After performing all the ceremonies ( knowing dad he would be laughing from up there mouthing immortal gems - bahut badiyan -
he absolutely adored the fun track from namak halal between amitabh bhachan and ranjeet on the vagaries of the english language).

I must admit when dad was in the hospital post the heart attack and his blood pressure, kidneys were acting erratic i was jealous about another septuagenarian  of the same age in the hospital scraping it through. I always believed that Dad was a winner and he deserved to live more than the other like minded folks around him taking into account the goodness in him and the way he lived his life.But that was not the case. I still remember his face when everyone from the Family was around him before his final operation - he broke down for a few seconds and then he was back again regaining his mental strength to go through the long and grueling operation. A lot of self help books prophese about who will die when you cry , Dad gave credence to that theory by the sheer multitude of people who expressed their condolences . Some close friends , family members , shop owners were in a state of shock when they heard about Dad's death with reactions ranging from - how , when , where , why - Jayettan was so vibrant, active and cheerful when we saw him the last time around ... Alas it was not meant to be . He in someway would have touched their hearts life due to his deeds and his clean , straight forward manner of working with people.
It requires a lot of strength both mental and physical to move on in life after such an untimely death . No amount of lip service in terms of condolences expressed can never undo the loss caused by a death of a loved one and that my friends is the bloody harsh truth of life ...i have aged faster in the last three years and seeing everyone around me going through different phases of loneliness , emptiness and a sense of loss ....
It’s a bit strange and surreal when you lose your better half all so suddenly taking into  account the mixed emotions  and the life you have shared. I admire mom for her stellar attitude and her mental make up in picking herself up and taking life head on.

we underwent an emotional journey to rameshwaram . I wouldn't term it as long or boring. With an impressive pecking list of close family members it was a journey to remember …After making the dip in the sea shore next to the holy temple … and immersing the ashes there one feels @peace  I can still feel the omni presence of dad around and that is one reason why we don’t have dad’s portrait @ home , guess we feel his benevolent presence is around…

Love,Life ,Luck and Laughter,
Shekhar Vijayan


Friday, 28 September 2012

Rahul Dravid- The man for all seasons

 June 20th –June 26th, 1996 an elegant , studious and a very likeable  young man debuts for the Indian Cricket Team in the Lords Test Match Against England and is on the wisp of an international century and misses it by 5 runs after nicking it to the wicket keeper. Enter Rahul Dravid, who forges and creates a solid Partnership with the Indian Cricket Team. Rahul established himself at the vanguard of a new , defiant  generation that were no longer easy beats away from home. Rahul as a number 3 bat for India was the cement that held the foundation firm while the other flair players expressed themselves. He has faced the brunt of many a new ball bowler innumerable times when the openers have gone cheaply. Rahul Dravid at the crease is like a skilled surgeon in an operation theatre who goes about his work with surgical precision while the other flair players are given the space and solititude to create their own path. Rahul has played a stellar role in many an Indian victory especially overseas ranging from the overcast conditions in England to the hard bouncy wickets in Australia. Dravid is the current world record holder for the highest percentage (%) contributions of runs scored in matches won under a single captain where the captain had won more than 20 tests. Rahul Dravid was one of the few Indian Players who could play all the strokes in the book and in all kinds of conditions. He did not have the flair or the flourish of the other players but he did match it with his temperament and his ability to grind the opposition down with his high levels of concentration and bat for long hours which was the critical requirements in test Cricket. One of the many a watershed moments for Rahul Dravid would be the big superhuman innings played in Kolkotta in 2001 with VVS Laxman for company against the Aussies who were in search for their much discussed “final frontier” to produce one of the greatest comeback victories In the history of the Game. Rahul Dravid with his quiet understated elegance and confidence gave the game of test Cricket a number 3 batsman who could excel in all conditions. He has created the template for the classical Batsman and what one could achieve with high powers of focus, determination and discipline.   Finally do try to you tube the “2011 Bradman oration” which Rahul delivered during India’s dismal tour to Australia in 2011-2012. Dravid spoke in a way that mirrored the occasion. There were well thought out, in sight-ful observations like many of Rahul’s magical strokes for India in test Matches.

Love,Life,Luck and Laughter
Shekhar Vijayan

eternal sunshine of the spotless mind

Sunshine, Sunshine
You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey

You will never know dear how much I love you
Please don’t take my sunshine away

On the above mentioned poetic note let me just say

I for one never had a pet during my formative years and was scared of all four legged carnivorous creatures and would never go within a kilometers distance to residences which housed them. Dogs as pets was a complete no no which  followed a linear and  a common thread in my family  due to the dog bite suffered by my sister during her third year of existence . I don’t know if it’s a brainwave but I just felt that a dog was needed to complete our family , not the typically ferocious one which would jump on sofas and expose the springs for all and sundry but the chosen one which was a puppy and then grow into a dog. Little did I know what I was getting into ….
Circa four summers back based on a random whimsical fight between the mrses and me  where we tend to agree to disagree on anything and everything was borne the desire to get a four legged canine as a friend for life. It was subsequently followed by a phone call to the 21st century’s version of yellow pages (a familiar search engine) and after a few more phone calls to educated references a meeting was sought with an established dog breeder. The breeder suggested a golden retriever /Labrador would be the best bet taking into account the financial disposition, the geometric proportion of the apartment one resided in, the enthusiasm and excitement displayed by the future owners ( which we had in abundance).  The car ride to the breeder’s farmhouse was not a breeze from any stretch of imagination but the less than lush greenery and the small lakes with barely there water was a sight to be -hold for us  small towners. The farmhouse was situated in the hinterlands of Bangalore and one had to go through an assortment of muddy, un-tarred, rickety and worn out roads which tested the four wheel hatch back and our digestive systems steamrolled into one. The dogs were nestled in a gated enclosure with four cages adjoining each other managed by a gurkha predictively named bahadur. The breeder in her characteristic wit and candor sold the ice to the Eskimo and now the Eskimos needed to decide whether they would bite the bait and go for the kill.

During the drive back home my mind was going through the ramifications of our decision in adding a four legged doggie to our ek mein aur ek tuu family. I showed an extra inclination to talk to friends and office colleagues and random strangers who owned golden retrievers to gain a sensibility around it. The all round advise on golden retrievers was well meant bordering on “loving, evenly balanced personality, genteelness with children ,lack of aggression and the clincher – its ability to please. The conversations at home was centred around our readiness and the willingness to share responsibility once the pup logs in.  We did face a barrage of questions from our parents from both sides and were prepared none the less for the same.  We just believed in the simple but very profound line “one for all , all for one” which would help us wade through troubled waters. Since we were looking for a golden retriever  pup .. the wait it was a wee bit longer as she to be transferred bag and baggage from Kolkotta.The pup was flown down on the appointed day.  
  The  first few days were interesting as the occupants including the domestic help of the house and the pup were warming up to each other and boy did they get along. The pup on her part was acclimatizing herself to the new surroundings, banging  herself against anything which moves (think Charlie chaplin in one of the silent movies slipping on banana peels, the only difference is the pup did see stars)and also trying to gnaw and eat anything which moves. She was aptly christened Sunshine because of her thick golden coat and the shine it emanates. As expected came the  demarcation of the responsibilities – the Mrses taking care of the hygiene and the dietary habits while yours truly will oversee the daily ablutions and the pit stops, which incidentally has remained the same till date. It did not take much time for sunshine to enter into our everyday conversations by subtly plonking her weight bang in the middle while we were discussing anything random to steadfast serious  ( not that it mattered for her) I guess it sprang forth from her deep desire on not to be left alone and the feeling of insecurity. During her growing up years , she did face trying times with her health and ailments related to her eyes and legs and being put on drips in the vet hospital.( one step away from breathing her last) Yes she scaled through and is  as fit as a golden retriever should be. She has travelled far and wide down south with us ranging from the idyllic getaways of chikmangalur  Chennai and  the green vegans  of kerala by not taking the passenger seats but plonking herself on the dicky of our erstwhile hackback without even a whimper and eyes which says “ lets get on with it”. I dare say she quite likes the stairs of Chennai and the lush green open spaces in kshemam .She is game for a game of ball and fetch and most recently the boomerang at any time of the day and night.  She is the first one to jump out of the house and the first one to get in (and we thought she’s an animal who likes the greens!)if she senses there’s an outing on offer. Sunshine totally abhors going to the vet (pray who likes going to the doc , being injected by an obnoxious looking needle and administered funny looking medicines) Sunshine is a social animal to the T and it doesn’t take a nanosecond of time for her to befriend anyone judging by the number of followers she has from our extended families and the mass exodus of human beings around. She wears a permanent badge of optimism, cheer and determination ( I guess that’s what her epitaph would also read) I did surprise my mother( who was very scared of dogs and still is . she does have a relationship with sunshine which borders on touch me not , but gets all the food and attention the little moppet deserves) once who is well settled in kerala by landing up at her doorstep with sunshine in tow( yes we travelled 8 hours together through the sweltering heat and dusty climes   when the mrses was on a office visit overseas and yours truly was on office leave) we did have many an interesting conversations on the way what with stopping for watermelons en route and to think  the villagers thought we were zombies and thinking the dog was an alien with the way she devoured the water melon.

The joy of having a golden retriever as a pet is manifold. You get to befriend more such families  , get an innate understanding of their social behavior, it’s a lot like bringing up a child , understanding their whims and fancies and the deep seated innocence they come with.  I feel the most interesting part is sunshine lives in the present not the past or the future (which  all the self styled gurus and  spin doctors have been harping on ) which is judged by the way she react  when she sees us you after 10 minutes, 20 minutes , an hour , a day  a month or even a year .. it just doesn’t change and is quite awe inspiring. We are privy to this spectacle every day and it sure makes a poignant sight. Her social skills are exemplary and she doesn’t know where to stop with all the fondling and the petting. Her snoring is killer and is perfect sync with the Beethoven’s sixth symphony. The awe inducing moments are many but the one which tops my heart is the warm button like eyes which express everything she wants to say without trying too hard as she is a very reluctant barker Her hand eye coordination is magical much like the Chris gayles and the virender sehwags and the vast array of golfers with the perfect golf swing.I strongly feel  tomatoes are her achillis heel aka biggest weakness and there have been days when she has devoured a dozen oranges  on the go giving me tough competition.

On this cheerful moment let me quote john grogan  which is so very raw and true.
A wise man once said -A dog doesn't care if you're rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his

Spoiler Alert- I may have gone a little overboard on sunshine but then for all the dog lovers out there, you just cannot get enough of them can you?

Love,Life,Luck and Laughter,
Shekhar Vijayan

Saturday, 22 September 2012

You don’t win the silver, you lose the gold!!

'Whoever said, 'it’s not whether you win or lose that counts,' probably lost.' This statement was famously quoted by Martina Navratilova and she does know a thing or two about winning . Chew on this - She won 18 grand slam singles titles, 31 major women’s doubles titles (an all time record) and 10 major mixed doubles titles, she reached the Wimbledon singles 12 times , including nine consecutive years from 1982 through 1990 and won the women’s singles title at Wimbledon a record nine times ( she made quite an unusual sight in white shorts). That said let’s get down to the shorter form in length and breadth – table tennis.
Table tennis also known as ping pong is a sport in which two or four players hit a light weight, hollow ball back and forth using table tennis rackets. The game takes place on a hard table divided by the net. Except for the initial serve, the players must allow a ball played towards them only one bounce on their side of the table and must return it so that it bounces on the opposite side. Points are scored when a player fails to return the ball within the rules. A skilled player can impart several varieties of spin to the ball, altering its trajectory and limiting an opponent’s options to great advantage.
A fortnight ago, a table tennis tournament styled on the lines of davis cup was organized in my better half’s office. 20 teams (populated by a mix of 4 men and a single woman) participated in the mother of all clashes. The team chose incredibly original names like – Famous five , A Team ( I was searching for Bradley cooper , guess he was recovering from a  hangover), ek  tha tiger ( inspiration from one Mr. Khan – not the epiglottis), Misys commanders ( no the team did not dress up in army fatigues) daredevils , cunning stunts ( incidentally the first team to get knocked out – talk about cunning eh?) and a host of other names inspired by the need to sound aggressive and pitch it just right to engage the audience.  The water cooler and lunch table conversation revolved around strategies by the spin doctor , inspiration quotes spamming the mailbox of the participants and as the tournament progressed  dinner table conversations at home were all about the need to focus on the point , not the past or the future.
As ability would have it , the top 4 teams qualified for the semis ( famous five , A Team, Hum Paanch and Top spinners- the team names needed to show a element of camaraderie and team spirit) and as expected the semi final was the real knock out with all kinds of mental games being employed – mental disintegration, stare till the opponent blinks , sizing up the opponents during the practice sessions. The first semi final was a hum dinger of an affair with the Famous five and Top spinners thrashing it out. It closely resembled a grand slam tournament where the opponents in true gladiator style were not willing to give an inch away (not a quarter more nor a quarter less) and once the lucky charm (nudge nudge wink wink – yours truly) entered the hallowed turf of Misys, the ‘Famous Five’ team were firing in all cylinders – think a Lambretta turning into a bat mobike with the nitro booster. As per hearsay and the local grapevine, the ‘Top spinners’ were a bunch of swollen egos and  over-achievers who believed that they just needed to show up and win while forgetting that the team needs to put in the hard miles and win the championship. The team spirit and the camaraderie displayed by the ‘Famous Five’ with the chest thumping would put Paes, Bhupathi and Mirza to shame (post the Olympic Shambolic). The ‘Famous Five’ team had five incredibly varied characters ranging from the poster boy – Chandra aka Messi who had all the shots in the book. Partha the keen strategist who had the knack of understanding the opponents weaknesses, guess the “Macher Jhol” does the trick. Avijit had the ice cool demeanor & passive aggression. Divyesh the maverick of the team who just wouldn’t give up and knew how to needle the opposition. And last but certainly not the least, the incredibly versatile player who could sing, dance & play with finesse - is it a bird, is it a machine or is it a supergirl, no it’s the wonder kid Nisha. This team believed in the simple philosophy – all for one, one for all and brought their A game to the table when it mattered the most. The crowd reception was tremendous with new names being coined for the seating arrangements, read ‘Vijay Mallya pavilion - for the early birds as per the scheduled time while the late comers had to make do by cheering on their feet. The two referees were in their elements and seemed to enjoy the game much more than the clashing teams. They looked like an odd brookeback mountain meets dostana couple
The semi-finals was a marathon affair with men’s doubles team from the famous five team delivering the knockout punch – a la Mohammad Ali beating George Foreman – rumble in the jungle . The crowd was involved in every aspect of the game and would applaud each and every point notwithstanding the teams. For many naysayers   in the crowd it was the first time they were watching a match of such epic proportions- guess everyone from the senior director to the gym instructer had come to see the match – talk about office productivity. It was an energy sapping day for all the teams with no one really doing a day’s work at office (closely resembling just another day in Parliament).
Closer home at Pai Layout the focus was all around the final and staying in the present with ‘Sunshine’ also looking on cluelessly to its mistresses’ anxiety.
Cometh the moment cometh the man – the ‘Famous Five’ scripted their own success story
The final  which was held the next day on a Friday was a hum drum affair with some big names being squashed. Both the teams had contrasting strategies – the ‘Famous Five’ believed that they could win all the matches in any order whereas the ‘The A team’ seemed inflexible in going against the run of play and that’s where they lost the plot. The mixed doubles and mens doubles using the perfect concoction of caution and aggression won in straight sets – it was all about the initial punch and the team got it spot on taking a 2-0 lead. The first of the men’s singles match was a nerve wracking five setter with seven championship points lost. The ‘famous five’ rallied around each other and absorbed the loss taking it in their stride delivering their best in the second men’s singles closely resembling the five setter played previously with the obvious difference being the way Partha played his game of ‘no prisoners of war strategy’ to the maximum and winning the championship.
The crowd erupted with joy and it was a sight to behold with everyone congratulating the victorious team on their seem-less victory. One tends to notice that such victory galvanizes the team environment and everyone is on a high with cheer and loud high fives completing it
I for one thoroughly enjoyed the games played with spirit, sportsmanship and even display of mental and physical skills. I had battled all this with a niggling cold, nausea, fever and the works but then what the hell, nothing beats the experience of your heart going ‘woku-doki’ because of the hours of practice put in by the wonder kid along with ‘Coach Carter’ at home.

Love, life, luck and laughter.
Shekhar Vijayan.