Saturday, 7 October 2017

Writng, sports writing- A blessing in disguise..

After a long time I return to blogging. It feels good to be back. But you may wonder whether I stopped writing all this while? Well, yes and no. I stopped writing in my personal blog and I jumped to the world of Freelance writing!

Yes, many well-wishers around me have been saying that I have and am obsessed with cricket. They were prodding me in a way to express my views about the sport to a much larger audience on a larger scale.

I was apprehensive at first as I used to write what came instinctively to my mind, even when it came to writing a blog post related to cricket earlier. I never gave complete thought how it would be perceived.

It was more about expressing my point of view about a player or a series. Many have appreciated my writing, some have criticized but I was fine with it as that helped me improve my writing.

I must thank my aunt and uncle for giving me the morale boost required to take the leap into freelance sports writing. They have been saying for some time  to pursue that more seriously,  as they wanted me to put the passion I have for cricket and write about it more often and regularly.

I gave it a thought and that time  for 5-6 months, owing to professional commitments, I stopped writing. I was not in the right mental space to write about anything for some time. Well, looking back that break proved to be a blessing in disguise  required for the writer in me.

As after that short hiatus, I seriously started looking out for avenues where I could contribute as a freelance writer. And that search proved to be successful, as few months back, a really close friend of mine, Mayur suggested a website which takes on freelance writers and involves them in their content generation process. 

This phase which started few months back has bought back zeal in my creativity and has immensely helped me in improving as a writer as well. The thrill of being involved in a website's content generation journey is something which can't be completely put into words.

Earlier,  when I used to write in my personal blog, getting a topic to write on was a challenge, but now as a freelance sports writer we need to fight with other such freelance writers in-order to get the topics we want to write about.

And the very fact that freelance writers like me can put our passion to good and fruitful use is really amazing. This leap into freelance writing has made me write more responsibly and put lot more thought and research into my writing.( Not that I wasn’t doing so when I wrote in my personal blog!).

Now it’s not only about building my brand as a sports writer, but it’s about maintaining my credibility to sustain my stint as a freelance sports writer and possibly take to a different level later on in life.

When I see people’s comments about some of my articles which have got published I feel gratified. The sport which has given so much joy and happiness to me in my life so far- Cricket is, directly helping me in getting  respect and recognition  as a writer.

When my father shows some of the articles to his colleagues, there is a sense of pride in his voice which is so pleasing to hear! I may not have achieved too much but just to see him happily sharing something I wrote with his friends or colleagues is an achievement of sorts for me.

There are lot of freelance writers, there is a whole new world in the digital space nowadays. We can present our point of view and get noticed by a larger audience. We need to take that step ourselves. The step from being bloggers to writing on a freelance basis.

If you like writing, be it about any topic take that self-doubt out of your mind and march ahead. I myself am nowhere a finished piece, I have lot of improvements to make in my writing. But only when you write more, on a regular basis will you explore the writer in you.

You can be a blogger, reviewer, critic or a freelance writer- you just need to remove self-doubt and try to take your writing to a higher level.  From personal experience I can say the satisfaction of getting published is something which needs to be experienced, words can justify that sense of satisfaction one gets. 

I look upon the phase where I laid low and stayed away from blogging as something which changed the writer in me. I decided to take the jump into freelance writing and I am enjoying every bit of this new phase.

Not everybody would be as lucky as me to get people support you in the right direction like my aunt and uncle did and also get the help to take my writing to the next level. I did, and I am so thankful to them.

You will face criticism, you will find that some of your articles won’t get published,  but friends that’s what makes it more addictive. To taste success always isn’t necessarily a way to improve and re-invent your writing.

So I would say to all those aspiring writers/freelancers, think big and don’t shy away from pushing yourself to reach the next level. Who knows someday, a quiet, shy person who is a blogger can become the next big thing in the field of journalism!

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda'.


Monday, 24 April 2017

Incomplete Relationships- Never good but they happen for a reason...

On a cold, breezy evening, sipping a hot cup of coffee  Rahul sat pondering and wondering about what could have happened if he hadn't met her,  what if he hadn't fallen for her looks, her smile, her attractive eyes and her long flowing hair.

What if he hadn't met Apsara- the woman who blew him away, the person who he couldn't stay away from...

At the beginning everything seemed so perfect in their relationship. Both met while working  and sparks ignited between them. Unlike the cliché , Apsara went and approached Rahul.  Since there weren't many Indians in their team and both of them were in a new country and  new city , Apsara approached Rahul so that she could forge a friendship with someone who she felt she could relate to.

As the days went on their friendship grew from strength to strength. They both soaked in the magnificence of New York together. They were living the dream - being investment bankers, working in New York.  Both of them had lot of things in common-like the fondness to travel and explore new places,  watching movies,  listening to music and a fascination for crime and thriller  books.

As time went by their bond became stronger and both of them after 7-8 months of friendship both of them got to know each other very well. Despite the grueling work schedules still both could spend time together exploring the city, watching movies together and totally enjoy each other's company.

Both of them were seriously contemplating taking their relationship to a new level. Everything seemed perfect,blissful and right. There was happiness and a sense of positivity  all around.  They felt so comfortable being with each other, that they felt that they completed each other in every possible way.

Then after some-time as seasons change, so did Apsara and with that the lives of Apsara and Rahul took a turn for the worse. . She no longer was able to enjoy the simple pleasures which used to bring her joy, she became  extremely moody and looked tired and fatigued. All this confused Rahul as they both had discussed about probably extending their relationship from just friendship to something more valuable and long lasting.

Rahul drove away any worries about Apsara's behavior as he felt just like him she had cold-feet and was not able to commit to a relationship with Rahul as she was commitment phobic. But in the coming days, her disappearance from work and constant refusal to pick up his calls and meet him got to Rahul. He wanted answers and wanted them soon as he was furious with her sudden change of behavior.

So he decided to confront her, and made his way to her house. He wanted to clear all the doubts and questions he had in his mind. He angrily stormed into her house, and one look at her house and her stunned Rahul. It was as if his world had spun around him, he wasn't able to believe what he was seeing.

Lying in bed covered by life support systems and connected to IV's was Apsara. There was a nurse looking after her. Rahul couldn't recognize the person lying in the bed. The person who he thought he knew so well. Conjuring up some courage he went up to the nurse and asked what happened to Apsara? The nurse said she had Stage 4 breast cancer...

Rahul couldn't believe what he was hearing. It apparently was diagnosed 3-4 months earlier when she felt giddiness, dizziness and had lot of blood loss. A normal healthy,  happy, young woman in her twenties succumbed to a disease which is incurable. The doctors said she had only few months to live. A person who lived her life to the fullest was now  left to survive using life-support systems.

No wonder she couldn't take their relationship forward. No wonder despite discussing this in detail they couldn't take their relationship from boyfriend-girlfriend to something more meaningful. She didn't have the heart to reach out to Rahul in the toughest phase of her life as she couldn't see him go through hell looking at her condition.

Sometimes relationships are cut short through means unimaginable. This is one such relationship which had everything to make it more worthwhile but which remained a half-relationship. It's  not that it was an one sided affection or lack of commitment but just that life had other plans for Rahul and Apsara.

Apasara battled through pain beyond description for 6 months or so with Rahul on her side looking after her like how a father would look after her daughter hoping for some miracle to happen which would bring back the Apsara he knew. But alas, fate had some other plans and Apsara succumbed to her condition and passed away.

Rahul was inconsolable and couldn't accept the fact that a person who was so healthy just recently could end up leaving him and this world in such a manner. He tried to move-on and get back to normal knowing that if Apsara was around  she would have wanted him to that.

But try as he may he couldn't move on from that pain and is now struggling to live a normal life. On the insistence of his parents he left the place he cherished so much, where he had lot of fond memories  behind and with a heavy heart came back home.

Sipping a cup of coffee in the cold, he just wondered what had he done wrong to end a relationship like this? Why did his relationship with Apsara have to end up as a Half-Relationship? Why..

The following lines is dedicated to lost love, pain and remorse:

If I had only known..
That is the last time we've met,
I would have stopped the break of dawn,
And stopped the sun to set..

If I had only known,
That I wouldn't ever see you again,
I would have framed a picture of you within,
To end my pain, to end my suffering..

If I had only known,
That we would never hold hands again,
I would have held them strong,
And never let anything go wrong, anything..

If I had only known any of this,
That you were what I was breathing for,
I would have given my life away happily for you,
Seen you and bid adieu.
While all I can do now,
... is sit, waiting for you....


Some questions remain unanswered.. some pains never leave your heart, all you are left is the memories when things were all-right and were fine and when you feel life was worth living, when life was worth living...


PS: This is inspired from many tales of  beautiful relationships portrayed in  movies and books(not to name any movie or book specifically )  and also from a  heart-wrenching story I heard from a friend of mine  who went through a   traumatic period in his life which sowed the seeds for writing this blog post.



Thursday, 1 September 2016

The Other Side of Monsoons- Pain, strife, helplessness and dengue...

Everyone has seen lot of monsoons in their life's. An they have something to like about this season. Some might enjoy playing in the rain whereas others would enjoy the hot snacks which accompanies this season.


Well you all would assume this season would provide tears of joy to people but from where I look at it so far this monsoon it's bringing only tears of pain, anguish  and utter despair and disappointment for people.


Why take such a stance you may think? Well from what I read and witness around me there are three things which occurred at least in this monsoon which is lot of cases of dengue, climatic changes which causes constant flooding of the roads and finally the demolition of helpless citizen' s houses just because their houses  were supposed to be built on storm water drains.


I will just present my personal angle on  those  points in this blog post  and hopefully justify the notion that monsoon brings anything but tears of joy or happiness  to people especially me.


Mosquitoes breed on water especially stagnated water. And with deplorable sanitary systems and very unhygienic environment around us there is a huge possibility for us to catch a cold or get fever which in turn could be the start for the dengue virus to seep into your body.




It's so harmless and goes so unnoticed that people including me don't take complete care in order to avoid getting dengue.  I need to walk in order to get to the bus stop to go to work. And with the state of public transport as it is I could end up catching the virus while travelling to and fro from work in the over-crowded and unhygienic public buses.


If that is the cause for me getting dengue the second time(yes that's right) then what can I do? I am in a better situation I could say now what with me car-pooling with a friend to go to office. So I don't have to travel in public transport that much.


But think of the thousands or lacs of people who have no option but to travel in public transports daily? If I can get the dengue twice despite travelling mostly in car imagine what if such a disease comes to people travelling in public transports?

For example  take the city of Mumbai  where unimaginable number of people use the local trains for their transport. When rains lash this city no one gets spared including the railway tracks which resemble lakes thereby making it practically impossible to travel or for people to  go about their normal lives unhampered there.



Coming to the sanitary system which in my view is the cause for this epidemic. As how much ever we try to cover ourselves from the deadly mosquitoes , they can seep in rather inconspicuously in out houses and bite us. There has to proper sanitary/drainage systems put in place so that these mosquitoes don't breed and cause havoc.

With water being the breeding ground for such mosquitoes to thrive in the condition of roads  will make them jump in joy for sure! As the drainage systems is so badly maintained or in most cases non-existent thanks to drains being shut and multi--storied apartment complexes built on them making it extremely easy for water-borne diseases to hit the citizens .

The people in general are partly to be blamed for this but one question I want to ask the officials is why approve construction of such apartments on the storm water drains when you know that it can add to the living woes of the people and can cause severe health repercussions.

A classic case of this complete lack of humanity, logic and negligence was seen last year in December in Chennai and other coastal parts of Tamil Nadu which received it's most rain in over a hundred years.

The major reason for this similar to many other cities is the fact that large plots of land which was supposed to be wastelands were converted to big IT parks, to build apartments and what not. The result? The roads of Chennai looked like this for days together:




There is no logical way to explain the situation where most of the city lakes are foaming or are over-flowing into the streets and roads than by pointing at the complete disregard shown by the people in power.

As rain water has it's natural flow and once there is apartments and buildings in that path then it's quiet natural for the rain water to enter into the major roads and thereby allowing drainage water and more importantly mosquitoes to breed which puts the life of the common man at big risk.

If they build more apartments and more job opportunities are found in cities, then  there is naturally bound to be people flocking into metros and bigger cities from small towns. The question is why didn't the authorities or political parties think 5-10 years back about this situation? As let's be frank this situation was bound to happen and it didn't occur over-night for sure.

I myself had to get admitted to a hospital this time and had a blood platlet count of as low as 25,000 at one point. As my other vital parameters were normal this virus didn't affect or kill me. But it can. That's for sure.

We can cover our selves properly, drink lot of water etc in order to not get dengue but if the living conditions are this deplorable everywhere you go then there's nothing much a citizen can do than to possibly just accept the fact that you will get dengue sooner rather than later.


Monsoon brings happiness, joy.. Well not really! It brings tears, pain as people can't live normally, they can't travel normally what with roads submerged partially or completely in rain water and to add to this people like me get diseases like dengue as a result of this.


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Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The need to provide infrastructural and moral support to senior citizens..

June 15th was observed as Elder Abuse Awareness Day.


That got me thinking as to how inhumane the society around us can get. As the people who have shaped our lives have been given such treatment.  I remember my uncle telling me recently that in the United States of America many senior citizens are forcefully thrown in senior citizens homes. It's not too different in India too with many people disowning their old parents by considering them as a burden when they get old.


Very sad that we have to observe such a day. Our elders have given us life and brought us to where we are now. And as sons,daughters and as their grandchildren , it is our duty to care for them.


 As my aunt rightly told me it's because of their incomparable sacrifices , their attitude of putting all their worries aside so that their children can succeed in life is the very reason our generation are reaping the benefits of that. If not appreciating that fact, the least we can do is not to ignore them when they get old and sick.


All they want is a companion to share their thoughts with or just another person to share their feelings to. That's the bond I share with  both my grandma's and both grandpa's when they were alive. There is so much to learn from their vast treasure of experiences they have.


For example I can discuss about Cricket, movies and books with my grandma who I fondly call as Gulpi even now. It is a delight to see how she can relate to such topics despite her age. Not to forget she is the person who sat patiently with me and taught me Maths such that I could get decent marks throughout my school days.


Or the fact that I can get to know about the struggles my grandparents went through to bring up their children is a fact I can't relate to but their sacrifices are indescribable to say the least. Recently my grandma who is very religious wanted me to do a formal pooja to inaugurate me moving into my new flat.


Although I don't believe those rituals much, just to respect her feelings I went ahead with the pooja. I am sure she will be mentally satisfied with that gesture of mine. Which is all they need from our younger generation. I respected her faith in religious functions/poojas etc  and I think we can do small things such as these so that they are happy.


It is already a taken-for-granted inference that we have to care for the elders in our family and neighborhood. But how far can you support them when the state's infrastructure doesn't.

What I want to emphasize is  the lack of senior-friendly infrastructure in our country.With all the talk of support and respect for the elderly,India should ideally be the one having the best infrastructure for its senior citizens.

Sadly,this is far from  true to put it bluntly.

Let me go through some of the important pain points:


Crossing the Road:Just take the example of crossing a road.Bangalore traffic is chaotic,to say the least.And to cross the road in a busy intersection can be a nightmare even for a fit,able-bodied young man.Imagine the plight of our senior citizens.


Pedestrians in Indian cities do not get the respect and security that pedestrians get in developed countries.If the pedestrian happens to be an elderly person,it becomes even more difficult.


When walking on the road itself is difficult,where is the question of crossing the road.Unless there is a cop or a kind by-stander to help them,senior citizens just cannot cross to the other side of the road in Bangalore traffic.


This is where an iniative like the Community Safety warden ( a topic I wrote in one of my earlier blog posts) can help a lot. As there will be people who can guide those people to cross the literally non walkable streets without getting hurt or damaged.


Not Enough Parks/Senior Zones: Bangalore suburbs are not like the city center where there are enough parks for the elderly to loiter around. Some big apartment complexes have an 'Elders Corner'. But that's it. Elders have to contend themselves to that corner inside the apartment complex. Stepping out for a walk is definitely not recommended. As it can prove fatal for them considering the prevailing conditions.


At least for the sake of people like them ,our living places should have parks,temples,restaurants which are easily accessible for the elderly. Otherwise if senior citizens are willing to come out somewhere they tend not to because despite help from others they are unable to manage.


Hence they end up holed up in the houses of their children all the time which is sad and should be a cause for concern but sadly is not reflected in society generally.


Skywalks with many high steps: Recently,the BBMP people attempted to do something for this road-crossing nightmare.They put up some sky-walks to make crossing roads humanely possible.


Alas,the sky-walks with their high and umpteen number of steps are not what the elders can use.Many elders have arthritis,BP and what not.Expecting them to climb all those stairs is highly unfair.


The least the so called authorities can do is to do is to built more ramps so that these people who can't use these steps can walk using the ramps. This is something which is feasible and needs to be implemented.


Lifts Not Functioning in Sky-walks:  Most of the sky-walks built have lifts so that people can use them. But the question is how many of those lifts operate? And how many of them are safe and senior citizen friendly? Not too many is the answer.


I myself  use sky-walks on a regular basis and I can tell those lifts don't work most of the time or are out of bounds for senior citizens or people who need to use the lifts.

When I asked a traffic cop standing nearby about the lift, he replied that sometimes the lift works and sometimes it doesn't. I fail to understand the use of a non-functional lift. Waste of people's money and space.


Lower Berth Problem: The other dreaded scenario for elders is train travel. When we book the train tickets itself,we try to book lower berths. But most of the times, we don't get it.


It becomes a nightmare if we have to travel by train during the nights. People  literally have to beg people with lower berths to let the elders  use it.Some people are nice and accommodating. Most of them are not.


One of my friends recollected an incident where his father aged 58 had to sleep on the upper berth throughout a train journey from Bangalore to Varanasi. And how he couldn't walk properly for almost a month on his return because of terrible pain in his legs and knees.


Sometimes, the elders have had to sit through the whole night just because they cannot climb an upper berth allotted to them during reservation. Sometimes back I saw a news article stating that senior citizens will be given preference for lower berths. That's some sign of hope. Only time will tell if it will be implemented.


These are some of the common problems I have mentioned here.There might be many more instances where senior citizens are at the receiving end.


High time we take the concerns of our seniors into consideration. More senior-citizen friendly infrastructure and arrangements are needed in our country. These are not the problems some old men or women is facing.


Remember that providing moral support is equally important as these glaring infrastructural loop holes I have mentioned in this blog post. I just wanted to highlight them as it's so commonly visible and yet nothing gets done to improve the prevailing situations.


Whenever you can do support them. I myself have been sometimes to elders , an aspect of my behavior which I will change as those are the people who have had to endure tremendous emotional, financial hardships in order to bring us in what situation we presently find ourselves in.


The infrastructural loop holes is something which may never be changed but what we can do is to provide these people a living environment where they feel that they are cared for and are loved and are part of the family. By doing that we don't let them feel completely helpless and hence become a liability or burden to handle.


I treat my elders in a respectful way. The question is do you the readers do the same?


Having a day for elders awareness abuse day doesn't speak well for the society in which we live in. It's time to let the humanity come out in us in order to improve this situation so that maybe in future such days will be celebrated.


We should remember that we will become  senior citizens too someday  and if things don't improve soon, we will be the ones who will be at the receiving end of this in the coming years.



Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Why excessive T20s will make watching test match cricket even more interesting...

I am sure many of you -the cricket viewers worldwide would have been exhausted watching the amount of T20 cricket being played off late. For the last 6-7 months the world of cricket revolved only on T20's.

First it was bi-lateral series in preparation for the ICC World T20 post which there was the Indian Premier League( IPL) which failed to attract the attention it usually does.

This can be attributed to the fact that amongst the most loved teams in the IPL, Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals were not there leading to new teams.

People who were loyal to those franchises just couldn't accept the fact that their favorite player is playing for a new team leading to reduced craze for this edition of the tournament, leading to empty stands and reduced attention from the viewers.

But according to me this fixation for T20 cricket is the main reason for this. Fans like me of course will love to watch the T20s as it's exciting and real fun to watch but this at the expense of lesser test cricket is a matter of concern.

It's the pinnacle of the sport and it must be protected at all cost. The lure of big bucks has it's plusses but that must not be the driving factor for all the cricketing boards across the cricketing world.

The importance given to the more lucrative options for them i.e. having more ODI's and T20s squeezed in between a two match test series here and there doesn't make too much sense.

But on the flip side, the overdrive of T20s in the recent past may be the required boost to bring back the lost audiences to test match cricket.

People should have been fed up with so much of T20's that they should be looking forward to the upcoming test matches in the near future. Just to put things into perspective, for example India will play only test cricket from July 2016 to March 2017- a total of 17 test matches in total.

So people may be wondering what's so special about Test cricket. Well, it's the toughest test of a cricketer's skill. You will need to have immense amount of grit, dedication and patience to endure a test match on tough pitch and weather conditions to succeed in this form of the game.

It is the game in it's most pure and classical form. It separates the boys from the men. There  have been cricketers who triumph and amaze cricket fans in T20s like Chris Gayle  but are technically not able to cope up with the longest form of the game- be it batsmen or bowlers.

Having grown up watching the technical prowess of  Rahul Dravid, Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis to name a few and see how the spin of one man Shane Warne dominate oppositions in the longest form of the game  inspired me  to become a leg spinner.




 The testament of the greatness of players like these comes from the fact that they were able to maintain the level of their brilliance across all formats of the game and most importantly in Test cricket.

Many say test cricket is boring. Well I disagree. A Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli or AB Devillers  in full flow or David Warner in devastating hitting form can be even more entertaining in a test match than a T20 game.




Nowadays with better bats and flatter pitches , batsmen across formats are finding it easy to make a switch from a T20 to a test match or vice-versa with ease which is pleasing to see.


The overall improvement of players  who play in the classical  mould like Ajinkya Rahane, Steve Smith , Kane Williamson and Joe Root can be attributed to the fact that they passed the ultimate challenge  playing in Test matches and having that technical finesse allowed them to flourish in the other formats of the game.

A classic example would be Steve Smith who started of as a leg spinner who could bat a bit but now he is among the top three batsmen in the world. A classic case where succeeding in test match cricket nurtures  a cricketer's game completely so that they can thrive in the other formats of the game too.



The joy in seeing bowlers destroy top quality attacks can be witnessed at it's best  in a test match. I am not sure many will remember Sunil Narine's exploits as a T20 bowler for that long in the future but people still remember how great bowlers like Glen McGrath, Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralitharan, Anil Kumble and in more recent times James Anderson, Mitchell Johnson, Dale Steyn are.

Take this devastating spell witnessed  in recent times by Stuart Broad where he made the Australian batting look really hapless. The pitch was helpful for bowlers and the overcast conditions aided Broad in this spell but this is the beauty of the red ball which swings even more than the white ball which is used in ODI's & T20s , it's the beauty of test match cricket:



Pitches start crumbling adding to the fun. That makes the game  twist and turn and the momentum shifts seamlessly from one team to another. It's possible only in a test match and to an extent in ODI's.

On extremely hard, turning and low pitches in the fourth and fifth day of a test match is where the true test of a batsmen's technique is seen.

That is where batsmen like Rahul Dravid will be remembered for a long time as in completely unplayable conditions he has stood tall amidst the ruins many a time for India- a classic example would be the India tour to England in 2013 where he was the only batsmen for India in the series who gave some fight when the rest of the team crumbled around him.

It's sad to see test cricket loose it's fan following off late. But that can be attributed to flatter pitches which makes it a one way street as batsmen completely dominate the game thereby leading to a high scoring dull draw test match  and after a time people start loosing interest in the game.

Also the completely packed schedule for all the major teams nowadays makes it impossible for teams to adopt to unfamiliar territory thereby leading to one-sided contests which drives away people from watching test match cricket.

Another critical aspect is the way the cricket boards market test match cricket. The Day Night test is a step in the right direction.

Probably reduce the number of ODI's in a bi-lateral series and have at least a three match test series and T20I series so that the boards get the revenues and cricket fans get to see cricket in it's purest form more along with the slam-bang of the T20s.

This can be changed if teams are given sufficient practice before a test  match series ( probably reduce the number of ODI's played in a year) to accommodate more warm-up matches which will help the players  to adopt to conditions better.

The ICC should make sure that  sportive pitches  are prepared for test matches which keeps the viewers interested for a longer span of time , reduce the cost of test matches tickets so that people come to the grounds to witness the game and finally promote this form of the game better( the day/night tests is a big positive sign, and probably start a concept of a test match championship).

Any cricketer would agree that playing in the longest format of the game gives them the most satisfaction. It's about preserving this form of the game which led to the sport be termed as "The Gentleman's game".

Hopefully thanks to the excessive amount of T20s we saw over the past 6-7 months, the interest for the longest form of the game increases from a viewers perspective. I have highlighted how interest can be raised so that test cricket gets its due.










Wednesday, 11 May 2016

The end of MSD is near- An early exit from this year's IPL is just the start of the fall..

The Indian Premier League is in it's 9th season now. Over the last years MS Dhoni has been the icon for the very popular franchise Chennai Super Kings having led them  to two title wins and taking them to the finals on two other occasions

 Statistically speaking he is the most successful captain in the history of the IPL and has been able to guide Chennai Super Kings to a good amount of success in the eight years he was with them.

Now, since Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals have been banned from the IPL for two years with their involvement in the match fixing scandal , MSD was bought by new franchisee Rising Pune SuperGiants.

At the outset , the Pune team looked good on paper having most bases covered giving an impression that the team would perform better than how they have fared so far. So what’s wrong with MS Dhoni in this year’s IPL ? Why has captain cool MSD stumbled this badly in this IPL ? Here’s what I think about this:

1. Injuries to star studded players impacting team performance: It’s always tough when the core of you team is ruled out of the IPL due to injury. It started with Faf Du Plesis then went on to Kevin Pitersen followed by Mitchell Marsh  and finally Steven Smith. It’s hard when you loose four  of your marquee players to injury.

This has definitely impacted the team combination for RPS as they need to find replacements for these  four biggies and to be fair their cupboard is pretty bear with regards to their Indian batting talent barring Ajinkya Rahane.

And by the time the replacements George Bailey and Usman Khawaja came into the squad it was almost too little too late. As they would be a bit rusty and it's asking  too much from them to come and deliver straightaway.

On this issue, I feel that the think tank of the Rising Pune SuperGiants( mostly  who were with CSK earlier) should have used their brains and to fill the empty spot  created by the injury to Mitchell Marsh they could have picked either Darren Sammy, Kevin O Brien or Jimmy Neesham as they went unsold in the auction. But surprisingly that spot is yet to be filled by anybody.

I feel having led West Indies in rather turbulent times to a World Cup title recently, I would have definitely bought in Sammy into my team as Marsh's replacement. Here's a glimpse of what Darren Sammy is capable of:



2.  MS Dhoni’s lack of trust in his own players:  When you have an experienced player who has done well in the domestic circuit prior to this IPL in Irfan Pathan why play him for only one game? What explains that baffling decision? And to add to it in the game he played in he was given one over to bowl. Now what can explain such dastardly treatment given to a player who could have filled up the hole left because of Mitchell Marsh’s injury pretty well.

 Also over the past few months it’s quite baffling to see how shabbily MS Dhoni has used R Ashwin. In this IPL when by far he is the best bowler he has got in his team , MS Dhoni has used R Ashwin very sparingly. In some games he has been used for just one over. What is the reason  for   this captain cool ?

Agreed, he might have not performed that well at the start of the IPL, but when Dhoni has only few bowlers capable of winning games for you why   doesn't he   trust him and give him his full quota of overs?  This has been seen even for India recently. Not sure what's wrong between these two.

When you can bowl 4 overs of shabby medium pace from Thissara Parera and Rajat Bhatia consistently and pick RP Singh and  give him his full quota of overs why then can't you give Ashwin his due Mr Dhoni?

If MSD forgot what Ashwin is capable of here's a glimpse of Ashwin bowling really well under his captaincy for Chennai Super Kings:



3. MS Dhoni the finisher is finished:  It comes as no surprise for me when I see the dipping numbers of MS Dhoni as the batsman in recent times. He is aging and sadly for his fans he is aging rather badly. There was a time for Chennai Super Kings when the team and the fans could believe that when MS Dhoni walked out to bat while chasing he could finish the game.

 Well especially in this edition of the IPL and the tournaments leading upto this year's IPL for a period of 18 months or so,  when Dhoni comes out to bat because of his inability to hit the big shots and clear the boundaries, he has become a liability in the side.

With players getting injured he had to step up and perform what with his immense amount of experience but for the Pune franchise fans sadly that hasn't happened and that’s why they are languishing in the bottom half of the points table.



He could hide behind the likes of Dwayne Bravo, Suresh Raina or a Ravindra Jadeja in earlier editions of the IPL but sadly in this Pune team he needed to perform and he has failed to do so right through the tournament ( because of lack of experienced batsmen in the middle order for Pune).

 When his team are struggling in the beginning of an innings its a tradition for MSD to come out lower down the order and still orchestrate wins for Chennai but sadly for Pune  he is like a trapped animal where his flaws can'not be hidden and has got exposed.

 A combination of the three points I mentioned and also taking into account the fact that it’s a new franchise he is part of and adjusting to that can take time( but aren't Gujarat Lions doing well?) and the fact that the  smart tactician MS Dhoni has been lauded too many times for in the past  , he has waned out and has completely run  out of ideas and innovative thinking which were meant to be his strengths as a captain.

If you are a MS Dhoni fan this IPL has not been kind to you but the fact of the matter is the writing was on the wall. It was time that this happened- first time in his career as captain of an IPL franchise MS Dhoni’s team is the first team to get eliminated from the tournament.

It is at times of adversity that a true leader is tested. Dhoni after having lost 14 away test times decided to quit as test captain in the middle of a series in Australia. An act of sheer cowardise from a rather overrated captain to be brutally frank.

For people who are fans of MS Dhoni the player and captain , you can shy away and shrug off what's written in this blog post by calling it immature or unwanted banter  but the fact of the matter is I have given a fair and truthful assessment of events which have transpired in the recent past. He has got very little to offer as a captain off late- the early exit from this year's IPL is a classic example of that.

With the rising popularity of Virat Kohli , I won't be surprised if Dhoni looses his post as the ODI and T20 captain  of the Indian team to Kohli in the near future and looking ahead I don't think Dhoni will be physically and mentally capable of playing till the next 50 over world cup in 2019 or the next World T20 in 2020.

MSD' s end is nearing. He has achieved a lot, he is loved by many people so to do justice to their love and admiration for him MSD must relinquish the captaincy job for India and allow the team to be groomed for the next World Cups.


Friday, 29 April 2016

Religious Rituals- A waste of time and resources in modern times..

How many times have you heard from your parents or in my case, from my grandparents that we must visit a temple at least  once a week so that the week will go well and many more bogus, unwanted rituals such as these which has no significance in modern times.

You have people fasting on Tuesdays and Thursdays or people who eat both Vegetarian or Non-Vegetarian not eat non-veg food on two days of the week. My question is the  chicken or mutton going to come back to life on those two days to thank them for not eating them?

 NO. So why follow such weird superstitions when you will suffer indirectly as a result of that. It goes for people across  religions as fasting is good for weight loss but can have serious health related issues which people tend to ignore in the name of following religious rituals or superstitions.

In a society which is labelled as progressive there are umpteen number of rituals/ superstitions followed by people. They need  to be practiced after knowing the reason behind practicing the rituals rather than just doing it just to prove you are a religious person.  There are many festivals we celebrate without knowing the actual reason behind celebrating it.

As my mother rightly says, people will follow some religious rituals/ superstitions  just because they think that gives them mental peace and happiness. So that's my stand on this- I don't believe in these unwanted rituals but I don't put down people who do because practicing them gives them happiness  so why spoil the fun for them.

I look at festivals as an occasion where we can gorge on a heavy and tasty food and more importantly get to spend time with family members and friends. And the icing on the cake will be to get tickets for the latest movie which releases in theaters. Nothing to do with the rituals  conducted before eating the food.

When we have so many issues to worry about why bother about these rituals?  We burn wood, use lot of water etc to conduct a religious ceremony . Have you even once in your minds felt that the reason behind your city/locality boiling 4-5 degrees above normal temperature could also  be attributed to practicing these rituals among other things?

Amongst many factors that contribute to wastage of resources and which harm the environment, I find the wastage in the name of rituals disturbs  me a lot.

Lack of green cover and a complete shortage of water are two issues of grave importance which is being faced in  many countries and more so in India. In Latur, Maharashtra for example a train loaded with water was sent as the town didn't have water for over a month.  If not before think about these issues now at least.

I am not talking about only the rituals but I speak on behalf of people who fight for the environment and it's improvement. Hasn't it  come to a point where we put an end or to these rituals or curb the wastage of environmental factors  so that we can save some water, some trees which will help drought affected parts of a state or a village?

I ask you, the educated . well read readers out there whether what I am saying is right or wrong. No point in complaining about water shortage and increased temperatures when all these rituals do is adding to worsening  conditions and  the environment around us.

In modern times, what exactly is the significance of such rituals? We burst crackers to celebrate good over evil? Really? We are only emitting  poisonous and toxic fumes which can cause death to many people who breathe that air when we burst crackers. Now folks who is the good and who are the evil?

 I appreciate the Mumbai High court's  move to remove IPL games from the state of Maharashtra which has seen the most number of farmer suicides in over a decade. When people  are dying the least we can do is to help those who are in need of help. In this case instead of using the water to even the outfield of a ground, give to those who need water to survive.

Renowned actor Nana Patekar has adopted a village in Maharashtra  and has helped the farmers there. He said in a recent interview that the only reason for his living now onward is for the upliftment  of farmer' s condition.  We must applaud such people who go out of  their way to help those people/farmers.

If you can't help those people directly at least start doing things from your side by not wasting water, don't allow people around you to burn wood etc so that some of the water which is allocated to be used in cities could be sent to villages which are suffering from droughts.

I personally go to work through a mix of  walking and car-pooling thereby helping in my small way to reduce pollution levels and I definitely don't waste much water at home.

For those who believe in rituals, my simple and humble request would be- please reduce harming the environment while doing so. If you start doing that indirectly you will be helping lot of people around you.  In times where water and clean air is fading away it's high time we people start thinking about how we celebrate these rituals irrespective of our religion.

This blog post could be the non-believer in me speaking about the ridiculous nature of these rituals and how they mean nothing in these times of grave danger. Because of the frequency of these festivals this is one of the  reasons for the environment getting destroyed around us.

Everything does tend to have a religious overture be it birth or death, sports or celebration. Be it in weddings or public functions. So why not use religion for a change to bring a much needed social change in us too.  If you are religiously sensitive then use that to become socially sensitive.

It's time for the so-called progressive society to start thinking about the points I made in this blog post and start doing something about these regressive practices. It's time to act folks! Actions speak louder than words!



Thursday, 21 April 2016

Community Safety Wardens- The need for residents to stand up and volunteer.

From someone who uses cars to travel even for short distances, I used to complain about the lack of space on the roads for the car to move in or the pathetic and almost untravellable roads I encountered.

Not once did the thought come in my mind that amidst all this,  there will be many pedestrians walking in the road. These people will also require space to walk in the same road, as the roads are not only for the vehicles, but also belong to people who walk on footpaths.

This thought process slowly started changing when I opted to walk 2 kms to home rather than taking a bus.  Initially when I started walking, I found it to be a little strange but having done this for  the past 4-5 months, I can today say that it’s a real cool idea to walk.

Now that I have been walking to and fro on a daily basis I do encounter lots of problems.  The  lack of proper footpaths force me to walk on the road,  thereby constantly  putting me at the mercy of reckless drivers on the road.

I walk to and fro from  Mekhri Circle bus stop from Radhakrishna Temple in Sanjay Nagar on a very regular basis. I  encounter three major intersections on the way. I somehow manage to cross the road but I have to admit,  it is a risky and dangerous proposition.  There are vehicles coming in from three sides and no traffic cop to man those junctions.

If a youngster like me faces lots of hurdles while walking, imagine the plight of senior citizens, young children or people who are handicapped.  It will really help if there is somebody to assist them to cross the busy roads.

This is where we residents can come into the picture.  Rather than lamenting at the apathy and mentality of the people who use vehicles and don’t bother about pedestrians walking on the street, they can be role models and stand in these intersections and help and guide the pedestrians.

The concept of community safety wardens is completely volunteer driven. The more the residents are willing to volunteer  to be a part of such a drive,  the more beneficial it becomes for pedestrians on the road. 

Community safety wardens are there to complement the service provided by the traffic police thereby facilitating the smooth functioning and efficient movement of vehicles and more importantly help the pedestrians smoothly cross the streets.

This could be the much required tonic or solution to improve the condition of pedestrians and make their walking or cycling experience less life-risky and pain stricken.

When the vehicle commuters see their local residents regularly helping pedestrians; it slowly will play an integral part in changing the psyche of the people driving.

The need of the hour is to have better footpaths to enable pedestrians to walk safely on the road.

 With increased involvement of local residents,   the authorities responsible for improving the condition of the roads will make sure that a good proportion of the roads, especially the main roads, are allocated to provide for better footpaths which will pave way for a smooth co-existence between the pedestrians and the vehicles.

 The current situation is so drastic that pedestrians like me are forced to walk in the middle of the road. 
Cars are parked randomly on the sides of the road, and footpaths are non-existent as they are taken over by street hawkers or shops that conveniently extend their boundaries into the footpath.

It won’t be too long before pedestrians also start wearing some safety gear or equipment to walk on the roads. If that doesn’t have to happen, more and more residents of a particular locality/road must stand up and volunteer to become a community safety warden. It is very important and critical that some change must happen to improve the current situation on the roads.

Become a community safety warden to:
1.       Be the change everyone wants to see.  Rather than complaining about how bad the situation is we should go and volunteer for this.

2.        We citizens pay our taxes on time and we deserve to have roads which have decent footpaths where pedestrians can walk.  With active community participation, we can drive this point into the heads of the authorities responsible for maintaining and building the roads.

3.       Set an example for the traffic police in the city to such an extent that they provide more zebra crossings and signals for pedestrians (Pelican Lights) to cross the road safely without having any fear.

4.       And finally to teach the people who drive vehicles like cars, two-wheelers and buses a lesson in humility. Just because they have a vehicle, it does ‘not give them the right to park their vehicle wherever they want or drive rashly in the streets without having a bother about the people walking on the roads.

It is the attitude of the people in power, people who have the authority and more importantly the people who drive vehicles which must change. This will be a small step which can have a big and positive impact on the safety of the residents.



Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Cricket as a sport is the winner- West Indies's amazing trebble triumph against all odds & tribulations..

The West Cricket team did the unthinkable recently- their women's team won the ICC World Twenty20 for the first time in their history, the U-19 team won the U-19 world cup & finally on April 3rd, the West Indies beat England to become the only team to have won this tournament twice.


More than applauding and appreciating this cricket team for what they have achieved, what's more astounding & inspiring for me personally was to look back at  what kind of turmoil the WI players went through because of their cricketing board WICB.


They didn't  pay the players properly and even worse refused to provide them with full term contracts, and not to forget the cold-shouldering the players constantly received over the last few years. A classic example of this is the team which went on to win the World Cup recently were not given their official team jerseys by the WICB and their team manager Rawn Lewis had to specially go & arrange for that.


An article on the same issue: http://www.espncricinfo.com/westindies/content/story/995381.html which  I read in ESPNCricinfo  describes  the angst, frustration, pain & grief the West Indies players  felt before playing this World Cup.

 I decided  through  this blog post  let the readers decide whether these players deserved to be treated this way or for that matter does the cricketing board of any country have the right to treat their own players like this..

In a scathing attack on the WICB, West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo  has called the board "most unprofessional" and its president Dave Cameron an "immature", "small-minded", "arrogant" person, who he believes is at "personal war" with his own players.
  
Bravo has had several run-ins with the WICB in the past. As ODI captain, he led West Indies' pull-
out from the India tour over player-payment issues in October 2014, and since then has not featured in the ODI squad, lost his retainer contract, and had even been removed as captain of his regional T&T team in the domestic one-day tournament.


 Being victimized by his own board, Bravo said, was nothing new and so he would not be surprised if West Indies' Twenty20 captain Darren Sammy  is disciplined by the WICB for being critical of the board after the team won the World T20 for the second time on Sunday evening in Kolkata.

"I'm yet to hear from our own cricket board. That is very disappointing," Sammy had said at the post-match presentation. "For today, I'm going to celebrate with these 15 men and coaching staff. I don't know when I'm going to be playing with these guys again because we don't get selected for one-day cricket." Hours after that, the WICB sent out two media releases. The first one congratulated the players on their achievements, but in the second release Cameron said he would inquire into Sammy's remarks.


 Too much times people come down on the players. They questioned our commitment, they questioned whether we were really committed to West Indies cricket or is it just the money. A lot of people don't understand the things we go through as players dealing with our board. It is the most unprofessional board in the world to me.


 Sammy spoke from his heart. There is nothing wrong with Sammy's speech and I support Darren Sammy 100%.  Not only Bravo but the rest of his teammates and the coaching would echo with Sammy's emotional outburst after achieving something this big. Just to put into perspective an International cricketer in modern times on average is on the move for around 200-270 days a year playing cricket around the world.


According to Bravo, the WICB has always failed to respect and communicate with the players. The board refused to listen to what their players had  to say. It reached a point where they couldn't  take it no more and that itself encouraged them  to go out there and win despite all the challenges & turmoil  they have had to go through.


Darren Sammy before the start of the ICC World T20 said this," Even our own board did not think we were going to win the tournament. We are yet to hear from the president, yet to hear from the CEO, yet to hear from the director of cricket. I mean how can you represent the region, and the people who are supposed to be your bosses and in charge of you don't even wish you well, don't even support you."


 Two years ago when they  had the problems on the India tour, Kieron Pollard, Chris Gayle & Dwayne Bravo  had been blatantly victimized for whatever reason. That is the way the WICB deals with situations. 

These players were criticized mainly because of the interest they showed by preferring to participate in the IPL and other  T20 leagues around the world over their own country. My simple question is when they don't get paid for playing for their country and not getting respected for their services, what's wrong with them  playing in such leagues and showcase their flair and spread joy.

Bravo pointed out that even during last year's ODI World Cup,  the president of the WICB had posted an untimely tweet when he questioned Chris Gayle's form in the opening matches. "That tweet from the president was during the 50-over World Cup when Chris Gayle was struggling in the first couple of games. The president sent out a tweet: 'It is time for Chris Gayle to buy some runs.' It is like a personal war against his own people, his own players. The president was in India [during the World T20] and he is yet to come to the team to say congratulations or well done guys or anything like that."


In an interview with ESPNcricinfo last week, Cameron said that the reason he did not want to enter the West Indies dressing room was because he did not want the players to get affected or distracted by his presence. He called the decision "very, very deliberate", but said that he shared a good relationship with his players.


Clearly, Bravo did not agree. "Our cricket has gone to the lowest. Yes, we won the World Cup, the women won the World Cup. Also the Under-19s won the World Cup. But that doesn't mean to say our cricket is in good hands. It is not. We definitely need help and the board needs to answer for some of the things that have been going on."

Bravo was pessimistic about a resolution being reached in the near future, keeping in mind the WICB was willing only to negotiate with the West Indies Player Association, which  90% of the players are not part of.


"It is tough times and I could only see getting worse because the board is going to retaliate with hate and anger, and they don't think as adults and mature people with common sense. They always try to react with some kind of victimization or trying to do something to victimize the players or take action against players."


As an ardent cricket follower and fan  this issue pains and angers me a lot. If the West Indies team they play at full strength are definitely capable of putting up a brilliant show and give tough competition to other teams. The WICB owes it to the cricket world to be frank to sort out the issues surrounding the payment and contracts and make sure that the best team possible is sent out to play in an international series.


The last thing we want is before a ball is bowled in a series, you know who will win a series. This is just not on. West Indies have known to be competitive and more importantly the kind of players they have at their disposal are capable of entertaining the viewers and their flamboyance is second to none-be it a Chris Gayle, Andre Russell or Sunil Narine.

To end this, it is indeed an inspirational sight to see the West Indies team do well recently, but as Dwayne Bravo said there's no optimism with regards to the direction their cricket is headed to. Unless a middle point is found between the players and the WICB officials in the near future, this set of highly entertaining players will be seen only playing in domestic T20 leagues across the globe.\ which  as a cricketing fan hurts me.


Just picture this, the West Indies have not played an ODI series since September 2015, which disqualifies them from playing in the Champions trophy to be held next year. Well, that sums up what I feel about what's happening with West Indies cricket off late!



Monday, 28 March 2016

1000 & counting- A Fan's perspective on Ilaiyaraaja and the impact of his music- Part 2

In the previous blog post, we got Chandra Sekar who expressed his views and opinions on the style of Ilaiyaraaja's music and how he still co-exists amidst the other music directors present currently despite being in the industry for 40 years.


I write this after reading the news that the maestro has won a National Award for the best  background score for his 1000'th album 'Thara Thapattai'.  Although I am yet to watch the movie, people who have seen it can vouch for the outstanding level & the impact the background score was in this movie.













To celebrate and honor the legends  accomplishments , there was a big event aptly titled 'Ilaiyaraaja Aayiram' where many of  the actors, actresses, technicians, musicians, singers & directors who have got the privilege to work with this maestro shared their experiences and anecdotes associated with his compositions and how mesmerized and spellbound   they still are of Raaja's songs and background scores.


In this blog post we will get to know what the music of Ilaiyaraaja means to Chandra Sekar personally  and how it has impacted his life and shaped up his musical sensibilities. It's the love, admiration and sheer respect of fans such as these  which drives these music directors to strive harder & compose even better tunes which will please them.


When a private television channel organized an event in Chennai recently, to felicitate him on his 1000 films, I ensured I was there to thank the Maestro for all that he has given me, that will take an entire lifetime to comprehend.  


The bigger picture is that this man has survived the big bad world of cinema for four decades and still going strong. In hindsight, it is our misfortune that a world class composer has spent most of his time in the film industry composing for ‘situations’.



As a music lover I would love to see a lot more free flowing non-film work which is not bound by the constraints of films, a thought that crosses my mind whenever I listen to one of those magnificent interludes. Like this one, from the recent Telugu chart buster album ‘Abbayitho Ammayi.











Checkout the 2nd interlude (from 3:20) and the arrangements in this song in general.



Another significant reason for his longevity is his ability to transform ordinary scenes and films to a higher plane with his background scores, something I have heard almost every director who has worked with him say. His background scores are a subject of research by themselves for any music aficionado.





It is no understatement to say that he was the pioneer in re-recording (background scores) in Indian films. Maniratnam once said that, Raaja would see the scene (from the movie for which the background score is being done) once and immediately start writing music and when executed it will fit exactly to the length of the scene with all the right cues in place. This 5 minute video from 1986 is a marvel that not many would have seen and helps us visualize what Maniratnam says.






Quite fittingly, the first national award for ‘best background score’ was awarded to him for the colossal score of ‘Pazhassi Raja’. He is possibly the only composer whose leitmotifs are immediately associated with films and its characters.

There are innumerable such pieces that are etched in the memories of film buffs in this part of the world. Here is an analysis on one of his background music pieces in the film Nayagan, presented as a lec-dem (mostly in English with a little Tamil in between) by acclaimed composer Ramesh Vinayakam . You will see here how Raaja tells a story with his music.




You will also see that  Raaja’s flautist Napoleon Selvaraj, says  that Raaja hardly leaves any work for the director and sound engineer in terms of volume adjustments etc., and everything is taken care of in the written score itself.

Not many outside Tamil Nadu know that he is an accomplished writer as well. Apart from writing several songs, he is also known for coining the first lines (Pallavi in musical parlance) for many a popular song as part of the tune composing itself.

He has also authored a few books narrating his experiences in the musical and spiritual worlds that he travels parallely in. He is also an avid photographer. An exhibition of photos that he canned were exhibited a couple of years back in Chennai.


I consider myself fortunate to be living during the times of one of the greatest composers this country has ever seen. The fortune increased manifold when I got an opportunity to meet him at his studio in 2014 and he was kind enough to shower his blessings on us.

More importantly, I had wanted his blessings for my son and I will tell my son a picture story one day that he was blessed by the great man. I had carried a portrait of his that I had done a few years back and he autographed it for me, something that will be a prized possession for the rest of my life. The ‘summer of ‘14’ will always remain special!

Well for a legend to have composed music for so long, to have the same amount of awe, respect and recognition for his work is marvelous. It will definitely be tough to completely comprehend the impact of  his music on Chandra or for that matter any fan or music lover who has been touched by his  songs or background scores.

 I indeed consider myself lucky that I could bring out the gratitude , respect, admiration Chandra Sekar has for his idol 'Ilaiyaraaja' through this two part series.
As he said to me before we went about with our collaboration that he wanted to put down in words what the music of Ilaiyaraaja means to him. I am glad he could use my blog as an outlet to express his gratitude to the maestro.

I am sure everyone would have at some point of time in your lives have got touched by the music of this living legend and continue to do so. These two blog posts is a small but fitting tribute to the man people fondly call as 'Isaignani' on his astounding achievement!

I dedicate the last two blog posts to all of the fans of 'Ilaiyaraaja' and also to all music lovers around the world who know to appreciate and enjoy good music.


























Monday, 21 March 2016

1000 & counting- A fan's perspective on Ilaiyaraaja and the impact of his music- Part 1

Music means a lot to us. There are multiple emotions associated with music and the immense power it has on people. People can feel joy, happiness, pain, angst just by listening to music be it in any form.


Recently  renowned musician & composer 'Isaignani' Ilaiyaraaja  completed his 1000th album as a composer/music director. Yes you read that right, he has over a span of 40 years composed music for 1000 movies across languages such as Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam & Hindi. A feat hard to beat, his music has transcended boundaries, generations and still finds a place close to listeners hearts.


As a tribute to this composer & his achievement, I got the pleasure to collaborate with Chandra Sekar who among others is a huge fan of Ilaiyaaraja. So what better way than to hear it from a fan- a fan's tribute to this legend. In this blog post & the next we will get to know what his music means to people, the emotions associated with the songs he composes and how in his case it has personally shaped up his Carnatic music and the musician within him.


In this blog post, we will get to know about 'Isaignani' Ilaiyaraaja's music journey presented in the words of  Chandra Sekar.


I was chatting with an acquaintance and fellow Raaja fan recently and he was lamenting about how he is not as prolific as he was in the 80’s and early 90’s and that his work is not as good as the stuff back then. I have a very different take on this.


Yes, he has slowed down. But he is still doing about 10-15 films a year, which is a lot by any standard, considering that the industry and the associated technology has changed a lot since the 80’s when it was all live orchestra and everything recorded in unison.


There are a whole lot of music directors and new talents vying for a space under the arc lights. Despite all this, here is a septuagenarian still doing over 10 films a year apart from non-film music like Swappnam - the colossal soundscape conceived and created for the Dance show, conceptualized, directed and choreographed by danseuse Krithika Subrahmanyan .




Another apprehension of longtime fans is that some directors, technicians and stars with whom Raaja has had some of his best works have moved away, like directors Maniratnam, Bharathiraja, lyricist Vairamuthu etc.

Yes, as a fan it is unfortunate that they don’t work together anymore. But I am happy that many GenNext directors/contemporary stars like Gautham Menon, Dhanush, Manikandan, Vijay Sethupathi, Myskkin, Balki, Prakashraj and the likes are collaborating with him which is  adding new dimensions to his musical output and in turn their films.

 Here is a track from the Gautham Menon film ‘Neethaane En Ponvasantham’. I played it to a musician friend from the eastern part of the country few days back and he was stunned by the usage of the 7 beat cycle in this composition.

People who have been following his work closely will know that he has done some absolutely brilliant work for some obscure films, especially in the 90’s when he worked with a lot of debut directors.

 I am not one who will say whatever he has done is great. There are songs that I don’t like. There have also been songs that I have not liked in the audio but have fallen in love with after seeing how they fit the film and its context


The point here is when someone is experimenting and reinventing at some level all the time there are bound to be misses and things that don’t work. The best part is that the experimentation has not diminished one bit. Check out this quirky track from the most recent Shamitabh. Honestly, I would not have believed if someone told me, the composer of this track was a 73 year old man.



 For people who grew up  listening to his music , they often said that  one of the  main reasons for the humongous popularity of movies of actors like Kamal Haasan and Rajnikanth to name a few was because of the tunes this man composed and not to forget the soul stirring background scores he was able to conjure making the scene even more effective & impactful.


In this modern time where there are other music directors who are more popular & work with the bigger stars , I sense a bit of lament when they say he is no longer working with cream of the crop but I also sense optimism & hope that in spite of him  composing tunes for four decades he  gets to work with the new gen directors.


In the next blog post, we will get to hear about the impact  Ilaiyaaraja's music has had on Praveen personally and also get to explore more about his musical style and also what has kept this longevity going as far as Raaja's musical journey goes,  as let's face it, not many music directors can score music for over 1000 albums across many languages and still be popular.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Cricket should triumph over Politics and Political sentiment..

Over the past two years or so there has been countless terrorist attacks launched by Pakistan and shockingly and sadly they are been supported, protected and in some cases paraded and idolized the people behind these inhumane, horrific and sadists acts of terror.


Call them by whatever name you want such as the LET, ISIS so on.. but sadly for people and families affected as a result of the crimes they commit in the name of their God there may be no reprieve or closure as those terrorists are still free and nothing has happened to give them some solace from their unimaginable grief.


I am not going to talk about why they do what they do nor I am going to score a political point or pass a religious comment which may hurt people's sentiment. I am not qualified enough to talk about those things nor will it be correct & appropriate for a blogger like me to write about such things..


But what I am going to write about is the increasing amount of instances where as a result of the country  being labeled as 'land of terrorists' , we people especially the ones sitting in India can't enjoy cultural events, concerts, songs or cricket matches played between India and Pakistan any more.


There is a very thin line between politics, sentiment and let's say Cricket, Movies etc as far as it goes between  India and Pakistan. A very thin line indeed.


In my growing years like many others of my age the biggest cricket contest was between India and Pakistan. The tension, emotions, sentiment and adreleline rush seen in such contests cant be compared to other cricketing rivalries say even the Ashes or even the India vs. Australia contest.


There was an immense sense of happiness & joy associated with watching those games which cannot be replicated. That's why I was so thrilled to see the contest between the two nations in the recently concluded Asia Cup because  since the league stage game in the World Cup 2015, these two teams clashed in a nail biting encounter. It happened because it was played in a neutral venue.


Alas, with increasing counter-border terrorist attacks(the most recent one being in Pathankot) which killed Indian soldiers, any slim hope of a bi-lateral series between these two teams seems like it will be  ruled out indefinitely. It really pains me as normal people and politicians should put aside the hatred they have for the terrorists , which they rightly should  especially after the 26/11 attacks & if possible give a chance for cricketing ties to resume which I feel can heal a few wounds.


As Cricket binds both the nations and if there is hope of improving relations between the two nations this sport can prove to be the tonic to ignite some improvement in relations between the two nations. The point I am making is it is a very hard pill to digest to allow for an India vs Pakistan bi-lateral series to happen as you can say how can you play Cricket with those people?


Well, the players who play for Pakistan aren't terrorists are they? Just because of the terrorists attacks carried out on their soil ended their chance to play cricket in their own country wasn't bad enough the cricket crazy fans of Pakistan are completely deprived of watching a live game of cricket in the stadium, but instead they have to settle for watching the games at home in their TV screens..


Nothing can be done for these people. That's really bad as just because of these terrorists the country has been labeled in a really bad manner, the common man on the street is been robbed of this enjoyment & happiness. Same goes with movies too. Not many Bollywood movies release in Pakistan, which again shocks me as the Khans who rule Bollywood are equally loved there like they are in India.


I know it's easy to sit down & write about this but what I am trying through this blog post is reiterate
the fact that there should be a way wherein Cricket, Movies, Cultural events( Noted Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali was banned to perform in India recently) can carry on between these two countries.


It is essential and I hope there is a possibility that some solution can be found such that the non-political elements can be separated from these events.


Those evil, sick terrorists behind these attacks  need to be found, interrogated and killed so that such terrorist activities don't impact more families in future but why drag playing cricket or watching movies into this?. They are a different kettle of fish altogether.  I know it's hard, tough & mostly impossible but as a huge cricket buff I want bi-lateral ties to resume between the two nations( in a neutral venue of course for security reasons).


I want to end this post with these lines:


Grief knows no religion, country. Grief is grief.
Hate for those who caused unimaginable pain to civilians is completely justified..
Anger at the way nothing much has been done to kill those people who caused pain to many is perfectly fine to have.
Keep these feelings aside & if possible  allow  cricket to be played between the two countries..


It's a hard pill to bite, but as I said why penalize innocent civilians who would like this to happen..


PS: I write this as a Human. I ask for humanity to rise above  the grief, anger, pain & frustration. I don't like what is happening off late to people in both parts of the border.


Events such as cricket matches between the two nations must happen proving that there is some hope rising above the turmoil.


As a cricket fan, I hope this can happen as the game of cricket needs this rivalry to be revived. This is a blog post written in the hope that cricket as a sport can triumph over terrorism, religion and bloodshed.