Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Winner takes all

Twenty Four hours ago, I was sitting on the terrace of Dormitory 22 sipping on a whiskey and Pepsi and screaming love ballads and the like into the skies of Ahmedabad, inebriated (but not so much that I couldn't come up with a good excuse when it was needed). Right now I'm sitting back in my room, half a subcontinent away, tired after a last minute rush through a submission on General Electric's Medical Systems and a short visit to that mad party on campus - which I will soon be sorely missing for more reasons than one - and wishing I had a beer with me right now.

The Ahmedabad visit was because of the first three way inter IIM sports meet, between the campuses of Ahmedabad, Bangalore, and Lucknow. Bangalore won, it was great, and we put up a short inter IIM music show to boot. But that's not what this is about.

What this is is a tribute to the true winners of the sports meet. Lucknow. Whose team turned up without any official funding from their institute, after travelling for several hours by train, playing matches despite knowing that they wouldn't win (for they did not have any girls' teams with them, and had to let the other two IIMs walkover them in those events, hence losing several points) and with a contingent of only 38 people, many of whom played multiple sports in the span of two days (one chap played six... yes six field sports in a single day. Several of the members of the sports councils from the Ahmedabad and Bangalore campuses commended their laudable feat, as did many students and players from both campuses.

The reason I label them the winners is not out of some gracious sense of magnanimity and awe, though I am not without these as well. I call them the winners because, to put it simply, we could not compete with them. They came not to win a trophy or show off their skills, but rather to take part in a brand new tradition. Win or lose, by simply turning up they had already achieved their goal. And at the end of the day, despite Bangalore carrying the trophy home and Ahmedabad revving up for next year's clash, the real truth of the matter is that we both are just playing games. What Lucknow showed us was true sports.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Found an acoustic version of this song. It's funny how such a familiar song can sound so different, so fresh. Some things are best said softly.

I can't stand to fly
I'm not that naive
I'm just out to find
The better part of me

I'm more than a bird
I'm more than a plane
More than some pretty face beside a train
It's not easy to be me

Wish that I could cry
Fall upon my knees
Find a way to lie
About a home I'll never see

It may sound absurd
But don't be naive
Even heroes have the right to bleed
I may be disturbed
But won't you concede
Even heroes have the right to dream
It's not easy to be me

Up, up and away, away from me
It's all right
You can all sleep sound tonight
I'm not crazy, or anything

I can't stand to fly
I'm not that naive
Men weren't meant to ride
With clouds between their knees

I'm only a man in a silly red sheet
Digging for Kryptonite on this one way street
Only a man in a funny red sheet
Looking for special things inside of me
Inside of me
Inside me
Yeah, inside me
Inside of me

I'm only a man
In a funny red sheet
I'm only a man
Looking for a dream

I'm only a man
In a funny red sheet
And it's not easy

Its not easy to be me

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Comic relief

from Pearls Before Swine by Stephen Patsis

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Art and Life

In the past few days, I watched quite a number of movies. Maybe it was the boredom. Maybe it was the influx of suggestions from various friends. Maybe it was the free time I had after choosing classes on two days of the week. Whatever.

Spoilers are there.

First in line is Slumdog Millionaire. The movie is predictable and the accented English of the key characters is more reminiscent of a well rehearsed play from the Alliance Francaise rather than characters from the backalleys of Bombay's underworld. The movie fails to capture the grit and pain of the outcasts of Maximum City's society, falling far short of Suketu Mehta's brilliant journey through its grimy streets. Personally, to see it in the early forties of IMDBs top 250 movies as well as an obnoxiously high rating on Rotten Tomatoes was quite unbelievable. But all that said and done, the movie is brilliant. It's a grimy fairy tale and not really meant to inspire credibility. The undying love of the protagonist, Jamal, reminds one of the cheesy dialogues and scenes from a Veer Zara. But that's just the point. Rags to riches overnight with the love of your life dancing beside you at the train station is exactly the kind of cheesy, cliched, overused and pedestrian model that make people love Bollywood movies. The movie is vibrant, colourful and has the heart and soul of a city that never sleeps but is always dreaming. Nine out of ten.

Seven Pounds is based on the true story of a man who donates his organs (and in the grand finale, his life to sacrifice his heart and eyes) to seven people. The acting is superb. If you have seen The Pursuit of Happyness, you will know the kind of heart rending expressions that Will Smith is capable of and indeed pulls off in this movie. The cinematography and the screenplay is brilliant from start to finish, particularly the slow motion flashbacks of the tortured protagonist. However, the plot did have a few holes and the movie gets slow too early. For Will Smith fans and drama lovers, a great movie. Seven out of ten.

If you are a writer or even otherwise, then you simply have to watch Stranger than Fiction. The movie is eclectic and the narration is crisp. The movie does several things. It makes you question the life you live and the potential and the dreams that you have. But the real masterpiece is the ending. At first, it appears to have too happy an ending, but then you realise that that is exactly the point. The sparing of the protagonist's life is not meant to turn the movie into "a great art of fiction" but rather weigh the importance of human living and not just human life. Nine out of ten.

I'd never heard of Bruge before, despite one of my closest friends having spent the formative years of her life in Belgium (I doubt if she's been there as well). In Bruges portrays the city of Bruge as a dark and depressing place as Colin Farell's character repeatedly stresses. But the movies humour is unsurpassed, drawing parallels to Pulp Fiction. While being serious for the major part of the time, it breaks into moments of subtle comedy that make you roll on the floor laughing, really. Nine out of ten.

World War II never gets old. And more so the emancipation of the Jews and the heroic struggle of a people that met with the horrors of Genocide. However, Defiance lacks the overall punch of films like The Pianist or novels like Maus. The direction is brilliant, but the script lacks the power and the storyline settles down into being just another war film. I'd give the film a six on ten.

Behind every great movie is an idea that inspired it. The Watchowski brothers (did I spell that right?) are said to have taken their inspiration from the anime, Ghost in the Shell. While the series supposedly far outclasses the movie, the film itself does make one pause and think, and leaves one in that eerie place between second guessing everything you know and believing in what you want to whole heartedly. While the story is slightly predictable, the questions thrown up regarding what it means to be human and the fallacy of memory over fantasy bubble to the surface with an unmistakable poignancy. Eight out of ten for this classic, and watch out for the series.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Bitsy Poompkins and Hobbes

In the moments of our lives
that are filled with more despair
than we ever thought we could stomach
come glimpses of emancipation and freedom
like a breeze rustling up the leaves of hope that have fallen to the ground.

In the aching of a heart and the searing of a memory
that stab us in the coldest hours of yesteryear’s night
as we lie awake but still, not moving, not stirring,
arise glimmers of happiness at times gone by
and gratitude for a cup half full of a well blended scotch.

In the minutes that lead to the dawn
and in the seconds before the light
when the mind is restless but, as such, without fear
comes the realization and the possibility
of a life that has only just begun to be lived.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Stream of Life

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day
runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.

It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth
in numberless blades of grass
and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.

It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth
and of death, in ebb and in flow.

I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.
And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.

- Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali