Is “Rajni” the cinematic equivalent of “Aladdin’s” Genie?

Okay! Let’s get this straight. It’s only when Pa. Ranjith stages spectacular action sequences featuring that gushing soundtrack “Neruppu Da” composed by Santhosh Narayanan, that Rajni’s Kabali even takes off the hook! The film is just half of what was promised in the teaser better still, it is a fascinating case for budding marketers in cinema. Do I mean to dissuade you? Hell, not! In case if you are familiar with south Indian cinema, especially Rajnikanth – not in a million years!

Patrons of Rajni could be rest assured Kabali offers fun good time at the movies. Rajni’s ad-lib one-liners, his staccato laughs. His fights and emotions. The way he totes his gun – you get to see them all in Kabali. The moment you step into the mix of a jam-packed crowd, you’re in for a full-on entertainer with people bustling in, rooting, hooting and clapping for their favorite star right throughout! The film is a marginal improvement on Rajni’s previous live-action avatar in Linga, but bare in mind this ride comes with speed bumpers too. The core of the plot that pits Rajni’s titular character opposite puppet-prop Malaysian Dons, for instance, is plain boring. They seem to have walked straight out of a magazine cover, and all you see in the film is Rajni tearing them apart!

At its initial screening during July in New York, Kabali got the nod from Rajni. He said – “Makkal would like this” to the director, ‘makkal’ meaning his legions of fans all over! What’s interesting is that Rajni believes the movie is minus his regular stereotypes, an argument which appears rather contradictory the moment you walk out of the cinema halls. When the teasers of the film released in May this year it created a havoc in and around the country, especially in social media. People were waiting in anticipation for its release with corporate giants even booking tickets for their employees, and the families of the employed🙂

Think about this, won’t you? Wonder what would have happened if Rajni were a cricketer once in a distant past? Maybe we would have got national holidays when India plays in the world cup finals or something! The trailer got gushing reactions from virtually everyone, mainly because it sports Rajni in a salt and pepper look, wearing a grayish jacket, and playing a Malaysian Don who speaks for the oppressed niche community in Kuala-Lumpur. For the first time in his acting career, here was Rajni playing a role that suits his age. Pa. Ranjith the director of the film, likened Rajni’s role in the film to his vintage characters in classic such as “Mullum Malarum.”

Is the movie as good as Mullum Malarum or is it even as good as the teasers promised? NO! I had to get that out at first. At worst, it is a disappointment of colossal magnitude. At best, it’s a campy trash movie which could best be termed “mere guilty pleasure.” And as I said before it is an advertisement for new-age digital marketing in the world of cinema as well. To what degree you like or dislike this work may rely upon how much you like “Rajni’s version of mass.” Adjectives are there in plenty to describe him – Eccentric, Quaint. Full of swagger and style. I prefer using the word “INDELIBLE.”

The story begins with the release of “Kabali” from a Malaysian prison – which kinda looks more like a Rehab or something than, say, a prison. Where most prisoners would hobble off having served jail time for 25 years, Rajni’s “Kabali” gets a hero’s send-off from the inmates. In the scene that proceeds afterward, you see him doing a saunter, sporting a Rayban, a grayish blazer and that classic salt n’ pepper beard which we saw in the promos! The blazer which he wears in Kabali is not just a blazer, but a symbol of pride. These people are immigrants from Tamil Nadu who have or had been oppressed by the gang lords in Malaysia, those hasty industrialists take sadistic pleasure in downtrodding the poor.

To the center of a no-nonsense plot enters Don Tamilnesan played by Nasar the leader of the pack who mentored Kabali, in his formative years. When Tamilnesan gets murdered on his car, Kabali takes charge of his gang mafia against the wishes of Veera played by Kishore, and Tony Lee played by Winston Chao. The two main villains in Kabali sashay in here and there, as mere puppet-props. Although the center of attention is none other than Rajni himself there is B-town diva Radhika Apte in an extended cameo as Kabali’s wife and Dhansika as a henchman filled with hidden motifs. They are all outstanding, but this is a Rajni movie. We’re here for him. For his laughs and stare. Whatever he does on screen is an understatement actually, boasting off such screen presence – you would hoot and clap for it immediately! (Patrons just listen to what Akshay Kumar has to say about Rajni while working on Shankar’s ambitious new project, Enthiran 2/2.0)

The best of Rajni feature in the initial parts of the movie. The bit where he proclaims himself as “KABALI DA!” to a local ganglord or that scene where he rams his car over one of Veera’s henchmen. Even your wildest of imagination can’t trump the reality! What follows is a revenge saga full of twists and turns, tender emotions, stunning action sequences, and ad-lib one-liners. Unfortunately, the script on offer is a lame one. And Pa. Ranjith wastes too much time and energy on building character arcs, archetypes and “plot” in a Rajnikanth movie! Get over it, won’t you?

However, the same mustn’t be said the action scenes which are killer good. And when combined with Narayanan’s “Neruppu Da” you get the movie equivalent of “rock the house.” Above all Kabali would be remembered for setting a trend for promoting Cinema through social media. It is being said that S.Thanu, the producer cum distributor of the film, sought the help of new-age technology in the form of Qubewire; a web key management system that enables film distribution at a faster than lights speed.

Having spun 300 crores plus net in its first weekend itself, patrons of Rajnikanth is now looking forward to seeing the net figure shoot upwards to maybe 600-700! Suffice to ask this – Is Rajni the cinematic equivalent of Aladdin’s Genie? Jokes apart, to describe the experience of watching Kabali I would borrow the film’s trending catchphrase – MAGIZHCHI. It’s not an expletive, it means CHEERS!

Celebrity Crush: The benefits of having “good looks.”

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In a vintage episode of Siskel & Ebert, Roger Ebert, and Richard Roeper were arguing about the caliber of a Hollywood celebrity. “You like her because she is a bad actress?” quips Richard. Ebert quips back – “No Richard, I like her because she is a star! And unlike you, I think that she has that quality to make you look at her for over 2 ½ hours.”

Nazriya-Nazim-in-Bangalore-Days-movie-(6)2244

Nazriya Nazeem, a pretty girl with a pair of beautiful, bambi-esque eyes proved to be a hit in south India till she ceased to exist! Her keys to success shall be attributed to good looks and clever choices of characters that were only a mere extension of herself!

Now let me give you a tweet-sized profile of Roger Ebert – Columnist with The Suntimes, Celebrity. Film critic who championed Independent Cinema. A winner of the much coveted Pulitzer Prize too. But as you could see in most of his reviews – his genius made him vulnerable to women’s beauty. And thereby, at times he lost objectivity!

In another one of their famous banter, Ebert recommended “Into The Blue” because he thought it was a case of studying the anatomy of star Jessica Alba. “She looks pretty and that’s thumbs up!” was the iconic Ebert screen rant! Whereas, his colleague Roeper panned the film for exactly the same reason “Yeah Roger you could live with that! But she can’t act, could she?” The funny thing is you could understand where Roeper is coming from. And you feel Ebert too, because, truth be told we all do have that blind spot for women, don’t we?

Think about how many stars survived in film industry just because he/she had natural “good-looks.” The answer might be too many! I tend to think Aishwarya Rai is a model first and then an actor. Same with Katrina Kaif, Jacqueline Fernandez, Hansika Motwani, Nayanthara, Samantha, Kavya Madhavan, Kajal Aggarwal and the rest. But there has been many actors in the industry who ticked both the boxes of being a terrific actor cum solid performer, and “good looks.” We can’t keep that out of the equation, can we? Unless, of course, its Iranian cinema we are talking about not the cinema from India. Or the cinema from Timbuktu.

Now, I know a story. One of my friends from Mouthshut told me this. Once in the summer of late 1990’s, a famous Bollywood director told a famous actor to remove makeups so that they all could shoot an intensely emotional scene. To the surprise of the entire crew including the director; the actor said she wasn’t wearing one! The movie is Shool. The director? Ram Gopal Varma. The actor? Well, you guessed it right! It’s Raveena Tandon. (Courtesy: Earnestaster)

Suffice to say for an actor to become successful in films most predominantly, she should look good. You might be Meryl Streep in terms of your acting skills but still, you can’t get in there if you don’t look pleasing to the eye. “Look good, act ok and perform incredibly.” Those are the three golden rules of getting hired in B-Town or any other industry for that matter, in India! If your repertoire is filled with nimble feet, music (any kind) and a good diction in vernacular then, well, that increases your chances by a notch! Is it just that? Not quite. “An inherent quality to remain endearing is another vital aspect.”

No matter who you are or what role you perform, you should still have to look ditto girl-next-door. People who do initially and then learn the craft of acting gradually, remain there for an eternity.Examples are there in plenty – Kareena Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Kangana Ranaut, Aishwarya Rai, Priyanka Chopra, Vidya Balan. For people of a certain vintage even Karishma Kapoor, Shri Devi, Sushmita Sen and Madhuri Dixit would do. More recently people like Nirmat Kaur, Alia Bhatt, and Huma Quereshi as well. I like Kaur’s smile which is infectious! And Quereshi too, who has a gorgeous sex-appeal! But what baffled me was divas like Shraddha Kapoor and Amrita Rao, literally disappeared from the scene for a while despite looking pretty, and performing pretty well. Is it all down to pure luck, then? Don’t think so.

Did we ever wonder why men with good looks don’t earn the same degree of success, as their women counterparts? There have been people who got into the coffer but has there been anyone who stayed there? I guess the answer is NO! It’s one of the cinema’s great mysteries. (Maybe that explains why some of the men in Bollywood doesn’t marry the women!)

If true beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, then I would rather say make your eyes attractive. Bambiesque like an Ingrid Bergman, or even a Nazriya Nazeem. Nazriya may not be good at what she does, but least she could look good and perform superbly. Through films such as Om Shanti Oshana, Bangalore Days, Raja Rani and Mad Dad; she has proved that she is a natural. And like Ebert said she glows on the screen, just like a diva! In the case of men. Well, then you just need to be an actor. Period. Or else somebody might be discussing Housefull N’th sequel in the Opera House Mumbai, next month or next year or maybe even the next decade. In other words? No need of acting skills – just ham it up! And one more thing – keep your tummies in check, won’t you?

The scent of success!

Prologue : Ever wondered what is the scent of success? What it smells like? Anything rosy? Something like reverence? Here I share an interesting anecdote that gives a different perspective altogether for success. That it needn’t reciprocate with the all-conquering, gung-ho euphoria as we encounter in the movies. In other words? It can also be subtle. Read on!

 

Venue : Agricultural University, Thrissur.

Occasion : Business Plan Finals.

Date : July-August, 2012.

 

What does success smell like?

The stage was set, the final denouement has arrived. All those hours of mock-presentations. All the brainstorming sessions. Q&A. And now it boils down to this one-hour long, blitzkrieg. To be honest we were both enamored and bewildered by the sheer enormity of the occasion. Understandably, so. The process started way back in March and it took a long hoick for us to get to that stage, as the lone representatives of Gems B-School, Thrissur. Suffice to say it, winning that event would have been a big deal as it whittled down to only four from a possible 20, all from the South of India. And there were some big names along the way too, which we usurped – DC MAT, Rajagiri, SCMS. We were fourth on the roster.

It was a quaint session where three presentations came and went in a jiffy. Nothing happened. Nobody asked questions, no jibes from the judges. When we came to the stage after a long hiatus, people were clapping and cheering us all the way. They were all slumbering along till then, some even Facebooking but alive and kicking alas! Maybe its got to do with the way we spoke or the product we chose. Who knows! Maybe because it was the last one of the lot and the most lively. The moment passed. We did our best. And one hour later – we were ready for the presentations. Don’t know why, but somewhat uncharacteristically our class teacher was pretty buoyed up that day. We all shared a pun – how many times have we got reprimanded?

Seeing her kindred spirits, I thought we’re going to win at least a consolation prize but the dignitaries on the dais were biased and hence, we lost. Not even also-rans but LOST! We were left in a gasp and walked away empty handed, not knowing what to do next. But in that moment of desperation and exasperation; our class teacher took away all the honors by being a sport. She gave a pat on my back and told us that she’s proud of what we’ve achieved – irrespective of the verdict. For us rookies that worth gold! We gained experience, exposure. But most importantly, we learned a stoic lesson on team building and the importance of recognition. Now, tell me, what does success smell like?

The Third Man “A classic style meets substance cinema”

Starting from 1940 and ranging up to the 1960’s, Hollywood have produced some of the greatest mystery thrillers ever made. Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, Vertigo, Notorious. John Houston’s The Maltese Falcon. Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity and Orsen Wells’s Citizen Kane which is still considered by many as the greatest film ever made. Good God.. !! No wonder why they called it the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema.

Although there had been so many mystery classics produced in Hollywood during that period, my favorite happened to be a 1949 atmospheric thriller called “The Third Man” starring Orsen Wells and Joseph Cotton in the lead roles. The Third Man is a Graham Greene novel set in Vienna, produced and directed by Carol Reed.

The movie starts with a background narration (I never knew the old Vienna before the war…) of the old Vienna, which is now officially the capital of Austria. The narrator explains Vienna was separated in to 4 parts, each occupied equally by Americans, British, Russians and The French. The narrator also makes references to the infamous Black Market, an infinite period post World War II, where people made business of their own without paying the duties or taxes in all nook and corners of the streets. The director wastes no time and sweeps through the whole city in one shot as we are quickly introduced to one of the main characters, an American named Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton), a pulp fiction novelist who came to the city to meet his best friend Harry Lime (Orsen Wells). Martins, apparently, was broke and was out of money (happy as a lock and without a cent as described by the narrator) and Lime has offered a help promising the former some sort of a job.

On his arrival, Martins learns that Lime has died in an accident that happened just 10 minutes before he reached there. Then we are lead towards a Citizen Kane like mystery thriller, where Martins tries to investigate the whole story by going around the neighborhood and meeting people that are capable of explaining him about might have happened to his old friend. One of them is a police officer named Calloway , the officer in charge played by Trevor Howard. Calloway tells Martins, that his friend Lime had his connections with the Black Market and is an evil man and advises him to depart quickly taking the next train back home.

But Martins isn’t giving it up easily as he finds out that Lime had a girlfriend named Anna a small time stage play artist played by Alida Valli. Holly starts to fall in love with the women and things gets really convoluted when he learns out that Harry is not dead and is most likely hiding down under the sewer tunnels. The realization struck him soon after regarding what Calloway said about his old friend *the black market* is probably true.  Will they catch The Third Man or will Harry Lime make his way out safely..?? Watch the movie to get the answer.

Apart from the obvious, iconic performances from its leads, which I have to admit, is pretty amazing all on its own I recommend this movie for 3 reasons.  Yes, three major reasons..

1.       The famous pre-intervention sequence when Holly meets Larry letting go the truth about his existence and this simple little speech that follows afterwards.

2.       The Brilliant art direction involving killer point of view camera angles, lightings and some of the most expertly photographed sequences ever put on film.  And…

3.       That fabulous Jarring Zither music score composed and edited by Anton Karas *who apparently did the same in one of the casinos of Vienna* which just suits perfectly to the action and the going zone in the movie from start to finish.

I never mention these kinds of things in my reviews but I have to say about this one though.. Because Third Man is a movie that worked on so many levels — A perfect example of what they call the style meets substance cinema that is not only an excellent piece of art but also a great and magical entertainment..!!

The movie not only gained cult status but also gave birth to one of the most unforgettable screen villains of all time. Think about, it’s only in the third half the movie do we get to see the villain and when we do, it’s one of the greatest entrances in movie history… !!

It’s an unforgettable sequence which made the movie from good to great.. What do we have here..?? We have a small corner of the street. A meowing cat in the doorway. The Big Giant shoes, the suspicious Holly shouting “come out!! Come out!! Whoever you are”. The light signals turning straight on Harry’s face, that cheeky smile appears with a black hat on top of it and a women shouting from the first floor as if she just saw a couple of kids playing hide n’ seek in the streets..!!

There lies the sheer craft and beauty of filmmaking for you – An astonishing Meta feat capable of being naughty, funny and diabolical all at the same time..!!

Apart from its thriller aspects (obviously you’ll come to know who lives and who doesn’t) “ The Third Man” is nothing but a long speech on a big wheel overlooking Vienna and it’s Orsen Welles who delivers that speech..  I’m referring to the scene when Harry justifies himself.. He says..

In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love–they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

What’s amazing is that they never produced cuckoo clock in Switzerland. What’s even more amazing that Graham Greene never wrote those lines in his original script !! It was written by Orsen Wells himself..  That’s why he is always remembered as “ The Ultimate Auteur ” of cinema.. Great villain.. Great speech.. Great movie..  Two thumbs up.. “The Third Man is a must watch..!!”

Ten Best Hollywood movies I’ve seen in 2012

Here are my picks for the Best Hollywood movies of 2012..

1. The Dark Knight Rises

Right up there with 2008’s magnum opus The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises is as a good a movie you would see the whole year. A superhero movie so profound and provocative beyond its genre, Chris Nolan’s movie tests the weight that a superhero movie can carry. A movie so rich and so spectacular that you can’t help watching it over and over again. A definite contender for cinematography and background score and Best supporting actor at the academy this year, it’s the most spectacular movie going experience I’ve had since James Cameroon’s Avatar.

2. Argo

Tense, exciting and darkly funny in equal measures Argo is easily one of the most brilliantly executed movies of the year. Argo recreates a historical event with attention to detail where as Director Ben Affleck prove once again that his 2 directorial ventures, The Town and Gone baby Gone were no flukes. In my opinion, Argo is a definite contender for Best Picture and Best Director.

3. Looper

Directed by new comer Rian Johnson, Looper is one of the most audacious, complicated films of 2012. Part science fiction and part chase movie in equal measure Looper pulls off a highly complex and bravely original blend of futuristic science fiction with a bit of Matrix-like action. No wonder why they call it The Matrix of this generation..!

4. Moonrise Kingdom

Beautifully shot and immaculately framed, Moonrise Kingdom shows that Director not only has the knack of animation but also one the talent for Live action cinema. Moonrise Kingdom is a heartfelt, quirky comedy one that reminds me of 2006’s Little miss sunshine.

5. Beasts of Southern Wild

Now, here is a film you’ve probably never heard this year. Beasts of the southern wild, directed by debutante Benh Zeitlin is a beautiful poem on the innocence of childhood. It’s one of the most audacious narratives I’ve seen in any independent movie released yet.

6.  Life of Pi

Oscar winning director Ang Lee’s Life of Pi is one of the best use of 3D ever in a live action film since James Cameroon’s Avathar. Adapted from Yann Martel novel of the same name, there are moments in this film which will make you swing up and down as if you’re sitting in a roller coaster ride. It’s a pity if you’ve miss out on this one.

7. The Avengers

The Best Superhero movie.. .. The Best comic book adaptation.. What more..?? How could you forget world’s best Superheroes of all time..?? It’s the best crowd pleasing movie — if ever there was one..!

8. The Hunger Games

Thrilling and superbly acted — The Hunger Games did full justice to its source novel capturing the dramatic violence, raw emotion, and ambitious scope with flair and finesse.

9. Prometheus

Ridley Scott returned to Science fiction Genre with Prometheus — A well told story about discovering the origins of Mankind. It’s one of the most haunting film’s ever made since Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Yes, I’ve to admit it some people hated it.. I LOVED IT ….!!!!

10. Skyfall

And finally, at #10 Sam Mendes’s Skyfall — The movie which I believe is the Best Bond movie since the original Dr. No.

Yet to watch — Django Unchained, The Hobbit, Lincoln, Silver Linings playbook Zero Dark Thirty, The Sessions and The Master.

MBA IS ‘’A VALUE MAXIMIZING EXPERIENCE’’..!!

 

When I Joined  for  Master  of Business  Administration in July 2011, my professor  (Professor RAMA BHARATHA VARMA) toldme that the course ‘MBA’ is nothing but an experience (nothing  more, nothing  less) . Now, looking back at it (on retrospect) I feel converted to the cause — “MBA, is not just an experience, IT’S A VALUE MAXIMIZING EXPERIENCE’’..!!

On April 2011, I was working in a famous bread manufacturing company as accounts assistant (Which is where perhaps it all started). It was a crucial juncture in my life & for some strange reasons; I couldn’t cope with the nuances of my newly found corporate culture(Nobody talk to each other in corporates). I got so bogged down that I started asking questions to myself – ‘’Why I’m I wasting my precious time by being such a bum..? Why not continue my studies..? ’’

It was one of those moments (whimsical) where you do something, which you’re not supposed to and something pop up in your mind and you do something totally different. (Some call it ‘’THE DIVINE INTERVENTION’’..!)

At that time, MBA was a course so popular among the youth (It was the fascism of the night) so I also decided to join for MBA. I sneaked in to the papers and saw this small advertisement of a newly built institute called “Gems B school, Thrissur” where they offer ‘quality MBAwith umpteen number of specializations. I didn’t join on an automatic pilot but after several consultations and meetings with their management and marketing team, I was quite sure about where my future belongs.

What struck me about MBA and especially GEMS MBA is that — Each and Every moment here is a value addition. Be it I’m doing the powerpoint presentations, group discussions, searching on the internet or even scratching the library books I got values, piece by tricky piece.

I had a notion way back in April that Life is all about seeking and keeping values. After continuous evocation from My teachers and especially My Professor, I read a book called “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective people” (written by Stephen R Covey) which for your knowledge, is highly regarded as one of the best books ever written on the subject of Management..!

It teaches the importance of adhering Fundamental values in life and gives you a worms eye view insight to the various pros and cons of human relations. The Author puts prime importance on paradigm shift and pivots how and why good values always counts, be it in your personal life or professional life.

People say Do what you love and love what you do but I don’t know how many people are really applying that theory — We, the Indians, are so fed up with value for money. The greatest Irony of the “value principle” is that we follow it only when we need it. We seek values only when it boils down to making purchase decisions or other crucial decisions Like Love, Romance etc.. By doing so we deprive on an opportunity to find simple little values in the mundane day-to-day activities.

The world is developing so fast and if you want to succeed in Corporates and more so in life you have to keep good values — Gotta have Integrity. In Marketing we studied that each and every product (even a monolith) holds a value and exists as a solution for an inherent problem. Believe it or not..? This works sarcastically true in life too..!

Great things are flying around us in invisible pieces and the presence of God is pervasive in all nature of the Universe. The Invention of God particle A.K.A The tiniest particle in the universe created such a hype because of the same elementary reason — Scientists searched for value. God particle is the thing which gives mass and energy to the whole universe and hence it is one of the most valuable thing on earth.

I conclude my speech by repeating my focal point — Life is all about seeking and keeping values. If you seek values then the “Keeping” part will follow on an automatic pilot. The scientists did it, they are very inquisitive but the question is ARE YOU UP FOR IT..?

These are the questions that troubled me in  April, when I sat cautiously in the doormetry room of my first ever corporate office and everything since then was a gruadual relization constituting my only motto in life — “Seek Values, Keep Values & Enhance Values”.

For a more indepth take on the importance of values I highly recommend you to read Stephen R Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” . For Avid readers, it will appear as a brilliantly rendered book — enlightening and entertaining in equal measures and one which is written without ever being solemn & somber.

Thank you very much. Take Care and God bless you all.

With Regards

Sreejith Mullappilli.

P. S. I dedicate this article to Gems B school, Thrissur and I personally thank each every individual who worked with me for the last one year or so. I wanted to say that I enjoyed every single moment I spent there and got valuable lessons about MBA, Business, Human Relations and most importantly ABOUT LIFE.

I will remember all the little exchanges and all the lively conversations we had and will definitely keep all of you *locked* ~ In My Heart Forever ~.  All the Best Arjun Sir and Varma Sir and hopefully you reach the position where you deserved to be in.. You know — “At the helm of Management Education in India”.

~ If Cricket is a Religion then Sachin is My God ~

There is a parable in Cricket — Beating India in India is the toughest thing in Cricket..! Playing India in India and coming back with a positive result seems to be a herculean task for most touring nations. In the last 10 years or so only Adam Gilchrist’s Australian team managed to beat India and that was way back in 2004-05. The so-called greatest team ever beat us with a ‘comprehensive 2-1 margin’ in a series which the media termed ‘Australia’s final frontier’. Pakistan, England, South Africa & Australia are the handful of teams to have beaten India in India in the last 30 ode years.

So what’s the trump card for India @ home..? Why touring teams find it hard to break our fortress..? What are the reasons why India emerges victorious all the time..? Let’s waste no time and solve the puzzle

According to cricket pundits & fans across the globe the core reasons for India’s success at home are pretty obvious: —

1. Turning, low-bounce sub continental pitches
2.  Very Good spin attack

&
3. A Solid Batting line-up made for sub continental conditions aka ‘The Flat track bullies..!

They all repeatedly shout out one key word that is – ‘Home advantage’..! India has the home advantage..! But what exactly is this home advantage..? Do you think India can build a fortress just by having the aforementioned ‘amenities’..? Yes, we have the ‘spinner friendly batting wickets’. Yes, we have an excellent batting lineup (Run machines at home, Lackluster away). Yes we have a very good spin attack but does that really mean we are unbeatable..? Do they really guarantee a shoo-in for India at home..? No, I don’t think so.

For me the elementary reason behind India’s success at home is simple – we win sessions, penultimate sessions. If you look at some famous home victories of India in the last few years you can find one quintessential element that really stood up like a sore thumb – In all these victories, the opponents were always in the game for the first 3, 4 days and it’s only in the penultimate day the match reverts in India’s favor. We saw that in 2001, Kolkata when Laxman & Dravid batted like demigods to scrape an impossible victory against the kangaroo’s. Again in 2008 when Sehwag & Tendulkar chased down a mammoth 384 on the final day against England..!

There are umpteen numbers of examples I can quote but like I levied before — somehow or the other we find telling individual performances when it really counts — “When the going gets tough the tough gets going”.

The opponents always got the early cushion but more often than not they take things for granted. The game might be still within India’s grasp and by the time they realize it, India emerge victorious in the final lap resembling… Well, A Photo Finish. It’s just like Manchester United playing EPL — When the season goes in for a photo finish the Red Devils keep their nerves while the others get exhausted & fall way behind. That’s all, no big deal.

I’m too old to remind you ‘The fable of Rabbit and the Tortoise’ but in this case it rings sarcastically true — Indian’s are like Tortoise who crawl their way in to the podium where the opponents are like the Sleeping Rabbit, who take things for granted. To beat India at home you have to be on your toes all the time because you never know when the match shifts in their favor. It might be a good idea keeping in mind the infamous Javed Miandad lesson — “The game is never finished until the last ball is bowled”.

This is more evident in the last home series against West Indies where in the last test match a boring draw was on the cards. The match was tied but India came out all guns blazing, nearly pulling off a miraculous series whitewash against Darren Sammy’s Caribbean team. At the end of the game Sammy seemed pleasantly surprised by how the game panned out in the end. He quoted – “I don’t believe it..! It looked like another boring draw but India played brilliantly, took the attack to us and almost caught us off guard in the closing session”.

Perhaps that said it all, underlying my focal point on why India is tough to beat at home. India, when at their best, is capable of literally smashing the opponent to smithereens. This Indian team will undergo serious transitions in the next one or two years but I’m pretty confident about our success at home. We are still capable of producing the Tendulkar’s & the Dravid’s & the Laxman’s & the Sehwag’s — Because you see nothing is impossible in Cricket. Because Cricket is a funny game. When Tendulkar scored the first 200 in ODI’s everybody claimed it’s not going to happen again but Sehwag broke it soon after and became the first ‘human’ on the planet to achieve that feat.

We have a great legacy in cricket and now it’s just about of focusing on away performances. We have to be more competent in bouncy tracks away from home in order to get the ‘Flat track bulliesmonkey off the back. We have to make sure that we don’t repeat the same mistakes like in England & Australia this year, where we lost 8 consecutive test matches. (As they saying goes — “To make mistakes its human, to repeat IT’S STUPID”).

Kris Srikanth’s selection has to improve and we shouldn’t be too shy to sack the over aging veteran players. Harsh decisions had to be taken (Not like benching poor Rohit Sharma) and it has to be taken very quickly. The focus should be to build a core team full of youngsters. Youngsters like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Ishanth Sharma and Suresh Raina are the real future of Indian cricket. (I saw a lot of fast bowling prospects in the ongoing under 19 world cup too..!!)

IPL has its pros & cons but I feel it should not be taken in to consideration when it boils down to Test team selection. It’s a good avenue to monitor the fitness and performance level of dropped players and players who are already in the agenda of selection committee. The players should also be disciplined & responsible in utilizing the IPL experience in the most efficient & effective way. (See how Irfan Pathan came back..?)

Finally, India means Cricket and Cricket means Test Cricket & I believe we are a great Ambassador of Real Test cricket. “Cricket in India tests the metal of an international, professional cricketer. It’s a test of a player’s skill, character & stamina and only real champions could beat India in India”.

Australia did it in 2004, West Indies did it some 40 years back but is it going to happen again..? Can England, the reigning #1’s do it in 2012..? Let’s wait and see. But for the time being focus shifts to the 1 billion cricket loving demography of India as the New Zealand series kicks off a fresh home season for MSD & his boys this August. (Looking at the schedule, I found it hard to believe that India won’t be playing away until December 2013..!!)

We will take on New Zealand and England this year and like all the cricket maniacs out there I also expect nothing less than a thorough professional performance from this Indian team. I await the day when we will be crowned the number one test playing nation in the world and hopefully that day won’t be soon. If my intuition turns out right we will become #1 in 2013 with a victory over Proteas in their home deck. For the moment its Sreejith Mullappilli signing off, thank you very much for reading.. ☺

P.S. Your comments & feedbacks are very valuable for me. If you have any suggestions to make or If you have a different opinion to mine, please feel free to share it with me.. ☺

P.S.

1. Adam Gilchrist was the Aussie captain for the 2004-05 series against India. Ponting led the Aussies only in the last, inconsequential game played in Mumbai where India snatched a controversial __ runs victory. This series marked the return of batting legend Sachin Tendulkar after a long layoff from the game due to the tennis elbow.