Saturday, June 30, 2012

Andres Iniesta - Euro 2012 MVP???????????

You've got to be kidding me... I can think of atleast 20 players who've had better tournaments

Jordi Alba, Sergio Ramos, Xabi Alonso, Cesc Fabregas, Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio, Ricardo Montolivo, Mario Balotelli, Federico Balzaretti, Gigi Buffon, Phillip Lahm, Mesut Ozil, Fabio Coentrao, Joao Moutinho, Steven Gerrard, Wesley Sneijder, Dario Srna, Alan Dzagoev, Andriy Shevchenko, Zlatan Ibrahimovic....

Friday, June 29, 2012

Cup tournaments and shifting loyalties

2008 was the year when Pep started putting his imprint on Barcelona. The Blaugrana were such a brilliant team that it was impossible to see beyong Spain in Euro 2008. Besides, wasn't it time for the perenially under-achieving Spain to announce themselves on the World stage. And so, I supported them and they ended up victorious.

By 2010, the Spanish brand of tiki-taka was, let's all agree, getting a little tiresome and despite the fact that we all knew they would win the WC, a big part of me shifted loyalties.  Despite boasting of successive generations of brilliant footballers, the Flying Dutchmen had always flattered to deceive. Infighting and huge egos had always been their bane but under Marwijk, it looked like they had put it all aside to fight together. I rooted for the Oranje until that shocking final when Nigel De Jong set out to kick the Spaniards from the whistle. I didn't quite enjoy Spain winning the tournament with boring but controlled wins but it was still deserved.

Come 2012, I returned back to my roots. I first fell in love with The Fatherland in 1986. Maradona was at his imperious best and I still remember watching the final at my uncle's (actually, my mom's uncle's) place in Kailasapuram. It was Doordarshan those days but still the atmosphere at the Aztec stadium could be sensed/felt on TV. I have vivid memories of Rummenige and Voller pulling us back to 2-2 before Burruchago scored that breakaway winner which was an absolute dagger to my heart. Flash forward to 1990 and Lothar Matthaus lifting the WC was at that point in time, my greatest high in football. Die Mannschaft under Klinsmann were a joy to watch in 2006 but under Low, they've gone farther and this brave & fearless team now play with a certain intensity that is difficult to cope with. Its been 22 years since Germany last won a trophy & so I supported them in Euro 2012. Alas !!

Along the way, between 1986 and 2008, I've also come to admire the Italians a lot. Post 1990, a lot of the Germans like Matthaus and Klinsmann played for Inter and that made me follow Serie A and the Azzuri regularly. In fact, the first fan shirt I owned was of the Azzuri. During those days when I played central defence at school, my biggest idols in football were not the goal-scoring heros but the solid, defensive rocks Cannavaro and Maldini. While catenaccio is often reviled by the pundits, I've always been fascinated by the organisation and discipline that it involves. Between 1994 when the Italians finished runners-up in the WC, 2002 when we had to suffer the ignominy of getting knocked out in Rd 2 & finally winning the WC in 2006, every Italian fan will vouch for the fact that supporting the team is a roller-coaster ride. 

Which brings us back full circle to the finals of Euro 2012 - who am I gonna support? The Azzuri, of course :)

Pass Pass Bore Bore

This is a random rant which I composed at 330 am after watching Spain struggle past Portugal but was too tired to post so doing it now.

  • Vicente Del Bosque has completely lost the plot in terms of his team selection. He is more Tinkerman than Low and Ranieri
  • Negredo hardly had any match time in the group stages & then he was thrown into the deep-end in a critical semi-final match. Needless to say, he played like a donkey...and speaking of donkeys, Pique looks like a shadow of his club version. Puyol is missed.
  • What does Llorente need to do to get match-time? He's had a long season with Bilbao and his fitness dipped towards the end of the season but he brings a different dimension to this Spanish attack
  • Jordi Alba is a brilliant left back. Barca have got a steal at 14m Euros.
  • Xavi has had an average Euro 2012 and was shocking in the semis. Looks like age is catching up with him - Time for Cesc to step up for both club and country.
  • While Xavi and Iniesta are wonderful for Barca, its Messi who makes them look brilliant. Messi drops down deep, collects the ball from midfield, drags the central defender out creating space for the other 2 in the Barca frontline (Pedro or Alexis or Villa) and sometimes just runs at the other defenders trying to beat them. NO ONE DOES THAT FOR SPAIN. Without that end product, all the tiki taka is pretty pointless
  • Xabi Alonso has been the heartbeat for Spain these last 3 weeks, everything good goes through him and his range of long passes are almost Scholes-esque. My candidate for best player in the tournament.
How should Spain line-up against Italy in the finals (though it won't happen knowing Del Bosque)

Fabregas, Xavi, Pedro and Llorente to come off the bench if needed

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Considering the anticipation and hype around a Karthi film these days, Saguni had so much going for it prior to its release that it would have taken an almost herculean effort by a director to screw it up....and my, my, Shankar Dayal almost achieves the impossible.

When I first saw Nerukku Ner, I dismissed Surya as another star-son who would vanish before I could finish saying Abracadabra. My mother predicted that a star was born - and till this day, she reminds me of how wrong I was.

However when Karthi made his debut in Paruthiveeran, I had no douts that I was watching a super-star. While I've been none too happy with his choice of movies since then be it Payya (the most pointless, non-happening road-movie made), Naan Mahaan Alla (cliched 80s masala fare) or even  Siruthai (utterly regressive, vulgar and nauseating), I'll be the first to admit that Karthi was the ONLY saving grace in all these rubbish movies.

Having said that, Saguni feels like one of those train journeys where it all starts pleasantly with a nice & light breakfast, happy newspaper reading, some eye candy as your companion in the next seat but you soon know that s&@t is going to hit the roof. In the 2nd half, the movie hurtles like a runaway train with a dead engine driver and its just a matter of time before it derails and you wake up with a nasty gash on your face and a horrible migraine.

What works
  • The new lean & mean Kamal who can actually dance
  • A very engaging first half with a refreshing narrative style
  • One of the cameos and an extended guest appearance, both by 2 charming ladies :-)
  • ....but most importantly, the brilliant chemistry between Kamal and Rajini
What doesn't work
  • Sridevi :-(  She's tall, leggy, has lovely droopy eyes but is saddled with a thankless, ridiculously under-written role where she has a total screen timing of less than 15 mts (incl. 2 songs)
  • The supporting characters are mere caricatures and it was paycheck acting at its best/worst by Perumal, Bhupathi and Ramani aachi
  • The ludicrousness of the plot in the 2nd half
  • GV Prakash's music except Manasellam (Sonu's back!!)
Point to ponder
Before a film is released, do the crew sit together and view their final product? Should they try to involve focus groups and get feedback?

Verdict: 2.5/5
Watch the 1st half and then run for life (or)
Give the movie a skip and watch all the funny moments in Aditya or Sirippoli in 6 months time

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Corporate Stockholm syndrome anyone?

Company A acquired a small but powerful local company B in Latin America 8.5 years ago. The acquisition made complete sense as B filled in certain gaps of A's portfolio from a competency angle whilst also giving them a presence in an emerging, fast-growing market. When the going was good, nobody cared for the underlying cracks....and then the world collapsed. Slowly issues around transparency, accountability, efficiencies, productivity that had been swept under the carpet in the past started assuming gigantic proportions and soon it was a full-fledged crisis.

Company A finally realised the need to tightly couple B with A and sent in Legal, Finance and HR teams to "fast-track" the integration. Surprisingly or shockingly (depending on one's perspective), everyone who moved over to LATAM started showing empathy for the situation on the ground, the challenges faced by the locals so much so that pretty soon folks from A started openly supporting the employees (and strategy) of B to the point of even defending them stoutly....and so, 8 years later, nothing has still changed on the ground. NADA.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Close but no cigar

If Roy Hodgson's plan was to bore the whole of Ukraine and Poland before winning Euro 2012, he almost succeeded. How could a team that was inferior to its opposition in all 3 group matches actualy come out on tops and get to the quarters. In a wonderful tournament, trust England to be part of the first 0-0 draw. The Azzuri should have won it easily in normal time if only they had taken their chances - De Rossi and Balotelli guilty of some fairly easy finishes.

  • Balzaretti who had such a good 1st half just didnt get the ball in the rest of the match. Why do Italy play so narrow?
  • Pirlo is such a fantastic player but surely he must be knackered. There's no way he is going to be able to start the semis.
  • I was quite upset with Cassano for all his cute tricks and lack of end product but after he was subbed, the quality of the game dipped drastically. Italy need him.
  • Barzagli and Bonucci weren't really tested but from what little I've seen, they look solid. Carroll did not quite have the impact Hodgson would have wanted
Now, about England
  • I knew it all along but Euro 2012 has just shown that Ashley Young is a one trick pony. Run fast, collide against opponent and win free kick. If the opponent avoids contact, dive.
  • Terry was quite good today - surprisingly.
  • Parker is a a headless chicken - lot of effort but no talent.
  • Gerrard was quite disciplined sticking to his role and helping retain the shape of midfield
  • 4-4-2 is just so passe
  • Wellbeck's performance today has to be the laziest I've seen him
  • Rooney...err... was he even on the pitch.
Having said that, the Germans must be licking their lips in delight. 3-0 is my prediction.

Thank goodness the more deserving team won !!

Moment of the match from the Man of the Match

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The emperor's not wearing clothes

So, finally, someone had the courage to actually say it. Couldn't agree more.

I've always felt something out-of-place in that contorted-with-anguish face. His voice which cracks with emotion just seems too rehearsed - after all, he is a wonderful method actor. Is he India's answer to Oprah?

There's no such thing as a tooo long ad

Two ads that I've reallllly enjoyed in the last few years.....

We don't need those Japs anymore... Go India Go !!!!

The weekend is here

Working on a Saturday is borrrring and more so if its on something as mundane as a psychomteric test which predicts the competencies and skills of your sales team. Blah !!

Still, looking fwd to the evening and rest of the weekend.

As expected, the reviews of Brave haven't been great on both Metacritic and RT. Stunning visuals notwithstanding looks like Brave lacks the heart and soul of a typical Pixar film - say Toy Story, Nemo, Ratatouille or even Up. Though Cars 2 also suffered the same criticism, I quite liked it so will most probably be watching Brave tomorrow morning.

Teri Meri Kahaani  - well, was never planning to see this one but then after hearing about the bags of money being spent by the production house to get favorable reviews, has to be an absolute NO-NO... Rediff's original review was titled TMK offers nothing new and within 15 mts, it was changed to TMK is charming :-) Honestly, how on earth is PC a star - I find her downright annoying and nauseous.. She reserves her worst for her joint appearances with Shahid Kapoor and this week's episode of The Front Row had her in top form.

Gangs - reviews have been mixed. Hearing that AK has got the characters, milleu, performances right but the movie loses pace in the 2nd half and there are way too many characters. Haven't seen too much written about the background score by our very own GV Prakash (didn't know that right??)

Saguni - yes, the reviews again are mixed but with the OH being a super fan of Karthi, this will be our Tuesday/Wednesday night outing. Santhanam better be in form or its gonna be a reallllllly long night :-(

So, Die Mannschaft are through to the semis and this despite resting their entire front 3... Master-stroke or just plan luck for Mr. Low? Highlights of the game are here including Reus' gorgeous finish... Wooooooooof.... Heja BVB !!

Friday, June 22, 2012

There's something about Penny

She's kind, she's funny, she's cool, she's sassy, she's hotttttt, she's flirty...

There's something about Penny :-)

Everyone says The Big Bang Theory (TBBT) is just F.R.I.E.N.D.S for geeks but I don't think so. I still can't seem to come up with a coherent and credible argument against that theory but I just dont get it. Why can't we all just like the show for what it is without these tedious comparisons?

Now, I'm thinking I'll check out some of these

PS: Can't wait for New Girl premiering in July...Oooohhhh Zooooooooooooooey

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Oh my India

Notary public sign vaanga kaasu
Form type adikka kaasu
Photo edukka kaasu
Register panna kaasu
Katha transfer panna kaasu




Hear Hear Hear !!!

Forget Team Anna, the country needs an Indian Thatha.

PS: Call it the effects of watching The Dark Knight yday night, I suddenly want to be a vigilante :-)

Summer of 2012 - sports fans rejoice !!

For sports fans, you couldn't have wished for a better summer. Starting from the pulsating finish to the EPL, the action shifted to the IPL (Yawn) and its fixed matches which was soon followed by Roland Garros and the inevitability of yet another trophy for Nadal. Now, we are in the midst of Euro 2012 and this will be followed by Wimbledon and then the Olympics. Whew !!!!

Neo Sports is where I spend most of my evenings these days and with the group stages of Euro 2012 done, havta admit its been a wonderful tournament so far - so many highs, very few lows.

Event report midway into the tournament
Best match
  • Tough to pick but I'll go with the 1-1 between Italy and Spain. Portugal vs Denmark wasn't great quality but was end-to-end entertainment.
Best goal
Biggest hero
  • Sheva, of course
 Biggest flop
  • Toss up between the squabbling Dutch and Szczesny. The latter shades it for me - ominous for next year??

  • The Russians not going through to the KO stages - maybe there is a silver lining in this cloud & Wenger might not buy Dzagoev after all. Remember Euro 2008 and Andrei Arshavin :(
  • Racist chants from the crowds - horrible!!
  • Ukraine's disallowed goal and Webb's horror show in Italy v Croatia

Predo time
Czech to beat Portugal (1-1 and then penalties)
Germany to beat Greece 3-0
Italy to beat England 2-1
Spain to beat France 1-0
Germany to beat Italy 2-1 in extra time
Spain to beat Czech 2-0
Germany v Spain (too tough to call now)

After a 7 (TBC) year hiatus, I am back...or am I...

Let's give this another shot. Whatsay?

Lots of changes in my life - Matrimony, UK and back, having to actually 'work' to earn a living, Twitter & FB...I could go on....

The more things change, the more they stay the same too :)

So what's not changed - well, my job for starters... Yeah, still at the same old place and I can't believe it too. I still am mad about movies, (still) haven't bought a house though very much looking and am lazier if that's even possible.

Anyhooo, the world has changed too.  America has a black President, we had a recession from which Europe still doesn't seem to have recovered, we Indians finally did something about corruption (even if it was only for a few weeks thanks to Team Anna), Spain actually won something in football, there is something new called IPL and movies like SMS, BEB and OKOK are being called 'comic masterpieces'.

But, again, things haven't changed too much in the world too. Sachin is still playing for India, Rajnikanth continues to rule the box office - need I say more ;)

So, without further ado, I think I am all suited and booted up for my 3rd innings.

PS:  Dammit, I can't seem to remember the names of most of my past, loyal following - Patrick, Venki, J, OK, Rajeshwari, DI - wonder how many of them are alive n kicking ;-)