india-england post-mortem: india out

Well that’s that. India’s batting let them down in a major way and we are now officially out of the tournament. As expected, the English bowlers bowled it “around the earholes” of the Indian batsmen with good effect; we managed only 59 off the first 10 overs. It is pretty pathetic to be in an international side in any format of the game and not be able to play short deliveries. I guess it points out a major shortcoming in the Indian domestic cricket structure.

Openers

Rohit Sharma and Gautam Gambhir failed once again as Sharma unluckily pulled one onto his stumps. I suppose the loss of Sehwag is beginning to show here–a part-time opener can go only so far. It may have been worth surprising the English, who had obviously made “bouncer” plans by sending in an unconventional opener, such as Yusuf Pathan. However, Dhoni left his “thinking out of the box” to make another ‘brilliant’ move. Gambhir looked in fluent touch for once, though, so I suppose that is one positive.

Middle Order

I haven’t seen an Indian batsmen play so pathetically against a short ball as Suresh Raina today, since the days of Sourav Ganguly. Not something you’d expect from one of the 5 cricketers named as the cricketers of the next century by Wisden. All the same. It appears he did not work on facing the short delivery in the nets, since he looked even worse against it than in the game against the West Indies. And instead of putting the pull shot out of the playbook, he decided it would be more intelligent to attempt it and obviously holed out. Sigh. This is the downside of picking “youngsters” I suppose. They do some really stupid things on the way up their learning curve.

Next came Dhoni’s “mastermind” move. Ravindra Jadeja. In my earlier post, I conceded that Dhoni may have made a correct choice by picking Jadeja, but any thoughts of that quickly vanished after his pathetic display of batting today. I believe Dhoni had sent Jadeja in to play the same role as England had sent Mascarenhas in to play: get some quick runs at the cost of a relatively cheap wicket. Unfortunately, Jadeja neither got quick runs nor got out nor rotated the strike. If his performance in the warm-up game against New Zealand was bad, this was downright unacceptable. I said after that New Zealand game that I hoped Jadeja was no where near our starting XI. I was wrong. I change that now to say that I hope Jadeja is never near an Indian international cricket squad in his life. He’s just not good enough–not for Twenty20 anyhow. He has now displayed that he not only lacks the ability to finish games, but he doesn’t have the ability to build a base for someone else to finish the game. He clearly shouldn’t be opening, so the only way I can see him in the game is as a pure bowler. I actually think Irfan Pathan would have been a hell of a lot useful with the bat than Jadeja was, today. All the same, it was still Dhoni’s mistake to send Jadeja in instead of coming in himself. As a result, Yuvi didn’t come in until the equation was too imbalanced (11+ runs per over required) and hence he was negated.

Lower Order

Yusuf Pathan showed why form players should be pushed up the order. Dhoni continued to struggle with the bat, but the two made a valiant effort to save the game, and got within 3 runs. Yusuf, in particular, hit a one-handed six to get the equation down to 9 from 2, but was only able to dig out a block-hole delivery the next ball to secure the win for England. Yuvi, who looked in good touch, was dismissed by a quickfire stumping opportunity by Foster off Swann, and that was honestly where we probably lost the match.

General Thoughts

A lot of the current crop of batsmen seem to display no on-the-field intelligence. Jadeja, for example, pulled 5 out of 6 balls in a Stuart Broad over. 3 of them were miscued and 2 of them he missed. In the age of innovative paddle shots, reverse sweeps galore and walking across the stumps, it is absolutely unacceptable that you stand in your crease and get eaten up by bouncers. You’ve had 2 days to plan against it and if you aren’t comfortable pulling it, think about other ways to counter it!

This was again in evidence in the penultimate over bowled by Stuart Broad. Broad bowled in the same area every single ball. The commentators knew what he was going to do, so the Indian think tank should definitely have had that knowledge. Yet Yusuf Pathan and Dhoni both stayed on their leg-stump guard and tried to hoick it to the midwicket boundary every single ball. Seriously? Move across the stumps. Walk down. Take guard inside/outside your crease. Don’t just follow the pig in front of you on the way to the slaughterhouse!

Fielding

After everything is said and done, the two glaring points of this match and this tournament was our poor fielding and our inability to play the short-pitched delivery. If you simplify the match naively, India would have won this game if Harbhajan hadn’t bowled one down the leg side on the last ball of the over, and Yuvraj hadn’t misfielded it. We gave away 5 runs on that ball and we lost by 3. England saved at least 15-20 runs more than us in the field, which is not acceptable seeing that we are not lugging around any of our “seniors”. These are all youngsters and should be at the peak of their fitness and athletic ability.

The Future

I will be supporting the Lankan team now. Mendis, Murali and Malinga seem to be the package that could just stop South Africa on what appears to be a clear path to the championship now. Sri Lanka’s batting still depends heavily on their openers firing, but their bowlers seem to have the ability to defend almost any total, regardless of how low it is. It’ll be interesting to see how their semifinal and perhaps final opponents address that problem.

india-england, mid-innings break

It’s a do-or-die match for India and Dhoni won the toss and opted to chase. Interesting that Dhoni almost knew that he was going to win the toss. Not that he can be faulted. It feels like he wins about 90% of the tosses that he’s participated in! Anyhow, he decided to go in with Jadeja to bolster the chase. It would have been interesting what he would have said had England won the toss and opted to field first.

Anyhow, India changed their line-up to bring in RP Singh for Irfan Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja for Pragyan Ojha. My initial thoughts on this line-up was not too positive. Jadeja had not impressed in the warm-up match against New Zealand and Irfan had been our most accurate bowler in the loss against West Indies, as I had pointed out earlier. Definitely Ishant should have been the one to go, but it appears that he retained his spot simply for being a right-armer, since evidently Praveen Kumar (PK) is not good enough (although he averages <30 in ODI’s, if I remember correctly).

India struck really early with RP removing Luke Wright in his first over. However, KP and Bopara led a good revival and built a quick partnership. Ishant continued to disappoint and ended up going for 36 off his 4 overs with no wickets but plenty of poor balls. Dhoni tried all the gimmicks, including getting Yuvi to bowl to KP, an experiment which, unsurprisingly, failed. It appeared that KP and Bopara were running away with the game until Harbhajan was brought on and he tightened the run rate up a bit. At the other end, Ravindra Jadeja shined with the ball, snaring both Bopara and KP in his spell.

That really spelled the end of England’s momentum as Mascarenhas, who was promoted at the fall of Bopara’s wicket to push the scoring, failed to get any sort of rhythm. England ended up posting 153 for the loss of 7 wickets, which is not a mammoth total, but is one that could cause the Indian team trouble if the English bowlers pick up a couple of early wickets.

Finally, a note on our ground fielding. It was worse than pathetic. Luckily we aren’t dropping any catches, but we continue to be extremely shoddy in the field. I think we are probably only ahead of Pakistan in terms of fielding, taking into account all the Super 8 teams. This was in evidence in what should have been the final ball of the innings with England on 148. Harbhajan bowled one down the leg-side (a cardinal sin given that it was the final ball and he should have been looking at just getting it to pitch rather than being a full toss). Yuvraj misfielded at short fine leg and the ball ran away for 5 wides.

Anyhow, Sharma and Gambhir have now come to the crease so it’s time to watch the game. I will have another update at the end of the match… a post-mortem, if you will.

india-west indies post-mortem

India have just dropped their opening Super 8 game against Chris Gayle’s West Indies side and are now precariously placed in the last position of what is inarguably the the Super 8 “group of death”. What this means is they now have their backs to their wall and will be confronted with must-win games the rest of the tournament. Before I take a look at what they need to do, let’s take a look at what they did and didn’t do in this game.

Indian innings

MS Dhoni won the toss and chose to bat, in this game, a throwback to his “bat-first-no-questions-asked” policy of the 2007 World Twenty20. It seemed like the correct decision in the time and probably was, in retrospect, the correct decision, but the Indian batsmen came up a bit short, literally, against the West Indian bowling attack. Gautam Gambhir looked in decent enough touch but the in-form Rohit Sharma fell after just 3 deliveries, trying to pull his Deccan Chargers teammate Fidel Edwards twice in a row. The first one was not well-timed but ran down the hill for a boundary; the second was a touch fuller and caught the top edge, with a good catch being taken by Lendl Simmons to give the Windies an early breakthrough.

The batting didn’t get much better for a while, with Suresh Raina being sent in at number 3 for the first time since India has arrived in England. Gambhir and Raina didn’t last long, with Edwards snagging Raina as he played a nothing shot after being softened up by two bouncers. Gambhir fell an over later, trying to hook Dwayne Bravo out of the ground and becoming the second Indian batsmen of many to fall prey to the short delivery. Dhoni finally arrived at the crease, having sent Yuvi in at number 4, and the two built a slow, but steady, partnership. Unfortunately, it was more slow than steady, with the two adding only 37 runs in a ball short of 8 overs, before Dhoni played an awkward square cut straight to the fielder stationed at deep point.

India had a breath of good luck after Yuvi was dropped in the same over, and him and Yusuf Pathan breathed some air back into India’s innings, adding 64 runs in about 5 overs. Yuvraj was in great touch and leant into the Windies bowlers, including the nippy Taylor, before becoming yet another victim of Edwards’ short ball. With him, India’s hopes of posting a big enough total also disappeared, although a cameo from Bhajji at the end gave the bowlers something, 153, to bowl at. As it happened, it was not near enough.

West Indies innings

The West Indies got off to a lacklustre start, with Gayle looking a shade of himself from the Australia match earlier in the tournament. In fact, he played out only the second maiden of the tournament against Harbhajan Singh! Andre Fletcher fell pretty early while trying to smack Irfan Pathan away, and Lendl Simmons came in to replace him. The two didn’t do anything flashy, but added the runs at a quick enough rate to keep the Indians on their toes. Both players were taking too long to score the runs, though, and Gayle finally fell while trying to slog-sweep Yusuf Pathan away.

The team then pulled off their most critical move of the tournament, by opting to send Dwayne Bravo in ahead of Shiv Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan. Critics and pundits alike have been screaming hoarse for Bravo to be given a bigger role in the West Indies batting, and he showed today why they have been wreaking this pain on their throats. He played a brilliant knock that reminded me of these two match-winning innings he played in the span of 3 days against India the last time we toured the Carribbean.

Although the required run rate was hovering between 9 and 10 when Bravo came in, he and Simmons knocked the ball around intelligently and with a boundary every couple of overs to keep it manageable. When Simmons top-edged one trying to execute the final push and Chanderpaul in, the game was evenly poised. That is, however, when Dwayne Bravo took over. Seeing that Chanderpaul would be more of a liability, he took most of the strike and dispatched our bowlers all over the park. A booming six over cover to end the game showed what pretty batting Bravo exhibited on the day, and also showed his pure match-winning capabilities. All the sixes he hit were in the 90-100 m range, and would have cleared any ground in the world.

India’s bowling woes continue. After getting off to a good start and strangling the opposition in the middle overs, the death bowling again let us down. Dhoni is going to have to think seriously of bringing someone more accurate, such as Praveen Kumar, into the mix in place of Ishant, who has been, quite frankly, deplorable after a good spell in one of the warm-up games. Luckily Zaheer looks like he’s back, and Irfan is swinging it at 85+ mph, so getting our death bowler straightened out could be the missing key in our bowling attack.

A thought on the fielding

Our fielding today was horrible, in contrast with the West Indies’ who, although they dropped a couple of chances, took a couple of brilliant catches, including Simmons’ dismissal of Gambhir. In particular, their ground fielding was almost flawless, with only a couple of fumbles and I think no misfield. In contrast, India gave up 4 runs at least twice when a fielder misfielded the ball in the inner circle (the culprits I remember being Harbhajan Singh and Yusuf Pathan). Our ground fielding is already several rungs below South Africa’s and England’s, and if we don’t pull our socks up there, we have no hope of pulling off a miraculous jump into the semifinals.

A thought on the captaincy…

For a man whose gut instincts are usually pretty good, I thought Dhoni made several mistakes today. Obviously, he’s been under undue pressure from external sources (namely, the Indian media who continue to wrangle him about the Sehwag episode). However, the couple of oversights I would like to point out are as follows.

First, I think Dhoni should have come in at number 3 when Rohit fell. Not only has he habitually been coming in at number 3, but, in retrospect, a calming, nudgy innings is just what we needed at that stage (as Lendl Simmons proved later that evening). Sharma fell in the second over and both Indian batsmen already showed signs of struggling against the extra bounce and pace of Jerome Taylor and Fidel Edwards. Instead of exposing the young and aggressive Raina, Dhoni should have taken the onus to come in ahead of him and take some on the chest. Raina hasn’t had much batting in this tournament because of our opposition as well as the strength of our batting, so dumping him in at the deep end of the pool could potentially have been a bad decision.

Secondly, Dhoni mis-used Irfan Pathan. Pathan was the bloke who was getting the most swing and troubling the batsmen the most. He, ironically, brought home the best figures of 1/9 but bowled the fewest number of overs (2). Irfan should definitely have been bowling in the end instead of Ishant, who was coming on to the bat nicely. I was surprised Dhoni didn’t use him, in fact, since he has trusted Irfan with this role in the past, and since Irfan made his comeback into the ODI team. Again, maybe this was just an instance of the gut instinct going wrong.

What do India need to do?

Strangely, this result places us in almost the same situation that we were in the last edition of the cup, in 2007. Then, we had been placed in a group with England, South Africa and New Zealand. We dropped the first game to New Zealand by 10 runs (NRR of -0.5, here we have one of around -0.7) and then beat England and South Africa (in that order, which is the same order we have the games this time) to qualify to the semis ahead of both those teams. They say lightning doesn’t strike twice, but this coincidence is a little too much for me to keep up with!

In my opinion, we definitely have to beat South Africa if we want to go through. We won’t be able to do this with just one win (over England) and let the NRR do the rest for us. We’re already at the bottom of the table when it comes to NRR. If West Indies beat South Africa tomorrow, they’ve all but guaranteed their spot (unless England/India drop all their games, in which case it will become a three-way tie). I expect South Africa to beat West Indies, though. This group is wide open, right now, with South Africa being the clear favourites. It’ll be interesting to see how it pans out, but I have confidence in our team performing with their backs to the wall. It’s going to be a good few days of cricket!

movie review: 99

This movie, named as it is since it is based in the year 1999, was the first movie I watched in theaters after being back in India and was definitely one of the best Hindi movies I’ve seen in recent times. The movie is a comedy and features the versatile Boman Irani, Kunal Khemu (not sure if he has any other movies out) and former MTV VJ Cyrus Broacha. Boman leads the performances and really makes the movie worth watching, though, and as usual.

The movie itself revolves around a bookie in Bombay, named “AGM” (played by Mahesh Manjrekar), who happens to become associated with Sachin (Khemu) and Zaramud (Broacha) after they break into and crash his Benz while fleeing from the cops after their small-time cellphone scam was busted. This lands the two in a bunch of debt and they are then employed by AGM to pay off the debt.

Rahul (Boman Irani), meanwhile, is a foreign exchange company employee based in Delhi, who is visiting Bombay on a business trip. He has a penchant for placing bets, considering himself quite an intelligent better, although his past record and debt suggests otherwise. He ends up placing a large bet with AGM which he obviously loses, and flees to Delhi and tries to forget about it as he is paying up his other bets.

AGM ends up sending Sachin and Zaramud to Delhi to collect the debt, which results in a ton of confusion around Delhi as Rahul tries to settle one debt with another, and people collect money and end up losing it. The finale is pretty hilarious, and although predictable, still fun to watch. I will not disclose it since I recommend anyone who has not watched this movie to go ahead and do it. I’ll give it a 4.5/5.

Music

The music wouldn’t stand up by itself but it complements the movie nicely. There are a couple of songs thrown in without a real need for them, but for the most part it is decent. Delhi Destiny and Soch Na Dobara are probably the best songs in the mix and the CD features remixes of each, as well. I’ll give it a 2.5/5. I wouldn’t and won’t buy this soundtrack, but wouldn’t mind tuning into it on the radio.

making blunders out of thin air

As many of you may know, the International Cricket Council (ICC) is currently hosting the Twenty20 World Cup in England. The tournament thus far has been pretty exciting and has seen a couple of upsets, including ODI champions Australia crashing out, but the tournament structure has come in for a lot of criticism. Most of this criticism, I agree with. Let me dissect the issue by round.

First Round

The 12 teams were put into 4 groups of 3 each, with the allocation of the groups being determined by the team’s performances in the previous edition of the World Cup. This was used since there are no Twenty20 rankings that have been devised by the ICC, that could be used to better predict the skill of each team when it comes to this version of the game (not to mention that it is highly unpredictable in the first place). The seedings based on last year were as follows:

  1. India (winner)
  2. Pakistan (runner-up)
  3. Australia
  4. New Zealand
  5. South Africa
  6. Sri Lanka
  7. England
  8. Bangladesh
  9. Zimbabwe
  10. Scotland
  11. West Indies
  12. Kenya

The seeding system, then, is pretty straightforward. Seeds 1, 2, 3, and 4 are placed in different groups and 5, 6, 7 and 8 in different groups in reverse order (so that 1 is paired with 8, 2 with 7 and so on). That’s a conventional seeding system. After doing this twice, these are the groups:

Group A: 1 – India, 8 – Bangladesh
Group B: 2 – Pakistan, 7 – England
Group C: 3 – Australia, 6 – Sri Lanka
Group D: 4 – New Zealand, 5 – South Africa

That’s when the logic breaks down, though. With Zimbabwe and Kenya being replaced by Ireland and the Netherlands in this edition, how will those teams be seeded? I am not aware of what algorithm the ICC used, but they ended up putting Ireland in at 9, Netherlands at 10 and Scotland at 12. I’m not sure why Scotland was moved around. The logical thing to do would have been to remove the teams that did not play and then move the teams below them up. Hence, Scotland would be 9 and West Indies would be 10. Then Ireland and the Netherlands would be placed at 11 and 12, presumably using their ODI ranking as a tie-breaker. I have no idea why Scotland was moved down, even though they played in the last edition, and why Ireland was automatically placed above West Indies, given the latter is a Test nation and undoubtedly stronger. In my opinion, the ICC messed up (no surprise). The first round groups should have been:

Group A: 1 – India, 8 – Bangladesh, 9 – Scotland
Group B: 2 – Pakistan, 7 – England, 10 – West Indies
Group C: 3 – Australia, 6 – Sri Lanka, 11 – Ireland
Group D: 4 – New Zealand, 5 – South Africa, 12 – Netherlands

This would still result in a group of death (Group B), but this time Ireland and Netherlands would be correctly placed below Scotland and West Indies, who were obviously better enough than them to qualify for the last edition of the tournament. I suspect the organizers used fuzzy logic, instead, to make the going a little easier for hosts England, who had a higher chance of being knocked out if grouped with West Indies instead of Netherlands. As it happened, the Dutch beat the English, but did not have enough luck to do the same to Pakistan!

Second Round

As if the first round wasn’t riddled with problems, the logic really goes for a toss in the second round. In the Super 8’s (the second round), last year’s results are again used as a way to pre-seed the teams. Hence, India is A1 and Bangladesh is A2. Pakistan is B1 and England is B2. The trend continues. Groups E and F (the super 8 groups) are then comprised as follows:

Group E: A1, B2, C1, D2
Group F: A2, B1, C2, D1

This is the same silly concept they used in the 2007 World Cup (and what a farce that was!). Since 2 out of 3 teams qualify from each group in the first round, if a seeded team is knocked out the unseeded team simply takes no their seed. Which makes no sense whatsoever. Essentially, the second round is seeded based on the way the teams were playing Twenty20 in 2007! What it also means is that it doesn’t matter how you perform in the first round as long as you notch up enough on the board to get through to the second round. This has resulted in the last 3 first-round games being dead-rubber games with nothing to gain for either team involved except pride and momentum. This seeding system has created a whole host of issues. Let’s look at the Super 8 groups fleshed out:

Group E: A1 – India, B2 – England, C1 – Australia, D2 – South Africa
Group F: A2 – Ireland, B1 – Pakistan, C2 – Sri Lanka, D1 – New Zealand

Not bad, if you look at their performances last timea round. Two semifinalists in each pool, right? Except, let’s take a look at this year’s ACTUAL results (hypothesizing that India beat Ireland and Sri Lanka beat West Indies; I will append a _T to signify this is the “True” seeding of the team based on the most current results):

Group A: A1_T – India, A2_T – Ireland, A3_T – Bangladesh
Group B: B1_T – England, B2_T – Pakistan, B3_T – Netherlands
Group C: C1_T – Sri Lanka, C2_T – West Indies, C3_T – Australia
Group D: D1_T – South Africa, D2_T – New Zealand, D3_T – Scotland

This would create the following Super 8 groups:

Group E: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, New Zealand
Group F: Ireland, England, West Indies, South Africa

These groups look a LOT more balanced to me, given the way each team has played in the competition thus far. Instead, what we are going to see is two solid teams being knocked out from Group E (which contains both pre-tournament favourites!) and one weak team in Group F (Ireland) making it a three-way race. So the structure is indeed fraught with problems and someone at the ICC obviously took their thinking cap off while devising it. Mind you, it appears that the ICC has been long suffering from a shortage of thinking caps over the last decade or so.

The worst part is it won’t get any better next year, either. In effect, by creating a group of death and eliminating one Test nation guaranteed every year, you are going to make sure the group of death effect is present the next year, as well. See, next year Australia will be in West Indies’ position and Ireland in Bangladesh’s. Which means Australia will be in the group of death again next year while the winner will probably have a group with Ireland and another associate nation.

Some people seriously need to be out of jobs, which is a pretty bad thing to say now, in the current state of the economy. Oh well, I’ll pray for a revolution every night, anyway.

weird, weird dream

I just awoke from a totally wacky dream and decided to document it before it was lost forever from the depths of my mind. This dream began in ASB (my high school)–or rather that’s the earliest part of it I remember. I was back as an alum, but for some reason I was carrying my laptop bag around and took the elevator up to the 4th floor (then the tech floor). There were a bunch of other people in the elevator going up, as well, seemingly with a similar purpose.

Once we reached, at the top was our technology head at the time I was at ASB: Dr. Bennett. Quite a character that man. Apparently people were beelining to the top floor because they all wanted to install Windows 7 RC on their computers. And there was a mass Windows 7 RC guided session about to take place in one of the rooms up there (I think the formerly ESL room). After everyone was in the room I stopped Dr. Bennett outside to chat about my problem: which was a fictional error message I was encountering in Windows 7 RC (fictional in real life, real in dream life, of course).

So geeky are my dreams that I dreamt I was encountering an error message in Windows 7 RC. So much more geeky am I that in my dreams I actually “Googled” the solution and found it was a problem with the update manager. I had to click some non-existent buttons (something like enable updates and then disable updates) and then the problem disappeared. The exact nature of the problem eludes me at the moment, but I am fascinated of how this happened and also a little worried that I may be spending a little too much time on my computer even in my dreams, perhaps.

I don’t remember how that one ended, but next in my dreams I was somehow in Bhubaneshwar, at my grandmother’s house, with Dr. Bennett in tow. Not sure how I got there, but there was an aching pain in my left eye. I couldn’t close it properly. When I took a look at it, it appeared that I had a black eye of some sort. I tried to clean it up with water from the bathroom (where, incidentally, there was a scorpion-like creature treading water in a bucket). I was surprised at how much it hurt, even in the dream. I have examined my eye thereafter and it is perfectly normal.

The next part of the dream is kind of hazy but apparently I had flashbacks to the reason that my eye was hurting, and it was because someone had stuck a sword down it. Yeah… kind of completely wacky, huh? Sword in eye is definitely worse than black eye, but I guess my brain relieved me from the necessity of feeling that pain. Phew. Anyways… I just wanted to document that before it was lost forever. Dreams are really weird. I’m still fascinated by how all the senses are part of a dream. It makes me question sometimes how real real life is (not really, but just to sound philosophical, I guess).

Cheerios.

cooking chicken, part 1

About a week and a half ago, I received my first non-vegetarian cooking lesson from my mom. The dish on the cards was the basic, straightforward Indian chicken curry. Luckily for me, the end result was actually not bad. In an effort to remember how the end product looked, I went ahead and took photos of everything. I also wrote down the recipe and hope I will have another opportunity this summer to make it, with limited supervision this time, to ensure that I actually learned how to make it, rather than learned how to follow directions.

Ingredients

  • Chicken – 2 breast pieces, 2 leg pieces
  • Marinade
    • 2 tsp dahi
    • 1 tsp ginger paste
    • 1 tsp garlic paste
    • 1 tsp salt
  • Onions x2
  • Tomato x2
  • Chicken masala – 2 tsp
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • Haldi – 1 tsp
  • Chilli powder – 2 tsp

Directions

  1. Marinate the chicken in advance and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Fry the onions until brown.
  3. Add chicken into pot with haldi, chilli powder and salt. Mix and cover for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes and masala. Mix and cover for about 5-10 minutes.
  5. After oil separates, add hot water and simmer for 5 minutes before serving.

Photos

Chicken Curry in Preparation

Chicken Curry in Bowl

movie review: aa dekhen zara

Man. I didn’t ever think a movie could get worse with every passing minute for the duration of the movie, but this movie managed to achieve that fine distinction. From beginning to end, the movie was extremely choppy and didn’t make a lot of sense. It started out with Neil Mukesh (Raj) running around in the jungle chasing after someone with a large camera. Once he ran the person into a dead-end, a bunch of blokes with guns emerged and said that you aren’t allowed to take photos in the jungle.

I have no idea what the meaning of this whole sequence was, and it was never answered in the rest of the movie. Apparently the director just needed a way to get rid of Raj’s old camera and thought that a random jungle scene with no meaning or relevance whatsoever would be better than something more straightforward, like forgetting it on a bus somewhere. Perhaps there was a reference or an allusion to something that made more sense, but if there was it went way over my head.

Anyhow, so Raj loses his camera which is pretty devastating considering the camera was about 90% of his net worth (the other 10% going into his delightfully furnished apartment… I guess the interior decorator was an old girlfriend or something). He goes to the small environmental journal that he works to try and get a loan and finds out that his grandfather has died, and has left him behind some sort of boat in his old house. In the boat he finds a key and photograph, the latter being of the location where the key can be used. How Raj has such a photographic memory of Bombay, I don’t know, but he should look into getting work with the Google Maps team. Upon opening the locker that is paired with the key, he finds a backpack with a weird compass-like thing and a camera (oh, what coincidence!). Apparently his grandad was a scientist working on some pretty nifty stuff.

It turns out this camera is super-nifty. It only takes photos of the future. You set the date to the day you want to see and then you snap a photo. And when you go ahead and develop the photo, you will see a photo of the person you snapped on the date you had set, rather than the day you took the photo. Dig? So it’s a camera that travels in time and snaps a photo. Man, that grandfather must have been a pretty smart guy. And pretty imaginative. And also addicted to drugs. Oh well… it’s supposed to be “sci-fi” so we’ll let this major suspension of logic proceed. Being that he is almost in poverty and he has the hots for Bipasha Basu (Simi) who is a DJ and lives in the building across from him and apparently likes eating expensive sandwiches at overpriced coffee shops, Raj decides to use this new possession to make some cash.

So he takes photos of the lottery, of cricket matches, of horse races, etc. Basically anything that he can gamble with. And then he starts rolling in the moolah. Apparently he took an interest to photography at a pretty early stage in life because he develops photos manually in like 10 minutes, something I know cannot be done empirically. Also, he must not have had time for school because anyone with half a brain would have realized that if you’re buying a lottery ticket from the same shop everyday and guessing the combination right and winning everyday, that there are going to be some red flags going up. But no, he does that. He also begins a streak of making money at the horse races. And of course, he never wins. And of course people notice.

To cut to the chase, he then runs away from the police and a random thug, Rahul Dev (Captain), who has been following him to Bangkok. Oh, apparently the cops in Bangkok are even more corrupt than our Indian dudes, although our Indian guy took the cake when he shot all his agents in Thailand so that he could escape with the camera. They run through Bangkok a lot and there’s a lot of gun-shooting and eventually Raj gets shot by Captain and falls into a well. He was apparently supposed to die that day because someone took a photo of him that came out developed as black, which means the person in the photo is going to die (obviously!).

But then, Raj emerges from the well and claims that since the well was so dark, the photo appeared to be black and that it was not actually black. So obviously he survives. And I think the camera took the impact of the bullet so it is destroyed (shame, it could have been used for the benefit of India, according to the movie). So Raj and Simi return to India to roll around in all the cash Raj has won through his “gambling”. And that’s the movie. And if I have decent control of my sarcasm, you would have noticed that I was not extremely impressed. I’ll rate it 1/5 because despite having a piss-poor storyline, the director still had the courage to spend his time and money to make the movie. Bad decision.

Music

The one saving grace of this movie was its music. The title track is a pretty thumping number and a remix of the old Aa Dekhen Zara song. Other honorable mentions are Gazab and Rock the Party. The music is pretty electronic which is probably why I like it. The remix of the title track is all over the radio and MTV and is probably my favourite track on the soundtrack. One funny thing is the picturization of the Gazab song. It took place when Raj and Simi were running away from Captain and the cops and happened into a bar that celebrates cop killers. Instead of continuing running, they decided to stick around and dance with the Thai owners and patrons. Oh well… logic wasn’t a strong point of the movie, was it. Music rating: 3.5/5.

movie review: billu barber

Billu Barber (since retitled to Billu because the hairdressers association of India apparently took offense, according to Wikipedia) was the first movie I saw back home in India, as long as you don’t count Dostana, which I finally watched on the plane ride back. When I had originally heard about this movie, I was quite interested in watching it. Subsequent reviews were not very positive but I figured the movie was still worth a watch when I read (incorrectly) somewhere that Shah Rukh Khan’s role was minimal. Although he played a major part in the movie, he wasn’t around enough to completely spoil it.

The plot for the movie was somewhat different but somewhat Bollywood cliche (forgive the missing accent) anyway. Basically, Shah Rukh Khan (Sahir Khan) and Irrfan Khan (Billu) were childhood friends and supposedly the latter helped the former out a lot during that time. Sahir Khan eventually left the village to go become a big star, and obviously he succeeded since most villagers are Bollywood material, didn’t you know? He then supposedly got caught up in the industry and when he finally had time to return to his village, Billu had run away with his lover to another village and gotten married.

Cut to an unspecified amount of time in the future, and Sahir Khan decides to hold a shoot in the village that Billu is living in. I’m not entirely sure if this was planned or a coincidence on King Khan’s part. Anyways, what proceeds is the entertaining part of the movie: somehow it is let slip that Billu knows Sahir Khan and hence everyone and their goat treats him well for the duration of the shoot, expecting a favour involving Sahir Khan in return. You know, the implicit “I-scratch-your-back-and-you-give-me-a-full-body-massage” deal. Billu’s modesty prevents him from rekindling his old friendship, and his fear that his old friend has forgotten him is also playing at the back of his mind. Eventually the villagers decide that Billu is only conning them and they arrange for his arrest. His closest friend bails him out eventually.

Finally, Sahir Khan speaks at the village’s school’s annual function and describes his childhood with Billu. The whole village then feels bad for doubting him and of course Sahir Khan somehow manages to locate Billu’s shack (despite not being able to do it for the rest of the shoot–I guess he’s busy and all) and comes in and rudely asks for some food. And then the story ends happily ever after.

So it’s a pretty straightforward story and once again, Irrfan Khan must be commended for his performance. I mean SRK was just acting as himself (minus the tear-jerking village story which I don’t think is fact). The movie was good in parts, comic in many parts and not overtly emotional. The storyline didn’t require any suspension of logic and in that regard it was pretty solid. I’ll give the movie a 3.5/5.

Music

The music for this movie varied from great to just boring. Marjaani is my favourite song from the movie and the CD provides several remixes for that song, too. My favourite one is the Kilogram’s Balkan Mix version of the song. Apparently everyone in Bombay agrees with me because the only version of the song I’ve heard played in shops, on the radio, on TV and blasting from Big Bazaar is that. Oh well, not complaining. Other honorable mentions are Love Mera Hit Hit and Khudaya Khair. But they’re not all that good. I’ll rate the music 2/5.