Thursday, December 22, 2011

Nostalgia - The TV Video Games

A friend of mine on Facebook had shared a pic couple of days ago which evoked a sense of nostalgia within me. And that's what inspired me to write this post. It was the picture of Mario trying to jump over the Dragon which is coughing up fireballs and kill it, to save Princess Peach. 

Image Courtesy: Google Images
After going through so much trouble of killing the dragon, the girl says, "Thank you Mario! But our Princess is in another castle". And we had to go through that all over again. 

Image Courtesy: Google Images
But it was so much fun playing these TV video games, we never used to get bored. Me and my brother with all my cousins used to play these games all day and sometimes all through the night. Being a kid in the Nineties was so much fun, much before the advent of the PlayStation, XBOX and the PC Games. 

My favorite game used to be Spartan X. I was the absolute champ in that game. I still cherish it. :)

Image Courtesy: Google Images
I got my first video game back in 1995 after nagging my Dad to buy it for a long time. In those days these things used to cost a lot, like Rs. 3,500 and for the purchase of the ROM, we needed to shell out extra. Just the 64 in 1 ROM used to cost like 800 bucks. In the coming years these things became very cheap and by the year 2000 we used get these TV video game console for less than 500 bucks. And 64 in 1 ROM had become as cheap as Rs. 50

Now, they have completely vanished from the market but they still give us sweet memories whenever we think of those days as a kid playing the video games. 

I was just checking online whether we can still play these games on the net; I'm sure many of you might have come across it already. We can download these 64 in 1 ROM's or any other ROM and start playing these games and relive our childhood all over again.

Let me just post the download links of the 64 in 1 ROM and its Emulator file and give a brief description on how to play the game below:

You can download the 64 in 1 ROM file here.

You can download the Emulator file for the 64 in 1 ROM here.


1) Click on the above links and download both the files.

2) Extract the 64 in 1 ROM file and place it in a folder. (Downloads folder in Google Chrome, by default)

3) Extract and install the Emulator file.

4) After installing the Emulator file, you will get an installed file icon, (which has Mario's pic on it) double-click on that file, run it and a window opens up.

5) Click on File and select Open and Play ROM - Click on the file name which says 64-in-1 [p1].pes and open it.

6) And Voila! You see the 64 in 1 screen where you can play any of the games which you would have definitely played in your childhood. Use the Up and Down arrow keys, Shift to go to next page and Enter key to select a game and play. I'm sure you will find a way and relive your childhood again.

I am doing that right now! :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Rahul Dravid's speech at Sir Don Bradman Oration - My Thoughts

Rahul Dravid on Wednesday, Dec 14 became the first Indian to deliver a speech at Sir Donald Bradman Oration in Canberra.

You can watch the whole speech here:

Well, my thoughts on my Idol's awe-inspiring speech at the 2011 Sir Donald Bradman Oration might have come a day or two late. That's only because I was left completely speechless by Rahul's amazing oratory skills, his dignity, his modesty, his integrity, his humility, his pride, his knowledge about the game and its history, his wittiness, his meticulously chosen words, his thoughtful and considered observations... well just about everything. It was an absolutely brilliant speech, one of the most compelling and insightful speeches I have ever listened to by a sportsman. It took me almost a day to recover from that awesomeness, so I finally started to jot down my thoughts about that speech.

Humbled as Dravid was for being the first foreigner to deliver the Sir Donald Bradman Oration speech at The War Memorial in Canberra held every year to celebrate the life and career of the greatest Cricketer to have ever played the game, Sir Donald Bradman.

He started off by talking about the bond between India and Australia which goes beyond Cricket pitches. Much before Indians and Australians were competitors on the pitch, they were comrades off it, who fought wars together. Dravid also took some time to remember the unknown soldiers from both countries who laid down their lives in the war.

Next, Dravid spoke about how the great Don who never having played a single Test match in India still is the most venerated Cricketer. Later he went on to share some anecdotes and fun stories about Bradman, some of it were very witty and had the audience in splits.

Bradman passed away on Feb 25, 2001 just two days before the historic Test series between India and Australia were to begin. Dravid thought Bradman would have loved to watch that series which is now considered as one of the greatest ever in the history of Cricket.

Dravid continued to talk about the India-Australia rivalry over the past decade which Australia dominated. He said India was the only team to stand up to the Aussie domination and the quality of Cricket played between two sides has been uplifting and exhilarating and also sometimes controversial. And hence whenever the two sides meet the anticipation and expectation is immense. And so in the coming two months of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, players on both sides will want to deliver their best.

If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. 
Image Courtesy: Google Images
Now let’s glance upon some of the issues that Dravid touched upon:

 At the moment, to much of the outside world, Indian cricket represents only two things - money and power.

He chose to speak about how Indian Cricket which is perceived by the outside world as only representing two things, Money and Power. He said this one-dimensional, often clichéd image relentlessly repeated is not what Indian cricket is really all about. Rahul gave quite a few anecdotes and explained how the wealth generated by Indian Cricket by million-dollar deals and television rights had actually transformed the game of princes and well-to-do businessmen into that of the people, whatever their language, background or financial standing. This was beautifully demonstrated by an illustration of diversity now found within the Indian dressing room. He compared Indian Cricket’s growth in the past 10 to 15 years with that of the country itself. Due to the revenues generated since the past two decades, the standard of play has improved and so has the facilities and the game has spread to various other parts of the country and not just the big cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi etc. Dravid gave examples of some success stories like Zaheer Khan, Virender Sehwag, Munaf Patel and Umesh Yadav who have made it big and have earned a place in the Indian side, coming from small towns with no proper facilities.

India has played 227 ODI's at home; the October five-match series against England was the first time that the grounds have not been full for an ODI featuring the Indian team.

Rahul also touched on many other relevant issues concerning the game of Cricket including dwindling of crowds in International Cricket, which in his words has reached an "alarming" state in the past few years. The reason for it being flaws in scheduling of Cricket matches, unnecessary ODI's being played which don't have any context. Or maybe it was spectator-fatigue. Whatever the reason maybe, he said the fans have sent a clear message and it’s high time something needs to be done to rectify it. He also explained how empty stands do not make for good television viewing, which in turn will affect the television ratings. And the fall in ratings will make the advertisers eventually looking elsewhere. He said it’s really important to give the average Cricket fan what he deserves; disrespecting them is like disrespecting the game itself.

If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

Next he spoke about another important aspect of the game which is bringing the game down, corruption. In-spite of strong anti-corruption measures, the internet and other modern technologies will always be a step ahead of any anti-corruption regulation. So, Dravid suggested that the onus should be on the players themselves to be willing to be monitored and regulated closely even if it means giving up a little bit of freedom of movement and privacy. He also suggested players not to say no to dope tests and also undergoing lie-detector tests as an option to tackle corruption. It would certainly help the innocent come clean.

Charting out a clear road map for all the three formats is a challenge.

Dravid next touched upon another important aspect of the game that is balancing all the three formats of the game. He explained how a series containing 2 Tests, 7 ODI’s and a few Twenty20’s thrown in will only hinder the true development of the player and also throw the scheduling completely off gear.

No one ever fell in love with Test cricket because they wanted to be a businessman. Not everything of value comes at a price.

He stressed Test Cricket is the gold standard and the bests of the game know this is the format their greatness as a Cricketer will be judged by. And so, Test Cricket needs to be protected. He suggested a few measures in this regard:

1) Day-Night Tests
2) Test Championship
3)Taking the game to smaller cities or playing in grounds which have smaller capacity
4) Or maybe reviving some old Cricket venues

He also called for cutting down on the number of ODI’s played which don’t have much context, rather he suggested the focus should be on the main ICC Tournaments like the World Cup and the Champions Trophy. This would ensure that all 50-over matches would build up for those tournaments and will also cut down on the number of ODI’s played. The matches which will be played will also have a context.

For Twenty20’s Dravid said it has its best place as a contest between domestic teams or clubs. A view shared by many dignitaries in the crowd including the Cricket Australia Chairmen, past and present.

Before concluding, Dravid said, it was still possible to feel the same rush of excitement that accompanied his first boundary, first catch, or first victory. He said every Cricketer should cherish it and hang on to it.

After enthralling the audience for over 40 minutes with a wide range of topics like issues of money, attendances, formats and corruption, everyone rose to applaud a brilliant and insightful speech on the spirit of Cricket by a Legend whose oratory skills are as classy and masterful as his batting itself.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I am a Cat Lover and I am Proud!

Alicia wants her dinner early. So she is setting the time appropriately.

My baby posing for the cam :)
Dear Cat Lovers,

The day is finally nearing, the day which made me a lover of cats from a guy who was not a big cat person in general. That is the day when I found my baby Alicia. It was on Nov 16, 2008 when I found her and my whole perception about cats and animals in general changed forever. Now I am proud to say that I am a cat lover and an animal lover.

I just want to remember this day as Alicia's birthday. Even though the real birth date of Alicia is not known, maybe she was a two and a half month old kitty when I found her.

It will be almost 3 months since Alicia went missing and it saddens me to this day that I haven't found her back. So I urge all cat lovers to come together and support this cause and celebrate this day in remembrance of Alicia.

Please attend this Event and wish Alicia a Happy Birthday. :)

Thank You,
I Love Cats

I had written this more than two years ago after I lost my beloved cat named Alicia, an adorable little kitty who was solely responsible for my love for cats. Miss her so much. :(

I had posted this note on the eve of her birthday in my fan page on Facebook called I Love Cats, dedicated to my baby Alicia. It has close to 50,000 likes now.

Recently I celebrated Alicia's 4th Birthday and 3rd in her absence. It's been 28 months since I saw her last but I still miss her so much. It breaks my heart she is not with me anymore. Hope she is safe wherever she is and a good cat loving family is taking care of her. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Great Wall is now 13,000 Bricks Strong!

Rahul Dravid acknowledges the crowd after scoring his 13,000th run
Image Courtesy: Cricinfo
My Idol Rahul Dravid completes an extraordinary milestone of 13,000 runs in Test Cricket, the second ever in the history of Test Cricket to do so. Only other player to achieve this feat is the icon Sachin Tendulkar who has scored over 15,000 runs.

Also with this innings, Dravid went past 1,000 runs this calendar year - Only player to do so this year, so far. And this is the third time Dravid has amassed 1,000 or more runs in a calendar year. The previous occasions when he achieved this feat were in 2002 and 2006.

Dravid went past 13,000 runs soon after lunch on Day 3 of the third Test against West Indies in Mumbai when he drove West Indies skipper Darren Sammy through the covers for a classic boundary, showcasing the vintage Rahul Dravid, which gave me immense joy and happiness.

Dravid has been in outstanding form this year scoring 5 centuries, two against West Indies and three against England, in England. Four out of those 5 centuries have come in very tough conditions and Dravid has delivered when the team needed the most as he always does.

The first century came in Jamaica under some extremely tough batting conditions. Dravid's century was instrumental in India winning that Test Match which helped India win that 3-Test series 1-0.

The next 3 centuries came in England again under tough batting conditions and a brilliant English bowling attack. Dravid's effort was absolutely monumental; it was a super-human performance by Dravid where every other Indian batsman failed except him. He was the only Indian batsman to score a century in that series. India suffered a humiliating 4-0 whitewash and all of Dravid's brilliant centuries in the series ended in defeats, heartbreakingly.

The 5th century this year came in this series against the West Indies in the Kolkata Test which Dravid himself described as one of the easiest centuries he has made.

Image Courtesy: Cricinfo
I was expecting Dravid to amass his 37th Test Century today but unfortunately he was bowled for a well-made 82 of the bowling of Marlon Samuels when he tried to cut the ball which was not quite there to be cut and also the ball didn't bounce as much as Dravid expected, barely clipping his off stump and knocking off the bails. Dravid was unsure and so he waited for the Third Umpire's decision where the replays showed he was indeed bowled.

Assuming Dravid might not get a chance to bat in this match again, he has one more Test Match to play until the end of this year against Australia in the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. So, I am hoping Dravid will remain the highest run scorer this year and end this year on a high in what has been a fantastic year for the batting great.

Take a bow, my Inspiration, Rahul "The Wall" Dravid.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Special Bond

Image Courtesy: Google Images
We may not have known each other the longest,
Nor we have known each other the best.
I knew you only as a friend of friend,
But now, you are my only friend.
My shyness has always been a hindrance in building a relationship,
But that is certainly not the case with our friendship.
You make me feel secure and comfortable with your warmth and kindness.
Our friendship blossomed towards the end of our course,
But I promise you I will maintain it till the end of my life.
You have been my strength during my worst,
I know with you by my side, I will eventually regain my best.
We may not be siblings by birth,
But you mean more to me than a sister I never had.
If I have ever hurt you, I hope never,
I pray the special bond we share remains forever.

Friday, September 16, 2011

To My Idol Rahul Dravid – A Tribute (Part 3)

Rahul Dravid gets a standing ovation from the crowd after a brilliantly crafted 69 in his final ODI innings
Image Courtesy: Cricinfo
It's exactly 9:45PM in my watch, Dravid batting at 69, realizes he needs to up the ante as only 8 overs to go. He has been trying to go for the big shots after reaching his half century but failing to middle the ball on most occasions, been edging quite a few balls. Clearly trying to get a move on and increase the scoring rate but not getting those boundaries as often as he would have liked. So this time goes on the front foot and tries to clear the mid-on boundary unselfishly as he has always been contributing not for his personal cause but for the team's cause for over 15 years, but misses the ball and it hits his stumps. My heart stopped for a moment. Rahul Dravid walks off the ground after playing his very last innings wearing the blue. He is being congratulated by his team mate Virat Kohli and all the English players for his outstanding contribution in this format of the game - such a nice gesture by the English players, showing their respect for the great man. As he walks off the ground to a standing ovation by the thousands gathered in the ground, silently tears start to stroll down my cheeks. I just couldn't control my emotions. I was witnessing my Idol wearing the Blue jersey for the very last time. He graciously acknowledges the crowd and walks off the ground. What a great end to a stellar innings and a brilliant career. 

I just hope that our bowlers would at least be able to defend a competitive score of 304 and win this match. Dravid deserves a good send-off. He has been humiliated, insulted, disrespected and used in the past. But a great player like Dravid deserves a nice send-off. Hopefully we can finally come together as a unit and win our first match in what has been a dismal tour and end this tour on a high. Hopefully three hours from now, tears would be strolling down my cheeks again and I just hope those tears would be happy tears. (If weather gods permit, that is. I am optimistic, let's hope for the best for Dravid's sake at least).

Rahul Dravid, one of the greatest Cricketers to have ever played the game, an absolute Legend, My Idol, My Inspiration. I will surely miss you not wearing the blue jersey and playing for India again as will millions of your fans and well wishers. Thank You for all the wonderful memories. I will always cherish them.

Friday, September 2, 2011

To My Idol Rahul Dravid – A Tribute (Part 2)

Rahul Dravid opens his account by fending away a short ball.
Image Courtesy: Cricinfo

My Idol Rahul Dravid walks out to bat on his T20I debut which also happens to be his last as I type this. My excitement has reached a whole new level and my happiness has no bounds. I finally see my idol wearing the Blue again after two years.

He looks a bit tentative but has nothing to lose, hence he can bat without any inhibitions and my only wish would be for him to make a rock solid half century which would result in a win for us or a quick fire 30 or a 40 would also make me happy. Hell, I wouldn’t even mind us losing this match if Dravid scores a century. Well, that would be a dream send off, wouldn’t it?

Currently he’s scored 8 of 12 balls, not bad. Dravid lofts one straight down the ground, falls safely. Phew. Meanwhile the other debutant Ajinkya Rahane has just reached his half century. Kudos to him, he might be the next big hope for Indian Cricket.

But the best moment of the day was yet to arrive and it finally did when Dravid smashed 3 humongous sixes in a row of the bowling of Samit Patel. It was the greatest sight in the world, I wish I could’ve been there live in the stadium to watch it but still those 3 sixes by my Idol just made my year.

For the first one, Dravid cleared his front leg to whack the ball high over long-on. It was around quarter past 11PM here and my scream was so loud after the first six, I might have woken up a few neighbors unless they were also watching this absolute spectacle and screaming with me.

And then it got better. The next delivery, Rahul danced down the wicket, he chose the long-on region again, it had enough legs to clear the boundary for another six. My screams got even louder. I was feeling like a teenager all over again.

And then it got even better for the third one. The final delivery of the over culminated when Rahul swept the ball high over the square-leg boundary for a humongous six. The best six of the three and I literally went crazy at this point. My screams were at its loudest and my happiness had no bounds.

My idol again did what he does best, silently contributing to the team unselfishly when it needs the most. Only this time he is going out making a loud thud!

Dravid's Twenty20 international batting career lasted 21 deliveries in 23 minutes scoring 31 runs with a strike rate of 147.61, a truly unforgettable innings.

By this innings Dravid again showed what playing for India really means to him. Even though he doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone, still this innings will be a slap on everyone’s faces who doubted his abilities in the shorter formats of the game.

Today has undoubtedly been one of the happiest days of the year for me, if not the happiest. I will cherish each and every moment of my Idol’s farewell ODI series.

Well played Rahul. You will forever be my Idol and my Inspiration. Thank You.

To My Idol Rahul Dravid – A Tribute (Part 1)

Rahul Dravid
Image Courtesy: Cricinfo
Initially when I set out to write this post, it was supposed to be about my thoughts on Rahul in his Farewell T20 and ODI series. I was going to write a tribute to my Idol after the ODI series concluded, but as I started to write this few other thoughts came to mind and I typed them down. So now this post has turned out to be a tribute in its own right. I know anything I write about my Idol as a tribute would fall short in terms of how well I convey my emotions about him or in terms of the vocabulary I have used. Any new adjective I use to describe him would only end up being just that, another adjective. Dravid’s greatness is way beyond any adjective which is used to describe him. And emotionally I wouldn’t be able to do justice because I really can’t express my true emotions about people I love the most. And Rahul Dravid is one such person whom I have idolized and loved since the past 15 years.

I wrote some parts of this post while the T20 match was going on against England and so my thoughts might seem a bit emotionally clouded and repetitive. My feelings varied from Dravid getting dropped from ODI’s to an almost running commentary of my Idol’s only T20I match. So I decided to make this post as a two part tribute, the other part will feature my feelings on the T20 match. But it is still a very honest and sincere attempt at expressing my love and support for my inspiration, The Wall.

At 38, my Idol Rahul Dravid is making his T20I debut, 15 years after he made his International debut which I vividly remember. He has already announced his retirement from the ODI’s and T20s so this match will be his first and his last ever T20I followed by his farewell ODI series.

This is a very unique statistic for Rahul; he announced his retirement even before he made his debut in the T20 format. Definitely a future trivia question for all Cricket quiz enthusiasts there. I will cherish each and every moment of my Idol’s farewell series. I thought I would never get to see Rahul play another ODI again, let alone a T20 match but I’m lucky enough to see that day come true and nothing makes me happier.

When Dravid was dropped from the ODI’s after an ordinary series against the Aussies in 2007, I was devastated. I thought his ODI career was pretty much over, he might never get a chance to play another ODI again. But two years later in 2009, my hopes were re-kindled when he was picked for the Compaq Cup and the Champions Trophy which was to be held in South Africa. Mainly due to the poor showing of the youngsters in the team who were unable to play the short ball on bouncy wickets outside the sub-continent. So due to the technique or the lack of it from the “youngsters” in the team, they had to summon the old guard again. So Rahul Dravid comes to the rescue. In spite of more than a decent batting performance where his scores read 14, 47, 39, 76 and 4 in his five innings and he was also called to open in the Compaq Cup final. Despite his good showing in bowler-friendly South African tracks he was again axed from the team unceremoniously. Because the next series was going to be held at home against the Aussies and the youngsters in the team were only flat-track bullies, so now Dravid’s services were no longer needed in the shorter format of the game.

Dravid was used and dropped from the team as if he was a tea bag thrown into a dustbin after every ounce of juice has been sucked from it. You cannot disrespect a player of Dravid’s caliber in that way. The manner in which he was dropped was downright disgusting and insulting. But Dravid – the Gentleman that he is never complained about it, just went about doing his work with same commitment and determination. His resolve is so strong that can never be broken with these petty insults.

As the countdown to the World Cup in 2011 kept getting closer, I kept losing hope of seeing my Idol wearing the Blue again one final time and lift the prestigious World Cup. As days went by, I finally realized that is never going to happen and Dravid will not be part of the One Day setup to play in the World Cup. I was obviously shattered but somehow made my peace with that. Even though we eventually won the World Cup after 28 long years, my happiness was bit muted because Dravid was not a part of it.

And now its déjà vu all over again, toured England as the No.1 Test team and got massacred by the English. The final score line read a humiliating 4-0 whitewash. This time it was not just because of the inability of our Batsmen to handle the short-pitched deliveries on bouncy wickets, it was also due to our toothless and one-dimensional bowling attack, dismal fielding and a truck load of injuries. It was a collective team failure. But one man stood out of the mediocrity and shone like a beacon, as always. The monumental effort by Dravid in the series, his sheer super human concentration, his courage, his determination, his commitment, his will power, his patience… I can go on and on but his performance just can’t be described in words. We were all so privileged to witness one of the greatest Test comebacks ever by a batsman. Dravid kept on fighting till the very end as others in the team disgraced themselves.

So it had to take such a super human performance by Dravid to make the dumb selectors recall him for the 5-match ODI series and the lone T20 match. But this time Dravid has had enough, he was not going to let them use him again at their will. So he immediately announced his retirement from the shorter formats of the game after this series on the same day he was recalled. Even though initially I was shocked but realized it was indeed the right decision as Dravid felt it was the right time to bow out from the shorter formats of the game on his own terms with his head held high.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Note to Self

Image Courtesy: Google Images     

Stop playing the “Ever Positive” card and start acting on the serious issues at hand. It’s pretty clear to you what those obstacles are now, so you don't need a special invitation to right the wrong. You are losing grip again. Being positive mentally and doing nothing worthwhile is different from staying positive and finishing the job at hand. If you lose grip now it will be very difficult for you to get back. Once again you have fallen behind in the race of life. Your once famous “Comeback” has eluded you only because you didn't try hard enough. Now, the time has come to stop resting on your past laurels and give a serious re-think about what you really want to do in future. This is the most critical juncture in your life and you need to decide which road you want to traverse to reach your desired destination. You cannot afford another devastating setback; frankly speaking you cannot handle another setback. Need to introspect as to why you went wrong instead of where. Need to do some serious soul searching and find your inner happiness once again.

Need to find that old Akshay of 2004 to 2006 who was innocent and naïve. He was always happy and found happiness and success in everything he did. Cut to 2011, this Akshay is neither happy nor successful. He is sad, miserable and is just a pale shadow of what he once used to be and is desperately trying to be ‘that’ guy and failing miserably at it, instead of just being the Akshay of now. He has to realize, that golden phase of his life has ended and needs to move on. He has the potential to create another era which will be much more successful and satisfying than the previous era. He needs to realize the Akshay of now is not that different from Akshay of six years ago, he just needs to find that “something” which is lacking in his life right now and he will surely be back on track soon. He needs to learn the art of winning once again which he has forgotten somewhere in the past three years. The time has come for him to step-up to the challenges that life has to put forth and be counted. Start WINNING again.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My Current State of Mind

Image Courtesy: Google Images
My life is like walking into a severe whirlwind where the wind is so strong it is demolishing everything in its stride. I see trees, cars and even houses flying around me but I still walk fearlessly. A huge log of wood crashes into my chest and I fall down on the ground heavily injured. But I get up, lick my wounds and start walking ahead. That’s how I tackle the obstacles in my life. I fight them. Nothing can break me. Absolutely nothing can break me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lagaan – The Greatest Movie of all time completes 10 Glorious Years

LAGAAN - The Story of a Battle without Bloodshed
Image Courtesy: Google Images
"Sach Aur Saahas Hein Jiske Mann Mein, Anth Mein Jeeth Usi Kee Rahe"
It’s been 10 years today since the release of the greatest movie ever made and my all-time favorite movie Lagaan. This movie has been such a huge influence on me. It inspires me, instills me with confidence and self-belief when I am down. The emotion it brings out in me is unparalleled. As a mark of tribute, watched the movie again today. And it brought out the same excitement in me as it did when I watched the movie for the very first time.

Everything about the movie is a class apart; the only movie in my opinion which comes close to perfection. From the story, to the brilliant performances, the setting and the backdrop, the amazing music and the stunning background score by the legendary A.R. Rahman and of course the Cricket match. A combination of all these aspects and many more make Lagaan in my opinion, the greatest movie ever made. 

Whenever I feel down or low on confidence, I look for some inspiration in Lagaan. Be it listening to the songs or watching a particular scene. Some of my all-time favorite songs are “Mithwa” and “Chale Chalo” and all the other songs in the movie. They just inspire me and instill me with renewed confidence and self belief. I have watched the movie only a few number of times so far in the past 10 years. I always make sure there is a sizeable gap before I watch it again to ensure that I feel the same way every time I watch it.

I was so excited when Lagaan was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film Category. But I was left disappointed when it didn’t win it eventually. It lost the Oscar to another brilliant movie called "No Man's Land". But still it doesn’t take away any credit from Lagaan; it will always remain one of the greatest movies ever made. 

Aamir had actually invited everyone who worked for Aamir Khan Productions in all the films under its production for the 10th anniversary celebrations; be it the actors, the technicians and the whole crew who were part of its success in the previous years. We also got to see the whole team of Lagaan re-united after 10 years, which was a very special and emotional moment. It's really heartening to see a great master-piece like Lagaan still remembered and appreciated by one and all as we hardly get to see a great movie like Lagaan, these days. The greatness of Lagaan is such, I'm pretty sure it will still be remembered and appreciated even after 50 years from now.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

INDIA vs PAKISTAN – The mother of all Epic Encounters

Image Courtesy : Google Images
Yes, finally that day is upon us, the day each and every Cricket fan was waiting for, a day that brings out a kind of emotion and passion in every Indian and Pakistani fan that just cannot be expressed in words. It is the day when India takes on Pakistan in a World Cup semi-final. I can’t even begin to express the magnitude of this epic encounter. Any India-Pakistan encounter in any sport is a treat to watch but when they take on each other in a Cricket match and that too in a World Cup, we can’t term it as just another game or just another Cricket match. It is beyond everything else.    

Passion will run high
Today, time will literally stand still in both the countries, each and everyone whether they’re a Cricket fan or not, young or old, men or women will be glued to their television sets, radios, checking scores on their cell phones, watching the live stream on the internet, standing in front of TV showrooms or any which way possible just to check the score of the match. Well, you might think this is a pretty normal sight especially in both the countries as we do the above mentioned things even when a normal Cricket match is going on. But let me remind you this is not just any match, this is India vs. Pakistan for the very first time in the semi-final stage of a World Cup. I don’t need to explain the magnitude of this match for an Indian or a Pakistani but it is very important for us to understand what this match means to people of both countries without politicizing it. Our respected politicians are doing a great job in politicizing this match by inviting the Pakistan PM to watch the match. Yes, it will make me happy if Cricket matches between the two countries bring both the countries together and improve our relations but still in my opinion, this match being politicized in this way takes away some charm out of the game. I honestly feel that diplomatic ties between the two countries should be dealt separately and not just when a Cricket match or series is going on, that too a match of this magnitude.

An Ajay Jadeja special in Bangalore
Well let’s take a trip back to memory lane. India has never lost to Pakistan out of the 4 matches we’ve played so far in World Cups and more than a billion people will be hoping that record will be maintained today no matter what. The first Indo-Pak match that I remember in a World Cup was when these two teams met in Quarter-Finals in 1996, (I was too young to remember the match in 1992, but really happy we won) and it was a memorable match indeed, I remember that match like it happened yesterday. It was a very special match for me personally because that match happened in Bangalore but unfortunately couldn’t watch it live in the stadium. No one will ever forget that unforgettable dual between Venkatesh Prasad and Aamer Sohail, with the former coming on top after being hit for a boundary and the batsman taunting him and pointing where the next ball is going to end up. But Prasad came back brilliantly and Aamer Sohail was out bowled the very next ball. It gives me goosebumps whenever I see videos of this encounter on You Tube. And also a swashbuckling 45 of 25 balls by Ajay Jadeja which took us to a match-winning score of 287. We managed to beat them pretty comfortably in the end, thanks to Karnataka boys Kumble and Prasad working their magic taking 3 wickets each.

A Brilliant innings by Rahul Dravid
comes to an end.
In the 1999 edition we squared off against each other at Old Trafford in a relatively low scoring game. My Idol Rahul Dravid top scored with a classy but brilliant 61. We made 227 and bowled them out for 180. Again Karnataka boys worked their magic with Kumble, Prasad and Srinath sharing all the 10 Pakistani wickets between each other. Prasad came up with a match-winning bowling performance with a 5-wicket haul.  

Sachin on his way to a
breathtaking 98 of 75
But my favorite match would have to be in the 2003 edition at Centurion Park. Probably one of my favorite matches of all time. Pakistan batted first and made a competitive score of 273, with Saeed Anwar scoring a magnificent century. But what followed later was absolute magic. Sachin Tendulkar, the greatest cricketer ever was destined to live that day. It was one of his finest innings ever, if not the finest. A breathtaking, flawless display of batsman-ship showcased by the Little Master, it was something out of this world. He was a different Sachin that day, it was like he was possessed and absolutely determined to win the match for his country. In those days he was accused of becoming an accumulator of runs rather than being the aggressive and flamboyant self he used to be during the nineties. But the great man proved all his critics wrong again with a match-winning innings. It was an absolute privilege to have watched Sachin bat that day as it’s always been since the past 22 years. Even Sachin himself considers that innings as one of his best. Who can ever forget that upper cut for a six to Shoaib Akhtar, it was scintillating. He single-handedly destroyed the Pakistani bowling attack and the match was sealed for India in the 28th over itself when he got out for an absolutely stunning 98. Sad that he couldn’t get his 100 which he absolutely deserved but it was an honor and a privilege to have watched him bat that day. He has played many brilliant innings in his long and illustrious career but in my book this innings would be ranked on top of all other innings without a shadow of a doubt. In the end my Idol Rahul Dravid with Yuvraj Singh finished the match with ease in what was only a formality after the Sachin Special.

Greif-stricken faces says it all
Well, less said about the 2007 WC the better as both India and Pakistan shockingly crashed out in the initial stage of the tournament itself depriving all the Cricket fanatics of another Indo-Pak classic. It's even more painful for me to describe the feelings of that disastrous campaign as my Idol Rahul Dravid was infact the Captain and I really hoped he would finally be part of a World Cup winning team and that too as a Captain, in what turned out to be his last ever World Cup, but heartbreakingly it was not to be. The memories still hurt me.

This time we Bleed Blue
Now, coming to today’s match the stakes are much higher. The winner will earn a place in the Finals of the World Cup; will face the formidable Sri Lankans in the final who probably possess the best bowling line up of all teams participating in the tournament. This will be the very first time India and Pakistan face each other in the Semis of the WC. Both teams have been in sublime form. It may very well come down to India’s batting versus Pakistan’s bowling. Pakistan ended the mighty Australia’s 34-match unbeaten streak in World Cups in the group stage to top their respective group. And India beat Australia in the Quarter Finals and knocked the World Champions out of the WC. So both teams have played some exceptional Cricket so far and will be high on confidence. Only time will tell who will win this high-voltage encounter in Mohali which promises to be an absolute classic. 

Will Sachin get his 100th Century?
A Special Note: I wish and pray that Sachin gets his 100th International Century in this particular match especially considering the occasion and the opponents. It is a historic match indeed but it will be even more special if Sachin gets his century and India wins the match. More than a billion hearts will be praying for the same I’m sure.

C’mon INDIA De Ghumake. This time we Bleed Blue!

PS: All images in this post are sourced from the internet.