Vantage point

Friday, January 29, 2010

Corned Beef and Reservations

KRAMER: There are no delicatessens under Communism.

MICKEY: Why not?

KRAMER: Well, because the meats are divided into a class system. You got Pastrami and Corned Beef in one class and Salami and Bologna in another. That's not right.

MICKEY: So you can't get Corned Beef?

KRAMER: Well, you know, if you're in the Politburo, maybe.

"The Race", Seinfeld, NBC.

I guess I am tired of using Orwell as a source of quotes to show why lefties in India are hypocrites who think they inhabit the rarefied orbit from where they will save the unwashed oppressed masses from the establishment. Kramer works fine too.


This bit of abhorrent arrogance from JNU.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Oldest Newcomer?

Sriram Veera has an article up at Cricinfo about Yuvraj Singh. It made me laugh. Not because there's anything wrong with the article. But because it reminded me of the biggest joke in the world of cricket - that anyone seriously thinks Yuvraj Singh is test cricket material. Ten years of international cricket, 7 years of test cricket, and two years years of a regular spot later, people still continue to treat Yuvraj like a newcomer. The oldest newcomer.

32 matches at an average of 36, with only 3 centuries, and even more damningly, only 8 half centuries. And this guy is still considered test material. And ambivalent articles like the one above are still being written about him. Such articles were written 2-3 years back too. And back then, you could at least understand their being written, even if you didn't agree with them, like I never did.

Until a couple of years back, I rated two Indian batsmen as being nowhere close to test material. Both left-handers. Yuvraj Singh and Gautam Gambhir. Their supporters said similar things. yes, he has potential, but in the last 3-4 years has been in and out of the team. Never got a long run in the team. So you can expect him to perform. I would counter saying even if they got a long run, their techniques were so flawed, and their willingness to apply themselves so lacking, that they will never succeed.

Gambhir has of course made me eat crow. Not just any crow, but the giant crows that Russian fairytales featured. He is the top ranked batsman in the world. Has made runs at home and abroad. And since getting a long run in the team, has actually grown, in technique as well as application. The numbers speak for themselves.

Since becoming a regular in the team two years back, Gambhir's average has gone from 37 to 58. With eight centuries and seven half centuries.

In roughly the same period, playing roughly the same number of test matches, Yuvraj has gone from 37 to 36, with 1 century and 5 fifties. His technique, if it were possible, has developed even more flaws. And in terms of application, he tends to get out when the team needs him the most. How long will he be treated like a newcomer?

Veera says -

It has been said before that Yuvraj doesn't grind his way through tough periods, that he is not willing to look ugly. That unlike MS Dhoni, who has converted himself from an attacking warrior to a foot solider, Yuvraj continues to fall prey to his "natural game".

Umm....really? The natural game defense? If only! Especially telling when compared with Dhoni. Yuvraj, the specialist batsman, averages 36 at a strike rate of 58. Dhoni, the wicket-keeper batsman, averages 40 at the strike rate of 62.

And it's not just the numbers. Anyone who has seen test cricket over the last 2 years will agree that Yuvraj's batting is way uglier than Dhoni at his most circumspect. Some players can use the "natural game" defense. Not Yuvraj.

Because plain and simple - his "natural game" is a shortsighted one. Perfectly suited to a spread-out field with no catchers and lots of gaps to take runs in. When he can just see off troubling bowlers and not face them for a full hour. He is perfect for ODIs and T20. And that's where he belongs.

Let us not take his limited over halo and build him up into something he will never be. It is not just about being caught between two modes or natural game or any such nonsense. He is just not good enough.

I will leave you with one more stat. Batting outside the subcontinent is considered a good metric for a batsman's worth. Yuvraj Singh has played 11 test matches outside the subcontinent, which includes two against Zimbabwe. In those 11 tests, batting in 18 innings, he has scored a piddly 283 runs with *****drumroll***** 1, yes, ONE half-century. That too, coming in the 2nd innings of the "Gambhir-owned" Napier test, scored well after the match was saved. In the first innings, when the chips were down and the pressure was on, he scored....yes, a very symmetric and luscious 0.

One half century in 11 tests in trying conditions. And this man is still considered for even selection in tests? While Badrinath, Pujara, Vijay, etc. have to keep playing domestic cricket. Let's laugh. Or cry.

Friday, January 15, 2010

To all those of you who dont live on the US East Coast...

... 2 weeks and 3 days from today and every tuesday thereafter, I will be able to watch episodes of the final season of LOST before you can. Or before you can plan to download a bootlegged torrent. Eat your heart out, suckerzzzzzzzz!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Chetan Bhagat - the voice of India and the champion of the masses

What is it with Chetan Bhagat's desire to act like a selfless martyr who is monly speaking up for greater causes or entities? When the whole #chetanblocks thing happened, basically a minor joke blown out of proportion, Bhagat tweeted that it was an insult to the nation and his commitment to the nation was being questioned, or something like that. Now he is making noises about not getting the credit for 3 Idiots, and is claiming it is all for the sake of the "millions of readers of Five Point Someone". He has even copy-pasted emails from readers! And he talks about how his mother cried because he wasn't credited. If this got any more kitschy, it could be Bhagat's next book!

In the other corner, Vidhu Vinod Chopra yelled at journalists, Raju Hirani spoke passionately about how most of the movie is original, and Aamir Khan made Aamir-Khan-like passive aggressive, yet pompous statements here.

I have read the book. I did not like it too much. I saw the movie. I wasn't wowed by it either. From where I stand, both sides are somewhat in the wrong.

Apparently the filmmakers said that only 2-5% of the movie is based on the book. That is not true. Most of the on-campus happenings follow the book. And in some detail too. There are elements that Hirani has added, sure, but most of it is undoubtedly FPS.

At the same time, 3I is NOT exactly an adaptation of FPS. What happens on campus is just part of the story. The non-flashback parts are original, and to me personally, were more interesting than the on-campus parts. I kept waiting for the campus flashbacks to end, as I sat through the movie. Even in the on-campus parts, there are major differences. Bhagat says Rancho is Ryan. Well, not exactly. Rancho is not a 5-pointer, but a genius who tops the class throughout.

And Bhagat says the "message" from 3I is the same as the "message" from FPS. Please! The only "message" I saw in FPS was that, if you can write grammatically correct english and can write a cheesy shallow story, there is a huge market out there composed of people who never read real books, but need some non-sleazy dumb book to mention when asked "which is your favorite book?". 3 Idiots on the other hand, did have a message. All Raju Hirani films do. The film's message was a little too sappy and simplistic for my tastes, but is way more message-like than anything FPS says.

Anyway all this talk of whether 5%, 10%, or 80% of the movie is from the book is irrelevant. Let's leave that to Bhagat, Chopra, Aamir etc. to duke it out in the media. The fact of the matter is, Bhagat is complaining that he did not get a proper story credit, but was mentioned only in the credits in the end. The fact of the matter also is, Chetan Bhagat is an MBA from India's top school, and worked many years as an investment banker. And no matter what the other failings of i-bankers are, they are expected to understand contracts. To read and interpret contracts. And to realize, that if you are not happy with something in the contract, you don't sign it.

And the contract, which Chopra has put up on his website, clearly states that Bhagat will be mentioned in the "rolling credits", which appear at the end of the movie. And he has been credited there. Bhagat knows he is on flimsy grounds legally, because he signed away movie rights to a bestseller for just 1 lakhs (plus 10 lakhs discretionary which he has got). He probably regrets settling for less. But he can not do anything legally. Which is why all this talk of mothers crying, and fans emailing, and all that.

Or maybe he genuinely believes his own hype. He genuinely believes he is taking up the cause of the millions who read FPS. And maybe he did genuinely think that those who made fun of him on twitter were making anti-India statements.

Whatever. It is fun reading Bhagat's self-important blogs. Even more fun than listening to Aamir's self-important views on everything.