Outside view on the Inside Edge

Inside Edge is an Amazon Original made for their most exciting market – India.  Produced by Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar’s powerful production house, Excel Entertainment, this series has everything going for it. India, the cricket crazed country has the world’s richest T20 league, the Indian Premier League (IPL). The IPL has the perfect mix of cricket, glitz and glamour which has enthralled the world in general and India in particular and this is exactly the sweet spot ‘Inside Edge’ hits.

My personal rating for this entire Season 1 (10 episodes) is 3 stars out of 5. Yes, it is an average rating, still this series has a lot going for it (got 3 stars after all!) but there was a lot it could have been (now you know where it lost the other 2 stars!).

About the Tournament

inside-edge-teaser-out-now-square-6-8-2017.jpgI have already stated that we are one cricket crazy nation (yes, I am one of the fanatics) and so the plot was perfect for a maiden series. I loved the title because in cricket an Inside edge is a double edged sword. It saves you in case there is an LBW appeal against you but can also be your downfall if instead of the pad, the ball crashes in to the stumps. Sometimes the inside edge can bring you lucky runs and sometimes when the luck is against you, get you out too! The association of this phenomenon with that of the rampant spot fixing in cricket in general and T20 leagues in particular is indeed well done.

The Playing XI

It does have a good star cast with proven actors like Richa Chadha, Vivek Oberoi and Sanjay Suri among the old names.  New and upcoming actors like Angad Bedi, Tanuj Virwani, Sara Jane Dias etc add to the freshness to the cast. Must say that the casting director has done a very good job.

Inside-Edge-Featured-ImageAll the actors have put in a good and convincing performance especially Richa (forget her wardrobe, it was horrible! and that is being polite). There will be comparisons of her character with that of Preity Zinta in real life but if you see the series you will realise that the makers have ensured there isn’t much common there.

Vivek Oberoi’s character also seems to be modeled on Vijay Mallya as he is called Vikrant and the V is displayed most of the time in the background shots. Again, if you watch the series, there is nothing Mallya like in Vikrant’s character. He is a typical one dimensional Bollywood bad guy. Wish his role had more layers than that. Even with this limitation Vivek manages to give glimpses of why he had almost ruled Bollywood at a point in time only to be relegated to being a “bad boy” these days (calling out the ‘bad boy’ in real life just does not pay in the long run..does it?).

Angad Bedi looks a very convincing captain and good guy, so does Sanjay Suri as Mr Coach and ex-player who has dabbled with spot fixing in his playing days. For me Tanuj Virwani stole the show. He was brilliant playing the role of Vayu, the talented star who gives a damn hang about anyone on the outside. However he is still compassionate about people close to him especially his sister, ex-girlfriend and the budding fast bowler. Tanuj carries of this role so well that you actually start rooting for him towards the end (Trivia: He is the son of yesteryear’s leading lady Rati Agnihotri)

Predictable Powerplays

The first episode of the series had started well but then it slipped into too many cliches. While I don’t say that cricket is a ‘pure’ game, I find it a little difficult to believe that someone can snort cocaine and then go ahead and play a full game. The bit about casteism seemed force fitted too.

A lot has been written about spot fixing in cricket, the focus here is on the play the owner of ‘Mumbai Mavericks’ makes to earn more money.  If this is so rampant then I wonder why the makers have concentrated on only one team? What if the other team’s owner was also playing his own fixing game? My guess is that this would have complicated this series a lot more for the makers to manage. I still feel that this gives a wrong impression that only one team in the entire tournament is compromised, which is never true.

Seems like the makers took everything that is rotten in the game, put it in a box and magnified (read as fictionalised) it. I wish some attention had been paid to the ground realities of the game too rather than making it so overtly dramatized. However, the scenes where cricket is played are quite authentically shot

The build up towards the final episode of the season is good but what brings it down is its  eventual predictability! The climax particularly felt hurried and weak

Match Summary

So all in all there isn’t anything memorable about this series but it is surely a step in the right direction as far as original Indian content is concerned and a welcome break from all the ‘saas-bahu’ and socially regressive dramas playing on national TV. The production of the series is good and up to international standard.

I sincerely hope that Season 2 will have much better strokes which are pleasing to the eyes rather than inside edges!

 

Trailer of the series

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Upgrading my BQ

bollywood

At the usual ‘chai’ time in the office cafeteria, the bratty bunch got to ‘gossiping’ about Bollywood: the controversies, link ups, who is cheating on whom blah blah blah! The topic of discussion was the genealogy of SRK’s son Abram and it ended at the yesteryear heart throb Dimple Kapadia. I committed this ultimate sin by uttering the words “Duh, really, I didn’t know this”. The looks I got ranged from “Were you born yesterday?” to “Do you live on an island bro?”. To make matters worse, they know about my connection to Bollywood. In that light my ignorance was sacrilege!

My maternal grandfather used to work in Roopkala Pictures as a production manager and he later produced a film called Ek Hasina Do Diwane in 1972 under his own banner RG ek_hasina_do_diwanefilms. The film bombed and I don’t think he went back to working in the industry again. All this was some years before I was born. I had a very formal relationship with my maternal grandfather. He used to visit home often to meet us, but I never really got to discussing movies or hearing his stories. My exposure to Bollywood was limited to the stories I heard from my mother and looking at the photographs of my parents’ wedding that was graced by stars like Shashi Kapoor and Jitendra.

In the pre-internet days, the source of movie gossip was always film magazines. Every month a close family friend used to get a bunch of these from his office library for my mom and uncle. I was usually the last one to get a quick sneak peek at these. (The likes of ‘Debonair’ were out of reach…but not for long!) As I grew up, reading about Bollywood was considered ‘uncool’ and I moved away from it, though my love for movie watching has stayed with me all along.

Thanks to the social media boom now, film gossip is omnipresent. News like what the stars are wearing to the airport are trending these days and their twitter feeds are news themselves! However, I find myself reluctant to follow every bit of this so called ‘news’. Although so much is written and spoken about these people, we still want to know more. If it is a plain serious book about an actor or actress’s life it will not hold the regular reader’s interest. What sells is gossip, news that needs to be consumed and  probably forgotten.

So how am I tackling my lack of Bollywood Quotient (BQ)? Surely not by reading film magazines or gossip blogs, but by reading the books by and on film personalities or movies. Earlier, I had read the book about making of the classic movie ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro’ by Jai Arjun Singh. It was a fascinating book, about what went into making this movie. The scenes you thought were the best in the movie actually turn out to be accidentally shot or improvised on due to non availability of resources! Did you know that this technically was Anupam Kher’s first movie and not Saransh! This movie was funded by NFDC and they had strict guidelines on the length of the film. Mr Kher’s part added few mins extra to the prescribed length and hence he had to be edited out! The book is peppered with such anecdotes. Subjects like these have really caught my interest as to what went behind the scenes while making moves

Recently, I read Rishi Kapoor’s autobiography, and this has piqued my interest in knowing more about the lives of stars too. How to they handle all this adulation? What do they go through when people gossip about them? I felt Mr Kapoor was quite guarded in this book about a lot of things. However, it was a good glimpse into the life of the ‘son of a famous father and father to a famous son!’

I have already started building up my ‘to read’ queue in this genre. If you have a ready list then do share in the comments section! The more the merrier!

Interesting Links

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Dearest Dad

It’s quite ironical that today on Father’s day I sat down to write a few words about dad. While doing the research I came across a letter which I had written to him a couple of years ago and there it was. I don’t think any more words were required to complete this. Yes, It is a personal letter but it is still relevant to any father child relationship, as I feel the core issues always remain the same.

Since the day this letter was written my life took a turn for the worse and sent some very hard lessons across my way. My father has stood by me all along like a rock. Guess I had surely done some good karma in my past life to get to choose him as a father in this life. So here is what I had written

Dear Dad,

I don’t think I have yet overcome the block in my head to express what I really feel for you in person and have hence chosen the option which I am better at in this context i.e. writing.

I have always been an open critic of yours since the teenage years when I saw my ‘business empire’ bubble burst when we hit a financial crises. But today as I am older and a father myself, I understand you better as a father and as a human being. Research states that the way we grow up and all related issues deal with the way our relationships have been with the father. While I was busy learning and experiencing this aspect, I will turn seven as a father this year. This letter of course is not about my reflections on fatherhood but it is my acknowledgement of you as a good father.

You have raised me on two very strong foundations which are my pillars of strength till date as I face the challenges of life. They are the love for music and understanding the importance of being spiritual.

By playing the lovely sitar strings, which as a child and teenager I never appreciated, somewhere sub-consciously they made a place in my heart. As a rebel I took to listening to Rock music but I never understood that the underlying love of guitar strings had its foundation in the lovely sitar strings which you always played. I was too shy or call it egoistic to ever appreciate that quality of yours. But I do now. Thank you for that. Appreciation of music of all kinds does make my world go around

They say that if you play a musical instrument with love then in that moment you are closest to god. I guess you derived the appreciation of the cosmic space from this. Again, an area of my critique where I always told you not to throw philosophy at me. While I tried to block your sensible words, each one of them seeded themselves somewhere in my head and heart. The presence of saints at The Nest and your appreciation of the divine has helped me understand myself and my surroundings better. It has taken me a while to get there but then the journey is always the most important part. You started me on that journey of discovery and I can never thank you enough for that. May be it was the destiny of this soul to be your son and learn how life needs to be viewed and lived.

I don’t know what the future holds for us. But always remember that you have been great as a father to me and have done the best you could. No poisonous words from my mouth can ever replace these words written from the heart. If you think they ever do then please read this letter again.

Luv

Nishant

 

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Fade to black

“Sir, see the view from this side, you can see the airport”. said the property agent. I was hardly looking in that direction. My eyes were fixed right on the Metallica_2ground, 5 stories below. These are the small moments in your life where a brain fade could mean a difference between life and death. Yes, I was toeing that line for quite a while (maybe I still am). In those days, every time I stood on a high rise, something within me screamed – Jump now and end it all! All this pain and hurt is not worth living for! The voice is eventually fading thanks to my family and friends who speak to me daily and check on me.

Since the last couple of months, everyday there is at least one story on suicide in the newspapers. People killing themselves along with their families seems like a growing epidemic in the entire country. To make matters worse there have been some who have broadcasted this deed live on social media! The recent one being the 35 year old producer Atul Tapkir who put up a post blaming his spouse before ending his life.

India holds the dubious record of having the highest number of suicides globally in 2015, the farmer suicides in the villages was a big contributor to this. Fade_awayThe government as well as the NGOs are doing what they can, but we need a lot more than that. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) report titled ‘Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders — Global Health Estimates’ in 2015, around 5 crore Indians suffering from depression and it is one of the leading causes of suicidal deaths globally.

Recently the Indian parliament decriminalized suicide in the Mental Health Bill. Finally common sense prevails, it is horrible enough that the person feels its not worth living his/her life and then to get prosecuted for failing to take one’s life was ridiculous!

So, the question still remains, does suicide really set you free? Our scriptures say that unless and until karma has its say, you cannot escape it. So if you end your life for whatever issue vexes you this life, then it will show up in a different form in the next (maybe in a worse form). But what about now? None have seen what will happen post this life, its too difficult for an average human brain to imagine a world bLast resorteyond what you see and feel. If that itself is looking horrid at the moment then where is the question of even thinking about after life? When you don’t know how to swim and you are drowning with not much help in sight. You are moving your arms and legs to stay afloat, you scream but no one hears. If some do hear, then how would it feel if they screamed, “Stop getting scared!” and start giving you a lesson on how to swim! Yes, this is exactly how people react. Nobody jumps into save the person and that is where you think this struggle is just not worth it. Let me just sink and get over with.

People sayMetallica_Fade_to_black suicide is a sign of weakness. I say when you are drowning or standing on the edge of a cliff thinking about jumping or going down, it is the scariest thing to do. This is not a debate about bravery or cowardice, its about choosing life or death. I really don’t have any concluding argument here. For me it is each one on to their own. At the end of the day it is your life and you decide whether it is going to be your only one or next one will be better.

As of now I have decided to let my karma play its part, while I keep the cheat sheet in my back pocket.

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Inshallah…if it be Your will

asylumseeker-1024x614

Like almost every other utterance by anyone anywhere these days, Inshallah, a lovely song from Sting’s latest album, 57th and 9th has stirred up controversy. What fueled this was his decision to play this song at the Bataclan concert in Paris. This was the first live concert there after the massacre by ISIS in which 90 innocent lives were lost. Naysayers interpreted this song differently and said Sting meant to disrespect the people who died on that day by singing Inshallah and that it was God’s will that it happened. How small and ridiculous!

Anyone who has been following Sting and his work would know that he is not the kind to court controversy for publicity sake. Each of his albums has a few songs which always bring out his view on a current social or political issue: ‘Russians’, ‘Work the black seam’, ‘Fragile’, being a few in the long list of such beautiful allegories.

The song ‘Inshallah’ tells a heart-breaking story of a family who has just set sail from their home in Syria because of the turmoil there. They do not know what’s in store for them.  but then ‘Inshallah’ whose meaning comes in the lines that follow, says if it be Your will, it shall come to pass. Such a beautiful and powerful meaning encompassed in just one word. The family is surrendering itself to the will of God and with the hope that this too shall pass. The simplicity of the lyrics, the music and the soul in the song is remarkable and is vintage Sting. His songs are actually poetry. For example, see the opening lines of this song below:

Sleeping child, on my shoulder
Those around us, curse the sea
Anxious mother turning fearful
Who can blame her, blaming me?

This is the hallmark of Sting, a simple yet powerful use of words  painting a crystal clear image every time you hear them. 

Another example of his depth is in the following lines:

Sea of worries, sea of fears
In our country, only tears
In our future there’s no past
If it be your will, it shall come to pass

The sea here is both real and metophorical, symbolic of their worries and fears, and the vast uncertainties that they are plunging into. The third line is again such a clever use of words with so much depth.

How can a humble and a simple prayer with so much depth be a source of controversy. I fail to understand that.

The official video of this song has still not been released but I am sure it will have its share of controversy whenever it will be. However, for now I am sharing this fan-made video with heart-wrenching visuals of the Syrian crisis.

After seeing this, all one can say is…Inshallah! If it be Your will, it shall come to pass 

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Something to Save

Dearest George Michael,

By the time I publish this post you would have gone really far into the spirit world. I still can’t believe that you decided to go-go without waking me up. Every Christmas, ‘Last Christmas’ echoed in my ears; did this year too only to fade away too soon. I thought another album was just around the corner, but I guess that was not meant to be. Hopefully you did leave behind a treasure trove of unreleased music which would now see the light of the day.

gmHeard your ‘Careless Whispers’ while I was a child without understanding a word you sang but loved the silky passionate voice. Sang ‘Freedom’ loudly through the then available Archie’s lyrics booklet. I watched with baited breath as you took ‘A different corner’ only to return and repose my ‘Faith’ in your musical genius.

When my heart broke, you made me realise I was ‘Kissing a fool’ and had to get this ‘Monkey’ off my back and stop being the ‘Father Figure’.

Saw you evolve when you asked to ‘Listen without prejudice’ and start ‘Praying for time’. You had moved on, but I had not. It took a lot to ‘Heal the pain’ and set the ‘Soul Free’. But then you disappeared for a while only to return ‘Older’ and wiser.

By this time I was old enough, and appreciated your evolution as a musician and a lyricist. Each word you sang sank deep into the heart. Though I lost touch with your new music, I never stopped listening to all your older songs. I am sure me and your other fans will never ‘Let the sun go down’ on your music. This lovely legacy you have left behind for us.

Guess, the following song is appropriate to end this letter to you. A cover which you gave life to. Originally written and sung by Stevie Wonder and performed by him at Michael Jackson’s funeral.

They wont go when I go

George Michael’s version of the song

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/georgemichael/theywontgowhenigo.html

RIP George and enjoy your Freedom!

Cheers,

An Ardent Fan.

 

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A tribute to the Lizard King

jm

“People are strange, when you’re a stranger, faces look ugly, when you’re alone”. 

Sung by Jim Morrison, the heart and soul of the band The Doors. These lines resonate every time I travel to an unknown place. He created a new sound in the world of rock in the late 60’s and left many yearning for more as Jim died at the age of 27 in mysterious circumstances.

Today, December 8th, is his birthday and what better day than this to type some thoughts on this poet, avid reader, song writer and singer (yes, in that order!)

Jim Morrison, who was also called the Lizard King (thanks to his poem titled ‘Celebration of the Lizard’), is still an intriguing story for fans across the world. His story is not that of your rags- to-riches kind of story. It’s that of  kind repressed soul who searched for meaning to his life while living it on his own terms, only to (reportedly) walk out on it. His death, like his life and songs, was full of questions with no concrete answers and still remains an anomaly. To this day his grave in the Pére-Lachaise cemetery in Paris is one of the most visited sites in the city.

I have followed his music for over 2 decades. ‘Roadhouse Blues’ was the very first song I heard, thanks to my dear friend MK, who was instrumental in getting me to ‘The Doors’. As it was my passion then, I went on to listen to all the albums of this upstart bandjim-morrison-quotes-3. ‘The End’ is and will always be one of the most interesting songs of our lifetime. With its references to Oedipus Rex, the lyrics shocked me when I first heard this song. But then that’s the hallmark of Jim Morrison. Shock and Awe! 

One of my other favorite Doors song is ‘Riders on the storm’. There are tons of interpretations of what Jim meant to communicate in this song and I will keep mine to myself, but the lines which I love the most are, “Girl, you gotta love your man, take him by the hand and make him understand. The World on you depends, our life will never end. Gotta love your man, yeah!”

Jim Morrison is an antithesis of me. jim-morrison-quotesIn fact, there have been times when I so hate Jim for wasting God’s gift of poetry and music and letting drugs and alcohol ruin him.

I just finished re-reading his biography, Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend by Stephen Davis. This time I understood Jim a little more. Read between the lines and contemplated the words and I saw a very different Jim underneath all the show: someone who was very intelligent, may be too much for his own good. He expressed his anger, frustrations and thoughts in his poems, songs, singing and of course unacceptable social behavior.

Jim Morrison is someone who I really cannot be, but somewhere something within does resonate with him. Every other day the voice inside my head croons these lines from the ‘The End’ in a Jim-like voice…

This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend
The end of our elaborate plans
The end of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I’ll never look into your eyes again
Can you picture what will be?
So limitless and free

Desperately in need of some stranger’s hand
In a desperate land…

…This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end
It hurts to set you free
But you’ll never follow me
The end of laughter and soft lies
The end of nights we tried to die
This is the end

SOURCES:

What Wiki says about him

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Morrison

The end – A song he wrote when he was only 21 years old!

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