Sunday, June 9, 2013

Soodhu Kavvum- A twinkle in the serpent’s eye.

What on earth a cinema does?  Why do we keep gazing at the imposing white rectangle of moving images for over a century?  For just entertainment…? Though mainly a pastime, cinema is here for reasons beyond that. There is that charming, visually enriched story teller in cinema who would drain our emotions, tickle us to bouts of laughs, amuse us, elate us, sometimes even enlighten and educate us.Man is eternally attracted to this most enthralling modern day invention which has been inseparably embedded  in every major language-culture of the world, we can say that in cinema runs a parallel history of these cultures too.

Though a serious business, at times cinema can laugh at itself, we have proofs in spoofs and cinema didn't have hesitated to venture out of its notional boundaries and limited number of templates. We have seen mavericks and people who usually do the unusual at film making. Almost all the possibilities are given a try. Out of one such possibility comes to us the ‘unburdened movie’ which a traditional movie buff would scoff at.

Soodhu Kavvum belongs to this ‘unburdened’ category and it relieves us of cinema’s usual clutches while we can enjoy it whole-heartedly. If you expected a picaresque in Tamil Cinema Soodhu Kavvum presents itself with almost in its fullness the ‘details of the humorous adventures of a roguish hero of low social degree living by his wits in a corrupt society’. This is only the story of an amateur kidnapper and his aides with all twists and turns of an usual cinema but the treatment is what that makes the difference. Soodhu Kavvum celebrates ludicrousness and because of just that it becomes so very close to us.

This is the movie in which a fictitious character –Shalu (within the story) is presented without special light effects or dry ice fog. This is the movie in which you see T. Rajendar  on the wall of a bachelors room. This the movie in which we find a kidnapper who takes a day off in the middle of a deal because that day happens to be a Sunday. This is the movie in which the usually most feared and revered encounter-specialist cop is kicked in the ass with a pistol shot. The film consciously prevents itself from leaning towards high emotion (when Shalu dies) or heroic valour ( while handling the encounter-specialist cop).

The entire cast of the movie deserves our praise. Vijay Sethupathy’s is a brilliant performance. His aides also do a commendable job. Dialogue is the forte of this movie. For want of nuanced subtlety from audience Soohdu Kavvum risks being written off for its incongruousness and it could well be the dialogue that comes to the rescue in such a situation. Nalan Kumarasamy and his crew deserve all praise for this healthy trend-setter in Tamil Cinema.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Obvious Agent Arumugam

(Obvious Agent Arumugam is a comical character which I have planned to portray in my upcoming work of fiction. Here is a portion from the write up)

‘The arrogant and the crocodile hardly let go what they have at their hold’ Mimya used this adage when once I was so adamant with my silly argument that had pushed her to the verge of accepting defeat. Obvious Agent Arumugam was one such crocodile I often came across. Obvious Agent Arumugam as his name suggests had no secret operations or missions at his keep but his own living with tantalizing intellectual absurdity skirting freaky pragmatism bundled in pseudo philosophy.

The eloquent Mr.Arumugam was not a typical chatterbox, but a well tuned jukebox and all we needed was to drop coins of innocent questions which would kindle him instantly. He would play his intellectual tunes nonstop. He was dead sure that in the world things were just  the way  he had envisioned them and he had not an iota of doubt that they were the other way around. He loved to talk like a caged parakeet which had starved in self-imposed silence for aeons. Whatever was the matter, he never hesitated to open his mouth and unleash the barrage of words.  His knowledge included everything from Communism to Cannibalism, Adolf Hitler to Haruki Murakami, Arthritis ailment to Automobile expertise. We asked and he said, explained, elaborated and enlightened us without his enthusiasm dropping off a bit.  He had his wits alive as an owl which had its gaze fixed on a prey. He would tell us that how Jenny led an embattled life with Groucho Marx, the meekest of us would ask meekly ‘wasn’t it Carl instead of Groucho, Mr. Arumugam?’, then the owl of his wit would come into play. ‘You know Carl is synonymous to Groucho in German, very few people in history knew that Carl had been affectionately called as Groucho, even sometimes as Khrushchev’.

Arumugam was known for his uncompromising tidiness, for him godliness was next only to cleanliness. He was three times more cleaner when compared to any one of us. He washed his plate once before eating and twice after the meal. He would just sniff at the cup of steaming hot coffee and say that the cup had been washed only twice. Self-trumpeting came so naturally to Mr. Arumugam but he had the ability to sheath it in seemingly uncontrived humility.  When Obvious Agent Arumugam gets hold of a fart which can’t sting even the humblest of noses he would make tall claims to the levels of holocaust gassing and the never found WMD of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Yet he dared not to let go the fart through the butt portion of his pants beneath which, as some of us strongly believed, he had his divine brain. ‘You have your souls in your butt cleavage’ a poet wrote and Obvious Agent Arumugam chose to have his mind there for reasons not so obvious to us. For him the fart that passes through as a fart is something unacceptable since it was from his butt hole.

Without the likes of  Arumugam the world would be a place of acute oscitancy, so we are much indebted to them. By being so obviously sober they cause us our discreet laughs. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sri Lalgudi G Jayaraman :The Violin Virtuoso

A Tribute to the Living Legend of Violin, Sri Lalgudi G Jayaraman On the Occasion of His 80th Birthday

‘Music is a way; one has to travel in it. A whole life won’t be enough for the travel’

                      It has been almost seven decades since the boy wonder from Lalgudi started making waves in the arena of Carnatic Music. The boy, a tender 12 year old, was accompanying violinist to none other than stalwarts in the field, the Alathur Brothers. According to his own recollection of the event he didn’t have the slightest affright on the stage. He had done his home work perfectly. It is the sheer hard work coupled with extraordinary genius which the world later came to know as Sri Lalgudi G Jayaraman, the violin virtuoso nonpareil.

                  The violin, essentially a western musical instrument has gained prominence in the field of Carnatic Music and many believe that Lalgudi G Jayaraman’s bonding with the instrument has played a major role behind this crowning glory of the instrument.  The master and his violin have journeyed through decades of mesmerising music and along the way have enthralled multitudes of music fans with serene music.

               Young lalgudi had been in great demand for accompanying vocalists, and he had accompanied such great vocal masters as Ariyakkudi Sri Ramanuja Iyengar, Semmangudi Sri Srinivasa Iyer, Sri G. N. Balasubramaniam, Alathur Brothers, Karaikkudi Sambasiva Iyer. As music critics would point out, Lalgudi’s violin wasn’t just accompanying, it was playing an individual concert in its own right. Thus Lalgudi rewrote the definition of an accompanist, as one critic put it; he made his violin  sing.

The legend recollects memories of his early days as a musician.

                 “I used to listening to concerts. There weren’t any concerts in Lalgudi at that time. We only listened to concerts on radio. Only the rich had radios in those days. A journal used to come to those people who possessed radios. There were detailed schedules of concerts broadcast on radio. When musicians like Semmangudi, Alathur Brothers were going to give concerts, with date and exact time, the schedules will be given in that journal. I would take notes of the schedule and inform the radio-owner in advance about the concerts I was going to listen to. Usually these concerts were broadcast on Friday evenings between 7 and 9.30. I will listen to them keenly and back home I will play them exactly the way they were. I will travel to Tiruchi and Tanjore in train, paying three quarters of a rupee for the ticket, to listen to concerts. Again back home in Lalgudi I will play the songs from my memory. I took the concerts sportively. I didn’t feel frightened at anyone’s concert then. Once an awed Mani Iyer asked me how come that I played all the songs so finely. I used to listen to your songs many times on radio, I said. He was so happy to hear that. Before a concert, I had the habit of practicing the songs that particular musician would sing in the concert. So there wasn’t the question of being frightened at all. I played with enjoyment, for me there wasn’t any difficulties in doing concerts either.”

 Whenever there is a talk about this man why hyperboles galore, and what does his music have indeed?

                     "The ingredients of his music are a fascinating tonal allure, a scintillating and polished delivery, a flawless fluency, a preternatural grasp of the ins-and-outs of Laya, an unflagging zeal, splendid resourcefulness, an unruffled self possession, an effortless virtuosity, a fine sense of proportion, a tautness of texture, an impeccable musical idiom and total creative brilliance.  In short, it is a sweet ensemble of the choicest artistic virtues" These are Prof. Ramanathan’s words on Lalgudi G Jayaraman’s music. This is not just Prof. Ramanathan’s eulogy on the maestro. But a spontaneously abounding praise for the music genius found in the depth of every music lover’s heart, still waiting for the right combination of words to get expressed.

            From being an accompanist he started creating his own music too. His compositions are widely appreciated and his unique pattern of music has become a trend and is called as ‘Lalgudi Bani’.

                   One chronicler says “He revolutionised the style of violin playing by inventing a whole new technique that is designed to best suit the needs of Indian Classical Music and establishing a unique style that came to be known as 'Lalgudi Bani'. His flawless and fascinating style, graceful and original, yet not divorced from traditional roots gained him numerous fans. This multi dimensional personality have to his credit composed several 'kritis', 'tillanas' and 'varnams' and dance compositions, which are a scintillating blend of raga, bhava, rhythm and lyrical beauty. The unique feature about Lalgudi is that his music is very expressive. Lalgudi's instrumental genius comes to the fore in the form of lyrical excellence. He brought the most-sought-after vocal style into violin, and his renditions exhibit knowledge of lyrical content of the compositions.”

      Sri Lalgudi passionately remembers his father Sri Goapala Iyer, who was not only his father but also his Guru, an ardent fan, a fervent critic and all.“….. There was a force within me which created all that was from within me. That force kept on composing music anew inside me… in the morning, in the evening, at midnight… all the time. I will play them to my father. He was my Guru, an ardent fan, a fervent critic and all to me.”

      Violin can be attributed to be his third hand. What does the maestro have to say about his beloved companion?

         “Americans say that the violin is an unmatched musical instrument. I am not sure about next birth, but if there would be one I would like to born as a violinist again. There is no musical instrument like the violin. In a Thirukkural, Valluvar says ‘Only people who hadn’t listened to the prattle of young children would claim that the most mellifluous music is that of the flute and the harp’. But had Valluavar got the chance to listen to the violin he would have said otherwise. Even without any mythological background (unlike the veena and the flute) the violin has carved a place for itself in classical music.”

Concerts and Accolades Abroad

                       He has given concerts extensively in India as well as abroad. The Government of India sent him to Russia as a member of the Indian Cultural Delegation. At the Edinburgh festival in 1965, Yehudi Menuhin, the renowned violinist, impressed by Lalgudi's technique, presented him with his Italian violin. He has also performed in Singapore, Malaysia, Manila and East European countries. His recordings submitted to the International Music Council, Baghdad, Asian Pacific Music Rostrum and Iraq Broadcasting Agency by AIR New Delhi have been adjudged as the best and accorded the first position out of 77 entries received from the various countries during 1979.
                         He was invited to give concerts at Cologne, Belgium and France. The Government of India chose him to represent India at the Festival of India in USA and in London and he gave solo and 'Jugalbandi' concerts in London and also in Germany and Italy that received rave reviews. Sri Lalgudi went on a tour in the year 1984 to Oman, UAE, Qatar and Bahrain that was highly successful. He composed the lyrics and music for the operatic ballet 'Jaya Jaya Devi' which premiered in 1994 at Cleveland, U.S. and was staged in many other cities in United States. In October 1999, Lalgudi performed in UK under the auspices of Shruthi Laya Seva Sangham. The concert was a roaring success. After the concert a Dance Drama 'Pancheswaram', composed by Lalgudi was

                        Chief popular music critic in the arts section of the New York Times, John Pareles wrote, "Like other Indian violinists, Lalgudi Jayaraman holds his instrument downward, between the chest and ankle. He has a warm tone and a style that used long liquid slides between notes and the contrast between full-toned playing and clear, is quiet melodious. The style is essentially vocalistic, although there were a few points at which he varied the single lines of melody by playing a double stop or a plucked note”

                  In abroad people used to remark that he produced unfamiliar music from a familiar musical instrument.When asked which is the place that he enjoyed most presenting a concert? Unhesitatingly comes the reply,

              “None. I was always concerned about making my fans happy with my music. I hardly cared about places”.


The genius has earned several titles like 'Nada Vidya Tilaka' by Music Lovers’ Association of Lalgudi in 1963, 'Padma Shri' by the Government of India in 1972, 'Nada Vidya Rathnakara' by East West Exchange in New York, 'Vadya Sangeetha Kalaratna' by Bharathi Society, New York; 'Sangeetha Choodamani' by Federation of Music Sabhas, Madras in 1971 and in 1972; State Vidwan of Tamil Nadu by the Government of Tamil Nadu and Sangeetha Natak Academy award in 1979 etc. The First Chowdaiah Memorial National-Level award was given to Sri Jayaraman by the Chief Minister of Karnataka. He has also received honorary citizenship of Maryland, U.S. in 1994and the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 2001. He has won The National Film Award for Best Music Direction for the film ‘Sringaram’ in 2006.

The divinity of Lalgudi’s music

                It is a state of absolute bliss and one gets immersed in serene music when Lalgudi performs. He conjures all the emotions of the lyrics in the instrumental version. “Sweet sounds, Oh, beautiful music, do not cease! Reject me not into the world again. These lines of Edna St. Vincent Millay is spoken out while she listens to Beethoven and the same is longingly mussitated by the fans of Sri Lalgudi as they get themselves engrossed in his music.

             There was this music loving tailor who was also a devoted fan of Sri Lalgudi. Once he was invited for a concert by Lalgudi. He was overwhelmed with joy and at the same time very anxious and couldn’t help waiting till the evening to attend the concert. In apparent state of fervour he began to pray, “Dear god, do keep me alive till this evening”. A number of such incidents stand testimony to Sri Lalgudi’s spellbinding, divine and incomparable euphony.

           It seems that we cannot attribute the most humble, conventional saying that is used to sum up the lives of unparalleled legends- ‘There is very little that he/she hasn’t achieved’.  Sri Lalgudi has in fact left no stones unturned in his illustrious career as a musician. By any yardstick he measures to the full, sometimes even more than that. On his 80th birthday we bow our heads in loving reverence before Sri Lalgudi and wish him many many more happy returns of the day.


What would be the atmosphere at home as you ready yourself for a concert?

                    “I practice thoroughly in a calm atmosphere. I take gruel or something else for breakfast and continue the practice. All in the house take care that I am not disturbed. Then only I am able to get the calmness I desire.”


                          Most famous for his Thillanas and Varnams, Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman is a considered one of the most prolific composers of modern times.His compositions span four languages ( Tamil, Telugu , Kannada and Sanskrit) as well as a whole range of ragas not conventionally used for Varnams or Thillanas. Characteristic of his style, the melody of his compositions carefully camouflages subtle rhythmic intricacies. His compositions are very popular with Bharathanatyam dancers, even as they have become a standard highlight of every leading Carnatic Musician's repertoire.
Leisure Activities

How does the legend spend his leisure time?

                    “I like being a ‘rasika’. I awe at nature. I awe at the million and million years of unfailing routine of the sun and at God who created it. ‘To be able to adore nature is a gift from God’. Rain, plants, the wonder of flowers blossoming, I cherish and savour all this. When we talk about nature there inevitably come God. Because God is the creator of all nature. (Nature means beauty and beauty is nothing but God).

                    I am interested in games. I am more drawn towards puzzles and riddles. I like cracking jokes, a lot of them. In places like Muscat and in the USA, after I finish my concerts people would ask me tell jokes and I will oblige them. They will enjoy the jokes and some will even record them.

                    I play the Keyboard, the  flute and the harmonium in leisure times. Lord Muruga is my favourite deity. God is an energy, power. We can call it by masculine names, femeinine names like  Devi, and whatever name we like to.”

On Actors, Films and Other Musicians

              “I like Sivaji Ganesan and I like watching James Bond and Hitchcock movies, I like watching cartoons too (I like eating popcorn). When I travel abroad I watch movies of those countries to know how they differ from ours.   In playback singing Lata Mangeshkar, Mehdi Hassan, Mohammad Rafiq, T.M. Soudararajan, P. Suseela, S. Janaki and S.P. Balasubramaniam are my favourites. In  Carnatic Music I love listening to great masters like G.N.B, Madurai Mani, Alathur Brothers, Semmangudi, Palakkad Mani Iyer, Pazhani- (Mrudangam).”

An Ideal Student

What makes an ideal musical student?

                      “A music student’s state of mind should be light and clean and the desire to learn should be undiminished. There has to be discipline, readiness to work hard and obedience. The student has to earnestly absorb whatever the Guru teaches and develop those little openings into big paths by his own efforts. One who aspires to become a musician should have in his mind the sentence ‘I have to learn’. He should listen to good musician and appreciate them and to take them as his role models. He has to work on to become one like them.”

What should be the ideal state of mind for an upcoming artist?

                     “Music is really an enormous thing. I have to better my learning; I have to better my performance. This kind of mind set is to be there. The student has to look for certain nuances from big musicians. He has to absorb them and modify them to be called as his own. I still feel like a student, a senior student in that case. Music is not a thing it is a way. Travel how far you can and make the most of it. An artist should never think that he has learnt everything. The desire to learn should be endless. Art is like an exploration. If you stop exploring there stops the art too. A musician should know the nuances of enjoying the music while he creates it. As he performs he should have he ability to be his own listener thus evaluating and improving his music in the process.”

                  His son G. J. R. Krishnan and his daughter Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi follow the footsteps of their great father and are famous in their own rights.

          We are so happy to be a part of his 80th birthday celebrations of the maestro. We bow our heads in loving reverence before Sri Lalgudi and wish him many more happy returns of the day.

To conclude this article  here we quote Mr. Srikantiah, his long time friend, "...I tell you Lalgudi’s violin is really something else…the melody that he produces is simply out of this world…he will take that raaga’s Jiva and squeeze it completely of it’s rasa…” There is 500 to 600 hours of recorded music from this incomparable genius which is really a treasure trove for his fans all over the world.

       We are so happy to be a part of Sri Lalgudi’s 80th birthday celebrations. We bow our heads in loving reverence before Sri Lalgudi and wish him many more happy returns of the day.

 This article was written by me on the occasion of Lalgudi Jayaraman's 80th birthday in 2010. I wrote this with inputs from various sources. My sincere thanks to Abra Media and Mr. Sreeraman on whose request I wrote this.

V.V.S. Laxman:The Mark of a Diminishing Era.


     Cricket fans were delighted to call Vangipurappu Venkata Sai Laxman as Very Very Special Laxman and undoubtedly he deserved every letter in that sobriquet. V.V.S. Laxman had indeed been a special thing in Indian batting for over a decade and a half. Though he lacked the charisma of Ganguly, Dravid and the incomparable Tendulkar, he formed the formidable quartet of Indian batting with these three, the quartet which reigned supreme for about a decade starting from the late 90s. Laxman was endowed with a natural stroke play which stayed somewhere between sublime art and absolute elegance. He may not have had the wristy elegance of his fellow Hyderabadi Mohammed Azaruddin in ditto but at times he reminded us of the former Indian skipper with those silky touches. He batted as if batting is a 9 to 5 job and all he needed was to stay there in the middle. He never went after the bowling, was not in the mood to keep the scoreboard ticking and importantly not an ‘entertainer’ in the ’20-20’ era sense of the term. Thus he had been a quintessential Test cricketer and the bitter side of it was that he wasn’t a regular fixture in Indian ODI squads. During his career India played four world cup tourneys and Laxman had to watch all of them from the comfort of his home. 

The Kolkata Test in which India came from behind and turned the table on Australia Laxman scripted his unforgettable 281 in the second innings. That was his best knock and we all knew what was in store in this humble Hyderabadi.I remember one commentator quipping during this epic knock “He bats like a Maharaj”. But our Maharaj didn’t do justice to his cricketing potential on many occasions, may be our rajah wasn’t that ruthless in his hunts and let go his prey off the gun. He should have raised his bat and helmet- showing that piece of cloth that bulwarked his bald head from the rough inside of the headgear- in the cricketing fields more often than he did. This is the only complaint we have against this languid but committed cricketer. Laxman is a mark of a diminishing era in which cricket is played for the sake of cricket. We will miss your unhurried batting and that toothy smile VVS. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Persistently Incessant (About the Tamil documentary 'Ooya Maari')

Have we ever heard the name G.S.Lakshmana Iyer? For most of us the answer will not be in the affirmative, I believe. But, after watching the documentary ‘Ooyaa Maari’ one will wonder how this name was thrown into the oblivion of public memory while the life of the man on whom this documentary is made deserves to be found in the pages of our textbooks. ‘Ooyaa Maari’ (Incessant Rain) is a documentary by writer activist S. Balamurugan which introduces us a humble man who, against all odds, lived the life of a zealous social reformer who had dedicated his life for the upliftment of Dalits. In the course of his reformist life he gets ostracized by his own community and loses his wealth.  It was on Gandhi’s request that G.S. Lakshmana Iyer, a brahmin by birth, begins to work for the welfare of  Harijans in his locality. In his endeavour to keep his promise to Gandhi he faces many obstacles. Sheer determination and dedication helps him to overcome those obstacles.

The service he does to the Dalit people in his locality is not the superficial ones we usually witness from our so called leaders. Lakshmana Iyer is wholly dedicated in serving the Dalit community. He allows Dalits to draw water from his well. In those times water resources were used by the upper caste people as a tool to constrain Dalits and ensure their submissiveness to them. As he narrates, this act of Dalits drawing water from a well inside a brahmin’s house outrages other brahmins. They ostracize him. No one from his community comes forward to perform religious rituals at his home. He had to find a bride in far away Tanjore as brahmins in and around his town were unwilling to engage with his family in matrimony.   Unperturbed he carries on with his mission. Later when he becomes the Municipal president of Gopichettipalayam he digs wells in all Dalit neighborhoods. He also makes this town to be the first Municipality in the country to be manual scavenging free. As he says, he himself had volunteered manual scavenging during his prison days and knew its evils.   

He runs a hostel for poor Dalit children. He had to overcome obstructions like lack of money and people’s unwillingness to rent out houses for the hostel citing that Dalit students were going to stay there. His determination helps him overcome these and the hostel is being run even after his death.  

The life of G.S. Lakshmana  Iyer is neatly portrayed in this documentary and reveals us an unsung social hero. One cannot help but think that if there was at least one Gandhian  like  Lakshmana Iyer  in every district in Tamil Nadu, a lot would have been changed in the lives of Dalits in the state. As the commentator quips in the beginning of the documentary, this is not a story of an individual but an individual who had transformed into a man of society.  Lakshmana Iyer used to sing nonstop the patriotic songs of Subramania Bharathi and was called as 'Ooyaa Maari'- incessant rain- by his cellmates. But the Dalit people in and around Gopichettipalayam would give other reasons for calling him so.  

Balamurugan deserves all the praise for making this documentary which is rich not only in  content but also in presentation. The film has Lakshmana Iyer himself narrating things and towards the end it registers the death of him. This gives the documentary a sense of completion and perfection. Poet Lakshmanan’s voice over is majestic with subtle nuances of the region’s dialect which sinks well with the content.

For contact: S. Balamurugan, 54, Vallalar Nagar, Thondamuthur Main Road, Vadavalli, Coimbatore-641041. email:

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Dravid: Cricket’s Last Classicist Hangs Up his Boots Along with that Solid Bat!

“Batting is dance with just a piece of wood in your hands” (sic) –Charles Burgess Fry (Former English Cricketer)

           In the mid 90’s we fellows so innocuously worshipped Sachin Tendulkar, and the remaining 10 in the Indian cricket team were always taken for granted. But it was never our fault as the Little Master was pitilessly pulling down every cricketing record in sight.
In January 1999 I was watching the India-Pakistan test match at Chepauk. Tendulkar played that epic knock which almost took the team to the verge of winning the test. Dravid had not had a bad Test either (53&10), but in the second innings when Wasim Akram clean bowled him for 10 there was hardly a sigh in the stands. People knew that the match is not lost until Tendulkar was there so the exit of Lakshmans and Dravids doesn’t matter.  Even if Dravid had had a remarkably good knock the story wouldn’t have been any different. In the Tendulkar era (which started diminishing only a few years back) every other Indian cricketer was destined to the oblivion irrespective of his valuable contributions to the team.

         As I grew mature, I started realizing that One Day matches are cricket’s vanity. A true worshipper of cricket needs to follow the true game of cricket, which is Test match. So vehemently I followed Test matches and was booed by friends for being old fashioned. That’s how I discovered Rahul Dravid, his solid defence with which he would make a raging delivery lie like a lump of clay by the side of his toe and the elegance with which he scored runs. Batting is not all about scoring runs, defending a maverick delivery needs more cricketing genius than hitting a six out of an ordinary delivery, I would say.

        With that nonchalant look he played shots of extreme beauty, scored lots of runs, that too when the team needed them most. Literally he had been a scourge of bowlers but he downplayed the spirit to be seen as a dominant batsman. In South Africa once he hit a six off Allan Donald right over his head (Only a few batsmen would have imagined to hit a six off Donald when he was at his prime). A humiliated and incensed Donald started abusing him. Dravid stood there at the crease with that unchanged nonchalant look expecting the next delivery as if nothing had happened- the six or the making a scene by the bowler.

       ‘He wastes balls’ was the accusation everybody had to level against Dravid. I wonder whether such an accusation would have had any place in the era of Sir Bradman. The question of wasting balls itself is blasphemous and un-cricket. It is the ugly by product of limited-overs cricket. Accusing a cricketer of wasting balls is like blaming a sculptor for not using every bit of the rock.

      Like all the cricketing legends of the Tendulkar era Dravid too had to live under the shadow of a great cricketer, but in no way it undermines his own greatness as the exhausting numbers keep telling us. He is classicist in cricket and perhaps the last.  Dravid was gracious even as he announced his retirement. He did that before the question of hanging around could be raised. He sought no farewell on the field or waited to call it a day with a ‘good knock’. Adieu Dravid. We will miss you and your cricketing grace.



Sunday, October 2, 2011


As a kid I found it hard to grow a love for school and thus there wasn’t a teacher whom I loved then. I remember my uncle forcefully taking a quetching, crying me to school having me seated on his shoulder as if I were a sacrificial goat. I dreaded school. There was some little bit of this bitterness left in me even as I went inside the classroom on the last day of my schooling. I never knew then that I would have to spend most of my life inside classrooms. Now I do not complain about my destiny which made me a teacher but oftentimes, I remember to tell myself that ‘never make your classroom a dreaded arena for even a single student.’

Now, as I try to remember my teachers whom I like, there come many a names but as I wish to list out the ones whom I dislike surely there isn’t any. For any student there could hardly be a bad teacher. There are brilliant, skillful, affectionate, doting, funny teachers but never a bad teacher. Sometimes their teaching might have been under par and their attitude less inspiring but there would be nothing in them to hate or entirely detest them.

In these days of denigrating values the status of a teacher, which is unquestionable nobility, also has come under the scanner. Ceasing to be a noble cause, education too has become a vacuous enterprise. However, even as all our hopes wane, the classroom is the only place from whereon we can hope to grow something that can bring about a change in this world, which is full of malice.