Byomkesh Bakshi TV Series. Episodes 4-6

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Image Courtesy : Screenshot from Doordarshan Youtube Channel 

Suggested Reading : Byomkesh Bakshi TV Series Episodes 1-3

Episode 4 : Makdi ka Ras

Time Period : 1934, Calcutta

Plot of the case: Byomkesh is immersed in a case which was troubling him from long. Ajit suggests that they should go and take a walk. Byomkesh agrees and they go to a park. Ajit stumbles upon a friend, Mohan, who is a doctor. Upon knowing that Byomkesh Bakshi is with him, he narrates the problem of a household he visits as a doctor. Nandulal Babu, is in habit of taking Tarantula juice and despite all the methods tried out by them, they can’t rid him of the habit. Byomkesh solves the case easily, but the suspense is intriguing for a while.

Early in the episode, it seems as if they are trying to veer Byomkesh in the Sherlock way but that concern is quashed pretty easily.

Episode 5 : Wasiyat

Time Period : 1935, Calcutta

Plot of the case : A rich man has a fortune and no direct heirs for the fortune. He has four nephews and one niece. All of them stay with him. He is temperamental in nature and keeps changing the will for his property on the prevailing mood. He is murdered with the help of a needle and piercing it in a sensitive area at the back of the neck. The suspicion falls on everybody.

Byomkesh is assigned this case by the commissioner and the police officer in charge is impatient. This is one of those cases where the identity of the murderer isn’t revealed till the end. Also, this is the episode where he meets his future wife, Satyavati.

Episode 6 : Reth ka Daldal 

Time Period : 1936, North Bengal

Plot of the case : Byomkesh, on a vacation, meets a Zamindar. There are some mysterious incidents taking place under his (irresponsible) watch. A man who has been entrusted with the responsibility of teaching his daughter runs away with 6000 rupees and 4 years account books and is presumed dead. The Zamindar, Himangshu, requests Byomkesh to solve the case. While it doesn’t seem straightforward it becomes evident after a certain incident as to who the culprit is.

The Unknown Kimi Raikkonen

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The book written by Kari Hotakainen starts at the Malaysian Grand Prix and ends at Kimi’s home. This is an indicator that the author was given unfettered access into Kimi’s life. Anybody who follows Kimi knows that he is taciturn and likes keeping to himself. You have to wonder what made him open up about details that are not known to the wider public.

He talks about his early life and how his father being a mechanic helped the Raikkonen brothers rise in the world of driving. While Rami, the younger one, gave it up, Kimi kept at it. Kimi talks of his father fondly and the chapter where he talks about his father’s death and his regret is something that will have you rushing to mend fences with your father. 

Kimi’s beginnings have stayed with him as he values the mechanics in the team and he is generally on first-name basis with them. An incident that finds repeated mentions in the book is about the time he fixed the toilet in the Ferrari bus.

We can delve deep into his personality when he talks. Like the instance, when he says this 

I like being in the car; driving is the one good thing about the whole job. You’re left alone 

The love he has towards his family is more than the love he has for his profession. He is aware of the responsibilities that come with being an F1 driver and he doesn’t avoid them. 

Like the author says 

Kimi isn’t the first Finnish sportsman to shun the microphone, or to fear it. But he’s the first one whose reticence has become an international brand

We know him as a driver. As fans of Kimi/F1, we would be eager to know about the journey that got him here in the first place. The fact that he is talented shines through at more times than not in this phase of his life. He makes light of his struggles in foreign land, but that only made him stronger. 

His rise to F1 is unmatched; before and after. So, it is amusing when he says that he is scared – not of driving, but of failing. 

There is a wild side to Kimi. The detour to Iceland. The party with Bahrain prince, the parties on his yacht. All of them and more incidents find a mention.

He makes his contempt for mobile phones very clear. He doesn’t regard them as a part of his life. His phone is always on silent and he has thrown away his mobile phone on more occasions than one. 

He is fiercely loyal; to the people he grew up with, to the people he works with and to the values he grew up with. It is said that Ron Dennis tried to infiltrate him into the high society but failed.

With the pressure on his time and a growing family at home, he values time dearly and makes no bones about travelling in chartered flights. He wants to be home as soon as possible rather than wait for scheduled flights. 

The only disappointment in the book is that it ends too early and more than half of the book is devoted to statistics. 

Ben Foakes and playing spin

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Image Courtesy : gettyimages.com

It took Ben Foakes 44 balls to do what Rory Burns took 3 balls – score the first boundary in their debut Test. Coming in at 103/5, Foakes set about undoing the damage started by Burns chasing a ball down the leg stump line.
He was good while facing spinners – he looked assured of either foot. Today was a day every England batsman who came out to bat before Foakes came with the intention of imposing themselves on the match. What else can explain the shot that Moeen Ali wanted to play off the first ball that he faced? Result? The first golden duck in his career.

Ben Stokes in a similar manner wanted to fetch the ball and ended up stretching more than what was necessary. He was bowled by what could’ve been punched to mid-off for a single. At that stage, a total of 200 looked too far. Foakes walked in at this stage in the match, a situation far from ideal for a debutant. There have only been two centuries from a number 7 on debut for England – Prior walked in when the score was more than 350 and Thorpe had situation similar to what Foakes had today. While Thorpe had Gooch for company, Foakes had Buttler and Curran.

Batsmen have different strategies for batting on the pitches in sub-continent. Some hit their way out, some grind the bowlers out and some devise their plans on specific shots. Foakes, today, alternated between the second and third of the mentioned strategies. In the company of Buttler, he started slowly and picked up pace. After Curran’s wicket, he concentrated more on being there than scoring runs – Rashid did the latter job for him.

Facing spinners can be a tough task. During the IPL when Rashid Khan was wreaking havoc, Sangakkara, in the studio, was asked what would he do counter him. Sanga replied back saying that as a right hander, he would stand on the off stump to negate the power of Rashid’s googly and force him to alter the line. Root, in his brief stay at the crease, was doing the same before rush of blood saw him coming down the track and yorking himself.

Foakes must have seen the dismissal as he set about to be effective rather than pretty. For balls pitched on the stumps line, he went back comfortably and tapped it to the midwicket region. This was what he did till Tea. After tea, he started coming down the track, not in an attempt to force the bowler out of the attack, but to tell the bowler that if he changes the line, he could come down the track and play it to similar areas.

Sri Lankan bowlers would go back and check their line to him. While line didn’t seem to trouble him so much, it would be interesting to see what changes in pace, change in the angle and flight would do to his poise. Day 1 was won by Foakes when it seemed that Sri Lanka would walk away with the honours

Aravinda Sametha Veera Raghava – Sakutumba Saparivaraa sametham ga

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In 2004, NTR had a release on the first day of the year. It was a resounding flop. It went with the name ‘Andhrawala.’ It came at a time when he was in a fight for box-office supremacy with the reigning numero uno of the time, Chiranjeevi. He plumbed the depths after what was an early bright phase in his career. 

That flop came in midst of bitter caste wars in our college. It was so bad that people not belonging to NTR’s community were celebrating the flop. I never got into the caste wars in college but there was glee in me as well when the news reached that the movie was a flop. 

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At the beginning of this year, Trivikram delivered his biggest dud. It took a lot of sheen away from his capabilities as the movie was found to be a freemake of ‘Largo Winch.’ Agnyaathavasi was a movie that seemed most un-Trivikram of his movies. He went off the public radar and only resurfaced during the promotions of this movie. There must have been some introspection as he turned over the way he made movies. 

What was thought to be as a common thread in most Trivikram movies is missing here. It helped him no end that he had, at hand, an actor who had submitted to his vision and belief. 

Trivikram begins slowly in this movie and he rides the wave with the first fight sequence in the movie. It was a sequence that had climax written all over it, just that it wasn’t . He reaches the crest and the movie goes downhill for a bit as we get to see what happens after a fight of such magnitude. It could’ve tumbled down quickly but what holds the movie is the scene between NTR and Supriya Pathak. Both the actors bring their A-game to the scene and it shows. Supriya Pathak is aided by Trivikram’s dialogues. NTR has to bank on his expressions. One of the dialogues is that people are talking that he was born with a knife in his hand. In the fight sequence before this scene, he is shown tying the knife to his hand. Trivikram doesn’t let small details escape and boy, it pays off. 

Trivikram usually shows the female protagonists in his movies as bimbettes. This movie, refreshingly, is a move away from such a portrayal. She is said to be doing her MA in anthropology, a study of humans and human behaviour. She wants to do ethnocentric study on factionalism. 

She seems an extension of Supriya Pathak’s character. She even utters the same dialogue as his grandmother, which leads NTR to say ‘vinne time, Cheppe manishi batti vishayam viluve maripothundhi’ (the circumstances and the person talking to us give a whole, new zing to the words). The words ring a bell when NTR says it. 

Trivikram doesn’t delve a lot in showing the romance between the lead characters. He conveys it in the dialogues. The scene in the cafe, where Aravinda expresses her love towards Raghava, is nice. The build-up to the scene is Pomodoro techinique ( yeah, you heard it right). It can be safely said that Trivikram might have put it to use in the screenplay as well. 

There are a couple of scenes, between the lead pair, which are elevated by Trivikram’s dialogues. One of them is where Aravinda explains female psyche to Raghava at a metro station and another one is where Raghava explains the male psyche to Aravinda in her bedroom. No, there is no physicality in the scenes. 

Trivikram elevates NTR’s character and he does it multiple times. The pre-interval sequence is a hoot and the way NTR says, ‘Kantapadavo kanikaristhannu emo, ventabaddana narikestha Ona’ (If I see you, I might take sympathy on you. If I have to chase you, I will hack you).

Post-interval, there is very little of comedy and the action keeps shifting between the villages of Kommadhi and Nalabanda and Hyderabad. 

There are many goosebump-inducing scenes in the second half. None better than the one where he sits in front of Rao Ramesh and threatens the villain and his henchmen on phone. All this while drinking a cup of tea. He goes to Rao Ramesh with the hope of initiating peace talks and this act of his followed by a few words convinces Rao Ramesh in giving peace a try. 

Another scene is where he juxtaposes two stories in the village and goes on a monologue of what ails the region. There can’t be more said without revealing the story. 

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Casting for the movie is apt. There is no hero in Telugu Film Industry who could’ve played the role as convincingly as NTR does. He is amazing in bringing forth anger, love, respect, sadness and longing. He gives the director what he wants with every single shot. No hero, bar Nani, to an extent, has spoken the Rayalseema dialect so well. Putta Penchal Das is the man behind it and deservingly gets the credit. NTR oscillates between the accents effortlessly and the close-up shots aid in accentuating the scene. The camera was in love with him and it shows. 

Pooja Hegde acts well within the limitations of her character. She gets a lot of credit for change in NTR. Her role has been designed in a way where she acts as an extension for NTR’s grandmother’s thought process. Jejamma, Amma and Aravinda shape NTR. The way he respects women, the way he behaves with them and the way he is influenced by them. There is a dialogue towards the end of the movie where NTR says “Paalu icche amma ki paalinchadam oka lekka.”

Jagapathi Babu induces fear. The scene where he asks Brahmaji if he is more scared of him or NTR is amazing and showcases the acting abilities of both the actors. 

Supriya Pathak, Devyani, Sithara, Sunil, Eesha Rebba, Naresh do well in their roles. Naresh’s family and Sunil provide the comic relief in the movie. 

Thaman does well with the Background music as always and helps in conveying the mood well. 

The cinematographer also does a good job especially in aerial shots. 

Trivikram, after a couple of uncharacteristic efforts, is back to form. The dialogues flow and they cause required effect. It probably helped him no end that he had NTR to utter the dialogues. Both gave their best to each other and don’t disappoint. 

Verdict: Outlook makes a difference and women shape it. In life as well as in the movie. Worth your time 

 

Image courtesy: 123telugu.com

 

Goodachari movie review

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I have always been fascinated with the line coined by Aristotle, ‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.’ While it seems pretty simple, it is tough to see it being executed. When we put it to work where teams are involved, this is nigh impossible. 

In a team structure, one needs to repose a lot of faith in the person drawing up the plans and adhere to what seems a cliche – Together, everyone achieves more. Well, if you didn’t notice it, that’s an acronym for Team. 

Sesh Adivi’s team seems to believe in him. Believe that he can give his best, believe that they can give their best for him and believe that their best is being used for something better. When we see the movies, we conclude that somewhere the director and the writer’s vision for the movie was the same. In an industry, where first-acts are not rare, going one up on the first-act is a rarity. Sesh Adivi has just done that. 

While Kshanam is not exactly a first-act for him, it is , a first-act, for the vision and the kind of movies being made with him at the helm. 

After a few days of the teaser launch, there were rumours floating around that the movie was a copy of Aiyyary. Well, if not entirely, I did buy into the speculation. That’s because we are not used to movies revolving around espionage in Telugu. The cynical movie-goer would scoff at such movies because that’s not how movies are made here and if such movies are made, it has to have some star value attached to it so that it can get noticed. 

One of the reasons why the movie got noticed is because of the way Kshanam was made. It wasn’t pathbreaking, but it wasn’t routine. So, there were things expected out of the follow-up movie of Sesh Adivi and he doesn’t disappoint. 

For an industry that has an insatiable appetite for ‘twists’ this movie just doesn’t whet the appetite but it serves as an aphrodisiac. As we all know from the teaser, this is a movie about a guy wanting to emulate his father. While that’s the central theme of the plot, there are many sub-plots woven around the central theme. 

The movie is a planning success, right down to the naming of the agency that the hero’s father worked in and one the hero gets into – Trinetra (meaning the third eye). Till the hero gets into the intelligence agency, the proceedings seem tepid, but picks pace rapidly after that. 

Abburi Ravi’s dialogues help the movie a lot. The word play around ‘Balam’ and ‘Balahinatha’ is superb. It nearly gives out the plot but you don’t realise it at that point. It is reiterated when we revisit that scene towards the end. The interaction between Sobhita Dhulipala and Sesh Adivi where the former suggests that many people think that attaining the goal is the end of it, but excelling at it has to be the major motive. While it does seem cliche as I write it, there could be perhaps no better dialogue for that scene. Double-meaning dialogues, at two instances, slip in as well, but that doesn’t mar the proceedings.

The plot is a sure winner when it makes you speculate about the identity of the culprit, makes you think you are right and makes a fool out of you right at the end. It means the movie kept you involved. 

Vennela Kishore, Sobhita Dhulipala, Supriya Yarlagadda, Prakash Raj play their parts well. 

Another hero of the movie is the music director, Sricharan Pakala. He adds to the gripping proceedings with the background music. Both the songs in the movie are good. Both of them are ear worms. 

Because the movie was shot before April, am sure that the makers would’ve missed the change of name of Chittagong. It’s called Chattogram now. There you go, I can dig for faults you see! 

Verdict: A movie with ‘See me’ written all over it 

 

Image courtesy: indiaglitz.com

The Dhoni Touch

23rd December 2004

Getting out for a duck in your debut game is a disappointment. Getting run-out for a duck isn’t something a debutant visualises the night before his debut. If it was any consolation, his hero, Sachin Tendulkar, scored a duck on his debut. So did Saleem Malik. 

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Dhoni Touch

5th April 2005

After scoring 22 runs in his first four games, he was promoted up the order to No.3. The first four innings he batted at 7. In a way, we could say he was playing for his career in Visakhapatnam. He played a knock that got him into the Collective consciousness of the cricket watching public. In 13 years, there has been a lot written about him. 

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Inspite of the reams written about him, there is a lot unknown about MS Dhoni. Despite having a biographical movie made on his name, there is still a lot that people don’t know about him. He remains an Enigma. Bharat Sundaresan wants to unravel the conundrum. 

He starts the book off with the other thing, apart from batting, that got him into discussions around the country – his hair. The author mentions that both of them would’ve roughly started growing their mane around the same time. While the captain cut his tresses short, the author continues to be loyal to his, leading to jibes from Dhoni and his wife. On a tour of West Indies, they keep telling him, Baal kaatlo yaar (Cut the hair dude)

Despite repeated requests from the author, Dhoni remains elusive and after a long time he relents. He asks him to contact Seemant Lohani aka Chittu. 

The book talks about Dhoni’s life in Ranchi. How  he benefited from being in Ranchi and how Ranchi benefited from its famous son. There is nothing new to learn in these chapters as we have already seen this in the movie. This serves as an insight into his life for those people who haven’t seen the movie. 

While his friends from Ranchi do tells us about MS Dhoni, it’s the author’s conversations with Shankar Vembu that tell us more about what we want to know about Dhoni. Bharat Sundaresan, slipping in a reference to Sherlock Holmes and Dr.Watson, is nice and it comes in the context of Patrick Patterson. 

Patrick Patterson is important here because after reading the first chapter in the book, I was wondering if Bharat was self-absorbed because a lot of talk in that chapter is about hair. More about his hair than Dhoni’s. With so many links in the book, he could’ve slipped in a link to his piece about Patterson. In fact, I was half expecting that he would. He didn’t as his focus was on decoding Dhoni for us. 

Shankar Vembu’s stories form the crux of the book. After reading Shankar Vembu’s stories, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to me if the makers of the movie, Dhoni, would be ready with works for the sequel. 

There is a chapter dedicated to Dhoni’s keeping. This is where Bharat comes into his own. Till here, he was reliant on Shankar Vembu, Chittu and Chottu Bhayya for decoding the man. Decoding the man’s art is simple for Bharat. Rather, he makes it seem simple for us. That’s the level of understanding that he commands over Dhoni’s keeping. 

Over five lines, he lucidly explains how difficult Dhoni’s way of stumping is.  He blows the reader away with the simplicity of it all. Simplicity seems to be the theme of the book as there is a liberal sprinkling of Hindi. If you can understand the language, the pause between shifting from English-Hindi-English creates the desired effect. 

There is a chapter on CSK as well. In it, he delves on what makes MSD tick. At the end when he is acknowledging the help of people, Sriram Veera’s advice stands out: You anyway are used to writing full-page stories which are around 3000 words each. Think of this as writing fifteen of those. 

All or Nothing: All Blacks. Episode 1 – The Black Jersey

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Amazon Prime’s All or Nothing is a docuseries that has them shadowing a team. With All Blacks they follow them for the 2017 season. The series consists of six episodes and the first of them is called “The Black Jersey”

The episode begins with a press conference for announcing the All Blacks Squad, playing after a gap of nearly six months. There is bonhomie as they are assembling after an interval. This is a crucial phase for All Blacks and a third of their players have retired after the 2015 World Cup. So, with the team in transition, coach Steve Hansen has to put the team through the tough yards as they are scheduled to face the Lions ( a team put together with players from England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland). They begin the season with a match against Samoa. They win it 78-0.

When the squad trains, we see footage where Hansen is admonishing the players and asking a player to do 20-pushups for the way he handled the ball. With five days to go to the Lions series, Hansen wants to induct a young player on the wing, Rieko Loane. He hands him the no 11 made popular by Jonah Lomu and bloods him in the team in place of Julian Savea, who held the jersey for 5 years. While that shows immense faith on him, it also leads to a lot of pressure on the rookie. 

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The series against Lions is crucial for All Blacks because they have been dominant against them. In the 11 series they played against each other, Lions have only won once. The factor adding spite to the contest is the Lion’s coach – Warren Gatland. Being a New Zealander himself, coaching Lions is seen nothing short of treason. 

The series figures prominently on both the players and coach’s mind. Ben Smith, stand-in captain for the game against Samoa, says, “The series comes around once every 12 years and you might go through career without playing in one. Not everybody gets the opportunity.” He would obviously know better because leading up to the match against Samoa his participation was in doubt as he had concussions twice. 

Coach Steve Hansen spoke from the top of the tree when he said, “We used to be looked down upon by our English Brethren as they used to beat us often. When we started beating them and beating them often, it lead to a lot of animosity.” 

When the squad to face Lions was announced, Ryan Crotty was awarded for his persistence after being given the snub for World Cup. He went back to provincial rugby and earned the coach’s approval with his attitude. 

Successful teams like All Blacks crave some sort of uniformity. The bus driver over the years has been the same for them. He noticed that with experience players boarded the bus through the rear door and settled at the back. The newer player, meanwhile, sat at the front and were in charge of the music. The music they played was an indicator of the mood of the camp. The coach generally discouraged ‘boom-boom, bang-bang’ music. Sonny Bill Williams, a popular player, said that the experience of being on the bus was ‘pretty special’

Attitude is a part of All Blacks’ success: Kieran Read and Steve Hansen, though they come from different paths, stress on the same. Hansen says, “ … Part of being a coach is understanding which player needs a cuddle and which player needs a kick up the backside.” This is a pointer to players being entertained if they keep working hard at getting their games better. Kieran Read, the captain, says of the players who don’t figure in the starting Fifteen and substitutes, “… your role if you are not on the 23 is to prepare the 23 the best way you can.” 

All Blacks are more important than any individual. Everybody knows it and everybody follows it, even the parents of the players. Rieko Loane’s parents want the team to do well and their son to be playing a part in the team doing well. 

The match starts with the Haka performance, which the players feel connects them to other players in the team and to players in the past. Early into the match, Ben Smith, seems to have had a vertigo and fails the HIA (Head injury assessment). Ryan Crotty, after having worked hard has a hamstring tear. Hansen’s hunch of having Rieko Loane on the wing pays off and the All Blacks take a 1-0 lead in the 3-match series. 

 

Image courtesy: Amazon Prime