Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Peaceful Easy Feeling
The Men in Blue, formerly the No.1 Team of the World, have defied all odds. As world T20 champions, they now find themselves being deified across the length and breadth of the nation. Theirs is undoubtedly a fantastic accomplishment – one that will be remembered for a while. But the public’s memory is fickle, to say the least. And the Men have a long way to go before they get anywhere near the standards set by the Aussies. Anyway, this is not really about the Men. This is about the great game. And the boys. The boys in blue, green, red and myriad secondary colours.
Although it is now hard to imagine, Mental Baba was once a kid – tallish, skinny and with a big mop of hair on his (back-even-then) sagacious head. In addition to the regular paraphernalia that most boys covet and collect, the Baba possessed a wondrous item of unspeakable powers. If the Baba were Jedi, it would have been known as his lightsaber. If the Baba were He-Man, it might have been called the Sword of Grayskull. Ah, the raw power! That magical feeling! The very memories! The Baba does not know who made it. The Baba does not know what it was made of. It was certainly not willow (which in those days was wielded only by kids with silver spoons and gold fillings in their mouths). But boy! Could it give the rarely-red cherry a whomping that even the Whomping Willow would be proud of or what!
It was a rainy morning in Calcutta, sometime in the late 80s. All was damp and depressing, except for the the Baba’s countenance, which had eager anticipation shining through. His penance had resulted in a boon, which he was about to use in a sanctum sanctorum. The Baba stood still, as waves of awe and uncertainty swept over him. So many! Which?! Which one?! “Use the force!” suggested the wizened old man behind the counter, as the Baba set about his task. As he picked up and considered each, the force surged through his arms and into his body. And then, the force blasted through his very being. It was THE ONE! The Baba had found his brahmastra!
A category #4 weapon, it was considered small. As were the Baba’s biceps. But together, their destructive power was unrivalled. Glass panes were shattered, plantings were battered, cherry-wielders were left tattered; to the Baba the great astra was the only thing that mattered. If only ISRO had known how easy putting objects in geostationary orbits was. Up, up and away! Baba - you beauty! Those heady days!
Some tan-ki-shakti-man-ki-shakti Bournvita at 4 pm and the Baba would lumber away to the battleground, to join the other boys, with the astra resting against his shoulder. And he, the Dispatcher of Cherries, would return at 6:30 pm, having fulfilled his cosmically destined role with aplomb.
But something went wrong somewhere. The Baba neither embraced change nor a new and bigger astra. The force gradually started ebbing away. Both the Baba and his brahmastra lost their fearsome powers, eventually becoming ghosts of their former selves towards the late 90s.
The once-great astra still remains, cracked and withered, in an unworthy coffin. Its former wielder still remains too, de-mopped and de-powered, in a wood-and-glass coffin of his own making. The only blade that the Baba now retains is one named Gillette. Which, again, runs contrarian to one of Babadom’s cherished existential principles. But that’s how the cookie, or rather Babadom, crumbles.
It’s raining here. It always does. There’s a bunch of kids playing the great game on the road, in the rain, in their sandals. One of them looks up and sees a face pressed flat against the window...
Methinks, was this how it used to go?
Daak. Daak. Kiski daak?
I got that all wrong. Why don’t I change it to this –
Daak. Daak. Office ki daak.
But, thank you, Men in Blue. Thank you, MSD. Thank you for opening the floodgates and taking all of us where it is so hard to go to. Thank you for returning to the great game, the wonder and the joy that were once part of it. Thank you for this peaceful easy feeling.
Management Class : Meandering thoughts of a fickle mind
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Mumbai - the entertainment capital of the country. It’s got Bollywood, it’s got Ekta Kapoor, it’s got Mid-Day, it’s got the works. Little wonder that I find myself being fabulously entertained in the city, by the city.
What better way to start the day than with a king-sized action flick. Hell, I’ve always been a big fan of such movies. Conan the Barbarian, Bloodsport, Fight Club, you name it. On second thought, allow me to name it. Close Encounters of the Mumbai Kind, perhaps?
There are multiple shows on offer. I usually take the 08:45 am one on most occasions. While this is not exactly for Karan Johar fans, it pales in comparison to some of the other shows (which are only patronized by true connoisseurs of this brand of Mumbai cinema). Contrary to public perception, the show doesn’t always start on time. But when it does, even the sun gets shut out by a mass of humanity, everything goes dim and then there is andhera in the Andheri theatre. And the action begins without much ado. It’s mild to start with - just the stifling of breath, the contortions of face, the stomping on of toes and the pumping of blood. As the show progresses, so does the quality of action. 9:08 am is when the shoving, the jostling really begin and challenges are thrown. Forget 3D, forget IMAX. This is the real deal. Experience action the way it was always meant to be - right in the middle of it. Feel the crushing of bones and smell the sweat as it permeates the very air. Ah! Sadly the action starts petering out around 9:15 am, leaving the discerning viewer with nothing other than a sense of anti-climax. Such viewers are advised to attend earlier shows that provide closer encounters of the Mumbai kind. Or procure entry to shows rated F (needless to say, F stands for Fantastic).
However, it must be noted that the show is quite egalitarian in nature – tickets to both the balcony as well as the floor end up getting similar service and experience. What a First Class flick!
For viewers with harder tastes, the horror shows commence in the evening and go on till late into the night. It’s advisable get to an early show. That’s because these evening shows are more popular than Mallika Sherawat and Rakhi Sawant put together; there’s always a mad rush of people waiting to get in. The action reaches frenzied heights: punches are thrown and skulls are shattered. Challengers are thrown away like rag dolls. Replete with blood, gore and more – the climaxes of these movies are indeed unparalleled. Longer the duration of the show, the better is the climax. That possibly explains why the Virar show is the superhit that it is. In fact, some of these shows can be so absorbing that it almost becomes impossible for the transfixed viewer to leave the theatre (except for those blessed with powers in astral projections).
Unfortunately there is no romance in these movies because of lots of censorship. Drawing a leaf from the Taliban book of public life, the sexes are segregated to discourage practical demonstrations of the combined effects of Axe, Wild Stone and Zatak Gold (used liberally by the smart Mumbaikar male). Going by the scenes of writhing bodies though, it seems that love of the Brokeback Mountain kind is certainly not frowned upon. How admirable and forward-minded! What an excellent measure to check the city’s burgeoning population!
The bottomline is that the show organizers have got to be complimented. Tickets are priced well under par. As are a few other things. The result is an experience which is obviously incomparable. In terms of value for money, nothing beats this set-up. Forget Andheri to Churchgate. One can go all the way to the pearly gate. But that’s only a small part of the bigger picture. There’s so much more to these shows.
Everyday life in these metropolises is so predictably fast. People hardly get time to do their own thing. Close Encounters of the Mumbai Kind sets a stellar example in this regard. It ensures that people get the physical exercise that they desperately need. A combination of sprints and hurdles help keep the body fit and toned. A healthy dose of gymnastics aids flexibility. A few rigorous bouts of boxing and wrestling go a long way in muscle development and in improving blood circulation. Mountaineering techniques are also employed to train the body in an environment of low oxygen. And then there are a select few who actually get to surf waves of humanity. Hey, slanging matches keep vocal cords in shape too. What better way to start the day than with such an eclectic collection of sports.
Problems with water supply and a general lack of time ensure that not too many people get to take a bath. Close Encounters of the Mumbai Kind creates an environment conducive to producing copious amounts of sweat, which serves as an alternate bathing medium. Fresh water is conserved and the future of planet earth is safeguarded. The rain gods, always partial to the traditionalists among us, do absolutely no harm by frequently showering show-goers with fresh water. In the process, clothes get washed as well, thus saving many from the clutches of the evil that is dhobidom.
So there is exercise. There is personal hygiene. There is laundry. There is great use of time. What more may one expect from Close Encounters of the Mumbai Kind?
Pathbreaking physics (and allied disciplines of science). Mental exercise is just as important as physical, if not more.
There’s thought-provoking defiance of operations research and the theory of constraints. There is no constraint when it comes to Close Encounters of the Mumbai Kind. Capacity utilization is not limited by time or space. 100% is for other flop shows. It tends to infinity here.
There’s fluid mechanics. Remember the stuff about turbulent flow being the greatest at the entry and the exit of a conduit? Remember that turbulent flow is initiated when Reynold’s number is more than 2000 (in the theatre)?
There are the principles of momentum. Momentum is directly proportional to the masses..err…mass. Momentum is conserved but energy is not when it comes to inelastic collisions. And boy, are there a few of them or what?!
There’s surface tension and its proportionality to the angle of contact with the surrounding media.
The most important one, of course, pertains to the transformation of energy. You walk into a Close Encounters of the Mumbai Kind show with a lot of potential energy. It gets converted to kinetic as well as a bit of heat energy. At the end of it, there is only light energy in its purest form as one walks away (in most cases) - well and truly enlightened.
Management Class : Meandering thoughts of a fickle mind