Vidya Balan, Trivia journey of her top movies.

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Vidya Balan is a Masters in Sociology from Bombay University. However she chose a career in films. No doubt, academics loss was gain of the Hindi film industry and in the process we discovered an amazingly talented and versatile actor. Vidya, a Padma awardee has won the National Film award and as many as six Filmfare awards.

Let us go on our unknown trivia journey of her top movies.


Parineeta  

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This romantic drama was adapted from Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s Bengali novel and was Vidya’s debut movie. It was also the debut for producer Pradeep Sarkar who won National award. Vidya who calls Pradeep Sarkar “Dada” says that she worked with him for an ad and later ended up doing three music videos with him for Euphoria, Shubha Mudgal and Pankaj Udhas. Pradeep Sarkar had visualised Vidya for the role and he convinced Vidhu Vinod Chopra about his choice. Well, they did not go wrong. The industry got a terrific actor/star and Vidya walked away with the filmfare award as well for best debut.


Lage Raho Munna Bhai  

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Vidya played a Radio Jockey. Her “Good morning Mumbai” was electrifying. Interestingly Rajkumar Hirani chose her for this very reason- that her voice would do full justice to a video jockey’s role. Lage raho Munna Bhai was the 1st movie to be screened at the United Nations. 

Paa

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Vidya plays the role of Amitabh Bachchan’s mother. The movie gave her the Filmfare best actress award and Mr Bachchan the National film award for best actor. The movie was based on Francis Ford Coppola’s 1996 movie “Jack“. Amitabh Bachchan’s make up was possibly inspired by “The curious case of Benjamin Button”. However R Balki made this movie his own. Interestingly he was inspired by a personal interaction with Mr Bachchan and Abhishek where he observed Abhishek behaving in a mature and seasoned manner

Ishqiya

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Vidya won the filmfare critics award for best actress and numerous other awards as well in this movie starring her with Naseeruddin Shah and Arshaad Warsi. All critics called it a delightful little movie.

No one killed Jessica

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This movie was based on the real life story of the murder of Jessica Lal. Vidya and Rani put in terrific performances. Vidya plays the role of Sabrina, sister of Jessica and put in a sterling performance.

Dirty Picture 

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Vidya played the role of Silk Smitha in this biopic. It was a lifetime performance by Vidya who won the National award for her role in this movie of which she was called the hero. Her dialogue “Filmein sirf teen cheezo ke wajah se chalti hai, Entertainment, Entertainment and Entertainment aur main entertainment hoon” will always be one of the best ever dialogues ever in Hindi movies.

Kahaani

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Vidya Bagchi will be one of the memorable film characters of all time and won Vidya a best actress award. Saswata Chatterji too played a memorable role of an assassin, Bob Biswas. Vidya said later in an interview that Sujoy Ghosh came to her with a script which she rejected and Sujoy said that he would keep on coming to her with one idea after another and finally she liked one which she asked to be developed and ultimately the result was magic.

Tumhari Sulu 

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Vidya won Best actress for her role as an ambitious housewife turned radio jockey. Vidya said that she loved doing the role as she loves talking and having played the role in Lage raho muna bhai it was familiar space for her. 

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Vidya is married to Siddarth Roy Kapur. Her birthday is on 1st January and what a way to welcome the New Year. This brilliant actor has several exciting projects . One such is NT Rama Rao’s biopic, where she plays NTR’s wife. Looking forward to the same and many more interesting roles from this incredibly talented lady.

Pics credit; Wikipedia; Indian Express; DNA; BollywoodHungama, India Forums, KoiMoi, India Today; India TV;

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Bittoo Sharma to Kapil Dev (83) ?? A trivia journey of Ranveer Singh’s top movies

Image result for ranveer singh picsRanveer Singh was like a breath of fresh air to the Hindi film industry when he made his debut as Bittoo Sharma in Band Bajaa Baaraat. In just 8 years he has cemented his position as one of the hottest and most selling stars around, and has also made it clear that he is here to stay.

Action, dance, comedy, acting, indeed he is an all rounder. Lets go on a trivia journey of his top movies.

Band Bajaa Baaraat

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Ranveer’s costar was Anushka Sharma for whom this was her 3rd YashRaj film in a row, as per the contract she signed for her debut film opposite SRK, Rab ne bana di jodi and Badmaash Company. The song Ainvayi Ainvayi caught the imagination of the audience and it was clear that a top star with x factor had arrived. To his credit, Ranveer, a typical Mumbai boy otherwise, worked hard, including taking acting classes and spending time in Delhi University to ensure he fitted the part of a Delhi boy, as per the demands of the script. The movie impressed Sanjay leela Bhansali who signed him for Goliyon ki Raasleela; Ram-leela. 

Ladies vs Ricky Behl

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This too was a Yash Raj movie directed by Band bajaa Baaraat director Maneesh Sharma. Based on Jeffrey Archer’s Not a penny more, not a penny less, this small budget movie of less than 20 crores grossed 84 crores and established Ranveer, Anushka and Parineeta as stars.

Lootera

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Ranveer’s third movie, with Shonakshi Sinha did not do well commercially but got him tremendous critical acclaim.

Goliyon ki Raasleela; Ram-leela. 

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Ranveer’s opening scene in the song “Tattad tattad’ showcased his star power in just his 4th movie. The movie, based on Romeo Juliet starred Ranveer as Romeo and Deepika as Juliet. A big budget movie of 88 crores, it grossed 220 crores to be a super hit. Ranveer Singh worked out like crazy to get the chiselled look required for the movie, and later revealed that in an entire year he worked out both in the morning and the evening, stayed on a strict diet and had alcohol only once or twice-in the entire year. Ranveer plays a Gujarati boy, and Bhansali later said that he is a Gujarati by hear and wanted this movie to be a tribute to Gujarat.

Bajirao Mastani

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For this movie, Ranveer locked himself up in a hotel room for 3 weeks as he wanted to make the audience feel they are watching a Maratha warrior instead of watching Ranveer Singh. His full concentration was on training for physical training and taking classes on accent and diction. This too was a dream project for Bhansali and Ranveer did full justice to his assigned role and even picked up a Filmfare best actor award.

Padmavaat

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This too was a Sanjay Leela Bhansali creation. Ranveer played Alauddin Khilji and his role was very much appreciated. He once again worked out to justify his role, and was on an energy rich diet sans sugar, while working out twice a day to transform from lean and sporty looks to what he himself says “macho-esqe bulky”. The movie was a blockbuster hit.

Simmba

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Simmba in just 5 days crossed 100 crores and established Ranveer as a star with ‘initial” power to draw crowds to the theatre. It has also reinforced Rohit Shetty as a one man brand. Ajay Devgn’s Singham character plays an important cameo in the movie. An interesting feature of Simmba was a Hollywood style after-credits in which Akshay  Kumar speaks to Singham and the audience thereby knows that Rohit Shetty’s next movie stars Akshay. Sony Sood excels as the villain and there is a meaningfull dialogue between Ranveer-Sonu which indicates that Rohit Shetty is planning a Simmba Part 2. 

Ranveer has many exciting projects which i am sure will maintain his status as a top star. The one i am most excited about is a proposed biopic on Kapil Dev and the 1983 world cup win.

Looking forward to it and many more as well

Kapil Dev da jawab nahin; Happy 60th Birthday

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Kapil Dev’s bowling was poetry and his batting was pure talent. His fielding was electric and he probably took the most famous catch in the history of Indian cricket when he caught Viv Richards off Madan Lal’s bowling in the 1983 world cup finals, which helped India win against Clive Lloyd’s mighty West Indies, which seemed set for a 3rd World cup win in a row.

Kapil is definitely the best allrounder ever to play for India. In fact he is one of the best allrounders ever to play cricket and is the only player in the history of the game to have taken more than 400 Test wickets and score more than 5000 Test runs. 


Today, 6th January 2019 is the 60th Birthday of this legend. As a birthday tribute let us go on a nostalgic journey and recollect some of the memorable moments of his cricketing career


Kapil’s Devils win 1983 Cricket world Cup

In 1983 the Indian team was a rank outsider and expected to only make up the numbers. against all odds, they not only entered the final but also the West Indians. Kapil’s individual stamp of brilliance , apart from his captaincy was seen throughout the tournament. His 175 vs Zimbabwe when India were 17-5 is one of the best ODI innings ever. His catch of Viv Richards off Madan Lal’s bowling was the turning point of the final and came at a point when Viv was threatening to run away with the match. Kapil had 303 runs in the tournament @ 60.6, 12 wickets @ 20.41 and 7 catches for an overall successful tournament personally. The world cup win is for millions of Indians the most exhilarating cricketing moment of their lives and it also ushered in a cricketing revolution in the country.


ICC Cricket Hall of fame member.

He is one of only 5 Indian cricketers to be in the ICC Cricket Hall of fame, the four others being Bishan Singh Bedi, Sunil Gavaskar, Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid. Sachin Tendulkar is expected to join this list soon after completing the mandatory 5 year period after retirement. 

Wisden Indian cricketer of the century

There were 16 cricketers who were shortlisted and then the shortlist came to six- Tiger Pataudi, CK Nayudu, Vinoo Mankad, Sunil Gavaskar , Sachin Tendulkar and Kapil. The final shortlist was Sunny, Sachin and Kapil and in the words of Viv Richards it was like a 100 metre dash with three champions bunched together. Well it was Kapil who won the award and he called it his finest hour. He thanked his family and said that he was there because of them, his 1st captain Bishan Singh Bedi and his champion Guru Sunil Gavaskar. Sachin spoke on the occasion and said that he started playing serious cricket around the time Kapil’s team won the 1983 world cup which was a big inspiration for him. 


India’s 2 Nil Win versus England in 1986
This was and still is one of India’s best ever performances abroad and it came under Kapil’s captaincy. India won the Test series 2 Nil . Stellar performances for India were by Dilip Vengsarkar who was the man of the series , by Chetan Sharma and by Kapil himself. Colonel and Kapil also were man of the match as well in one match each in the 2 Indian wins. Kapil himself rates this series as one of his favorite cricketing moments. 


Highest wicket taker
Hashan Tillekaratne , caught Sanjay Manjrekar, bowled Kapil Dev for 5. This was the 432nd test wicket for Kapil on 8th February, 1994 which took him beyond Richard Hadlee’s world record of 431 wickets. 432 balloons were released in the air and one minute’s standing ovation was given to the great man. India won the Test as well, and it was India’s 9th win in a row. Hadlee congratulated Kapil by saying it was a special moment for world cricket, though he felt a bit sad his record was broken. He predicted that Shane Warne would break the record and be the 1st to reach 500 wickets. Well, Warne did reach that and even greater heights, but it was Courtney Walsh who broke Kapil’s record six years later and also was the 1st to breach the 500 mark. Warne later broke the record of Walsh and currently its held by Murali.


4 sixes off Eddie Hemmings
A brilliant 300 by Graham Gooch had taken England to 633 and India had lost 9 wickets with still 24 required to avoid the follow on. Kapil was batting on 53 and had Hirwani for company. In an incredible assault Kapil hit 4 consecutive sixes and India avoided the follow on. Interestingly Hirwani was out the very next ball. India still lost the match, but for Indian fans, the feat is one to fondly remember.


Tied Test
This was played at Chennai from Sept 18-22, 1986. Australia scored 574 with an epic 210 by Dean Jones and Allan Border contributing 106. In reply, India scored 397 though at one point they were 220/6. This was primarily due to Kapil’s blistering 100. His 119 in 138 balls is considered one the best tons of his career. Australia set India 348 to win and in a thrilling finish, India were 347 all out which was only the second tied test in history. Greg Matthews took 10 wickets in the match. Dean Jones and Kapil were joint men of the match. 


Ranji Championship of 1990-91

The final between Bombay and Haryana is universally acknowledged as the greatest Ranji final in the history of the championships. Bombay had as many as 8 India players including Dilip Vengsarkar, Sanjay Manjrekar, Chandrakant Pandit, Sachin Tendulkar, Lalchand Rajput, Salil Ankola, Abay Kuruvilla and Raju Kulkarni. Haryana , led by Kapil had Chetan Sharma,  Ajay Jadeja and Vijay Yadav. In a thrilling last day’s play, Haryana won by just 2 runs and Vengsarkar was stranded at 139 and was seen in tears after playing one of the best 1st class innings ever seen on Indian soil. For Kapil, it was his only Ranji triumph and it came against an amazingly formidable Bombay team. 

Kapil has given us many memorable cricketing moments and it is with difficulty that i could shortlist these 8. They are just illustrative and not exhaustive. In any case statistics cannot do justice to the sheer joy he imparted and the exuberance he got and he inspired. Will there be another Kapil Dev ? For me, the answer is NO.
Happy birthday Sir. 

Pics Credit; Indian Express

Remembering Kader Khan,

Image result for kader khan imagesAn all rounder is one who fits into various roles at ease and is equally adept at all. Kader Khan is one such allrounder who performed roles of comedian, dialogue writer, supporting actor or villain with ease. At 81, he is no more, and has succumbed to supranuclear palsy.

Let us reminiscence his early days and touch upon his journey as a dialogue writer , comedian and his association with Amitabh Bachchan and Shakti Kapoor.

Early days

Kader Khan was born in Afghanistan. He was a civil Engineer and took up teaching as a profession. He taught civil engineering at Mumbai in a college based at Byculla. Acting was his hobby and once in the annual day function of his college, his play “Taash ke patte”  was noticed by the comedian Agha saab who told the great Dilip Kumar about it. Dilip Kumar called up Kader khan and introduced himself as Yusuf Khan. When Kader khan asked who Yusuf Khan was, the reply was “Log usse Dilip Kumar ke naam se jaante hain“. Kader Khan says that the phone fell from his hand. Dilip Kumar  asked him to take up acting and screenplay/dialogue writing as a full time profession. What a discovery indeed.

Scriptwriter/Dialogue writer

Kader Khan wrote dialogues for around 250 films and acted in almost all of them as well since he acted in around 300 films. He won the filmfare best dialogue writer for Angaar as well as for Meri Awaz Suno. His career as a dialogue writer statrted with Javaani Diwani for which he was paid Rs 1500/-. It was certainly not a big enough amount and after his work he continued teaching his students. However for Khel khel mein, he was given Rs 21000/- which was a substantial increase. Manmohan Desai then broke the coveted 1 Lakh barrier by giving him Rs 1,20,000/- for the film Roti. What a rise, and deservedly so.

Comedian

Kader Khan had a terrific comic touch. He won the Filmfare best comedian award for Baap Numbri beta dus Numbri, a rare film in which two comedians, Kader Khan and Shakti Kapoor played the lead. Other famous films in which he got acclaim as comedian were Coolie No.1, Dulhe Raja, Saajan Chale Sasural, Aankhen, Hum, Himmatwala, Aaj ka Daur, Sikka and Main khiladi tu anari. In all these movies he got best comedian nominations.

Kader Khan and Amitabh Bachchan

They made a terrific pair. Prakash Mehra and Manmohan Desai were of two rival camps with Amitabh and Kader Khan being the common feature in both camps. Amitabh and Kader Khan were associated with as many as 33 films together and many of the megastar’s famous dialogues were written by Kader Khan. Sharaabi, Muqaddar ka Sikandar, Amar Akbar Anthony, Parvarish, are some of the top movies in which they have acted together. Kader Khan says he had advised Amitabh not to join politics and that may have affected their relationship.

Kader Khan and Shakti Kapoor

The duo have worked together in 125 movies, which could be some kind of record. As Shakti Kapoor himself says, they were the most famous pair since Kishore Kumar and Mehmood and distributors bought movies only since Kader Khan and Shakti Kapoor featured in them. Shakti Kapoor used to call him messiah- a man sent by God. Some of their famous films of the duo are Haseena maan jayegi, Deevaana Mastana, Hero No 1, Aankhen and Baap Numbri beta dus numbri. 

We will always remember you. 

India-Australia Tests at Sydney; A Historical journey

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The current series between India and Australia is India’s 12th tour Down Under. There have been 8 series wins for the Aussies and three series were drawn. India is leading 2-1 and it is a golden chance to win the series with one Test remaining at spin friendly Sydney.

Sydney has seen Test matches on each and every Indian tour to Australia and there have been 5 Aussie wins, 5 draws and a solitary Indian win at this historic venue. Lets go down memory lane and recollect how the Tests panned out and what were the sterling performances from players of both sides. 

The Solitary Indian win
1977-78

India tasted success with an innings win in just their 3rd Test at Sydney. Magical leg spinner Chandra with 4 and left arm spinner Bedi with 3 wickets bundled the Aussies out for 131. A terrific team batting performance by the Indians saw 6 Indian batsmen namely Gavaskar, Chouhan, Vishwanath, Vengsarkar, Kirmani and Ghavri crossing 40 with Vishwanath 79 and Ghavri 64 scoring half centuries. Australia fared better in the 2nd knock, reaching 264, but Prasanna with 4 wickets combined well with Bedi, Chandra and Ghavri ( 2 wickets each) to give India a famous win.


The Aussie wins

1967-68

This was just the 2nd series between the two teams in Australia. The hosts comfortably defeated India by 144 runs at Sydney. Australia had a strong side with Ian Chappell coming in to bat at 7. The star for the Aussies was Bob Cowper who had a 32 and a 165 along with 5 wickets as well. For India, only Abid Ali did well with 78 and 81, with Captain Tiger Pataudi and Ajit Wadekar chipping in with 51 and 49 in the 1st innings. Incidentally Bob Cowper has a dubious world record. His batting average at home is 75.78 and abroad is 33.33 and this difference of 42.45 is the maximum for batsmen with above 2000 runs in Test cricket.


1980-81

The last time they met at Sydney India had won by an innings and this time it was Australia’s turn to have an innings win. Greg Chappel scored a magnificent 200 for Australia. Kapil Dev had valiant bowling figures of 5/97 in 37 overs. India were shot out for 201 in both innings with hostile bowling by Lillee, Hogg and Pascoe. Sandeep Patil played an attractive known of 65 before being hit by Pascoe. Recently Patil in an interview to Mid-day said that he was lucky to be alive as he had ducked into the bouncer and was not wearing a helmet. According to Patil the tragic loss of Phil Hughes was an identical injury and sadly even wearing a helmet could not save the young batsman.  At Sydney , Patil came to bat in the second innings and credits Sunny Gavaskar for encouraging him. Patil says that though he was almost immediately out, Sunny was waiting for him at the boundary ropes and congratulated him by saying “Congrats , you have done it”. Patil’s heroic 174 in the very next test at Adelaide was heroic stuff and part of Indian sporting folklore.


1999-2000

Australia had a comfortable innings win. Current head coach Justin Langer’s 223 and Ricky Ponting’s 141 not out took Australia to a mammoth  552. India could score just 150 and 261 with terrific bowling by an amazing bowling attack comprising of Mcgrath, Lee, Fleming and Warne. India had 2 reluctant openers who were current Selection Chairman MSK Prasad and VVS Laxman. In the second innings, Laxman scored a scintillating 167 in just 198 balls which was the 1st of many memorable knocks against the mighty Aussies, including his 281 at Eden, the best ever Test knock by an Indian batsmen. Laxman is on record for saying “Strangely, the 281 at Eden did not change my life; the 167 at SCG against Australia did; that was my 1st Test hundred” ( India today conclave)


2007-08

India lost this match though they scored 532 in the 1st innings in which Sachin top scored with 154. Brett Lee took 5 wickets. However Australia scored 463 and 401 but generally it was felt that Ponting had declared too late as India had to survive just 72 overs and with 2 overs remaining had 3 wickets in hand. However Clarke’s 3 wickets in 5 balls got Australia a famous win.


2011-12

If Michael Clarke did it with the ball in 2007-08, he contributed massively with the bat with an imposing 329 not out. Ponting (134) and Mike Hussey (150) also shone. India was defeated by an innings scoring 191 in 1st knock and a more respectable 400 in the 2nd. Dhoni topscored for India in the first innings with 57 not out while Gambhir’s 83 was the highest of 4 Indian half centuries in the 2nd, others being Sachin, Laxman and Ashwin. Pattinson and Hilfenhaus were the pick of the Aussie bowlers.

The Drawn Tests

1947-48
This was the 1st ever series between the opponents and the 1st time they met at Sydney. On a terrible wicket, only 10 hours of play was possible in 6 days of play. India scored 170 all out in 70 overs after being at one stage 95-6. Dattu Phadkar, a cricketing heartthrob of those days debuted and scored 51 at number 8. Interestingly  it took 60 more years more before an Indian crossed 50 on debut with Mayank Agarwal doing so at Melbourne in the current series. Australia were 107 all out with Phadkar (3) and Hazare (4) sharing the spoils. Hazare bowled out Don Bradman for 13. In the 2nd innings India were 61/7 before the match was called off. It was in this Test that Vinoo Mankad ran out Bill Brown for backing up too far, after warning him. He was criticised for this but Don Bradman defended the dismissal , unfair advantage was taken by the batsman.Till date Sunny Gavaskar always questions why the mode of dismissal is called “Mankeded” when Mankad was not at fault and Brown was.


1986

India piled up 600/4 declared and at one stage were 415/1. Gavaskar (172), Srikkanth (116) and Jimmy Amarnath (138) batted Australia out of the Test. Australia reached 396 mainly due to a 217 run opening partnership between David Boon (131) and Geoff Marsh (92). India’s huge total allowed the rare luxury of a follow on and Australia survived 77 overs to draw at 119/6. Overall Australia batted as many as 257 overs with a run rate of less than 2 to earn a fighting draw. 


1992

David Boon once again got a ton to take Australia to 313 but in response India piled up 483 with Ravi Shastri scoring a double hundred and Sachin scoring 148. This was Shane Warne’s 1st test match and a popular quiz question is which Indian debuted with him with the answer being current Bihar coach Subroto Bannerjee. Australia were 173/8 in their second innings with Shastri taking 4/45. India would consider themselves unlucky not to win this Test since almost the entire 3rd day’s play was lost. 

2003-04

India would consider themself distinctly unlucky not to win this Test which would have given them the series 2-1. Batting 1st India piled up 705-7 with Sachin and Laxman scoring 241 and 178. Australia responded with 474 with tons by Langer and Katich. India briskly scored 211-2 with unbeaten 91 and 60 by Dravid and Sachin 60. Australia went in to tea with 4 wickets down and with Kumble and Murali Kartik, one fancied an Indian win. However Waugh came up with a match saving 80 with Katich who got 77 not out. Steve Bucknor’s umpiring was a sore point with the Indians who felt that he did not give Langer out twice to Agarkar and Martyn once to Kartik. Even Billy Bowden negated an appeal of Kumble to Martyn which looked plumb. Apart from Bucknor’s harsh captaincy. two other discussed points were , i) whether the Indian captain declared too late and ii) the dropped catch and stumping by Parthiv Patel harming the Indian cause. However ultimately the last day belonged to Waugh who was his usual tough self in getting the draw. 


2014-15
This was the series when Steve Smith and Virat Kohli hit 4 tons each. Virat had captained in the 1st Test of the series. After the 3rd Test when Dhoni abruptly retired, the mantle of captaincy came now as a full time job to Virat and he responded with a 147 which helped India score 475 in response to Australia’s 572/7 declared. Steve Smith scored 117 in the 1st innings and a run a ball 70 in Australia’s 251/6 declared. India had to survice 90 overs which they did for an honorable draw. In the 2011-12 Test India could not survive 2 overs with 3 wickets in hand. Here they were in similar situation and with 7 wickets down needed to survive 12 overs which they did courtesy Ajinkya and Bhuvneswar Kumar.

This then is the history of India-Australia Tests at Sydney. What will happen on 3rd January. Will Virat Kohli be the 1st ever Indian Captain to lead his side to a series win in Australia. Or will Australia fight back. 
Looking forward to a great Test at Sydney

Pics Credit; Wikipedia

Pablo Escobar and his Hippos.

Who ignited 2 Million dollars in cash to keep his daughter Manuela warm when they were in hiding. Yes it was none other than Pablo Escobar,  infamous drug-lord, on whom the 1st 2 seasons of super-hit serial Narcos is based. From someone who was so poor that once he was sent home as he had no shoes, Pablo became a multi-billionaire many times over and was in the top ten list of Forbes. Burning of notes is an urban legend but the fact is that his gang used to collect huge cash. The cost on rubberbands itself to segregate and bind the cash was 2500$ a month. The cocaine trade got him millions in cash, and it is estimated that a huge portion of it, maybe upto 10% was wasted by rats nibbling at the notes stored in the numerous godowns his gang owned. At the peak of his career as head of Medelline drug cartel he supplied 80% of the entire cocaine to be smuggled into the USA and was earning more than 420 million dollars a week. His drug trade smuggled 15 tonnes of cocaine daily. He offered to pay off the entire National debt of more than 10 Billion dollars in return for amnesty. 

Murder was second nature to Escobar. More than 4000 people were killed by him including more than 200 Judges, 1000 policemen, journalists and Government workers. Escobar also perfected the art of bribing. One airport manager of a small Columbian airport was paid 300000 pounds per flight allowed access. When he was arrrested he had 15 million pounds in his bank account. Pablo was making so much money that there were sometimes laughable mistakes. Once 5 million pounds in cash was loaded on the wrong ship, and the crew took it away. When told about it, instead of flying into a rage, Pablo shrugged his shoulders and said , “You win some, you lose some”.


There are many such stories about Escobar which are well known. However do u know about Pablo Escobar’s Hippopotamus ( Hippo). Read on.


Rich men have interesting tastes. For Escobar, having a personal zoo was one. It was named Hacienda Napoles and apart from concrete dinosaurs built by Escobar for his son, the zoo had antelopes, bison, zebras, ponies, ostriches, exotic birds, elephants and giraffes. Among the various other animals numbering hundred plus his zoo had were 4 hippos , which Escobar had smuggled into Columbia. Pablo , like a king had free entry to his zoo and busloads of schoolchildren used to enjoy guided tours. Escobar, at the entrance to the zoo, had a replica of the 1st airplane which flew in cocaine to the United States. The zoo had dinosaur statues, replicas of prehistoric animal statues like the mammoth and decommissioned military vehicles.


After Escobar was shot, his zoo was taken over as well and the animals donated to regular zoos. However the 4 hippos were left alone. Little did the enforcement agencies and Government think about the consequences. Well, the 4 quickly multiplied to 16, and currently no one knows how many hippos there are in the area, with estimates ranging from 40 to 60. 
Now a Hippo is typically an African animal. Hippos are grass eaters. However when they are threatened by habitat loss they become dangerous and unpredictable.

At the same time they are charismatic animals and attempts to castrate them, or kill them may invite unpopular public opinion and has done in the past. Eating the hippos is not a solution as they may transmit dangerous diseases. In fact, there was one such killing of ‘Pepe the hippo”, sanctioned by environmental authorities let to calls for resignation of the Minister of Environment, media criticism and a judicial order by a judge prohibiting future killings. 


Yet, some decision has to be taken as otherwise the population may exceed hundred within a few years. This is because in Africa, their natural habitat, drought, dryness, and lack of water and food leads to natural deaths. However, drought is not there in Columbia, and food and water is in plenty too. Hence the population will grow unchecked by natural causes. A 2018 National Geographic article has contrasting views of environmentalists on whether the impact of the hippos was positive or negative. Popular belief is that its likely that there will be an unchecked hippo population explosion.
Some however say that there is no such threat. An expert view is that Hippos are living in Hippo Heaven, in a conducive habitat, and there is no threat.

Pablo Escobar will be remembered, and so will his hippos

Pic Credit; Getty Images

India-Australia Tests at Melbourne; A journey/Preview

The Annual Boxing day Test match on 26th December 2018 this time features Australia and India at Melbourne. The competition between these two sides is fast becoming the premier rivalry in world cricket, though many Aussies and Englishmen will still prefer the Ashes of course.

Currently the series is tantalizingly poised at 1-1 with Aussies roaring back after the visitors drew first blood.

Lets have a glimpse of the earlier Tests between these two teams at this historic venue and a quick preview as well. So far the two rivals have met here 12 times, with the Aussies winning as many as 8 matches, India winning 2 and 2 matches being draws.

The two Indian wins here.

India’s 1st win at Melbourne was in the 1977-78 series with a weakened Australian side due to exodus to Kerry packer’s “circus”. Our premier batsmen Sunny Gavaskar (hundred) Gundappa Vishwanath ( twin 50’s) and Jimmy Amarnath (79) contributed with the bat while spin twins Chandra (12 wickets) and Bedi (6 wickets) bowled India to a famous win.

India’s only other Test win versus Australia was in the 1981 series when against all odds India defended a 143 run 4th innings target with some incisive bowling by Kapil Dev (5-28) ably aided by Ghavri and Doshi who had 2 wickets each. Vishwanath’s ton as well as dour half centuries by Sunny and Chetan Chouhan kept India in the hunt.

Indians with good batting and bowling performances at Melbourne.

By good batting performances i have included hundreds and for bowling performances i have included 5 wickets in an innings. The great allrounder Vinoo Mankad had hundreds in both the tests of the 1947-48 series. Sunny Gavaskar had a century in India’s win in 1977-78.

In the 1967-68 series, offie Prasanna took 6-141 and was the only bowler who got respect from the Aussies for whom Bill Lawry, Bob Simpson and Ian Chappell hit tons. In 1977-78 Chandra had magic figures of 6-52 in both innings. In 1981 Gundappa Vishwanath had a ton while Kapil Dev had a fiver. The next Indian century at Melbourne was by little master Sachin who had a ton as well as a 50 but could not prevent a big defeat in 1999-2000. Similarly Sehwag’s magnificent 195 and Kumble’s 6 wickets in 2003-04 could not stop an Aussie win. Kumble repeated his fiver performance in 2007 as well which was the only shining point in otherwise an abject performance. The final two centuries by Indians were in the last series in 2014-15 where Virat’s 169 and Ajinkya’s 147 helped India to a comfortable draw.

Therefore the Indian centurians here have been Vinoo Mankad ( twice), Sunny Gavaskar, Gundappa Vishwanath, Sachin Tendulkar, Virendra Sehwag, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane

The successful Indian bowlers have been Prasanna, Chandra (twice), Kapil Dev and Anil Kumble (twice). 

If one sees history, both the Indian Captain Virat, Vice captain Ajinkya and head coach Shastri have tasted success at Melbourne. For Ravi Shastri, Melbourne is a ground where he has done well as a bowler, In 1985-86 he had figures of 4-87 and 4-92. India were for some time in the drivers seat with Australia at 109-5 in the 1st innings before Greg Matthews 100 at number 7 pulled them out of the woods. Allan Border’s 163 in second innings ensured a comfortable draw. Currently Shastri is the head coach and he will try to get his fighting/battling spirit as a player in his team and also hope that both our batsmen bowlers put in commendable performances. As mentioned earlier, big daddy hundreds by Virat and Ajinkya have got India an honorable draw. Ajinkya has announced that he is feeling good and it is time he can get a 100, and maybe a 200. It will indeed be superlative if he can walk the talk.

As the current series situation goes, it appears Australia are at an advantage. They appear confident. Their batting was supposed to be very weak however this weak batting was instrumental in getting them to a win in the second test and levelling the series 1-1. Inclusion of Mitch Marsh will strengthen the batting. The bowling appears good, with the pace attack doing its job while Lyon is showcasing his talents and staking a serious claim to being the best spinner in the world. 

India on the other hand are too heavily dependent on Kohli for its batting. The owners seem like schoolboys in front of the Aussie opening attack and the last 4 batsmen are contributing next to nothing, so much so that once Australia gets 6 wickets they can feel confident that they are going to bat very soon. The bowling has done its job but lack of a specialist spinner hurt India badly in the second test. 

Can India try something new ? Can we see some imaginative captaincy from Kohli ?. Mebourne saw one such ingenious and imaginative captaincy by none other than Don Bradman in the very 1st Test between India and Australia at Melbourne. Australia had a lead of around 140 but the wicket was devilish and Bradman sent his bowlers in at the top of the order. While India reduced Australia to 32/4 it was the Aussie bowlers who were out and then the batsman with an improved wicket took the match away. Bradman himself came in at 6 and he had hundreds in both innings.

Will India do something similar. They have announced that Mayank Agarwal will go in with Hanuma Vihari and Rohit Sharma is back at 6. Numbers 3,4,5 of course select themselves. Pujara, Virat, Ajinkya will all be required to play well while Hanuma who had done well at 6 will face new challenges as Opener. Ashwin after his good showing in the 1st Test would have been good and the Indian think tank would be hoping that the offie is fit. 

Looking forward to a great Boxing Day Test

(Pics Credit; DNA)

You think yours is a struggle; Read about Anil Kapoor’s.

Image result for anil kapoorSome people seem to have it easy, for others there is always a struggle. For some , struggle is followed by success, so much so that the initial struggling period, which may be years is ignored and not even known.

On Anil Kapoor’s Birthday, i bring to you little known aspects of his struggling years.

In 1973, Anil Kapoor played the role of the young Shashi Kapoor for the shelved film Tu payal mein sangeet which was his first association with movies. Later, in 1979, he played one of the teenagers role in the Umesh Mehra film Humaare Tumhaare, starring Sanjeev Kumar and Raakhee where both are widower/widow with four and three children respectively .

Anil was not getting any movies at all and maximum getting bit roles but he was convinced that he had the potential to be a big star. His dad, Surinder started his career as Secretary to Geeta Bali and subsequently became a producer. He was the producer of the multi-starrer movie Hum paanch and also asked Boney Kapoor to be the co-producer as well. The movie had a huge star cast with such stars as Sanjeev Kumar, Naseer, Raj Babbar, Shabana and Mithun. Bapu was the director and Anil Kapoor had a small role.

However a persevering Anil used to show Bapu his interpretation of shots of the different stars. This impressed Bapu so much that he gave him a break in the Telugu film Vamsa Vruksham. Anil says he accepted the movie as it had a role for more than a minute. He changed his name to AK Rao, thinking that Anil Kapoor had a north Indian flavour and stars of those days were NT Rama Rao, Nageswara Rao and so the name AK Rao may bring him luck.

Anil’s struggles included hanging around in the studios on the sets of Rajashri Productions and Subhash Ghai , hoping that he would somehow be able to meet the Barjatyas or Subhash Ghai and convince them of his talent. However he himself says that he could not muster the courage to go and talk to them. From their assistants he got lading role in a movie called Prerna which was shelved and another called Rachna which was a disaster as it ran for only a single day.

In those days of struggle Anil used to travel in local train and buses. When he used to travel from Chembur to Cuffe Parade, he used to see rich people and get fascinated. Apart from bit roles, he also used to work as a background dancer. He had gone on a show abroad where the stars were Hemant Kumar, Nutan, Zarina Wahab and Padmini Kapila and Anil as a background dancer used to get 15 pounds per show.

The years of struggle however gave him something which maybe years of success may not give someone- a Loving wife. Anil , during his struggling days, met Sunita, a successful model and the daughter of a top SBI banker. They fell in love and got married. Theirs is one of the most successful and stable marriages of the Hindi film industry.

The years of struggle came to an end with the release of Wo saat din, which too was directed by Bapu. Though stalwart Naseer was there, Anil got huge praise as well. Years of success would now follow.

Today 24th December is his birthday. Happy birthday Anil Kapoor.

(Pics credit; DNA Newspaper)

The greatest killer “Queen” , Freddie Mercury

“Lover of life, singer of songs”. This is how Freddie Mercury was described by his bandmate Brian May. 
There are very few 4 Octave singers in the history of music. Some well known ones are Christiana Aguilera, Ariana Grande, Whitney Houston, Cyndie Lauper, King Diamond, Chris Cornell and my favorite of them all, Freddie Mercury.

Born as Farrokh Bulsara in Zanzibar, Freddie’s journey from a baggage handler at  Heathrow airport to one of the most loved superstars of music makes an incredible story in itself. 
Lets take a trivia journey through the life and times of this great performer. 

Early Life

Farrokh was born in a Parsi family and grew up in India. He studied at St Peters, Panchgani and St Mary’s Bombay before moving back to Zanzibar when he was 17. As a kid he was always into music and one of his friends said he had the uncanny ability to play on the piano what he heard on the radio. He and his family had to flee to London during the 1964 Zanzibar revolution in which thousands of Indians were killed.
In London, Farrokh worked as a baggage handler. He also sold second hand clothes with his girlfriend Mary Austin. His interest in music led him to singing for a band called “the wreckage”. In one of the songs, the mike broke off, and he danced around with it, and pretended it to be a guitar which became a signature act throughout his career. 


How Queen was formed
Farrokh later teamed up with a band named “the Smile”. His bandmates were guitarist Brian May, Drummer Roger Taylor and bassist John Deacon. At this time, Farrokh took 2 major decisions. He changed his name to Freddie Mercury and he gave the name of Queen to the band. There was some obstinance but Freddie brished them aside stating that the name Queen was Regal and grand and this is what he wanted his Band to be.


Love of his life
Freddie’s greatest love was Mary Austin. Interestingly she was seeing Brian May and Freddie ascertained that they were not serious before entering into a long term relationship with her. It unfortunately had to end when he confessed to her that he was bisexual, and she sorrowfully corrected him that he was gay. However they remained friends throughout life, and one of his most famous songs “Love of my Life” was about her. He also left almost his entire fortune of well over a hundred million pounds to her. Interestingly, he also said that he desired that where his mortal remains would be kept should be a secret, and till date Mary has maintained the secret, respecting his wishes.


His other major relationships
The autobiographical movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” where Rami Malek plays Freddie, depicts 2 other major relationships. One was with his manager Paul Prenter who is shown as betraying him. Other was with a hairdresser, Jim Hutton, who was with him the last 7 years of his life. The movie has however inaccurately portrayed Hutton as a waiter when they met for the first time. 


Bohemian Rhapsody
For many, this is the greatest song ever composed. Ironically, EMI Records refused to release the same, calling it too long. Freddie then told the Executive of EMI, Ray Foster that he would forever be known as the man who lost “Queen”. History proved him right as “Bohemian Rhapsody” made history and continues to do so even today. It is the most streamed song of the 20th century. Wooah.


Escapade with Lady Diana
Freddie loved life and was a showman. Once he took his good friend Lady Diana to a gay bar, dressing her up in an army jacket, dark aviator sunglasses and a leather cap to camouflage her famous tresses. The crowd recognised him but not her and Freddie’s gamble that Diana would be seen as a gay model in drag paid off. Lady Diana not only reached the bar but ordered a white wine and beer and they remained there for 20 minutes. On the way back to Kensington Palace, she , enjoying her brief tryst with anonymity exclaimed, “We must do it again”.

Freddie and Live Aid

Queen’s Live performance in the iconic Live Aid concert is considered the greatest live performance of all time. The audience was 1.9 Billion throughout the world. Freddie with his tight white jeans and white tank top had , as always in his career, had the audience eating out of his hand. Bohemian rhapsody, Radio Gaga, Hammer to fall, Crazy little thing called love, We will we will rock you, and we are the champions were the songs Freddie belted out in an electrifying 21 minute performance.

It is not possible to do justice to a multifaceted personality like Freddie in a single blog. Hope my readers have liked it, If so, Part 2 will come up.

Sachin, Sunny and all the 100 Tests Men; A look.

Image result for sachin tendulkar sunil gavaskar hd imagesThe 1st English cricketer to be given a Peerage was Colin Cowdrey. He was also the 1st cricketer to play 100 Test Matches. While the 1st Test match was played in 1877 it took 91 years before the 1st Cricketer played 100 tests which was Colin. However in the next 50 years , there have been 65 more cricketers to achieve this monumental feat.

Quite obviously , some legends of the game feature in the list. Lets have a look at them and also some more aspects of this huge achievement of longevity.

It may be noted that all the 8 Major cricket playing Countries have cricketers with 100 Tests. The 2 Traditional powerhouses England and Australia lead the pack with 14 and 12;

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The 14 Englishmen on the list are Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Graham Gooch, David Gower, Mike Atherton, Colin Cowdrey, Geoff Boycott, Kevin Pietersen, Alec Stewart, Graham Thorpe, Andrew Strauss, Jimmy Andersen, Stuart Broad and Ian Botham.

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The 12 Aussies who have played 100 Tests are Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh, Allan Border, Mark Waugh, Michael Clarke, David Boon, Justin Langer, Matthew Hayden, Mark Taylor,  Shane Warne, Glen Mcgrath and Ian Healy

They are followed by India, West Indies and South Africa who have 10, 9 and 8 “centurians”.

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The ten Indians are Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar and Virendra Sehwag.

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The 9 West Indians are Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, Brian Lara, Des Haynes, Gordon Greenidge, Courtney Walsh, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Chris Gayle and Carl Hooper.

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South Africa has 8 “centurians”. They are Graeme Smith, Gary Kirsten, AB De Villiers, Makhaya Ntini, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, Shaun Pollock and Mark Boucher.

Rounding off the list are  Pakistan, Sri Lanka and New Zealand with 5,5 and 3 100 Test men.

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Wasim Akram, Javed Miandad, Inzamam ul Haq, Saleem Malik and Younis Khan are the five from Pakistan with 100 tests. Interestingly talismanic captain and their current PM Imran Khan played 88 tests and hence is not in the list. Mahela Jayawardhene, Kumar Sangakkara, Murali, Jayasuriya and Chaminda Vaas are the 5 Sri Lankans while Stephen Fleming, Daniel Vettori and Brendon Mcullum are the three Kiwis.

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Image result for brendon mccullum hd imagesNow before analysing the composition of this 66 let us quickly look at the top 5 batsmen and bowlers in this club taking into consideration some acceptable criteria such as number of centuries, wickets, number of tests etc

Batting. I am looking at 4 widely accepted parameters, here, namely, number of Tests, Number of hundreds, number of runs and batting average. I am restricting only to the 100 Test Men

Longevity. Sachin Tendulkar is the leader with an astounding 200 Tests, followed by Ponting and Waugh with 168 each, Kallis with 166 and Dravid/chanderpaul with 164 each. Alastair Cook who retired after playing 161 Tests was expected to take this record but he bowed out at the end of the recent India-England series.

Number of Hundreds. Sachin with 51 is followed by Kallis, Ponting, Sangakkara and Dravid who have 45, 41, 38 and 36 hundreds respectively.

Number of Test Runs. Sachin leads with 15921 and is followed by Ponting (13378) , Kallis (13289), Dravid (13288) and Cook (12472) Cook overtook Sangakkara (12400) in the last test of his career. Creditably, he had announced his retirement at the end of the previous test, and went out with glory, being the 5th cricketer to score a century in his 1st and last test.

Average. Sangakkara with 57.4 leads the list ahead of Kallis with 55.37 and Sachin with 53.78. Younis Khan is 4th with 53.06 ahead of Lara with 52.88 who just edges out Miandad with 52.57. Interestingly Miandad is the only player in the club whose Batting average never fell below 50 in his career and among batsmen who played more than 20 Tests only he and Sutcliffe share this record , which even the Great Don does not have. Cursory look at all these criteria shows that middle-order batsmen are dominating. Clearly opening is a more arduous task.

Bowling. Acceptable parameters are Number of tests ( longevity), Number of wickets and Number of Tenners/fivers

Number of Tests. Warne with 145 Tests leads the pack with Jimmy Anderson (143) Murali (133), Walsh and Kumble (132 each) behind him. Definitely Jimmy will be on top as regards the longevity test. Stuart Broad who has played 123 Tests so far is also expected to cross Kumble, Walsh and Murali.

As regards number of wickets, Murali at 800 is ahead of Warne (708) Kumble (619) Jimmy (564) and Mcgrath  (563).

Murali also leads the Fivers and Tenners list with 67 and 22, followed by Warne with 37 and 10. Kumble , Mcgrath and Botham follow. Interestingly however, the great Kiwi, Sir Richard Hadlee is 3rd on the list with 36 Fivers and 9 Tenners even though he with 86 Tests is not in the 100 Test list.

More batsmen than bowlers

Not surprisingly, there are more batsmen than bowlers in the list. If we loosely divide the list into 4 categories of batsmen, bowlers, all-rounders and wicketkeepers, we see that there are only 4 wicketkeepers, 5 all-rounders, 11 bowlers and as many as 46 batsmen on the list. Does this mean that longevity of batsmen is more ? It would seem so.

Only 4 wicketkeepers in the list would suggest that keeping is a tough job. Mark Boucher, Ian Healy, Brendon Mccullum and Alec Stewart are the 4 on the list. Kumar Sangakkara too is of course, but i have put him in the batsman category as quite often he has played as a specialist batsman.

Currently no player is near this milestone of playing 100 tests. Rangana Herath was the only current player with 90 plus tests. He had played 92 so far but he is 40 and the 3 Test series versus England in November 2018 was his last test series. He retired after the 1st Test which left him 7 short of 100.

Hope you liked this statistical analysis of cricket’s 100 Test Men.

( Pics credit; DNA, Times of India, Cricketcountry.com, Hindu, Espn cricinfo and wikipedia)