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Soulmate Live @ TGIOF '10  

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Soulmate-Rudy Wallang & Tipriti 'Tips' Kharbangar

The Great Indian October Fest(TGIOF), which happened over the weekend served up some great music, gallons of beer and wholesome entertainment. The only difference from the previous editions was the addition of artists related to bollywood. Though it helped in bringing in more crowds, it stood out as a sore thumb amidst the metal and rock bands on display. So, lets forget about the all pervasive bollywood for now, as I dig deep into one great band I discovered this sunday. Soulmate, the blues band from Shillong, is one which I been dying to listen for long. Having heard one of their tracks on an online radio before, I was left craving for more. And, all of those cravings were satisfied when they came on stage as the penultimate band of the 3 day music fest.

a jolly good mood

Rudy on top

Rudy...bending it up

Tipriti dances to one of Rudy's solos

Soulmate consists of Rudy Wallang and Tipriti 'Tips' Kharbangar doing both the guitar and vocal duties. They are accompanied by various session musicians, who change from tour to tour. For someone like me, who swears by metal and hasn't listened to less of blues, this band served as a great intro into this great genre. With vocals that covered the whole gamut, Tipriti stole the show. Looking like a hippie from the 70s in her flowing outfit and big sunglasses, she was at her best when she was screaming at the mic and roaring the verses. And, then there was the little dance she did in between, in accompaniment to one of Rudy's solos. She was at her adorable best when she went into one of their slow numbers. In one of those moments, I just fell in love with her. Rudy Wallang needs no intro. A veteran of the music scene, Rudy, in a career spanning more than 30 years, has played with many bands, one of the most famous of them being 'Great society'. With solos that ring like heavenly bells in your ears, this is a man still at the top of his game and is easily one of the best blues guitarists in India. Together this duo has carved a niche for themselves in the Indian blues scene. They are now one of my most favourite Indian bands.

The 70s Look



I can't hear you

I recommend Soulmate to everyone who loves those easy going songs with free spirited lyrics, that you can enjoy with a cup of coffee on a lazy sunday afternoon as well as on a hectic weekday midnight. You can listen to them at And if you liked it, do go on and buy their 2 albums at Yeah, am waiting for my copy of 'Shillong'.

your crusader Praveen

Sachin's Masterclass  

Posted by Praveen in , , , ,

One of my fav clicks!

There's a dream that every Indian cricket fan carries with him- To witness that scene of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar walking down the middle of the pitch, slowly removing his helmet, raising his bat and then looking up and thanking the heavens as the whole staidum roars in applause. It's an enduring image that defines the past 2 decades of Indian cricket. Many were lucky to watch it in the stadium, quite early on in his career. But, for some like me, it had off late become a dream that was slowly slipping away considering his advancing age and the probability of matches coming in your backyard. And that's when the Bangalore test match against the Aussies happened. The 1st day was a disappointment for us as the Aussies won the toss and batted through the day. We were to be content with watching Sachin on the field and cheering loudly and clicking whenever he touched the ball. We didn't get tickets for the second day.

3rd day morning. Sachin was on crease, nearing his half century. That's when Raja asked me, "why don't we go?" I had my own doubts considering the fact that it was the day after sunday(:P) and we were not college kids anymore. Also I had that big fear of Sachin getting out, the moment we stepped into the stadium. It had happened when he played in Bangalore for the last series against Australia. But then something told me to "take my chances"(and I had that song "take your chance" written by our dear friend Michael playing in my mind that time). And, so we headed to Chinnaswamy stadium on a sunny "day after sunday". We could hear the roars in the stadium, even before we reached its vicinity and we were sure Sachin was still at the crease. As we ran in, he was on 80. For the next few minutes, we sat there biting our nails and joining in the collective "ooooohs" whenever a ball swung in dangerously. Sachin on the nervous 90s raises the blood pressure of the nation for sure. Then on 93, we all had our hearts in our mouths, as he struck one high over long on. We had a huge sigh of relief and a big roar to give as we realised it had sailed on over the ropes. Before long, on 99, he did a repeat of the same shot and this time our hearts nearly stopped. It was wild elation all around when we saw the result was similar to before. The moment we were waiting for, had come. The man removed his helmets, raised his bat and thanked the heavens. BLISS! Cloud 49! Dream fulfilled, we sat there to witness Sachin mentoring Murali Vijay on the way to his maiden test century. As we went back that day, we knew we had taken our chance and fulfilled a dream.
Sachin, at his defensive best.

Sachin-Symphony of destruction

The six over long on, that he hit when he was on 93...

and then the next, while on 99..

The moment arrives...The raised bat and then the thanks to the heavens...all we dreamt of seeing for real for the past 2 decades..

Eat this...

Sachin the mentor- A pat on the back for Murali Vijay for his brilliant century..

And the next morning, we decided to take our chance, yet again. Sachin was on 191. Maybe, a triple century? This time, we had two more to our gang, Muthu and Jijo. And we reached the stadium quite early to see the stands slowly filling up and Sachin practising in the nets. I wonder, why this man needs to practice! :D The stands were full by the time he came out to bat. Sachin's biggest fan Sudhir Kumar Chaudhary, who follows the Indian team wherever Sachin plays, was there too, with his trademark tricolor painted body and 'Tendulkar' written on it. We didn't have to wait for long for the double century. He reached the landmark with a cheeky single. Blessed twice in as many days, thats what we felt. He celebrated it with a straight four. We were slowly warming up for the triple century. But then, he got bowled soon on 214. The man quietly acknowedged it all, as the whole stadium stood up and applauded the masterclass. I wanted to leave the stadium at that very moment but stayed on as they still had hopes on a Dhoni magic. But sadly, the tail was wrapped up even before Sachin removed his pads in the dressing room. But, we were still content, as we were lucky to watch the Sachin double and also India taking the lead over the Aussies.

Single minded determination. Sachin practising in the nets on the 4th day morning...Unbeaten at 191, he came back to complete the double hundred.

A nation stands up to applaud. Sachin completing the 200th run.

Never getting tired of raising the bat..The double hundred

The leg glance

Sachin gets cheeky

And a majestic innings of pure class, comes to an end. Bowled!

Sachin looks back to see the stumps rearranged and the bails flying off..

5th day. Match could swing both ways. We were still undecided with Aussies on an overall lead of 200. We all know the nasty behaviour of Indian pitches on the 5th day of any test match. And to confirm our doubts, Sehwag was back in the pavilion just as the innings started. Smelling a thrilling finish, we made yet another trip to the stadium. the third time in as many days. This time we had two others joining in, Nikhil and Rahul. Debutant Pujara, who got a real nasty ball in the first innings, was playing the innings of his life. He, along with Murali Vijay, took India into a comfortable position. We reached on time to see Sachin at the start of the innings. Pujara departed after an innings that showed high temparament in high pressure. A class move by Dhoni there by sending him in place of Dravid. Soon, we had India's trusted combination of Sachin and Dravid at the crease, toying with Aussies. We smelled another 50 from Sachin. And we were again treated to that shots over long on, which he played during his century. The Aussies had given it up by then. And, it was yet another 50 from the master. It was a matter of time before the master and the wall clinically dismantled the brains of the AUssies. With 2 runs needed, they played out 2 maiden overs. Yeah, Just for fun, cos they can :P. We weren't complaining, as the solid defence from these stalwarts were a treat to watch. Before long, Sachin took a two and finished off the formalities. The full to the brim stadium erupted in joy. We stood there, finding it hard to believe our luck-A sachin double century in 1st innings, an unbeaten 50 in the 2nd innings, him hitting the winning run to complete a whitewash of the Aussies and then him winning the Man of the match and Man of the series. It was our wildest dreams coming true over 5 days.

The repeat! Sachin's six over long on in the second innings.

Yet another 50!

Sachin acknowledges the crowd after completing the winning run as the stadium erupts in wild celebrations.

Sachin and Dravid celebrating the win, as the dejected Aussies move in to congratule them..

Presentation ceremony- Sachin being called in to recieve the man of the match and man of the series.

Sachin with his man of the series trophy with an applauding Sunil Gavaskar behind him

The left handed sign!

Sachin displaying the trophy to the crowd during the lap of honour.

Here's a song for the man...motherjane's "before one million comes one". Infact, the band dedicated this song to Sachin when they played an unlugged concert here in Bangalore last week. This song was originally written about Mother Teresa.

There was one
who gave dignity to the dying
who brought hope to the living

There was one
who gave to a different degree
who proved with certainty,
that before one million comes one.

There was one
who gave a handful and a smile
who brought rest for just a while

There was one
who did what was possible
who took small sacrifices
and built a miracle

There was one, now there are a million
There was one, now there are a million

Coz when the horizon of a desert speaks of an ocean
A rain cloud is god sent, a raindrop is ecstasy
before one million comes one,
each similar to a different degree.

your crusader Praveen

Rajini and the Indian movie buff's mindset  

Posted by Praveen in , ,

*not a movie spoilers*

Yet another long awaited Rajinikanth movie has arrived with all the glitz, hype, madness and pure entertainment that only a 'thalaivar' film can generate. The whole country is going gaga over it. Reports are pouring in of milk pouring rituals and loud whistling and dancing at centres in US, UK ,Australia etc. I was witness to the frenzied reception at the Rex theatre in Bangalore on the 1st day itself. And the movie has matched all the expectations and pre release hype by raking in record collections all over. The fans are watching it again and again...and again. As the frenzy reaches its crescendo, lets take a look at what makes Rajini the man he is and also on the complicated mindset of the Indian movie buff.
The real self...without any makeups or an ounce of fakeness

The rags to riches story of Rajini is known to almost everyone. Making his entry in films through comparatively small roles, he changed track to do villainious roles. Its in this phase of his career that he used his acting prowess to the fullest extent. Devoid of stardom, the trademark styles and elaborate dance numbers, these roles slowly catapulted him into the big league. The villain metamorphosised into a hero. More meaningful roles came his way. But, as the 90s neared, a notable shift to larger than life roles was noted. He began to be venerated into a class of his own by his diehard fans. His own unique mannerisms contributed a lot into this. And all of it reached a crescendo with Badsha(or baasha, as we all like to say), the movie which was a rage during the mid 90s. As the punch dialogues became political slogans, the man behind all this remained unassuming and elusive. A single dialogue from him could upturn all the political calculations of the leaders. But, even he was not elusive to flops. What made the difference was that he paid the producers from his own pockets when flops happened. The most endearing character of the man is that there's nothing fake about him. Having reached 60 years of age, he looks his age at very place other than the screen. He makes public apperances in normal clothes with his bald head and unshaven face. No, its not a calculated move as some accuse it to be. He just has got nothing to hide from his fans and he knows they will still love him(even more), however unkempt his external apperance may be.

Till about some years ago(pre-Sivaji days), the media and people beyond the borders of the south hardly took Rajini seriously. With their pre conceived notions about the cult of star worship down south and small peeks into clippings of his movies, he was more the butt of many a jokes than anything else. They could never understand why someone doing cigarette tricks would become such an icon. But once they came to know about the astronomical sums that he commanded and about the widespread acceptance of his movies overseas, the National media changed tone. There was a slow shift from the 3 minute reports lampooning him towards 30 minute shows digging deep into the life of the man. It was not appreciation coming from the heart, but a grudging acceptance of the box office clout of this man. With the release of Endhiran, the national media seems to have adopted him as their own, heaping praises on him. They could close their eyes to this phenomenon acting in India's most expensive movie at their own peril. So, when they needed him, they are cashing in on him.
Remember this time?

Now, to the audience. Even in his homeland, where people worship him, there were many of those black sheeps, the so called 'intellectuals', who never accepted him. Though some appreciated him in their mind, accepting him in public meant diluting their exhalted tastes. People supposed to be living on a daily diet of Kurasowa, kar wai, Fatih Akin and the likes, still says he's not worthy of all the adulation. One thing they don't realise is that a common man doesnt want twisted narratives and abstract storylines to enjoy a movie(Its another matter that many of these elite class never fully understands those abstract storylines). Most of these fans formed a bond with the man a pretty long time back and they won't take it lying down when one from the elite class makes fun of their hero. Even after watching the technically well made Endhiran, there's a section who says the effects are over the top. These are the same people who jumps up in glee at a spiderman or transformer and never minds it when the 'firangis' fly from building to building. When someone from our backyard does it, it should be laughed at. Strange are the psychologies of this ilk! Did anyone say hypocrisy? Yet another theory is that the common man loves him because he looks like one of them. Nothing can be far from the truth. Then, the local tea shop owner should be the next big hero. The truth is, you can't survive in this industry if you don't have talent. Tricks and mannerisms can take you only till a certain point. And those who come up with that argument of 'he can't act should go back to the 80s to see some brilliance from this man. And, mind you, that doesn't mean all these super hero movies doesn't need any acting talent at all. Just how many can pull off those with such panache!
The legendary baadsha(baasha)

But whatever be the mindset of fans, grudging admirers or intellectuals, the guy has stood the test of time. Though puncutated by occasional duds like baba, he was never once brought down from that pedestal up there. Many like vijay, Ajith etc tried aping him. But after the initial success, they all failed miserably. Its a proof that the audience down south doesn't worship any hero blindly. It takes some one with immense charm, enough talent and a strong off screen image to command respect. And Shivaji Rao Gaekwad aka Rajinikanth has loads and loads of just that! ithu oru thadava sonna 100 thadava sonna maari DOT!

A short review of the movie spoilers

I felt that this is one of the best Indian sci-fi flicks till date. Shankar's vision coupled with the double role from the inimitable Rajini makes this a treat. The visual effects are world class, surpassing everything seen on Indian screens before. Right from the breathtaking scene where the robot's magnetic field steals all the weapons from the villians to the mind numbing formations unleashed by hundreds of 'rajini' robots during the climax, the movie has enough sequences to make your jaw drop many times over. A.R.Rahman's music fits in remarkably well and those who've given negative reactions to the music are those who listened to it on screen for the 1st time. Just like every other Rahman OST, you need to give some time for the whole thing to sink in. The story is something which you can predict but that doesn't take anything away from this movie. Shankar should be credited for taking up something on such a grand scale and executing it remarkably well. And, above all this comes the man himself, with a double punch. The scientist sporting the beard and glasses looks a subdued form of Rajini. Rather, a human form who is scared to fight and prefers to take flight when faced with adversity. Then there is chitti, the robot, who is like a darling at first when he slowly learns to feel like a human and later scaring the living day lights out of you in his evil avatar. The evil laughter takes you back to the days of the yesteryear Rajini who shot to fame with roles having a grey streak. As he splits open a fellow robot's head and blurts out in style "Rwaaaaboooo" and later as he apes the sound of a sheep ("meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeehhh") when he finds out the black sheep, the man gives ample evidence of the acting talent that wasn't used much in his later larger than life movies. The movie is boring for only a few minutes in the 2nd half with stupid scenes of talking to mosquitos and all, but rest of it is just perfect. I guess the dubbed version in Hindi won't work because everything from the dialogues to the lyrics will lose its beauty when translated. The dubbing is bound to flop. And this is the best Rajini movie in a long time, maybe after Padayappa[I dint like Sivaji much, chandramukhi was a bad clone of manichitrathazhu, I dint care to watch kuselan and Baba]. Anyway, there are no second thoughts. Just, get in and get your mind blowed into a 1000 pieces. This is superstar version 2.0.

your crusader Praveen

CWG Opening Ceremony :Dousing negativity  

Posted by Praveen in ,

The past few weeks were filled with negativity, when we were relentlessly fed news on all that is wrong with the Commonwealth games. Falling roofs, broken bridges, dirty rooms, flooded village and what not! The same 10 second clipping and 3-4 photos were rotated on the airwaves for weeks. We all thought this is going to be a shame like no other. There was not a single news on the big arenas and the truely exciting parts of the village(which is more than 95% of the village if the comments from the visiting athletes are to be believed). Not to forget the criticism that they unleashed on A.R.Rahman and his theme song. Later, the same channels were hailing the same song when he trimmed 1 minute out of it. Speaks a lot on their musical knowledge! It was one sided journalism of the worst kind as these media groups went on to tarnish our image very badly on the world stage. Kalmadi and co deserves to be punished, Agreed! But using that to spin stories and gain viewership is an equally condemnable crime. Sensing that the public had begun to see through the truth, the channels did show some positive news on the games over the last 2-3 days. But that doesn't wash away their sins.

Its amidst this huge wave of negativity that the grand show that India put up at the CWG opening ceremony gains significance. It may not match the mind numbing show put up by China for the Beijing olympics. But, we did show the world what we can in our own inimitable way. The Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Delhi witnessed a spectatular show of Indian culture and arts. Starting with the Indian national anthem, for which the 60,000 crowd stood up in rapt attention, the games were declared open by Prince Charles, with Prathibha Patil saying 'Let the Games begin'. It was ironic in a way that both these persoalities are just puppets without any say in their own country's affairs. And, the importance accorded to the British monarchy is puke worthy. The heavy percussion display that followed featured artists fromthe length and breadth of India and must have made the stadium basement shake. The young kid playing the Tabla was wonderful.
The highlight of the show was the Aerostat, the big helium balloon that towered over the stadium. It was an integral part of all the shows with rolling photos, titles and sometimes morphing itself to suit the various situations, most notably when it became the leaves and branches of the giant bodhi tree. Almost worthy of the 40 odd crores spent on it. The swagatham song sung by Hariharan and choreographed by a host of young kids was a delight. The impromptu drawing of giant mehndi on white sheets by these kids looked magical. The march past of the athletes, an otherwise boring affair, was lit up by the loud cheers that the Indian audience reserved for the Pakistani contigent. A true spectacle, that! Hope the foolish guys across the borders learn some lessons on peace and harmony atleast at this late hour. The minute Kalmadi came to deliver his speech, the channel was changed. Later, I heard that the guy was booed. Serves him right.

'The great Indian Journey', the show put up by Indian railways was the best of the whole show. Modelled as a big train, each of the wagons showed one scene common to Indian streets. Thus there were cycle repair shops, chilly bhaji vendors, bangle shops, swamijis, beautiful ladies, politicians during election time etc in each of the wagons. A great display of earthy Indian culture by India's best bet for travelling, the Indian railways. Another great show was the one showcasing yoga. A host of yogis performed various asanas around the huge bodhi tree, accompanied by soul lifting music. Then there was the dance show which introduced to the world, India's various dance forms like mohiniyattam, kuchipudi, kathak, Odissi etc. Maybe, they could've thrown in a show about the new resurgent India. But, no one is complaining! And to top it all, we had A.R.Rahman himself singing the CWG theme song. I still can't understand the mindset of those 'musical pundits' who called this a bad song. Rahman followed it up with a rousing performance of 'Jai ho'. And thus, the curtains went up on the Delhi common wealth games. Now, Let the games begin! And let positivity reign!

PS- I still don't understand the purpose of the commonwealth games. Leave out the 'brotherhood, friendship and all that shit through sports' answer that we always get. The games seems to be a kind of saluting the same monarchy that all these 70 odd countries once drove away from their own countries. Was Kalmadi trying an one fingered salute when he stole all those thousands of crores?:P God only knows!
BTW, the losers at BBC have already put up a negative article after the opening ceremony. These guys seems to be envious and is trying hard to spoil the picture.

pic courtesy-AP

your crusader Praveen