Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Great Tragedy of Indian Cricket and its Suffering Supporters

I’m writing about this here as for sheer drama this is no less than an Othello or even your average Bollywood family drama – cant decide though, whether it should be classified as a thriller or a tear-jerker…

The early exit of the second-favourite’s for the tournament (odds ranged between 5.5 to 7.5 on most betting sites at different points in time over the last year), the side with the most experience (the Indian squad had over 2258 ODI’s between them – about 700 more than Australia and about 11 more than Sri Lanka), the side with the most money through endorsements (don’t think any stats are needed to prove this one) and for sure the side with the most (fanatical) supporters, has shocked one and all

Theories abound as to why this has happened – was it the coach, was it the captain, was it too many commercials. Was it the format ? Unlike the 2003 edition, where India played terribly for the first 2 games, but was still able to recover and reach the finals, this time if you got 2 games wrong, you were out…

I don’t think it was any one player/coach or even the format but more systemic (almost strategic) issues. I’ve boiled it down to a few simple ones - I’m going to look at a few factors which are not what most analysts / columns have been looking at.

Reason 1 : We had too many players who were past their prime
We were carrying a few stars who shouldn’t have been in the side if we looked at performance alone (and why shouldn’t we ?). I have a simple statistical method to prove this point, its something we often look at in business and is pretty eye-opening when you apply it to cricket / the Indian team. The principle is to compare your career average (whether batsman or bowler) to your more recent performances – for ease of comparison I have picked the last 15 matches and the last 50 matches. Since most of the persons I’m including in the analysis have played at least 150 matches, it does give a startling picture.
Now the ideal picture, of course, is that the Last 15 match average should be greater than the Last 50 match average which in turn should be greater than the Career average. This would imply that over the last year or so, the player is doing quite well and over the last couple of months has been in blistering form. Dravid and Ponting for example have such figures, where the pink line (last 15 matches average) is higher than the yellow line (last 50 matches) which is higher than the blue line (career average)(in case you're having problems viewing the graph, pls right click and open in a new window).

Sachin and Sehwag though make for somber reading – no sane, non-starstruck, performance oriented selection committee would have picked either of them. Their last 50 match average is below their career average and their last 15 match average is comfortably below even that ! In Sachin’s case, his last15 average is lower than his career average by 10 runs ! And, I’ve put them side by side, to demonstrate another more damning point – his 15 match average is lower than anyone else on the list except his clone and buddy, Sehwag’s. Also, because I’m sick of arguments in defense of Sehwag like ‘but he plays so aggressively’, ‘he’s a match-winner’, I’ve put in another player os Sehwag’s ilk, the man who is the oldest player in the list, Sanath Jayasuriya. While their career averages are somewhat similar, Sanath’s Last 15 or Last 50 average is higher than Sehwag’s by 10 runs !!! So, it is possible to be aggressive, yet consistent when it matters !

If you thought this was bad, wait till we do the bowling ! I looked at the same indicators for two measures – the bowling average (ie runs conceded per wickets taken) and economy rate (ie runs conceded per over bowled).
So, both Bhajji and Kumble are leaking more runs per over than they used to and also, the miserly Kumble turns out to be not so miserly after all, conceding almost 2 runs per over more than either Murali or Pollock. This equates to almost 20 runs more per match (assuming they bowl their full quota of 10 overs) for the batting side. Also, as an aside, both Murali and Pollock have their last 15 match econ rate well below their career econ rates…

Of course, this wouldn’t matter if either of our spin twins were taking more wickets – or taking more wickets per runs conceded to be more precise. But that is not the case either. Harbhajan has actually doubled !!!! His every wicket now (last 15 average) costs a mind-boggling 60 runs vs his career average of 30 (Murali or Pollock cost approx 17 runs each, last 15). The contrast for both Bhajji and Kumble in terms of either the numbers (the actual averages) or the trends (the last 15 average being well below the career average) cannot be more stark vs Murali or Pollock. I know whom I would prefer in my team….

So – if players like Tendulkar or Harbhajan are being picked, where their last 15 match averages are worse than their last 50 match averages and they are in turn worse than their career averages…plus the actual number (last 15) is much worse than that of their peer group (either in the Indian team or outside), then clearly, they are being picked on the basis of their proud past / their star billing, without paying heed to their pathetic present !

Reason 2 : Joie de Vivre
It’s a soft factor but I feel an important one. I think a French phrase which means ‘Hearty or carefree enjoyment of life’ best sums up how all of us should live life. I’m paid a decent amount for actually doing what I enjoy (marketing/innovating). Cricketers, especially the Indian ones, are actually paid obscene amounts to do what is supposed to be their passion (play cricket). Yet, especially compared to other cricketers, there was/is a complete lack of Joie De Vivre !! I loved watching the Bermudan’s and Bangladeshi’s play – their enthusiasm and joy was infectious. The way they used to celebrate each opposition wicket, they way they were smiling / laughing / joking on the field – even when the chips were down…it was a lesson to the superstars of the Indian team on how to play. And it wasn’t just them – battle hardened teams like Sri Lanka and Australia still seem to be enjoying the game. The Sri Lankan’s in the match against us clearly wanted to win more than us, were jumping / bouncing / loving every minute on the field while the Indians seemed to have the weight of the world / the burden of a billion people on their shoulders.

I know that the pressure on the Indian team is probably the most – but that’s always been the case / its nothing new and each player in their past must have developed a way of coping with this. They’ve forgotten the old principle of ‘Laughter is the Best Medicine’ and also the fact that keeping their sense of humour intact could be a fantastic way of releasing that very pressure.

I can’t even remember when I last saw an Indian player actually laugh heartily during a post match interview. I recently was watching Hayden being interviewed just before a key game, the South Africa group match, and in response to a question he was actually laughing for a full minute before he was able to resume the interview. I think the Indian players have forgotten how to laugh, how to enjoy themselves while playing what is supposed to be their first love…they’ve forgotten why they took up this game in the first place and behave more like 9-5’ers rather than a group which is having fun doing what they do best !

Reason 3 : Too many Dot Balls / Over-reliance on boundaries
I wasn’t able to pull up the stats for this one but over the last year or so, I noticed this dangerous tendency once again. We used to have this long ago – when Kapil / Gavaskar were still around – when most batsman would ignore the singles / two’s and deal mainly in 4’s and 6’s. God alone knows how many matches this has lost us…keeping the scoreboard moving eliminates risk, keeps most run rates within touching distance, transfers the pressure back on the fielding side…I could go on here. For a while – I think it was in 2005 – we’d actually started becoming good at this. Kaif / Yuvraj / Dravid were all pretty lethal at this and nicely counterbalanced the all out attack of the three S’s - Sachin / Saurav / Sehwag. Neither of the first three suffered from poor strike rates either and each of them (especially Dravid) had developed a knack of reaching his 50 in about 50/60 balls, having hit just 1-2 boundaries, without offering any chance whatsoever to the opposition of giving his wicket away.

Recently, this has been replaced by either of two extreme’s – either attack or solid defense. Attack implying either a four or six – and this has an inherent danger of giving your wicket away if you try to do this consistently (ask Sehwag / Dhoni, they know this all too well first hand). Defense, unfortunately, has started to imply dead bats and dot balls. The moment the batting is under pressure due to an eary loss of a wicket (and thanks to Sehwag, we’ve become pretty accustomed to this), we’ll have different people (Sachin / Saurav / Dravid) coming in and just stone-wall the bowlers. They seem to be waiting for the loose ball to punish, without realizing that most professional teams have made this commodity as rare as the Bengal Tiger.

I’ve witnessed live matches like the Champion’s Trophy clash against the West Indies in Ahmedabad where we had something like 180 dot balls. That’s in a game where the total balls received (50 overs) is 300 !!! How can we expect to win if we do this ? Imagine the pressure to score off the remaining 120 deliveries – even if we say a par score is approx 250 runs, then if we let 30 overs (180 balls) go by without scoring, we have to score at more than 12 runs per over to reach the par score. The situation, of course, becomes worse if we are chasing as then there is the additional pressure of having a definite target to reach / a sort of a do or die mode.

Reason 4 : Fielding
If I was leading the Indian board, I would offer Jonty Rhodes a blank cheque and ask him to takeover as fielding coach. Lord knows we need him. Again, too many players who are content to be ordinary when excellence is the need / minimum requirement of the day. I could break this down in terms of any stat – throws which hit the wicket / run-outs / half chances dropped / boundaries stopped etc etc and I think the answer would be crystal clear. India and Pakistan are probably the two worst fielding sides in the tournament. Is it a coincidence that these are the two that are on the early flight home ?

In a perverse, a bit self-centered kind of way, the tournament is poorer without India and Pakistan. Cricket is not evolved as football - there the defending champions / hot favourites can exit in the group stage (happened in 2002 with France and Argentina getting knocked out early) without making the tournament poorer. The Indian supporters provide much of the colour and atmosphere in cricket events. I was there for the famous Natwest Series final at Lord’s where all the sound / support (even when India was 5 down) was coming from the Indian section. India also provides the bums on the seat – the Windies super 8 match against Australia in Antigua had vast stretches of empty seats / it wasn’t even half full. This is unimaginable for an India match – we could be playing a super 8 match on the moon and it would still have full attendance.

I as a cricket fan, have suffered as much or probably more than most others. For the last year, I / my family have been planning our trip to the Caribbean for the world cup. Call it arrogance or short sightedness, I bought tickets almost as soon as they went on sale for all of India’s (team B2’s) Super 8 matches and the semi-final and final. I bought four such tickets and planned to take my family along, including my wife, parents and two kids. For the last three months hardly a day has gone by when we were not in some way or form searching the internet / calling up travel agents for flights or accommodation in the Windies. All of this is now down the drain…there is only a certain feeling of loss, an emptiness, a sense of surreal-ness as I watch a super 8 contest sans India. And, oh !, there are some huge cancellation bills !

Here’s to the vain hope that the Board / the captain and the coach get it right next time….

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Being Cyrus

This is an interesting movie but not for those with a queasy, nervous disposition nor those looking for something conventional or a light hearted film for a few laughs.

I saw this at home, with my family, who were squirming / shifting uneasily as the movie progressed, on a DVD kindly sent by Munish Puri (one of the producers, met him through work and we discovered a common passion).

This is an English movie with a fantastic line-up of character actors, starring Saif Ali Khan as Cyrus, an orphan, who along with his sister, has grown up painfully in a series of foster homes. He is now a grown-up drifter and lands up unannounced at the residence of Dinshaw Sethna (Naseeruddin Shah), a once famous, internationally renowned Parsi potter, who now leads the life of a weed-smoking recluse in Panchgani. Cyrus begins to take lessons from him and also befriends his acerbic, frustrated wife, Katy (Dimple Kapadia) who longs for better days and a more social life (preferably in Mumbai). They had seen better days, and Dinshaw’s father used to own a whole building in Mumbai, but now the father is a prisoner of his ultra-aggressive younger son, Farokh Sethna (Boman Irani), who has taken over the property, confined the father to a claustrophobic, dilapidated room and bullies all those around him, including his meek, pretty young wife Tina (Simone Singh).

The movie throughout seems to suggest something going on beyond the superficial. And in the second half, the sinister undertone / motives take over and come to life. It certainly made my family sit up and converted the movie from a less than ordinary movie to something more interesting. And while a combination of having seen too many movies and a hyperactive imagination meant that I was able to predict the end, I enjoyed watching something different, something a little macabre, a little quirky.

One area where I definitely would have done something differently vs Homi Adajania (the first time director of the movie) would have been in the overall mood of the film – I would have opted for a more light hearted approach, especially in the first half. There are quite a few chuckles in the movie but there is still a somber, almost menacing undercurrent which you’re unable to shake-off. I think the audience would have been better entertained by a Jekyll & Hyde movie of two contrasting halves – a brighter, racier first half, followed by the dramatic events of the second.

I wouldn’t have been so impressed by Saif’s Langda Tyagi in Omkara if I’d seen this before. The witty, light-hearted, rascally Saif of movies like Hum Tum and Salaam Namaste is suddenly an unrecognizable, brooding, introspective Cyrus Mistry. I thought he was excellent. Everyone else fulfils their / their characters potential while a special mention must be made of a delightful cameo by Manoj Pahwa as Inspector Maninder Lovely.

If I scan through all the reviews, it is rated as a must watch. I wouldn’t go that far, especially if you’ve seen a few English film noir’s (Maltese Falcon / Body Heat etc) or even some classic Hitchcock’s (Rope / Psycho spring to mind). However, if you’re a pre-dominantly Hindi movie watcher, I would tend to agree. Its not something that’s going to make you go ‘Wow !’, but more like ‘Hmmm, where did that come from…’

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Namastey London

I think this movie struck a chord in me / my family far more than it would in most other Indians as we (having been NRI’s with kids) have experienced first hand some of the questions / dilemma’s it raises.

If you were an NRI based in London/UK, would you teach your children to speak in Hindi or English as a baby ? Would you put them in a normal English school, make sure they had English friends or would you rather put them in an Indian style school and make sure they stuck to a primarily Indian circle ? Would you want your child to have Indian roots or be primarily British in orientation ? And then, when it came to marriage would you want a desi spouse for your child or you would be fine if they chose a Brit ? In short, would you try to make them conform to the society they live in or continue to be a proud Indian ? Or both ?

These are the kind of questions which most NRI’s abroad face almost on an everyday basis. And this is what the Singh family (especially the father, Manmohan Singh) face when their darling daughter is now getting ready to choose a groom. She is Jazz (short for Jasmeet), thinks nothing of downing a few vodka shots and sharing quite happily with a prospective groom (after the above mentioned shots) her experiences with boyfriends / one night stands / kissing etc. She is also the current love target of the ultra-rich, ultra well-connected Charlie Brown (the director / script-writer obviously cant get enough of Peanuts), who is a thrice divorced, very English Casanova. Horrified at the thought of losing their daughter completely, the father manages to convince her (through emotional blackmail) to take her to India and then, while there, reveals his true motive…he wants to show her some good, desi boys. She reluctantly agrees, they meet some hilarious characters (watch out for the one who loves Hindi soaps… brilliant !) and finally they meet Arjun…a Punjabi boy from Manmohan Singh’s own village. Somehow, again with large chunks of emotional blackmail, Manmohan Singh gets Jazz to marry Arjun. Her only condition is that they will fly back to London immediately after the wedding, and will celebrate the wedding night there. What happens next is the subject of the second half.

The movie has a brilliant first half and a OK second half. The first half is bubbly, natural, hilarious, balances the serious issues raised above very nicely with light hearted humorous moments. It never gets too moralistic or ‘heavy’. The second half also has its moments of brilliance, but they are fewer. Also, the melo-drama starts to creep in and the solutions / emotions being shown of the leading characters are not necessarily so realistic anymore. But overall, the movie is still fun and doesn’t drag or lose its momentum. The 16 reels go by with scarcely a glance at the watch.

Amongst the other things I liked about the movie was that for a change it showed normal NRI’s – a taxi driver / a clothes shop owner, living in normal places like Hounslow etc – not the stereo-typical rich tycoons, normally seen in other movies like Aap ki Khatir / Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gam, who own houses the size of Windsor Castle and Hampton Court and have butlers / drivers etc. These are so few in number in reality that I feel showing primarily their ilk distorts the picture for the Indians living in India and perpetuates the myth that everyone abroad does very well / enjoys a life far exceeding what is possible in India. This movie is more real, raises some questions which hit home and are closer to the truth. There are also some very unabashedly jingoistic moments – but again they are done in a very lighthearted way and you actually feel like clapping when Akshay is kicking (figuratively speaking) some Brit ass...

I’ve always liked Akshay Kumar (Arjun) and this movie confirms why. He has developed a very good sense of comic timing over the past few years, to go along with his spontaneous acting. He somehow always manages to fit in his part very naturally / credibly. I had this perception of Katrina Kaif (Jazz) being a very poor actress (I think its driven by the extremely cheesy Veet commercials she stars in, as this is actually the first movie of hers that I saw). But she was excellent in this movie – without getting soppy / sentimental / screeching or screaming (as a contrast to, say Kajol, in DDLJ), she does what she wants, makes her life’s decisions herself as you would expect her to. She manages to act and looks perfectly comfotable with friends of Indian or Western origin. If she is confused, she doesn't wear it on her sleeve. She has a very natural accent, is quite effervescent and charms her way through the movie. The rest of the cast were good / nothing special here. The music was a bit of a disappointment – again nothing special here & I don’t think any song from here will really dominate the charts.

So ! Does the movie answer all the above questions. The answer is an emphatic no. But does it matter ? The answer is an even more emphatic no ! I dont think there actually is one ‘right’ answer...i also think that the movie is not a masterpiece but, like Katrina's vodka shots, they make three hours go by pretty easily and smoothly. Cheers !

Monday, March 12, 2007


I went in expecting crap…and I got it. Stylised crap, I’ll admit, but crap nonetheless. You should only watch this movie if
a) You like bad direction : the angles, the cuts and even some of the narrative elements are poorly done
b) You like Himesh Reshammiya : There’s about 20 minutes of songs by our man. His sub-nasal crooning, monotonous drone really does get in my head worse than a pneumatic drill. The sad thing is the music is quite nice, lyrics are not that bad but his voice just murders the song overall.
c) You like bad acting : When I was younger I remember I used to watch movies with bad acting because I found the unintentional humour very funny. Not any more. The acting is overall terrible. Aftab Shivdasani was barely ok, I think he may improve if he gets some more movies (instead of babes) under his belt. The rest were all wooden, unnatural and have no hope !
d) You have a thing for Celina Jaitley : she was the worst of the lot (in terms of acting). Her makeup was awful, voice grating / shreiky / cracked, expressions non-existent and I don’t even think ‘they’ are real.
e) You like predictable plots : there are twists but sadly predictable ones. In fact the only reason I kept watching the movie was out of a perverse sense of ‘humour’ as to when the movie characters would ‘get’ the story…
Don’t even think about it ! Thank God the world cup starts tomorrow !


Water makes you wonder why we, human beings, perpetrate such injustices amongst our own kind in the name of religion. It provokes a lot of questions and highlights two injustices in India’s society, the plight of widows and child marriage, which still prevail thanks to lack of education and political will.

Water is set in Varanasi in 1938, the days when Gandhiji was also a new phenomenon in India – people would talk about him as a heretic. It follows the story of Chuiya (played by Sarala), a bubbly, inquisitive 8 or 10 year old girl, who is widowed and left by her in-laws in the widows ashram in Varanasi. She doesn’t remember her huband and when told she is now a widow, her response is ‘till when ?’ The ashram itself has an informal head, Madhumati (Manorama), a pompous, self serving person, called ‘Moti didi’ by Chuiya. Seema Biswas plays Shakuntala or ‘didi’, a quiet, strong character, with an innate anger which makes her the only person who can challenge Madhumati if she so chooses. Lisa Ray plays Kalyani, who is given special privileges like having a room to herself upstairs and allowed to retain her hair as she is the one who ‘earns’ money for the ashram by satisfying the lust of the city’s merchants.

The movie reminded me of Shawshank Redemption a lot, a prison movie unlike any other (if you haven’t seen this one, please do, its in my top 5 alltime list !). The ashram too is like a prison – all inmates are like life termers, dressed in a white robe/sari, shorn of any personal adornments, and lacking most basic amenities. Most develop their own routines / beliefs – it’s the only way to cope with life and maintain your sanity. Some go and pray in a temple, some do Krishan jaap 108 times a day, some listen to a Brahmin and clean his sitting place with ganga jal every morning. Life goes on, enlivened by the antics of young Chuiya who questions everything, rebels against the moti didi on numerous occasions. She befriends both Kalyani and didi and starts to become accustomed to life in the ashram

I loved the way the different characters are shown in the ashram. Despite all of them wearing the same clothes, even looking the same in their cropped hair, their personalities still come through. There is an old widow who remembers vividly the sweets she used to get when she was younger (ghee ke laddoo’s, halwa, gulab jamun etc). Some still question their state while others are blind followers of moti didi. And despite the drabness of their existence there are still enough light moments to brighten up life.

Enter Narayanan (John Abraham), the son of a city merchant, studying to be a lawyer and an avid follower of Gandhiji. He meets Chuiya and Kalyani in a chance encounter on the ghats and is fascinated enough by Kalyani to want to meet her again.

The movie has several outstanding performances - Sarala and Seema Biswas play their characters very naturally. Raghuvir Yadav is virtually unrecognizable as a ‘Hijra’ who acts as the pimp between the ashram and the city merchants. Vinay Pathak is very convincing as Rabindra, John’s anglophile friend. John Abraham brings a quiet ‘oomph’ to his role - I know that sounds impossible but he manages. And Lisa Ray is brilliant. Like Tim Robbins in Shawshank, she brings a dignity to her character, a knowing yet innocent look, a kind of half smile which never deserts her face. It is clear, like the rest of widows, fate has dealt her an unfair hand and she deserves better. But instead of bemoaning her fate, she carries on with the business of living.

The only mild negative I have is that I sensed in a few places, that this is a movie catering to the Western audience. It seemed to me to suggest in a few places that the English were actually good for India, that their way of life is superior (in some respects) to the Indian way of life. But I am remarkably thin-skinned on this topic and its not done overtly, is unlikely to be an issue with anyone else. I also wish there was some way the movie could end with a suggestion on how the viewers could impact the issue, ie shift from being art for arts sake and actually do something constructive. Maybe they could name the existing ashrams still practicing in the country, a kind of name and shame action to spark off the social activists who currently get all hot and bothered by much more trivial issues. Maybe they could start a petition or a charity…but this is probably another story….

The movie is very touching and moves you. It has a slow, meandering pace, like that of a quiet river, with the only ripples caused by the antics of Chuiya and later by the developing relationship between Narayanan and Kalyani. Will they be able to overcome the societal taboo’s associated with their friendship ? What will happen to Chuiya ? Will there be a fairytale ending ? What do you think happens in real life ?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


I walked in for this movie expecting a disaster and was very pleasantly surprised. It’s a very sensitively made film with a very good script & simply outstanding camerawork and photography.

Nishabd is the story of a 60 year old person, Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan), a photographer who lives with his wife Amrita (Revathy) in a lovely tea estate. Their daughter, Ritu (Shradha Arya) visits them during summer break from college and brings along a friend, Jiah (Jiah Khan) for a visit. Jiah is 18, an Indian from Australia and is a sort of rebel / attention seeking / non-conformist person, a product of divorced parents. Vijay is a reserved character, very much in his shell, content to spend his time behind the lens and when not outside, continues to fiddle with the camera while listening to the conversation of those around him. The movie describes the relationship that develops between Vijay and Jiah and the impact this has on those around them. The only two other characters in the movie (with not more than 5 minutes screen time each) are Rishi (Aftab Shivdasani), who is Jiah’s admirer and closest thing to a boyfriend that she has, and Shridhar (Nasir), Vijay’s brother-in-law, but also his friend and counselor.

My pre-movie discomfort centered around two issues. The first was the fact that I had watched Lolita, admittedly only for a ‘closer’ look at Dominique Swain, but had instead got so repulsed by the plot / relationship between Jeremy Irons and Dominique, that I ended up switching off the tv. Thankfully, Nishabd is not totally based on Lolita and while it has borrowed some elements of Poison Ivy, it’s a different, more understandable interpretation of Nabokov’s story. The second was whether Ram Gopal Varma, more known for Rangeela, Daud etc – thrillers, crime movies, could handle a sensitive topic like this. He can…very competently…

What truly makes this movie very good is the way the characters are fleshed out. The story is mixed with a narrative by Vijay so it really helps understand (to an extent) what is going on in his mind. I was wondering a few minutes after Jiah made her appearance, what would be the moment when, for a person who is 60, he would start to look at Jiah as a woman instead of a girl-child ? And what would drive that change – surely it cannot be lust ? And sure enough, in a few minutes, Amitabh, in narrative mode, came on and gave his opinion on the exact questions above. Jiah’s character also comes across well – you get a very clear picture of a bored person, looking for excitement and attention, who quickly decides Vijay is the most interesting person in the household and then, in my interpretation, almost as a summer project / best way to kill time, decides to go after him / bait him / tease him to see what reaction will she get / how far she would be able to go. I’m not for one second saying that you understand or agree with everything that happens. There are some places where you wonder why the characters are behaving a certain way and I think the relationship between Vijay and his daughter is not clear at all. But overall, by restricting the characters in the film, you do get more depth…especially of the two central characters.

Amitabh is sensational in the movie. I’ve really been trying to mull over in my mind what makes him a great actor and I believe, especially in his present over 60 avatar, its his ability to convey a thousand expressions simply through his eyes / limited facial expressions and with minimal visible effort. He doesn’t look like he’s acting or that he is anything but the character he is portraying. He was sexy Sam in KANK, he was Eklavya, the man in a time warp in Rajasthan and now, effortlessly, he is Vijay, the reclusive photographer, slowly losing control of his emotions. Jiah is very good, breathing life into a very difficult role, where she has to alternate between being a girl (throwing tantrums, arguing playfully) and a woman (sexy, seductive) quite frequently.

Munar, Kerala, the location of the shoot, is definitely on my holiday list now, thanks to its enchanting portrayal through the lens of Amit Roy (photographer / cinematographer). The music, by Vishal Bhardwaj (Omkara director and music composer) is very good, definitely heightening the different emotions on display in the film. The overall mood is overcast in the movie – sombre, grey, as you would expect with such a storyline. The movie also does have lots of moments where the pace slackens, where you squirm in your seat and also sense a mass shifting in the seats of those around you. And, was it my imagination or were there more oldies (50+ people) than normal in the hall ?

Its not for the restless, looking for a thrill a minute but its something different…a tough subject, beautifully handled. We walk in the hall expecting to be disgusted. What makes Nishabd a good movie is that this expectation changes as we watch the plot unfold and it makes us ask difficult questions like ‘what would we be like when we are that age’, ‘could this happen to our parents, who are that age’ ? It makes us restless and uneasy, challenging our preconceptions. What makes the movie move from good to great is that, despite these predominantly uncomfortable emotions, we still enjoy the movie.