Look here to find inspiration

I am a great fan of those inspirational movies, yes ‘the human spirit’, ‘battle against odds’ stories which make you feel good  after and make you sit through the movie many times over, later on. So when I saw that Mouthshut had a review section called Five Best Inspirational movies of Hollywood, I decided it was time to make my list of five.  The list of five I have compiled may not cater to everyone’s tastes, as I am no movie connoisseur and may not have watched the wonderful movies you have liked. So here goes my list of five movies.

Rudy(1993) Director: David Anspaugh Starring: Sean Astin

This is the first movie which really inspired me and to this day it remains my favorite. The tag line of the movie encapsulates the essence of the movie remarkably well. “When people say dreams don’t come true, tell them about Rudy”. The movie is based on the life of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger and who chases his dream of playing for his favorite college football team, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Most of the people around him did not give him whiff of  a chance as he was really small for an average person, let alone a football player and did not have the athletic ability to be a top sports person. Mind you, we are talking American football here and players,especially at college level are huge and are top athletes. How Rudy battles his self doubt, dyslexia which becomes an obstacle in getting into the college and  doubts of most people around him by drawing energy from some close friends and more importantly by his sheer determination and willpower forms the crux of the story.

The Shawshank Redemption(1994) Director: Frank Darabont Starring: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman

This would be a shoo-in to any list of inspirational movies. It was not a commercial success and barely missed out on an Oscar to Forrest Gump. Tim Robbins plays the lead role, that of a prisoner, Andy Dufresne(pronounced Due-Frain) in the Shawshank prison where he has to go through a tough ordeal, the usual challenges that a prison throws up and also the brutalities of the corrupt and effete prison authorities. He strikes a chord of friendship with Red( Morgan Freeman) and their relationship through the long years at the prison, the changes that come in their lives and those around them as a result of Dufresne’s work at the prison progresses the story but the climax is what really knocks you off your feet. Brace for it is all what I can say now.

October Sky (1999) Director: Joe Johnston Starring:  Jake Gyllenhaal

This movie is inspired by the life of Homer Hickam, a young boy from a rural mining town, who on seeing the Russian satellite, Sputnik, streak by on a starry October sky, decided that he himself was going to reach for the stars by building his own rocket. He and motley group of three friends, with due encouragement from their teacher proceed to build rockets. However they have to overcome many a hurdle on their way including a father who believes that football is the only way to get out of the coal mines and other paths should be given short shrift, their schoolmates who make the rocket boys the butt of all their jokes and even a brief altercation with the police who accuse the rocket boys of causing a wild fire which started near by. Homer Hickham and friends survived those tough times and became successful in life. Watch how “One dream lights up the sky”

The Pursuit of Happyness(2006) Director: Gabriele Muccino Starring: Will Smith

Another real life inspired movie, Pursuit of Happyness, pursues the life of Christopher Gardner a traveling salesman, in his quest for happiness. After his wife leaves him, Gardner has to take care of his young son Chris and make both ends meet at the same time. He then chances to meet a stock broker, who is quite successful and Gardner decides to learn the tricks of the trade from a stock broking firm. However, he has to pass an unpaid internship at the firm in order to become a broker. He also had to go through a few days when he is homeless and once even had to spend a night with his son in a restroom at a subway station. This pursuit of happyness will leave you with tears of joy at the end

Life is Beautiful (Vita è bella, La) (1997) Director: Roberto Benigni Starring: Roberto Benigni

It took me a lot of attempts to complete watching this movie, mainly because of the fact that I wrongly interpreted Roberto Benigni to be hamming it up as Guido. At first, I felt many of the scenes were over the top and closed the movie window out of frustration. However one day, when I thought I had nothing better to do I sat through the movie and I was glued on to my seat by the brilliant storyline and incredible performance by the entire cast. In the initial part of the movie Benigni was building the character brick by brick and Guido’s mannerisms and antics are used to explain the man’s persona. The latter part of the movie set in a concentration camp has some heart rending scenes, captured beautifully without shedding a drop of blood. Life is Beautiful is a directorial masterpiece if ever there was one.



Dina Rabinovitch, the guardian columnist died today. Her last article is touching

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I am testing a new add-on which I got for my wily old fire-fox, which enables posting without logging on to wordpress site. Here goes a post on cricket.

Now that cricket has been made exclusive on Star Cricket, I am listening to BBC commentary on the net. Boycott is on air, along with Jonathan Agnew, and is going bonkers over an unorthodox upper cut attempted by Vaughan. The Indian bowling attack is struggling, in fact from what I hear, they are bowling “rooobish“. Apart from Kumble who toils on, in his 16th year in test cricket, the rest of the attack becomes pedestrian, once the opposition batsmen take the attack to them. 185/1 is the England strong and they are going strong. Vaughan and Strauss are holding fort.

Tendulkar is into the attack, the mix-it up man who can bowl any kind of delivery from a leg break to a conventional out-swinger. Boycott agrees with me and says he is often under rated as a bowler. However, the batsmen have to gift a wicket to India now. If this continues, it is going to be a couple of long days for India out in the field.

So yet another away day where the Indians have been on a leather hunt.

Its successful!!!

Someone who is on air now is claiming that the best cricketer never to play first class cricket is….surprise surprise

Phil Neville

The Federer vs Sampras impasse

With the Wimbledon entering the second week, the Roger Federer vs Pete Sampras debate rages on with pundits unable to pin-point who  the real master of the Center Court  is. Nirmal Shekhar in this article in the Hindu, “Federer all class, but Sampras the king on grass“, puts forward his two cents on the debate. He correctly avers that the quality of opponents that Federer gets to face is inferior to that of players which Sampras got to face.
When you compare the current top-ten with the batch of ’96 the difference in class is obvious. Sean Randall, in a blog entry here makes the following comment:

____________________________________________________________ “When I look back just ten years ago, at the year-end Top 10 of 1996 when Pete finished No. 1 I see seven Hall of Fame players. To refresh, here’s the 1996 Top 10: Sampras, Chang, Kafelnikov, Ivanisevic, Muster, Becker, Krajicek, Agassi, Enqvist and Ferreira. Maybe you Fed freaks see fewer, but I see at least seven.

Now when I check this week’s Top 10, I see three, maybe four among Federer, Nadal, Ljubicic, Nalbandian, Davydenko, Roddick, Robredo, Blake, Baghdatis, Gonzalez. Obviously Federer, Nadal and Roddick get in. Maybe Baghdatis and maybe Blake if he can get a Slam.”


Although I believe that evolution takes place in sport and the present lot of players playing any sport is better than the players of ,say, ten years ago, here is the exception to that rule. The ’96 top- 10 is miles ahead of the present lot of baseliners. So should Sampras’ 14 grandslam wins be valued more than Federer’s slams?
The response from a federer fan would be expeditious; it is not Federer’s fault that his opponents aren’t good enough. All he can do his take on the bloke who turns up on the other side of the net and more often than not he takes them apart. How many players could do a “6-4, 6-0, 6-2″(Fed vs A-Rod 2007 Aus Open) to a top-50 player, let alone a top-5 one? Federer does the dismantling of his opponent with the skill of a surgeon,with panache and often raises his game to a level which, I believe, is out of even Pistol Pete’s reach even on the days when he could ‘walk on water’.

When I looked for a career comparison of the two stars I found this. (There is this eerie similarity in their stats.)
If you take the rankings system points though, Federer is in stratosphere, way ahead of Sampras, albeit the ‘quality of opponents’ argument will come into picture here)

Nirmal Shekhar even hazards guesses on who’d win a 10 match head to head between Sampras and Federer at the four Slams. According to him its 7-3 Federer at the Aussie open, 8-2 Fed in the French Clay, with Sampras coming back to take Wimbledon 7-3, surprisingly convincingly, I must add, and edging Fed-ex 6-4 at Flushing meadows.

If I were to risk similar guesses ( take it with a pinch of salt, as I was more of an Agassi fan) it would be Fed ex all the way 7-3 down-under and in NY, i think a 9-1 in Paris is a safe bet and 6-4 in Wimbledon, the same ratio in which they divided the sets in their only meeting- a spectacular ‘changing the guard ceremony’ at center court.

The commentator sums it up well when he says : “[For Sampras] It is like looking in the mirror.”

Quite Practical!!

Much as they were dreaded, The Practical Examinations threw up some of the most hilarious instances in my college life. They are scheduled just after all the written examinations get over and the new semester starts, and there is this fear factor associated with them partly because of the Lottery that happens at the start. The examiners place all the possible questions within answer sheets and we go on and pick one up and that is the ‘question’ we got to ‘answer’. Its like putting your hand in a huge can of snakes and hoping that you get a baby boa rather than a black mamba.Once you are done with the test/experiment and ensure that nothing is going to blow up (atleast until you exit the lab), there comes the Viva-Voce part when the examiners have their share of the limelight; they may turn villain and quiz you on the works of the latest Nobel Prize winner or they may still turn villain ask you the “What-happens-if-you-pour-petrol-in-a-diesel-engine?” types questions which you thought are only going to be asked by your kids 15 years later. Answers to these questions often range from the ‘Aushwitz-tortured-prisoner’ look on the face to the ‘Bangladeshi-cyclone-victim’ look on the face, hoping to somehow extract that last drop of generosity in them.

Metallurgy Lab Exam circa january 2005

H has successfully dealt with a baby boa and is over-confidence personified as he is next in line for the Viva Guillotine where A is getting himself chopped into pieces by the smiling examiner(E) with more than a tinge of schadenfreude visible on his face. E then suddenly decides enough is enough and that last drop of  generosity comes through in the form of….

“What is the percentage of Carbon in steel?”
A: gulp..err…around seve…ntyyy percent?
H<in his mind> ha ha ha its ninety..this nincompoop A doesnt know a thing
E:<getting over the initial Oh-my-good-lord-what-have-I-done-look-on-his-face>:Whaat?!!! you expect iron to be 100 percent carbon?!!!!
H<in his not-so-sure mind>: err…it must be around fifty then
E<looking at H and guffawing>: hahaha look what he is saying…seventyy percentage….hahaha
H<in his not-at-all-sure mind>:I better start laughing…it got to be around forty percent then
H: ha ha ha….
<A stares at H with the “you (^&*(^&*^&*^&*^&*” look on his face and H gives a sly “I-am-sorry-I-had-to do-it”face and continues laughing>
E: Most steel contains less than 0.35 percent carbon….how can you call yourself an engineer…<continues his loud boisterous laughter>
H<in his it better-not-show-it-outside mind>:phew that was close!
H:<with the you-are-real-funny-sir face>
ha ha ha

As H is good with his theatrics he managed to get through his viva with a ‘Khmer-Rouge-prisoner’ visage adorning his face. According to reliable sources, he still manages to showcase his stagecraft at a certain Western India Agro Products company when his PM asks status reports.

Johnny Sokko and his Puttu Kutti

If there were the Emmies in Trivandrum in the early 90s, one show would have swept them all if the young kids of that generation had their say. The show had everything that a 7 year old would drool over: action, adventure,artificial Intelligence,machine gun battles, battle tanks,monsters et al. If you haven’t got the name of the show yet here comes a clue. It also featured a giant robot; a gargantuan steel behemoth under the control of Johnny Sokko, a Japanese boy who knew a lot of things that children of his age wouldn’t know. Johnny worked for this top secret organisation Unicorn which had branches operating pretty much all around the world. in Tokyo, Vancouver,New York and even one in Trivandrum according to my friends at school. Unicorn had all the latest gizmos money could buy. Video conferencing, IP phones,motion sensing sliding doors, yellow speedo suits and Orange helmets.
Its almost 17 years since the airing of the last episode of Giant Robot(well that was the name of the show..you duffers!!!) and its memories rested somewhere within the temporal lobe of my brain until some psychic vibrations forced me to key in Johnny Sokko in the youtube search box a couple of days ago.I was shocked! The action adventure edge-of-the-seat thriller that was the Giant Robot now seemed like a errr…uhhh.. watch it for yourselves!!

Episode 1:The Sea Monster Part 2

Dr Lucius Guardian steals the show here. “I have planted an Atomic bomb that will explode within 5 minutes”
U3 should have gone WTF?!!! You could have told that half an hour ago.

Dr. Guardian comes up with some really ‘effortless’ acting when he dies in a blaze of glory.

Gee! the greatest disappointment was Giant robot himself looking more like a flying “Puttu-Kutti” (Tin Can for those of you who didn’t understand)

Episode 1: The Sea Monster Part3

Giant robot is really impressive. Say “Take us to Tokyo” and it takes you to Tokyo!! Talk of Global positioning System working in perfect sync with Artificial intelligence!!!

At 6:40(2:32 if its counting  down) Look for the hand gun which fires a couple of seconds late!!!

Giant Robot was so much fun in those days for us kids who were starved of quality programming. An hour of children’s programming was all that we had in a week. These days every other channel offers an eclectic mix of programming for the kids, ranging from Art Attack to Dragon Ball Z . Good old giant robot wouldn’t come within seven neighborhoods of a mid-night slot, let alone a prime time one but to a generation of DD watching kids Giant robot was THE show. It featured in our lunch time and classroom chats for a week and although ‘the flying puttu-kutti show’ looks very amateurish now, the sphinx headed aluminum contraption and his friends captured our hearts and minds when it was aired seventeen years ago. So here is (Hip Hip Hurray) times three for the puttu-kutti.

Monsoon Madness!

The first rains of this year’s Monsoon have hit Thiruvananthapuram according to the Met Department; the folks there must be having a party after scoring their first hit since independence.(psst.. On double checking found that a couple of hurricanes near Indonesia caused the rains to check in 4 days early; so their post-independence record is intact) The rains take the city into a different dimension altogether. Thampanoor, located in the heart of the city, transforms itself into the largest wave-pool in the Northern hemisphere and all those of you who alight at the Trivandrum Central Railway Station or the Main bus stand can dive straight in(Watch out for the broken slab near the Indian Coffee House). The city planners didn’t want anyone to miss out on the Monsoon fun so they ensured that the place is pretty well connected. A recent survey ranked the rising waters at Thampanoor slightly behind the Bermuda triangle, in the unsolved mysteries category.
It is also the time to bring to light, the contraptions which some of the most brilliant Mallu minds have been toiling to modify over the summer . Located in top secret bases in undisclosed locations two teams of scientists try to out-think each other and come up with alternative uses for the umbrella. This year the Popy team which come up with the ‘Star Wars light sabers’ which can be drawn out of the umbrella has overshadowed Johns which offered the less original “water shooting” variety. According to unofficial sources, Johns umbrellas are working on a Laser guided anti-aircraft missile launching umbrella for next years monsoon to avenge this years defeat. Speaking of missiles and wars, these U Cos.(Umbrella Companies…if it didn’t ring a bell) do battle it out on screen jostling for the space in front of a Reality show name on TV, which is not going to be that difficult this year as there are plenty of them around. Including one show, which pits housewives against each other to find out who can give the most pea-brained performance. Anybody whose performance scores over 80 on the IQ scale is thrown out.
Along with government school classes and KSEB power supply, something else which may take a hit this monsoon season is one of the most spectacular exhibitions of footballing skills held every week in Sreekaryam, in the out-skirts of the city. Every Wednesday, some of Bhavani building’s (1st and 3rd floor plus the ones enjoying the view from the roof) most fleet footed footballers, who for most part of their life try to make sense of the nincompoopery on their computer screens, gather together for an hour to weave magic on the football pitch at Loyola School. With fitness levels matching that of the Above-35 Sumo Wrestling team from downtown Yokohama, the players usually put up a show that one can ‘savour’ for years.

Something to look forward to this monsoon, is India’s cricketing tour to England. Aaah! Watching cricket in England,sipping coffee on a rainy Saturday evening is simply an out-of-this-world experience. Wonder how the ‘geriatricos’ are going to perform this time around.
p.s: Just started using word pad and as the cliche goes- It rocks!! Its better than the drab nothingness of the notepad and much more user friendly than MSWord overflowing with redundant features.

pps: Bhavani building is the one in Technopark Trivandrum.