Thursday, February 06, 2014

Winter Olympics without the Indian Flag

Our great sports administrators have finally done it. They have ensured that India is out of the Olympic movement. The corrupt and power-hungry nincompoops, heading the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) whose only interest in running the sports bodies is the money which they can make out of it,  have ensured that the Indian flag is not raised at the Winter Olympics being held in Sochi. 

Here is how the events unfolded?
In December 2012 the IOC suspended IOA due to non adherence of rules and corruption charges. This came after Mr. Kalmadi (who had been earlier suspended on account of Commonwealth Games corruption charges) was reinstated as President of IOA. The IOC wanted fresh elections. Our useless sports administrators finally (reluctantly) agreed but the election date was set after the commencement of the Sochi Games. IOC then refused to lift the suspension. And hence IOA cannot participate in the Games.

A truly miserable state of affairs. All this sums up why we are where we are in the sporting world. Closer to the bottom inspite of having the second biggest population. It becomes worse when one sees countries like Zimbabwe (with bigger social problems) and Tonga (a tiny Pacific island with no winter to speak of) figuring in the list of participating countries while India does not. We always joked about India's poor performances quoting Baron Pierre de Coubertin's Olympic motto - "Participation is more important than winning". But this time the Indian flag is not even participating.

However every cloud has a silver lining. Although India cannot participate in the Games, Indian sports-persons can are still eligible to compete under the Olympic flag. Hence 3 Indian sports-persons are contesting the Games as Independent athletes.

To Shiva Keshavan, Nadeem Iqbal & Himashu Thakur, we Indians are proud of you. Even though the IOA may have let all of us down and you have to participate under the Olympic flag and not the Indian flag, you will still be representing the Indian Sports lovers. Best wishes to all of you.

These athletes have come up without any facilities or real aid from the IOA. If one wants to see how the challenges are winter sports participants face, check out this video of Shiva Keshavan training. There are  no luge facilities in India, so he simulates the competition arena on roads while facing extra obstacles like people, vehicles and animals. Hats off to the spirit.

So in a way it makes me happy that our athletes are participating in the Games but officials are not. The athletes get to compete while the officials don't get their foreign junket. As for the politicians running for the IOA top posts, I don't think that they would even be aware of an event like Winter Olympics.

I hope the government is ashamed (unlikely) and attempts a cleanup job of the IOA. Hopefully  the new IOA will have administrators chosen for their passion for sports and empathy for our sports-persons. Then the ban would have served its purpose. Hopefully the Indian flag comes back soon into the Olympic arena (Or is it too much to wish for?)

Saturday, February 01, 2014

MovieNotes: American Hustle

Movie: American Hustle
*ing: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner
Director: David O Russell
Language: English
Genre: Biopic (based on true events), Crime

  • The Trailer releases, I check the star cast - I want to see this.
  • The Movie releases, the reviews come up - I have to see this.
  • The Award season begins - I have to definitely see this.

Ergo I saw the film.

Basic Premise
A pair of con artists are blackmailed into conducting a con operation on behalf of the government agencies. The end results are interesting to say the least.

After all, as the tagline itself says - "Everyone Hustles to Survive"

Movie Notes
  • "Some of this actually happened" - A fantastic opening credit to keep you further hooked, in the unlikely event of you not having already been hooked on.
  • Best Scene - Opening scenes  of a balding man spending time to strategically brush his hair to ensure that no spot is visible. Brilliantly enacted by Christian Bale.
  • The movie moves at its own pace. Like the opening shot, takes its time to describe the characters. The characters are carefully built up as the story picks them along. Sometimes the pace seems dreary but it also keeps a suspense of something big about to happen.
  • The patience for enduring the slow buildup is the reward in the form of the final twist in the tale. You feel that there is a twist in the game, yet when it came forth, you still got surprised. 
  • For different reasons the climax reminded me of (a) The Shawshank Redemption (for the buildup), and (b) the character of Sirius Black in Harry Potter (mentioned in passing in Book 1 and then going onto become a major character in Book 3)
  • Robert de Niro comes in for one scene. Yes, he is the Godfather.
  • Acting wise Jennifer Lawrence doesn't get much screen time but stands out  even in this cast.
  • One look at Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld and you would be hard pressed to imagine that this very same actor was playing the Batman barely two years back. Forget his acting (which is great, by the way) don't think there are many actors who make this much effort to get into the physique of the character.
  • Another movie which captures the 70s life style. For some reason I feel that the 70s had the most distinct look among all the decades gone by.
  • Most annoying part of the film - How do they keep mispronouncing "Sheikh" as "The sheekh". If I was the sheekh I would have stopped doing business with these fellows for just this very reason.
Rating - 9/10. The kind of film which slowly grows on you and then finally entraps you. Overall a great watch.

Previously on MovieNotes - Rush