‘Aiyaary’ Movie Review: A Desperate Attempt At Manufacturing Suspense

2 Stars Out Of 5

When you are in a catch-22 while taking an important decision, just toss a coin. While the coin is in the air, a point comes when you realize what your heart actually wants because that is the side which you wish the coin to fall on. Taken straight from the TVF (The Viral Fever) web series Pitchers, this gig is symbolic of the entire movie.

“Aiyaary” is a typical Neeraj Pandey movie with peppy background music and a simple plot but a non-linear form of storytelling. The viewer feels as if already used ingredients have been mixed and matched to come up with a (not really) new movie. If we replace Sidharth Malhotra with Akshay Kumar, the remaining lot of actors is pretty much the same as it is in Pandey’s other movies, the highlight being Manoj Bajpai.

Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher have been cast in small roles and hence have not been able to shine in their usual manner. Tamil and Telugu movie star, Rakul Preet Singh has been cast as the female lead. Discounting some scenes in which she hams badly, she has done decently well.

All in all, the movie is worth watching if you particularly love Neeraj Pandey’s style of film making. Apart from a few powerful scenes from Manoj Bajpai, the movie falls flat. The viewer does not feel the suspense, rather too hard an attempt is made to create suspense through additional factors like background music, editing, etc.

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Pad Man: Too much padding around the meat

What’s with these feminist Bollywood movies? You come out of the theatre after watching Dangal and wonder whether it was more to do with Aamir’s stardom instead of the heroics of the Phogat sisters. Padman leaves you with a similar dilemma.

The movie is based on the legend of Arunachalam Muruganantham, a ‘man genius’ from Tamil Nadu who is credited with the invention of low-cost pads. The movie grapples between delivering a social message and sustaining the attention of the audience, managing to accomplish a little on both fronts but fully on neither.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=6&v=oKuhUn3FUUg

Character Introduction

The age-old of technique of setting up the characters with a song has been used in Pad Man. After showing the ritual of ‘saat phere’, the scene cuts straight away to the ‘Suhaagraat’ of Lakshmikant Chauhan (Akshay Kumar) and Gayatri Chauhan (Radhika Apte).  Following one of the quickest ice break moments in human history, the movie takes no time in establishing the intimacy between the lead couple and the devotion of Lakhshmi for his wife’s cause.

Sonam Kapoor is introduced after more than half the movie has already passed. She is brought in as a table player – the most unconvincing one that ever existed – through a scene that could have been easily done away with. The camera keeps cutting wildly from extremely wide shots to close-ups of ‘her’ hands in an unsuccessful attempt to make her character believable to the audience.

Acting

Akshay Kumar makes you marvel over the understatedness of his acting skills. He does a great job of balancing between the drama and humour through which the movie keeps moving to and fro. Radhika Apte’s role is bereft of too many layers. She does well with the sobbing which constitutes the major part of her role.

Sonam Kapoor directly lands from the sets of “Raanjhanaa”. From the apparel to dialogue delivery, there is hardly any difference between Zoya and Pari. She hams in some scenes but does a decent job overall.

The supporting cast fails to impress. The performances of Lakshmi’s mother and sisters remind us of the 60s and 70s. Suneel Sinha stands out as Pari’s father. Faiz Khan also does a good job in the role of Haria.

Story And Drama

Realizing the need to hit home a certain message, some overemotional scenes can be discounted for, but there are others which are certainly uncalled for. Especially, the scene in which Lakshmi jumps into the Narmada upon finding that his trouser being begrimed by blood was not needed to be shot in such a melodramatic fashion. The slow-motion shots with heavy background music and a teary-eyed Radhika Apte induces more laughter than sorrow.

A gratuitous kiss between Sonam and Akshay not only takes us away from the main plot but also disrupts the sanctity of their relationship. This abstemious love triangle could have been avoided.

Songs And Music

The script discretely demarcates the various phases of storytelling. All components of the story arc are strictly followed. The tone of the Akshay Kumar starrer swings from didactic and melodramatic to humorous at times. This has been the real quandary for R Balki. He makes an abortive attempt at equilibrating between the message and the medium.

Right from the time when the trailer dropped, it was made very clear that the movie is being marketed as a very commercial entity. The opening song “Aaj Se Teri” does well in establishing the lead characters. The second song “Saale Sapne” portrays the struggles of Lakshmikant. “Hu Ba Hu” also helps in moving the narrative forward.

The reaming two songs come as a disappointment.  Especially, the title song deserves a better number than the same overworn formula song of Mika Singh. “Sayani” which is centred on the marriage ceremony of Lakshmi’s sister does no more than giving the ladies an opportunity to thrust their pelvic.

Takeaways

All in all, Padman is a movie that was waiting to be made given the taboo subject it tackles. It gives us a peek into the dire condition of the rural women when it comes to sanitation. The 140-minute film throws light on the obscure genius of Arunachalam Muruganantham and the struggle which he had to go through to finally achieve his goal.

There are phases when Pad Man may seem like an extension of the government’s awareness campaign. Some scenes have also been stretched far too long. But the movie redeems itself through some good acting, unexpected humour and refreshing screenplay. “It was worth a onetime watch,” is what you tell yourself while leaving the theatre.

Nidahas Trophy: 3 reasons why Dinesh Karthik was a hit in the tournament

Nidahas Trophy was a crucial juncture in the life of the newly crowned KKR Captain as it could have taken his cricketing career either way.

Just before leaving for the South Africa tour Dinesh Karthik had said, “After a point in my career, I realized that it’s good to score runs but you are remembered a lot of because of the tournaments you’ve won and the number of times you’ve stood up [for your team] in big matches”. Three months later, he has accomplished precisely that.

https://twitter.com/ImRaina/status/975433880021929993

Since he made his ODI debut against England in 2004 at the tender age of 19, Karthik has been dropped a number of times from the team but he has never lost hope. Rather every time that he has been sidelined, he has scored loads of runs in the domestic circuit and staged a strong comeback.

Nidahas Trophy was a crucial juncture in the life of the Tamil Nadu keeper. It could have taken his cricketing career either way. However, with a couple of impressive knocks in the tournament, Karthik has done his future prospects no harm. Here are three reasons why Dinesh Karthik was a hit in the Nidahas Trophy.

#1 Final flourish

Given a target of 167 by Bangladesh in the final of the Nidahas Trophy, India had a decent start owing to Rohit Sharma’s 56-run knock but lost their way in the middle overs after a couple of quick wickets.

Following Mustafizur Rahman’s incredible 18th over in which he conceded just one run and picked up the all-important wicket of Manish Pandey, India needed 34 runs to win off the last 12 deliveries when Dinesh Karthik came out to bat.

https://twitter.com/RaviShastriOfc/status/975432577111744513

The 32-year old made his intentions clear on the very first ball he faced by clobbering a low full-toss from Rubel Hossain straight over his head for a massive six. He went on to score 29 runs off the 8 balls he faced, the highlight being his last ball six over covers to seal the game for the Men in Blue. Karthik deservingly walked away with the Man of the Match award for his brilliant effort.

#2 Clean glove work

In the absence of regular wicket-keeper MS Dhoni, Karthik did a great job of filling in the boots of the veteran keeper. The newly crowned KKR Captain effected 2 stumpings and grabbed 3 catches in the tournament while also contributing in one run-out.

The Tamil Nadu cricketer not only moved swiftly but also imparted some valuable tips to Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar from behind the wickets. Moreover, as Sundar and Karthik belong to the same state and play for the same franchise – TUTI Patriots – in the Tamil Nadu Premier League, Karthik’s presence was a great comforting factor for the young Sundar.

https://twitter.com/mohanstatsman/status/975583969562583040

#3 Dinesh Review System

Ahead of the Nidahas Trophy, if anyone had doubts whether Dinesh Karthik, like MS Dhoni, would be able to help the team with the Decision Review System (DRS) or not, he put all speculations to rest.

In the last round-robin game against Bangladesh, Vijay Shankar bowled a short pitched delivery outside the off stump as Mushfiqur Rahim danced down the wicket to make room for himself. Rahim tried to swing hard but all he managed was a faint bottom edge on the ball on its way to Karthik behind the stumps.

As soon as Karthik realized that the umpire’s decision had not gone in his favour, he, in true Dhoni fashion, asked for a review even before skipper Rohit Sharma could make up his mind. The Ultra edge clearly showed that Rahim had nicked the ball and the decision had to be reversed. So, after the Dhoni review system, it was time for the Dinesh review system.

https://twitter.com/sasindumalen95/status/975454589984976896

 

Nidahas Trophy: Living the riveting final over between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh ball by ball

The 12 run-over kept everyone at the edge of their seats as the pendulum kept swinging from one side to the other.

https://twitter.com/ESPNcricinfo/status/974718536714252289

The virtual semi-final between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh had everything that a cricket fan could ask for. It had a gripping contest between bat and ball. It had sumptuous boundaries and towering sixes. And then, just like the cherry on the cake, it had a dramatic final over finish.

Bangladesh, chasing a target of 160 needed 12 off the last 6 balls to seal a berth in the final against India. Mind you, the runs required were 12, neither 7 or 8 which seem quite achievable, nor 20 or 25 that seem a little too much. These 12 runs kept everyone on the edge of their seats as the pendulum kept swinging from one side to the other. Here is the riveting final over brought to you ball by ball.

#1 First ball

With Bangladesh 7 down for 148, Mustafizur Rahman comes out to help Mahmudullah Riyad propel the Tigers over the line. The Fizz takes the strike. All he has on his mind is to give the strike to his vice-captain at the other end.

Isuru Udana who has been bowling well under pressure, is all set to bowl the first ball of the final over. Short pitched delivery on middle and leg. Mustafizur tries to pull but the bounce of the ball takes it over his bat. Udana hears a snick. Sri Lanka go for a review. Replays show a flat line on the snickometer.

Result- Dot ball

#2 Second ball

Udana is ready with his second delivery. 12 needed off 5 balls. Mustafizur Rahman still on strike. It is a replica of the first ball. Short on the middle stump. Mustafizur misses but Mahmudullah wants to run a bye before it’s too late. The Fizz is running towards the bowler’s end. Udana hits the wickets. The bails are dislodged. Mustafizur falls well short.

Hold on! What’s up with skipper Shakib Al Hasan and his Boys? The word that is going around is that the square-leg umpire first signaled a no-ball, which was later repealed. Meanwhile, Bangladesh sub fielders have an argument with the Sri Lankan fielders. Appalling scenes at Colombo. Shakib contending with the fourth umpire on the boundary line for a no-ball. Now, he is calling his guys back. Thankfully some good sense prevails and the batsmen do not leave the field.

Result- Wicket

#3 Third ball

Still 12 required. Back to back dot balls. Is pressure getting the better of Bangladesh? The good thing for them though, is that Mahmudullah is on strike. Udana runs in with his third ball. Full length delivery well outside the off stump. A one-handed swing over covers by Mahmudullah. One bounce over the ropes.

It is one heck of a shot! If Mahmudullah had left it, if would have been a wide by a fair margin. But he is in no mood to let anything go. The boundary has brought Bangladesh back in the game.

Result- 4 runs

#4 Fourth ball

The equation changes drastically. 8 required off 3 now. The Tigers have their nose in front. Fourth delivery is a low full toss. Mahmudullah hoicks it with full force. It’s a mishit and the ball makes its way to deep mid-wicket.

Mahmudullah wants two. He is running towards the danger end. Could be tight. Bangladesh vice-captain puts in the dive. A wide throw from the deep. Keeper Kusal Perera fails to dislodge the bails. Close save for Mahmudullah!

Result- 2 runs

#5 Fifth ball

https://twitter.com/thefield_in/status/974692976147415041

6 required of the last two balls. It’s anybody’s game now. All about nerves. Mahmudullah on strike to face Udana’s fifth delivery. An intended yorker on middle and leg. Just misses his mark. Bang! flicked away over backward square leg, six runs.

It’s all over for Sri Lanka. The entire Bangladesh team is out on the field and so are the cobra moves. Shakib takes off his jersey. Bangladesh to face India in the final on Sunday.

Result- 6 runs, Bangladesh win the match by 2 wickets

The tension carries on from the field to the dressing room. Later Shakib Al Hasan and Nurul Hasan are fined 25 per cent of their match fees and given one demerit point each by the match referee Chris Broad for their unruly behavior.

https://twitter.com/cricbuzz/status/974737938008297472

 

 

Dhoni wages a lone battle

Even before the Umpire could rule Bumrah out as he was wrapped on the pads by Lankan spinner SS Pathirana, there was a pair of hands in the background that had already signaled for a DRS. At the non striking end was none other than Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the master of the review system.

The ball tracker showed that the ball was hitting Bumrah outside the off stump and the decision had to be reversed. But it did not come as a surprise to anyone. After all, the Dhoni Review System is seldom off target.

Just a few balls after that, it looked liked Bumrah was aiming to hit the ball out of Dharamsala as Pathirana’s delivery crashed into his stumps. If it had been Kohli at the non striking end, he would have let out a shriek, or stared at the Baroda pacer in anger. But Dhoni did nothing of that. Aware of the camera angles by now, he just turned around with the shake of his head.

Such had been the story since Dhoni’s arrival at the crease. He saw one Indian batsman after other departing in quick succession as he fought hard to take India to a respectable total. His valiant effort of 65 prevented India from the embarrassment of scoring its lowest total in ODIs.

Had it not been for Dhoni, India looked pretty much on their way of being bundled out at less than 78, which is the current lowest Indian total in ODIs scored in Kanpur against the same opposition.

It was not long ago that as India failed to cross the line in the 2nd T20 against New Zealand, Dhoni was made the scapegoat.  After scoring 49 off 37 deliveries Dhoni had to face severe criticism from all quarters due to his low strike rate.

The same critics now have nowhere to hide as even they cannot resist but laud the effort of the veteran keeper. As Sri Lanka finally have a feel of an ODI victory after their losing streak of 12 games, India has to bounce back in the 2nd ODI at Mohali if they have to keep their chances alive in the 3-match series.

 

India-Sri Lanka 2nd Test: All that made it to the record books

Kohli now shares the record of most double centuries as captain with the legendary West Indian Brian Lara.

As India registers a truly comprehensive victory against Sri Lanka in the 2nd test of the three match series, there is a lot to look forward to in the stats column. This was India’s 32nd international win in 2017, the most wins by it in a calendar year surpassing the 31 wins in 2016.

Highest margin of victory vis-a-vis defeat

India won this match by an innings and 239 runs- its greatest margin of victory in Test history at par with its win against Bangladesh in Mirpur in 2007. On the other hand, it was the worst defeat for Sri Lanka overtaking its innings and 229 run loss against South Africa in Cape Town in 2001.

This is the 3rd time that 4 tons have been scored by India in a test innings; the previous instances being against South Africa in Kolkata in 2010 and against Bangladesh in 2007 in Mirpur.

Kohli surpasses Bradman

Captain Kohli has been on fire in this series, as he completes his 19th Test match and 52nd overall ton.  His 213 at the VCA stadium was his 5th double ton as captain by virtue of which he retains his no 5 spot in the recent ICC test rankings. Kohli now shares the record of most double centuries as captain with the legendary West Indian Brian Lara. He has gone past the likes of Don Bradman, Michael Clarke and Graeme Smith who have four double centuries each as captain.

Kohli has a staggering conversion rate of 75% when it comes to test tons. He has 12 centuries in his 16+ fifties as test captain. He may not have been able to score big hundreds in his early days, but as he has grown in test cricket he seems to have gradually mastered the art of cashing in on starts.

Kohli has scored 10 hunderds in all formats in this calendar year, surpassing former Australian Captain, Ricky Ponting and Graeme Smith who are jointly at the second position with 9 centuries a piece.

Pujara eyes no 1 test ranking

After his characteristic knock of 143 in Nagpur, Cheteshwar Pujara has regained his no 2 ranking as test batsman in the latest ICC rankings. The perseverant batsman jumped 2 spots from 4 after gaining 22 points as he now stands at no 2 with total 888 points.

However, Pujara still remains far behind Australian captain Steve Smith who strengthened his no 1 spot by gaining 5 points after the first Ashes test. The Aussie after his unbeaten 141 run knock is comfortably placed at the top with 941 points.

Artistic Ashwin

As the final delivery of the Nagpur test gently brushed the outer half of Gamage’s off stump, R Ashwin became the fastest bowler to reach the milestone of 300 wickets. The lanky off spinner achieved this feat in 54 matches, thus breaking Denis Lillee’s record of reaching the same after 56 matches.

Ashwin became the 6th Indian to take 500 wickets in international cricket. In this very match, he picked up his 50th wicket in 2017 as well.

Ashwin also registered a unique record up his sleeve as he dismissed Lahiru Thirimanne for the 12th time in all formats combined. This became the maximum times that Ashwin has dismissed any batsman (6 in ODIs, 5 in tests, 1 in T20Is).

Against the tide

The test match in Nagpur brought bitter sweet memories for the Lankan opener Dimuth Karunaratne. His disappointment of receiving a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Indians may have been assuaged a little as he became the second batsman after Dean Elgar to score 1000 runs or more in 2017. Karunaratne achieved this distinction in 23 innings as compared to Elgar’s 1097 runs in 20 innings.

 

Sri Lanka go down like nine pins, face their worst defeat in test history

The match came to a befitting end as Ashwin completed 300 test scalps by deceiving Gamage with a carrom ball

When Dinesh Chandimal raised his bat after completing his second fifty of the match, it could not have been more awkward for him. Sri Lanka with 8 wickets down, was then on the verge of defeat. As it turned out, they lost to India by an innings and 239 which is their worst defeat in test history.

Humiliating defeat

It was always a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ as the day 4 of the 2nd test between Indi and Sri Lanka began. Even those in the Lankan camp would have had little hope that Sri Lanka could save the match, leave winning aside. Even if the Lankans could have been able to drag the match till the last session (preferably last hour), they may have managed to save some face.

When the match ended pre maturely a little after lunch with Sri Lanka being skittled out at 166, it brought disgrace to Lankan cricket. Losing a match is one thing, but losing it in the manner that Sri Lanka did was unbecoming of a test playing nation.

The collapse commences

Having already lost opener Sadeera Samarawickrama on day 3, Sri Lanka came out to bat with 9 wickets in hand. On the very second ball of Ravindra Jadeja’s first over as Karunaratne stepped out, the ball spun and took the inside part of his bat. It went at such a pace to Murli Vijay who was stationed at short leg that it would have been dropped 4 times out of 5. However, such was the day for Sri Lanka that Vijay somehow managed to hold on to the catch, thus making the first inroad for the day.

Meanwhile, Lahiru Thirimanne had begun to find his feet as the ball was rarely spinning in the first hour of play. As he begun to look a little comfortable on the crease against spin, Thirimane chose to play the strangest of shots. The southpaw chased an extremely full and wide delivery of Umesh Yadav, only managing to loop it up to Jadeja who comfortably pouched it.

Lankan middle order fails to weather the storm AGAIN!

Sri Lanka had all hopes pinned on skipper Dinesh Chandimal and senior batsman Angelo Mathews who form the backbone of Sri Lanka’s middle order. Mathews looked in a nonchalant mood as he hit Jadeja for a boundary straight over his head without even the slightest movement of his feet. What followed would have certainly not set a great example for the Lankan youngsters. Mathews, as an extension of his blithely unconcerned temper went for an on the rise drive off Jadeja without reaching to the pitch of the ball. As a result, the ball went flying to Rohit Sharma at mid off who did not make any mistake.

In came the flamboyant Niroshan Dickwella, who had to face a fierce spell from lanky Indian pacer Ishant Sharma. The Lankan keeper who came in to bat on the back of his delaying tactics in Kolkata could only survive two dozen deliveries. A short pitched delivery from Ishant took his outside edge, which was caught by Virat Kohli in the slips in his second attempt.

Strangest of the strange

Next to come in was Dasun Shanaka, who was probably in a hurry to catch the flight to Delhi. The all rounder, of all Lankan batters had the strangest approach towards the situation. When he came into bat, the Lankans were tottering at 75-5. What was expected of his was to hold one end and stitch a partnership with his captain who seemed to be playing well.

On the contrary, Shanaka decided to go all guns blazing, taking on Ashwin for a couple of boundaries in one over. After 7 deliveries the inevitable happened when he was caught in the deep off Ashwin. When he got out, his stats showed a strike rate of over 200. To say the least, Shanaka was playing some other format of the game as opposed to the rest of the players.

Spun a web

The spin duo of Herath and Parera departed as soon as they went in. Dilruwan Parera was lbw first ball to an arm ball from Ashwin. He opted for DRS but in vain. His senior partner followed Parera’s footsteps as he was caught of his second ball off Ashwin. Both spinners did not trouble the scorers at all as they departed for naught.

With Sri Lanka eight down, play was extended for 15 minutes for Indians to do the final mop up. The Lankans survived this short span with Chandimal notching up his second fifty of the match.

As play resumed after Lunch, Lakmal freed his hands to score a few boundaries. Chandimal was looking comfortable at the crease before he joined the likes of Thirimanne and Shanaka to make a bizarre shot selection. He flicked a ball from Umesh Yadav in the air off his pads straight to Ashwin at fine leg.

The match came to a befitting end as Ashwin completed 300 test scalps by deceiving Gamage with a carrom ball that brushed the off stump.

It will be all about honour for Sri Lanka as India look to maintain their winning streak when both teams proceed to Delhi for the last test of the three match series.