India Insight

Indian tennis players “lack killer instinct”: Bogdan Obradovic

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters)

Riding on the back of two magnificent comeback matches (Leander Paes-Rohan Bopanna doubles victory, followed by Somdev Devvarman’s win in singles in Bangalore), Yuki Bhambri, 22, had everything going for him in the final rubber of the India-Serbia World Group play-off tie. Yuki had the “momentum” going into the match against Filip Krajinovic, 22, but he didn’t bring two important ingredients to the court: tenacity and killer instinct.

India paid dearly.

Filip, playing the biggest match of his Davis Cup career, a live fifth rubber, showed remarkable composure to best his opponent in three straight sets 6-3 6-4 6-4, ensuring Serbia’s return to where it belongs, the World Group.

“It’s easy to criticise during crisis time, but one has to tell the player how to raise the game when things are not going his way. A captain cannot afford to drop his shoulders when the player on court is making a series of unforced errors. The captain should be up on his feet trying to bring back that spark in the player,” said Bogdan Obradovic, Serbia’s non-playing captain. He did not name Anand Amritraj while hinting at the Indian captain’s lack of passion in backing the players in a team event like Davis Cup.

Bogdan said if Indian players like Yuki and Somdev manage to instill that killer instinct in their game, India would show up regularly in the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the Davis Cup.

Davis Cup: India scripts phenomenal comeback

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters)

It was a comeback of epic proportions. A kind that Leander Paes admitted he hadn’t been a part of in a doubles match in his entire 24 years of Davis Cup career.

Non-playing captain Anand Amritraj, a doubles semi-finalist at Wimbledon, said, “In the last 20-25 years, this is the most amazing comeback that I’ve seen.”

Davis Cup: Serbia showcases the art of winning

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters)

“I had nothing to lose.” It sounded quite innocuous when Filip Krajinovic, 22, said this to the media after winning his match against Somdev Devvarman at the Davis Cup in Bangalore on Friday, but it’s a lethal attitude. “Nothing to lose” is reverse psychology; it helps to achieve the opposite result.

With their marquee player, World  No. 1 Novak Djokovic, pulling out four days before the tie, and other experienced players like Janko Tipsarevic and Victor Troicki not in the team owing to injury and loss of form, last year’s finalist Team Serbia knew they had a lot at stake. It was not just a place in the World Group, but also their pride in being a fiercely competitive sporting nation was on the line.

Movie Review: Finding Fanny

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

In Homi Adajania’s version of Goa, there are winding pathways, crumbling mansions, and the sleepy village of Pocolim where “life doesn’t pass you by, it passes you by at the pace you want it to.”

There is an oddball cast of characters to add to the picturesque location, and some lovely lines. The setting is perfect for a road movie with quirky characters, but Adajania’s film falters for want of a strong premise and its inability to see these characters and their story to some sort of a rightful conclusion.

There is Angie (Deepika Padukone), a young widow who lives with her rather crabby mother-in-law Rosie (Dimple Kapadia) and a cat named Nareus. Angie is friends with Ferdie (Naseeruddin Shah), a lonely old man who pines for the love of his life – a woman who he thinks turned him down. Thanks to the chance discovery of a decades-old letter, he finds that this isn’t the case. Angie insists that they must find Fanny and achieve closure. No one, she tells Ferdie, deserves an incomplete love story.

Davis Cup: the mind games that teams play

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters)

In the Davis Cup, games begin long before the tie. The World Group playoff tie between host nation India and 2013 finalist Serbia, scheduled for Sept. 12-14, is no different. The moves, counter-moves and posturing are flying faster than aces – all for that psychological edge.

A grass court, which proved to be a crucial ally in the past, is no more a surface of preference for Team India as most of its players, except Leander Paes, are bred on hardcourt.

Sketchy Details

Visarjan Playlist
(Disclaimer: This cartoon does not mean to mock religious sensibilities; it questions the use of Bollywood dance numbers during a religious festival)

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

More in the Sketchy Details series

Movie Review: Mary Kom

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

At a crucial point in Omung Kumar’s biopic of MC Mary Kom, the boxer’s husband urges her to get back to the sport after giving birth to their twin sons. He eggs her on to train while he handles household responsibilities and in one scene, tells his wife to have a glass of milk to gain strength. Mary Kom stops him right there and says, “Don’t add any sugar, I am going to use Sugar Free.”

A still from "Mary Kom"Immediately, any empathy you were feeling for this character and her struggle is lost. Kumar’s retelling of one of India’s sports success stories is replete with such examples. Not only do they take away from the story’s authenticity, but also cheapen Mary Kom’s real-life struggle, reducing it to a hackneyed Bollywood script.

Mary Kom’s story starts from the time she’s an angry teenage schoolgirl picking fights with her classmates. She stumbles upon a boxing coaching centre and a coach who trains her. Kumar chronicles her rise on the boxing circuit, her love story with football coach Onler (played by Darshan Kumar), and her return to the ring after the birth of her twin sons.

Darshan Kumar says he is the hero of ‘Mary Kom’

darshanbhaiEven though he is not playing the lead in Mary Kom“, debutant actor Darshan Kumar calls himself the hero of the film.

Kumar plays Onler Kom, the on-screen husband of India’s best known female Olympic medallist – portrayed by Priyanka Chopra – and is on the lookout for “meaty” roles.

Conscious about whether his hair was in place and regretting that he didn’t put on some make-up, Kumar met me at a Gurgaon hotel to talk about Chopra and the film.

Representing Manipur: Priyanka Chopra on playing Mary Kom

Priyanka Chopra is not a Bollywood actor who waits around for assistants to mic her up, set a TV camera’s white balance and tell her where to look during an interview. When I met her on Tuesday at a posh hotel in Gurgaon, she used the paper I brought with my questions on it for the white balance, told the assistant how and where to set up the mic and opened a bottle of cough syrup, sparing the poor staffer who was struggling with it for her.

“I can get things done,” she said. Indeed, the latest evidence that the 32-year-old superstar is telling the truth is her portrayal of Mary Kom, the Olympic medallist and five-time World Amateur Boxing champion who comes from the far-flung state of Manipur in India’s northeast, an area that is far away from the heart of the country and home to many of its ethnic minorities.

The decision to cast Chopra in the role of Kom has led to accusations that the film’s producers preferred to go with a bankable star rather than another actor from Manipur or elsewhere in the northeast, and has prompted a new round of discussion about the nation’s marginalizing of people from this region. Chopra discussed this and other aspects of playing Kom in our interview.

Segway’s India business pegs hope on tech-savvy Modi

By Shashank Chouhan and Ankush Arora

People ride self-balancing Segway transportation devices past the Indian home ministry in New Delhi January 5, 2014. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee/Files

Among the companies hoping for tax credits from the business-friendly Bharatiya Janata Party since its election victory in May is the Indian distributor of the Segway Personal Transporter. The company hopes that the government will recognise the battery-run two-wheeler as a green vehicle, a move that could spur sales of the expensive device in a country where many people today cannot afford it.

The U.S.-based Segway Inc. was founded by Dean Kamen based on a vision to develop “high-efficient, zero emission transportation solutions” that are manoeuvrable and can be operated on sidewalks and pathways.

In 2002, Segway, adapted from the word segue that means “to transition smoothly from one state to another”, got the right to operate in over 30 states in the United States. By 2007, the New Hampshire-headquartered company had a worldwide presence in 60 countries, according to a report. It made its India debut in 2010.

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