Dec 28, 2016

Year-End Special: Top 30 Bollywood songs of 2016

Hello all!

As this year comes to an end, here's reviving my blog yet again to write the usual year-end posts; it is indeed a personal "ritual" I do not want to lose, and these posts are usually among the most popular ones on my blog. So why change a winning formula, right?

The first one of the year-end posts will be my pick for what I deem to be the best Bollywood songs of the year. And wow, this has been yet another great year for Hindi music generally! Thus it was obviously a rather difficult list to compile, as it is every year - I am indeed expecting some feedback on the lines of "Why did you leave out THIS song?" and the likes. This list is based on my personal choices, but I'm hoping you will enjoy it. I have featured a playlist at the bottom including all these songs mentioned in the list. Here we go!

Nov 22, 2016

Cricket: The unstoppable force that is Virat Kohli - stats summary (as of 22 November 2016)

Note: this blog post was written and published prior to the 3rd India-England Test at Mohali, and excludes his performances in the IPL and other similar T20 tournaments




This year may have been terrible in many ways for a lot of us, but I'm sure Virat Kohli isn't complaining. He has indeed had a fantastic 2016, and the numbers speak for themselves! The reason why I'm writing this post is because I was just very curious about what the numbers have to say about Kohli's nearly perfect 2016 and his career in general. So I went on looking online for the various statistics, and they were SO phenomenal. Moreover, from looking up his 2016 success online, I ended up getting stats about his career itself, and my jaw kept dropping even lower and lower every single time. So I thought to myself "Why not just share these thoughts I have on Kohli's career thus far in a post on my good ol' blog?" I have not published many cricket-related posts on the blog off late, so this comes at a good time for the page. It's my first time dealing with stats and numbers, so feel free to let me know your feedback on this post. Here we go!


Oct 28, 2016

Music Review: Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016)

(The link to the soundtrack jukebox is featured at the end of this post)





Review


Alizeh features really good vocals from Arijit Singh, Ash King and Shashwat Singh, and an interesting church song-like arrangement. Beyond that it doesn't impress all that much, but it remains a decent melodious listen.

Cutie Pie is a goofy song with whacky lyrics, but it is effective. Sung by Nakash Aziz and Pradeep Singh Sran, his voice goes really well the mood of the song. The song having a nice Punjabi flavor to it boasts of an extremely catchy beat.

One would think a song which features the line "breakup song" over and over again may be a bit too much, but The Breakup Song actually works as a song. Jonita Gandhi brings it to life with her powerhouse vocals, and does a great job to match the energy of Arijit Singh's voice. The rap by Badshah is also a nice inclusion in this one.

Featuring a really nice element of rock with some really good use of guitar, Bulleya is a really impressive song. Amit Mishra does an outstanding job behind the mic, truly gives the track the power it requires. Shilpa Rao also does really well in the brief portions given to her.

What works really well in Channa Mereya are the simple arrangement, the neat singing by Arijit and the wonderful lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya. Arijit Singh brings out his very best in this one singing-wise, giving it the right feels from the very start of the song till the last moment.

My pick of the album is the title track, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. It was a very difficult choice between this and the previous track, both being personal favorites, but what makes the title track stand out is the blend between the brilliant composition and the perfect vocals by Arijit Singh. And it goes without saying that the lyrics are again effective and striking. (Note: I actually rate Ae Dil Hai Mushkil as my favorite track of the year as of now)


What is the Verdict: Ishq Waala LoveLoveLikey a lotLikeySo-soBadReally BadHorrible?


My Verdict: Love

Final Word: Despite hoping Ae Dil Hai Mushkil would be a huge soundtrack in terms of quantity, this 6-song album by Pritam and Amitabh Bhattacharya really delivers. Featuring some great vocals all round and a good variety of songs, the product of Pritam's first collaboration with Karan Johar is a winner all the way!


Jukebox




Oct 25, 2016

SK Article Excerpt: Why MS Dhoni must not be put under pressure ahead of the 4th ODI against New Zealand



The man who has given India numerous victories with his captaincy. The man who has re-written the rulebook of wicket-keeping. The best ever finisher in world cricket. The coolest mind of the game.

All these claims and titles go along with results and records for the Indian cricket team. Despite all of the various elements described above, there is no doubt that MS Dhoni is a man who is an easy target for haters.
(contd.)


Read the full article here: http://www.sportskeeda.com/cricket/thoughts-from-a-dhoni-fan-on-why-he-should-not-be-put-under-pressure-ahead-of-the-4th-odi


(Originally posted on Sportskeeda on 25 October 2016)

SK Article Excerpt: Realisations of a Swiss Indian fan after PV Sindhu’s inspiring performance at Rio 2016



After waking up from my afternoon nap, I open up my phone and see various posts on my Facebook News Feed saying "PV Sindhu playing Carolina Marin LIVE in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games - follow the updates here". I think to myself: "Wow, what a relief! Woke up RIGHT in time to watch the Badminton final. Would have kicked myself hard if I missed that". To give you a little bit of background, I am a 20-something Swiss Indian, i.e. a guy of Indian origin having been born fully raised and educated in Geneva.

Having had parents who have always been diehard fans of cricket, I have been the typical cricket addict, despite living in a region obviously dominated by football fanatics. I also occasionally follow tennis, for obvious Federer reasons.

(contd.)

Read the full article herehttp://www.sportskeeda.com/badminton/realizations-swiss-indian-fan-after-pv-sindhus-inspiring-performance-rio-2016

(Originally posted on Sportskeeda on 20 August 2016)

Oct 18, 2016

Lifeblog: On living "efficiently" and persistence (October 2016)

So here I am... listening to the soundtrack of Luke Cage (Season 1), looking at the calendar, and telling myself: "Wow... half of October is done already? That leaves me with two and a half months before 2016 ends." I sigh, give myself some really quick pep talk in my head for 5-10 seconds, and carry on with what I was wanting to work on on the good ol' reliable laptop.

I get this feeling that 2016 has not been a really good year for a lot of people... and I really hope that you, the one reading this post, do not fall under this category of people. If so, I'm really happy for you, and I really hope the year ends in a similar manner for you.

But this is for those who have also had a difficult year, and who feel like they haven't done as well as they would have wanted to. Here's the good news: it's still not all that bad! Enjoy the read :-)

(Click on Continue Reading or Read More, to proceed to the full post)


Aug 5, 2016

Music Review: Baar Baar Dekho (2016)

(The link to the soundtrack jukebox, along with the soundtrack credits, are featured at the end of this post)

Review



Pakistani singer Bilal Saeed's Khair Mangdi which was originally composed in 2011 by himself and Dr. Zeus gets re-used for this soundtrack (re-christened Teri Khair Mangdi). A small sidenote: this track will appeal to the British Asian music lovers - as this was a viral track there. Lovely track, but doesn't score many points in my assessment since it's not an original composition in this soundtrack.

Kaala Chashma is a cool and interesting take on the Punjabi dance number by Amar Arshi from the 2000s. As mentioned above, this one would also be well-appreciated by the British Asian listeners, for the same reasons. However it does better, as Badshah's rap portions are very catchy and effective, and Neha Kakkar's inclusion works. Unlike in a lot of other songs with Badshah, this time the rap portion doesn't sound like it was forcefully squeezed in the track unnecessarily, just for the sake of it; it actually suits the song. Neha Kakkar doing a fab job behind the mic, like she tends to do in songs of this genre.

Arko sings and composes Dariya, and it is a very sweet melody on the whole. The only issue I have with this track, is that the main chorus has a tune that sounds very similar to his previous composition "O Saathi Re" from Kapoor and Sons. Keeping that aside, it still makes for a decent listen.

Being a big fan of Amaal Mallik's work, my expectations level were high for his song. Sau Aasmaan features some nice use of guitar, and Neeti Mohan aces the vocals on this one, along with Armaan Malik who is as good as always. Very catchy beat, and good blend of electronic music and acoustics. As I did with Arko's Dariya, I have the same tiny issue here - it sounds quite similar to Buddhu Sa Mann (from Kapoor and Sons), which in itself sounded a teeny bit like Sooraj Dooba Hai (from Roy) - both composed by Amaal Mallik himself. But this tiny pet peeve aside, it still makes for a really good listen!

Kho Gaye Hum Kahan is my second-favorite song of this album, composed and co-sung by the talented Jaslene Kaur Royal, it is a very smooth and melodious composition which feels very much like an Amit Trivedi song in many ways. (Reminded me a bit of Sham from Aisha) Very nice and subtle vocals by herself and Prateek Kuhad.

My top pick of this album is Nachde Ne Saare, the second track from this album composed by Jaslene Kaur Royal. The wedding dance number of the season indeed, with a highly infectious beat, and energetic vocals from the reliable Harshdeep Kaur and the in-form Sidharth Mahadevan, along with Jaslene's unconventional and competent voice. Has the potential of becoming a blockbuster track!


What is the Verdict: Ishq Waala LoveLoveLikey a lotLikeySo-soBadReally BadHorrible?


My Verdict: Likey a lot


Final Word: This is yet another great year for Bollywood music, and despite Baar Baar Dekho not being as huge an album as I would have expected, it still features some great tracks. Enter Jasleen Royal, who scores higher that the others in this multi-composer album, and makes this soundtrack shine.  Movies coming from the Dharma Productions banner have typically featured good music off late, and this one keeps the record intact!

Jukebox




Soundtrack Credits


Movie: Baar Baar Dekho
Cast : SIDHARTH MALHOTRA, KATRINA KAIF, SARIKA, RAM KAPOOR, TAAHA SHAH, SAYANI GUPTA & ROHAN JOSHI 
Banner : EROS INTERNATIONAL presents in association with EXCEL ENTERTAINMENT and DHARMA PRODUCTIONS, an ARCLIGHT FILMS PRODUCTION
Director : Nitya Mehra


Song credits:

Kho Gaye Hum Kahan 
Music : Jasleen Royal
Lyrics : Prateek Kuhad
Singers : Jasleen Royal & Prateek Kuhad
Mix&Mastered by : Eric Pillai (Future Sound Of Bombay)
Mixing Assistant : Michael Edwin Pillai & Lucky


Sau Aasmaan
Music : Amaal Mallik
Lyrics : Kumaar
Singers : Armaan Malik & Neeti Mohan
Mix&Mastered by : Eric Pillai (Future Sound Of Bombay)
Mixing Assistant : Michael Edwin Pillai & Lucky
Producers for Sau Aasmaan song : Abhijit Vaghani & Amaal Mallik
Additional Music Production : Pramod Timilsina & Apeiruss


Dariya 
Music : Arko
Lyrics : Arko
Singers : Arko
Arranger/Programmer : Aditya Dev
Mixed by : Michael Edwin Pillai 
Mastered by : Eric Pillai (Future Sound Of Bombay)
Mixing Assistant : Lucky


Nachde Ne Saare 
Music : Jasleen Royal 
Lyrics : Aditya Sharma
Singers : Jasleen Royal, Harshdeep Kaur & Siddharth Mahadevan
Mix&Mastered by : Shadab Rayeen @NewEdge
Mixing Assistant : Abhishek Sortey
Producers for Nachde Ne Saare song : Abhijit Nalani, Aditya Pushkarna & Ujjwal Kashyap


Teri Khair Mangdi 
Music : Bilal Saeed
Lyrics : Kumaar, Additional Lyrics : Bilal Saeed
Singers : Bilal Saeed 
Arranger/Programmer : Bilal Saeed
Mixing Assistant : Michael Edwin Pillai & Lucky
Mix&Mastered by : Eric Pillai (Future Sound Of Bombay)


Kala Chashma 
Music : Originally Composed by: Prem Hardeep & Recreated By: Badshah
Lyrics : Amrik Singh & Kumaar
Singers : Amar Arshi, Badshah & Neha Kakkar. RAP: Badshah & Indeep Bakshi
Arranger/Programmer : Aditya Dev
Mix&Mastered by : Eric Pillai (Future Sound Of Bombay)
Mixing Assistant : Michael Edwin Pillai & Lucky


Mar 13, 2016

Assessing India's chances for the World T20 2016

The World T20 is here! And it's IN India! The first round of matches played between the "smaller teams" just got over. Keeping aside the rain which played spoilsport, the matches were really entertaining, with Bangladesh qualifying to India's group, and Afghanistan going to to the other one.

Now that the main games are about to take place, Team India will be in the spotlight, and I'm hoping there will not be too much of pressure on them, since they have been called "favorites" by many, and they are the hosts. But why would not there be so much of confidence in this side? The Asia Cup recently got over, and India are in GREAT form, as they were crowned "Asian Champions". This has been a great start to 2016 on the whole, especially after facing a 4-1 loss to Australia in the ODI series. But ever since that 5th ODI, India have been on top, whitewashing Australia in the 3 T20Is which followed. The question remains: can India lift the World Cup trophy this year? Let's look at what might work in their favor.

A new and settled side


Here are the eleven players India have been persisting in T20s with since the beginning of 2016 (barring the few matches, where we tested a different line-up):

1. Dhawan 2. Sharma 3. Kohli 4. Raina 5. Yuvraj 6. Pandya 7. Dhoni 8. Jadeja 9. Ashwin 10. Bumrah 11. Nehra

If either of the batsmen are injured or dropped, we also have the key element of Ajinkya Rahane being in the squad. The same applies for Harbhajan and Shami, as they can be introduced in the bowling line-up, if the circumstances require it.



The revamped bowling line-up


While the bowling was an area of concern for India, it almost seems like the situation has been resolved. What's interesting here, is that we have a very different-looking line-up. There is no Umesh Yadav or Varun Aaron, and the once-famous duo Shami and Bhuvneshwar have not featured in the team for a while. The former (who is part of the 15-man squad) having gone through injury problems, and the latter simply not finding a place in the side. Why? We now have Bumrah, Pandya and Nehra as our main frontline bowlers, with Ashwin and Jadeja for the spin attack. Bumrah can bowl some great yorkers in the death overs, Nehra's experience has worked wonders in the inital overs, and Pandya is a valuable all-rounder to the side. Ashwin and Jadeja, when they get going, they can destroy the opposition, and get the big wickets at the crucial times. We also have effective part-timers in the form of Yuvraj and Raina. So this line-up gives Dhoni a lot of flexibility and options during the course of an innings, which has worked wonders for us so far this year!

The batting strength


This is kind of a no-brainer, as most people associated the Indian side, as a side with currently some of the most talented batsmen in the world.This is a really good mix of experience and youth, which is also an interesting change for this new Indian side. Dhawan and Sharma have been the reliable opening duo, and they both can fire when needed, particularly Rohit Sharma who has been in good form off late. Kohli has been in the form of his life, and will surely carry this form with him into the tournament. Raina has not been consistent, but he is one of India's most valuable T20 players. Yuvraj Singh is an interesting element of the side: although initially criticized for some of his oddly slow knocks, when this man is in form, he can be a destructive element - and it does look like he found his groove back in the recent matches. Pandya is also a fresh and interesting part of this new line-up; he plays very fearlessly, and can be the firepower we need at the end of an innings. Dhoni is the ideal person to have at the end of an innings, especially going by the end of the recent matches (including that Asia Cup final!) - Pandya and him are great players to have at the rear end of a match. Jadeja and Ashwin can also contribute, if required, which means we could even say our line-up goes all the way to the No. 9 batsman. This depth in the batting line-up has really been a key element in our recent victories.

The reliable fielding


Nothing much to add here, since this is an area the Indian team management has been focusing on since quite some time, and we have indeed been one of the best fielding sides in the world. We just need this to sustain this kind of energy and aggression in the field during the T20 World cup. Also, I can't do without mentioning Dhoni's speed behind the stumps - he has the quickest pair of hands for a wicket-keeper and this will really be a big plus, seeing how this has had an impact on previous matches.


The captaincy and the current form of the side


Coming from a successful Asia Cup campaign, which came right after whitewashing Australia, India has been in great form, and EVEN when there are the occasional hiccups during matches, it gives the opportunity for someone to save the innings and win the game for us. This sort of situation has occurred at some times in the last few games, and this just goes to show we are a very "complete" team currently. Furthermore, on the whole, we have witnessed amazing captaincy skills by Dhoni, and it has been some tough aggressive leadership from him in the T20 format.

The opposition in the T20 World Cup, and predictions


Within Group 2, India will be playing Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, and Group A winner Bangladesh. They are all very challenging opponents, but India could come out on top of each duel. India vs Australia will be a cracker of a match, and it turns out to be India's last group stage match.

Then, going forward to the semi-final, if India eventually tops Group 2, we will be playing the team placed 2nd in Group 1, which would be either Sri Lanka or England in my opinion (the team placed 1st being South Africa, in my view).

Ideally, an India vs South Africa final would be the real cherry on the cake! That is what I predict for now.

Final thoughts


All in all, this will make for a very entertaining season of cricket for the Indian fans, especially going by the recent form of the Men In Blue. And I'm calling it: India will perform really well in this World Cup, and we might even lift the trophy this time. This is definitely a side that can lift the cup, and we just need to carry this good form into the big tournament. Make us proud, Men In Blue! All the best, Dhoni and co.!



Feb 13, 2016

Lifeblog: Back in the Swiss hometown, and the road ahead

Hello one and all!

Hope you all had a great start to 2016, as we are already at the halfway mark of February! And for those who have not had an easy start to the year (like me), here's an awesome meme that might just cheer you up:



The big news to begin this post with, is that I'm back in Geneva since last month. Now for those who have read my previous Lifeblog posts (and I thank you for that!), you may be wondering: "Wait, how is he back in Geneva? Didn't he mention he was really happy in Bangalore?" And almost all the Indian family friends who are meeting me after a long time are asking me: "So you didn't like it in Bangalore?" (which is, of course, a normal assumption to make, for most cases)

So, for the record, to settle it for once and for all: NO, there was nothing wrong with Bangalore, or my life there - and I was indeed VERY happy there! I still stand by all the statements I had made, about "loving my lifestyle in Bangalore".

There are many factors I took into account, before making the big call of wanting to return home. A lot of those are very personal, so won't be openly mentioning them here. But a lot of it, was with regards to the "plans of the future", that I wanted to come back to my home here in Geneva.

Came right in time for the Lights festival at the Lake side!

2016 is a big year for me in many ways: it is going to be a very challenging one. The reason is simple: 2015 was a GREAT year for me, in many ways, and the challenge will lie in finding the same kind of "happy lifestyle" over here, during the course of the coming months. In short, I travelled a lot, lived a happy independent life in India, and achieved some big personal milestones (including a major weight loss) in 2015.

The key to success in 2016 will be the same I have talked about, in some of my older posts: it's all about "embracing the uncertainty". Playing along with whatever comes my way, and build my own "lifestyle" around it! In a nutshell, if 2015 was the "Year of Happiness" for me, 2016 will be the year where I would need to try and "sustain" that Happiness, in my own ways! (And a cheesy reminder for the umpteenth time: the derivated meaning of "Santhosh" is Happiness, a word I am quite obsessed with, as you can guess)

Upcoming posts for 2016 (tentative list)


So that's about my current situation in a nutshell. Here's the tentative list of posts I will try to publish during this year (will try and stay committed to this list):

  • The usual occasional Lifeblogs
  • Cricket: The WT20 and how Team India looks
  • Bollywood: the occasional music reviews, and other time-relevant posts
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: a post about Captain America: Civil War, and one about the TV shows (both ABC and Netflix shows)
  • The usual year-end posts about Bollywood's Year In Review
  • And probably some other ones!
In the meanwhile, you can check out my Spreaker profile, where I had hosted my amateur Bollywood radio show Santh FM last year - I had posted 15 episodes, out of which the 15th one is still there on the website, if you want to check it out: https://www.spreaker.com/user/santhm. The show's format was very simple: every week had one very "general topic", on which I try to give my thoughts, and I play three Hindi songs related to the theme. Given the general "good feedback" from people around me, I will try to make a "2nd season" to Santh FM this year, where I upload one episode every week. (Makes for a fun weekly hobby, in fact) So do watch that space for more!

I also have a Youtube channel santhoshgeneva, where I occasionally post acoustic covers of Bollywood songs and other videos, and will try to regularly upload stuff there too in the coming months: https://www.youtube.com/user/santhoshgeneva 

And this may be coming in (very) late, but here's wishing everyone a very happy and successful 2016 ahead! Hope you guys will also find what you are looking for :-) May this year be the best one ever. Cheers!

Sayonara! Hope to see you here again soon!