England in India

How can England recover from the Mumbai hammering? Here’s a suggestion: take another holiday

After all, that seems to be the only way they can unsettle Virat Kohli’s nerves.

After the defeat in Mohali in the third Test, some of England’s players (who were greater than its parts) wanted to get away. So they got away to Dubai. They posted shiny, happy topless pictures with beer and marina and sun and shades. Excellent acting. Those pictures almost got on Virat Kohli’s nerves – he spoke of holidays between matches when India toured the British Isles next.

After losing in time for Yuvraj Singh’s wedding, England went and lost on Yuvraj’s birthday. After an early finish in Mohali, the Indian team just had to drive down the block to Yuvi’s wedding. Now after the Mumbai Test, the Indians probably headed to Yuvi’s birthday celebration.

But what about the much defeated Englishmen? Where do they go now? It is just a few days before the Chennai Test.

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At least, their holidaying will make a dent

Not much has changed for England, so why should their getaway – they should head right back to Dubai. They could have taken the Monday flight out, put in a few nights, photographs and get on to Kohli’s nerves again. If their bowling and catching cannot, at least, the holidaying will make a dent.

If the Chennai Test is washed out, they can head home from there itself. After seeing the emphasis Captain Cook and Anderson have given to home conditions, they sure could do with some of it themselves. Seeing as they do not value the sun, off to grey skies they go. Damp weather for these damp squibs. Which could be either Chennai or London.

Blaming India’s favourable home conditions have really shown England up as red-sore losers. What is that old alibi of every travelling Englishman – Delhi Belly? England should head to the closest street-food stall in Mumbai, attack any food item that looks mildly suspicious, consume it and prepare to be consumed by it. A spicy bhelpuri with extra imli ki chutney is recommended. When it is time for the Chennai Test, not only will they have a strong alibi, but they can be back to their normal form on the pitch.

How to destroy your spinners 101

If all this seems a tad too imaginative to the highly unimaginative Captain Cook, he should head to the nets with Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali. Clearly 108.3 overs was not enough donkey work for his spinners. Not when he had four overworked seamers who chipped in with 64 overs. Yeah, that many. Even His Highness, Joe Root bowled a few when his Supreme Leader, Captain Cook was off the field. But now that Cook’s back, he should whip his spinners back into shape. Over the next few days, just sit back and watch Rashid and Ali get it right. Why did they not use the home conditions? Are they not from these parts?

This might seem a tad severe even for someone like Cook, that too without his old accomplice Andy Flower. Flower, did you say? There is an idea right there. Plan another player’s downfall – someone who was laughing and winking in the dressing room, someone who played an irresponsible shot? Moeen Ali, did you say? Adil Rashid too? Straight to mid-wicket when England was trying to save a game. Once you are done with them bowling another 50 overs in Chennai, why not? By then, they would have dismissed themselves cheaply again. Can always start by sending Ali down the order again, that way he knows what is coming, a homecoming.

And if none of this sounds appealing, they can always head East, to Bangkok. This bunch sure could do with a massage. For those bruised bodies, for those battered egos.

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.