Friday, October 22, 2004

UC travelblog [post 2]

(Continued from the post below the Durga Pooja post).

What does happen when u put 2 deranged young men(2DYM) in a room? That was the question I left off with in the previous part. I get the feeling that a lot of u perverted minds are expecting some spicy stuff. But u see the problem is this. 2DYM on their own are harmless unless one of them or both of them are gay or they are drunk or they are in the company of women. Now for AC and I none of the above mentioned conditions held true that night. So basically nothing happened. Gotcha!!. what did happen though was that that mad b@#!#$%^ AC decided he wanted to watch TV late into the night and ended up doing so and after he had finished he didn't put off the light in the room. As a result i got very little sleep the night before the 2nd round shoot. When i asked him why he didn't put off the light he said "it doesn't make a difference to me". What the F~!@ u freak you're not the only one in the god-damn room.

After the bright night i woke sleepless in seat.. oh sorry Noida. Next came a very chilling experience. See Noida for some reason was having quite low temperatures as was the entire north. As a result the temp. in the morn. was a very cool 18 or so degrees centigrade. Now this is very nice for someone coming from the searing heat of Madras. So why am i complaining u ask? The problem arises because of a human need to keep one's self clean by taking a bath. There was geyser in the bathroom but like half the keys in my 10 year old keyboard it wasn't working. As a result i got chilled to the bone. The only thing about a cold water bath is that it wakes u up. So in the end it was probably a good thing.

At breakfast met our opposition for the day the wonderful guys from NIT Calicut ( Roshit, Ravi, Kevin and Abid ). Also chatted a bit with my good friends from CEG (Vijay, Dipak, Psycho Hari and Venkat) who had their shoot scheduled in the afternoon against IITB (Rahul, Chitranshu, Vivek, Arijit); the team we beat in the 1st round. (if u don't know the format of UC basically there are 4 lucky losers from the 1st round who go into the 2nd round IITB was one of them).

During the drive to the studio saw a sight the seemed to defy all of Newton's laws of motion and his law of gravity. Well u c there was this car that had got on the median. There is nothing extraordinary about this but for the fact that it was on the wrong side of the road and somehow had managed to drive on the wrong side of the road and got up on that high median. U don't get the point. Just free it then coz i am very bad at describing weird road accidents and i don't have the help of Aaj Tak's amazing (read yuck) computer generated re enactments.

After a few 1000s of seconds we reached Eagle Studios in sector 18. I wonder if any movies were shot there coz there seemed to be a lot of posters of movies. The most familiar was Chamatkaar. Do u guys remember this movie. It had Naseeruddin Shah who was some kind of a ghost and helped Shah Rukh win a cricket match (Ganguly could do with a chamatkaar right now).

One of the good things about Synergy is the production team is made up of a lot of women. So their co-ords and stuff are female. I personally feel that they have too many people on the set but i am not complaining. After we were ushered into the make up room this pretty co-ord told us "give me your shirts" Before u get any naughty ideas let me disappoint u again by saying that she was doing her job and asking us to give her the shirts we were going to wear for the shoot so that she could get them ironed. She left the room after telling us to think of starting lines.

Thinking up imaginative and non-standard opening lines to introduce ourselves is the 2nd most difficult thing to do in UC. (I'll come to the most difficult thing shortly). After racking my brains i came up with something I'm sure will get me beaten up in college once the episode comes. I won't tell u what it is just watch it on TV. Let me just tell my potential assailants that i meant no malice.

Once we changed we went to the other room to get our make up done. Just the usual stuff that has to be done before anyone comes in front of a camera. Next we went to the set. The first thing that struck me was that it was cold, f^%$*^! cold. Somebody forgot where the switch to put off the AC was. Once we took out seats the co-ord (the same one who wanted our shirts) started telling us the rules of the game. Duh !!! as if we didn't already know. "u'll get starters for 10 points ...." zzzzz .... brrr brrr brr achooo. Then she heard our starting lines and after finishing an endless stream of instructions she went on to bore the NIT Calicut guys and some guy fixed microphones on us

Then followed what seemed like an endless wait. The audience was made to sit properly and some guy started asking the audience questions to keep them engaged while we all waited for the shoot to start. The audience didn't answer too many questions though. (the most obscure questions about Hindi movies got cracked though and they seemed to know more about Kishore Kumar than AC (hi AC ^_^ ) ) They weren't quizzers they were there for an altogether different reason.

This brings me to the most difficult part about shooting for an episode of UC -- keeping one's eyes off the audience. See the audience is usually made up of Delhi college students most of them girls.

Now if you're a normal guy u'll empathise with me when i say that it's bloody hard to keep one's concentration in amongst such an audience. They are supposed to watch us but the traffic goes the other way too. While we were shivering in our seats the crew began recording the audience applause. Basically some crew member starts clapping and the audience then joins in. they take a few retakes till the noise level is up to their expectations. Our microphone tests followed After what seemed like an endless wait the star of the show made his entrance.

Siddharth Basu ('Babu' to most of the crew) walked in to applause and some sighs of awe (made up the 'awe'ful part). He was dressed in a jacket as u'll see on TV. What u won't see was the jeans he was wearing. It's funny to see a guy in a jacket and jeans. He shook hand with all of us and took his seat padded with a cushion ( they gave me 2 cushions and strangely enough Goach also got one despite the fact he is so tall. Now me asking why give me 2 and him one. give me one and him none. (sorry for the terrible rhyme)) .

Before the shoot began Babu threw the teams a few practice starters just to calm the nerves and warm up. Now that I'm in the topic of practice starters i have to tell u guys about this funny incident that happened with the CEG guys. Now during their shoot with IITB Babu threw the practice starters. Being the better team CEG cracked all 4. Now Babu used his head to give the poor IITB guys a starter and asked the following question "What is Vivek's surname". Much to i guess everyone's surprise Dipak buzzed and correctly said "Ramamurthy". U c Dipak studied with Vivek when he was in Bombay ages ago and knows him reasonably well. Imagine the look on IITB's faces. A kodak moment for sure. They must've been totally psyched.

Returning to our shoot the intro music played followed by "Welcome to University Challenge... Asking the questions Siddharth Basu." The shoot had started. Babu intoduced us and we did our intros. Then the same was repeated for the NIT guys. Just when we thought the intros were out of the way the "voice of God" spoke. There is this control room located somewhere in the set where somebody sits and looks at everything that's been shot and advises changes and re shots if necessary. Now where we are seated we can't see the guy in the control room. He not seen; only heard. Thus my reference to the voice as the "voice of God". Basically the guy told us that there was some camera problem and we needed to redo the intros and so we did only this time poor Goach kept fumbling his lines and took 4 or 5 attempts to get it right.

The quiz proper started and i won't give u details about it coz i don't want to and u can watch it all on TV. I will mention two incidents though.

This season Babu has decided that he wants to make the teams look good as in seem like good quizzers, so if neither of the teams answers a question it's scrapped and not shown on TV unless a team gets -5 on an interruption. This led to quite a fiasco during our audio question. Basically 3 audios had to be scrapped during our shoot. Now that's not a problem by itself but the problem was that after every audio got scrapped they had to hunt another one and the production people took 10 to 15 minutes to get a song. So in the mean time we were freezing and the audio co-ord ran out of questions so basically people from the audience were asked to sing(of course none of the songs they sung became qns). Under normal circumstances i would have tolerated bathroom singing in a studio but not when the team is down on points and knowing that every qn from that point is crucial. Finally the audio qn did get answered and it was Pps who did it much to our relief.

The 2nd incident i want to talk about is the last question of the quiz. No matter what is shown on TV this is what happened. Babu said "Which toy dog.." and i buzzed. In the time that it took for the buzzer to go off and the light to come on and Babu to say "'s Nandan from SVCE.. " Babu said some thing about Poland while continuing the qn. I was frozen. I was in a state of shock. U c i was thing about the literal toy dogs as in toys. So i was thinking about Aibo and tomagochis and not breeds of flesh and blood dogs. But when i heard Poland my head and heart stopped working. After Babu said that he was passing the question with -5 to the other team i said "dalmatian". Now Babu said that he wasn't going to allow that and said he was passing the question to the other team. Before they could answer the hooter went off. We jumped for joy in a spontaneous outburst of relief. We thought we had won. Then Babu did the unthinkable. He said he wanted the time to be turned back. I think he felt that i was stalling when i buzzed and decided to be what he thought was fair. Of course i wasn't stalling and moreover i had no way of knowing that that was the last question. Anyways they did turn back time and Babu repeated the qn and just before the qn ended Kevin buzzed and said "Dalmatian". Then Babu said "that is incorrect". Then he said words to the effect of moving on the next qn and before he could the hooter went off and this time we had indeed won. I found out later when Abid told me that Abid (who was pretty much their star performer) new the answer to the last qn was pomeranian but was waiting for the qn to complete before he buzzed and in between Kevin buzzed. I realised then just how close we had come to losing.

After the shoot they basically do dubs. Basically the 'voice of God' guy tells Babu to repeat some qns or some participants to repeat answers. They also reshot the last question where i buzzed and didn't give an answer at all and Kevin said Dalmatian. I guess this is what will get shown. After that reshot for the long shots the passes where one person gives a wrong answer and a person from the other team gives the right answer. Then they kept us waiting for some more time when the cameras took long shots of us and the crowd.

We went back to the hotel to rest up a bit. Saw a bit of TV and went for walks in the neighbourhood. While watching TV we saw this Airtel ad where a guy and a girl are in plane that crashes and ends with the tagline which basically says that their network goes everywhere. Now there is nothing remarkable about watching an ad for a cell phone network, really there isn't anything. Only small thingy was that AC's phone hadn't worked from the moment we landed in Delhi and didn't work again till we got to Madras when he got his signal back. This is where as Vinod put it irony makes an appearance -- AC's network provider is Airtel. (btw the look on his face when the ad came was another kodak moment).

The next day (Thursday) was our quarter final shoot against IITM. Won't talk much about it. Pretty much the same thing only thing we lost and lost really badly. A scoreline does not reflect our true capabilities as a team and neither does the result. But then that's the way UC's format works. One day u can look like a hero out of a Western the next day u can look like an absolute fool. Basically the qns are really easy. It's mostly about speed on the buzzer and IITM was much better that day. Maybe another day the result would have been quite different. And as IITM found out 4 hours later during their semi-final that UC can be very, very cruel. Still remember Babu's words that he told us trying to console us after the loss, "Don't look so mournful. It's only a quiz". Some how i don't agree.

In the night saw the telecast of our 1st round against IITB. Seemed to be much closer a contest on TV than what we felt it was during the shoot.

The next day we packed and left a little after 12. Saw the Lotus temple and grabbed lunch on way to the airport. Reached there at 3 for a 4:50 flight which was delayed by half an hour. Saw Ashish Nehra whose autograph Goach got and Jagmohan Dalmiya whose existence Goach wasn't willing to acknowledge coz AC told him (its very hard to trust AC these days). Of course after i conformed his presence we all saw him. Also saw Prabhu Chawla the India Today (bald) head who comes on Aaj Tak. He was there with some reporter from Aaj Tak whose name I don't remember though I think this is the guy who got slapped by BSP founder Kanshi Ram.

Reached home to find out that i didn't have any material for one of the 2 tests i had the next day. Anyways freed it coz we got the qns the next day and the answers.

Well that's about it.


Suze said...

ha ha at the deus ex machina
but waittamin!!!
you guys wore makeup??????
and sat on cushions??
and more importantly wore makeup?
concealer? foundation? light dusting on the cheekbones with MAC bronzer?

Vinod said...

Ha, takes me back to the good old days when we did that irish jig thing for Shastri House Western dance, with lipstick et al. You know, I might just have a career as a professional transsexual.

Nandan said...

glad to know suze that my blog provides comic relief to your sleep depraved life.
could u please explain to me what a concealer is. i mean the way i see it one puts make up when one wants to be seen so what the point of the concealer. doesn't it defeat the purpose of make up? or is like a thingmagic for the not so pretty women to hide behind. or is it some thing different from wats its made up to be

and what in labrotoire garnier's name is 'dusting cheekbones with MAC'
is it some kinda apple therapy. i can make up a hundred different expansions for MAC but then writing them down on the blog would make it rated R

eagerly awaiting ur response

Nandan said...

dai vinod which year was this dance of volatile memory fails me again. anyways i've found the answer to a long standing question that was bothering me -- that of why the stage is broken at a few places ^_^

Vinod said...

Or maybe........ the stage is broken because it was cracking up at all the *extremely hilarious* jokes you made in your reply to Suze's comment!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Vinit said...

hey man I was just going through your blog... was trying to locate my old friend Roshit Ravi from Bahrain... you mentioned a Roshit in your blog... was wondering if it was the same guy... lemme know if possible... thanks!

Vinit Oza

Abid said...

well, as the unfortunate "pomeranian guy", i think i deserve to be on this page :)

and yes, there were very few instances in my life when i was not freaked out by the very mention of the word pomeranian after the UC debacle...

PS: a couple of years later, arvind and roshith who were on opposing team in opposing chairs would be on the same team in IIM-A. Life is beautiful!

PS2: Star performer? wtf? ;)