Struggling to cope in a world without any sporting action? Fear not. In our latest series, we put together a list of videos you can watch right now to fill that adrenaline pumping again. This week's picks include some freaky individual feats -- from the kabaddi mat to the golf course.
The Dawn Wall
Since its release in late September 2018, I spent nearly every day scouring the Internet in search of Free Solo, the Oscar-winning documentary that depicted Alex Honnold's death-defying, ropeless ascent of Yosemite's El Capitan -- the holy grail of rock climbing. But I just couldn't find it online.
It was only after Free Solo won the Oscar in February 2019 that I was finally able to watch it. All that hype and wait was... just not worth it. To be fair, the movie did a good job of establishing the tension surrounding a climb, in which one mistake meant certain death. In addition, the actual climbing footage at the end alone makes the movie worth watching. Overall, though, I found it underwhelming. I was fascinated enough, however, to learn more about the world of climbing.
I learned of the existence of The Dawn Wall, which chronicled the efforts made by Tommy Caldwell - just as much of a climbing superstar as Honnold - and Kevin Jorgeson to climb the Dawn Wall route of El Cap. Their 19-day effort was the first free ascent of the wall, a route that no one had even attempted climbing before because there was no route to climb.
The Dawn Wall is really the story of Caldwell himself. It charts his meteoric rise as a climber to the key incidents that answer the question of why he spent seven years conjuring, and conquering, a maddeningly-difficult climb. It does a superb job of the how and what of the climb - someone who doesn't know a thing about climbing will learn all they need to know from the movie itself. And it does so in a way that makes the viewer part of the climb, especially its most crucial parts.
To me, The Dawn Wall is simply a far better, more complete climbing documentary than Free Solo. Perhaps I'm being unfair by comparing the two, but The Dawn Wall is the one that struck an emotional chord. I've seen it thrice and I'm certain I'll see it many more times. - Manoj Bhagavatula
Dipa announces her arrival
Commonwealth Games, Glasgow July 31, 2014 - the Women's Vault Final. No. It's That One. The Produnova video. Where Dipa Karmakar announced to the world that she had the chops to become an Olympic-standard gymnast in her event. It's a short clip but has everything - the tension on Dipa's face, the commentators' tension, in describing what she was about to do, the build-up to her run and the spinning, whirring vault which was described to then-unknowing viewers, as a not having been seen for twenty years. Hugs with her coach, high fives with a bystander, the delight of her teammates. It was to end in a bronze medal but was to make Dipa fly. Her dream to be better, her ambition to go further. It was to begin with this snatch in time.
There is another video of Dipa's two CWG 2014 vaults. It is shorn of drama or commentary or smartly clipped footage. All you hear is the sound inside the gymnasium hall as the final was played out. Watch both in whatever sequence you like to either soak in how it happened or enjoy what it became. - Sharda Ugra
Bhaichung's masterclass against Bagan
It's one of the most storied Kolkata derbies in history -- the Federation Cup semi-final of 1997 where Mohun Bagan and East Bengal met befor a capacity crowd of 1,30,000 at the Salt Lake Stadium -- footballers who played that game say the actual figure was probably about 30,000 more than that.
Bagan were the outstanding team of that year -- they would go on to win their first national league the following year -- and with their midfield of Basudeb Mondal and Satyajit Chatterjee supplying for a striker of Chima Okorie's quality, it's no surprise Okorie still considers this his best performance in a Mohun Bagan shirt, even though East Bengal ran out 4-1 winners.
This is the second half -- PK Banerjee's East Bengal led by an early goal, and then doubled their advantage in the opening minutes of the second half with Bhutia pulling away from his marker and rocketing a Somatai Shaiza corner into the net past India international goalkeeper Hemanta Dora. The rest of it is all Bagan, who were being kept at bay by some spirited, compact defending. Banerjee's team concede a scorcher of a goal to Okorie, and then the master coach surprises everybody by pulling out midfielder Shaiza and putting on attacking player Shamsi Reza.
For true Bhutia quality, watch between minutes 35 and 40 of the video. Two goals that complete his hat trick, and move Novy Kapadia on commentary -- unfortunately on a slight time lag because of the recording quality -- to compare him first with George Best and then with Romario. - Debayan Sen
Okay, I'm not asking you to watch an entire 40-minute match, but just a tiny, one-and-a-half-minute clip of just how one man - read: Pardeep Narwal - can single-handedly annihilate an entire team within a span of five seconds.
Picture this: A six-man team of Haryana Steelers, basically almost a full team, stand as defenders, trying to block Pardeep, who has just come to raid from the Patna Pirates team. What happens next will blow your mind - and this isn't even clickbait. It really will. He first breaks the chain of the right corner and cover, with his signature dubki, then dashes past the two covers in between, who rush to stop him by pulling his thighs. He falls down, but immediately gets up and speeds towards the mid-line, using his height to his advantage, smoothly gliding past the left corner and cover as the entire team now attempts to block him from left, right and centre.
As it turns out, one man can turn out to be a bit too skillful, even for half a dozen people. - Debdatta Sengupta
This one is for those who are not into self-improvement. Ali, an extortionist played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui, goes about life doing what extortionists are supposed to do in Bollywood films -- being good at heart essentially but threatening people when the opportunity comes their way, and generally going about life in a reckless manner. Totally in character, Ali is quite far from the world of sports. But then one day, he ends up visiting a golf course -- only as part of his job, mind you. Something clicks and it turns out he is a natural at golf, a sports known to Hindi film audiences chiefly for the amount of walking in sylvan surroundings that it requires. Ali takes to the game like a pro -- which he already is, you can argue -- and starts winning on the professional circuit in no time. As far as tales of an outsider shining on the inside go, this is not exactly 'Get Shorty' -- Sohail Khan is the director -- but any relief is welcome these days. - Gaurav Rai
When Yogeshwar Dutt made the biggest stage his own
The 2012 Olympics is when the word 'phitle' made the jump from being a daav (hold/move) that's the preserve of cauliflower-eared men competing in dangals fought on mud to the mainstream Indian sporting lexicon. All it took was wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt pulling it off on the greatest stage possible - a bronze-medal bout at the London Olympics. There's plenty of backstory to this bout against North Korea's Ri Jong-Myong. In his youth, Dutt was considered India's best wrestler, yet now, in his third Olympics, he's ceded top spot to Sushil Kumar. While Sushil already has a bronze medal from 2008 and will add a silver here, Dutt is missing any prize in the hardest tournament there is. He's already lost early in the 60kg freestyle competition to the Russian Besik Kudukhov, but repechage has pulled him into bronze medal contention.
The 'phitle' comes in the third period as things are level after the first two. The technical term for it is the leg lace, but it's going to be immortalised as the 'phitle'. It's a wrestling move that won't seem as novel in the years to come, but Dutt flipping his rival like an omelette all over the place to win an Olympic bronze is still one of the stand out moments in Indian sport. - Jonathan Selvaraj