Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pakistan - Blatant Blackmail

Click Here. Thanks to Times of India.

Long Weekend Round-Up

This was the first long weekend I stayed at home and did nothing else. I made a mad dash 1 day trip to Atlanta for Memorial Day and for July4th, I had a 20 hour day @ Disney. So I actually ended up really taking it easy and slow these 4 days - 12 hour sleep sessions, home cooked food (more out of economic considerations for my ever thinning wallet :P ) and movies on my new tv. Talking about the TV, this was the first thanksgiving where I ended up richer - the TV I got dropped $150 in its price and Circuit City has a 60 day policy that if their prices drop they reimburse 110 percent of the price drop. No wonder they declared bankruptcy. 

Mumbai - The 24-hour invading media coverage was downright "uvaaack". This congress government is the MOST ineffectual government, after the one headed by V.P. Singh and Chandrasekhar. Dr. Manmohan Singh does not have the backbone to demand an extradition of Dawood from Pakistan. All the useless makkal who voted for Congress in 2004, hope you realized your foolhardiness. The only thing the Gandhi family cares about is what is good for Rahul and Priyanka and ofcourse, Sonia Gandhi. The country can go bankrupt, terrorists can play mangaatha at India Gate - they do not care! Wake up and perhaps vote for a better party - I do not subscribe to Narendra Modi's divisive politics, though deep down, I'm not opposed to declaring India as a Hindu Republic. The cost for being secular and inclusive is apparently, is too much to accept people like Deccan Mujahideen (I believe its Indian organization, which means, muslim Indian citizens after enjoying every bit of their citizenry, indulge in this - so let them go to the country which is suited to their needs and desires - Pakistan perhaps) But going by his success against terrorism, he might make a good home minister.

Sunsets at Sunshine Skyway 40 miles away from Tampa are awesome. I had a longish walk around a fishing pier and even on my very nomial camera, these pictures came out good. So imagine how good it must have been in person. (see if you can spot the Dolphin)

Vaaranam Aayiram

The film was quite a refreshing change from what I've seen so far in this year - Dasavadharam, Kuselan, Aegan, Kuruvi etc. The story was honest and most of the segments were interesting and had you engaged and were also, mostly rooted in realism - well, almost.

1. Story - Its a story of a man sharing his reminiscences of his father and the impact has had over him, after coming to
know that his father died. The son is currently on some mission and so cannot return to his home -
so he does the thinking part.

Segment 1: How Dad and Mom met
This is the second weakest segment in the movie. The effective use of the song -
Mundhinam Parthene has been used well to take the story forward without wasting time
and dialogue. The choreography looked weak and somehow you were left wondering
if the song could have been made better.

Segment 2: Surya's (son) childhood
This segment worked - the director established that they were not a well-to-do
family without too much of the exaggerated scenes which we came to see in
Thavamaai Thavamirundhu. The scene where the son says his father was his hero - and
the visual shows his dad driving the lorry is what would appeal to any 5 or 6 year old.

Segment 3: Surya in College/Romance with Meghna (Sameera Reddy)
Without a doubt, the strongest segment in the movie - Gautam Menon had
told this was supposed to be an original movie in itself and it showed in the overall
scheme of things. This segment also had the best placed and best choreographed song - Adiye
Kolludhey. The scenes between Surya and Sameera were 'cute' without trying too much -
a hallmark of Mani Ratnam - and I've already said that GVM is the only probable person to
continue Mani's style in tamizh.

Segment 4: Surya in depressed mode
Was overdrawn and though the way the director shows the child rescue episode
as a positive starting point to Surya's recovery, it did seem like overwrought.
The song Anjala, was basically trying to hammer into you what the scenes were supposed
to be doing - that Surya was dejected, depressed and suicidal. But I felt it could have been
cut at the point where the dad sees his son sprawled out on the floor.

Segment 5: Surya in Army, Divya-Surya falling in love, getting married and Father
falling sick and dying.

This segment was supposed to be a closure to all movie - the romance between
Surya and Divya was half baked and quite superficial and again, this might have been
intended, but compared to the warmth in the Surya - Sameera track. And the make-up and
the way Surya acted as the dad was kind of falling short of expectation, especially after being
used to Kamal in Indian and Naayagan.

2. Direction, Screenplay and Dialogues
Gautam Menon needs to delegate the responsibilities - he needs to grow
into a screenwriter and I believe he should use another screenwriter for his stories.
His direction is definitely good - he can still improve in a few other places, but come on, I
never expected this movie to be this good. While Gautam Menon's dialogs are becoming
stereotypical (much like Mani Ratnam's), they are becoming mundane (not like Mani Ratnam's).

3. Acting
Obviously the movie is Surya's and he comes out looking really good - a dependable actor
prone to the cliched (like the way he played the last days of the dad character). His 6 pack
look will make already drooling female population drool more. Its a pity he is short - a few
more inches and he might have been ideal for his physique. Sameera Reddy is a big
improvement from the 'aunty' whom I saw in Musafir. She is perhaps a good find this year
in Tamizh Cinema. Divya Spandana is boring - she has, perhaps, 2 expressions and when
you see B.S like this , you wonder "En da inda madri sappa figure ellam yeathi vidareenga?"
Simran makes you feel what if she had continued to act more often in tamizh movie. Barring her
make-up, she was really graceful and mature and was a fantastic foil for Surya.

4. Music and BGM
Harris Jayaraj provides you 3 good songs - Adiye Kolludhey, Mundhinam and Nejukkul.
The BGM is nothing big to write about.

On the whole, Vaaranam Aayiram was definitely worth the hype - dependable
acting with a good storyline which does not assume that audiences are imbeciles and idiots.

There were a few flaws like:

1. The fast money in the post graduation phase
2. Surya's sister being totally ignored in terms of character development. While her friend
Divya gets married to Surya and has a kid and all that, Shreya remains unmarried and
living with her parents till the end.
I can go on like this, picking on small details, but again
compared to Vijay kind of movies, this is much much much better. I also liked the meticulous
details like the visa interview and other details were good to see in a tam movie.

Verdict: Paisa Vassol - at $10 per ticket, I felt this movie was good.
P.S: the Audio system totally sucked at this Channelside Cinemas, which is supposed to
be in the most happening part of Tampa and there was this desi software makkal who kept
talking and talking crap-o-shit-o. I searched 10 minutes to get the ideal seats and then these
junta plopped right in the row in front of me and the usual giggles and wisecracks kept me
wanting to shift 10 rows away from them.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Modern Thirumurai

ஒன்றுகண் டீர்உல குக்கொரு தெய்வமும்
ஒன்றுகண் டீர்உல குக்குயி ராவது
நன்றுகண் டீர்இனி அன்பு பழந் 

தின்றுகண் டேற்கிது தித்தித்த வாறே

I know it sounds kind of mushy and wannabe cute and all that, but if someone can suggest another word I have substituted, I'd be happy to change it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

5 Things Beyond My Understanding.... (as on 11/24/2008)

1. If Banks/Finance Sector, Why Not Car Companies?
    AIG got bailed out. The Execs go on a resort holiday gig and get caught on tape . Then Mr. Paulson with the full support of B. Obama, J. McCain and G.W. Bush, pass the bailout package to rescue the economy from the precipe. And today, Citibank was bailed out. As far as I know, Citibank was NOT a retail banking giant. It is a credit card giant - I do not know what to term the bank as other than as a CC giant. In the 3 years I have been here, Citibank has offered every 'theruvile-poravan' with a credit card with some credit limit. And banks which were rescued before Citi were ones which had literally acted as namba ooru 'seth' with their rates and lures. I'm not an economics/finance guru, but from the limited information available online, I believe that th Govt. would guarantee the bad debts and write off a portion of it - so who benefits from this? The financial institution. But does the credit history of a person who took the loan get modified/revised to show that the bank got that loan written off? NO. It is going to be the proverbial albatross around their neck for the good part of the foreseeable future. When all this is okay and not 'socialism' why does helping GM, Chrysler and Ford whose lack of foresight and lack of efforts to try to develop R&D in fuel efficiency in the 70s and 80s was limited by the budgetary partiality that defense and space technology got during the Cold War, being scored by the powers that be? While Japan with the comfortable knowledge that US was bound to provide it armed forces in times of a conflict was able to concentrate on R&D in electronics and automobiles, you know what happened in this part of the earth..... So, what is the big deal in giving $40 bn to the auto makers when AIG was given 85 bn. to be bailed out of the crisis? And if the auto makers CEO's act of travelling by a private plane was symbolically and politically incorrect, did the guys who doled out a generous measure to AIG demand the money back when its execs 'whored' around with public money?

2. Sachin - Dhoni controversy.
    All during the 90s and early part of 2000s there was unanimous decision by all concerned that there was only one BEST batsman in Cricket and in particular, ODI, going by the name S.R. Tendulkar. No! The critics were quite intent to point out that Sachin was NOT a match winner. They said the end mattered more than the means. Which was why half baked people like Ganguly and Gilchrist were written about in the same sentence as SRT. I accept that perhaps post 2007 WC, SRT has nothing left to play for. And currently, he is the highest scorer in Tests and ODIs and has the most centuries and 50s in both forms. Except for his personal reasons (which I'm not privy to,), based on pure cricketing logic, I do not see a point in SRT continuing any further. The team is able to do well without him and if he left now, it might be a good thing for a youngster like Badrinath or Raina to cement their place in the team. While this is on one hand, I genuinely believe that M.S Dhoni is the best thing that happened to Indian Cricket in the last 10 years. He brings with himself, a pragmatic approach to Indian cricket and has the guts and gumption to own his decisions in defeats and wins. Its an altogether different story that the Indian team is seemingly more invincible than ever under MSD. But now the critics are quick to point out that MSD is not the classical batsman nor the best wicketkeeper. Now they start questioning the technicalities behind Dhoni's swat shot (the one which looks like he is swatting flies with his bat) and his tendency to 'follow' the ball (physically) when keeping. So why are they hesitant to give MSD or SRT their just due?

3. Vaaranam Aayiram Vs Thirupachi/Veru-p-paachi/Ma*ira-pochi
    I have not yet seen the movie as a whole but did see some scenes on Youtube and Google Videos and did see some scenes which the so called critics panned (especially check out IndiaGlitz which 'subtly' kalachifies Vaaranam Aayiram in their articles) and found it was quite okay. Recent reviews also confirmed my view that Gautam Vasudev Menon might be the next Mani Ratnam in the making. Wait! There has been no Nayagan yet, but the symptoms are there, no doubt. So, when Vijay (if there is one guy who deserves to be banned from Tamizh Cinema, it is this one and perhaps followed by Ajith) can do all mushy things in the worsht way possible and people are prepared to take it, calling it MASS, why can't take V1000 in that spirit, too?

4. The wondrous ways of the GoI
    I agree that TCS, Infosys and other IT companies have contributed immeasurably to the GDP and the Indian economy in general. But, why do these well-off companies keep getting preferential sops in taxes? Why does the Govt have a process in place to tax the IT companies depending on their profit margins and try to develop the other industries like Manufacturing Sector and Agriculture? And the biggest puzzle is why does TATA Group - which claims to be the most patriotic and transparent pvt. sector company deserve so many salugaigal for its Nano plant?

5. The Bucs syndrome
    John Gruden must rank as one of the most lucky guy - he won a ring which should have gone to Dungy. And after that winning season, Bucs have been all downhill. The best QB we've had is Jeff Garcia - a 38 year old who is perhaps a couple of seasons from retirement. The Bucs make it play off almost everytime to lose the first play off and come back home. So we don't get a good draft pick and we do the same process year after year. Gruden never seems to get sacked and we never get a good QB.

Ghajini - First Impressions

Is no Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Naa.... Rahman defintiely has taken it easy here. But the first song - Guzarish is a super number. Rashid Ali is turning out to be this year's Naresh Iyer - Kabhi Kabhi Aditi and now, Guzarish.

Listen below:

Guzarish - Javed Ali & Sonu Nigam

The also rans:


Trust Pilot

For those of you scouting online for deals on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, this is a good plug-in: Trust Pilot .

The only negative of this Plugin is that it works ONLY with Internet Explorer. No Mozilla or Chrome. This works well, I tested this out with known scam websites and it did mark them as unsafe.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Andromeda GIANT

2008 has not been kind to celebrities I like - Kumble retired, Raghuvaran died and now, Michael Crichton . He, apart from P.G. Wodehouse, J. Archer, R.K. Narayan and Sir A.C. Doyle (Sherlock Holmes series only) are the only authors whose every work I've read.

I believe he was my first author of fiction, post the days I used to be hooked on to Three Investigators and Hardy Boys. Jurassic Park and Lost World were the early baits and I loved Congo, Andromeda Strain and more recently, State of Fear, which was an excellent quasi-fiction book (a classification which I extend to books like Da Vinci Code by D. Brown and Three Musketeers by A. Dumas) which mixed fact and fiction so well, that you are simply left awestruck at the end. I have a tendency to play the Devil's Advocate in arguments (just to get under the skin of people) and whenever its global warming, I argue that it is all B.S and I liberally borrow from Crichton's work :)

If you've never read Cricton, I'd recommend these:
1. Lost World (The movie was pure B.S. The book is awesome!!!!)
2. Jurassic Park
3. Andromeda Strain
4. State of Fear
5. Prey (I used to do research on MEMS and NEMS - so I liked it)
6. Timeline (for some strange reason I like it, give it a try)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Circuit City Closing Down

List of stores closing down - Click Here.

With Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Holiday Shopping Season around the corner, these closing stores might have deadly deals. People in CA and TX are the most to benefit.

DRAT! None in Tampa are closing down :(

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Gentle Giant - A Farewell

Anil Kumble, the best matchwinner for India in test match cricket, when also played alongside 3 players - Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Vangarippu Venkata Sai Laxman talks tonnes as to why he deserves the Giant tag and the fact that not many really have realized his being the best match winner justifies the gentle (and modest) tags. My best memories of Kumble are the 6-12 in the Hero Cup final, obviously the 10 wicket magic (courtesy: A.V. Jayaprakash) and the bandaged Kumble bowling in the caribbean.

Some snippets from Cricinfo:



And Dravid opines,

Anil works hard for the team, and not just with ball in hand. When he
was recovering from his shoulder injury, he didn't stay at home; he
came to the Indian camp and assisted Bhajji and the other spinners.
When the player contracts had to be decided on, he took the trouble to
sift through and understand the issues. Never does he shy away from
responsibility. He has stood up to be counted, and courted controversy
if required.

And so, salute the legend, who is never understood as one. Adios, Jumbo.

Tamil Cinema Initiative

A group on people in Orkut Tamizh Cinema are trying to come up with a list of 100 Tamil Movies - which will feature movies which receive the maximun number of votes. They are interested in coming up with a genuine list and not ones which would be crowd pleasing. So please mail me your list of movies, preferably, covering the 60s, 70s and 80s (if possible) along with other recent ones. Mail your lists to karthiksriram[at]gmail[dot]com.
The ultimate goal is to come up with a video featuring montage shots and bits about these movies from people who voted (you). You can even send us a short video bit of you giving your 2 cents on a movie and it might be in the final cut too. This project is turning out to be much bigger than what the initiative originally planned with some big names about to become involved. So you never know with what names yours would be placed in the final video. So please take 5 minutes off and mail me the list.