Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 - The Year of SRT

To the man who has had a wonderful year - breaking ground on the 50 test centuries terrain and beating all the young, T20 bashers to scoring ODI's first 200 and of course, taking the Mumbai Indians to the IPL final - Sachin has done it all.

Truly, blessed are we to have been able to watch this genius in live action. If at all there exists anyone/thing that can be called God's Gift to India, SRT is the one.

Thanks to Cricinfo/Getty Images for the picture.

Friday, October 01, 2010


Sci-Fi movies have been rare in Tamizh movies. The genre is a difficult one - especially given the fact that the exposure of people, to enable them to think akin to the Matrix or the Bicentennial Man, is going to be difficult outside of the major cities in TN. Shankar, thanks to Sujatha's collaboration (my suspicion), has been able to deal with the concept/question of 'what if machines could feel emotions?' in a way that is very layman friendly.
Instead of trying to do a structured review, I think let me collate things that made me clap my hands (nod to where I'm writing this!)
  • Rajni Kanth - he is there in every scene of the movie and has stood up and delivered in a way that only he can. Thankfully, the movie had zilch heroism/image boosting scenes. Having said that, Rajni shows us a sneak peek into his power-packed performance days of 70s and 80s by playing the character of the Robot quite well. His robot character pretty much dominates the second half of the movie and if done badly would have caused a nasty stink. His comic timing, dialog delivery timing are almost impeccable and make us wish that he can turn the clock backwards and start growing younger. Of course, there were scenes where you were able to see through the make up of the scientist Rajni Kanth; But it is only a sad attestation to the fact even when he is 60 years old, there is no other lead actor who can take over the mantle from him. In terms of style and charisma, Rajni beats Vijay, Ajith, Surya, Vikram and all later actors put together black and blue. If any other actors claims to aspire to be the replacement to the Superstar title, they should be made to watch Endhiran and that will cure them of their conceit and vanity.
  • Graphics/Props - for Tamizh Cinema standards, the special effects, props and graphics were fantastic. Special mention has to go the sequences with multiple robots and the scenes where the skeletal robot makes its appearances. Lots of times money is spent in tamizh cinema on song sets and costumes (Shankar himself being the guilty one lots of times) - but here Shankar (and of course Sun Pictures) have put the gargantuan budget to good use. The detailing in some scenes and real life dynamics that have been incorporated into some scenes were quite good, again, considering we are talking about a tamizh movie.
  • Story/Screenplay - After some patchy work like Boys and Sivaji in terms of story and screenplay, Shankar makes a refreshing switch back to his halycon days of Mudhalvan, Indian with a solid story with a screenplay that kept me from looking at my watch for the entire running duration - a feat that only few tamizh movies have lived upto recently. Though not entirely flawless, I would say that Shankar's admission that this script was thought of a decade ago is true, given that is very well thought out and laid out like a crisp dosai!
  • Background Music/Songs - ARR - enough said!
Try as I might, it is difficult to pick a negative (fanatics of arthouse cinema, indie film junkies and perfection pattabhiramans, will not be seeing this movie and would not be reading this review as well!); But if I had to, the only thing would have been that though Rajni Kanth pulled off the role of the robot, it would have been amazing to see him in his youth doing the same role.
After a really really long time, I have seen a tamizh movie in the theaters which has made me feel that it was worth every cent!! Not often do you see a costly and hyped movie living up to its expectations, but Endhiran does; and I think Shankar owed me a big one after ditching me and robbing me of my money in Sivaji!!

If you liked Endhiran as well, go ahead and review it at

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Get Ready Folks!!

Thalaivar back to form. I hope Shankar does far better than Sivaji - The graphics in the movie is fantastic - almost comparable to Hollywood standards! Sep 24th, can't wait for it!!!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fake Email - A Rant

I keep getting these obviously fake emails - from places like Uganda, Nigeria etc. I really do not know which moron will even believe these fake-sters. In fact there is a variant of this that tells you that you are being offered a $10000 per month job in some god forsaken place on an oil rig. The next time I get that, I'm going to put it up here as well: So here is you dose of humor for the day:

This office received an instruction to release your payment.The chairman Africa union (au) in conjunction with his European union (eu) counterpart have agreed to ensure that the good relationship existing between them is re-echoed and therefore have decided to make payments to all beneficiaries been owned by Africa union member states via contracts,inheritance and lottery winnings/other related payments.
In their recent interview with British broadcasting co-operation (bbc) they agreed that the recent grant to African union be utilized for the payment of such debts through our bank. However the (au) secretariat will handle all the processing to avoid the battered image of our continent concerning financial transaction.
You are hereby requested to choose from the below options of payment for confirmation.

Requirement : Your bank details.

Requirement :Your present home/office contact information.
3) Automated Telegraphic Machine (ATM)
Requirement :Your present home/office contact information.

We wait to hear from you .
Yours faithfully,
Mr Edward Van (SECRETARY).



Tuesday, August 24, 2010


When you are the son in a household with one son and one daughter, you pretty much learn the basic fact that your role in the general auspicious days in the household is to be the 'edupudi', helping my folks to move objects, cleaning spaces and of course, going out to get the items for the festivities. The one day in the year when the guy in the house is given a token 'vanakkam' is on the Aavani Avittam. You get asked if you would like Poli or Sakkaraipongal. In spite of it being a fleeting moment of being attended to, it is a reassuring feeling.

Till the time I was in school, the advantage of studying in a 'nambalavaa' school was that Aavani Avittam was declared a holiday and the school used to start late on Gayatri Japam day. The only catch to the Aavani Avitam holiday was since you were not supposed to eat anything before doing sandhyavandhanam and the fact that typically the main food was served at 11am meant that you had to wake up early, bathe, do sandhyavandhanam, then go to the samithadhaanam and then do Kaamo-kaarsheeth japam and then the poonool changing meant that as soon as the 3 course meal was served, you pretty much crashed for 2 or 3 hours after that. The disadvantage with these one-off holidays in India is that once you sleep during the afternoon, once you wake up, you feel depressed that you lost the day. One more round of batchanam in the afternoon and religiously do the evening sandhyavandhanam (you feel guilty if you don't do it as the entire day revolves around the poonool) and do 'palakaaram' (consisted of good tiffin material - Dosai, Chappathi kinds) and then since I was supposed to not have rice, do a mega round of fruits after the tiffin and then go to bed. All this made the task of waking up on Gayatri Japam all the more difficult. You still had to, and you religiously use all counting tools (fingers, thannile kodu, dharbai pichu podudhal) you make sure you exactly say the mantram 1008 times. Then, the advantage of studying in the 'nambalavaa' school was that you could proudly display your 'nambalavaa' traits of forehead markings and kinda overdo the part by having painted wrist and arm markings. You and the most of your 'nambalavaa' classmates talk about how you did/did not do the 1008 thingy (this was in middle school). If you were in high school, then sufficient care was taken to wipe out the marking sufficiently so that there is just a hint of it, leaving people to guess whether your were religious or not. Oh, the stupidity you go through during adolescence.

Once you go to college, though the Aavani Avittam day goes as usual, Gayatri Japam does not come with a late start. So you hurry through the 1008 and you are extra careful to wipe out all traces of your early morning activities and you go to the college bus stop and take extra care to make it seem that it was just another day. The fact that I studied in one of the most wannabe colleges in Chennai meant that you had to publicly disassociate any link to 'nambalavaa' activities. You could either do this by going and eating 'chicken pizza' in Pizza Hut, eat from the same plate with nanbargal and do all those cinematic stuff or silently not commit to being a believer. You just shrugged off questions regarding Aavani Avittam and carried on as if it were just another day.

Once I came here, the first year was marked by an extra-ordinary enthusiasm to follow our rituals in this 'ayal'naadu. With typical trademark vetti scene that characterizes me, I not only went through the rituals myself but also forcibly dipped my two room-mates in the Aavani avittam sauce as well. But unfortunately, none of us could cook well and so we ended up going to an Indian restaurant and I ended up eating onion chutney - talk about irony. I think God kind of decided that I was too dangerous to be left alone and so I ended up being a part of the 3-S veedu, where one of the S, he of the perfect tambrahm cooking skills and the perfect vetti scene skills took me under his wing for all Aavani Avittam days. He pretty much made sure that I at least said the correct version of the chants (Dakshine paarswe v PaschimE Parswe) and made sure I did not do 'aagadha' karynam such as putting the discarded poonool on the Southern side or using the wrong pavithram etc. This year, I had to be travelling on Aavani Avittam. I always consider that sometimes coincidences seem to favor me. On that vein, I ended up travelling to the same city where S lives. And the height of coincidence being my work and hotel being 15 minutes away from his place. So I almost invited myself to his house in the morning and went through the ceremony and in the evening, went to his home and had dosai and chutney (made the authentic way using wetgrinder and India mixie). I have on various occasions, questioned whether God likes me or not, but today, I can say, I was one of God's favorite beings.

David McCandless: The beauty of data visualization | Video on

David McCandless: The beauty of data visualization | Video on

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sins Against Gender Stereotype Tag

After RealNirmal tagged me, he has at least on 10 occasions reminded me of how evil I'm to not complete a simple tag. From what I understand we gotta say traits in us that go against the typical gender stereotype.

1. Cleaning
I like to clean my apartment, car, desk.. whatever that can be cleaned. I'm quite religious when it comes to cleaning that I get multiple cleaning utilities - Clorox Wipes, Microfiber cloth etc. I do not mind if things are scattered around and look clumsy, but I cannot bear to see things with a layer of dust or strands of hair on the floor etc. The only time that I do not clean is when I'm mentally preoccupied. In fact, when I'm going through phases of unhappiness/distress, the first signs of it are a dirty car and apartment. I also love to clean my utensils. I believe more in me cleaning the utensils than on the dishwasher. Talk about being an engineer.

2. Shoes
I have a collection of shoes - literally. I cannot wear the same pair of shoes to work two consecutive days. I have a belief that if I wear the same pair of shoes everyday, I'd put my foot at risk of an infection.

3. Shaving
I hate shaving. While I know its good to sport different beard styles, one of my secret wishes is for some technology to either make shaving a monthly once activity or, better, once-for-all activity.

4. Gambling/Poker
While anyone who is someone knows to play the Texas Hold'em, I do not know ANYTHING about Poker. In fact through most of the movie 21, I was just wondering what the hell the game was. I have never been to a casino or Vegas. My only reason to Vegas, if at all, would be to see the sights and shows that are famous.

I really cannot think of anything else being my sin against my gender.

I really do not believe in tagging folks, so if you are interested, go ahead and spill the beans.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

American Airlines

I generally try to avoid American Airlines, the company that has led the way in customer dissatisfaction for a long while now, in my opinion. Though they might whip out some random study that shows they are best or whatever, my co-workers and I have all had really bad experiences with them, consistently. Yesterday was no exception. At Dallas Fort Worth airport, the flight to Tampa had its gate changed three times, and each time from one corner of the terminal to the other. And the icing on the cake being there was not even a hint of an apology from the personnel announcing the gate change. They had the smugness that comes from the knowledge that the passengers have already paid money and are about to be screwed, one way or the other. And the flight was delayed by an hour and 15 minutes and again, till we got into the plane, there was no hint of any reason as to why it was delayed or an apology. Once we got in, there was an apology all right, but for all the passengers, there was no reason offered as to why they are being delayed on a flight for which they have paid money in advance.

All this reiterates my opinion that American Airlines is one of the worst airlines companies in America. Never again will I make the mistake of booking a ticket with them, even if the next ticket is 100-200 dollars more expensive.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Homo Phobia and Intolerance

With the recent ruling in California annulling Proposition 8 - Marriage Protection Act, immediately, a section of population erupted saying that Planet Earth is going to be overrun by Homosexuals and all that.

It is quite interesting to note how people have labelled a particular trait in humans that has been scientifically ruled out to be a conscious choice is generating so much of intolerance from folks. Given enough padding for the demographic inequalities, I can surely make a statement that the number of heterosexual sex offenders is greater than homosexual offenders - the dehumanizing that section of the population seems to more a result of the fear of the unknown than anything that is qualified.

As soon as I make an argument like this, the immediate question from some acquaintances is whether I'm gay. While it is interesting to see that people assume that if you are just portraying how intolerant people are, they assume that you have a personal stake in the issue. While I have never had a gay friend/acquaintance (at least not openly or known to me), I don't think I can see a couple of guys making out (I exactly stopped watching Sean Penn's Milk in the first 5 minutes and I never had the gumption to see 'those' parts of Brokeback Mountain), I don't think that should influence my tolerance towards a microcosm in the population that is increasingly being portrayed as evil, sex maniacs and what not.

While this is one side of the story, the homosexual populace does not endear itself to the other section by displaying outright 'weird' habits - like guys sporting perfectly shaped eye brows, wearing some ill fitting clothes and of course talk without any 'raagam' and feminine hand movements and all that. The other day, at the airport I saw a guy who was wearing a ill fitting Golden jacket and a big peacock feather on his neck. All this outward declarations and crazy dressing does not help this group to be seen as just another group of people by the section which is already scared of what it does not know/understand.

But the biggest surprise has to be Glenn Beck supporting the ruling and of course, my question to Comedy Central is when they are planning to screen Sarah Palin interviews as a part of regular programming.

Monday, August 02, 2010


Perhaps the most well remembered part of my childhood would be watching SRT bat. I did not have the opportunity to see Albert Einstein or P.G. Wodehouse. But I will always be glad that I saw SRT in action. To me when it comes to the art of batting, there is God, then there was Bradman and now it is SRT. {In ODIs he is in a level of his own - but the World Cup scar remains! :( }

I think I can tell generations after me that I have watched Sachin play live in action - and I think that shall define the sports experience of my age. There cannot be a more hounded public figure who has never had any scandals or gossip or other dirt attached to him. There has been no other player who has simply represented India on the wold stage like he has and like he will.

To the best possible man to achieve the ultimate feat of longevity in tests, Salute!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Food for Thought

A very interesting (albeit old) set of videos:

Trivial - No More

I have, over the last one year, had the opportunity to see the impact of online persona over the actual persona. Recently, a few of my friends launched Claps and Boos, which is based on the desire of people to be socially networked online and the other big interest of most Tamizh makkal/Desis - movies. As a part of doing some spadework, I realized how much people let others know of themselves online.

I have over the last one year, hoped to maintain some form of online anonymity. I make sure my updates on Facebook is seen only by people whom I know and trust, deleted my Orkut account and of course, culled out most of the personal references from my blog as well. While people have called me anything from paranoid to being a jerk to keep most of my facebook friends on the other side of the wall (pun intended), I can only say that there is some method to the madness.

Family - Previously when I was in high school, college, there was an easier way to keep family and friends apart - but now it is beginning to get difficult. When a friend puts one number risqué comment on my wall/blog, I'm quite at a dilemma as to what to do. I hate to delete people's posts/comments as I do not believe in censorship - but, I can only imagine my mom doing a double take seeing some of the stuff that my friends seem to say/write. I have not solved this one just as yet as the only other way is to put my family on the other side of the wall - which will have serious repercussions which I do not desire. Right now, I think my family is becoming sane enough to realize what to see and what not to see. :) And recently, when Orkut Tamizh Cinema Community was hacked by a moron and was held to ransom, I realized how open/vulnerable personal information is when some idiot tries to hack you over reasons that are so stupid, that it is not worth risking your family's online information - especially when you have a substantially younger sister. Nothing is worth seeing your family pulled into the public over some stupid (non-)reasons

Work - Recently, when my company was trying to hire someone, my manager walked up to me and asked me to do some Facebook/LinkedIn research on a potential candidate he is vetting. even though I knew since 2006 that people were looking into these stuff, being asked to do that and finding some information that was really not pleasant to report to my manager has created a permanent scar on me to ever attempt a completely transparent online profile of any sort - especially Facebook which is supposed to be a completely personal application. I do maintain that I try to have a different set of actions at work - just because of the industry we work for, I cannot be as opinionated as I'm in my personal life. So, that has a great deal in this desire to be anonymous.

Friends - This is one of the prime reasons, though its been listed third; I have over the course of last few years, gotten to know some fantastic people online - with Blogeswari, Hawkeye and MeThinks topping the list, who, I would have never known if not for the internet. In fact, internet has also been responsible for me knowing RealNirmal better from the image I had of him from my college days - he had a particular nickname which was not easy to like, you see! :)  But for the past couple of years, I have been waging a battle against many of my friends' perceptions of what certain comments/blog-posts/wall posts mean. While I have completely avowed my lack of trust/interest over finding any kind of relationship online, people seem to want to give their own spin to what I say, the pictures I post etc. This is fine when it happens to be tongue in cheek comments from people I know well, but sometimes some idiots online do not know the level of liberty to take and barge in on a completely personal thread with a friend. Decidedly random acts of adding people, liking something online are given twists to bizzare, that I have stopped accepting any friend requests from people I do not know!

To summarize, I want to see whether I can doctor/cultivate my online image. I have already seen some success as some of the folks who read my blog think I'm an extreme right wing guy, while people who talk to me in person are of the decided opinion that I'm quite on the other side of the world. So far so good, lets see!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

$75,000 Needed

For all those of you who think you owe me something, please feel free to contribute towards this expense. I accept checks, credit cards, cash and for the really interested, the book itself.

Please note that any dhaanam and dharmam done towards one number ezhai brahmanan will make your life sezhuchify.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

LeBron (Loser) James

Michael Jordan - Six Time NBA Champion. Brought a franchise which no one knew of - Chicago Bulls - into a major brand the world over. Two Three-Peats, an amazing college career as well. The greatest basketball (NBA) player ever. No arguments. If you had 3 seconds, trailing by 2 points, the man you want to pass the rock to is this guy.

Magic Johnson - Five time NBA Champion. Took a perennial runner up team ALL-THE-WAY. Magic Johnson rejuvenated Lakers like anything that they were finally able to take the fight up to the Green Monster of NBA - Celtics. Could play all positions, from being the Robin to Kareem Abdul Jabbar's Batman, Magic became Batman and much more. If you take players who can be spoken of in the same breath as Jordan, Magic is right up there.

Kobe Bryant - The best player NBA has produced after Jordan and Magic. He was a part of a three-peat, then saw his team enter a rebuilding mode, get thrashed in the play-offs, lose the greatest coach ever Phil.J - he got so frustrated that he almost though of quitting Lakers - but DIDN'T. He stuck it out, saw Dr. Buss get Pau and build a roster from scratch around Kobe and one of the best role players ever - Derek Fisher. The Lakers still got mauled by Celtics in the finals in 2008. But came back and won it all in 2009 (Championship and the Finals MVP) and did a repeat in 2010. And with Phil.J coming back, Kobe has a chance to emulate Jordan in being the player to be a part of two three-peats. He is the undisputed king of LA. And right now, if there is one player who can aspire to be spoken of in the same breath as MJ, it is Kobe.

Larry Bird - if there is one player I reluctantly hate it is Larry Bird. The reason I hate is because he played for Celtics - the team I absolutely, completely hate. Add to that that he thwarted Magic from the championship - you get the picture. But this man ruled the court like few did. As much as I hate to admit - he is one great player.

Notice a similarity? All the players achieved greatness with one team - they went through feast and famine with the same team. And they emerged stronger and perhaps cast their reputations and legacy in rock solid iron.

LeBron James - He has in his one hour of egotistic, self glorification porn fest has given Cleveland (and Ohio) the most brutal and unkindest cut of all - while the 'The Drive' was 5 Minutes and 2 seconds long, 'The Catch', 'The Fumble' and 'The Shot' took a few seconds as well - what LeBron did was to kill the fans of Cleveland and then patiently and clinically chop them into fine pieces. I was not able to see the telecast the second that he declared he is going to South Beach.

LeBron - you will never be spoken of in the same way of the folks listed above. You will be another Kevin Garnett - you might win 5 championships or even 6 - one for each year you have signed up for Heat - but you are the scum man. You lost the respect of fans and Cleveland folks as well. You are a WIMP. You did not have the heart of a champion and more importantly, the character to be a Jordan or a Kobe. Go and ride on Wade's coat tails. I hope Cleveland wins the championship before your tenure at Heat ends - just to bloody sully your already sullied face. YOU SUCK!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Hinduism and Science

Thanks to Huffington Post.

Religion comes into conflict with science when it is defined by unprovable claims that can be dismissed as superstitions, and when it treats as historical facts stories that read like legends and myths to non-believers. Other aspects of religion -- what I would consider the deeper and more significant elements -- are not only compatible with science but enrich its findings. The best evidence of this is science's response to the religions of the East over the course of the last 200 years. As the French Nobel laureate Romain Rolland said early in the 20th century, "Religious faith in the case of the Hindus has never been allowed to run counter to scientific laws." The same can be said for Buddhism, which derives from the same Vedic roots.

Most of the Hindu gurus, Yoga masters, Buddhist monks and other Asian teachers who came to the West framed their traditions in a science-friendly way. Emphasizing the experiential dimension of spirituality, with its demonstrable influence on individual lives, they presented their teachings as a science of consciousness with a theoretical component and a set of practical applications for applying and testing those theories. Most of the teachers were educated in both their own traditions and the Western canon; they respected science, had actively studied it, and dialogued with Western scientists, many of whom were inspired to study Eastern concepts for both personal and professional reasons.
As early as the 1890s, Swami Vivekananda spent time with scientific luminaries such as Lord Kelvin, Hermann von Helmholtz, and Nikola Tesla. "Mr. Tesla thinks he can demonstrate mathematically that force and matter are reducible to potential energy," the swami wrote in a letter to a friend. "I am working a good deal now upon the cosmology and eschatology of Vedanta. I clearly see their perfect unison with modern science." Had Vivekananda lived three years longer, he would have rejoiced in Einstein's discovery of E = mc2, which united matter and energy forever.
In the early decades of the 20th century, the great sage and Indian independence leader Sri Aurobindo, who had studied in England, blended East and West by extending Darwinian concepts to the evolution of consciousness and the cosmos. In 1920, Paramahansa Yogananda set a precedent by calling his first lecture in the West "The Science of Religion." He befriended a number of scientists, growing so close to the great botanist Luther Burbank that he dedicated hisAutobiography of a Yogi to him. Later, Swami Satchidananda, whose own teacher, Swami Sivananda, had been a successful physician before becoming a monk, encouraged the scientific study of Yoga; one of his early students was Dr. Dean Ornish, whose groundbreaking research sprang directly from Satchidananda's teachings. And Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, even before he became famous as the Beatles' guru, prodded scientists into studying the physiology of meditation, setting in motion an enterprise that has now produced over a thousand studies.
The interaction of Eastern spirituality and Western science has expanded methods of stress reduction, treatment of chronic disease, psychotherapy and other areas. But that is only part of the story. Hindu and Buddhist descriptions of higher stages of consciousness have expanded psychology's understanding of human development and inspired the formation of provocative new theories of consciousness itself. Their ancient philosophies have also influenced physicists, among them Erwin Schrödinger, Werner Heisenberg and J. Robert Oppenheimer, who read from the Bhagavad Gita at a memorial service for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In his landmark TV seriesCosmos, Carl Sagan called Hinduism the only religion whose time-scale for the universe matches the billions of years documented by modern science. Sagan filmed that segment in a Hindu temple featuring a statue of the god Shiva as the cosmic dancer, an image that now stands in the plaza of the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva.
The relationship between science and Eastern spiritual traditions -- which many prefer to think of as psychologies -- is still in its infancy. In recent years, the Dalai Lama has carried the ball forward, hosting conferences and encouraging research. Western religions would do well to emulate this history. Their historical and faith-based claims conflict with empirical science and probably always will; but to the extent that their practices directly impact human life, they can be treated as testable hypotheses.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Current Events - Rant for the month

Its been a while since I saw 'The Daily Show' or 'The Colbert Report' my source of humor, satire and of course, news! Things I learnt over the last few days are:

1. Vivos Doomsday bunker

Fox News is fast becoming Paranoids Anonymous by trying to scare people out of their wits just because there is a black democrat president in the office. While anyone who is an American has to be feeling thankful for the fact that they survived W - the greatest catastrophe let loose on this country, Fox News is trying to scare the living daylights out of anyone who cares to see that moron channel. The dollar is sinking, jobs are being shipped abroad, terrorists are planning to annex America, Mexico is planning to release Swine Flu 2.0 blah blah blah. The top of the scare mongers is this guy Sean Hannity - he is a lying, two faced journo (I'm using the word Journo very very loosely here) who is fine with convicted felons working on his show, but questions Obama's citizenship (which is now so boring that seriously this dude needs to stop referring to it). In fact, I can challenge any one to see Fox News for a week and still say they are not depressed or feeling some kind of psychological disorder.So on top of all this comes this.

Now, come on, do these guys think that people will seriously buy this kinda of scare fueled services? And apart from providing a service that is seemingly safe from Nuclear, Volcano, Terrorist attacks, the best of the features are protection against PLANET X (if a planet collides with Earth), Global Tsunami and ANARCHY. If at all there is going to be any anarchy, then it will be from those folks who are Fox News Patronizers. Those of the tea party group which will not pay taxes but will complain if the roads are not of the pristine quality they expect them to be. Touche, Fox news and terra vivos!

2. English Sports

Be it any sport, England always has a team that is a contender. In fact barring the World T20 title that they have won recently, their soccer and cricket teams have sucked pretty much in every major event. But that does not stop them from tagging themselves as contenders for the title every time. So it was with utmost glee that I saw them being bundled out in their own jock straps to the ol' country. Rooney who looks like Paa Amitabh (he is 24 years old and balder than Rajini Kanth, no less), is a hyped up guy any day. Of all the superstars who came into this World Cup, I think he had the least time under the spotlight. I was hoping he would be his usual self and kick some one in their balls and get red carded out - unfortunately did not happen.

3. Rahul Gandhi

I really do not understand why this guy gets so much attention. After Ilayathalapathy Vijay, one guy who is completely unsuitable for the job he is doing/wants to do is Rahul Gandhi. Looking like a cross between a lost puppy and those 'pseduo intelluctual', jeans and kurta wearing leftist guys (this category of jeans kurta, kurundhaadi, kudumi hairstyle guys deserve an entire post - for being the most wannabe bunch ever), the media tries to hype this guy to glory. Recently, there was a poll on CNN-IBN (yeah, the same guys who are also paid for being the PR for the Congress party) or NDTV (again, belonging to the league of Congress Chamchas) asking something about R. Gandhi's marriage and what he should wear etc. All this when there is a global recession and economic uncertainty. Surely, the Gandhi family continues to be a primary hindrance to any progress that India might make. And on the same topic of how Congress and Gandhi family has screwed India, seemingly, the way that Anderson got let go in the Bhopal Tragedy seems very close to how the Hindujas and Quattarochchi was let go in the Bofors scam. Vaazhgha Jananaayagam, vaazhgha Gandhi Pugazh!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Kill the Brahmin - 1

After a really long time, I saw that Krish Ashok and Hawkeye had had a tete-a-tete, albeit of less friendly nature. Its a subject that has been argued ad nauseum and I hope this post does not end up being one more to the heap. 

Tamizh Nadu has been the recipient of lousy atheist propaganda ever since I could remember. Those calling out against the caste system calling out a section of the population as "Paarpan", a tamil scholar explaining that the meaning of the word Hindu in Sanskrit is 'Thirudan' when sitting and having soup for Ramadan with a group of Islam following folks, bad mouthing the saint of kanchi as a hoax, but not having the nerve to call out that 90 percent of terrorism in India spawns from the faulty interpretation of Islam. But we (Tamizh makkal) of course are 'sotraal aditha pindangal' and so conveniently forget that such hypocritical guys are being called as statesman, pagutharivaali etc.

From what I have noticed recently is that all this 'sick'ularism that we have been force fed from our childhood has made people get confused and more often than not self-deprecating. I have met countless tam-brahm friends of mine who speak about how Brahmins encouraged slavery, how reciting the vedas is a trait of atavism and how we, mankind, is at its technological peak. What I'm trying to do here is to just ask a few questions to this section of the population which says vedas are humbug, trying to pass off as 'modern, sophisticated, educated' folks who will bad mouth brahmins, hinduism at every easy opportunity.

1. Stories based on Vedas are Bullshit - they are not believable.
The most consistent argument I have seen from people who do not want to believe in the Vedas is that how they came about to be. They say how can saints/scholars listen to the wind and write down the vedas? They argue that the cell phone technology is so advanced only now and all the yada yada. The best thing about our current generation/mankind is the kind of arrogance that leads them to say that we are at the technological peak that was never seen before. But there is historical proof that humans from BC era were able to predict movement of stars, the lunar and solar cycle and of course the Vedas, much before Galileo or Kepler, very correctly assumed a heliocentric model. But the yuppie puppies will say that but for Galileo we will be still believing that the Earth is flat. And on the same vein, the same populace do not want to acknowledge the fact that while elsewhere people were nomads, during the reign of Karikal Chozhan, a stone dam was built across the Kollidam river, an engineering feat of no small scale. So the basic assumption that our forefathers were technologically backward though propagated, it is not completely proven. While I don't want to appear puerile or a fantasy lover and say that people in the BC time period had a nuclear reactor or some such stuff, I'd like to just say that we do not know - there is always a chance that mankind lost some technology and we are now discovering them, rather than inventing them. While all pagutharivaalis pounce on me, by your own definition of pagutharivu, kindly prove that such technology did not exist before we go further.

2. Brahmins practiced Untouchability - So they must now be subjugated/submissive
This is a really curious thought that has been drilled into our heads. While no one is going to dispute the fact that Brahmins exploited social conditions and practiced untouchability and other social evils, this tit-for-tat logic seems to be applied to only certain section of the people. India as a country did not have any people following Islam till there was the Mughal invasion. And we all were made well aware of how gruesome the invasion was, how come the same logic being applied to Brahmins not being applied to Muslims, the section of the population who owe their origins to the invaders who raped and plundered India? When the Babri Masjid was demolished by Ram Sevaks, the so called Secularist Flag bearers fondly recalled logic such as "Eye for an eye makes the world blind" but then conveniently bury that logic when it comes to discriminating against Brahmins. While quacks such as Nityananda and other fakesters get their due, Hinduism is portrayed as a barbaric and retarded religion, all the while, conveniently, the secular media in India forgets that the Christian church is being plagued by child molesters and sex offenders who masquerade as men of the faith. Why this double standards? I have no particular love or hate for any religion or community. But why do the so called rational/pagutharivu pazhams not apply the same logic to everyone?

There are a few more thoughts - which shall come later.


Saturday, March 06, 2010

Shutter Island - Scorsese Toys with your Mind

When Tendulkar is at prime form what do we want him to do? Take on the best bowlers - previously it was Akram, Waqar, McGrath, Warne, later Lee and Akthar and now, Dale Steyn. That's what precisely Scorsese has done. He has taken an extremely challenging story and given it in a way that will blow your mind away.

Warning: Please do not wikipedia the movie or read the book. I did not and I enjoyed the movie. Beware of some spoilers below

Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) is a Federal Marshall, a war hero from WW II who is assigned to investigate a disappearing person from the Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane along with another deputy marshall, Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo). The hospital is situated on an island (source of title) whose only connection to the outside world is a ferry controlled by the authorities on the Island - Dr. John Cawley (Ben Kingsley) and his police force. Teddy suspects that the folks on the island are engaged in some unethical activities with patients they are supposed to treat there. Teddy sees that most of the folks on the island are either insane or are coached to act/lie to him. Parallely, some of his past comes back to haunt him as well - his wife's death in particular. And on top of all this, Teddy's migraine get worser by the hour.

The movie now enters a vortex and the twist that comes is a master twist, though it has many 'clues' in the scenes before the actual twist.

The screenplay and direction are terrific. They cause the intended effect on the viewer. The subtle background score raises the tempo and keeps you on the guessing game till the director chooses to reveal his cards. The cinematography, again, chooses to be pliant to the story's needs :)

On the acting front, it is a 2 man show - DiCaprio and Kingsley and both of them try to out do each other. DiCaprio, after Departed, Blood Diamond, Revolutionary Road and now S.I is firmly on track to join the league of celebrated actors.

I'm constrained to not write more as I do not want to give away anything (spoil the movie for most of you). But if you want to really to come out of the theater thinking "Whoa! What did I just see back there??!!", think about this review!

Bottom Line: Haven't you checked when it is releasing in your locale yet? And if it is already released, haven't you booked for the next show?

Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya?

Recently, Tamizh Cinema has been engulfed in a wave of nauseating, stale air of egotistical heroes and creators who have hyped up efforts or have ended up giving movies so bad that at the end of the movie, you saw a wave of people trying to scramble to the exits to go home and douse their burning stomach for shelling out money to another mass masala movie.
Amidst this, விண்ணைத்தாண்டி வருவாயா? (Vinnaiththaandi Varuvaaya)comes as a whiff of odor neutralizer. This movie might not impress folks as one of the classics, but, surely at this point of time when the people who go out to see Tamizh movies are forcefully made to take dip in the 'masala' sauce, Gautam Menon tries to respect the intelligence and the sensibilities of today's audience. He has presented a simple tale - with a good screenplay and of course aided by some very mature, understated performances from his lead pair. And of course, he has also made a masterstroke with some of his casting choices - the best being Ganesh as the Kaakha Kaakha Cameraman character.
The tale in a nutshell is that Karthik (Simbu) and Jessie (Trisha) are living in the same house. While Simbu falling in love is predictable, the twists after that are not the usual fare for the Tamizh Audience. Jessie seems to be modeled on the modern day young woman, who does not know what she wants and the highlight of the movie is that Gautam has shown her wavering mind without making her character seem slightly lunatic, the case with movies like Aanadha Thaandavam. The movie is about whether Karthik and Jessie make the relationship work and make their families happy as well.
Simbu has morphed himself from the his previous unpopular version to a subtle, cool and good looking hero. His reactions and dialog delivery, while reminiscent of Surya in Vaaranam Aayiram - which I think originates from Gautam Menon - are cool and bring that smile on your face. Trisha looks like a freshly minted coin and passes muster in a complex character, based on the scope for heroines in today's movies. I seriously hope that Simbu sticks to this uber cool version and Trisha maintains her radiance and the slight streak of acting talent she has shown in this movie.
The movie has a very strong technical performance from its crew. The first and foremost person who makes you sit up and take notice is Rahman - He has delivered a killer soundtrack with almost every song in the album a noteworthy one. He backs that up with terrific BGM work. I think after Mani, Gautam has been able to get Rahman back to his standards of Alaipayuthey and Kannathil Muthamittal. The psychedelic rock based Aaromale was just a precursor to the influence of rock music in VTV. While Rahman had served classic soft Jazz in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Naa, here in VTV, Rahman has gone into the Pink Floyd - AC/DC mode with some great rock based BGMs in the movie. All pretenders to the throne in Tamizh Film Music move over, the Emperor who was on extended vacation abroad and in Hindi hinterlands, has come back to reclaim his throne with a killer soundtrack giving hitherto unexplored genre in Tamizh Music and depending on the scene, soul stirring, heart warming, rousing and peppy BGM/rerecording.
The next guy to thank would be the camera man, Manoj, who has made sure that the visuals are pleasing, soft, and of course has made the lead pair look cool and romantic. There are a few unusual shot compositions and camera angles which reinforces he is here to stay, especially with what we had already seen in Eeram. It has been a good sign that Tamizh Cinema is unearthing good DoP in the last decade or so with Ravi K Chandran, Santosh Sivan, Rajeev Menon, Nirav Shah, Mani Kantan and a few others, trying to add to the illustrious bracket comprising of Balu Mahendra and P.C. Sreeram.
The final and the force behind the movie is Gautam himself. My respect for this man grows with every movie. After Mani Ratnam (on whom, admittedly, he has modeled himself), here is a Tamizh director whose movies give respect to the viewer. His dialogs at various points in the movie is very apt. While I have always been a proponent of the director not taking on too many hats is a movie, I think Gautam is a person who does well writing dialogs for his stories as he infuses the necessary feel in to the dialogs. While pondering on this it is curious to note that people complain about English dialogs and over urbane feel in his movies - I feel while we have been led to believe that 'realism' is 4-5 bush-bearded, 'its-been-10-days-since-i-took-a-bath' guys, sickles and lungi and beedi, I guess Gautam's movies are representative of another side of reality - the urban middle-class/upper middle class.
On an ending note, I guess there are two people who reiterate what they can do - ARR and Gautam and a few others who show you that they too are relevant in the current day scenario - Simbu and Trisha, the people in question. I just hope they continue their form from VTV onwards into their future movies as well.
Bottomline: Double Thumbs-Up!!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Politics in Tamizh Cinema

Written for Claps and Boos.
Since the time that Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi and Bharat Ratna M.G. Ramachandran used their movies to propagate their ideals to the masses, Tamil films have always had a intertwined relationship with the politics in Tamil Nadu.
While there has been no dearth of actors in politics and politicians in movies in Tamizh Nadu, there have been very few movies dealing with Politics in Tamizh Movies. Here is a look at few of them (not exhaustive or based on any merit - just a few of the recent ones):
  1. Iruvar - This is, in my opinion, one of the best bio-pics made in Tamizh Cinema. Mani Ratnam does an amazing job in picking two characters best known in Tamizh Arasiyal (politics) - that of MGR and Karunanidhi and has based his movie on their lives. (To be politically correct, lets just say they were based). The best thing that Mani Ratnam did was to avoid showing one of them as the villain or a negative character. Anandan's intentions behind politics (To eradicate poverty) and Tamizhselvan's Dravidian philosophy are shown countermanding from the first scene in which Anandan and TamizhSelvan meet. The weakness and insecurity that both these giants of TN Politics go through in the movie are brilliantly portrayed by Mohan Lal who plays Anandhan and Prakash Raj who plays Tamizhselvan. The scene where Anandan comes out on the terrace of Tamizhchelvan's house and sees the crowd is a perfect scene of movie making basics, and of course A.R. Rahman's awe-inspiring BGM. For many Tamizh Cinema fans who complain that Rahman does not do justice to BGMs, please see his works with Mani and you shall know the man's genius. The others in the cast, too, perform amply within the scope - with the pick of them being Gauthami and Rajesh.
  2. Ayitha Ezhuthu - A populist story, Mani Ratnam deals with college politics and how rowdyism has come to play a ever present role in politics. This movie literally revealed two actors to Tamizh Cinema, who have gone places after this movie. First is the best performer in this movie, R. Madhavan, who playing Inbasekar, completely overwhelms you. He is not playing a likeable character - and being recognized as Alaipaayudhey Madhavan, it must have been difficult for him to convince the audience as a out and out moral-less and unscrupulous character. The real victory for Mani and of course, Madhavan is that by the end of the movie, you really hated Inbasekar, which was an accomplishment of sorts, for the public image of Madhavan at that point of time was that of a chocolate boy. The second winner in this movie was Surya - who played a populist, slightly-left student politician, Michael Vasanth. Surya, who had matured through Nandha, grown through Kaakha Kaakha, arrived through Ayitha Ezhuthu. It is interesting to note that R. Madhavan has scaled new heights in Indian cinema with varied and versatile roles in Rang De Basanti and 3 Idiots, while Surya is now a frontline actor who, has carefully balanced mindless masala movies like Aaru and noteworthy, versatile movies like Vaaranam Aayiram. Inspired from Amerros Perros, Mani Ratnam crafted a screenplay wherein a shooting incident is the central spot of meeting for the the three characters in the movie. This movie though, was not one amongst Mani's best efforts and the third track involving Siddarth was not as well developed as one expects in a Mani movie. The other revelation in this movie was Bharathi Raja, who plays the corrupt minister, Selvanayagam who brings such realism to his character that it sometimes hurts! This was the first album where Rahman went all out with an international feel - Dol Dol, Hey Goodbye Nanba and Yakkai Thiri being new sounds for the Tamizh ears. And incidentally, Yakkai Thiri was one of those few songs in Tamizh music that does not have any verbs in it. (Trivia time?!)
  3. Makkal-aatchchi - R.K. Selvamani's masterpiece tells about a the tale of Mamootty, who gets involved in politics purely by chance and rises to the position of a Chief Minister of a state. This movie put in solid scenes what people were till then assuming about the rich and powerful in politics then - that they had little to no ethics, no morals and would go to any lengths for money and power. The movie starts off well and the first half is as good as any other movie in Tamizh Cinema. The second half has lots of twists (some of them unneeded) and at the end of the movie you do not know whether you can believe what our leaders say in the media. Mamootty as expected, takes the honors in the acting department while the movie also boasts of some sharp editing work. The music, as can be expected of non-Ilayaraja or non-Rahman movies of those times is hardly note-worthy.
  4. Mudhalvan - Shankar's take on current affairs and politics, this movie creates a fantasy genre in political movies. Originally supposed to have been scripted for none other than the Superstar Rajni Kanth, this movie, surprisingly has Arjun Sarja in the lead and ends up being one of Arjun's best works - apart from Gentleman and Ayudha Poojai. The movie has a very identifiable cause - that politicians are more concerned about their vote-bank and so resort to caste politics and of course Shankar's pet theme - Corruption. The screenplay is one of the best in TC - there is almost no sag in the story till the end. And the lines by Sujatha were brilliant, especially the interview scene between Pughazendhi (Arjun) and Aranganathan (Raghuvaran). The only complaint with this movie was the romantic angle, played by Manisha Koirala who pretty much comes only for duets. Coming to duets, this movie again has A.R. Rahman at the helm and he churns out delightful numbers and some terrific BGMs too - especially for the scenes when Arjun is the CM for a day.
  5. Bharath Bandh - This was a movie I had seen when I was really young and I suspect is a Telugu dubbed movie. This movie again, is based on Political intrigue and as suggested by its title is based around a bandh organized by some politicians for their personal gains. This movie, though, not great in terms of acting or cast (the lone saviour being the national award winning actress, Archana), shows you a sample of how politicians make self centered and short sighted decisions, purely based on their and their kin's well being with little or no regard for the public who voted them to power. The movie also features some gruesome killings and violence.
The interesting thing has been that though the perceived ills of politics - namely, caste/religion based politics, pseudo-secularism, corruption, coercion and rowdyism have been graphically represented in movies like the ones listed above and many others, it is pitiable that nothing has changed. It is really disappointing to see even well educated people getting involved in caste wars and tax evasion issues, even as recently as yesterday!!