Dec 30, 2009

First, it was DoKoMo during the cricket matches. Then Vijay started selling CocaCola every 5 minutes in each channel with ad breaks spread out such a way that whenever you switch channels you will see the ad in some channel. Now, Sun Network is killing everyone with Vettaikaran trailer every 2 minutes in all of its 1,43,724 channels it has on air as of date.

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Dec 25, 2009

Vettaikaran

Just like the protagonist of the movie District-9 realizes to his horror that he is slowly transforming into an alien, I have been discovering my tolerance bordering on penchant for Vijay’s movies. I really wanted to see Vettaikaran at Sathyam because I have never seen a Vijay movie in theater (just one of the several justifications I had to give to people to have them accompany me to the movie).

I heard of several bad reviews about the movie, mostly hearsay. So I had rock-bottom expectations when I went for the movie but I actually ended up liking the movie. I am not sure if going with a low expectation helped or maybe it was because that idiot Prabudeva was not the Director again.

Ravi (Vijay) is struggling to pass Plus-Two examinations while he aspires to become an IPS officer on the footsteps of the famous encounter specialist Devaraj. The movie opens with a scene on a Chennai suburban train (any movie that starts off with a scene on the Chennai trains have to be good, no?) when Devaraj shoots a thug named Sura-Baskar. This sets off a series of events which are revealed later.

Ravi hails from Thoothukudi and finally passes +2 exams after 4 attempts. He then leaves for Chennai to pursue his education in the same college in which Devaraj studied. He wants to model every aspect of his life after Devaraj and was looking to drive an auto for living. The first day of his college makes him an instant good friend of Uma whose father (played by Maanicka Vinayagam) rents out vehicles. Ravi gets an auto from him out of which he makes his living and pays for his education. Chella is a local goon and is the son of Vedhanayagam, played by Salim Ghouse (Sakkara Gounder of Chinna Gounder fame). Chella sets his eyes on Uma, while indulging in his spree of coercing women who catch his attention to come to him. This forces Uma’s father to flee from the city along with his daughter. On hearing this, an infuriated Ravi, goes to Chella’s place and thrashes Chella and his men in the first fight of the movie. Incidentally, this comes only after an hour and a half of the movie has elapsed!

The movie picks up pace after that. Ravi has to face-off with Vedhanayagam which forms the rest of the movie. It is revealed that Vedhanayagam had killed Devaraj’s wife and son and also blinded him rendering him harmless. Ravi gets the help of Devaraj and some of his friends from his town join hands and he creates a mini-empire for himself which usurps Vedhanayagam’s power regime. An emasculated Vedhanayagan tries to regain control leading to the climax in which Ravi has Vedhanayagam killed, not by his own hands but by that of Devaraj and has the blame subtly forced on to one of Vedhanayagam’s henchmen. The movie closes with Ravi telling Devaraj that he has realized that he does not need to become an IPS officer to do what he always wanted to do because everybody has a bit of policeman inside them and they only have to make sure that inner self is allowed to function. Salim's acting is a relief from the stereotypical villainy of Prakash Raj in recent Vijay movies. The absence of Nayanthara and Trisha (and Vadivelu) also raises the bar.

As far as Direction goes, this is by far the best Vijay movie in recent times (which includes trash like Kuruvi, Pokkiri, Villu etc.). Notably, there is neither an formulaic intro song nor an intro fight. The inherent idiosyncracies, the drawling dialogues rendered by Vijay (that was most likely introduced to him by Prabudeva), the notorious ‘ennungna?’ are all absent in this movie.The fact that Vijay breaks down and cries when his close friend is tortured to death when the easier alternative would have been to give a close-up of is reddening eyes and sparks emanating from his footsteps are some of the deft handling by the Director that makes this movie different and tolerable. One could draw parallels to previous movies such as Baasha, Bheema to name a few but it is ok. In order to fully justify the movie experience I have to state that this movie is far better than Kandaswamy & Aadhavan. The only similarity with the other two movie stops with Vettaikaran stretching to slightly longer than 3hours. This could have been avoided by trimming a few dragging scenes towards the climax.

The soundtracks are decent in the movie. The song ‘Naan Adicha’ is not a great number but the visuals and the context justifies the song. ‘Puli Urumudhu’ is a typical hero-worshipping song sans any frills because everybody would already have a clear imagination of how the song would look. The BGMs were also good, especially the music bit from the song ‘Karigalan’ which is used often as a romantic interlude and the hero’s run-ins with his lady love (played by Anushka Shetty). Nothing much to be said about Anushka’s role except that her ‘nothing is impossible’ dressing beliefs in Telugu movies are left unexplored by the Director & Costume Designer until the final duet song ‘En Uchimandai’. Sound editing was below average as well. The DTS mixing has been grossly underutilized by the editor who has decided that increasing the volume up a few notches would be a good substitute for using the different audio channels. This results in a really noisy climax where one loses count of the number of gunshots and glasses breaking.

The editing was below average, expected for a movie like this, but that does not mean two ‘dreamy’ duet songs have to be immediately followed by scene in which villains with mutilated faces open their eyes in hospital (ably aided by a close-up shot and a crashing metallic BGM). Some comedy scenes were totally artificial (such as supposedly humorous scene with Delhi Ganesh, who plays Ravi’s father) and some blended well with the movie. Fortunately, there was no distracting separate comedy track that includes a Vadivelu or Vivek who end up taking up half hour of the screen time for themselves.

Overall, if you do not expect much other than average entertainment this is a movie worth seeing. And for Vijay, whose career badly needed a jumpstart after the recent failures, this would be a good break.

P.S.: Now that a movie with low expectations has fared better, I am trying to see Avatar that is being over-hyped in all channels. Since I am prejudiced already against the movie, let me see how it fares.

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Nov 19, 2009

On behalf of our auto stand, I am pleased to release an update to our official kanavu kanni list. Post Aadhavan, Nayanthara is dropped unceremoniously to the 3rd position from her currently held 1st position which is being taken over by Tamanna. Chennai Mangai Thirisa continues to be in 2nd. List is rounded off by another Palaghat Iyer, Priyamani at 4.
Podungada pudhu cut out.... engal kanavu kanni Tamanna vaazhga vaazha...

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Nov 16, 2009

At this rate, if Sachin announces retirement from cricket, National Govtu will declare a week's mourning even as all arai-vekaadu reporters of indhi channels talk incessantly about his great deeds like Duracell's drum-beating rabbit.

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Nov 8, 2009

Idho vandhutten....

It has been a rather long break from blogging - self imposed as well as forced. Just when you thought you got everything figured out, life throws out another sucker punch at you and leaves you breathless for some time. Taking things in stride and applying the philosophy of everything that happens is for the best is tough but not something I have not done in the past.


Anyways, just wanted to scribble myself back into existence. Missed out on a lot of fun. So many things have happened. Cricket has been banned at Marina, Australian C Team beats India while Sachin scripts a magnificent innings, Rains lashing namba Madras (maybe as a punishment for making terrific movies such as Aadhavan) and the depressing winter starts in my part of the World. And for no apparent reason I want to link this song. There was a time I used to question movies like these. But now I realize it is movies like this that act like pressure valves in our life. Long live C grade movies!

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Sep 16, 2009

சார் லட்டுடுடுடு.....

இருந்தாலும் ரொம்ப சீன் போடுறாங்கப்பா. Ok I admit it is the best and I am one of the millions who often yearn for it but does that mean a religious establishment patent its prasadam like a business entity. Clearly shows where the TTD is heading to nowadays and where its priorities like notwithstanding the lakhs who make a beeline to the temple and dump their wallet, suitcase and manja pai contents into the hundi.
On this line though what are the other products for which one could file a Geographical Indication patent? First and foremost ofcourse is Thiruneveli Halwa (Yumm. Seriously there is nothing else that equals the sensation of it sliding down the throat after stretching the taste buds). Then we have Pazhani Panchamirtham, Puliyodharai (now, there are so many temples that can lay claim to this one), Oothukuli Vennai, Beach Sundal (Marina?), Anjaneyar Kovil Vadai (again many temples will lay claim), etc.
I say, I must get one for Mambalam Mani as well!

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There is this story about you declining a nightwatchman, where you said you were not an able batsman if you couldn't last 25 balls at the end of the day. Is that true?
It is true. What is the difference between batting at the end of the day or at the start? If you make a mistake you'll get out. So I don't think a batsman really needs a nightwatchman, but it is totally an individual decision. Whenever a captain or coach asked me for a nightwatchman I would say, "No, why? If I can't survive 10 or 20 balls now, then I don't think I'll survive tomorrow morning." I believe that's the best time when you have the opportunity to score runs, when everybody on the field is tired and you can score 20 runs off those 20 balls.

Sehwag reveals his mindset in an interview to Cricinfo. Nobody can keep things simple in cricket as much as Sehwag does. There was another interview of Sehwag which was full of many such nuggets that make you wonder at the genius that is buried beneath the flippant exterior. Watch out for the second part of this interview.

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Sep 13, 2009

இனிமே என்னை கூப்டுவீங்க.....?

I saw these two videos (Part 1 & Part 2) sometime back. Thalaivar must have either had several rounds before coming to this function or he must have had some major gaandu on some one. After the function was over AVM Saravan must have been slapping his forehead for inviting thalaivar.

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Sep 1, 2009

Unnai Pol Oruvan Trailer

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Aug 31, 2009

Nadodigal

The problem in seeing a movie after some considerable time since its release is that I end up reading reviews that are both favorable and unfavorable which affects my perception subconsciously. Initially, I had some friends tell me that this is a good movie and then I read reviews which said the movie had nothing new to offer.

The movie is directed by Samuthrakani (who is the director of mega serials such as Selvi and Arasi). Sasikumar plays the key character in the movie. It is worth noting that previously Samutharakani acted in Sasikumar's Subramaniyapuram. The movie unfolds at a village near Rajapalayam. Sasikumar plays the role of Karunakaran who is a BA (History) gold medallist. Not surprisingly, that doesn't fetch him any job and his father makes sure that he criticizes Karunakaran for that. Karuna has two friends Chandran and Pandian. Karuna is in love with his uncle's daughter whose father is adamant that he will give his daughter to him only if he has a Government job ala Mudhalvan. So Karunakaran tries his best to become a policeman, write IAS exams etc. Chandran has dreams of opening a computer center and settle in life. He is in love with Karunakaran's sister. (I should mention here that this girl is played by Abhinaya who is deaf and dumb. It is really incredible that you cannot notice it in the movie at all) Pandian wants to go abroad and get a job. Things go at their own pace till an old friend of Karunakaran, Saravanan, comes to their village. Saravanan is in love with a girl in Namakkal. Her dad (who is a big shot) disapproves of it and he comes to see Karunakaran for an unapparent reason. When Karunakaran comes to know of his depression (after Saravanan attempted suicide) he decides to kidnap the girl and marry them. His friends Chandran and Pandian accompany him to Namakkal. When they try to kidnap the girl things go horribly wrong as the henchmen of the girl's father (whose character is incidentally played by the guy who was the school teacher inPasanga) chase and attack them. While running away from them Chandran accidentally gets run over by a truck and loses his left leg. A rowdy strikes Pandian on his left side of the head with a steel pole and as a result Pandian loses his hearing. Karuna sustains a gash on his right forehead. Somehow they successfully get Saravanan and his lover married. Karuna gives Saravanan money to elope and also arranges for them to be with another friend of his who works at a resort. The girl's father files police complaints and the police arrest Karuna and his friends. With a criminal history to his name, Karuna's hopes of landing a Govt. job is dashed. Pandian and Chandran, who lose their hearing and a left leg respectively, are forlorn too. The rest of the movie is about how they stick together and slowly limp back to life coping with the dissapointments of lost love and dreams.


Meanwhile, the married couple lose that initial fascination they had for each other and slowly arguments start creeping into their lives. Lacking a conviction to keep their marriage going and sparing no thoughts for the personal sacrifices of their friends, they decide to get divorced. This irks Karuna and his friends a lot. They feel cheated and are furious at having given their lives and futures away in vain. Pandian wants to kill the couple but Karuna talks some sense into his head. Eventually they just vent out their frustrations by kidnapping the couple to an isolated spot. Karuna and Pandian vent out their frustrations verbally at the couple and leave them alone in each other's company. The movie ends with a scene where the trio are at a tea shop when some stranger is talking on the phone about arranging for some people to help his friend with his love. Karuna and his friends brighten up and offer to help the stranger's friend.

The movie waxes praises on the virtues of friendship and how a friend is someone who is there for you when you need him the most. The message is conveyed at various points of the movie. Some times it comes across effectively and some times it feels highly contrived. Towards the end love is also praised by the director and it is not clear if the director was trying to say friendship is the only purest form of relationship or love is equal to that because the trio are ready to help strangers with their love even after suffering so much. There are several references made to current day scenarios of divorce cases queing up in court and how such things should be and could be avoided.

The first half hour of the movie is frivolous and the acting of the cast are even more so. Their facial expressions seemed highly artificial with a narrow range of emotions. Sasikumar, definitely, does not have his best moments of the movie in the humorous scenes. But once the kidnapping scene begins the movie moves faster and for some unknown reason all the cast members seem to slip easily into role of their characters with a loud click and the movie makes a rivetting view till the end.

I would say it is one more to the list of good movies that Tamil cinema has churned out in the last two years. Irrespective of his suspect credentials, Samudharakani has given a good movie with a smooth screenplay and direction.

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Inglorious Basterds

I am not a big fan of Brad Pitt. In fact, whenever I see his movies I try to find some fault so that I can criticize him for it. Maybe it is due to the hype he gets every time or because he seems so full of himself in his movies. But even a prejudice could not prevent me from admiring his performance in this movie. In fact, I would say he carried the movie through though I am sure many would argue that the movie is bigger than Brad Pitt or the character he played.

The movie is set during WWII. It is a fictional tale of a group of men from the US who land in France with the intent of killing every German in sight. Brad Pitt plays Lt. Raine the leader of a group of Jewish Americans who are referred to as the Inglorious Basterds by the Germans. They are ruthless in their killing and cut the scalp of their victims as a souvenir. Col. Landa is a high ranking officer in the German ranks who comes to be known as The Hunter because of the way he sniffs out Jews in hiding and exterminating them. The movie starts in rural France where Col. Landa was about to sniff out a family of hiding jews. Somehow a girl escapes Landa's men and comes to the city, assumes a new identity of Emmanuelle Mimieux and ends up being the owner of a movie theater. A chance visit by Frederick Zoller, who earned the reputation of killing 300 odd people after being isolated in a bell tower, changes the life of Emmanuelle. Frederick is a war hero and a movie has been made about his exploits in which he plays himself. He decides to premiere the movie in Emmanuelle's theater as he is 'infatuated' with her. The twist here is that Hitler chooses to attend the premiere which makes the event a prime target for Lt. Raine and his men. The story unfolds with sudden twist and turns, some out of the blue and some totally as expected such as Emmanuelle getting gunned down by Frederick (come on dumb blonde, when you shoot a guy you make sure he is dead).

I should admit at this stage that I have not seen a single movie of Tarantino before this. I see a lot of movies but somehow I have not seen his movies till date even though I have Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction at home. So I saw the movie without any expectations or idea on what to expect. The screenplay was mighty impressive and so was the direction. The story was not too taut and had some incosistencies with few things left unexplained (such as how come Landa lets the girl escape), which I am sure would be attributed to the brilliance of Tarantino or whatever by his fans. But the highlight of it, as I have said before, is the acting of Brad Pitt. His demeanour and the accent of a southerner that he has pulled off was a treat to watch. The pace of the movie is pretty good. It has some gory scenes but other than that it is a good movie to watch. But definitely not the greatest.


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Aug 27, 2009

A Typical Weekday

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Aug 22, 2009

Kandhaswamy, Pasanga, Saroja

கந்தசுவாமி - முடியலடா சாமி!
Apparently all main actors are falling into a rut and dishing out the worst movie of their career. Rajini came out with Kuselan. I thought it was the worst movie I saw in some time. Then of all the people Kamal came out with something like Dasavatharam. After hitting the forehead with a 'enna koduma kamal idhu..' I thought the worst was over. Then Vikram says I am also in the race. Everybody said his previous movie Bheema was pathetic and gay etc. I thought it was ok and not too bad. So to silence the few people who actually liked the movie he has now acted in Kandhaswamy.

The movie has a storyline typical of Shankar's movies. Kandhawamy is a CBI officer. He raids many corrupt and rich people and somehow syphons the money to good use. Seriously I don't remember how he does it. The movie was so bad with so many distractions I couldn't even remember what the exact story was.

The movie opens with a scene in Thiruporur outside a Lord Murugan (Kandhaswamy) temple where a woman needs money for some surgery. She writes on a piece of paper and ties it on the branch of a sacred tree. Next day morning she finds a bag of money in her home. Scared, the woman takes it to the police station where the apparently corrupt Inspector (Mansur Ali Khan) seizes it for himself. In the night, when Mansur is drunk and getting ready to sleep Kandhaswamy makes his entrance. He is dressed like a super hero and makes a grand entrance through the roof. He has the feathers of the Cock (Seval) which is the flag of Lord Muruga. So here is our super hero with a cape and stuff and few cock feathers on his head. The funniest thing is his mannerisms. He maybe the cock-man or whatever but that doesn't mean he has to act so cocky. Vikram imitates the cock as he chases Mansur Ali Khan around the room. He moves his head sideways, tilts it and then does a full throated crowing. The BGM was high adrenaline but the scene was so out of sync with it I couldn't suppress my laughter. I knew that moment that the movie is going to be a riot. Anyways, so Kandhaswamy goes about doing good for people as the cock-man and raids rich people as the CBI man. Shriya is the daughter of Ashish Vidyarthi who gets raided by Kandhaswamy. Ashish acts as if he gets paralyzed when his house is raided. Shriya promises to seek revenge and pretends to love Kandhaswamy.

Anyways, no point on talking about what happens for the rest of the movie because it is all so muddled up. Devi Sri Prasad did some decent numbers and the picturizations were decent. Other than that nothing much to remember from the movie except Shriya's omnipresent cleavage. Like a kitten, she tries to purr and rub againt the feet of the audience to seek attention all through the movie but only ends up irritating them instead. Also, I have no idea how long the movie was. I think it was like an interminable 3.5hours or something! What the hell.

I discovered my extraordinary ability to even tolerate some of Vijay's movies like Aadhi and Pokkiri in recent times. Even I was not able to sit through this trash. And I paid $20 for the tickets. Talk about being swindled.

பசங்க - Cute, realistic, childish and mature
This is a movie set in a small village in Pudukottai district called Virachilai (which is the native village of the debutant director of the movie, Pandiaraj). It shows the world from a child's point and how they perceive it. Anbukarasu is a new kid in the village's school. His father moved there recently due to many reasons which include cost of living, a disgruntled wife etc. Anbukarasu is a bright kid. He is the typical mundhirikottai of the class. Jeeva is the typical backbencher with two aides Kuzhandhaivelu aka Pakada and Kuttimani. The movie is about the friction between Anbukarasu and Jeeva, how their families go on the warpath because of them and how they end up together. The story has a gentle love story that is the trend nowadays ala Sasikumar (who is incidentally the producer of this movie).

It is a Director's movie. Pandiaraj has absolutely loved what he was doing and we can clearly see his fine touches in the movie. For example, the scene where the warring family heads slowly mellow down. There is a friction between them even though they sit down to talk(at 2mins in this video). They sit with their legs crossed in a sign of dominance between two alpha males. But as they begin to talk freely and the barrier breaks down they both uncross their legs and face each other. It is a very simple scene but I thought it meant a 1000 words. There are many such nuances in his direction. The way he has captured the rural life, the activities of kids in school, their dialect, the kind of games they play in free time etc are all etched in the movie. Pandiaraj has written the dialogues too. A friend of mine said 'Anubavichu ezhudhirkaan da'. That sums up the effort.

James Vasanthan is brilliant. He doesn't compplicate his works too much. He is not AR Rahman and is never going to compose songs like Harris Jayaraj. But he is brilliant. He proved the doubters that Subramaniyapuram is not a chance hit. His song Oru Vekkam is of the same genre as Kangal Irandaal and one cannot be blamed for drawing comparisons between the two. But his BGMs are equally amazing. He has this flair of using some Ilayaraja's blues in certain love scenes that are a bit comic yet effective. And his own pieces are exceptional too. For example, there is a violin piece that comes in 3 different instances. The first time is when Anbukarasu wants to hit Jeeva after being humiliated in front of the entire class. The music starts off slowly and gathers pace along with Anbukarasu's anger(at 3:50 of this video). The same bit is used differently when Anbukarasu's father apologizes to his wife thus bringing peace and relief to the family (5:55 of this video).
A must watch. Hopefully, movies like these encourage other people to attempt and veer away from love centric storylines.

P.S: I wanted to write a review on Saroja too but it is not relatively new. Anyways, I loved the movie. Another casual appearing movie taken with some serious intent from Venkat Prabu. Interesting characterizations and timely comedy scenes liven up the movie. Makes me eagerly wait for their next venture Goa.

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Aug 20, 2009

மனசுல லார்ட் லபக்குதாஸ்னு நினைப்பு..

Now that the King Kong of Indian cinema is really popular worldwide (or the US since the US considers & refers to US as world and vice versa), maybe people will quieten down. How many people will recognize Brad Pitt if he comes to Chennai Airport? The desk clerk who stamps the immigration stamp? Other than the prolonged stares any white skinned person will get in any part of India he wouldn't be recognized in most parts. Then why is Khan an exception if he is treated differently in a land which is so self centered.

Meanwhile, our respected Minister for Information & Broadcasting spreads the message that we should take up the arms with Americans visiting India (yes, all the Yankees and Texans who queue up at Chennai, Bombay, Delhi beware!) that they be meted out with the same treatment. Tobe precise she says, "I am of the opinion that the way we are frisked, for example I too was frisked, we should also do the same to them".

Many a times I have wondered why some people deserve to be treated specially. How does being an actor entitle you to benefits that the common man is deprived of. The answer is obvious but it is still irritating to see it happen. So when the stars are made to wait in line or meted out the treatment that a common man gets it is a humiliation, embarrassment etc., If the Ministers and other politicians really feel that we are discriminated against, why did they wait till Khan was detained? Were not thousands of Indians detained before him?

Not satisfied with the publicity stunt he has performed, our hero returned home and as expected patiently answered the ara-vekaadu reporters. "
I did feel bad. I felt angry. I am glad my family wasn’t there. God knows what they would have done to them,” said Khan who was chilled to his bones when he thought of the image of his family also sitting next to him like lowly beings waiting for their baggage to arrive for an hour.

He further shows that he is a smart guy. “Normally, 99 percent [of the time] I leave early, because I have to stand in line; you have to remove your shoes. I have started wearing shoes with no laces,”. Paradesi. Wear Hawaai chappals from next time. Will save you more time.

Still in a hangover after watching too many Hollywood movies intending to copy the scenes in Indian cinema, the Khan offers advice to USCIS on how they should verify people : “If my identity is my fingerprint and retina, they (airport authorities) should have done this. This was not done, and they were asking me questions for two hours and kept on saying that ‘Your name is common.Maybe my fingerprint would have been uncommon, my retina would have been uncommon,”

According to a report by the Press Trust of India, as soon as he was allowed to use his phone, Khan sent messages to his home, his secretary, and Congress MP Rajiv Shukla, who informed Indian Embassy officials nearby who were able to come to his rescue. Mr. Shukla, can you please publicize your phone number so that all Indians detained in the future can avail of your help. Unless of course they are not worthy enough to deserve special attention.

Khan also makes it clear that this is not a publicity stunt for his upcoming movie. “I don’t want to sound pompous here, but I don’t need publicity to promote my movie, I am too big a star for that.” says Khan with utmost humility.

And also being not a person to miss an opportunity, our Khan also states "If you want to give a tit-for-tat policy to American actors, then call me to frisk Angelina Jolie and Megan Fox whenever they are visiting India.

Meanwhile, our own expert on National Security Farah Khan (who also doubles up as director of such meaningful movies like Om Shanti Om & Mein Hoon Naa when not offering her unsolicited advices) says, "The officer who was on duty wasted so much time, energy and resources interrogating Shah Rukh that three or four terrorists must have entered the U.S. within that time.” Dei Mandaya! It is because of the reason that there is a chance of 3 terrorists entering the country in that time that they are being so cautious. In the name of celebrity if they give special status to all movie stars, drama actors and villu paatu artists then terrorists will enter just like they enter India by talking a short walk. Since 9/11 make a list of the terrorist attacks in US and India before offering your wise quips.

Here is Jon Stewart putting things in perspective even as Arnold Schwarzenegger invites the Khan for no apparent reason!

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Aug 13, 2009

Now I know why college graduates go for campus placement

At a stunning 110-hectare campus in Mysore renowned for its modern architecture, Infosys trains as many as 12,000 new recruits each year before they join the company. Many of them join for the boost to their marriage potential-a major concern for young Indians.

In an article about Infosys, the writer meanders in all possible directions. From India'a traffic congestions to population to H1b visas etc. It is amazing how the writing style and content is dressed so that it always has that exotic air that pleases the western readers. Mention has to be made of India's poor infrastructures, how Infosys is the dream of aspirants blah blah blah. He could have written the script for Slumdog Millionaire if he stretches it a bit more.

And what is this line about most of those being recruited by Infosys only joining the company to boost their marriage chances? So after they marry do they resign the job, sit at home and become house husbands or start a tea kadai in their area? Maybe he thinks everybody in their college final year sits and discusses as follows: "machi which company is best if i want to marry a fair, good looking, homely girl da?"

Haven't we seen millions of articles chronicling the timeline of Infy's growth from a backside office to a global corporation, how its the dream of 100,000 aspirants every year, the magnanimity of its founder etc. Summa aracha maavaye arachundu.

On a not so unrelated note, I had a conspiracy theory cross my mind that came back when I was reading this article.
co-founder and former chairman, Nandan Nilekani, has been made the head of a federal government agency to create a national ID system for India's 1.2 billion people
Will be interesting to see who gets to do the IT work for all this integration of databases etc. If Infosys gets it....

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Aug 11, 2009

Yappa! Raama! Mudiyalada Saami. Already its a bloated version. And he wants almost twice the number of matches with three new teams in 2011. And ofcourse it ends 5 days before that useless tournament ICC conducts under the pretext of a World Cup which makes it all the more meaningless. By the time people lap up 90 odd matches who wants to see within 5 days time all the players jumble back to their home countries and play against each other again.
He thinks he is some Noah of Ark!

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Aug 7, 2009

Yes, this is good. But what India should have done strongly is this. They could still reemphasize the travel advice to people against traveling to and from the US which is the primary source of the flu virus. All these bloody NRIs are somehow catching this virus in places like McDonald's, Walmart, Dollar theater and the nearest Toyota dealership and come sneezing to India. That should also teach US from issuing future travel advisory concerning India on issues like open manholes in Bombay, terrorist threats, soiled notes and poor water quality.

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Jul 24, 2009


நான் ஆட்சிப் பொறுப்புக்கு வருவ தற்கு முன்பும், பின்பும் என் பெயரில் வாங்கப்பட்ட சொத்து என்று பார்த் தால்கோபாலபுரத்தில் நான் வசிக்கும் ஒரு வீடும் (இந்த வீட்டின் இப் போதைய சந்தை மதிப்பு ரூ. 8 கோடி), திருவாரூக்கு அருகில் காட்டூர் கிராமத்தில் 14 ஏக்கர் நிலமும் தான் உள்ளது. இந்தியாவிலேயே தனி பங்களா என்று இல்லாமல், தெரு விலே உள்ள பல வீடுகளில் ஒன்றாக ஒரு முதல் அமைச்சரின் வீடு இருப் பது என்று எடுத்துக் கொண்டால், அது என்னுடைய வீடாகத்தான் இருக்குமென்று நினைக்கிறேன்.

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Jul 20, 2009

Movie Marathon

I had a movie marathon in the last few days and here are some reviews.

Aathi
: Either my taste has gone bad or my immunity has reached sky levels because I watched Aathi and I liked it. I admit it is masala movie. There is an intro scene for Vijay where he saves a guy from suicide just to let him rattle off a few punch dialogues. It has lots of stereotypes unique to Tamil cinemas and Vijay. There is hyper irritating phrase that is more common nowadays in Vijay's movies: 'Nee enna periya Gilli'aa?' Still it is a good time pass.

Vijay and Trisha are from the same family. She is like a mora ponnu to Vijay. They are in a big joint family whose head is the irritating Vijayakumar. Vijay's dad is the honest police officer Prakash Raj. Their entire family gets killed by the villain after Prakash Raj has a run-in with him. Trisha escapes with her Dad played by Nasser while Vijay escapes alone. Their paths are separated. Vijay is adopted by Manivannan and his wife and they raise him in Delhi. Vijay comes to Chennai for college and starts killing off the Villains one by one and the climax scenes include how Vijay and Trisha discover each other to be related (Not as anna-thangai though as this will render all duet songs redundant) and they kill the villain.

Happy Days: I saw this Telugu movie after a friend recommended it. I watched it with subtitles of course. The movie is about a group of students who get into college in Hyderabad. The movie takes us through their 4 years together as they start out as freshers, experience ragging, fall in love, struggle through friendships, lessons etc. It is a neat, feel-good movie and has the same main theme as Ullam Kekume. Ullam Kekume was a director's movie. It had some subtle nuances and touches. It carries a distinct heaviness throughtout the movie (well captured in that single song 'Mazhai mazhai').

Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince: Generally for movies which are based on books, such as this, I give the director some leeway. Mainly because of the inevitable comparison that ensues which usually ends the same way: the book was much better than the movie. Even with Ron Howard's Da Vinci Code, I actually enjoyed the movie when many people did not. They accused that the movie took on a softer stand, left out crucial details etc.

Similarly, I enjoyed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince book. It had lots of magic, action and other good scenes. So I went to the movie with good expectations. But about 2hours into the movie I was squinting at my watch in the darkness and thought "What the hell? the movie is only half hour more and they showed nothing till now. When are they going to get the Horcrux, when will Dumbledore die, etc." And as I feared they were more like passing references. The bulk of the movie was focused on how pink could Hermione's cheeks get from crying and feeling jealous and for how long could Ginny stay away from giving Harry that inevitable kiss. I felt like watching a teenage drama. My friend argues rather pedantically that these scenes were very much a part of the book. But, I say, it had much more in the book than blooming love.

So, anyway, it was a total yawn fest.

The Hangover: It is a good movie. A bridegroom-to-be is given a bachelor party at Las Vegas by 3 guys. They get drunk and drugged and have a wild night about which they have no recollections on the next morning. But the problem is the bridegroom is missing. So the rest of the movie is about how they find the guy. The plot takes us through some funny scenes. But I didn't find them too funny. I think American Pie was more hilarious, given that both movies dealt with slapstick humor of the same level.

Weekends are good!

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Sarvam

It is good to see Tamil cinema veer away from stereotypical love themed movies. There were many off the beat stories in the last few months and most of them were made with a serious intent and with real talents. Some directors like Sasi Kumar used love subtly as the central theme around which the movie progresses and others like Venkat Prabhu chose to ignore it altogether. Some were good like Subramaniyapuram and some were bad like Dasavatharam. The director of Sarvam, Vishnuvardan, apparently got inspired by these movies and wanted to direct such a movie. He must have been one of those idiots who liked Dasavatharam's fate, chaos theory blah blah blah but still couldn't totally write a script without love and instead ended up making a chaotic movie.

Sarvam feels raw. It feels like watching the unedited version straight out of the cinematographer's camera. There is no continuity between scenes. There is a serious scene followed by a mind numbing scene of supposed comedy and then a song. These drastic changes keep occuring till the end of the movie and rather jarred my nerves.

The movie starts off with some buildup by showing a phrase from the Upanishad that states 'with every death, there begins a new life' or something to that effect. Karthik, played by Arya (who is wasted in this movie and appears like a novice in acting mostly thanks to the director) is an architect who falls in love with Trisha (who is a doctor). Meanwhile, Naushad is a Software engineer who while driving a Mahindra Scorpio, accidentally loses control of his car and hits two pedestrians: a woman and her son. Ishwar, the guy who loses his wife and son is traumatized and sets out for revenge with his Rottweiler dog. He threatens Naushad that he will kill his son so that he can understand his pain. The movie progresses with generous intermixing of romance, repetitive scenes of Ishwar threatening Naushad and amateurish comedy. Naushad relocates to different places with his son to escape from the psychotic killer-to-be. Just when things seems to settle down, Trisha gets killed even before the interval. The directorial touch should be noted here. Imaan, the son of Naushad, is flying a kite with friends in the terrace of a a building. Naushad warns his son not to fly kite because it has maanja in it which could his cut his fingers. So his son looks up at the kite yearningly and suddenly collapses. It is later revealed that he has a heart condition called Cardiomyopathy which essentially means he could die soon if he doesn't have a heart transplant. As Imaan collapses his friends are shocked and let go of the kite and rush to his side. The kite flies away towards the road and falls on a lamp post and dangles down. Nearby, Karthik is racing with Sandhya on bicycles. Sandhya is leading the race when themaanja kayiru of the dangling kite slits her throat and she dies. Ofcourse, predictably the directorial touch is to have the heart from Sandhya given to Imaan who survives that terrible disease.

So Karthik who is deep in sorrow suddenly livens up on hearing his lover's heart is living inside a person. Here comes the never-before-seen moment of tamil cinema. We have seen sorrowful songs after lover dies where the guy thinks of his girl doing mundane things and relishes those moments while singing in despair. We have seen ghosts of the girl descend down to sing a mournful high pitched rendition while the lover looks dejected. But in this movie Vishnuvardan has excelled really with his imagination. Karthik, on hearing that Sandhya's heart is beating somewhere else, sings a duet with her (which is the Siragugal Vandhadhu song). Then the movie rolls on. Ishwar chases the kid to kill him. Imaan steps in, protects the kid in the process of eliminating Ishwar. But in the last scene the director shows the viewer that Ishwar is not dead but is recuperating in a hospital (Oh my God no! Please don't think of a sequel!).

Apparently, its a new kind of emotion that the director shows through Ishwar. He wants to cry out aloud in anguish but doesn't. Instead, he keeps a straight, emotionless face that is supposed to convey the pent-up feelings. But he looks more like a drug addict floating in ethereal world. Trisha should stop acting in roles where she gets killed (like Bheema). Already, her roles are getting dumber atleast we could have the pleasure of seeing her till the end (because that is why I saw the movie anyway). And Yuvan could use some imagination instead of re-recording his father's yesteryear BGMs throughout the movie.

And thank God, the dog gets killed!

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Jul 16, 2009

Beware! But no worries. India has issued another Joint statement with Pakistan. So all is well.

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Jul 15, 2009

I am a genius (all consultancies please note)

I can't help but indulge in braggadocio. Because nothing is greater in the egocentric world than getting a chance to say 'I told you so!'. I predicted long back that this was coming, albeit in a lighter vein. But atleast its good to see the ICC getting their act together before cricket gets 'Modi'fied. I have no idea why the ICC would need a consultancy to tell them to have a World Championship. Seriously, it is pathetic that a group of people who administer the game can't think of something so simple by themselves.


Also, it is rather irritating to see the amount of importance attached to the Ashes. It is supposedly a marquee event. What the hell? England has a sucker of a batting lineup and nobody other than Pieterson creates a flutter when they come to the crease. I believe that noway are they going to win this tournament. Flintoff is a useless player and they can't stop talking about what he did in 2005 (Yeah, who cares that he actually did nothing since then). Idiots.

Come on NDTV and CNN-IBN! Make an analysis of how the Indian team has challenged the Australians the most in the last few years and have a panel discussion on why Border-Gavaskar trophy is more valued than some dumb urn probably having burned stumps.

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Jun 28, 2009

Naan Kadavul. Nee Paithiyam.

A friend of mine labels movies categorically. Some are Soora padam ( சூற படம்). Eg. Baba, Azhagiya Thamizh Magan, Yaaradi Nee Mohini etc. Some are Psycho padam. Eg. Thamizh MA, 7G Rainbow Colony etc. Though I don't always agree with his classification, I think Naan Kadavul easily fits into both.

I wanted to see this movie even before it was released. But ever since it released I have been putting off watching it for some reason or the other. Finally today the wait ended.

I really have no idea what the movie is all about. Here is how i think the movie was conceptualized. I think Bala somewhere read that there are people called Agori Sadhus in Kasi who eat dead people, smoke Ganja, shout expletives and relieve people from rebirth and bless them to moksha. Ok, now all he had to do was make it into a movie. Throw in some visually excruciating disbled people who will rip the hearts out of the audience. Show suffering and have the Agori end their suffering.

But wait. Agoris live in North India so how to make movie for Tamil audience as you can't have a horde of beggars and other people talk in Tamil at Kasi. So let's give the Agori a father who banished his son to Kasi for 14 years of vana vaasam and once the son graduates and becomes a fully qualified Agori, have the father bring him back to their native village. Add some tearjerker scenes whenever possible. Then, this Agori settles on a temple atop a hill where the beggars frequent. The parents cease to be a part of the script now. Focus on the cruelties meted out to one blind, female beggar. Let her sing some songs (because I have seen blind beggars sing songs in trains). The interesting directorial touch is that the girl sings many old movie songs. But everytime the actual song from the movie is played in the background and acts as a voiceover for the girl's lip movements with all the musical accompaniments. Then we introduce a lighter moment where the inspectors harass some koothadis who dressup as MGR, Sivaji and Rajini (in surprisingly good costumes) in the police station. Then ofcourse, the girl is sold to a villain. The girl seeks asylum under the Agori's feet who attacks the attackers. The Agori is arrested and remanded to 5 day custody by an excuse of a judge. During the 5 days, the police patiently accompany the Agori to rivers, hills and funeral pyres as they have been instructed to take good care of him. Meanwhile, the angered villain-in-chief tortures the blind girl to near death and disfigures her face which is revoltingly shown to the audience. Then he attacks the Agori who promtply kills him. The one line about Agoris I mentioned at previously about Agoris having powers to grant moksha forms the climax. The blind girl talks too much about life's cruelties, God's inequality in creation etc and pleads the Agori to relieve her of this tortured life. The Agori accedes and slits her throat and blesses her thus freeing her from rebirth.

No points made and none taken.

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Jun 27, 2009

The Greatest Performer. Ever!

If there ever was a person who could unite and divide opinions globally, it was Michael Jackson. He was adored. He was chastised. He was worshiped. He was scorned. He was idolized. And he was humiliated. If you remember him for the music and songs he probably he is the greatest ever to have transcended the global music industry. If you take into account the idiosyncrasies, one would know that after all he is a human too.

When I was in school, I had never listened to an English song. In fact I had never listened to a song in any language other than Tamil. We did not have cable TV then. One fine day, DD Metro decided to start showing a piece of program from MTV during prime time on weekdays (between 4 to 6PM or something). I started seeing it more out of curiosity than any real fascination. But one day there was this musical video of MJ called the Moonwalker. I watched the entire video which ran for 2 hours or so and I was totally spellbound. The music, the beats, the movements, the hype and the aura. It was magical. It was no surprise that I got hooked to the songs of MJ. When I discovered that my dad, who never listened to music after the days of Amitabh Bachaan's Qurbani, had a cassette of Thriller I was euphoric. I listened to the tape on our Sony Walkman in repeat mode for hours together.

When I first heard about accusations of MJ as being anything from being a child molester to a lunatic, I was furious. I was of the strong belief that such a genius could never be wrong. I mean, if you were sane enough to sit and creatively produce such masterpieces you can't be that crazy. But apparently, the fame, the money, the fan following and the frenzied media attention did jangle his nerves. What happened really is anybody's guess. His transfiguration and skin color change were a big source of confusion. I had a friend in school who was a maniac MJ fan and we spent hours discussing MJ's songs, his life etc.

Though its really hard to choose from the list, my all time favorites are Smooth Criminal, Billie Jean, Who is it, Heal the World, Thriller, Don't Stop Till You Get Enough, Human Nature, Stranger in Moscow and of course Beat it.

The lines from his song Who Is It kind of summarises his life and the pain he underwent:
I am the damned
I am the dead
I am the agony inside
The dying head
This is injustice
Woe unto thee
I pray this punishment
Would have mercy on me


I really hoped his forthcoming tour would finally help him get rid of his huge financial debts and even if it does not resurrect his career, atleast let him live in peace after that devoid of controversies. But with him you cannot predict anything and take for granted. The King of Pop always surprised people and he pulled off the ultimate one now.

May his soul rest in peace, in death. Michael Jackson's image of doing the Moonwalk would be frozen in the annals of history and would never age. Just like the characters from Neverland that he always wanted to be.

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Jun 25, 2009

Uugh. Yuck. Uaack. Naai. Punaaku Mandayan.

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Jun 24, 2009

The Conscience

He was very bugged. Embarking on a marathon flight journey to a place across the world always depressed him. More so as he is leaving behind everything he loved. And missed.

The flights made it worse. Having to squeeze into the seats and sit with his knees pushing against the row in front for 8 hours on the trot was not a pleasing prospect. So with a sullen face he walked to his seat, trying not to bang his carry-on luggage against any seated passengers and those who refuse to seat themselves even after stowing their baggage in the compartments overhead and checking them for the 100th time to ensure it does not fall out during the flight. At least, he had the foresight to reserve a seat in the row that was next to the emergency exit. These seats have no immediate row in front of them and allow the passenger to stretch their legs or to dance a jig as they deem appropriate. He didn’t get the window seat this time as he didn’t want to behold the melancholic sight of the aircraft taking off, leaving his home behind; and the bright lights of the city at 1AM always seemed to radiate towards him in the misty cold night as if beckoning him to return.

It was to his consternation that he found an elderly man ensconced on what was supposed to be his seat. Next to the old man was an equally old woman who was apparently the wife. He tells the man that he is on his seat. The couple, who appeared to be in their late seventies if not into eighties, had the appearance of belonging to a lower middle class family ailing from a small town. The old man replied with a mix of badly broken English and Telugu and couldn’t speak coherently because of age induced frailty. The woman who appeared to know nothing in English decided to keep quiet with a smug face. He called the Stewardess. The German lady spoke a smattering of English. But this was enough for her to get the information across to him aided by her animated gestures. It seemed that the elderly couple had got seats away from each other and so the elderly guy moved in to the seat next to the wife’s, which should have been his. So now he had to move to a seat in the row behind. The Stewardess asked him to tell the elderly man to move to his actual seat, since he is an Indian and so he should be able to speak Indian. After, several attempts he convinced the Stewardess of his inability to do so; primarily since there is no language by that name and also because the elderly man spoke only Telugu. So he resorted to talking to the elderly man in what little Telugu he knew. After several minutes and numerous attempts in communication, he realized that the flight doors were closed and it was ready for take-off. So he resigned to fate and took the window seat in the next row.

He has never slept properly in a flight and this time was no exception. He was awake most of the time and could see the elderly couple in front of him. They had difficulties when the Stewardess came with food plates. Neither could comprehend what the other was saying. A couple in their early thirties were next to him. But except for the time the meals came, they were fast asleep leaning on each other and did not bother to help the elderly couple out. Even when they were awake they were mainly preoccupied with whispering in each other’s ears. So, each time the Stewardess looked at him when she wanted ‘translation’ of what the elderly man was saying.

He was wondering how they are going to fill out all the Immigration forms. And like he feared, the moment they were handed out, the elderly man turned back in his seat to face him and asked for help. So he tried to reply in Telugu. The elderly man understood the problem and said he knows Tamil a bit. Not much, but still better than English. So he tried explaining to the man in Tamil. In the end, he decided he would fill out the forms for them. As he was doing so, the man was explaining that they were coming to see their son in US. Their son was working there and has not come to India for few years because of work. So he invited them to come and here they were.

He cursed their son for letting his aged parents take on such a long and complicated trip without a proper companion. At least he could have explained to them what to do at various point of the travel –changing flights, immigration forms etc. But they were aware of nothing. He explained it to them from scratch. He was angry on how some one could leave such old people to find out for themselves. So as he was cursing the son and filling the forms, the old man told that he was a farmer in Andhra and somehow managed to educate his son who found a job in US.

The flight landed. There was a long queue at the Immigration counter. He tried to patiently explain to the couple as much as possible about the process. The lines were moving slowly. He was standing for more than half hour and was getting fidgety. Suddenly some new counters were open and there was a mad scrambling for them and all lines got broken. When normalcy was restored, he realized that the couple was far behind in another queue. He was confused. Already he was late. Should he go back to where they were standing? But there were so many Indians behind him. Surely, some one would help them when the couple’s turn comes. Even as he was thinking he saw a woman travelling alone who spoke only Telugu. The Immigration officer asked people in the line for help and some one who spoke Telugu helped the lady. He was sure the couple would get some similar help. Some one will. So he went ahead with his Immigration. All the while casting furtive looks at the couple who were completely unaware of what was going on at the counters. He went ahead, collected his bags and rolled them away in the trolley. The guy who was supposed to pick him up would already be waiting for him. Surely, some one would help them. He was exiting the hall and he turned around to take a last look. They were almost last in the lines. Not many people in front of them either. There was an Indian in another line. And another who was doing the Immigration interview and would be done soon. He turned around the corner quickly not to let the sight bother him. Somehow it did. It was the fault of the son, he reasoned to himself. The son is an idiot. Let him come running. He must be here to pick them already. So if there was a problem he should be able to assist them.

Somehow it still bothers him.

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Jun 21, 2009

Oh Dear Lord! Pardon thy son, who in a moment of weakness, committed the ultimate sin of enjoying Afridi's bowling in the T20 WC final.

Meanwhile, the television commentators were profuse in their praise of the Pakistani team's performance and how this would lift the spirit of the countrymen. Now that your flagging spirits have been restored, please arise and cross the border with renewed vigor.

I had many conversations with my friends about the Pakistani team and one of the popular opinion was that their team has so many bad asses, who would have quite easily become a terrorist (such as the great cricketer mentioned in the 1st para) if not for the fact that they fortuitously learned to play cricket. We used to say that out of frustrations and hatred. But it seems, that apparently is the truth according to the admission by none other than the team's captain. QED.

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Jun 15, 2009

I have a mic and I can say whatever I want

Finally and predictably the Dhoni luck has run out. And ostensibly the media are having a field day (actually it began even before the World Cup started as they cited differences between Sehwag & Dhoni).

Now, I am a great fan of Dhoni. He is charismatic and intelligent. But people seem to assume that Dhoni can make no mistake to the extent that the distinction between luck and strategy have blurred. I am not saying he is a messiah like some nincompoop. But he really is the best player India has produced in a decade. Finally, some one who exceeded the expectations. Can some one count the number of promising talents India had in the last decade and end up with a list of players who lived upto it? We had numerous players oozing talent but struggled to make it to the big level. Even Yuvraj is still a suspect at the Test level. But this guy who started off as a trigger happy swinger of the bat has metamorphosed into a level headed captain. It is not just a luck thing but mainly because he is intelligent.

The IPL drained everyone. It drained the players and the viewers. The only thing it filled was Lalit Modi's pockets. You didn't have to be a Nostradamus to predict that Gambir was not in form going into the T20 WC. He was struggling in IPL. I can't even remember Sehwag playing a proper innings in IPL because of the injury he sustained during the event. Now that the team for the pointless 4ODI series in West Indies has been picked, you can find that half the team is injured and dropped. And none of these injuries were sustained in the T20 WC which implies that they were the baggages from IPL. I don't know how else a team that is mentally drained and physical exhausted could perform even if loaded with the best in business.

Now coming to my favorite punch bag. Under the pretense of disseminating the true(?) information, the media, especially the 24 hours channels have become quite a nuisance. Most of the arai vekaadu reporters who speak with such self-conviction would miserably fail if asked to take up a simple GRE's analytical writing section. In fact, I am of the opinion that news channels should be stripped of their rights to telecast news throughout the day but that is another topic. If I was the guy behind this reporter I would have gone on a mad rampage like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Idiots. Look at the conviction with which he talks! As if he is some Lord Labakudass. He accuses Dhoni of beind cocky, insecure, arrogant and warns him to face the fire for his treatment of the media and is raising questions of national importance such as if BCCI would let him go scotfree because of the criminal sins he has commited. Dei naaye, the next time India wins a tournament you will be praising of Dhoni and his calmness and his captaincy. vekkame ilaya?

Yes he made mistakes. Yes he is not in form. But please don't pull down the most versatile player India has because of your buffoonery.

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Jun 5, 2009

Motcham

Another item checked in the 'List of things to do before dying'. Yanni gave a concert in the Motor City as a part of a series of concerts across US and I sure didn't miss it. Not in a lifetime!

This concert is different from his previous ones. He is trying out a new concept called The Voices. He has identified and trained 4 young singers who sing along for some of his popular pieces. I must say I am not a great fan of this new thing because the beauty of his works were the story told by each instrument that shapes the mood he wanted to convey. When the main music is replaced by a voice, I felt, the effect is not quite comparable. But the four singers: Nathan Pacheco, Ender Thomas, Chloe and Leslie Mills, I should admit are terrific. Nathan and Leslie Mills are a bit of tradionalists in their singing. Nathan is inclined more towards a operatic kind of singing while Leslie's songs are mostly soft and mellifluous. Chloe and Ender are the party animals. They swing, dance and do wild stuff. Chloe is not only beautiful but also has a voice whose depth and throw is remarkable; especially for some one so young.

Yanni started off with Santorini which was first performed by him at Greece. He stuck to the original musical version. After this came the new 'voices' pieces. Though I liked them it didn't quite give the goosebumps I get even while seeing his concert videos. For some of the pieces, they unrolled a translucent screen in front of the stage and projected a video on it. It was surreal to see the artists perform in the backdrop with a video in front of them. It looked spectacular.

Yanni wrapped up the show with his standard finishing piece, 'Niki Nana: We are one'. But the audience weren't done with him yet. Everyone shouted for one more piece. So he presented his amazing creation, 'Standing in Motion', which again he performed at the Acropolis in Greece. It was so mindblowing that it only further increased the adrenaline of the audience who shouted for more. Yanni who had gone backstage by then came out again and this time he played one of my all time favourite song 'Nostalgia'. It was the best! I was actually praying for some time that he would perform this. The piece requires a tremendous performance in piano. When he was finished it, he got a long standing ovation but some people still weren't content. They chanted in unison for another piece. Yanni was thrilled and asked us 'Aren't you people planning to go home tonight?'. But he packed the powerpunch for the last bit and gave us the whirlwind of a song, 'The Storm'. With that he took the final bow.

What a night. A true genius indeed! I came home with the desire of 10 years finally fulfilled.

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Jun 3, 2009

அடங்கொக்கா மொக்கா! இதுக்கு அடுத்து, முதல் குழந்தைக்கு தங்க செயின், அடுத்த குழந்தைக்கு தங்கமோதிரமும் கொடுப்பாங்க போல இருக்கே!! பொறக்காத குழந்தைய வெச்சு ஊழல் பண்ணிடலாம் டோய்!!
தேர்தலில் கறக்க முடியாதத இதுல கறந்துடபோறேன்!

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Jun 1, 2009

How the Goliath filed its way to Manhattan.

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May 30, 2009

Rajapakse

A very interesting interview with the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse. He talks candidly about the war, his views on Indian Government's stance towards the conflict, politics etc. I don't claim I understand fully the conflict but I like Rajapakse. In an era of weak kneed and corrupt politicians in India, he seems to be a determined and iron willed man. Some one fit to be a president during tough times. Will his achievements be more than any of his contemporaries including Obama? Time will tell.

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May 29, 2009

Fall of the Goliath

The Giant gets humbled on Monday :(

When it was healthy and standing tall, people were proud and content to prance around it in its shadows. Now when it falls on them, everybody says, 'I told you so'.

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May 24, 2009

The beginning of the summer movies marathon

I saw three movies in the last few days and completely enjoyed only one. I have this craze for seeing it on the big screen with real surround effect so much so that sometimes I see even dumb movies and animation movies in theaters. So I am not the one to miss out on good action movies. 

X-Men: Wolverine shows the travails of Logan as he starts off as a mutant with self healing powers and ends up with his bones being supplanted with an 'indestructible' metal. The movie keeps losing direction as it follows Logan chasing down Victor, his brother, for killing his girlfriend. Except for Hugh Jackman's acting and few special effects packed scenes, the movie fails to pack a punch unlike its predecessors. Cinematography looked good on the big screen with nice touches of CG.

Terminator: Salvation (4th in the Terminator series) is the story of John Connor who leads the resistance against Robots controlled by the Skynet. Originally started as a Defense program, Skynet becomes sentient and starts to control all robots (or cyborgs). The movie was as cliched as it could get. It stooped down to the levels of being a run-of-the mill hollywood action flick that packs all the stuff from mind blowing (and mind numbing) action sequences to a love between a robot and human. Some scenes were so cliched that I thought that the director actually saw some Indian films for inspiration. This was particularly dissapointing for some one like me who is a die hard fan of the Terminator movies (esp. Judgement Day). And I thought what lacked sorely in the movie was none other than Arnold himself. Maybe, he could have made even this poor plot interesting. Also the soundtrack was nowhere near T2. Though the famous track gets played here and there, the BGM never sticks in the mind. Christian Bale could have hardly done anything better with such a plot. After all, what else could you expect from a Director whose previous ventures include Charlie's Angels.

Angels & Demons was the best of the lot. I thought it was even better than Da Vinci Code (the movie). Again, the movie couldn't help but fall short of the book in some aspects. The beauty of the two books being that the plot is merely a vehicle used to deliver the rich information gathered by the author: the truth and fictious part of it. So there is no way anybody can make a movie that can have the appeal of the book in its purest sense. But what the movie did achieve was to hold the audience enthralled with some nice cinematography, taut plot, enough information about the Vatican and some suspense at the end. I read somewhere that Ron Howard is thinking about a trilogy for Robert Langdon's adventures. I am not sure if Dan Brown is writing another book on those lines, but if he does it sure does promise to be a good one.

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May 18, 2009

When past meets present

I slowed down the car near a stop sign before turning right to see if any vehicle is coming from the left. Instinctively, I looked to the right to see if there was a policeman standing. For a second I was confused as I know policemen don't stand in the middle of the roads here. Still something familiar was flashing before my eyes and superimposing itself on what I was seeing at that moment.


It was the junction right outside the present location of Pothys. When going to school, I used to pedal along Duraiswamy road and turn right onto S.Usman Road. Those were days when such earthly things were still possible in T.Nagar. There was absolutely no traffic at 8.15AM those days. A no right-turn rule was formed only a few months back but as usual rules don't apply to cyclists. Still that policeman used to give me a stare but never stopped me from turning right.

But the 'vision' didn't stop there. As I turned the car and went a few meters, immediately I thought I saw the wide and empty Usman road with the platform shops still covered with tarpaulin sheets and tied with nylon ropes to the right, and some over eager shoppers sitting outside Kumaran Silks before they open at 8.30AM. 

It took me a few minutes to erase those images and concentrate back on the driving and think about the day's work in office. It was eerie and nostalgic at the same time. But nostalgia is always depressing.

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May 16, 2009

Election times are good

We shifted residence some time back and did not find our names in the local poll booth. Apparently, the names were struck off promptly from the area we moved out from but the supplemental list that was supposed to have the names in the new area did not have them. Now, my Naina is furious because he cannot get that 200 rupees that the thaatha's katchi paid everyone in our area to vote for them.

My Aatha is ruing differently. She wishes she had been in Madurai. Apparently, our relatives in Madurai got a nice saree in addition to variable payments of Rs.200 and above. They were compelled to swear on their kids' heads (தலை மேல கை வெச்சு சத்தியம்) that they will vote for thaatha's katchi only. But that is ok.

I was smarter. I got involved 'voluntarily' in the katchi's local sangam and allowed my auto be used for katchi service. Got paid handsomely for that and also a few TV sets that was supposed to be distributed through ration shops. I can sell them each for a few thousands. Moreover, I got to vote multiple times in different booths.

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May 15, 2009

The race to 7, Race Course Road

The marathon voting process ended (May 13) in India with Tamil Nadu, one of the decisive swing states. With the magic number of 272 only a dream for both Congress and BJP led UPA and NDA respectively, a lot of shift in the political alliances are to be expected once the results are declared a few hours from now.

DMK raked up the Tamils issue, quite some time before the election was in the horizon, to use it as a political agenda (The Tamils in Sri Lanka have been suffering for years now. But their sufferings have opened the party's vista only now). It is going to be there for the next state elections too and for the Assembly elections after that and so on. It is like Pakistan dealing with Al-Qaeda. Everybody knows its a problem but nobody will want to do anything about it. But what really sent me hopping with rage was the sycophantic acts of the tamil film industry. Lead by minions like Bharati Raja and Sathyaraj who tow the lines of KK (K.Karunanidhi) shamelessly, the entire industry were arm twisted to take part in the fasts and protests to end the atrocities in Sri Lanka (Yeah right. The minute they protest, Rajapakse would be cowed into submission). And people like Vadivelu groveled behind.


The Third Front's fragility is as obvious as the lack of a common ideology for the 'alliance'. Continuous assertions notwithstanding, I really expect the alliance to shatter as offers are made by both UPA and NDA to woo the individual parties, and the star of the show would definitely be Jayalalitha.

Seriously, I do wish AIADMK wins though, not because I think JJ is good but because she is better (I know this is not state elections but its been sickening seeing Dayanidhi Maran's face in the TV). Even as I am typing this, NDTV is predicting 20 for DMK, 18 for AIADMK and 1 for Vijayakanth's DMDK. I hope JJ gets much more than 18 AND choses to go with BJP. Another, 5 years of weak-kneed UPA is something India can do without.

If for some reason UPA wins more than NDA, I still sincerely hope that AIADMK wins more than DMK. This way, Congress will try to take JJ under their wings (who cares if JJ called Sonia an Eunuch a few years back?). Why this would be significant is, JJ's only main, if not the only condition, for proferring support to UPA is the withdrawal of support for the DMK alliance in TN. This would mean the collapse of the state government and new state elections for TN. Woohoo.

P.S.: Just for the kick of it, I would like to see Modi become the PM. It will be fun to see US Consulate to try and refuse a VISA for him again.

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Should'nt it be named 'CTV HINDU'?

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May 14, 2009

Time Pass....

Its going to be a great summer as far as movie releases go. Angels and Demons has been released. I am yet to see that. Terminator Salvation with Christian Bale as the new John Connor is releasing on May 21.Christian also has another coming up with Public Enemies (along with Johnny Depp!!!). Then Ice Age 3 on July 1. And this sequel to Night at the Museum (Oh well. No harm in just sitting in the theater for a hour and a half for this I guess).
Then Selvaraghavan's Aayirathil Oruvan. The T20 World Cup begins in England on June 5. Kamal's Unnai Pol Oruvan is expected to release in July too. Phew..At least somethings to look forward to till the end of July.

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May 12, 2009

A write-up on the Chennai constituencies based on the electoral 'distribution' for the upcoming elections. 

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May 6, 2009

ஊருக்கு மட்டும் உபதேசம்..

Rick Wagoner, the CEO of a company, flies in corporate jet spending $20,000 and gets fired. Then the Obama headed Government authorizes a photo-shoot flight of Air Force One costing $328,835.
I wonder why they needed a photo shoot for the plane anyway. Planning to sell it on ebay? Hmm.

On an entirely unrelated note, Bristol Palin is now advocating that abstinence is the best form of birth control.

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May 2, 2009

TIME has come out with its list of most influential people for the year 2009. Like any other lists and awards (including the Oscars) it is contentious. I have no idea why some people are even there, because as far as I know they did nothing notable in the recent past. But then again, all lists are subjective. Some notable inclusions are Nandan Nilekeni, AR Rahman and Maya Arulpragasam aka M.I.A.

P.S.: I am personally peeved at the fact that Dada fails to get a mention (yet again). These amrigans....what do they know?

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Say Hi, but how?

My Doctor in Chennai used to say, that we (Indians) had one of the healthiest cultural practices but it was ruined by the Britishers under the name of modernization. "For example", he says, "we used to greet people by saying Namaste (or Vanakkam) with our hands, people cannot enter the house without washing their feet etc., to name a few. But what did the Britishers (Vellai Kaarans) teach us? Handshakes, paper towels, Toilet seats etc. The worst cases of direct and indirect physical contacts that spread unwanted germs."

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May 1, 2009

Hi Whitehouse. Can I be your fraansip? pls pls pls dont say no. ur luking very gud.

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Apr 27, 2009

Chennai Super 'Nak'Kings

It remains to be seen how long Dhoni will persevere with Parthiv patel and Morkel. Parthiv never seems to sight the ball and Morkel never seems to send the ball out of sight. Less said about his bowling the better. And Joginder Sharma. Urrgh. 


Badrinath was pathetic today in the dearth overs. Looks like he had a notion that when you got 3 balls left, it is better to waste deliveries trying to take singles to give the strike to Oram than trying for boundaries. Flintoff wasted a few matches. Thank God he got injured or else he would have wasted more matches in the name of an (overpriced) allrounder. Balaji seems to still think he is jogging in Natesan Park and slowly ambles upto the wicket and bowls gentle full tosses.

It is time for others to be given a chance. Else, CSK would end up one place higher than the Bangalore Royal Wallowers. Hopefully, Mumbai doesn't win the finals and KKR doesn't win a match from now. Delhi and Deccan are my other favs.

My previous views on IPL are here and here.

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Apr 17, 2009

I am smart; therefore I am radical

Whenever you want to sell a ridiculous idea, the easiest way to pass it off is to propose an even more ridiculous idea. When everybody argues about the idea and cast it down as being the most ridiculous idea ever, you then implement the original idea which would almost go unnoticeable. Clever marketing.

Even though I like McCullum, I really pray hard for him to fail. This would finally shut the big-headed guys like Buchanan. And if Ganguly doesn't still learn and continues roping in self-proclaimed Aussie coaching gurus, he deserves his fate. 
And this is why I always hate Shah Rukh Khan: this portrayal of being smarter than he really is. If you randomly pick a person and ask him to name a person or thing or a way to garner the emotional support of Bengal, the answer would be unanimous. But this King Kong thinks he is smart, wants to show himself off as a real 'team player' and goes about prancing behind Buchanan. I wonder if the fans would disassociate themselves from the team after this. After all, IPL is about marketing. If you can't sell the team to Bengal with Ganguly, you do not deserve it in the first place.

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Apr 9, 2009

How the world changes..

I was amused by this. There is no relation between this and this. Still amusing.

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Apr 6, 2009

Even CDOs have better prospects

They told him when he was a kid and didn't have the time to study for exams, that if he is so irresponsible he will never get a good job. And somehow, his parents, like most of the other million parents in India convinced him that getting a good job tantamounts to working in the US and this is the ultimate requirement for a marrying a beautiful girl. However, now that he did the former the latter doesn't seem to happen. He is facing a crisis that was a resultant of the sub-prime crisis which if not resolved quickly could very well lead to a premature mid-life crisis. He could not find a life partner. 
His parents have tried a lot. They went to Brahmin's Association and released multiple editions of his horoscopes and followed it up with frequent updates of his resumes. They never missed a marriage because that is where most of the networking for future alliances happen. And they were proactive enough to even attend all Sabhas in December. Still, nothing happened. His parents even told him that if he finds a girl in US it is alright with them as long as she is a Tamil Brahmin. How would they know that they are talking about an impossibility. Girls nowadays are 'committed' before they even come to the US. Those darned guys in colleges are smarter now than they were during his college days. Still if there are some single girls in US they tend to get into a relationship within their first year at a University to a proactive guy who provided them with unsolicited taxi services. And the microscopic population of girls who escaped all these vices and are still in the market tend to be those that are too overwhelming for him because of their newly acquired 'independent, career oriented' mindsets or because they just dont live up to his expectations of being a homely girl. 
His parents broadened their scope and shortlisted some girls and asked him to come to India. When he went there, he realized that people no longer were interested in US: either they did not like going to US or they were just afraid to marry a person whose job is dangling more freely than the sacred thaali. Apparently the stocks of a guy working in US have crashed along with Wall Street.
He felt totally short-sold  and had almost decided that his fate was to be a bachelor for life, when he picked up today's newspaper. His eyes skimmed through the entire article but locked onto one paragraph:
For instance, Ms. Seth says she likes nice clothes and would like to have a flat-screen TV. "Is he really prepared to provide the kind of lifestyle that I have right now?" She expects a husband to earn more than she does.

This somehow made him happy. All hopes may not be lost yet. So with a renewed vigor and with an optimism fueled by desperation, he logged onto his computer. "can i be your fraanship?" he typed. Maybe she could be the one, he thought as he clicked on send.

P.S.: This was obviously inspired by the linked article and a recent spurt in the demand for a story by me from some good samaritans who, I think, did it just to keep me in good spirits hoping that I don't take their request seriously.

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Mar 31, 2009

Worn out terror

Finally, the Obama team does something sensible. Whether it is out of a sense of compunction or aimed at primarily distancing itself from the acts of the previous regime is debatable. I have already harped on about how the phrase infuriated me.

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Mar 30, 2009

Hyprocricy en masse

Finally, a piece in CNN that I can completely agree with. I thought the day would never come. Everybody, including the Government have a easy punch bag with the Big 3. Though they are far from being innocent, nevertheless they provide the ideal outlet for people to vent their ires on: a highly paid CEO of a struggling company who goes on a leased jet to ask for money to run a company that fires people in thousands, the same people who are part of the infamous UAW and supposedly getting paid a fairy tale amount of $30/hour. It couldn't get better. It is a clear case of the bully picking on the weakest kid and twisting his arm. That is what is being done to the auto companies. Even though they deserve it, everybody should take responsibility instead of pointing fingers. For example, Wagoner is being accused of turning a blind eye to fuel efficient cars and instead focusing on SUVs and pick-up trucks. Well, who bought those pick-up trucks? Did people buy the pick-up trucks because that was the only vehicles in the market or did GM make those because it had the biggest demand? Naturally, a company would exploit the demand in the market. You want a big car? You get it. You want a retrofitted Corvette? You get it. Clearly, these are not the days when you can say, "you can order any color as long it is black" and get away with it. So why blame them now for having provided you with what you wanted all these years? Look within.

On an another note here is a piece from Paul Krugman, one of the most vocal critics of the way the current crisis is being handled:

Underlying the glamorous new world of finance was the process of securitization. Loans no longer stayed with the lender. Instead, they were sold on to others, who sliced, diced and puréed individual debts to synthesize new assets. Subprime mortgages, credit card debts, car loans — all went into the financial system’s juicer. Out the other end, supposedly, came sweet-tasting AAA investments. And financial wizards were lavishly rewarded for overseeing the process.

But the wizards were frauds, whether they knew it or not, and their magic turned out to be no more than a collection of cheap stage tricks. Above all, the key promise of securitization — that it would make the financial system more robust by spreading risk more widely — turned out to be a lie. Banks used securitization to increase their risk, not reduce it, and in the process they made the economy more, not less, vulnerable to financial disruption.

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Mar 23, 2009

பாம்பையும் பார்பனையும் கண்டால் முதலில் பார்பனை அடி

Hahahahaha. Oh my God. I couldn't stop laughing on reading this:

..he (S.Ve.Shekar) said he would soon meet Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and request him for 7 per cent reservation for the Brahmin community. “I am sure he will agree, and when he does, I will show my gratitude by campaigning for him among the Brahmins. Even if I don’t, the community will unanimously thank him and lend support"


He might as well expect Karunanidhi to turn up at Kapaleeshwarar temple with him, since he is the current Mylapore MLA. What an ass! After criticizing politicians in his plays, he doesnt mind becoming one of them now.

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