Nov 7, 2010

Indha kodumaiya en vaayaala epdine solven?

Thalaivar very rarely (meaning never) grants such interviews. Most likely, Kalanidhi Maran would have told him that in order to produce this movie he would require Rajini's dedicated involvement for marketing too. Sun TV, even though it is a powerhouse of wealth and supposed technical expertise has some of the worst shows and comperes. Vijay Saarathy is a prime example of the kind of boot licking, kozhanjufying oafs that forms that lot and why he would be given an opportunity to interview Rajini for more an hour is anybody's guess.
The interview could have been at a different plane had it been handled by someone more adept at such things. But lets leave it. We all know nincompoops can only deliver sub par quality. But the wtf moment is the last scene of the interview. My God. Can any one of the lorry drivers in Chennai do everyone a favor and run this guy over the next time he is seen on the roads?


Sep 29, 2010

People make fun of TamilNadu as the state to have built temples for actors like Kushboo. What they don't realize is TN people have found clever ways to work around issues of religion and still build temples that 'unite' everybody instead of getting into quagmires like this. chonna nambala paithiyakaaran nu solraanga...


Sep 17, 2010

Kanna, paneengadhaanda pathinoru peroda aadum, chennai singangal pathu peroda aadi win pannumda..

Dhoni has picked up this strange habit of always persisting with one player in the team whom everybody wants out. But he would have none of that. While the rest of the World threaten, swear, plead and cry he continues to pick that wild card player in his team - even if his performances continue to redefine the word abysmal match after match.

In that context, Hayden: CSK::R Jadeja: India. Unless, our Namakkal Anjaneyar drops himself we are going to see more embarrassments.


Aug 19, 2010

What most of us do is complain, fume, rant, write a blog post (the lazier ones just tweet) when we experience the lumbering behemoth that is our Indian system of governance and politics. But we can verala vuttu ennify the number of people who actually do something about it. Here is one person I can at least have the pleasure of claiming to know who went that extra mile.


Aug 8, 2010

Short Films

Recently, I came across a slew of short films most of which were part of this show called Naalaiya Iyakunar in Kalaignar TV (yes, even they make some watchable shows apparently). Many of them were impressive. The way the amateurs have packed some concept within 10minutes is highly commendable. Some are light hearted, some deal with the kind of emotions only Indians can empathize with, some deal with a social message and some pack a real punch. Great stuff.


Aug 6, 2010

A lucky friend of mine is moving to California tomorrow. Dammit, I am so jealous as he has already started taunting me about the better place, weather blah blah etc. Ok, back to my dreary life now.


Aug 1, 2010

What a karuvaad!!
Caught this screenshot during the pre-movie ads from a local desi theater.


Jul 31, 2010

Brilliant composition. Very techno and some interesting instruments in the BG. ARR is opening this supposedly intro song for thalaivar, followed by his daughter and then only SPB starts singing!


Jul 30, 2010

Public Enemies

Just finished seeing Public Enemies. Have been wanting to see it for quite some time especially since it had two of my most favorite actors in the lead roles - Johnny Depp & Christian Bale. The movie is about a gangster in the Midwest during the 1920s, John Dillinger. He embarks on a series of Bank robberies that prompts the police force in Chicago to hunt down John along with his accomplices. The movie spans the states of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois and makes a good viewing. Johnny Depp & Christian Bale deliver as would be expected of them. The Direction is not top notch and I did feel my attention wandering away at times. But the movie has some real good BGMs and it adds to the cinematic feel which the Director had striven hard to bring, with some success.

The surprise package was Marion Cotillard, the french actress who must be famous by now for her role as Leonardo DiCaprio's wife in Inception (aahh, there is a movie that deserves some special mention!).

Meanwhile, I chanced upon this teaser video for Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides and some leaked photos from the shooting. The news here is that Penelope Cruz is starring in this edition as well. Awesomeness!


Jul 15, 2010

Unna naanga varasolli kooptoma?

There is this guy in my office. I talked to him because I was told he is from Chennai. Apparently, he is one of those pseudo chennaiite (Bombay roots, Kannadiga stem etc.). This fellow got American Citizenship, thinks he was born in Ohio and talks like he studied at MIT (not Muthukumaran Institute of Technology, mind you!). I was forewarned by others that he is a psycho and one of those desis trying to assimilate with the Whites by berating Indianism (any act or stereotypes associated with an Indian, basically). Still I got to talk to him, mainly because he takes a smoking break every half hour and the designated smoking area happens to be near the labs where I work. To quote a colleague, he walks like Sid the Sloth in Ice Age; slow with drooping head as if he is ready to drop down any minute.

Anyways, so this sloth went to Chennai for 2 weeks after complaining loudly a 100 times how he doesn't feel like going, and he is forced to go only because his mother is there and his wife wanted to go visit her parents, and how the company stock prices are going to crash in the two weeks of his absence. After two weeks of granting bliss to people in my office with his absence he returned recently. I avoided him by taking all the preplanned routes out of my labs so I really didn't get to hear his horror stories, except for the one time when he complained how sewage was literally running everywhere in Chennai's roads and how Spencer Plaza and all the Mega malls and Mini malls were baaaddddd and uaaackkk.

Anyway, I ignored all these nonsense because you know that story about throwing kallu on seru. But soon my colleagues started coming to me one by one and asking, "Is this true? Is there garbage everywhere in your city?", "Is your house situated amidst a huge pile of trash? Because this guy just showed me pics of his trip and there were houses right next to garbage","There were dirty cows on the road. He said they are everywhere in the city, is it true?" and the kickass "he said it touched 125F when he was there it must be horrible".

Ok, there are dirty cows, garbage heaps but they aren't everywhere. This guy found immense pleasure in saying how dirty his city and country was and had tried to tell them he never wants to go back. And I am damn sure it didn't touch 125F in the last two weeks for sure. In fact for the first time there were a few days during which it was hotter here than in Chennai! So I couldn't hold back anymore and gave a long lecture to my colleagues on how this guy has been exaggerating many things, and how temperatures never touch 125F unless you are in Sahara desert. Anyhow, at the end of it all I felt angrier than ever.

Ivana elaam paduka vechu Asok Leylaand lorry aala yethanum. Raascal.


Jun 28, 2010

கண்ணனுக்கே அழகூட்டிய ஒரு பாடல்!


Jun 27, 2010

The best part of this video is at 7:30 when Rahman removes the Oscar statuettes from his potti, carefully wrapped around with a vellai thundu.


Jun 24, 2010

Thiru Krishnan, Thiru Muthu avaragalai medaiku vandhu thanga chain matrum thanga modhiram petrukollumaaru azhaikirom! Thiru Krishnan, Thiru Muthae!


Jun 19, 2010

Raavanan aanda enna, Rahman aanda enna..aaga motham padam mokkai

Ok, the movie sucked. Really. Neither was the Direction good nor was the screenplay coherent. There is no point in narrating the story because the movie was so blatantly lifted off from Ramayana I really got bored after a while and could predict what would happen next. For me such adaptations doesn't reflect the prowess of the Director at all. It was a very run of the mill kind of story/screenplay which was tailored to reflect a well known epic. Maybe the audience are supposed to shriek in ecstasy when they relate to characters resembling Hanuman and Vibheeshanan, but I most certainly was put off by that. There was no elaborate build up to the story. The movie begins with Veeraiya (Vikram) kidnapping Ragini (Aishwarya Rai) and her husband Dev played by PrithviRaj prepares to mount an all out attack on Veera. BGMs sucked because there were no true BGMs. The bits and pieces from the songs were just rehashed to form the BGM. What happened to the good old days of our Ilayaraja when people actually spent as much time on BGMs as they did on songs?

The first half moves slowly. I mean so slowly that it feels more stagnant than all of Aishwarya's facial expressions can muster. The Director is only focused on portraying the love sprouting in Vikram's heart for Ragini. It is not a bad concept if it had been handled well but he had gone overboard with the Screenplay part. The scenes were too jumpy; in the sense there was no smooth flow. Yet the same scenario was being shown for one hour; Ragini falling down the cliff for some five times in Vikram's mind. There is actually no good characterization in the first half except for Vikram's. Suhasini has written the Dialogues for the movie and I couldn't help but laugh during those 'typical' one liner exchanges in the first half when Dev was told his wife was kidnapped. It went something like this:
Hemanth: siiirrr, river la oru accident
Dev: Eppo
H: Ippodhan sirrr
Dev: Enna aachu
H: sirrr, inoru boat idichu....adhula vandhu...
D: enna?
H: unga wife...
D: solunga Hemanth..
It reminded me of that classic spoof in Thamizh Padam of that 'Thalabadhi' scene where Mammooty visits his injured henchman in a hospital.

Karthik gets totally wasted by ManiRatnam. I felt great pity for such a talented actor reduced to doing buffoonery just because one of his 'mentors' asked him to act in the movie. His intro scene when he does some 'Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon'isque jumping around of trees looked so bad and made no sense. Later, in the movie Kartihk gets to be the Hanuman of the story and if those initial tree jumping scenes were intended to give the audience a clue about that, then I am sorry to say ManiRatnam but Perarasu would have done a better job of it. If his role was intended to be that of a comic relief with his monkey acts, then somebody like Vivek etc. would have done a much better job of it. Same is the case with Prabu. The continued references to the epic was also irritating. People should have been left feeling a resemblance to the epic. Instead, ManiRatnam makes sure that the audience have no doubts whatsoever. Somebody should count the number of times references are made to the numbers 10 and 14 in that movie! We all know Raavanan had ten heads, Sir. Please. No need to remind us again and again. Also, we all know that Ramar went to vanavaasam for 14 years. No need to give not so subtle hints such as 'she will die in 14 hours', 'she was supposed to be held for 14hours but now she should be held for 14 days' etc. Maybe you were making this movie for an 'international' audience who have no idea what Ramayanam is about and probably you would give a quick guide to Ramayanam along with the movie tickets to those audience so that they can croon in delight when they see those cross references making sense.

Amidst all this drudgery, there are two things in the movie that is spectacular. Firstly, the Cinematography. It is just indescribable. It was not just one or two scenes but the entire movie that was shot in vivid colors and some breathtaking camera angles. Some do stick to the mind: Vikram's standing on the cliff edge and doing a 'will he jump or won't he' kind of thing, the scene where the officers cut through the dense forest and the camera focuses on a dragon fly perched on the branch and slowly pans out to the bunch of people (the dragonfly looked totally like a toy though), the waterfalls, the final scene in which Vikram is shot and falls down in a SloMo. Breathtaking is the only word that justifies all this.

Secondly, Vikram. The story was not just centered around his character but his performance in the movie is so towering that all the other flaws seem more magnified because of that. Seeing Aishwarya's banality of expressions and PrithviRaj's stonyfaced reactions (thanks to ManiRatnam's idea of a steel nerved Police I believe) Vikram seemed to really possess ten times the prowess of the other actors! If Vikram hadn't captivated the audience enough till the end of the movie then he definitely delivers the sucker punch in the climax when he realizes the trap he has fallen in. Even his expressions as he falls to his death lingers in the mind. As a friend of mine said, his performance in this movie is like watching Sachin score a century in a losing cause!

If I see this movie again it would be for the Cinematography and Vikram. And I hope this refocuses his immense acting abilities and makes him a better chooser of movies in the future!

P.S.: It feels so good to say, I told you so!


Jun 13, 2010

Adraa Sakka

I saw two videos well after midnight and I still have trouble sleeping because of them. First one was this. The way she imitates the Singh, the Patel and the Italian and her emphasis on Vasantha was awesomely funny.

The second video was this - Our very own TR. Earlier in the day I was seeing some of the videos of the internet sensation Wilbur Sargunaraj and read about how he had become popular in the US as well (with well known movie critic Roger Ebert mentioning this video in one of his twitter message). I was wondering if this is guy really like this? I mean, does he have a secret identity which is his real life that is hid behind this character? Surely there has to be. Having said that it is really hard to believe when someone actually are just the way they appear to be - like our TR. Whaat a maaannn (as Abbas says in Padayappa). Not only does he have the gumption to render his version of an African beat for more than a minute but he also says it would become an internet sensation. And the way he ends the call - "Ellaa pugazhum iraivanuke, inshah allah".

Ada Raama....


Jun 6, 2010

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Nothing beats seeing a good movie in a awesome theater. Except, of course, if you get to see an awesome movie in an awesome theater! I saw Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and I thoroughly enjoyed it enough to think about going for a second time!

The movie is about the famous Prince who most of us would have known when trying to take him to the Princess through the dungeons with the help of 4 keyboard buttons. Later, came the gaming consoles etc. that popularized the franchise enough to merit a movie out of it. But unlike ventures that were made into poorly made cheesy movies (ala Tomb Raider), PoP is a perfectly served blend of action, magical forces and stunning visuals.

Prince Dastan, the protagonist, is played by Jake Gyllenhaal. I had some serious doubts on the credibility of the movie once I saw the trailers: the trailer was more of a select scenes of action without much insight into the story itself and moreover Jake seemed a total misfit for the role. Strongly lingering images of Jake playing the young guy trying to escape the snow in the Day After Tomorrow & the boyish ranch hand in the Brokeback Mountain made him a suspect for this role, in my opinion (Jake is the younger brother of Maggie Gyllenhall, in case you din't know it!). But to his credit, at the end of the movie I could not think of a better person for the role.

Dastan is an orphan who gets adopted by the King of Persia after showing courage in the face of adversity. This makes him the youngest of the three Princes in the line to the throne - Tus & Garsiv. When the King is away from the city, news reaches the Princes about the treachery by the sacred city of Alamut which is selling weapons to the enemies of the Persian empire. The two Princes decide to invade the city aided by the counsel of their uncle Nizam, against the suggestion of Dastan. This leads to a trail of events during which the King, on his return to the city, gets killed and Jake is blamed for his death. Jake escapes with Princess Tamina (played by Gemma Arterton, and she is Hot!)of Alamut. Tamina is the guardian of the Dagger of Time which she safeguards from falling into the hands of evil men. The rest of the story is about how Dastan proves his innocence and also helps Tamina in returning the Dagger to safety. The strength of the movie is the realization by the Director that a story like this would abound with cliches during movie making: the culture of Persia has to be showcased in a way that everyone identifies with but yet must not be too banal, the hero has to be agile and fight many kinds of enemies yet there must be no poorly placed wise quips etc. The Director has walked this fine line and never let the movie drift away. The focus and packaging keeps the audience riveted. He has cleverly avoided pitfalls of loud mouthed villains (if you see The Mummy movies, you know what I am talking about), unnecessary number of mushy scenes with the female lead, sidekicks etc.

The film editing is by a trio that includes the legendary Michael Kahn who is one of my all time favorite and he has done a fabulous job in this movie. The movie has some stunning visuals that includes panoramic scenery and intelligent graphics. Soundtrack is a big plus for the movie too. I am a big sucker for multi-channel audio tracks and a movie with a storyline like PoP provides ample opportunities for it and the way it is has been smartly interspersed and employed, I just fell head over heels for it.

One of those movies that I would probably end up seeing many times over.


Jun 1, 2010

Minute by Minute Commentary

Friend: Why are you not updating anything on Facebook?
Me: I don't know. What is there to update anyway?
Friend: So many things! Like that trip you went on 2 weeks back, India's T20 matches etc. You have to let people know what you are thinking by writing on your wall.
Me: Why would I write on my wall? I always like my walls to be clean and white! In fact, I am going to see if I can prevent others from scribbling on my neat wall as well..
Friend: Loosu..seri leave it. At least you can twitter, no?
Me: What am I? A sparrow?
Friend: But everybody twitters now. This is how people share their thoughts and opinions.
Me: But I already write a blog for that. If I want to force my opinion on people who refuse to read it then I will call them and let them know what I think. Who is going to be interested in where I ate lunch, which place I went to last night and how I "Juz feel lazy to go 2 work 2day". If Sachin tweets "I should have blocked instead of trying to drive that ball", it is worth reading. Who would be interested in knowing what a nobody like me feels looking at the sunset on a lovely summer night!
Friend: &*$#%@


May 29, 2010

First look of the Semmozhi video for the Ulaga Thamizh Maanadu. Impressive track from Rahman, though I feel it has a much more contemporary feel to it than it should have in terms of the instrument used as well as the singers. Especially considering the fact that the conference is meant to serve as a point of discussion on the 'thamizh kalaacharam' (that includes the contemporary relevance of literary pieces such as Tholkaapiyam & Thirukkural) and spreading awareness to the current diaspora).

Gowtham Menon has tried to do a Mile Sur Mera Thumhara with the video but there lacks a distinct flow to it. I have no idea why Shruthi Hassan and Blaaze are even there in the video.

But anyhow...


May 18, 2010

Like the saying "Ennadhaan naaya kulipaatti naduveetla vechaalum, adhu vaala suzhatindu therukudhaan odum nu", ivanunga ennadhaan adipaatalum thirundha maatanga polarke!


Apr 27, 2010

Mani Ratnam

I like Mani Ratnam's movies a lot just like many others. Some of his earlier works are real masterpieces, with each subsequent movie of his exploring different genres with no similarity in the stories that would have made any Director predictable ala Shankar.

But what I don't understand and what makes me recoil with confusion bordering on hate is his obsession to simultaneously direct a version in Hindi. Why does he want to do that? Imagine filming two movies at the same time. Irrespective of both having the same storyline you still have to manage different cast, schedules, slightly modified screenplay to suit different audiences, etc. Why this masochism? What does he get out of it? Is the recognition and pleasure of seeing the movie run successfully in Tamil too small to satisfy his über sized ego? He wants his 'art pieces' to be applauded by all of India? Is the desire for wider recognition driving him to do this crazy stuff? Wasn't he recognized as a great director till Iruvar? Then why does he have to bend backwards to cater to a bigger audience? I myself can think of 10 answers to this but still none of them make sense.


Apr 26, 2010

"..more than the game, there was more pressure from my friends for passes. i had never felt so much pressure before...." - MS Dhoni during the toss interview. One reason why Chennai won. The other reason being of course Mumbai sucks which was why they cleanly took Hayden's catch while dropping Raina's.


Apr 25, 2010

Kaasedhan Kadavulada

"Dooode!! Are you ready to be thrashed? Bewarrre". The threats from my colleague, who is from Bombay, only increased in frequency since that first call. He seems more excited that Chennai made it to finals than me. Immediately, plans were made to watch the finals together duly accompanied by more threats of 'thrashing', 'clobbering', 'smashing' and other superlatives that only war-mongering American Presidents can think of.

Soon after our PC offered to resign following the Maoists attack, which was categorically rejected by our Honorable PM, a member of Twitterati (which is no way related to the Illuminati, lest Dan Brown gets all too excited about writing a book in which Robert Langdon reveals the truth behind the covert operations of the BCCI/IPL with trip to exotic locales such as the BCCI's head office in Mumbai aided by cutting edge technologies such as the MRF blimp) has been asked to resign. My glee at the guillotine that has been falling can be expressed only to some extent through words. Scenes of Modi's head & hands wedged between the wood waiting for the guillotine to fall (even as he tweets from his Blackberry "@unsuspectingmedia: i wonder how individuals & companies had so much money to spend on ipl teams. fishy isn't it? ;) " ).

As this year's edition of the grand circus draws to an end, Modi has redefined the very definition of commercialism. The viewers have been caught unawares with the modern technological marvel that the blimp is. The sheer awesomeness of it is mindboggling. I, like million other viewers, was wondering after the first few matches what is so special about the balloon suspended 100 feet above the ground. But the organizers cleverly withheld the secret till the semi-finals. After impatiently scratching around for 3 matches and 12 time-outs, it eventually dawned on me. It is amazing. The MRF blimp is the first ever object in the time-space continuum to be there at a location; yet not quite there. The camera kept panning out to the giant screen on the ground which shows the blimp every now and then, even as Sivaramakrishnan and Danny Morrison croon in unison with ecstasy on sighting the blimp. Obviously, the blimp is over the ground as per the assertions of all the commentators yet it can be seen only on the giant screen! Awesomeness. In fact, the blimp is so popular that people are flocking stores to get a model that can float around their living rooms.

Meanwhile, as the Overlord of the IPL sinks deeper and deeper into the quagmire, there are great expectations that the entire cricketing structure is going to be revamped. By cricketing structure, we are referring to the people who can make the big bucks and rub shoulders with Mukesh Ambani, Siddharth Mallya (No, it must be Vijay Mallya, I think, because Siddharth Mallya is only seen rubbing shoulders with Deepika Padukone) etc. There are even some preposterous rumours that Ravi Shastri would be given an important post. Maybe a good thing. If he can shout at the franchise owners half as much as he shouts during the toss then running the IPL would be a piece of cake. But Modi is reported to be unfazed as of now, challenging the BCCI to try and sack him as the IPL commissioner. With nobody seeing any light at the end of this tussle, the prescient Sachidhaanandha Swamigal (now that he doesn't have to attend training sessions till the finals because of injury on his hand, suddenly finds that he has lots of time on his other uninjured hand) has predicted that the IPL will overcome the crisis. But there are reports that Modi is showing no signs of let down. In fact, for the closing ceremony of the game (which would be yet another grand ceremony that usually begins with pledging for green, blue, pink and all other color coded environmental benefits and ends with spectacular fireworks display and 1 million kW of electricity consumed for the lights and the show) it is believed that Modi will make a spectacular appearance by descending from the 'Technological Marvel' MRF blimp (complete with a cape and everything thereby laying to rest all doubts of his perceived superhuman qualities) and would declare the entire tournament a grand Citi 'Moment' of Success.

So amidst all these distractions the focus shifts to the DY Patil stadium (which is staging the 10,347th match in the last 3 years) after the bomb blasts in Bangalore stadium 'forced' the organizers to shift the venue to the safest city in the world where the spectators known for their knowledge of cricket will come in full attendance for the neutral matches (Take that you dumb Chennaiites). Here is hoping Sachin is fit to play (otherwise even if Chennai win all the bloody Mumbaikars and Maruticars will be saying 'only because He wasn't playing') and Chennai thrash them and execute on Mumbai all the other forms of mutilations that my Mumbai (or Bombay. Whatever dude! It doesn't sound half as cool as Madras) friend talks of inflicting on the CSK team. If not, then I would have to wear that stoic face only a 'rathathula Chennai oori ponna' people can pull off and say "Its ok dude, it was a good game, I am happy that we came to finals, so many positives, Vijay, Ashwin, etc." and then to quote Dhoni's "from the semis it is just a lottery..".

P.S.: Watching people like Gavaskar, Shastri and even Bhogle struggle between the by-now well honed instinct of praising anything Modi-sque and then refraining because of the controversy he is in right now is amusing. Bhogle 'aathu aathunu aathifies a sorpozhivu' on Cricinfo where he half assails Modi and then retracts to shower praises on how Modi single handedly made IPL into a behemoth etc. Only because he is still on the payroll of you-know-who. All hypocrites, I say.


Mar 24, 2010

In today's Read as section:

Car manufacturer Daimler AG will pay $185 million to settle a criminal investigation in which the company is accused of paying tens of millions of dollars in bribes to officials of at least 22 foreign governments..

Read as, "Car manufacturer Daimler AG will pay $185 million as compensation to the Justice Department & the Securities and Exchange Commission to appease them after pleading guilty on charges of not adopting a universally fair standard of bribing."


Mar 21, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

I have been wanting to check out the nearby IMAX theater for quite some time. Not because I have never been to an IMAX before but just that I have not been to this one before.

The movie was really amazing and worth being seen in a 3D IMAX if you have one near you. The story was nothing great. The end is totally predictable and so are quite a few scenes in between. But seeing some of the legendary characters such as the White Rabbit and the Cheshire cat (and the Mad Hatter, of course) with some top class animation made the movie special. The story is a take off from Lewis Carroll's original Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Alice is 19 years old and about to be asked for marriage by a Lord. Finding these sudden rush of events difficult to handle, Alice tries to bide some time by running away from the party thrown out for this occasion. She sees the White Rabbit and follows it to the burrow of the tree that is the entrance to the Wonderland.

Johnny Depp plays the Mad Hatter and Anne Hathway plays the White Queen. Johnny Depp really doesn't have to do anything different than what he did in the three editions of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. The swagger in his walk, the lilt in his talk and the animated gestures are quite familar to everyone and fits the role perfectly. Anne Hathway doesn't have much role to play and other than grinning wider than the Cheshire cat. And oh, there is the Cheshire Cat.

Easily, my favorite character of the movie which is saying something as it beats my default overwhelming favorite, Johnny Depp. The cat's character is quite...hmm...what is the right word for it...yes, magical. The fluid appearances and the disappearances, the way it saves the Mad Hatter and its mystical dialogues makes it the star of the movie. Only later did I realize that the voice for it was by Stephen Fry! The voice for Absolum, the dreamy yet wise old Blue Caterpillar, was by Alan Rickman (of Severus Snape fame).

It is a movie worth seeing if seen in an IMAX. Not sure about its impact on an ordinary 2D screen.


Mar 16, 2010

Quote of the day

நான், ரொட்டி என்று சொன்னால் உதடுகள் ஒட்டாது; பரோட்டா, சப்பாத்தி என்று சொன்னால்தான் உதடுகள் கூட ஒட்டும்.


Mar 5, 2010

Thamizh Padam

What do you call a movie, for which the dialogues are not by Crazy Mohan but still ends up providing the same kind of entertainment? A movie where you had to pause some scenes so that you can finish your laughter so as not to miss the next quip or dig that would immediately ensue? Only one way to describe: Utterly brilliant. (A friend of mine said we should not pay to watch Thamizh Padam as it is produced from our tax money (guess why!) anyway)

The movie is a 2.5hours of non-stop good humored dig at every watershed movie and cliche of Tamil cinema; and the best part is that it has been handled with some real class. When you make fun of movies, you are invariably forced to infuse some crassness in it. Lollu Sabha did a wonderful job of it but if you have seen lot of its episodes you would know what I mean.

The movie is about Siva, who is born in a village but comes to Chennai with the aim of becoming a Superstar in movies. Mirchi Siva plays the protagonist in the movie and one could not think of a better choice for the character. He convinces his Paati not to kill him with branded kalli paal and instead take him to Chennai where he can become an actor. How he ends up achieving his only goal in life forms the rest of the movie. I could narrate the entire story here but it is tiresome and also useless because the story is not what the movie is about, even though it is coherent enough. But some of the scenes do warrant a special mention.

The hero is still a boy when he witnesses few rowdies thrashing some people. He wishes to grow up soon so that he can fight those baddies. So his Paati (Paravai Muniyamma) advises him to pedal a cycle that is 'parked on its stand'. The confused boy does so and the camera pans to his feet and then in the next few seconds the grown up hero has arrived! After the baddies are thrashed the hero gets the opening number where he refers to himself as not only a pachai thamizhan but also a pink, blue and yellow thamizhan! It is really hilarious when you see it as a video. The hero also gets angry when the dance master jumps in and starts dancing with him stealing away his limelight ala Prabudeva in recent Vijay movies!

There is this mystey person called 'D' who the hero is fighting. First, he takes on D's main henchmen. The first encounter is a spoof of Thalabadhi and the following scene of Devaraj visiting Ramana in hospital brings down the roof. The 2nd encounter with the villain is a spoof of Rajini's faceoff with Raghuvaran in Baasha. It is a riotous moment when the hero says 'kanna konjam ange paaru' to show his hidden bodyguard and the camera pans to an imitation of Kandhaswamy doing his seval movements. The 3rd encounter is a spoof of Dhool when he saves a young guy from being molested by the female villain! The scene where he offers his shirt for the guy to cover himself with is rib tickling. The 4th villain is killed during a spoof of Anniyan's buffalo stampede scene.

Siva is friends with three others - MS Bhaskar, Venniraadai Murthy & Mano Bala. And guess what their screen names are? Nakul, Bharath and Siddharth! The scenes involving the four are terrific as they go about in Boys style trying to woo girls and discuss life in general. My only disappointment was that MS Bhaskar and Mano Bala did not have much screen time though Venniradi Moorthi (Bharat) makes full utilization of the extra screen presence he had. The two scenes where he says he found a girl using Orkut & Facebook and he refuses to sleep saying he is going to study for semester exams cause spontaneous laughter.

The hero has a love interest as is typical of any movie. The scenes in which the lovestruck hero sees his girl's face everywhere including toilet doors, women fighting for water and a funeral procession deserve mention. The heroine's dad refuses to give his girl (of course) because the hero is not rich enough. So the furious hero works hard ala 'Vetri Nichayam', 'Vetri Kodi Kattu' and in the span of 5 minutes becomes a millionaire and opens many business ventures including Siva Electricity Board, Siva Beach, Siva Mortuary etc. When the hero returns to his future father-in-law's house as a rich man at the end of the song, the FIL is taken by surprise as the coffee he asked his servant to make when the hero left is given to him at the same moment the hero returns. He is dumbfounded and can only utter, "Adhukullayaa?". Brilliant!

During the engagement ceremony, a casual remark by a person that Siva doesn't know his parents makes Siva go in search of them. This is where the movie really takes off in humor leaving the first half in a shade. As Siva and Bharat travel to his native village, Cinemapatti, they meet a villager (played by Shanmugasundaram). The following scenes abound with several references and spoofs including that of Raj Kiran, Ramarajan, Ramanarayan and a slight bow to Kamal & his controvery ridden film Virumaandi.

The twist in the end is not that Siva is a police officer (!) under cover but that 'D' is none other than his paati (Paravai Muniyamma). Even AR Rahman is not spared, as the movie ends with a lighthearted take on his now famous statement "Ella Pughazhum Iraivanuke. I really had to pause the movie control my laughing at this stage. Such was the impact of scenes such as this.

There are references to several movies such as Mozhi, 7G Rainbow colony, Nayagan, Sivaji, Ghajini, Mouna Raagam. Nobody can maintain their equanimity after the heroine solemnly states that she is a great fan of SJ Surya and TR and proceeds to see Veerasami DVD saying "Idhu kadhai alla, Kaaviyam".

There are two noteworthy songs in the movie other than the opening number (Pacha Thamizhan). One is the OmaahaZeeyan which is a duet song made up purely of all the nonsense uyalaalas and ballaelakas of Tamil Cinema. The other is an item number that is a tongue in cheek reference to the all too common item numbers of contemporary Tamil Cinema. But the surprise element here is the item girl: Kasthuri. The dhaavani clad heroine of yesteryear movies goes full blown in this song (and to say the least, she looks hot!!)

It is a neatly packaged movie with intelligent sense of humor that opens up a new genre for Tamil cinema.Kudos to the Script writer of the movie who stitched together a taut screenplay. It is so easy to drift away when trying to include so many references but still he has managed to make the scenes flow coherently.


Feb 24, 2010

It was expected of Him. If He did not get to it first, Sehwag would have. But it is better that He is the first.


Feb 16, 2010

Yet another case of false reporting, more due to ara-gora knowledge than anything else.

The TREAD act was passed in response to dozens of deadly Ford Explorer rollover crashes caused by faulty Firestone tires. No fines were ever levied in that case.

In that case, both parties were culpable, especially Ford whose Explorer design was faulty and was known for years to be prone to rollover in industry circles. But it never came to light until a tire that caused the instability to worsen was put on it. See here and here, if interested more in the history of one of auto industry's biggest lawsuit and recall mess.


Feb 7, 2010

Thala's vendukol to Thalaivar

Recently, our Kalaignar granted land (asku busku. avaru enna pocket lerndhu edutha kodupaaru, elaam govt sothudhaan) to the members of FEFSI (adhavadhu Film Employees' Federation of South India) group. So the cohort comprising of mundhirikottais like Vijayakumar, Bharathiraja, Vairamuthu, Radhika, Sarathkumar et al. had to felicitate Kalaignar and so organized yet another bramaanda nigazhchi to potrify thamizh thaai's kalai sothu. One of the comedy highlights for it was having Harris Jeyaraj compose a 'thalaivar potru' song to praise our thalaivar. Naa edho Puli Urumudhu range ku song compose panni, they will superimpose images of our thalaivar from his young and dynamic days till the recent 'stephen hawking' stage with mandatory pictures of Valluvar Kottam, Mini-Flyovers and Kanyakumari Valluvar statue (because no Tamilian can recall any other achievement in our thalaivar's aatchi) nu edhirpaathen. Instead, Harris surprised everybody by going for a melody. Infact, the surprise was even more when he did not have Bombay Jayashree sing the melody. But anyways, listen to the wonderful lyrics. There is a goosebump causing line (sung by Unnimenon I think):

Neela nirathu kanaadi, kangalin mele koluviruka

Also, Ajith created a furor during the felicitation that was held on Feb.6 (probably at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium which has now become a dedicated paaratu vizha/audio launch/kalai kondaatam arangam). Unlike others he did not do the vazha vazha kozha kozha talk of potrifying thalaivar. After the mandatory couple of lines of he did that and this, he boldy made a firm request to thalaivar (which was actually more of a message to all the Tamil Industry's self proclaimed leaders and the general people) to not drag all actors and the cine industry into politics and force them to attend functions (he did not go as far as adding the line 'such as this' but it is implied). This must have been made long before the likes of Bharathiraja etc shot to limelight through the Neyveli fast or like Sathyaraj through the Hogenakkal fast. Both were for the same issues, by the way, but separated by few years which only goes to show the futility of such mass fasting. Rajini once came quite close to it (watch the video from 3:58). So, Ajith much be greatly appreciated for having the guts to say it in front of everyone. I am sure there are going to be a lot of calls for his head now!


Feb 5, 2010

One of the many articles that show Toyota's nightmare in real light (without the media glare that is). An interesting anecdote towards the end though, where the writer has mentioned about the infamous Audi 5000 issues of the late 80s:

Toyota either blames its customers and faces the wrath of the media or expresses contrition and admits it has quality issues. Perhaps having learned from the backlash against Audi when it—rightly—blamed its customers, Toyota has chosen the latter course of action.

Now you know why Toyota is in a fix. The real problem is not the recall but how to firefight right way. Because whatever it does now, the mass media will pounce on it. Say it is the driver's fault, they get thrashed because they were arrogant enough to pass the blame onto innocent blonde heads whose only fault was texting while driving and not knowing how a car functions other than knowing about its stereo system. Say it is their fault, they still get thrashed because Toyota is no longer the bastion of quality blah, blah, blah.. A classic case of the modern global organizations' operations being influenced by things out of their hands.


Feb 4, 2010

I have a mic, so what I say must be right

Continuing with the topic of Toyota's troubles with its massive recall, the media which glorified Toyota in the late 90s is now happily thrashing it. After all, the media does not care who you are or what you do. All they need is some news to create a frenzy. They ride on your good times and your bad times and feed off it; just like parasites.

When TMC recalled its cars for accelerator issues, immediately there was a wave of people owning older cars (that were not part of the recall) claiming 'sudden acceleration' which led to their vehicles crashing. Obviously, they follow it up with lawsuits claiming obscene sums from TMC. There was this guy who says because he is not able to get the accelerator pedal replaced in time for his car, he had to suffer mentally, and is depressed blah, blah blah.. Naturally, when the news of some braking issues with the 2010 Prius came out, people suddenly were saying their cars don't brake either.

So with all the bashing of Toyota that has been going on ( I am no Toyota enthusiast, mind you) I cannot help but notice the statements from several news agencies who have no clue of what they are talking about. Explaining a mat that holds on to the accelerator is simple enough. A worn out shim inside the pedal mechanism gets a bit more complex to explain. But a hybrid car's brake system? That is where the real fun begins.

It is reported that while driving on slippery or bumpy roads, sometimes the drivers of Prius suffer a momentary loss in braking. So some wise guy assumed that 'a moment' that is described by drivers equals a second and came up with a calculation that at 60mph the car would have traveled another 90 feet before it stops. This is going around in all channels and reports including America' s Dhinathandi, CNN.

Let us see in a simple way how the hybrid powertrain works, especially on a Prius. The Prius has a normal gasoline powered engine that combines with an electric motor to drive the car. The electric motor drives the car at low speeds (city driving or stop-and-go traffic) upto 30mph. Once the car accelerates to higher speeds, the gas engine takes up and drives the car. The electric motor continues to serve as power boost for rapid torque requirements. An important feature of such hybrid systems is the concept of regenerative braking. In simple terms, when the car brakes while it is being operated by the electric motor, the motor actually reverses its function and acts like a generator by using the kinetic energy of the vehicle to charge the battery pack. So in essence, this braking happens when the electric drive is functioning, i.e., at speeds less than 30mph. If the braking power needed is more than what the motor can apply, then the braking is done by conventional means using brake pads that slow the vehicle by friction. This transfer of control from the regenerative braking to conventional braking takes place during a fraction of a second giving the driver a feeling that the car is not braking as hard as it should, especially on surfaces where the ABS feels the need for more brake power causing the brake pads to step in.

So coming back to the original reports of 90 feet of increased stopping distances at 60mph: firstly when the car is at such high speeds, the braking is directly by brake pads and so there is no instance of control transfer. If considering a maximum speed of 30mph, the car requires another 44 feet to stop. Adding to it is the fact that the lapse is for a fraction of a second. Even if it is half a second, you are looking at 22 feet. And this control happens only when the car is already being braked by the motor. So you are looking at speeds less than 30mph, after which the brake pads step in, if required. So maybe 10 feet? 15? Significant number yes, but not as much as CNN and rest of the media says it to be.

CNN showed a segment in the evening, in which one of its viewers, Jessica Yellin had this problem with her Prius. Jessica is a smart lady, I should admit. She clearly mentions in her interview that the car does not lose braking power at high speeds but only when she is driving within city. When she applies the brakes hard it stops as it should but only during slow stops from low speeds does it give that feeling of momentary loss of braking. CNN then shows her trying to contact TMC to get an answer about her issues with Prius but they do not respond to her. Duh! Obviously, if 5million customers and 1million news reporters call you at the same time, you cannot expect a response.

Talk about shaping public opinion.

Not sure why Toyota is not coming out with a media blitz yet against all these propaganda.

And I should stop sounding like their P.R.O!


Feb 2, 2010

'Moving Forward' with Unintended Acceleration

With Toyota's massive recall over the last few months culminating in yet another recall last week for a 'sticky pedal', the company has taken severe beating to its image. Now, TMC has admitted to braking related issues in its marquee 2010 Prius. Though, I am not sure how much of a headwind it will prove to be for GM and the likes, I believe it will take Toyota Motor Corporation much work to regain the market share it lost in Jan. 2010 (as much as 20% drop in sales I believe).

I think issues like mats holding down the pedals are made out to be much bigger than they really are. Manufacturers have had much more serious recalls before (such as the Ford Explorer); Ford has million recalls in their 2009 models. But of course, it is bigger news when the King trips compared to a commoner tripping. So US house wants to hold a hearing and NHTSA is considering a fine that could total up to $15m! Good chance to recover some of they money that GM has swallowed, I say!

The common perception of Toyota's quality being far superior compared to GM & Ford (let us not include Chrysler in this even now), was created largely by GM's self initiated downfall in the late 90s and the seemingly never wrong-footed steps of TMC accentuated by the generous publicity by American media. Though it is no longer realistic, still the two American giants had a touch time of convincing people about it. But now that TMC has fallen down a notch, the playground seems to be more leveled. Will this prove to be the watershed? It will be interesting to see how TMC's PR division handle the crisis and how their sales fare in the next few months.


Jan 31, 2010

Enadhu?? Mahatma Gandhi sethutaara?


Goa not Go'a?

If you are asked to line-up Venkat Prabu's movies in the order of its quality, it is simple. Just list them in the chronological order. There was an innocence with Chennai28 because of the obvious amateurish treatment of the subject that was fun to watch. With Saroja, he took the 'amateurishness ' to the next level with a serious and taut screen play in the 2nd half of the movie. With two hits and the weight of expectations, Venkat Prabu should have realized he can no longer hide behind that tag.

What I could not comprehend was if it was meant to be a full length spoof or a movie like Saroja where real story was interspersed with fun. If it is the former the movie appears undercooked and if it is the latter it grossly fails due to the thin screenplay that drags on.

So there are these three youths: Ramarajan, Vinayagam and Saamikannu from a village. They are summoned for the panchayat. The father of these youths are played by Vijayakumar, Chandrasekhar and (yes!) Shanmuga Sundaram. They have fought the nefarious activities of a local mirazdar (played by Anand Raj). A funny bit in which our three do-gooders fight the men of Anand Raj wearing shirt & pant with wigs on their heads is shown. So the scene goes back and forth in to give a brief glimpses of everyone's character. Saamikannu was conceived with divine blessing which makes him a 'theiva kuzhandhai' for the village. He grows in a highly confined environment where in he is restricted from enjoying life like the rest of his village friends. This makes him yearn for a freedom and the taste of life outside the village. VInayagam just wants to go to Americaa while Ramarajan is shown as a modern day Don Juan. So ultimately these three hatch a plot to escape from the village when they have specifically forbidden to do so.
They go to Madurai to see a friend Azhagar. But they learn Azhagar, the dark colored villager, is getting married to a vellaikaarachi. Azhagar tells them he met her at Goa, which is described in the movie as a paradise on earth.

So our trio decide to go to Goa, find a vellakarachi and make her fall in love with them and marry her and settle in a foreign country. The rest of the plot (?) surrounds this aim. They meet Danny (played by Sampath) and Jack (Aravind Akash) at Goa. They are a gay couple and offer a place to live in Goa while embarking on their search for white women. Now, Sampath is an excellent actor. He manages to pull off the role somehow. He neither overdid the kuzhayara part that has become synonymous with a gay nor does he fail miserably in that fake accent. If at all he (or Aravind) irritates you at any point of the movie it is not because of their acting but because of some of the long and unnecessarily dragging scenes involving them.

If there is anything that the Director has managed to pull off perfectly, it has to be the choice of the female cast in the movie! Melannie Marie, who is the love interest of Saamikannu, is undeniably cute while Piaa Bajpai is (ahem..). Sneha, the cunning and seductive business entrepreneur, looks good too inspite of the multiple folds in her neck.

Hopefully, references to Subramaniyapuram stops with this movie. The number of times Premji Amaran shakes his head ala Jai in Subramaniyapuram takes away the initial amusement it caused. In an effort to surprise the audience with the unexpected, I think the Director attempts some stuff that falls flat. If you manage to take the audience off their guard you should let them relish that moment and move on to the next scene instead of rubbing in the same scene (the gay couple sequences being a point in case). The climax speeds up like Ocean's Eleven with a heist planned to steal the jewels that is locked up in Sneha's ship. But stops dead when Ramarajan falls on Sneha's feet. Less said about the blink-and-you-miss appearance of Nayanthara and the closing scene of blood coming from Sombu's nose the better. Things are not made any better with the acknowledgement of Sombu's guest appearance with a Little Superstar as prefix to his name. Oh well if you can Yuvan Shankar Raja as Little Isaignani, then....

So anyway, the movie comes off as a masala with no pretentions but does not leave the audience with any satisfaction either.

P.S.: Sampath's portrayal of the gay character somehow kept reminding me of Vikram's Ambi and the CBI aapicer role in Kandhasaamy. Hmmm.

P.S.:2: Indha padathuku Soundharya 3crores kadan vaanginadhu romba adhigam. Andha 3crores, which is picha kaasu for her appa, kooda thirupi tharaama settu pasanga case podra alavuku vechukardhu adha vida romba too much.


Jan 29, 2010

My HR is just like Obama. He spoke to me for about half an hour but at the end of it, I forgot what I went to see him for and also could not remember if he told me anything new.


Jan 9, 2010

Sorgame endraalum...

It is that time of the year again: when the GRT calendar on the wall gets replaced as the month of Maargazhi draws to an end. Time to replace the Aircel simcard with a seemai naatu sim card. Chennai got more than its normal share of rains this month. Tried to convince paati and others that 22C is not cold at all and maargazhi pani is nothing compared to -20C, only to catch the cold several times and have them rebuke me for acting like a know-all.

A deep sense of regret would fill the mind as the flight takes off, as the separation from all that is home for an unknown period along with the periodic beepings of the in-deck announcement adds to the melancholy. Like a maniac, I ate at all places I knew from Mambalam to Adyar and went to so many places in the last one month to satisfy my longings of the last one year. And the cycle would continue for the next as well.

A dying city awaits me, welcoming me probably with a feet of snow.


Jan 8, 2010


While waiting in Chennai airport and looking at the flight departure time get postponed once again in the continuously changing time display, I was feeling bored and sleepy. It was then I heard a voice behind me say, "Excuse me, please". Moving aside for the person to go past me I was more than surprised to see none other than SPB, dressed in his usual white pant with a generously sized brown shirt.

I was hesitant to talk to him immediately because of the crowd but soon people slowly started making a beeline to him and so I summed up the courage. He was polite with a benevolent smile and gave me his autograph. But then he took it back and said he is still stuck with the past year and changed it to 2010. He was with a man in white shirt & white pant and I believe he was the famous erstwhile Director SP Muthuraman.



Jan 7, 2010

Though it is redundant on my part to state it, my recent stay in Bangalore reinforces my belief that there is no better place than Chennai!


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