Jun 25, 2005

Villadhi Villains

Recently, when Amrish Puri died, I felt that Indian cinema has lost one of the most charming actors.. Though he acted in a few non-negative roles towards the end of his career, he was obviously famous for his villainous roles. When I think of the most notorious villains Tamil cinema has seen, here is what comes to my mind...

1) Maayan in Thevar magan - Nasser in a really deadly role as Kamal's pangaali.. The climax scene "Vaada, Thevar Magane.. " is unforgettable...

2) Neelambari in Padayappa - Not that a Kamal's villain has to be followed by Rajini's.. but, usually in Rajini's movies the villain's role would be only for the fight scenes.. but, Ramya scored over Rajini. As even Rajini acknowledged, "Neelambari ille-nna Padayappa ille".

3) Amavasai in Amaidhi Padai - After long time, Satyaraj got a chance to be a baddie and, didnt he give a scare to the other villains? Smart, cunning and thick-skinned, he completely eclipsed the 'son' Satyaraj.. "vazhkkaiyile munneranumna naayi ennanga.. edhu vandhalum midhichu pottu poitte irukkanunga..."

4) Badri in Kurudhipunal: Again Nasser.. never yielding to the psychological interrogation of Aadhi (Kamal), he had something in him that even Aadhi was afraid of.

5) Madan in Kanakandaen: A young and handsome person with always a smile on his lips shows his real face as the money-minded crook. As much as he was loveable as a gentleman, he earns our hatred later.

6) MN Nambiar in Mandhirikumari: As the bald and notorious minister, Nambiar was a villain personified all the way - his looks, walking, speech, voice everything.

7) Madhavan in Aasai - As the army officer-turned-Ravana, Prakash Raj was irrepressible. The climax was top class act.

8) Deva in Vaali - As the deaf-and-dumb but immensely intelligent elder sibling, Ajit gave his best performance so far. Bone-chilling performance.

9) Annachi in Chatriyan - Thilagan as the old fox taught a new lesson in villainry by not going overboard. "Chatriyan-ku saavu illennu sollittu ippo enn kaaladiyile eppadi sethu kidakkiraan paar.."

10) Veerabadran in Captain Prabhakaran - I think he was the first portrayal of Veerappan.. Dirty, ugly and deadly.. Mansur Ali Khan would have given Veerappan a real run for money. His scream "Pirabhakara" is still echoing in my ears..

Jun 23, 2005

350 miles to Anniyan

(Pic Adopted from Chennaionline)

This weekend, I'm planning to make a trip to Atlanta to watch Anniyan. Must be one of those 'heights' for me.. Never travelled more than 20 miles for watching any movie.. so, this is a real quantum leap .. Well.. planning to use this trip to see the other attractions of Atlanta too..

Last movie I saw: Parineeta
Last Tamil movie I saw in theater: Virumandi.
Last movie I saw in theater: Maine Pyar Kyun Kiya?
Last tamil movie I saw: Amarkkalam
Most recently released tamil movie that I saw: Ullam Ketkumae
Last Vikram movie I saw: Sethu
Most recently released Vikram movie I saw: Pithamagan
Last Vikram movie I saw in theater: Saamy
Last Shankar movie I saw: Boys

Ok OK.. All these would be replaced by one movie, come this saturday. Then, I will be the last person in this world to write the review for Anniyan, probably...

Jun 21, 2005

No Entry for Entrance Exam

Recently, the Tamilnadu government decided to make life simple for the young students aspiring to join professional courses by bringing up some changes. One, to abolish the entrance examination which meant that the criteria for selection would be solely based on the marks of 12th standard, and two, to do away with the 'improvement' examination system. Certainly welcomable decisions, considering that so much money and time is spent specially for taking the entrance exam. But, to implement the changes from this year itself, after the students had taken the entrance exams and improvement exams, is blatantly wrong.

As a result, a lot of students were negatively affected and a few of them decided to go to court against the new rule. It is worth noting that they certainly welcome this new system but not from this year. They have already spent quite a bit of money and time (one student has been waiting for 2 years !! ) to get above the cut-off marks.. Certainly, the government should have thought well before taking such a decision..

The entrance exam method is followed by a lot of reputed institutions for various degree courses. They are mostly based on 'objective questions', with an emphasis of being 'objecive'. I have seen that, by and large, those who do well in +2 exams do well in the entrance too, since the syllabus is same.. But, to make them more competitive, a good way would have been to modify the entrance exam quetions to the quality of IIT-JEE, with subjective questions. This would surely propel more Tamil students into IIT's and get them prepared with and for a higher level of knowlege. If not, let the entrance exam be abolished, but from next year..

Jun 20, 2005

From Dominance to Downslide

Australia has lost four matches in this week.. Surely a week none of them would ever like to remember.. Most shocking were their one-day defeats to Somerset and then Bangladesh. Today, England too defeated them and Aus has some real soul-searching to do.

The common factor in all the four defeats have been their pedestrial bowling and fielding. Previously, Australian defeats have been brought about by their sudden batting collapses but now, their strong weapon in the armoury-bowling has failed under pressure. Could this be due to ageing? Is the tide reversing? Is it the law of averages? Whatever it be, this Australian team is no longer invicible as it was projected.

I think the most important factor is ageing.. especilly of the bowlers.. If McGrath, Gillespie, Kasprowicz and Warne form the bowling attack for the tests, that would mean the same bowling lineup as 1997 Ashes.. Three of these guys are mid-30's.. loads of experience but is their body supporting their will?

Mega Merger

My first blogging experience was when I created the cricket blogs to write about my own tiny views on cricket.. Then I realized that I had many things to say on many subjects and also the Indian cricket season was off.. so, that site was literally dozing off..

Some interesting cricket is going on in England right now.. the world champs are biting dust more often than they would have liked and what the world has seen.. Also, the Indian cricket season is about a month to begin.. So, I decided to merge my cricketblogs with my webdiary to enable me to write on cricket too on this site.. My cricket blogs site would vanish into thin air soon.. (Mega merger atleast in terms of the bytes.. :-))

Jun 16, 2005

Cedar Key

Recently visited Cedar Key, a small town by the Gulf of Mexico. So, here we go.. (Click on the pics to enlarge)

Water is not clear here due to the sediments.. Nevertheless, seagulls have a good time on the tiny beach.

More of them.. Aren't they cute?

Pelican Conference..

A lonely ranger..

Pinky flowers.

Top 10 Tamil Songs

It is a time for everyone choosing their own top 10.. best movies or best albums.... Here is my list of top 10 tamil songs that I loved... it is an ardous task for sure.. but it gives you an opportunity to go back different time periods in your life and think which songs had an impact on you the most.. so, here it goes.. forget the order, after the first one, guys..

1) Vennilave.. (Minsara Kanavu) This is indeed the most favorite song ever for me... I have never heard any other song so many times thus far.. What did Hariharan and Sadhna think they were doing? I thought They were just playing with the mind of the people listening to the song.. When he sings "Ada ulagai rasikka vendum naan unn pondra pennodu.." What a proposal... sabash, Vairamuthu... To listen, click here.

2) Enn Veettu Thottathil.. (Gentleman) People said it was inspired from a Malayalam devotional song.. who cares.. Again SPB and Sujatha.. terrific combo.. nice duet.. To listen, click here.

3) Nila kayum neram ...(Chembaruthi) Mano and Janaki's slow melodious duet soothens anytime I listen .. Ilayaraja's use of violin in the interlude is awesome.. To listen, click here

4) Kallellam manicka... (Alayamani) My parents said the maid used this as the lullaby to put me to sleep when I was a toddler.. Beeeeautiful song.. Viswanathan-Ramamurthy-Kannadasan trio's unforgettable masterpiece.. TMS's strong metallic voice and LR Eswari's unique melody blended to perfection.. To listen, click here

5) Meenamma... (Aasai) I have heard someone telling this was inspired from some western album.. Nevertheless, I thought Deva did a good job with this.. I started liking Anuradha Sriram after this one.. she must have been smiling all through while singing this song.. Nice lyrics by Vairamuthu and good picturization too.. with Raju Sundaram & co. dancing behind a screen.. to listen, click here

6) Paadariyenn.. (Sindhu Bairavi) Do I need to say why? To listen, click here. Didnt maestro and Chitra win the national award for this one? Rarely have I heard Chitra in a more commanding voice. To listen, click here.

7) Kadhal Rojave ... (Roja) SPB's expressive voice for the soul-stirring lyrics of Vairamuthu, with Sujatha Singing the lalala... Different music by ARR.. To listen, click here

8) Ennulle.. (Valli) Excellent beginning to the song with a Bharatanatyam piece.. then a slow guitar.. (Wah.. IR).. then comes Swarnalatha.. expressing all of a woman's feeling in the way only she can.. Vaali can be real proud of this one.. To listen, click here

9) Manam virumbudhe... (Nerukku Nerr) Harini at her best.. A rare song by Deva based on a karnatic raagam. The same version sung by Unnikrishnan was lovely too. To listen, click here.

10) Konjum Manjal.. (Ullasam) I think this is the best song by Karthik Raja so far.. Slow buildup to the song was a good piece.. nice beat.. I thought this would be a turning point for KR.. Hariharan-Harini's one of the best duets.. To listen, click here.

If the list can be extended to top-25, then my other favorites are 11) Devathaiyai kandenn.. (Kadhal kondenn); 12) Sangeetha swarangal (Azhagan); 13) Enn kadhalae (Duet); 14) Minnale.. (May madham); 15) Ennavale.. (kadhalan); 16) Thandatti.. (Kadhal); 17) Athangarai (Kizhakku Seemaiyile); 18) Vayadhu vaa (Thulluvatho Ilamai); 19) Edhedho (Punnagai Mannan); 20) Oyila (Seevalaperi Pandi); 21) Amaidhiyana.. (Andavan Kattalai); 22) Azhagiya kanne (Udhiripookkal); 23) Sendhazhampoovil (Mullum malarum); 24) Nallavarkkellam (Thyagam) and 25) Adhisaya ragam (Apoorva Ragangal).

Jun 14, 2005

Ullam Ketkume - Review

(Pic adopted from Indiainfo)

Ullam Ketkume is a clean, refreshing movie on college romance, friendship, sacrifice and lots of fun. After an impressive debut with 12B, famous cinematographer Jeeva has directed this one.. It was under production for a long time, (audio was released in 2003 !!) but the movie has come out good.

The movie begins with a batch of 1999 meeting in their friend Imaan’s (Arya) wedding. In this reunion, five main characters - Shaam (Shaam), Pooja (Laila), Priya (Asin), Irene (Pooja) and Imaan think back their good old college days, their friendship and romance. Imaan and Irene loved each other and there was a love triangle with the other three. The movie nicely portrays what happens in each person’s love life.

It is a simple story but the way the flashbacks are introduced and handled is quite interesting. Fortunately, there is no old comedian or lead character shown to be studying in the college. All the lighter moments happen within the interactions of 6 or 7 main characters. Within the few minutes of the movie, we understand who loves who.. but the director cleverly gives no clue about who has paired with whom, when the present life is shown. It is only towards the end that we realize what happened. Even though there are some heartbreaks, it is refreshing to see the good friendship continue after the marriage.

This should probably be the first hit movie of Shaam.. After a forgettable performance Girivalam, lucky he got a solid role. He has done the youthful playboy part well in the first half. Arya’s subdued performance is a pleasant surprise compared to what we saw in Arindhum Ariyamalum. They are highly believable as college mates, without any aura of heroism around them. The three female stars not only look good and dance well, they have some real good screen time too. Asin is gorgeous as an Iyengar girl, Pooja is cute and pleasing whereas the surprise package is Laila. Though her dialogue delivery and behavior in college seem irritatingly childish, one can forgive her for still making us engrossed into the movie. All these characters bring back memories of goodold college days.

The supporting case of the friends and parents have done well too. The guy ‘Vasu’ makes us laugh with his cool dialogues, acts, goggles and pant. There are no unnecessary advise, sentiment or vulgar moments shown in other college movies. The climax is boring, predictable and unimaginative.

Raju Sundaram’s choreography has combined well with some peppy numbers from Harris Jayaraj.. “Face of ur generation” is cool while “Mazhai” and “Ennai pandhada” are romantic. the songs are hummable and foot-tapping. Sujatha has penned the dialogues quite youthfully. Jeeva is impressive with both camerawork and direction. Having chosen the pepsi ad slogan for the title, he didnt goof up like what Ananth Mahadevan did with "Dil Maange More".

I rate B+ for the screenplay, direction and cool performance by the lead cast.

Kyunki.. Selective Overhearing Hota Hai...

(Pic adopted from MidDay)

I was never a fan of the Mega serials, be in Tamil or in Hindi.. All that changed last year when Ansh Gujral entered in the lives of Virani's of Kyunki... He brought a new dimension of serial villainry and long after he is dead, we still cant ditch Ekta Kapoor..

Having watched the serial for over a year now, I think I have lost my patience now with the numerous 'selective overhearings' that move the serial ahead.. all the viranis live under one roof.. (well.. dont take it wrong.. they run the viranis group of industries, so they are multimillionaires). They never lock their own bedrooms even when they sleep in the night. (A poor crying Tanya entered into her husband-and-his-wife's room before biding adieu). People talk to each other as though eyes are behind.. and wrong people, during wrong time, overhear wrong conversations....

The negative characters disappear, all of a sudden.. (anyone know what happened to Tejal bhuaji?) Vishal's murder still remains unsolved, god knows what happened to Rathi.. Where was Aditya Gujral when Ansh Gujral-Virani was shot dead by his own mother? (Matrix, matrix matrix style of a murder it was.. I am sure there would have been floods in Indian household on that day).

If the Viranis handle their family matters in such a stupid way, I used to wonder, how come their business is able to run so successfully? The script-writers always make sure that there is one utterly negative character all the time in the show, whom Tulsi has to defeat.. No wonder BJP thought she can defeat Cong. candidates in elections..

Hardly any child is being brought up by his/her own parents.. No couples stay happily together for more than a year.. Do these people try to show that the rich-posh bungalows of business magnets have all these silk-saree-ladden-kitchen-politics going on? God save them...

Dont our people love it? The serial has crossed 5 years and over 1000 episodes and planning to break the world record... (already an Indian record)..

I am sure all of you living in US would have seen the video cassettes of Kyunki... (and many others too, if u live in big cities) in Indian grocery stores.. Rent one, having 5-6 episodes for 1 or 2 bucks, and sleep at 12 or 1 in the night...

What was the effect of the serial on me? I am tempted to say "Jai Sri Krishna" to my grocery stores uncles and aunties.... then I say myself, "not yet, boy... u are not a gujju..".

Jun 8, 2005

Congratulations, Prof. Rao !!!

Hearty congratulations to Prof. CNR Rao for being awarded the prestigeous Dan David Prize of Israel. It is Israel's highest prize, given to eminent scientists in various fields under three categories Past, Present and Future. Prof. Rao has been awarded in the "Future" category for his pioneering work in materials science.

Prof. Rao is 71 years old but his enthusiasm for science is still that of a young scientist. Couple of by-pass surgeries and age have not slowed down his progress one bit. He is easily India's most productive scientist ever, with over 1100 scientific publications in reputed journals and over 100 doctorate students. He got his Ph.D. from Purdue university when he was only 24 and became a full professor at 27!! Even now his memory power and novel ideas are driving the fast growing Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Scientific Research, which was his brainchild.

His students have told me that he was nominated twice for Nobel Prize, which by itself is a huge honor, off-the-record. His publishing rate is amazing.. I calculated that he publishes a paper every two weeks.. !! Not many in the world can do that.. His products serve all over the country in IIT's and other reputed institutions.

Congratulations to him once again and Wish him many more years of service to Science and India..

Jun 4, 2005

Arindhum Ariyamalum - Review

(Pic adopted from Indiaglitz)

Vishnuvardhan, who debuted with a mediocre film “Kurumbu” has come back strongly with this action-romantic masala flick. The movie starts with the “divasam” scene. (Sick.. what a way to begin.. this is the third movie in the last year I saw with such a beginning). Satya (Navdeep), living with his granpa in Nagerkoil, comes to Chennai to pursue an engineering degree. Adinarayanan (Prakash Raj) is a dada in Chennai and his son Kutti (Arya), a short-tempered young man, assists his father. Satya witnesses the atrocities of the gang, and when his love Sandya (Samiksha) gets shot in a crossfire, he earns the wrath of the father-son gangster duo by complaining to the police. Short world, you know, Adi comes to know that Satya is his son. Satya is not ready to accept a gangster as his father. The second part of the movie is on where this mismatch leads to.

The movie has little twists and turns but by and large predictable for a regular movie-goer. The first half of the movie is quite entertaining with a racy screenplay and good songs but once the identity of Satya is revealed, Adi and Kutti slowly assume comedian roles, especially the latter. Kutti’s attempts to win his new brother’s heart are funny and don’t really suit the kind of persona he was shown to be in the first half. Nevertheless, it can be contrued as showing two different facets of a young gangster. Love and police keep entering into the story at regular intervals but both could have been given a bigger thrust. The second half drags after a point.

Navdeep is likeable and plays his role as a small town boy caught in the chaos of Chennai quite well. Samiksha is good-looking with a matured face and unique teeth.. but great smile but her role could have been meatier. She is required as a doll when there is time for a song. Arya as the volatile junior dada is impressive with his cameo in the second half. But, the most impressive and likeable performance comes from Prakash Raj. Though his mannerisms remind us of his “chellame” act in Gilly, he has got a good screen presence, especially in the second half, where he interacts with his new son. Whether he shouts at his father-in-law or he enjoys seeing his son sleeping, you cant take your eyes off him. “5 star” Krishna tries to do a Vivek but is enjoyable.

The other hero of the movie is Yuvan Shankar Raja with some great numbers, though the song picturizations could do well with more imagination. “Theepidikka” is an item number and it doesn’t deserve to be. “Enn kannodu” and “konjam konjam” are sensuous songs. Overall, it is a far better produce of Vishnuvardhan compared to his debut movie.

I rate this B+ for Prakash Raj, songs and decent script.