May 31, 2006


Pudhupettai was one of the most eagerly-awaited movies of this year for a) its soundtrack, which was a hit as soon as it was released late last year; b) the Yuvan-Selva-Dhanush combo which happened after a hugely successful and critically acclaimed ‘Kaadhal konden’; c) high expectations that Selva would have something special for his struggling bro Dhanush.

Story: ‘Kokki’ Kumar’s (Dhanush) late-teen period is a recipe for disaster.. no interest in studies, fighting parents, rowdy dad and, in addition, his mother gets killed. He has to run for his life and resort to begging for his food. He is wrongly framed by police in a ‘Ganja’ case and there begins his journey in the underworld of Chennai. In the topsy-turvy ride, he faces lust, treachery, politics and, love.

Screenplay: The first half is very engaging.. the journey of a nobody towards becoming a dreaded rowdy is well-portrayed.. Once Sonia Agarwal enters, the director loses his plot and the events turn jerky.. The biggest let-down was the climax.. Though it was acceptable and believable in today’s politics, the events leading to it are quite jarring. The movie seemed to be ending atleast twice before the actual climax arrived. Viewers’ patience is tested and one gets relieved that the movie ended at last. On the plus side, Dhanush’s ‘training period’ has some interesting moments.

Performances: Dhanush is there on the screen 99% of the time.. So, even though he delivers a strong performance, I got tired of seeing him. He overacts in a few scenes, and some other scenes remind of his previous movies like Kaadhal kondEn, SullAn and Adhu oru kanAkAlam. Sneha does well in a few scenes. Sonia sleepwalks through her role.. Most of the male actors keep shouting all the time.. it gets irritatingly too loud.

Direction: IMHO, ‘Sathya’ (Hindi) was the best Indian movie on Metro-gangsters.. Even Ramgopal Varma couldn’t get away from its hangover in his subsequent films ‘Company’ and ‘Sarkar’. In ‘Pudhupettai’, Dhanush looks too skinny to be such a fiery gangster.. so, many of the fight scenes turn out to be unbelievable and over-the-top. As I said earlier, the second half had too many unnecessary scenes. On these accounts, Pudhupettai was inferior to ‘Kadhal Konden; and ‘7G..’ The songs seem very forced and one song ‘Oru naaLil’ is not even there.. as though the director didn’t know how to fit it into the movie.

Music and cinematography: Yuvan and Aravind Krishna (camera) are two strong pillars to the movie. Yuvan’s theme songs and background music fit well into the movie. Aravind has some interesting angles and his fast and less-intrusive camera capture the events quite well.

Overall, it is too gory and violent with lots of blood. It starts of well, promising a lot, only to deceive. Could have been better..

May 26, 2006

State Management

OK.. I am late by 2 weeks but it hardly matters.. the new Govt. has been elected for power in Tamilnadu.. Looking at the vote distribution and the glitch in our democratic system, it is unique that even if 75% of the population hates one party, it can still, in theory, come to power.. All it requires is, at half the constituencies, it has to get atleast 1 vote more than the next large party.. That apart, if the DMK government asks me (!) how to rule the state, my advice would be as follows:

The public problems of the people have two types of solutions: global and local.. The former includes projects such as power plants, river-management, industrial policies, etc., which the 'ministry' has to implement and these are usually long-time projects as well.. The 'local' problems involve those pertaining that particular constituency/district, which include drinking water, schools, infrastructure, etc. These vary from district to district.. and that is one reason why every small region elects one representative (MLA) to take care of their needs by acting as a bridge to the government... Obviously, most of them dont do their jobs and badly fail.. Inter-party and intra-party politics apart, the MLAs need some kinda watchdog to make them take care of their constituencies..

The new government has got 5 years.. and we have 234 constituencies.. that is ~ 47 constituencies per year, or, ~ 1 constituency per week.. back calculating, with 260 weeks of service, the government CAN afford to focus on 1 constituency a week and still manage 26 weeks off. Addressing the local problems is a very very good way to gain votes as well, isnt it? The involvement should be at the CM-level..On every week, the CM and the corresponding ministers must spend Monday, W'day and Friday on one particular constituency, taking care of its core problems.. The MLA has to be in the constituency the full week, with 1 or 2 local ministers and the Collector/Tahsildar, and make a list of 'to-do' things.. I am sure most of the common problems would be road, water, electricity, sanitation and schools..

Road: Doesnt matter even if the contract for making it goes to a party person, the roads HAVE TO BE laid.. every village which has a PIN code should have a 2-lane tar road.. every street that has address must be attached to the main road by a decent road.

Water: Desilt all the lakes/ponds in every area; if some are illegally occupied and if they have 'political connections', doesnt matter.. no need to disturb them.. we would still have enough bare land to make new ponds. Every road has to have atleast one water pump which supplies water atleast once a day.Again, desilting contract .. give it to whoever does it..

Electricity: Every residential road must have electric lamp-posts, at such a distance that no region in the road is 'dark/unseeable'.

Sanitation: Construct a public toilet in every poor residential area.. employ the cleaners and make them permanant government workers.. doesnt matter if govt. money is spent in paying them.. they are not going to smuggle their salary to other countries/states.. they would spend it to run their family..

Schools: New schools should be built and made to function every nook and corner of the state, such that, from any particular residential road, a nearest school must not be over 2 kms.. Similarly, later, government arts/science colleges have to be built for taking care of every 50 square kilometer area. If Kamaraj could do it in '60s, surely the 21st century govt. can, too..

Well.. I dont want to sound like Shankar.. the above are my wishes.. the catch is, if the govt. can do these things constituency-wise, they dont have to worry about what coalition of parties it is fighting against in the next election, who is starting new party, or how to bring the public-dividing policies such as 'reservation quotas', etc. If it utilizes its tax money intelligently to all the above sectors, the money would come back to it, in the form of the various taxes. There are certain districts which are in 'Immediate attention required' category.. such as, Dharmapuri, Theni, and Ramanathapuram.. they have to be taken care at first.. IMHO, the simplest way to gaining votes is by serving the people right.. the communists have gained power for the 7th consecutive time in Bengal, despite that state having poorer infrastructure in almost all the departments than Tamilnadu.. the reason? The first time around, they just abolished the 'Zamindari' system of land-owning and distributed to people.. simple communism.. sufficient enough to convert an entire state as its 'KOttai'..

May 22, 2006

Hit or flop?

The summer of big releases begins with this week's Pudhupettai.. here are my two cents on the recent trend in the tamil movie box office results..

I was truly amazed to hear that the movie's "Hit or flop" status is decided by the opening 3 days' collection.. With the theater owners openly selling the Fri-Sun tickets at exorbitant prices, those three days are apparently enough to collect a major chunk of the distributor's money.. Crazy, isnt it? Firstly, the government should have banned such illegal high prices.. When it was expected of the theaters and government to go hard at the black-ticket sellers, things have taken such a wrong turn..

What this has done is to create the 'star-value' for pretty much all the actors.. The fans of a star are ready to spend all their hard-earned money to make sure that their thalaivar's movie is a big hit.. I dont understand how we got such huge crowd of crazy fans.. There are three types of movie-goers, according to me: 1) The hardcore fans of a particular star; 2) those who are fans of the heroine/director/music director; 3) those who want to watch 'some good movie' with their friends or family. I have also watched so many movies on the first day.. may be little bit of planning is done but I havent paid over Rs. 50 for a ticket any time..

A movie takes about 6-12 months to get completed.. when one can wait that long, why not another week or two until the tickets are sold at 'normal price'? "Aakka poRuthavanga aara poRukka koodatha?" Someone told me that, with so many youngsters getting into well-paid jobs early in their careers, that they dont know how to spend their money.. and they dont understand the value of the money.. may be such crowd doesnt mind double prized-tickets for the fun of watching a new movie.. Unless the public shows thumbs-down or a flipped finger to such tactics of the theaters, this bad trend would continue.

May 19, 2006

Congrats Dravid !!

Dravid... a true enigma he is.. Ask any aspiring batsman what his dream is and invariably he would say "To win Man-of-the-match award for scoring match-winning hundred against test-playing nations." But, can you believe that Dravid could realize this dream only today, 10 years after he made his one-day debut? Nevertheless, his innings was a superb one.. one of the best by Indians recently.. Contradictory to his awards in the test arena, he was always a perfect bridesmaid in onedayers until recently.. Among the four different colored criteria, remove one and you can find enough instances of his reaching three of them, before today's match.

1) Remove red:
He has scored 5 match-winning hundreds against test-playing nations. But, in those matches, either his teammate or someone from the opposition played a blinding three-figure knock to get the man-of-the-match award, the latest one being Sehwag. Saurav did so twice and Sachin, Gayle and Sehwag have done it once each.

2) Remove blue:
He was awarded man-of-the-match award once for scoring hundred in a losing cause - against New Zealand in Taupo (1999). That match was a classic example of how stupid the trans-tasman cricket administrators think when they used to define their own rules for rain-affected matches. The match was evenly poised when NZ, chasing 258 under lights, were 168/3 in the 31st over. They had just lost a wicket and they required 90 off 116 balls. Then, boom... the lights went off.. it took a good 50 minutes for them to come back, by which 11 overs were "lost". Surely Duckworth-Lewis would have set a stiff target, but the NZ cricket board had their own rule, which is just based on simple run-rate.. which meant the revised target was 200 in 39 overs - another 32 off the 50 remaining balls. How ridiculous!! NZ lost Chris Cairns the next over after the play resumed and before victory, they lost Harris also. Who knows what would have happened with more sensible rule.. After the match, Sunny Gavaskar commented that the rule was ridiculous.. the home team can "turn-off" the light for convenient-enough time to menacingly reduce the target.. and then he said he just joked..

3) Remove green:
He has won man-of-the-match award on many occasions for his match-winning two-figure knocks against test-playing nations. Interestingly, most of them have come away from home.

4) Remove purple:
In 2004, he scored a good match-winning hundred against minnows UAE and was awarded the man-of-the match award.

May 17, 2006

Post-Election punches

Vaiko: Evvalavu seat nikkireenga-ngiradhu mukkiyam illai.. evvalavu seatla ukkarreenga-ngiradhuthan..

Saratkumar: 'Chithi' sollai thattathey !!

Simran: DMK moon eluthu; ADMK naalu eluthu.. adhan ADMK-ku campaign pannen..

Kumudam: Inimey election-ku oru varam mundhi varaikum 'karuthu kanippu' adhu idhunnu vaayai thirakkamattom.. yaaruppa.. udaney Gopalapurathukku poi CM-ai oru neradi petti eduthu 3 weeks publish pannidungappa..

Visu: Arasiyal therinjukittenn; makkalai purinjukkalai Kannamma..
JJ TV-yile Arattai arangam kidaikkuma ponnamma..'

S.V.Sekar: Ayiram udhai vangum aboorva sikamaniyaakkava ennai
ammavoda aatchi illadha kottaikku anuppuneenga makkaley..

Film producers: Inimel ella pudhu padamum theater-le varrathukku munnadi special set-top box vangubavargalukku Sun TV-yil kanbikkapadum..

Rajnikanth: Soundarya-voda kalyanathukku Kalaignar kaiyale thaali edukka solli samalichiravendiyadhudhan.. rasigargal innum kuzhambattum..

MakkaLukkaga MK: "Color TV ilavasamaga nichayam koduppom; aanal adhodu Sun TV cable connection kandippaga vaanga vendum; adhan vilai maadhathirku just Rs. 500/- dhaan..

May 5, 2006

Let's welcome Sanjay !!

Sanjay, one of my best friends from Florida, has started blogging. He is an amazing guy.. I've always found him ready to discuss about any topic under the sun.. True to his nature, his posts so far have something about everything.. Plz. visit him and blogroll him too.. I am sure you would enjoy reading what he writes. Quite energetic and a great cook too !!

A sample post: "Anonymity is a warm blanket, engulfed in it you sit and laugh at the cold. It is the naked you, bereft of the superficial social layers. It is the blossoming of the hidden you, good and bad. It is a mask, the garb that you otherwise wouldn't wear. It is a safety net. It is just a prankster, It is a friend. It is a pat on the back. but mostly it is just plain diffidence. Cowardice."

May 3, 2006

Birthday blues

My previous two birthdays were rather forgettable. In 2004, it was on my first week in the US. I had gone to the social security office in the morning. In the afternoon (it was a Friday), I kept my backpack (with my passport and other important documents in it) in my allotted office space and went to my lab. I came back after ~20 minutes and found the bag missing. It was in a locked room but it had an inlet from another room besides it, which was unlocked. I couldnt believe that such things could happen in a University in the US. Then I was told that things do get stolen once a while.

It was a horrendous afternoon, with police entering the picture. I gave up my hope of getting it back and when I was trying to see how to get a duplicate passport, it was a long and expensive procedure, involving the Indian embassy here. It was the worst way of beginning in a new place. I spent the next two days with nightmares day and night.. On the sunday, I got a call from the police that they have found my backpack with everything in it!! The person who stole it obviously thought I had my laptop in it but having found nothing useful, was kind enough to leave it on a bench in a corner of the campus. Thanks to him a million!! Had he, in anger, dumped it in a junkyard....

Next year, in 2005, I decided to make up for the previous year's mishap and so advance-booked for a dinner in an Indian restaurant. In the evening, I decided to go to gym... I had got my driver's license just a week ago, and I was all geared up.. only that, when I returned to my car, I realized that my car key was missing.. Hurried back to gym searching for it, but couldnt find it. Luckily, I had made a duplicate but it was kept at home. So, I went home by bus, took the key and returned to school to pick up the car.. during this, more than an hour was lost.

Very little time for the restaurant to close, so noted down the map route.. it was my first drive in the freeway as well.. then I realized that I took right at the exit instead of left.. In a hurry to get back on the right track, I took such a wild U-turn that the car went to the other side, then crossed the median, came back to the same lane, crossed the side-walk and went into the curb.. All because I was pressing the accelerator like mad while making the turn.. the result? One of the tires was punctured. Fortunately, there was no other vehicle passingby so no other damage.

Then, I took a deep breath, parked it near a gas station and decided to walk to the restaurant. After 1/2 mile of walking outside the city, I just managed to reach the restaurant before the closing time. In the meanwhile, talked to my friend and arranged for the towing of the vehicle to nearest service station. Somehow things went alright that day after the minor accident.

This year, I decided to go to Jersey city for good Indian snacks, movie and nice dinner. Since it was the first visit to the area, some 20 mins went off when I took one wrong turn.. Entry into 'Newark Avenue' (which would look just like any small, busy road in Chennai or Bangalore - only desis) was just around the corner, but thanks to the one-way roads, some time was lost. Had real good snacks, and left for the movie.. only I didnt realize that the multiplex has changed its place.

There were lots of Indians walking around that area but except 1 or 2, nobody knew about the movie hall, which shows 3-4 Indian movies each time. So, I ended up again in a wrong place.. and the 6 PM show was only 2 mins away. There was another show at 7:30 PM but that would mean the dinner plan is gone for a six. Notwithstanding the jinx, I pulled up near a gas station and hurried in to get some help on directions. The owner seemed to be an Indian but his accent suggested otherwise.. The conversation I had with him was interesting..

Since he was explaining me slowly, I, in a frenzy, was intercepting him with the directions. Then he said "Man, you are from India.. but you are behaving like an American.. Listen.. Take a deep breath and think calmly.. Only Americans are always fast fast.. (he enacted panting and heavy-breathing). You Indians are known to be calm and think clearly.. Be an Indian.. Don't be an American..!!".

So, the jinx continues but is surely getting better..