Mar 29, 2007

Tamil Movie Quiz - 1

I was thinking about it for a long time, and at last decided it is the time. I am going to include quiz on Tamil movies time-to-time. During these quiztioning, I would enable comment moderation so that the answers would be revealed after a significant number of people have commented. Some may be very easy, but, it would give me a chance to gauge your expertise, to plan accordingly for future questions. Here we go..

1) Who are the only two actresses to have acted in the movies directed by the great Mani Ratnam, K. Balachander, and Bharathiraja AND acted with Kamal, Rajini, Satyaraj, Vijayakanth, Prabhu and Karthik?

2) X and Y were working as assistant directors to a director, whose son is a famous star now. X and Y were good friends, and made a deal that, whoever gets to direct a movie first, the other would work with him as an assistant director. X was the first to get lucky, and Y worked with him for his first two movies. Y was given a chance to direct by the producer of those two movies (who had a fall-out with X) and never looked back since. The career of X, unfortunately, went the other way after Y left him. Y has also famously produced some quality movies directed by his assistants. That is probably because he knows about the struggles of a young and aspiring assistant director, since he himself was one. Who are X and Y?

3) A and B were assistant directors to a very famous director and close buddies as well. They co-directed their first movie together. Probably differences started arising then, and they parted ways. Tamil cine industry's top two stars embraced each of them; in a movie in which A and B were assistant directors, the two top stars had acted together. A and B have gone on to direct some memorable movies, but the aforementioned stars never acted under the other director. A and B took into acting as well, and did character/negative roles. B has been much more successful than A, and can be labeled as a mass-director. Some of his movies have been record-breakers. Who are A and B?

4) Who are the only two directors to have directed Sivaji, Kamal, Rajini, Vijayakanth, Satyaraj, Prabhu, Karthik and Vadivelu?

PS: For qns. 2-4, all are discrete answers.

Mar 24, 2007

Feel-good movies

Just watched 'Mozhi' and absolutely loved it. Though the performances were undoubtedly top-notch, what surprised me was director Radhamohan's intelligence, maturity and innovation in handling different storylines in a short span of time. He has the uncanny ability to choose a complicated story and stick to telling it without adding any violence or blood to it, and ending it such that one feels how it would feel to be surrounded by such goody-goody people - not to forget the power of love.

He is among a handful of directors who dont like the concept of having a villain in their movie. All the conflicts and complications are created by God, circumstances or some minor misunderstandings. Luckily, he doesn't like tragedy. Only a few have managed to even attempt it in some their movies: (I am not including comedy movies here)
Maniratnam: Mouna Ragam, Idhayathai Thirudathey and Alaipayuthey. Though each of these movies had an accident, the general mood was good. In 'IT', it depends on the EQ and the optimism level of the audience to assimilate the climax.
Cheran: Autograph, Thavamai thavamirundhu and Pandavar Bhoomi (?, since I havent seen it). Yes, there was the attack scene in Autograph and the 'Anni' character in TT, but, that apart, didn't he handle the human emotions so well?

Vikraman: Gokulam, Naan pesa ninaippadhellam, Poove unakkaga, Unnidathil ennai koduthen. Hopefully the failure of Chennai kadhal helps us see the good-old Vikraman of soft movies.

K. Viswanath: If not for tending towards someone's death in the end of the movies, he would have been there right at the top of my list.
K. Balachander: Azhagan would top my list. There are some more in his long career.

There are quite a few who have given one such movie, usually their first, only to turn to masala/action/violent flicks subsequently. I hope Radhamohan sticks to his strength and delivers some more unforgettable films.

Mar 23, 2007

Good and bad

(Adopted from Tamilpakkam)

Two of my favorite ThirukkuRaLs..

இனிய உளவாக இன்னாத கூறல்
கனியிருப்பக் காய்கவர்ந் தற்று

(Iniya uLavAga innaatha kooRal
kaniyiruppak kaaikavarn thatru)

Meaning: Talking/saying bad things (or -ve things, or -ve words) when one can speak good, is like having an unripe fruit when the fruit is around.

தீயினால் சுட்டபுண் உள்ளாறும் ஆறாதே
நாவினால் சுட்ட வடு

(TheeyinAl suttapuN uLLARum ARAthey
nAvinAl sutta vadu)

Meaning: A wound caused by fire might heal within, but the scar created by tongue (words) wouldn't.

I always try to remember these two and try to implement them. I usually tend to say -ve things only if I really mean them. (Very shocking that even legends like Sunil Gavaskar can say something as insensitive as this in anger). I also like the phrase "Anger is one letter short of danger", which mostly prevents me from mouthing words out of anger and then repenting later. (Someone's probable momentary burst of anger has killed Bob Woolmer). I liked the mention of this Abraham Lincoln quote by Prem Panicker: "When you feel particularly angry, write a letter to the person who angered you, then tear it up."
In this context, I remember a couple of tamil movie songs:

1) Raasave unnai nambi indha rosaappoo irukkudhunga
oru vaarthai sollitteenga adhu usirai vandhu ulukkudhunga...

2) SollAl adicha Sundari..
Manam suttuvitta sogam ennadi..

Mar 19, 2007

Whose story?

A few weeks ago, during a discussion with a couple from Egypt in a common friend's home, the guy asked what the reason for the word 'History' was and went on to explain. He said it was derived from "His Story", 'he' being the 'man' - the 'story of the man'. Quite an interesting info it was and we discussed on how sexist man has been for centuries.. Though the countries, rivers and ships - which were considered to be very powerful then, were referred to as female, when it came to naming the ultimate collection of all the past, it had to be 'his(s)tory'.. Hmm..

I came home and checked it out in Wiki. The etymology was quite different but what he had said still lingers in my mind, and I think he was probably right. What an oxymoron it would be to say "I am studying the history of my motherland"!

Mar 12, 2007

My favorite TV Shows: 1) MTV Roadies

Over the next few months, I will be writing about some of my most favorite TV shows in between my regular posts. These are the shows that I would do my best not to miss at all. First in the list is a program in MTV called "Hero Honda MTV Roadies" which had its fourth season completed just last week. It is a reality show, involving youngsters of age group 18-22.

The fun begins during the audition itself, which is conducted in most major cities - especially Delhi, Chandigarh, Mumbai and Kolkata. In each venue, hundreds of youngsters are filtered through questionnaire, group discussion and a handful are selected for personal interview. During the interview, the judges ask them some tough personality questions, which only the smart and tough ones can skilfully answer. Maximum of 3-4 are selected from one city, to make the total to 13 - in the gender ratio 6:7.

They are sent on a road trip for about 40 days, during which they travel thousands of kilometers, passing various tourist spots. In each place, they are asked to do some tasks which would win them some money. There are also some tasks in which there is a competition and the winner gets 'immunity'. Before leaving each place, there is a 'vote-out' in which each contestant votes against one person, except against the one who has won the immunity. The contestant who gets the maximum votes is voted out of the competition, and the group gets shrinking. Finally, when it comes to two, all the eliminated 11 are invited and are asked to vote to choose the winner. The winner gets all the prize money won over the duration of 40 days.

The show involves interesting tasks, friendships, politics, survival tactics and some daring acts. I have watched the last two seasons fully, and I am glad the most harmless persons have won finally. Interestingly, they are from North-East. The guy who won the first episode, Rannvijay, has been hired by MTV as the VJ, conducting shows the last two seasons. The 40-45 minutes of the show is very engrossing, with so many things happening each week. The guys and gals are quite good-looking, bold, and hippy.

Some of the tasks are hair-rising.. e.g., once in Bikaner, the task was to lie down on the famous 'rat temple' when the rats crawl on the body, scratch and bite too.. Sheesh... the person who withstands the rats for the longest time was the winner. There are some twists and turns in the relationship among them, and in the vote-out too. Overall, a thoroughly entertaining show.

Mar 8, 2007

Pleasant to be plump

.. in winter, that is, esp. in the US.. For two reasons - one that I was aware for a long time, and another a new enlightenment.. ;)

First is that plump people have more fat to 'burn' to generate heat inside the body during the winter and thus wont be feeling the outside cold that much.

Lil bit of chemistry now.. Secondly, their excess fat, which is made of long-chain organic compounds, is a bad conductor of electricity. This reduces the extent and the intensity of their getting static shocks. On the other hand, thin and athletic people have low fat and high amount of water and muscle in their body, both of which are good conductors. This makes them more prone to the shocks.

Nowadays whichever metal object I touch at home, I get a shock, many a times with spark as well.. This is more so after I return from gym.. This is the price I have to pay for getting my body fat cut down from over 25% to less than 7% in the last 9 months..

Mar 6, 2007

Kramer Batsha

(Pics adopted from Indiadirect and Wikipedia)

I was just watching the first episode of Seinfeld-Season 6. Kramer tells Miss Rhode Island: "If I say something once, it is like telling a thousand times". Ada.. engeyo ketta madhiri irukkey.. Idhuvum suttadha?

PS: I have just added a new feature "My Current Favorite Video" to the sidebar. I am glad that the first song I am posting is one of the most romantic songs I have ever seen. Had this movie been released a month ago, this song would have certainly been added to the "Various Stages of Love" Valentine's day collection. Goutham magic!! Simple, yet so beautiful.. I will be updating this section in accordance with the title, but it looks like this song is here to stay for quite a long time.

Mar 2, 2007

Tamil vs Hindi Cinema: 7. Villains

(Pics adopted from musicindiaonline and Galatta)

The movies released in the couple of weeks (e.g., PKMC and Mozhi) made me think about the role of villains in Tamil cinema and compare it with Hindi Cinema. For instance, I was surprised that three of the leading characters in the feel-good movie 'Mozhi' have recently appeared in notable -ve roles. As was done earlier, I am gonna limit the comparison to the post-2000 era.

Tamil cinema:

If you take a look at my post on the most notable villains in Tamil, we have had quite a good amount of versatility in the recent past; but has it been top-class? For that, the list of notable recent villains are:

1) Nasser: Though he was terrific in the early-mid 90's, his recent -ve performances have been forgettable. He appears more often as a loud villain (e.g., Thamirabharani, etc.) than the brainy subdued one he was famous for. His last notable performance was in 'Anbe Sivam'.

2) Raghuvaran: Where is he now?

3) Prakash Raj: Though talented, most of his roles after 'Aasai' were similar, until probably 'Ghilly' and after that, they are mostly similar in 'Chellam' style. Had couple of different hero-resisting roles in 'Vasoolraja MBBS' and 'Anniyan' but apart from that, he is one talent largely being wasted.

4) Pasupathy: Similar to the earlier mentioned, had a rollicking start early in his career (Dhool, Virumandi) only to become loud and irritating later (Arul, Sullan, Madurei and Thirupachi). Majaa and Veyyil suggest that he is better off as a character artist and probably likely to appear so in the near future.

(A point off-the-topic: The exceptional movies that I mentioned above Kamal's influence.. He really brings out the best from his co-artists).

Rest of the others, like 'Kaadhal' Dhandapani, 'FEFSI' Vijayan, Ponnambalam and Aashish Vidyarthi are so-so.. They look, act and shout like villains.. thats all. Rarely have we got the heroes embracing -ve roles. Even if it happens, more often than not, the hero makes up for it by appearing in a goody dual role (e.g., Indian, Aalavandhan, Amaidhipadai and Vaali) . So, he is the loser and he is the winner as well.. Once in a bluemoon we get a Kadhal Konden (Dhanush), or Kaakha Kaakha (Jeevan) and Ayutha Ezhuthu (Madhavan).. here again, the former werent established heroes when they performed the -ve roles.

Hindi Cinema:

(Pic adopted from BBC and Yashraj films)

The situation in the recent past in this aspect has been pretty encouraging and versatile. Almost all the main heroes have appeared in a negative role and have done reasonably well also. For example, Shahrukh (Don-though a bit different and KANK- a gray character), Aamir (1947 Earth and Fanaa), Amitabh (Aankhen, Aks and the forthcoming Sholay), Saif (Omkara), Ajay Devgan (Khakhi and Deewangee), Akshay Kumar (Ajnabee), Abhishek (Yuva), John Abraham (Aetbaar), Sunil Shetty (Main Hoon na) and Akshaye Khanna (Humraaz).

Even the actresses turn out to be interesting villains. Priyanka Chopra (Aitraaz), Kareena (Fida), Esha Deol (Ankahee), Isha Koppikar (Girlfriend), and Bipasha (Jism) to name a few.

In addition to that, the mainstream villains have been reasonably good (e.g., Manoj Bajpai, Ashutosh Rana, Irfan Khan, Mohan Agashe, and Mukesh Tiwari) too of late. The legacy of Pran and Amrish Puri has been passed on and continued well by many others. They usually stumble whenever they portray some Jihadi or Pakistani bigwig as the loud villain but otherwise they are OK. Even renowned actors like Nasirudeen Shah (Krrish, Sarfarosh), Om Puri (Dev, Yuva), Nana Patekar (several) and Boman Irani (Don, Ekalavya, and, to some extent, Munnabhai) appear in -ve roles and add flavor to it. They, IMHO, make the Hindi villains more dislikable than Tamil ones

So, the lead for Tamil cinema is reduced to 3-2.

Previous posts in this thread:

6) Music directors