Oct 25, 2007

Tamil vs Hindi: 9. Choreographers

Choreography is an important component of Indian movies, since it is vital to most of the songs. South India prides itself for the birth of Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, and Kathakali, whereas North India can boast of Kathak and Bhangra. Over the years, the Western influence has changed the dance style of both Tamil and Hindi movies alike. Now, we rarely have the purest forms of our classical dance; I think it is a fusion of both worlds. There are a few in both movie industries who have stood the test of time and outshone others. Let us see who fares how.
1) Tamil choreographers:
Thankfully, gone are the days of 'Puliyoor' Saroja, and, to some extent, Raghuram, both of whom approached cine-dance as just 'dancing to the tunes'. In the late 80's, Maniratnam showed in his movies what new and innovative choreography and picturization can do to the viewing pleasure. Atleast a couple of songs in each of his movies, since Mouna Raagam, had some great dance numbers. The person whom he teamed up with, Sundaram, was undoubtedly the best of his times. It is very apt that, he and his sons were utilized to maximum possible extent by another master of visually pleasing cinema, Shankar.
The 90's saw Prabhu Deva and Raju Sundaram taking the central stage in choreography. There were others too, such as, Kala and her sister Brindha, who shone occasionally but they paled in comparison with the Sundaram family. Then, in 2000's, Lawrence Raghavendra entered the scene and he has created his own style in choreography.
The main problem with the choreography in Tamil cinema is not with the masters, but those who matter, i.e. the actors and actresses. Barring a handful, most actresses dont dance well. The less said about the actors, the better. Due to this, we often see some great dance scores wasted as item numbers.
2) Hindi choreographers:
Khans rule here too.. there is old-but-still-gold Saroj Khan, Farah Khan (who is undoubtedly the #1 now) and Ahmed Khan. In addition to them, Ganesh Hegde, very stylish and highly talented choreographer, Vaibhavi Merchant (young and very promising master) and Shiamak Davar (selective but delivers unforgettable hits like 'Dhoom 2', 'Bunty aur Babli') and Remo. Unlike their tamil counterparts, these masters are blessed with very good dancers in the hindi cine industry. It is hard to pick lousy dancers over there, which makes their job much easier and the outcome much better.
It also happens that the language/regional barrier is broken quite astoundingly. Saroj Khan won the National award for the Tamil film 'Sringaram' whereas Prabhu Deva won for the Hindi film 'Lakshya'. All of them command respect among each others, and so, I feel that Tamil and Hindi choreographers are quite evenly matched and hence share the honors.
Tamil leads Hindi 4-2, after 9 rounds of competition/comparison.

Oct 13, 2007

Nobel Prize Winners of 2007

(Pics adopted from Nobelprize.org and Answers.com)

There is one common thread connecting this year's Nobel awards in chemistry, physics, and peace. They deal with 'solids' of various kinds. Lemme explain..
A German chemist, Prof. Gerhard Ertl, won for his work on 'surface chemistry'. Most of you would imagine a chemical reaction as colorful events happening in glass vessels but, a great deal of chemistry happens right in front of our eyes every day, detailed study of which is extremely difficult. Examples are rusting of metallic objects and fading of clothes on fabrics. The smoke coming out of motor vehicles is cleaned up by filtering off toxic gases using special metal coatings in the exhaust pipe. The whole area of catalysts that don't dissolve in any solvent, is driven by surface reactions. Prof. Ertl has been studying them using sophisticated techniques.
Two European scientists have won it for their discovery of a unique property called 'giant magnetoresistance' (GMR) or 'colossal magnetoresistance'. This is an exclusive solid state property.This property is used in 'magnetic writing' which is the basis for all the magnetic disks, data writing on disks, etc. Their discovery and subsequent development by IBM scientists helped a lot in the miniaturization of memory parts.
Prof. C. N. R. Rao, India's eminent scientist, has worked quite a lot on both these two fields, especially in the past 15 years. I am sure he would be very proud of the recognition given to the areas close to his heart.
Al Gore and the 'Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change' (IPCC) have won it together. A lot of their concern has been towards the polar ice melting (the 'solid' connection). Will Al Gore's win affect the race for the candidature for the next year's presidential elections? We have to wait and see..
A proud moment for Indians.. The chairman of IPCC is an Indian, Mr. Rajendra Pachauri, who is heading IPCC for over 5 years now. Rediff has a story on this, in which it has put him alongside individual Nobel-winning Indians, like Tagore, Raman, Teresa, Chandrasekhar and Sen. IMHO, that comparison is absolutely out-of-place.. It will be sensible if the media doesn't go overboard on Mr. Pachauri. He himself has said that it is the victory of IPCC, not his. In the official Nobel prise website, there is mention only of the organization IPCC but not any individual, including its present chairman. I feel it is justified.
Congrats to all the winners!!!

Oct 1, 2007

Hey Ram!!

(Pic adopted from NASA)

Still having no internet at my new home, I was out of touch with my usual update on TamilNadu and Indian News. Just realized that Ram has been politicized (again). Hailing from the contentious place (i.e., Rameswaram), my two cents on the whole issue:

* It is clear that the Sethu Samudram project is more of a prestige issue for the Dravidian parties. The canal is not even remotely as important as Suez or Panama canal, where huge landscapes prevented easy access to financially and industrially important places. Sri Lanka is too small an island for ships to worry about extra costs to reach India's east coast. Sure, it would make a difference for, say, a cruise from India's west coast to east coast; but, road is a far more viable option than the sea route. So, bypassing Sri Lanka through the new project, causing irreversible changes to the water world of Southern Tamil Nadu is, IMHO, literally, dissolving hundreds of crores of rupees into the sea.

* For those religious ones to protest against the damage to the 'Sethu Bridge', I donno what to say.. If we assume that the thin line of rockbed seen in many NASA photographs is indeed the bridge built by Ram, what has anyone done so far to increase its importance, than it being merely on photos? I can say that less than 10% those who visit Rameswaram, go to Dhanushkodi, the Indian tip where Ram is believed to have started building the bridge. And, no pilgrim takes a cruise or even a motor boat to travel the path of Ram in the ocean, atleast until the Indian limit. So, make a big deal about something which we haven't cared about at all, for centuries?

* Having said that, the remarks by Mr. Karunanidhi on the existence of Ram, and questioning which Engineering college he went etc. were totally unwarranted. Which Engg. college did Karikalan, who built the great 'Kallanai' attend? What degree did the architects of many wonderful Tamil Nadu's temples, such as the 'Thanjavur temple' and the 'Rock temple' of Mahabalipuram have? Such frequent and uncalled-for comments of his, spoil the good impression I have on him.

* Lastly, his hunger strike and his call for a Bandh, especially against the court orders, are shocking. People say he is just following Gandhian ways of showing his protest by Satyagraha, and by non-cooperation; but, if Gandhi was alive, all he would have said is "Hey, Ram!"