Dec 23, 2007

Taare Zameen Par

My interest in movies revolving around children first started when I watched Anjali, my all time favorite. After a huge gap, a movie on a defective child plus direction by Aamir Khan really made me to go to the first show itself. My expectations for the movie rose as the main character's name was credited before anyone else, including Aamir.
Ishaan is an inattentive child, lagging from his fellow classmates in studies. He also engages in fights. The initial few symptoms made me to wonder if he's having Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). As time goes by, his problems become severe and he bunks class to prevent being punished by his teache. His parents fearthat he wouldn't be a studious person like his elder brother and send him to a boarding school. The movie which was revolving primarily ard Ishaan, now onwards takes a shift. Here after, it is about how Aamir Khan (art teacher) recongnizes the disorder in Ishaan, Dyslexia, and helps him to overcome it, and in the climax eventually the child succeeds.
The movie doesn't engross you as good as the story promises. The second half is way too lengthy, with Aamir Khan uttering several monologues to bring forth his opinions about non-understanding and demanding parents. He burdens the movie with himself, and cries too much to test our eye glands, unsuccessfully. The moment we realize that Aamir Khan is after Ishaan, we know how it is gonna end, exactly. Too much predictability takes away any further attachment we can have in seeing the success of Ishaan.
The kid acting as Ishaan was terrific. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy do a fantastic job with some slow numbers in the first half. Nothing much to say about the supporting cast, including Aamir.The argument Aamir has that the dyslexic kids do have the rights to study alongside 'normal' kids holds little water after we see what a specially trained and well-aware Aamir can do. Also, instead of addressing the larger problem of undue pressure on children in the present times, the attention in the second half is only on dyslexic kids. Sure, it is not to be taken lightly, with 10-15% of population reported to have it, but I am not sure if it is them (and their parents & teachers) whom Aamir wanted to target this movie for.
With Aamir Khan touted to act in next Mani Ratnam's movie, I wish he had sought an advice or two from the master director on how to take a movie based on a child. Nevertheless, Aamir needs to be applauded for his good intentions.

Dec 13, 2007

Science in song lyrics

Some songs have the knack of stimulating some interesting scientific thoughts when I hear them.. It so happens that most of the time the lyrics remind me of the scientific content.. A few such lines from songs, retrieved by a quick recollection:

1) நிலவில் பொருள்கள் எடையிழக்கும்
நீரிலும் பொருள் எடையிழக்கும்
'Nilavil porulgal edaiyizhakkum
neerilum porul edaiyizhakkum' (Ratchagan)
This song easily gets the top spot for such a beautiful comparison for love. Things lose their weights in moon and in water. Gravity explains the loss in moon and the viscosity, in water. When Vairamuthu compares these apparent sense of weight loss with feeling light when in love, it is more apt, in another sense too: one says 'I fell in love'.. when you 'fall', your body feels lighter, doesnt it?

2) அழகிய நிலவில் ஆக்சிஜன் நிரப்பி....
'Azhagiya nilavil oxygen nirappi' (Jeans)
Though trivial, it reiterates a couple of facts: one- there is no oxygen in moon, and two- humans need oxygen to survive.

3) தாமரை மேலே நீர்த்துளி போல்....
'ThAmarai mElE neerthuLi pOl' (Mouna RAgam)
Though it has been used for comparison since ancient times, in the modern times scientists are trying to mimic the lotus for coatings of some applications. Water doesnt wet lotus (flower and leaves) because of surface tension, which arises from its unique surface chemistry due to water-repellant chemicals.

4) வண்ணத்துப்பூச்சி உடம்பில் ஓவியங்கள் அதிசயம்
'Vannathupoochi udambil OviyangaL adhisayam' (Jeans)
Again, man has been wondering about the beauty of butterflies. The exotic colors in the wings of butterflies arise due to an optical effect called 'thin film interference'. Amazing that there are no dyes which give the various colors to butterflies.

5) உலகம் திரியும் காற்றுக்கு உருவம் தீட்டமுடியாது.
'Ulagam thiriyum kAtrukku uruvam theetta mudiyAdhu' (Mozhi)
It is simply explained by the fluidic nature of air.. Air, a fluid, doesn't have a shape by itself and it takes up the shape of the container it is in..

6) வெண்ணிலவே வெள்ளி வெள்ளி நிலாவே
போகுமிடமெல்லாமே கூடக்கூட வந்தாய்..
'VennilavE veLLi veLLi nilAvE
pogumidam ellAmE koodakooda vandhAi' (Vettaiyadu vilayadu)

That is simply because the distance between earth and moon is so large that any distance that a man covers by whatver means is too small to make a difference to the relative position of the moon. This creates an illusion as if moon is moving alongwith you.

7) நீலநிறம் வானுக்கும் கடலுக்கும் நீலநிறம்
'Neela niRam vAnukkum kadalukkum neelaniRam' (En aNNan)
Sky appears blue because of Raman scattering.. Sea appears blue bcos it simply reflects the sky. To say that they are blue, bcos the girl's eyes are blue is, well, poetic freedom..
All these lyrics talk of 'correct' scientific events. The reason for this post is a recent song which has the lines
மேற்கு திசையை நோக்கி நடந்தால்
இரவு கொஞ்சம் சீக்கிரம் வருமா..
'MERku dhisaiyai nOkki nadandhAl
iravu konjam seekkiram varumA' (ATM)

Nice ones.. The lyricist's inclination is clear.. but he is going in the wrong direction.. Since earth rotates eastwards, one has to walk in that direction for the night to approach faster.