Dec 30, 2008

December Movies

Managed to watch a lot of movies in the holiday season..  This is the collection of the short reviews.
* Ghajini
      A few things were better whereas a few others were worse than the tamil version. First, the worse ones: I felt that Surya had done a better job than Aamir in the first half. Harris' music was also far superior to AR Rahman's. Among the +ve differences, the climax, which was the sore point in the tamil version, has been cleverly modified. The utterly-irritating XY-machi Nayanthara is replaced by Jiah Khan. Aamir Khan's body is more toned than Ghajini Surya's. There are thankfully only two full-length songs, so the pace of the movie isn't impeded by unnecessary songs. Overall, this is surely watchable whether or not one has watched the tamil original.
* The curious case of Benjamin Button
     Based on an interesting imagination, the story unfolds as the protagonist is born old and gets gradually younger as he ages. So, we get some unique situations in which a person is mentally young but physically old and the situation gets reversed at his old age. The story largely revolves around Benjamin's (Brad Pitt) love on Cate Blanchett. The climax is an unforgettable experience. The highlight of the movie to me was the make-up of the main characters. It was so real. The 2-minute segment where we hear from Benjamin's voice, a superb portrayal of the butterfly effect. The movie is quite long and draggy at times; but the fine performance of Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett makes us glued to the proceedings. Definitely recommended.
     After watching Bharathiraja's previous product in the form of the disasterous 'KaNgaLAl kaidhu sei', I had absolutely no expectations on this at all. But, it was pleasantly surprising to see him come up with a terrific thriller. As is the case with the best thriller movies, the climax has some unexpected twists which the director gradually builds en route. Nana Patekar's performance is good but we tend to see 'Nizhalgal' Ravi in him due to the strong influence of the dubbing artist. Arjun too delivers a subdued and apt performance. So one can say that Bharathiraja has redeemed himself with Bommalattam. Two thumbs up.
      During a time when the rights of homosexuals are constantly challenged, this movie throws light on the story of the first openly-gay elected official in the U.S. It is quite apt that it is based in the culturally diverse San Francisco. As the movie unfolds, one gets to see not only the political struggle of the protagonist, Harvey Milk (Sean Penn in an Oscar-worthy performance) but the emotions involed in his personal life as well. Though we know the end from a scene few minutes into the movie, the proceedings make it interesting. One lateral thought: I felt that the title is somewhat suitable to the sexual orientation. Milk is an emulsion of water and lipids, each of which is clear and transparent but when mixed, they lead to a smudgy liquid.
* Abhiyum naanum      
       An ultra-simple movie which is almost like a documentary of Prakash Raj's life. Radha Mohan's liking for super feel-good movies continues with this movie as well. I felt it to be a OK movie with a linear story and minimal twists. So we get ideal father, ideal mom, ideal daughter, ideal-appearing sikh family, etc. Prakash Raj's acting in the second half was irritatingly over-the-top. After listening to 'Siru siru' song, I had a particular opinion about the story, though the possibility of the song being shot in a similar way as one of the 'Kanda naal mudhal' songs didn't fail to pass my mind. Thus, the second half almost looks like parts of 'Hum aapke hain kaun'. So, my verdict is, this movie is only for the sentimentally inclined ones.

* Valkyrie
     I went to see this movie expecting it to be a war-story. On the contrary, it is a story of a real event that happened a year before the end of world war 2. The story is on an attempt by some good-willed anti-Nazi German soldiers on the life on Adolf Hitler. Some good performances but nothing great to rave about. 
     I didnt like anything in this movie except for the songs, in which Simbhu tries some extravagant dance steps. The double entendre and perverted scenes are too much. Crass. All the so-called comedy segments being targetted towards the Brahmins are disgusting. I dont know if the film industry can afford to show any other community in such a demeaning manner and get away with it. A silly story, a meaningless first half, and juvenile violence are all indigestible. Give it a miss, unless you are a mass-masala lover.

Dec 23, 2008

Indian Arranged Marriages

Some of the Indian movies that I watched recently , viz., Rab ne bana di jodi, Poo and Mounam pesiyathey, had one thought-provoking thing in common - they had at least one scene where the parent(s) decide about the wedding of a main character. Indian parents, traditionally, have been considering the marriage of their son/daughter as their main responsibility. So, it is not surprising that the mere mention of 'love' meets with resistance - sometimes strong and sometimes weak, depending on how 'different' the lover is, in terms of religion, caste, social status, family background, and appearance. This post is not to support or oppose arranged  marriage, but my analysis from a sociological point of view.

Why is arranged marriage the #1 preferred option by the parents? They strongly believe that, due to age and hence experience, they are in a better position to find a suitable match for their son/daughter. The 'horoscope matching' is an important part, since the religious belief that marriages are made in heaven and hence several mismatches between the boy and girl in horoscopes usually means a disagreement from the Gods on their marriage the moment they were born. Marriages are considered to be the union of not just two people, but two small sub-divisions of their caste. Thus, it is a chance for 10-15 families from each side to create a bond between themselves. So, the first thing the parents look for is 'a good family'.
A good family usually means reasonably well-off financially, with preferably educated parents and without any huge 'blemishes' by the members. From this moment on, I am going to start giving examples of the cases that I know of. While trying to get their mid-30's daughter married, the parents found a 'good boy' but the problem was that his father had two wives. Though the boy and girl liked each other from their first meeting and were well-matched in terms of their educational qualifications, the girl's parents were worried as to 'what if the son also gets inspired by his dad  and chooses to follow him'. Later, after trying several other alliances in vain, they agreed to accept the boy, but keeping their fingers crossed and half-heartedly. There is a sociological theory called 'Broken windows theory' which says that if one social norm is violated in a place, it is more likely that the same norm and/or other norms would be violated in the same place. The girl's parents must be thinking along the same lines. The boy's grandfather was monogamous, but his dad choose bigamy. So, who was the inspiration for his father? Were they worried that, if the boy tries to pair with another girl after the marriage, his parents would have no moral responsibility to advise him against it? 
There is a belief among the Iyers that a girl wedded to a Malayali iyer family would be taken care very well by her in-laws, because they would treat her as good as their own daughter. On the contrary, a non-malayali iyer family would hesitate to accept a girl from a malayali iyer family due to the belief that the girl would have been nicely pampered at their parents home and so would not be obedient to her in-laws. I know of someone who was married to such a malayali family because the boy's parents treated them well during the first visit and the boy is earning well. She had no choice but to agree for the marriage, and, during their communication before marriage, she didnt like several of his qualties, which were of importance to her. So, she entered into wedlock in dissatisfaction and with no choice left. Soon, she gave birth to a son, and hence, according to her family and the society, she is 'happily married with a son'. On the contrary, though the in-laws treat her well, her husband is indifferent to her feelings in almost every sense, and hence she is largely very unhappy with him ever since they got married. Who would believe if she tells that she is unhappy in her marriage?
As I mentioned before, while all lovers meet with resistance from their parents, the resistance is unimaginable when it is out of religion. A girl loved a muslim and the parents and relatives were totally against it. She was hastily married to someone from their own caste, but she was quite adament with her love, so they got divorced within a year of the marriage. She then married her lover, and they lived happily. Her family accepted her only conditionally; she wasnt allowed to attend any of their family functions which included the weddings of her 3 brothers. In another case, a tamil iyer guy who came to study in the US met an American girl, who had converted herself to Buddhism a few years ago. They fell in love, and when he told about it to his parents, they were ultra-dramatic and vicious, until the wedding. Though his mom has sort of accepted her fully, his dad insult her even now. She being a buddhist helped in some extent to get his parents' approval. She is living happily too. 
Now, his parents were looking for a boy for his sister. They found a 'good family', 'nice boy', well-educated and good job. As it happens sometimes, he was found out to be even some distant relative, and so got the daughter married to the guy. But, they turned out to be total freaks, and she left him within 3 months. His parents turned nasty and evil against her parents because they were all fake. The buddhist lady blames her sis-in-law for her stupidity in going for such a marriage, because she feels that Indians get education only on what they study, but not on their lives. Also, she calls the Indian parents with such a mindset as hypocrites, since they have the tendency to emotionally blackmail their children whom they claim to love so much. According to her, the Indian parents give unthinkable backlash when the kids dont want their help. Since parents' love should never be in question, their huge interference in the choice of spouse for their children is totally against Hindu teachings.
When we Indians discuss about our marriage process to most westerners, they get shocked at the concept of 'arranged marriages' and ask questions like "how would u know if he wont beat u, how can you love someone whom you hardly know, what if you two are too different in personality that you clash for everything". I strongly feel that there is a huge amount of luck in the arranged marriages, which means we leave the match-making to God. In order to make the arranged marriages to work better, I have a small suggestion, after taking a cue from the movie 'Raman thediya Seethai'.
In the movie, Cheran goes to see a girl and when her parents make them talk to each other in private, he tells her that he doesnt want either of them to decide now. He suggests that they should talk to each other for awhile before conveying their decision to the parents. That is one idea which immediately appealed to me. In the various steps of approval from the boy and girl, usually the two most important steps are seeing each other's foto and talking for a few minutes when he comes to her house with his family comes to see her. How can that be enough to  arrive at the right decision? An open-minded time period of atleast a few weeks is required for the boy and girl to understand about the other person to some extent. True, the chance of faking some qualities and hiding some is there, but hey, one has to take this chance for life.
One last example: A guy who is getting arranged-marriage with a girl is finding some differences with her already. She is very good, very sweet and loving towards him but he feels that her love is suffocating him. He says that he says 'I love u' to her just for the sake of it, without any true feelings. She sings for him songs in the phone but he feels that she is not a good singer and she makes mistakes in her 'sruthi' (He has learnt music). He is already showing a forced-love through fone, though she is not demanding. I feel sorry for that girl, and wish that this fella changes for good after the wedding. Imagine how it will be for her to hear from him in one angry moment that all the 'I love u's that he uttered were all fake!
This post is already quite long and I have more to write.. may be in the replies to appropriate comments. The communication between the pair in the arranged marriage system has changed in the last few years thanks to technological advances. So, unlike earlier times when the couple learn about each other's likings, wishes, and other details after the marriage, they do so now by talking in cellfone/fone, skype/yahoo and also getting to meet in person a few times. Ideally, the parents should ask their children if it is OK to choose a spouse for him/her. And, when they stumple upon someone whom they think is a good match, they should give time and space to the kids to make the ultimate decision. In short, the marriages should change from being 'family-centric' to 'couple-centric'. 

Dec 18, 2008

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

Lemme try to review it the way Suhasini would do.. ;)

The director of this film, Aditya Chopra, rewrote the trend in Hindi films in 1995 with his blockbuster 'DDLJ' which is still running in Mumbai. He brought life back to a precariously placed Yash Raj films which is continuing to make 3-4 films a year. DDLJ was the first among a series of films with an NRI as the protagonist. Aditya followed DDLJ with 'Mohabbatein' 5 years later. Romance was the backbone for that movie too, but it wasnt even half as good as DDLJ. While the movie had good songs and an impressive star-cast, its story was very weak, and its scope pathetic. He took a long hiatus from directing movies and now is back with his favorite hero and a newcomer Anushka Sharma as the heroine.

The story first. Surinder (a geeky SRK with shirt, pant and specs), who works for 'Punjab Power' in Amritsar gets to marry Taani (Anushka) whose fiance dies on their wedding day due to an accident. Taani is very unhappy with the marriage and hence they both live separately in the same house. Taani joins a dance class and prepares for a competition. The introverted Suri wants to somehow win her love and undergoes a total change in his make-over, personality and everything, which make him totally opposite to what defines Suri. When Taani meets him in the dance class, she is unable to identify him as her husband. Afraid that he might not get a chance to spend time with her, he introduces himself as Raj to her and reverts back to his normal appearance at home.

Taani and Raj are assigned as dance partners. She slowly starts to like the vivacious Raj. He starts flirting with her, which meets with her resistance at first. Gradually, as they have to spend time together practicing their dance, she begins to like him. Her behavior is bittersweet to Raj, since he knows that she likes not her husband but the bubbly Raj. He goes to the extent of proposing to her and she agrees to elope with him. The movie ends with the events surrounding the final of the dance competition.

Rab ne.. walks on the edge of a sharp knife for the most part, without trying to compromise on the Indian culture and values. Though the climax is somewhat predictable, I wanted to see the way the events lead to it. After already having starred in a controversial movie like KANK, it is a risk for Shahrukh to enact a similar role. Can't say that his role comes out unscathed. His Raj character crosses the limit in 'testing' Taani by alluring and wooing her. Her anger in the climax is ridiculous, to say the least and is stereotypical of an Indian woman.

The movie suffers from huge lack of logic, which is its next major problem. First is the inability of Taani to distinguish between Suri and Raj, especially since they are the only two people with whom she interacts in Amritsar. Suri's total change in character resembles a multiple-personality disorder, only that in his case, both the personalities are very much aware of each other. Suri's reasoning for creating and sustaining Raj character is very weak, especially since he doesn't do anything to express his abundant love to Taani. 'Seeing God' in a loved one is all too much. This kind of story would have been apt for the era of previous generation only.

'Dance pe chance' has some nice lyrics and good dance; 'Phir milenge' is interesting, but the novelty in OSO's 'Om Shanti om' is missing. Shahrukh's body language is funny and entertaining in places. Anushka is just little more than a pretty doll. Her costumes - both the traditional Punjabi and dance suits are the only ones which add color to the movie. Overall, the movie is a yawn-fest most of the time; better luck, Shahrukh for the next 'My name is Khan'.

Dec 11, 2008

SabAsh.. SariyAna POtti!

In the middle of getting continuously frustrated with a-nice-but-being-spoilt-by-partial-judges-show 'Airtel Super Singer 2008', something good happened this week. This is the week of 'Unplugged' songs, and the acoustic musician who came to accompany the contestants was one Mr. Stephen Devassy. Oh boy, wasnt he fabulous.. For tamil cinema viewers who haven't heard of him, just remember the piano bit before the second charanam in 'Kaatrin mozhi' - the one where Prithviraj, Prakashraj and Swarnamalya dance on a zebra crossing as if playing the keyboard.. that bit was played by none other than Stephen.

You can google and get loads of impressive info on this 27-year old; I was totally taken aback by his talent on this week's show. And then I came to know that he has already been an integral part of a similar talent-hunt show in the Malayalam channel 'Amrita', called Superstar Global, searching about which I came across this singer Roopa Revathi, who would put the super singer contestants into shame. Watch especially for this video below wherein she sang 'SingAra vElanE' song, with Stephen playing the piano, in front of S. Janaki, no less.

I became a huge fan of Stephen, the major reason for which is the performance below. No wonder he is the best Asian student ever at the famous London Trinity college of music.

I have noticed in the recent months that the new talent in Kerala is amazing. Considering the legends like Balamurali Krishna, KJY, Janaki,Chitra, Sujatha and Jency, I should have known sooner. I first saw some shows of Idea star singer,the first Malayalam singer-hunt show which is currently running in Asianet. Several of the contestants sing tamil songs, that too very well, with near-perfect diction. Looking at this kind of abundant talent in TN and Kerala, I wonder how there can be a place for someone like Madhusree in Tamil cine music.

Dec 6, 2008


There have been quite a few complalints about the absence of heroine-centric movies in Tamil. In fact, thinking quite deeply about it, even the people like KB who have been known and famous for the female-centric stories have rarely shown a movie with the heroine in the limelight. Nandhini in Manathil Urudhi Vendum is the one that comes to the mind, while analyzing the last 20 or so years of Tamil cinema. In other movies, the role of the female(s) is considerably higher than the average movies but still such movies have been either hero-centric, or, the woman is shown to be at the mercy of the man/dependent. A separate post is required for the detailed analysis, but, in the context of Poo, it is a brilliantly made movie with the heroine as the central character.
Story: To prevent any kind of spoiler, this is what I can say: mMaari (Parvathi), who is happily married, visits her native village for a festival. There, she wants to meet her cousin Thangarasu (Srikanth) whom she knows since their childhood. From a mix of flashback and the real-time events, we get to see their lives through the eyes of Maari.
While doing some googling on this movie, I came to know that Poo is based on a novel. That explains the freshness of the story and the way it plays with the emotions. It is a slow-paced movie but I never had a minute of boredom. With the limited knowledge that we know about the main characters in the first few minutes of the movie, it always keeps us engrossed on what is going to happen next. That means that the screenplay is a successful one. The dialogues too are simple and realistic. Almost every character, including the tea shop owner, who initially appeared to be an unnecessary insert resembling Vadivelu in several scenes, has a role play later.
The movie is a tribute to humanity and the social concepts of friendship, relationship and love. It has to be seen to be experienced. Parvathi as Maari has simply lived that character; she reminded me of Shobha of the previous generation. I hope we can get to see her more in meaningful roles. Srikanth plays his role well. The girl who appears as Maari's friend is a good find too. Other characters help bring the Rajapalayam feel to the movie. 3 songs (Aavarampoo, Maaman, and Dheena) are three lovely melodies; choo choo maari is cute when it comes first and haunting during the second time; and Sivakasi rathiye is an interesting folk number involving two unique people.
In some scenes, I was totally in awe of the writer/director's story-telling power: when a weight falls on Maari's feet, when she tries to remember and recall a phone number, when Maari momentarily meets her lamb, the penultimate scene involving hands, and the 'silence' in the ultimate scene are those which have stayed in the mind. After watching the entire movie, I watched the first 10 minutes of the movie again, which made me view them in a totally new light. Therein lies the beauty of her feelings. At times, we wonder if she is eccentric or obsessed on a character. Her last conversation with her friend in the flashback sequence brilliantly shows her real heart.
I strongly recommend Poo. IMHO, this is better than 'Subramaniapuram' and so is my candidate for the best movie of the year. One random thought before I finish: what is it with the simplest of the titles? 4 years ago, a movie was released with a title that was a part of the title of several dozens of movies before that, and it was a ground-breaking movie, set in the similar background of Madurai. I am talking about 'Kaadhal', which was, coincidentally released in the last weeks of 2004. Now, with 'Poo', the similarities are so striking, and I hope that 'Poo' too becomes a commercial hit.

Dec 3, 2008

Designer Babies

The term 'Designer babies' has been largely used by the popular media (mostly in a derisive way) to define the babies who are genetically tailored in the zygotic phase in order to eliminate the risk of known genetically transmitted diseases and to increase the capacity for certain skills/straits when the child grows up. The U.S. populace is divided over the concept because of the conservative belief of 'playing the God' and socio-ethical issues. My stand on this issue is a policy-based support for the genetically-bettered babies.

      Firstly, it is the responsibility of the parents to do the best for their children. One moral/bioethical question that is being asked about designing babies is that it is like violating the rights of a human being and fiddling with his/her rights without permission. I consider that, from the moment a man and woman decide to have a baby, they are interfering with the right of another human being, which is of course not present. By choosing a partner of their own liking, by eating food of their choice during pregnancy, by consuming medicines that would keep the baby free of certain infectious diseases, by choosing a medical facility based on their liking for the pregnancy treatment and child delivery, and by opting for natural or caesarian method for delivery, the parents decide what is best for their child. The society accepts all of that, even though many of such practices have been constantly evolving over the past several decades.

      I presume there will be some opponents to this concept, as there are for other controversial concepts such as abortion. It is important for one to be able to defend their decision to the opponents who might very well be relatives, coworkers and/or friends. My defense would be along the following lines: The society doesn’t question if a bankrupt or extremely poor couple decides to conceive a child; no squabbles if a jailbird wants to become a parent; also, the society allows the parents of a newborn or a young child to separate upon divorce; it even permits homosexuals to adopt a child. The future of the child or the consent of the child is never considered, because for the society, the parents are those who become more important than the tender mind of the child. 

If one argues that, by genetically doctoring a child, we are tinkering with the child’s freedom of life, I would say that so do all the cases mentioned above. Can we argue that, since a mother and father are required for the conception of a child, the child deserves to have both of them together at home, until he/she reaches a certain age? Can the society ban divorce of parented couple unless the child consents? Can the child sue the divorced or poor or homosexual parents for not providing him/her an ideal and peaceful environment at home? After all, the children didn’t plead the parents to give birth to/adopt them, did they? Under the terms ‘parental responsibility’, ‘parental freedom’ and ‘reproductive/biological urge’, we allow the parents to choose what they want.

       Similarly, in a competitive society, the responsibility to give birth a fittest possible child also comes under the responsibility of the parents. Granted, it is a game that can be played only by rich people; I wouldn’t know how much it would be possible for me to be able to spend for the genetic design of my child, but I would do my best to ensure that there is a somewhat level-playing field for my child. In that regard, I would like my child to be born without any physical and mental disabilities and with good intelligence. As long as the purpose of altering the natural genetics of a child is for the child’s betterment, I would support it and go for it. Other attributes such as gender, height, and other physical attributes are the qualities which are governed by me and my partner so I wouldn’t want that to be altered at all. Beauty and physical attributes are left out of the ‘betterment’ criterion, because I consider that beauty lies in the eyes of a beholder, and, what appears to be a positive attribute for one person need not be so for another. So, I would let nature take its own course in deciding those features for my child.

      Another concern raised by the opponents of this concept is, they feel that it would take away the excitement of watching children grow to their individual personality, and that it would negate the disease-fighting and adapting tendency of a person if he/she is largely disease-free. I correlate such resistances to the voices raised by the so-called ‘purist lovers’ of sports when technology was brought in to sort-out some on-field decisions, the verdict of which depended only on the referee/umpire’s decision. A famous English cricketer, WG Grace once mentioned to an umpire who had just given a bad decision, “People have come to see me bat, not to see you umpire”. Common sense prevailed, several sports have assimilated technology, and the quality of the sports has become better since then. Similarly, every caring parent will want the best possible life for their children; seeing the children struggle against a disease which could have been prevented, or not being able to excel in life because of limited intelligence would be akin to child abuse.

      Such advancements would mean that the level and intensity of competition among the members of the future generation will be quite difficult from what we see in our times. Youngsters and adults, devoid of worries about major acquired diseases and armed with better intelligence will constantly be thriving to excel one another. That doesn’t necessarily mean a bad thing. One such scientist endowed with super-intelligence might invent a drug for HIV; another physician might invent quick and complete cure for brain tumor; a nanotechnologist might design cheap and highly efficient solar cells or motor vehicles which would save our planet from burning of fossil fuels. 

Also, intellectuals along the same league as Mahatma Gandhi, Thomas Alva Edison, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Sigmund Freud, Richard Feynman, Leonardo Da Vinci, Beethoven, and   Isaac Newton may be born. The possibilities are endless. Is it something to be worried? Such people have made the world a better place to live, so why can’t we have more of them in the future? It doesn’t mean that we can expect all these and more such breakthroughs happen by default or in a jiffy. The emphasis would still be on good education, parental care, responsible upbringing, inculcation of moral values and respect for fellow humans.

      There might be some developments such as extra-fast athleticism, super-durable sportsmen, and extra-strong anti-social elements. In addition, there is a possibility that, those who cannot afford to have the genetically modified babies will continue to produce the ‘normal’ ones, leading to a divided society based on some new factor. But these are some of the issues that the politicians and sociologists need to consider and work about. American history suggests that, when the cars were introduced for the first time, only the rich could afford it initially; but the society as a whole started working very hard with a goal-driven desire to own a car. This led to the industrial revolution and the U.S. has never looked back since then. Such a phenomenon is highly likely to recur, since the stakes are quite high this time around. And America being a free society is always more welcoming to new developments in science and technology than dwell over the negative repercussions. 

      I think it is human nature to be circumspect when an extraordinary breakthrough is just around the corner. It is more so the case with conservatives and those who place religion above everything else. The numerous medical advancements that the genetic engineering promises must allow its opponents to let the scientists do their job under the watchful eyes of the Government and eminent scholars.

Nov 26, 2008

Song of the month - Mundhinam

Another quick and unjustifiably crude translation of a recent song which has captivated my heart.
M: ஹாய் மாலினி!
I'm கிருஷ்ணன்.
நான் இதை சொல்லியே ஆகணும்;
நீ அவ்ளோ அழகு!
எவனும் இவ்ளோ அழகா ஒரு ......
இவ்ளோ அழகைப் பார்த்திருக்க மாட்டாங்க
and I am in love with you....

After introducing himself, he says that no one would have seen such a beautiful.... (pause and a chuckle) such a beauty. What a way to say that she is the most beautiful (not just woman, but in the) whole world. Considering that this is their first meeting, that is a very powerful statement (albeit praising her external beauty) to flatter her.

முன்தினம் பார்த்தேனே பார்த்ததும் தோற்றேனே
சல்லடைக் கண்ணாக நெஞ்சமும் புண்ணானதே
I saw you yesterday and as soon as I saw, I lost (to you).
My heart was wounded like the eyes of a sieve.

Traditionally, the sight of a woman is compared to the arrow; so, it is as if so many of such arrows attacked his heart and wounded him, that his heart has thousands of such tiny holes.

இத்தனை நாளாக உன்னை நான் பாராமல்
எங்குதான் போனேனோ நாட்களும் வீணானதே

All these days, without seeing you
where (the hell) did I go? Oh, all (my) days have been a waste..

When a person meets someone and falls in love, he/she wishes that they spent all their goneby days with that person. It is not only the happiness of the present, and a dream for the future, but a frustration for the past too.

வானத்தில் நீ வெண்ணிலா ஏக்கத்தில் நான் தேய்வதா
இப்போழ்தே என்னோடு வந்தாலென்ன
ஊர் பார்க்க ஒன்றாக சென்றாலென்ன


You are like a moon on the sky; I wane due to longing (for you)
What if you come with me now?
What if we go out, with the world watching (or what if we go sight-seeing)?

Yeah, the last line can be taken in both the ways. The first one is about the Hindu tradition of going on a procession after the marriage, so that the neighborhood can see who has got married. The latter is about the wish of a person to roam around the world with his lover.

துலாத்தட்டில் உன்னை வைத்து
நிகர் செய்யப் பொன்னை வைத்தால்
துலாபாரம் தோற்காதோ பேரழகே?

After placing you on a weighing balance,
if gold is placed to equalize with you,
wont the balance lose, my beauty?

He is not talking about the shape of his girl (pun unintended); he compares the beauty of her with the beauty of gold. He says that she is so beautiful that, a balance designed to weigh human-like fairly large objects will still be too small to accomodate the enormous gold required to compensate for her beauty. Considering the density differences between gold and human, this is a huge claim indeed.. ;), and his girl is such a beauty.

F: முகம் பார்த்துப் பேசும் உன்னை
முதல் காதல் சிந்தும் கண்ணை
அணைக்காமல் போவேனோ ஆருயிரே

How will I not hug you, who looks at my face and talks
and from whose eyes the first love is oozing out?

Women respect and like men who look at their face and talk, bcos a large chunk of the men have been notorious in that aspect. Also, the girl's instant appeal with someone who is giving his heart for the first time to a woman is given importance. Also, this is the first response of the woman after hearing what the man has said. She just reciprocates to his feelins saying that she likes to hug him.

M: ஓ... நிழல் போல விடாமல் உன்னைத் தொடர்வேனடி
புகை போலப் படாமல் பட்டு நகர்வேனடி
வினா நூறு கனாவும் நூறு.. விடை சொல்லடி

I will follow you like (your) shadow; I will touch you delicately and move away from you as how the smoke does. (I have) hundreds of questions, and hundreds of dreams; pl. give (me) an answer.

The desperation of the hero is very much evident from these lines. He is already dreaming of her and a life with her. All he wants is the answer.. Of course he wants 'yes' to be that answer. One can compare this Q&A to the western culture of the woman answering the man 'yes' when he proposes, and during the wedding when she says 'yes, I do!'. 


F: கடல் நீலம் மங்கும் நேரம்

அலை வந்து தீண்டும் தூரம்

மனம் சென்று மூழ்காதோ ஈரத்திலே

When the blueness of the sea dims,
the waves touch the far end (of the shore).
Wont the heart immerse (itself) in the wetness (of love)?

M:தலை சாய்க்கத் தோளும் தந்தாய்
விரல் கோர்த்துப் பக்கம் வந்தாய்
இதழ் மட்டும் இன்னும் ஏன் தூரத்திலே

You gave (me your) shoulder (for me) to put (my) head on..
You came near me holding my hands..
why are your lips still far away?

F:பகல் நேரம் கனாக்கள் கண்டேன் உறங்காமலே
உயிர் ரெண்டு உராயக் கண்டேன் நெருங்காமலே
உனை அன்றி எனக்கு ஏது எதிர்காலமே

I had day-dreams without sleeping
I saw two souls frictioning (against each other), without coming closeby
What is my future without you?
Only in the ultimate line of the charanam, she opens out her heart and gives the real answer that he wants to hear. By saying that there is no future for her without him, all the ambiguities of dating and courting relationship are removed and the love now reaches the mutually agreed state.

Nov 20, 2008

Six is Sexy

Two movies released in this November (Varanam Ayiram) and last november (Om Shanti Om) had one thing in common, in addition to a famous song featuring the name Shanti. The hearthrob hero sports a six-pack abs, creating a 'six-pack sensation' among a lot of young guys in North and South India, unlike what nobody has managed to do so before.

In Bollywood, Sanjay Dutt was the first to own a super-muscular body and later Salman followed; but, due to their frequent removal of shirt, their achievement was in fact ridiculed. Then, Hrithik happened. His biceps and pecs were a craze that time, and he had a disproportionate body shape, with stick-like legs and no hips. John Abraham managed to defeat Hrithik for possessing the perfect body. Saif Ali Khan started bulking up, and even the chocolate-hero Aamir Khan had a superb body in Lagaan, but devoid of the six-pack abs.
The major transition happened with all the leading stars suddenly getting carried away by the abs wave. Shah Rukh always contended that he never used to work out but still maintains a good body. His friend Farah Khan is a clever lady. She knew what women want. So, she made Shah Rukh hit the gym and develop the six-pack, and re-invented his sex-symbol image in 'Dard-e-disco' song. And, according to the latest news, Aamir too has been working very hard in sculpting his whole body for creating a overall well-toned structure.
Tamil heroes were understandably quite slow to catch up on the physique. Kamal, Satyaraj, and Arjun were the only ones with a decent body shape till last decade. The young heroes of this generation aren't quite bad in this sense. Gautam, after winning the women's hearts by creating a beautiful love angle to a cop's story in KK, went one step ahead and asked Surya to develop the six-pack. I must say it has worked; the female crowd in the movie hall here on the first day was substantially higher than usual. Their whistles, comments and gasps upon seeing a dashing Surya were suggestive of the arrival of the new trend.
Due to all the big names in Bollywood and the aspiring stars from Kollywood (Surya, Vishal, et al.) focussing on something which was totally neglected so far, it is obvious that the number of gym-going desi guys will increase. It is bcos, for the first time, they see their significant other admiring a star for the unconventional reasons apart from handsomeness, style or acting skills. The pressure is definitely on, which, I think is a very good thing. Similar to the ways the guys expected the girls to look beautiful and slim like the actresses (Namitha is an exception ;)), the guys are forced to shed the pot-belly, waist-tire and double-chin in order to look appealingly good to their significant other.
Creating a six-pack is the ultimate challenge for any gym-goer. The reasons are two-fold: to burn off all the adamant fat on the belly and to build the abs muscles. All of us have the abdominal muscles which form the 6-pack; only, they are very small, and are hidden underneath the years-old fat. The body likes to store fat at the abdomen region, since that is closest to the digestive track and also a lot of vital organs in the region need to be protected in the absence of a major skeletal shield. So, there are three major steps towards 6-pack: burn off nearly all the fat, so that there is nothing to hide the muscles; strengthen all the muscles above the abdomen, which will lead to more mass and hence more pressure on the abs muscles to support the body above; do the specific work-outs like crunches for attacking the abs muscles.
Each of the above 3 processes is extremely hard and requires an extremely important mix of diet, work-out, and rest. Yours truly's gym visits will substantially release before the release of heroes such as Hrithik, Vikram and Surya; it is almost like a project with a deadline. Only, the deadline will come and go and new deadlines will be formed, without much effort. Even with a waist size of 30, it is very hard for me to make even the top two of the 6-pack visible for a few days. Nevertheless, I view it as an interesting hide-and-seek game between oneself and the body, in the 'fat vs muscl'e competition.
In the very first episode of the Vijay TV show "Kutram: Nadandhadhu enna?", there was the mention of extreme diet, steriod-usage for muscle buildup and injury due to overworking. Hope the young generation is aware of that, during their quest in bodybuilding. Considering the population of Taminadu of over 6 crores in which men at the young adult age group form a minimum of 3 million, only about 0.01% (~300) would be having a good 6-pack... here is wishing that % to substantially increase in the coming years ! :)

Nov 15, 2008

Varanam Ayiram

Story: Life of Surya (Surya), with his dad Krishnan’s (Surya) influence in each phase of his life.

I liked: The performances of all, mostly. Initially, Surya’s falling in love with Meghna (Sameera Reddy) is a little too mushy-mushy; but I think the emotional and romantic males can correlate to Surya’s feelings, and his ways of showing his love. The picturization of most songs was superb, except my fav ‘Nenjukkul’. 

‘Mundhinam’ was superbly done, except for Simran’s appearance. The props used for the song gave the required retro feeling. In ‘Yethi yethi’, Surya appearing in some avatar’s of Kamal’s old movies was good and believable, considering the teenagers’ wish to emulate their icon.

I totally disliked:

Most of the dialog. Though sometimes one can convey a lot by simple phrases like ‘I am in love with u’, or ‘I miss(ed) you’ and like, when it is shown in a movie, we expect a different touch to it when it is repeated. Gautham managed to show the difference in Kamal’s love with the two women in VV quite well, but in 'Vaaranam Ayiram', except for Surya’s exuberance, it lacks the novelty. There is a distinct Mani Ratnam touch in the dialog, which is not wrong by itself; but overdoing it makes us to feel like excommunicating Gautham.

This movie shows us that something we take for granted, like the good dialog, can explicitly show its absence, thus spoiling the script. First of all, the family communicating mostly in English, considering the family’s background, is definitely odd. The only word that sticks to our memory when we come out of the movie is ‘Daddy’; I heard a comment from a nearby woman saying her hubby that she is gonna ban her son from calling him ‘daddy’. Such was the irritation it creates, unfortunately. If it wasn't for tax exemption, Gautham would have surely named the movie 'Daddy'. ;) Gautham’s down-to-earth dialogues in ‘Kakha kakha’ were appreciated that time, since they were fresh; but now, that style is stale; we don’t want extravagant poetical/cinematic dialogues but not of the kind conversed in this movie.

Screenplay. Many times we feel that the movie is simply stagnating; especially Gautham’s ploy of showing Surya’s family and Krishnan’s death at the beginning of the movie badly backfires, since we can easily predict much of the movie. Also, the military scenes appear to be totally unnecessary and don’t blend with the overall mood of the movie. Though Gautham wanted to show an ideal dad through Krishnan, the latter’s approach and solutions to Surya’s problems seem somewhat too simple, and so they don’t get our appreciation. True, in several families, the dad doesn’t show much emotions and love towards his children and Krishnan is quite caring; but, unlike in ‘Thavamai Thavamirundhu’, his character development with his children is not shown, if that was what was supposed to be the crust of the movie. So, it oscillates between Surya’s love and his dad; so, when he dies, we don’t feel for him.

Direction. This is a classic case of talented actors showing superb performances not gelling to a memorable movie due to the lack of the glue which the direction provides. The director has paid great attention to peripheral issues like the appearance of Surya at different stages, Krishnan and Malini (Simran) in 60’s, film-making in different parts of the world, and song picturization; but has miserably failed to weave them all in a beautiful fabric of his 3 departments – screenplay, dialog and direction. If he wants to show a real urban middle-class family, in which of such family is the elder brother happily married with children, when his sister is not married?

His numerous inspirations. Previously, he seemed to copy from his own KK when he made VV and PKMC, but in this movie, lots of scenes remind us of other famous movies. I remembered Lakshya (the story of a confused young man finding his passion in military), Autograph (love failure leading to substance abuse and the dad’s advise to channel the anger into something positive), Life is beautiful (he camouflages a gory situation as a game to a child), and Thavamai Thavamirundhu (mother and an ill father being happy with their son and D-I-L, and the son’s wish to make his dad retire from work and enjoy life).

Gautham likes to show his characters to be the creamy layer. We heard Maya of KK say ‘MSc Maths, from IIT Madras’ evoking laughter in the theater, and now it is ‘Comp Sci from REC Trichy and 99%  score, plus MS from Berkeley’. If Surya’s efforts to find Meghna were lame, his zeroing-in on Prithviraj during the child abduction in a city like Delhi, that too within days, is too much stretching of imagination.

Initially when I heard the rumors that it would be a remake of ‘Forrest Gump’, I didn’t like the idea; but now I feel that  it would have been far better if it was a remake.

Nov 2, 2008

Why blog?

In the post on the 'Demography of Bloggers', someone had asked why people open out their minds to total strangers. It is a very interesting question, and it gave me a chance to open up to you all a little more about what I think about blogging. There are hundreds of articles that have talked about the advantages of blogging; here, I am writing about my personal view and what I have learnt from my fellow blogger friends.

First, plz read a recent article on how blogging is good for one's health. :)

I usually get a lot of thoughts and opinion about the things that have interested me, but couldnt always find the right friends with whom to share them all. After coming to US, the interaction with fellow like-minded Indians reduced even more drastically. Within less than a year of landing here, I came across blogging, and it immediately appealed to me, since it provided my own platform to pen my views, and have a discussion going. Also, from my childhood, I have always liked to write (and talk) a lot too.. ;)

When someone starts blogging, he/she knows few or hardly any friends who also blog. By commenting in others' blogs, and also receiving comments in one's posts, people slowly open up their mind on various topics. As I mentioned in the earlier post, some prefer to be anonymous, simply because they dont know what to expect in this new and unclear world; there is no way to judge a person purely from his/her posts; and so on. Still, most open out their minds to the strangers, because with some, they find better connectivity than with fellow bloggers than with their spouses/siblings/parents/friends. Also, when one can't share some issues with the people surrounding them, they tend to look out for doing so with somebody; through blogs, they find some people with whom they can share, and that makes them feel better.

I have heard some comparisons between blogging and online chatting in chat rooms. Though the commonality between them is in the introduction to strangers in the cyberspace, blogging is far more reliable, for, it helps understand the stranger in a better way, from his/her postings and responses to comments, and also from the comments in others' blogs. As I wrote in the previous post, reading someone's posts for a considerable time (which would vary, depending on if and how that person is circumventing from his/her original personality in the posts and comments) would help map the personality of someone to a considerable extent.

This bring to the important question of whether bloggers reveal their true traits, or hide it to deceive others. This arises due to the presence of such characters in the internet chat rooms, where even the gender of the person can be doubted unless a verbal communication is setup. So far, I havent felt such a deception in the blogworld. Well, everyone has secrets, and a considerable chunk of the population has another side that is hardly known even to the spouse; so, in that same scale, certain characteristics of the bloggers, due to self-imposed constraints or whatever, may not be known.

Thus, having deciphered the personality map of some bloggers, people decide about how much of their mind to share with a particular blogger. I have written some stories on "Blogger Love", which, I felt, and still feel, would be more meaningful and sensible than 'Chatroom love'. I am not suggesting or recommending anything, but such is the power of the blogging that I have felt so far, which has made me to remark so. Blogs are almost like mirrors, reflecting one's personality. It is because I believe that 'one can fool someone for sometime, but not all the time'. Add one more famous saying 'Man is a social animal', and it will become clear that, when a new vista of social interaction arrives, it is embraced quite cheerfully, thus helping further shrink the world.

Oct 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!!

On the occasion of Halloween, my mind went to tamil horror movies. That is one genre which attacted me to theaters when before my teens but I w'd end up 'watching' them either with one-eye between fingers or with closed eyes. Here is the list of such movies on this special occasion:
1) Yaar:
The movie was a hit, making the director add the movie's name before his name as 'Yaar' Kannan. It was a well-crafted movie, with a decent star cast of Arjun, Nalini, Jaishankar, Senthil, 'NizhalgaL' Ravi, (I think his was the first name the horror moviemaker would pen when deciding the star cast.. One can see him in pretty much all the movies... He would have just missed being called 'Pei' Ravi, ;) )among others. Even the comedy segment, involving was Senthil was quite freaky, especially the demise of Prof. Senthil. One unforgettable scene which scared the hell out of me is where Jayachitra encounters her 'different' son, thinking of which I still get the hair at the back of the neck raising.
2) 13-aam number veedu:
There is the same spookiness in this movie too, with lots of boorish moments. It followed the same trend of people in a house dying one after the other.

3) My dear Lisa:
It has the classical horror motive of revenge behind it. Some of the modus operandi for murder is inspired from 'Evil dead'.

4) Idhudhan arambam:
Produced and directed by 'Raj Bharath' of early 80's movie 'Uchakkattam', this involved a lot of scary scenes, but this was a movie with a twist in the end.

5) Jenma natchathiram:
Heavily inspired from 'The Oman', this movie, produed by 'ThakkAli' Srinivasan had a child as the '666' evil. The climax was quite heart-breaking and made me think about what would have happened after the movie ended.

6) Vaa Arugil Vaa:
Actually a nice movie. It had a decent storyline, heart-wrenching senti scenes, good suspense-building moments, and an entertaining second half. The horrifying figure was inspired the 'Chucky' character, but the Tamil version was quite cute. This movie, along with 'Yaar' and 'Idhudhan arambam' is one of the only three Tamil horror movies that I have watched twice.
7) Uruvam:
A movie with 'Mike' Mohan as the main character, but a unique one.. His voice and hairstyle were horrible; and the horror-inducing scenes were quite creepy. For those of us who associate Mike Mohan with soft, romantic roles, and singing in front of mikes, this movie is undigestible.

8) Shock:
Remake of Hindi 'Bhoot', this film scared only in parts. The most scariest creature was the hair-chewing, eye-rolling Kalairaani, who for your kind information, was not possessed. It was quite different from the usual horror movies in the sense that it is based in an urban setting, a Chennai apartment.
9) Sivi:
A recent one; again based in an urban setting of college, library and normal city house. Despite having the advantage of using good technology, it wasnt that different in the fear-inducing scenes. It has got some twists too; the last scene/frame of the movie is quite shocking.

BTW, one doubt: Why do Indian women close their mouths with their hands when they scream? ;)

Oct 26, 2008


While listening to "I miss u miss u da" song, I suddenly wondered how to say that in Tamil. Missing = 'Tholaindhu pOdhal', but what about missing someone? How about 'unnai migavum izhakkirEn?'; but it is more like, "I lose u". Then it occured to me that it is a sin to deprive Tamil of such a wonderful part of love. Missing-ey Tamil-le missing? ;) That made me to coin a new word for that; upon thinking for some time, I chose 'mizhathal' for missing. hehe.. romba simple Mi(ss) + (I)zhathal = Mizhathal. :)
I miss you = Naan unnai mizhakkirEn
I am missing u = Naan unnai mizhandhukondirukkrEn
I will miss u so much = Naan unnai migavum mizhappEn
I missed you a lot = Naan unnai adhigam mizhandhEn.
Planning to use it when writing mini kavithai's.. If you too liked it, use it and spread it.. illenna, any suggestions?

BTW, A Very Happy Deepavali Wishes to All of You!!!!! :-)

Oct 19, 2008

Revisit of some old posts

1) Starting from the oldest, I had written this post 3 years ago about harvesting of human power in gym. From one comment that I got last year, I was happy to know that the idea is getting implemented by some gyms in Hong Kong.

2) I had this list of my favorite top 10 villains in Tamil cinema. Some good ones were missed, as some readers had mentioned and as I Had acknowledged. Check out this recent list by Behindwoods and watch out for overlaps.

3) I like most reality shows involving talent-hunt, be it dance, music, singing or humor. I had posted about one of my fav shows - Nach Baliye, the Season 2 of which was just over when I wrote the post. This Friday, the Season 4 has kick-started. Season 2 was a huge success, with good judges and cute couples. Season 3 was a forgettable one, though I havent watched most of the episodes. It even ended controversially, with court cases and allegations of favoritism/bias. Season 4 looks very promising, with great judges - Farah Khan, Arjun Rampal and Karishma Kapoor (South ex-heroines must have a look at her.. Looks like time has stopped moving forward in her life alone.. she looks almost the same as in 'Dil To Pagal Hai' or 'Fiza'). Among the participants, Jaspal Bhatti is a surprise choice... Hope he caters well to the Bhangra audience. Thee are a few known and newfaces from soap operas, but at least 6 couples look promising. Let it rock!!

4) Another important addition to 'Science in song lyrics' post: "Moongil kAdugalE" from Samurai. I came across this song only recently, and when I heard that it is Vikram's fav song, I can understand. Superbly sung by Hariharsn and brilliantly penned by Vairamthu, the following lines have some wonderful references to scientific events, linking them with philosophy and humanity..
In the second stanza, he goes:
"Uppu kadalOram mEgam uRpathi AnAlum
upputhaNNeerai mEgam oru pOdhum sindhAdhu
i.e., Even though clouds originate from salty sea, it never rains salt water)

Malaiyil veezhndhAlum sooriyan marithu povathilllai
nilavukku oLiootti thannai neettithukkolgirathu"
(Though the sun disappears behind the hill, it doesnt die; it enlightens the moon and extends its longevity)

Then, he says
"Jananam maraNam aRiyA vaNNam nAnum mazhaithuLi AvEnO"
(Will I become like rain which has no birth or death?)

The first part beautifully talks about the natural process of distillation. For the question of why salt doesnt evaporate alongwith water is bcos the vapor pressure of salt is very low. Thus, the evaporation of water from sea separates pure water from saline sea.

In the second part, the process of reflection of sunlight by moon is poetically described. Vairamuthu says that it elongates the life of sun.

In the last part, the fundamental chemical theory about conservation of molecular structure upon physical changes is narrated. Water, or any chemical for that matter, can neither be created nor be destroyed due to the physical processes that take place around or with them. For that, chemistry is required. Vairamuthu compares that law to the hero's wish of living forever without a knowledge about life or death. If his wis was granted, he would be like 'Hancock'.

5) In an earlier quiz, I had asked about the uniqueness of Harris Jeyaraj. Now, what is unique about our Gaptun Vijayakanth, Surya and Vikram, which separates them from others such as Sivaji, Rajni, Kamal, Satyaraj, Karthik, Prabhu, Vijay, Ajith, Sarathkumar and 'Mike' Mohan? Since I havent enabled comment moderation, you might find the answers from others' comments.

PS: Oru sudden doubt.. I have some friends who were raised by their grandmothers. As there are so many songs praising mother in Tamil cinema, why is there not a single song praising her in a senti way? (Pl. ignore "Paatti sollai thattAdhey").

Oct 13, 2008

Before Sunset

I wanted to publish this post on the 10th itself, when I felt soooo romantic. This movie is set in the most romantic city of the world, Paris.. and I wished I knew French, to fully understand all the dialogue. May be I will learn it in the future and watch the movie umpteenth time... ;)

Please note: A few spoilers about this move and its prequel, 'Before Sunrise' will be found in this review. Both the movies are availabe in youtube.. Before sunrise - in 10 parts. Before sunset is available in 8 parts. I strongly recommend the romantic lovers among you to watch these 2 movie. Definitely worth 3 hours of your life.

Before Sunrise and Before Sunset are two of my all-time favorite movies and certainly the most favorite pair in the ‘Sequel’ category. In this post, I focus mainly on ‘Before Sunset’ and describe what a great sequel it is – not only in terms of the story or other technical aspects but in the aspects that make it an excellent pair with its prequel.

The way the first part ended was rather ambiguous (open-ended). As the male protagonist Jesse (Ethan Hawke) reveals in the sequel, it is totally left to the reader to imagine what really happened after the climax. A romantic would think that the he and Celine (Julie Delpy, in an awe-inspiring performance), the girl he met and spent a day in Vienna, met again and a cynic would think they didn’t. Now, the time for the imagination is over and the viewer is going to know the answer, but it wouldn’t come soon. So, during the course of the movie, the viewer has to read between the lines and try to guess the answer correctly. Thus, from being a romantic or cynic, the viewer has to change to being an observer or a wild-guesser.

In the book-meeting scene, he talks of the idea for his next story, where he remembers his ex-girlfriend when his daughter is dancing to the tunes of a song he listened with his ex-girlfriend. This was indicative of the director giving us clues about his life. His first book was based on his real-life incident of meeting his ex-girlfriend; moreover, the very first dialogue in the movie begins with one of the journalists asking the writer if the story is autobiographic, to which he answers that every writer’s work is inspired from his/her life experiences, and being the writer of a romantic story, his too is real. These two events suggest us that he probably has an offspring, probably a daughter and that he still thinks often about his ex-girlfriend. He further says that he wanted to be a great lover, an adventurer and an explorer of the world; but instead he was depressed despite having a great job and a beautiful wife.

When Celine comes to meet him at the bookstore, we see that he is quite surprised seeing her, and within minutes of their conversation it is apparent that they couldn’t meet again as they planned, in Vienna. Now, the next question arises about their individual lives. Her bare fingers reveal that she is single, but his situation is left to guess. When asked how long it took to write the novel, he says 3-4 years, which is the first major clue given by the director that it has indeed been at least 4 years since their earlier meeting. He further remarks that his life nosedived after Dec 16, 1995, when he was waiting for her in Vienna in vain and his life turned miserable. Though he says that he only joked, one can sense that the director is giving hints about his troubled marriage.

Their conversation is quite different from the one they had during their first meet. While much of it was about what youngsters would be thinking and talking about, such as, partners, childhood memories, and career goals, now their conversation revolves around more serious and global issues such as global warming, politics of the modern world, and environmental pollution. This difference also suggests of their increased maturity over the years, hinting us that they have got quite older and wiser.

Unlike in the first movie where there was quite a bit of physical interaction between them after the first few hours, such as holding hands together and kissing, we don’t see any such thing here, despite them meeting after a few years. This also suggests of some barrier between them, which we don’t know is because of the awkwardness of the situation or due to something else. We get the answer a little later.

While talking at the café, he talks of his problems getting deeper and deeper, but when she asks him what his problems are, he sighs and says he doesn’t have any problems and that, at that moment, he is very happy being there. From the conversations, it becomes clear that both have been thinking about each other and we also get the feeling that they have indeed been searching the other within their limits. Then, when he reveals the exact time that passed between the meetings, it is quite shocking. Now, the viewer is made to guess about what would have happened in each of their life in that period, and most importantly, if both of them are still single and available for each other.

Later when they talk about the details of their past meet, Celine behaves as if she has forgotten much of the way they spent their first day together in Vienna. It comes as a shock to him, because he says that he remembers that night much more than he remembers his entire living years. Considering that, and the fact that it was only he who showed up at Vienna for the elusive reunion, it arises a doubt about whether she cherishes their first meet as much as he does. When he asks her if it was a bitter experience and hence she wanted to forget it, she says no. As the conversation evolves, and when she is shown to remember even their zodiacs after all these years, it slowly becomes apparent that he really meant something to her.

During all this time, it is clear that we are observing every conversation between them and every place there go. By this, I mean that the editing has been such that we witness everything they do. Thus, there is no scope to guess whether or not they have talked about their lives in the intermittant time. But I felt that there is a nice catch. Being an author of a bestselling author, it is most probable that his short biography is there at the back-cover of his book, making her aware of his marital and social status (which is usually briefly mentioned in the biography). But he has no clue about her life, neither are we aware of her feelings about what she has learnt about him. The director makes us wait for the story to unfold.

When she eventually asks him about his family, we know about his marital status and also that she is aware of that. When she later reveals that she is not yet married and that she is unable to maintain a long-term relationship with anyone because of his memories, we understand how strongly she has been in love with him, after spending just a few hours with him the first time around. The difference between the release of the two movies is actually the same what director has decided to use as the break. I think it is a smart ploy, because both Jesse and Celine have aged quite considerably and the director needed to just show their older faces to make us realize that it is indeed a long time since the prequel.

The reason for me mentioning their first interaction which is shown in just a few frames at the beginning of the movie is that, someone who watches this movie without having watched its prequel will definitely be tempted to find out how their first meet would have been. That doesn’t mean that it is a prerequisite to have watched Before Sunrise for watching this movie. Before Sunset is a great movie by itself, perhaps better in the lead roles’ performances than the prequel, especially during the emotional outburst shown beautifully in a long shot during their limo journey. There, each of them loves to console the emotionally charged other by trying to touch their hair, but they restrain doing so, probably because of the realization that his marital status prevents such a contact.It is such a wonderful scene, and is easily the best in the movie.

The director decides to end Before Sunset too open-ended, with a clever dialog in which Celine tells Jesse that he is going to miss the plane, for which he replies “I know”. The movie ends right after that, and the director re-invokes the romantic vs cynic argument in us. I concluded that Jesse would deliberately miss the flight to stay with her for awhile before divorcing his wife, thus ending the unhappy marriage and unite with Celine. I loved both the movies because of the terrific conversations the pair had in both the versions, around which they gradually share their life and express their love. In short, I would say that Before Sunset is a perfect sequel to Before Sunrise in every sense. Listen to a beautiful waltz that Celine wrote for Jesse..

Oct 3, 2008

KannE KalaimAne - Song of the Month

Last year, some blogger had requested for a translation of 'Kanne kalaimAne' from 'Moondram Pirai' after reading my analysis of the title of the movie. Superband soulful rendition by KJY, very melodious music of IR and great but simple lyrics by Kannadasan make it one of the best melodies ever in Tamil film music. That made me twitter 14 months ago about the concept of the 'Song of the Month'. I had planned to include the songs which I never discussed in my blog. Only now, in the death anniversary month of the great lyricist Kannadasan, I got a chance to write about his last song, which has been in three of my lists so far. Better late than never, so here we go:
கண்ணே கலைமானே கன்னி மயிலெனக் கண்டேன் உனை நானே 0.1
அந்தி பகல் உனை நான் பார்க்கிறேன் ஆண்டவனை இதைத்தான் கேட்கிறேன் 0.2
ஆரிராரோ ...
kannae kalaimaanae kanni mayilena-k-kandaen unai naanae
andhi pagal unai naan paarkkiraena andavanai idhaiththaan kaetkiraen
aariraaro ...
Most of you know the context in which this song appears in the movie. The hero has fallen love with the mentally retarded heroine whom he is sheltering, without knowing anything about her history.
0.1: Kannae and kalaimaane are the common ways of chweetly calling one's love.. Kan is eye and kalaimaan is one kind of deer, and mayil is peacock. He pretty much praises her.
0.2: I see you in dawn (andhi) and noon (pagal); I wish/ask for just this from the God (andavan).
Charanam 1:
ஊமை என்றால் ஒரு வகை அமைதி 1.1
ஏழை என்றால் ஆதிலொரு அமைதி 1.2
நீயோ கிளிப்பேடு பண் பாடும் ஆனந்தக் குயில் பேடு 1.3
ஏனோ தெய்வம் சதி செய்தது பேதை போல விதி செய்தது 1.4
oomai enraal oru vagai amaidhi
aezhai enraal adhil oru amaidhi
neeyo kilippaedu pan paadum aanandak kuyil paedu
aeno dheyvam sadhi seydhadhu paedhai poala vidhi seydhadhu
1.1: It is becalming if you are dumb (oomai)
1.2: It is becalming if you are poor (ezhai)
1.3: (But) you are a female parrot (kilippaedu), a happy female Nightingale (kuyil paedu) who sings songs (pan paadum)
1.4: Don't know why but the God created a conspiracy (sadhi); fate (vidhi) made you mentally unstable (paedhai).
Charanam 2:
காதல் கொண்டேன் கனவினை வளர்த்தேன் 2.1
கண்மணி உனை நான் கருத்தினில் நிறைத்தேன் 2.2
உனக்கே உயிரானேன் எந்நாளும் எனை நீ மறவாதே 2.3
நீ இல்லாமல் எது நிம்மதி நீதான் என்றும் என் சந்நிதி 2.4
kaadhal kondaen kanavinai valarththaen
kanmani unai naan karuththinnil niraiththaen
unakkae uyiraanaen ennaalum enai nee maravaadhae
neeyillaamal edhu nimmadhi needhaanae en sannidhi
2.1: I am in love with you; I planted (valarthaen) dreams (kanavinai).
2.2: (Kanmani: Pupil of the eye) Oh dear, I have filled (niraithaen) you in my thoughts (karuthinil).
2.3: I have become your soul (uyiraanen); Never ever forget me (maravaadhae)
2.4: What is peace (nimmadhi) without you (neeyillaamal)? You are forever (endrum) like my (holy) sanctum sanctorum (sannidhi).
I know that the sweetness of the song is lost in translation. And also my translation can be improved.. consider it as a maiden n crude effort.

Sep 20, 2008

Anniyanai Vidathu Karuppu

Warning: Some spoilers of the movie 'Anniyan' and the TV serial 'Marma Desam: VidAthu karuppu' will be found.
During the time when Anniyan was released, I was very thrilled with the concept and the fact that it was a vigilante movie by Shankar further fuelled my interest on the movie, which culminated in a string of posts in May-June 2005. After watching the movie too, I was very impressed by it. Logistics and the irritating 'Remo' apart, it was quite a nice portrayal of multiple-personality disorder (MPD) or split personality. Add to that some fine acting by Vikram, it was a movie I never got bored of watching any number of times.
Then I happened to watch 'VidAthu karuppu' on a website recently. It was totally awesome. It was such a different tele-serial that I felt like I was watching a very long and superb movie. This is easily the best tele-serial I have ever watched. So many visitors of the website were anxiously waiting for the posting of each episode. The suspense was too much to take. It has nearly ended, and, towards the end came the shocking revelation of the split personality of a main character which was the 'Karuppu'. It was then that the 'Anniyan' connection became clear.
A few bloggers have compared Anniyan with Vidathu Karuppu, but none of the famous movie reviewers nor the professional reviewers pointed the 'inspiration' for Shankar. Let me point them all:

1) The 'normal' personality is a scary goose.
2) The normal one has witnessed some gory deaths and societal injustice in the childhood, which becomes the seed for the eventual growth of a new personality.
3) An elderly female character in the family talks about punishment by God, of the people who do wrong, which goes into the thinking process leading to the split personality.
4) The girl whom the normal one loves, likes him as a harmless friend, but doesnt love him since she views him to be boring and cowardly.
5) The girl is the one who first becomes aware of the dual/multiple personality of the main character.
6) The persons who are killed by the split personality are those whom the normal guy has seen doing wrong.
7) A confusion/defeat for the split personality is suggested/shown to cause the disappearance of that personality.
8) The imporant parts of the MPD, which is the transition from one personality to the other, the accompanying confusion, and the timing of revelation of the second personality, are not discussed.
9) In the climax, rapid switching between the personalities were acted well by characters in both the serial and TV. So, the famous MGR-Sivaji-Kamal-Rajni scene of Vikram is a heavy inspiration from the serial.
10) Both the second personalities have a voice rougher than and different from the original voice.
From these points, it must be clear how ground-breaking the serial was, which was telecast over 9 years ago. The director, Naga is a film institute student, and is the cinematographer for the serial too. So, he has superbly captured the beauty of the village, and the mystery of the nights with clever camera angles. Each role has been brilliantly played by everyone, with Chetan winning the award with an unforgettable performance. Devadarshini delivers a strong female performance, but her character is shown to be clever, independent and, unlike in movies, unsubmissive. Even the supporting cast is not naive at all. Care has gone into the sculpting of each character and the story line, which proceeds in two parallel timelines - past and present. Not to forget the subtle, but brilliant and natural performance by the little boy, Logesh. Where is he now?
While the tele-serial proceeds with both the supernatural, and hence scientifically unexplainable events and the MPD, Shankar simply chose only MPD. Vidaathu Karuppu has touched upon several fine aspects of love and society which are: Friendship, feminism, caste differences, commanality among religions, village way of life, thieves as a part of social structure, the rich people who indirectly steal from commoners and hence are more dangerous, mythical beliefs, revenge, punishment, confusion arising from clash of beliefs, and control through religion.
The recent news about Shankar producing a big budget movie to be directed by Naga is interesting. Not having credited or even mentioend Naga for the inspiration, it appears to be Shankar's attempt towards salvation to remove his guilt. Having said that, can't wait to watch 'Anthapurathu Veedu'.
Quoting dance master Sridhar, "Indha mAdhiri serial edungappA.. edhavadhu sollanumnu thonudhA?".

Sep 13, 2008

Demography of bloggers

Blogging has become another important social networking tool in the past few years. Through blogrolling, commenting etc. we keep in touch with fellow bloggers of similAdd Imagear interests and/or nationaliry. I have heard from some of my friends that it is quite difficult to know a person through his/her blogs. I always used to tell that, one can hide certain personality traits for sometime, but over a long period of time and several dozens of posts, they would eventually be revealed. In that sense, this is my attempt to categorize the bloggers.
* Happy-go-lucky:
Starting with a positive point, these bloggers, who are mostly unmarried, write about everything they like and what they are happy about. When one reads such a blog, it will look as if the world is one big happy sphere with nothing but positive energy vibrating through it. They have the uncanny ability to see the good in everything around them. Its good to visit such blogs once a while.

* Dual personality:
And then there are some who write so sweet posts which totally apply to one and all, and we form one sort of impression about them. In the very next post, we see a nasty attack on some celebrity and they totally defend what they write. When someone strongly protests their writings, they go to the usual offending mode of "This is my opinion, and I can write whatever I think in my blog.. who asked you to come and see me?" kind of things. IMHO, blogs are open to public and are of course criticizable. These bloggers are highly temperamental and moody too. People who comment regularly in such blogs are also scared to write anything -ve about that person. Even if they write a simple but -ve comment like "I think you are wrong" they put a smiley in the end. I laugh at those smileys, which, to me, look like white flags saying, "Hey I am your friend.. dont shoot me!!".

* Deer in the disguise of a tiger:
These are the bloggers who show a very brave, smart and 'I-know-all' face in the blog. They are introvert &/or shy &/or scared in real life that they lead a pseudo life in the blog world. They get exposed when they are seen in real, or when they appear in some media. Just a few minutes ago I saw a tiger stripping itself to show the bunny inside. It was so hilarious. My whole impression on him has changed dramatically that I tend to see his writings in a totally new light.

*Harmless citizens
They simply mind their business. They have their small world of family, movies, music, books and things around these, about which they blog. Sometimes I imagine them sitting in front of their desktop when the kids are playing around them, and the wife is calling from kitchen saying that the dinner is ready. They hardly get angry, and I dont know how to show my anger to them if they write something I strongly disagree. Thats bcos if someone scolds them in the comments, they still reply with a smile, and they dont hide their biased view.

You cant just visit these blogs any time of the day. It is advisable to visit them only when you are at your alert best, bcoz their writings make you think a lot and you need to break your head. In order to fully understand their personality, several months are required. They cant simply write an XYZ post... their standard of intelligence has to be seen in every post. I wonder how they will be at their home.

* Anonymous
They love writing, and enjoy sharing their thoughts with others. They want to write so much but they have some restrictions. They can't afford to reveal their identity, due to some hesitation or shyness or fear. Their sp0use doesnt like their blogging activity, and hence there is some conflict. They keep a pseudoname and write carefully so that no hint about them is known. Very hard to see comments from people who personally know them.

If you think about some other category, feel free to comment. And, yeah, have a good weekend!! :)

Aug 24, 2008

Taste of India to American Audience (And an Important P.S.)

Many of you might have heard the recent news about an actor of Indian origin, Shelley Malil, who has been arrested for having stabbed his girlfriend in Los Angeles. Having got very few Indian actors to represent us in the American entertainment media, we could have certainly be better off without the Malil incident. Who else is out there? Let us see..

a) Manoj Night Shyamalan:
He doesnt need any introduction. Shot to huge fame after 'Sixth Sense', he was hailed as the next Spielberg, only to gradually disappoint after his first three movies. His last three movies released since 2004 have got mixed reactions from both the critics and the audience. His recent product 'The Happening' has been branded the worst Shyamalan movie so far. Though creepy and all, I came out of the movie hall disappointed. Hope he slowly gets back to his Sixth sense days..

b) Kal Penn:
Kalpen Modi, who changed his name to Kal Penn to suit the American audience, is gradually getting recognition and famous. He is the Kumar of the 'Harold and Kumar' series of movies. His performance as Gogol in Mira Nair's 'Namesake' has been widely appreciated. He is among the rare breed of Indian Americans who have got both artistic talent and academic excellence. He also stars as a doctor in the famous TV series 'House'.

c) Sendhil Ramamurthy:
I came to know about him from one of my students.. it was awkward. I saw 'Heroes', a famous TV series, in which he was the young Geneticist. He looks rugged and handsome. He has a mild Indian accent which is good to hear. While his role in 'Heroes' is quite big, he has appeared in other famous TV shows such as 'Grey's Anatomy' and 'Num3ers'. Quite nice to have a Tamil representative in this list.

Though there are others like Mira Nair, Gurinder Chadha, and Shakhar Kapur who direct movies, they are not known among the audience in US because they dont appear on screen. Few other actors such as Ajay Naidu (Office space, pi, and The Guru), Naveen Andrews (Bride&Prejudice, Kama Sutra, Lost and Provoked), Sanjaya Malakar (of American Idol) and of course Aishwarya Rai have tried to make some impression among the American audiene with mixed success. Hope someone raises above the average mark and makes a big impression in Hollywood or American TV.

A Very Very Important P.S.: Happy Birthday to Xander Vijaykanth:

Tamil Nadu's only hope, Puratchi Kalaignar Gaptun Visayakanthukku jora oru salaam podunga!!