Thursday, December 25, 2008

Poo (Movie) 2008

A head turner - had a sense of watching a true rural movie after a long time (since Bharathiraja, and yes - ParuthiVeeran is of a different genre!) Vijay from the fraternity agrees.

Unexpected script. Sasi has shown some real class here and there. (for instance, the scene where the sad father looks at three characters from the entrance to his house, each look conveying volumes of script).

Its definitely not a tear jerker - and I didnt feel the movie dragging as many reviews did or as my friend complained '25 years late in Tamil cinema'. The clue I think lies in the child-like debutant actor Parvathy and her skillful acting. She carries the film on her slender shoulders easily - she literally appears on every frame. The variety of emotions that she depicts makes it a rare performance for any actor in recent Tamil film history, let alone debutants. Brilliant cameos by the guy acting as Srikant's father and other minor role playing actors. Srikant has a rather forgettable role.

The biggest let down in the movie is the music - a subject as fresh as this deserved a better score!

Spoilers ahead-
Now, the topic could easily be classified as a mushy young love tale. But it is not - there is more to Mari's tale. An upwardly mobile society where lower middle class families fight traditional village bonds in their quest for 'the next higher social level'.

Sasi gives the viewers the full sense of impending gloom right from Mari's child like love by leaving no room for suspense. Thangarasu's father is willing to upset his sister to marry off his son to a wealthy family because he feels that society has no respect for 'hard work or grey hair'. Mari's happens to be one of the hearts that get broken under the Juggernaut of progress of the Indian middle class.

This extraordinary chase for the 'next higher level' is reflected in the father's pain when he hears that his son's salary is not going to be as high as he expected.The tragedy that happens when the best laid plans fail to yield happiness is not the tragedy of Mari alone, it is of an entire Indian middle class.

Another aspect is the hidden sea of emotions with which each main character enters matrimony. Thangarasu, Mari and the new wife of Thangarasu all three enter wedlock with a sea of hidden emotions that their other half could not have guessed. This proves to be their doom. The best laid of plans of men and mice...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Why I unfollowed Guy Kawasaki

Recently I stepped in to the world of twitterers and their tweets. I linked to Guy hoping for some of glimpses of his opinions. Don't mistake me - I still hold 'The Art of the Start' to be the bible for anyone even THINKING of starting ANYTHING. But he really pissed me off.

Its not the inane self centered tweets ('I am late to work again' etc.) that characterises Guy's twitter persona. He mostly tweets about 'almost interesting' outside links ('Top 10 this-that') that are hard to classify in to a particular category.

Two reasons -
1) The sheer volume of tweets - like a burst of enemy machine gun fire within the space of a few seconds, crowding out tweets from everyone else. This one borders on plain bad manners.
2) His constant pitch for his latest venture, AllTop in his tweet-bursts. I checked that out once - and I am not interested.

Wonder how he has so many followers on Twitter. Guess people have lots more patience than I do.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Recession is Good?

I cannot believe how the US economic think tanks are still in denial about their failed corporations - They still do not get the fact that the failed corporations (e.g. Lehman, AIG) failed for a reason - bad management. They are too much identified with the problem and taking it personally. They still talk about investor confidence and the public not being ready 'to handle a catastrophe' unless the Govt steps in and helps rescue these corporations (e.g. auto makers). This is not even feigned socialism, this is just their failure to accept the current situation with their judgment clouded by super inflated images of themselves. Somebody at the helm needs to set an example and accept failure gracefully - can the President elect do it ?

Schiff puts it beautifully - recession and loss of jobs is nothing but the market forces adjusting themselves. True, loss of jobs are painful. But one can't celebrate freemarket capitalism till yesterday and shed tears about job loss in the economy the next. Recession is good. It will free up capital and resources and offer them to a better management to take up the reins and for the economy to flourish. If handled well, the US could come out of this recession with top-class corporations making the best products and services within a few years replacing the likes of GM. I think of it like the body having a high temperature or fever to flush out antibodies. One feels that the sooner this sinks in and the Govt starts acting accordingly, the sooner and less painful the recovery will be.

Combined with the perspective of Perot on the fiscal policy of US (, I am convinced that a period of conscious recession (conscious is the key word here) will do the US economy a great deal of good and will show to the rest of the world its maturity as a free market economy. Trying times for Uncle Sam!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Did NDTV kill NSG commandos?

A few days of 'HOT' live news, 'We condemn..' press releases (interestingly by politicians and bigwigs who kids are all safely abroad away from the terror-stricken streets of metros), center spreads and editorials about the resilient spirit of India in general and Mumbai in particular. A society desperate to find victory in the sacrifices of a few heroes to relieve the pain from the appalling failure of the overall establishment.

On the other side of the fence, a mirror image of facts being reported but with the same underlying emotions. The Pakistani media accuse India of pretty much the same things that the Indian & world media have done of Pakistan (i.e. blood thirsty fundamentalists, seek an enemy in our country to hold their country united etc. etc.) But the Pakistani media has stooped to newer depths leaving the Indian counterparts far behind, that it outrages even one's normal sense of professional press conduct, leave alone ideals like nationalism. A 'zionist' plot by Indo-Israeli intelligence to target Pakistan? Within just hours after the incident when even details, let alone evidence was awaited ? - Seriously dude, this is stretching journalistic license like India rubber !

A blind upsurge of right-wing views immediately all over - and the vociferous call for Indians to be 'mard' while letting our sanity be hijacked by harmones. The Government establishment of course has a long way to go to address the question of terror.

Meanwhile, of great interest has been the activities of the media - which scavenged the attack sites to lick the last human bone of the victims to squeeze the last drops of juicy sound bytes for viewership - to put it very mildly.

Barkha Dutt came out with self-righteous anger at the allegations levelled against NDTV ('the last succour for justice to the common man' etc. etc.) All she does in her defence is leave the blame at the Govt's door after saying it is 'grossly unfair and saddening' to be left at NDTV's door. Come on! its like saying 'I technically did not break any rules because the Govt. hadn't the sense to put any!'

The NSG has a different opinion obviously and has alleged that the media coverage caused significant damage to their operations including the life of one of their commandos.
I hate what NDTV has done in this case - with all due respect to them being the last recourse for justice in this country blah blah blah... in the end they have proved they are another bunch of TRP-crazy madmen with no sense of responsibility in a situation that requires sensitivity and humane handling.

On the larger question of terror - lets just say, quo vadis India, Mr. Chidambaram?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Chennai's Day of Shame

The story here.

In an inexplicably sickening scene, a posse of TN police officers watch on silently without taking any step to prevent the manslaughter - standing technically correct on the other side of the fence. In my career, I am familiar with instances of cowardly acts of self-preservation, a hall mark of bureaucrats. But in law enforcement? - this beats comprehension.

It is possible that there could be legal wrangles that can technically stop law enforcement, but this is uncondonable behavior - and weakens the confidence of the populations in the police force, no the system of governance - to say the least.

My city's day of shame.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Surprise Element

From a movie writeup in the Hindu, Friday Review (On Location).
"Watch out for the elephant that is a surprise element, said a unit hand."
I am looking forward to it.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A Lion among men

" — We shall crush the stars to atoms, and unhinge the universe. Don't you know who we are?"

Scarcely the words one would expect out of a saintly young ascetic, especially one who doesn't know where his next meal is going to come from. In fact, almost half of Swami Vivekananda's writings become a General at war leading his armies, rather than a renunciate monk.

Hailed as the man who discovered India, one can scarce believe that such a man as this walked on this earth whose words were as thunderbolts on a tottering society.

"Tell them to brush aside their illness by mental strength, and in an hour it will disappear! ", he thundered about a disciple suffering from an illness. "Off with it! Tell them to meditate for an hour at a stretch".

"Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life - think of it, dream of it, live on idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success." he said.

Impractical wisdom ? Too idealistic ? He set out proving this sort of naive, conventional wisdom true along with bunch of penniless monks in 1886, from a dingy house in Baranagore and set up a massive service organisation (including schools and hospitals) with over a 100 missions across India and several more around the world. No mean achievement; actually something that would make any entrepreneur proud. In fact, most entrepreneurs nowadays actually find the making-that-idea-your-life-part trying, very.

The attraction that persons like him wield over others is most likely this: One cannot classify such people under any head. They stand out with their clarity of thought and vision wherever they go. ("
To ask you, Swami, for your credentials is like asking the sun about its right to shine", said a Harvard Professor) He is probably the only spiritual (?) figure of any major religion (how else to describe a chap like this?) who spoke at such length about Manliness and Fearlessness.

Here is a monk, who breaks all stereotypes one may have of religious preaching types and wrote to his fellow monks from America thus:
"A few cameras, some maps, globes, and some chemicals, etc., are needed. The next thing you want is a big hut. Then you must get together a number of poor, indigent folk. Having done all this, show them pictures to teach them astronomy, geography, etc., and preach Shri Ramakrishna to them. Go to their cottages, from door to door, in the evening, at noon, any time and open their eyes. Books etc., won't do — give them oral teaching." He taunts the overly religious monks, "Can you do all this? Or only bell-ringing?" :)

One is left with a feeling that had he lived a few years more, the landscape of this part of the world would have been very different. Tragedy that he couldn't find enough regiments within the teeming millions of India.
So'ham. So'ham. His war cry still rings clear.

(Photo courtesy:

Friday, July 25, 2008


I am lost in the beauty of how some people put almost unintelligible ideas (for befuddled minds like mine) in crisp observations that hit you. Spent some time ROTFL over such a laconic one.

A: There is only silence. There is nothing to say about it.
B: Yes. All talk about silence is mere noise.

What clarity of thought can produce ready wit such as this! He should truly be the master of his mind. Dickens would have matched the brevity of observation with "Volumes could not have said more."

All the more funny because a world renowned neuro-scientist in his book waded through a chapter of neuroscience lingo (explaining terms like 'qualia') trying to push the same idea.

From here
"VSR writes "the problem of qualia is not necessarily a scientific problem...your scientific description is complete. It's just that your account is incomplete epistemologically because the actual experience of electric fields [for a fish] or redness [for a colourblind person] is something you will never know...there is no such barrier, no great vertical divide in nature between mind and matter, substance and spirit...this barrier is only apparent arises as a result of language. This sort of obstacle emerges when there is any translation from one language to another" (p. 231)"

Saturday, July 12, 2008

SAD's unkind cut to Sikhism

The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) have said that the PM should have consulted Sikhs on the India-US nuclear deal before seeking their support. "The Sikh Prime Minister of India has never consulted us (the community) on this issue. Then, how can we support him?". More here.
Of all the arguments SAD could have possibly summoned to refuse support to the PM or highlight their importance in this clearly and solely political issue, it sadly has chosen the excuse of religion.
The most recent, vibrant and flourishing religion in world history doesn't require such sad guardians who cannot treat an issue on its own merit. Its indeed an unscrupulous political outfit's unkind cut to the religion.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


From my cold, dead hands...

Friday, June 06, 2008

திருவாசகத்தில்... (In Thiruvaasagam...)

Decad IV, verses 42, 44

Partial translation would convey:
(44) 'when spring-time's arrows of love pin one down, evern moon beams will sear' - without thinking of this, one becomes curd under the churning stick of the guiles of the doe-eyed. Without seeking to enter honey of bliss in the city of Shiva; to relish the life within, in food and clothes I indulge.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Easily wound-worthy topics

Kamal's upcoming Dasavatharam is in trouble from an outfit apparently in possession of a full time lease of Vaishnavite Dharma. More here. Basically, they are seeking a ban on the film's release until the offending scenes are removed (pertaining to historic periods where sects of devout Hindus, read Vaishnavites and Saivites apparently are shown clashing).

As a Kamal fan an avid follower of Tamil movies and as a member of an uncared-for sect of society for whose feelings no organisation (religious or otherwise) has till date stood up and filed even a PIL , I wish to seek a ban on such petitions which hurt, wound and offend my feelings as a movie fan. This petitioner wants a ban on the offensive petitions by such organisations and suggests that they be commended to the care of medical professionals in consideration to their delicate feelings which are only too easily wounded and hurt at the most innocuous of circumstances. Curiously circumstances which have till now been caused exclusively by high budget movie releases alone.

Related video, in Tamil: Kamal replying to his detractors (when a bunch of people were hurt and wounded miserably in their feelings for Tamil Culture by his movie "Sandiyar")

Meanwhile, I am also praying to the presiding deity (Lord Vishnu, i think) of the aforesaid organisation to ignore my opposition to its president's petition and bless the fans like me with a well-made movie which is worth a watch.

Am seriously considering declaring support for some cause or the other (Culture is hot these days) and get into business filing PILs and petitions. Culture is a very wound-worthy feeling, dont you think?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Whom are you kidding?

Disclaimer: I love cricket. I love IPL. They are doing a great deal of good for Indian cricket (and yeah... Chennai Super Kings have won all the matches they have played till now ;) )

But its beyond doubt that the Bangalore team is named after a popular liquor brand. Almost everyone who has had the drink/seen some of RC's other music CD and music show ads would have noticed it. Mr. Vijay Mallya, the liquor baron owns the brand Royal Challenge (after Shaw Wallace merged with UB) and incidentally the Bangalore IPL team as well.

Now, what is NOT surprising is that they are getting away with the name Royal Challengers. Thats fine. Apparently there are no clear laws on surrogate advertising in this country and thats the leeway the Govt. in its wisdom has chosen to provide.

But whats IS surprising is that according to media they 'are hitting back' at the Health Minister for speaking on this issue. Apparently, IPL wont 'take it lying down'. Hello ? When you first fiddled with the ban on liquor ads and ventured to advertise through surrogate categories, its sheer impudence for the CEO of IPL to pull off a 'How-dare-you-blame-holy-me?' stunt. Come on dude, whom are you kidding? After all, its the IPL leadership that decided in the first place to take a shot at this surrogate advertising chance.

Its not new for the UB group with their Kingfisher ads. I understand there is a lot more money involved in this IPL team. But it would be bad PR for the IPL if in its zeal to safeguard stakeholder interests, the IPL leadership portrays the issue as a Politicians Vs. Wronged IPL spat.

The Health Minister's real motive in this issue is not clearly known. But his activism on tobacco and liquor kind of are in line with his portfolio of Health, it seems. A bit too much of activism over public health alright (unakkaen akkarai, yaarukkum illaatha akkarai?), I hate to admit it, but that bugger is right.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Broken Compass

உடைந்தது வழி காட்டி என்று தெரிந்தும்
அடிக்கடி பார்க்கும் மனமே - இனி
மெயக்கப்பலை யார் பொறுப்பில் விட என்றறியா
மாலுமியின் கதி யார் பொறுப்பரோ !

Knowing its broken, whats the point
of looking repeatedly at our broken compass, my mind?
Now who will bear with the sailor's plight on
what to trust his vessel with?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

A beautiful question

This thing of beauty,
Without being able to understand, what is this?
Without the crutch of Reason, what is this?
Why a public spectacle everytime with this?
How am I to know if this is actually so?
What will my perplexity afford to anyone?
Am I to be a baby who knows not what it wants?
Mercy please.

Isha Foundation


Am a big fan of the Simpsons series. Along with Seinfeld, it is one of the few TV shows that are actual critiques of human life and behavior.

When I read in the newspapers about religions and sects arguing, fighting and dissenting, I am reminded of Bart's quote in one of the episodes.

"The little, stupid differences are nothing next to the big, stupid similarities."


Latest being the now famous fight recently between Dikshidars and Saivaite devotees in the Chidambaram temple.

The Great Indian Dream

"My aim is to study my son and marry my daughter"

This single line summarizes the aspirations, dreams and the general tumultuous life that the Indian middle class carries on.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

ARR's 'listen-alone-at-night' release

I am in a similar situation in my career as I was quite some back here... a perpetual feeling of being chased by time and an urgency of goals. Other than that, although one knows its just the mind playing tricks with you, why isn't there any respite from that confused insane monkey that just refuses to throw anything down but drags along everything it has savoured! The assuring fact is that the Force accompanies me. Enough of self rant.

Teaching to students in Chennai has been a revelation to me. I simply love the time I spend teaching... much to the amusement of my father who is a headmaster.

Meanwhile, AR Rahman comes up with another of his 'Turn-off-the-lights-at night-and-listen-to-this-on-your headphones' variety of songs. Its Khwaja mere Khwaja from Jodha Akbar. The previous offering from ARR along this genre was Al Maddath Maula from Mangal Pandey. Al Maddath Maula provoked a rahmaniac orthodox Hindu friend of mine declare 'After listening to that in the night, I was so moved, I had to listen to Thiruvasagam by Ilayaraja to convince myself it was just the music that moved me!' . I donno what this genre is... is this Qawwali?

But unlike Al Maddath Maula where the song vibrates with the intense longing of the singer to reach peace in one's mind from the bondages of life, this Jodha Akbar song is relatively less intense. Its 'just' sung in praise of someone and not the passionate cries of a Seeker of the earlier song. The earlier composition with its frenzied background sounds impressed listeners of its intensity. The Jodha Akbar one is refreshingly and elegantly bare in its soundscape.

So long...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

An earful of molten lead

Heard the song "Rangu Rangamma" in the recently released film Bheema. Wasn't there anyone at the recording studio who couldn't point out that Kailash Kher's rendition of lyrics was murderous? There was little style (leave alone sufi style). But the substitution of meaning thanks to the singer's oblivious pronunciation !! ('Igniting desire' became 'Igniting best wishes')

If Harris Jeyaraj couldn't realise these as a music director, he deserves a spoonful of molten lead in each of his ears. Just the same fate he subjected his listeners to.