Monday, August 31, 2009

Movie Review: Pasanga

A movie about events surrounding a couple of kids presented to us the way those kids see themselves in the illusionary world they live in. Falls in the category of low-budget minimum expectation movies that manages to not suck by keeping the story simple and within limitations. Your expectations are so met near the end of the movie that you sort of overlook the vayishal climax scenes. This is by no means as good as 'Anjali' but really really better than those Baby Shalini/Shamili/Simbu movies.

With this - Sasikumar related movies have nearly saturated the effects arising out of small-town Tamil Nadu look & feel and the 80s song nostalgia triggers. It is not a novelty anymore. Unless he has some radical new story to offer under the same construct, he needs to make movies that follow a new formula with actors who shave regularly.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Chris Nolan & James Cameron

Two really awesome movie to look forward to from two high quality movie makers.

Avatar

James Camron after giving some fantastic movies decided to semi-retire (except for directing the final TV episode of Farscape) after giving the sucky Titanic. Now he is back with an exciting movie.

This trailer looks really exciting



Inception

Can Chris Nolan better what he did with Prestige?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

'Crazy' Venkatesh

In 'Meesai Aanalum Manaivi' he played 'military'. Where he cutely said "aiyoo enakku thalai sutthardhu" to which Maadhu would reply "unnoda heightukku thalai sutthina fan sutthara madhiri irukku". He became famous for the dialog "rendu gundu vechirukken" and he would use those 2 bullets in many contexts "nikka vechu oru gundu suduven oda vittu oru gundu suduven" or "idupukkukku mela oru gundu iduppukku keezha oru gundu". Yes! the same 'militree' who falls in love with Maadhu's wife sumangali and takes the drama to new heights of confusion.
'Crazy' Venkatesh - that tall lean guy with a handle bar moustache is no more. He was a regular in 'Crazy' Mohan's drama group. Possibly one of the favorite members of the troupe for many folks. The last I spoke to him was during a show in Madras. During the interval I went behind the stage and introduced my to-be wife to him. He could barely walk and was really in pain. He was playing the role of the turbaned iyengar in 'Crazy Ghost'. He had began limping during his 2002 American tour and persevered bravely through Madhu +2 show in Dallas.
His biggest break came when he was called upon to act in Michael Madana Kamarajan, which went to become such a huge cult hit that every character in that movie became etched in people's minds. He chased down Kamal Hasan after Kamal Hasan in a TVS 50. When he says "thooki kaatu da" and the gets the response "che ponga annen vekkama irukku" the entire theater erupted with laughter. Somehow the best memories of him comes from Doordarshan days when they showed a 13 episode series of 'Crazy' mohan dramas.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Potential

There are people who claim 'There is too much focus on swine flu. Road accidents [replace this with other common illnesses such as fever, cold, etc etc] kill more per day than the 60 odd victims that swine flu has killed in the last month or so'. And then they sort of give that look. A look, which supposedly should let us know that they have made a logically correct and smart point. Apparently this is an insight that has escaped everybody else but them.

If we have an outbreak of Bubonic plague and it got its first 50 victims in 1 week. It should not be taken seriously because at that time it would have killed less people than road accidents and other miscellaneous diseases.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Movie Review: Kandasamy

krrrrr krrrrrrrrr krrrrrrrrrr krrrrrrr

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Krrrrrrrr krrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr krrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

pthooooooooooooo pthooooooo

Movie Review: Inglorious Basterds

This is a masterpiece. Tarantino's best probably.

I can't recall watching a movie that was this edge-of-the-seat thriller. And this is a kind of a thriller that only Tarantino can make. He has this unique way of creating movies that are a collection of episodes. When the words 'Chapter 1' flashed out after the title sequence, I couldn't help but feel goosebumps rising with joyous anticipation. In these chapters, as people have seen, in Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill, Tarantino has this talent of drawing out a conversation between two characters and meticulously detailing every little nuance in that conversation. The conversation proceeds at a leisurely pace with no care to the hurries of the world. It centers on 1 small point and during the course of the conversation, you get to feel the character. You can feel whats in their head.

And then he gives you that one little detail that one character knows, which you didn't know until Tarantino casually decides to tell you about it. Like he does in Chapter 1. And your brain feels like it could explode any moment. That is when you really feel what the character feels. You are hit with their tension and nervousness. Now, the conversation takes on a totally new meaning. The characters are probably saying very ordinary things but they look suddenly important, larger than life, fraught with peril. The conversation that happens in Chapter 1 after the camera zooms to a detail is case in point. And I can still feel the goose pimples as a result of that. The movie is classic Tarantino. He salutes the film industry's small little details pays tribute through a masterpiece of a soundtrack. He uses all his tricks, does his extreme close-up shots, the slomos and the pretty shots.

There is violence, gore and several B-movie type scenes. But it is a set of conversations that make the movie what it is. There are several such conversations in the movie, which outwardly seem like stupid people rambling about inane stuff. But every such conversation is a masterpiece. The one that happens in a bar for instance. The one between Col. Landa and Sushannah at a restaurant is another example. This is a movie, where you cannot predict what Tarantino will throw at you next. Every time you expect to see him round off a scene in a nice way, you get surprised. Col Hans Landa's behavior, the words he speaks, the joyous way in which he speaks them is a masterpiece. You fear the man due to some x-factor that Tarantino has thrown in. You can't really point out why you fear him. It is some secret-sauce combination of the discussion on nicknames, the background music, the context and the expressions of the actor himself. He rocked the movie and totally owned it.

Sometimes you get that feeling within a few minutes into a movie that you just don't want it to end at all. This is a movie that makes you enjoy every single second of it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nomad No More

The dial slowly turns and I have clocked 2 years and 4 days in a random Seattle suburb. Realization dawns that this place has moved up quickly to rank # 2 among the list of places I have stayed the longest in my life. 3 months ago it was ranked #8 (or below). This means that the 2 year mark has been a big tough ass milestone and that I have failed to cross it in most places I have stayed.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hysteria

A fantastic 'run away' type song. Listened to it after a long time. Music in 80s and 90s were much better.

Another One Bites The Dust

My long-time intuition has been that we are stupidest generation the world has ever seen. The belief is further strengthened by news that Reader's Digest falls prey to the retarded Twitter and Facebook generation.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Poota Cases Shouting Sankara

Its amazing how Business Schools overestimate their ability to teach stuff like 'ethics' to grown up people. Even more amazing is grown ups believing that things like 'leadership' and 'ethics' are what responsible b-schools should be teaching. Why not have them teach a course on topics like 'intelligence' & 'comprehension skills'?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Iyer Vs Iyengar

Agreement on staggering stuff like Avani Avittam on Aadi Sharavanam and Deepavali in Purattasi. However, when it comes to Krisn'a one chooses Ashtami and the other Rohini. And the twain shall never meet.

*Long time ago Krishna did an Amavasya Tharpanam a day before Amavasya to get the the Sun and Moon together on the same place. This convinced Duryodana to start a war. Now ironically the star and the moon has split Krisna asunder.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Pullman Game

Some games, leave you happy, some sad, some disappointed and some fuming. Very few games, like this weekend's street-fight type match against WSU, left me thinking "this is why I enjoy the game so much". 2 weekends ago our team was in one of those "win all the remaining 4 games to qualify for play-offs" situation. With last week's game won, we were looking to keep our hopes alive. After getting up at 3:30 AM and after 5 incredibly boring hours of travel, we won the toss and chose to bat. 'M' & yours truly went to open. This was a chance I had been waiting for almost 6 games. I wanted to show a kind of temperament, staying ability and shot selection that did not resemble driving abilities of a Nesamuni Bus Driver. Since I had been obsessing about this for 6-7 weeks: before facing every ball I told myself to (a) remember to stand on the toes while playing (b) not go for the 'nesamuni' cross batted slog over mid-wicket (c) play on the V. 40 overs is a long time and I decided to let runs come to me instead of searching for runs.

M is a stylish batsman and he also had zero temperament. Its like our team policy. So in the first over he hit a splendid six with a square cut clearing, what I thought was, a very long boundary. I stoutly defended the second over. Brutally forcing myself to defend half-volleys. I wasn't giving it away. The 3rd over, M cross-batted one over mid-wicket and the skier was dropped. 2 runs. Then M played the exact same shot. This time he was caught. Meanwhile I continued to stoutly defend the 4th over. Then the 6th over . Got off the mark on the 8th over with a flick to fine leg. Total Relief. 10th over first ball - the ball was short and slow. Too much to resist. Six over square leg. Regardless, I cursed myself for losing control and defended the next 4 balls. Last ball: down the leg-side wide. Or - should have been a wide. But the automaic flick that you play for such a ball seemed to result in a 'dockku' sort of nick and fell into the hands of the keeper diving towards leg side. 40 minute resistance ended with nothing to show. So freakin' devastated that I might as well gone and jumped into a well. On a spongy sort of wicket where the ball stops and comes, the team collapsed barring one partnership (where one guy scored 8 of 90 balls and the other 38 of 53 balls) and we were 134 all out.

Opened the bowling too, which was a surprise because my shoulder was busted ( 2 weeks ago I couldn't lift a key) and I thought I was out for the season a.f.a bowling was concerned. The first over was bowled by a Bangladeshi "person". He is 6' 4" tall and 30 miles wide - I keep telling everybody that if you cut him up, you could feed Bangladesh for a day. He bowled 12 wides in his first over. Another team policy. My first over goes for 2 runs but feel incredible pain in shoulder like it would fall-down any moment. My shoulder gets totally busted when spell is at 3-1-11-0 and I am done for the match. The openers begin to cross-bat like crazy and soon they are 55/0 in 10. That becomes 60/1 when one cross-batted heave lobs up to fine leg. 80/2 when the other opener tries to cross-bat a full-toss and misses. 103/2 with 32 required and 8 wickets in hand and 21 overs to go the batsman edges. Huge noise and deflection to the keeper. As he begins his walk, he notices that the umpire (batting side umpire because we can't get a neutral umpire to travel 5 hours) is unmoved. So he comes back.

Fight begins, our team stages a walkout, they argue, we argue, bla bla bla, batsman says crazy shit like "if i think i hit it, I would walk out. I am honest" etc etc. When we resume after the 20 over break we are pumped up and start sledging the batsman like crazy. They get to 110/2 and this batsman edges another catch to point. Then they begin to collapse under the weight of 4 maiden overs and some increasingly serious sledging. Some unexpectedly good bowling from our team makes them 115/6. 20 to win 4 wickets in hand and you'd expect most bowling teams to really go for it. Our team bowled 14 wides. Bringing the total wides bowled to 53 for the match. When you are defending 135 - many would call that really "cool" stuff under pressure. However we managed to pick up 3 more wickets during those 14 wides.

Tension and animosity is as thick as the Maharajah Nagar XI Vs EB Colony XI match played in Palayamkottai almost 20 years ago. The opposition is yelling "thank you" for every wide we bowl. The leg umpire (batting side) starts giving "no balls" for general full-tosses. It is crazy out there. I have never seen such a road-fight level cricket in this league before. But it was incredibly exciting. 1 wicket to go, 6 runs to get and its a race between our wides and their collapse. Suddenly their batsman decides to play a shot. I think they forgot how to play shots because they had played over 80 dot balls and they got their last 25 runs through wides. The ball lobs up to mid-on, all eyes are on that solitary fielder stationed there. He was probably cursing himself for standing there. Thankfully, he catches it and we live to fight another match.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Pullman

This weekend's game is in Pullman. A 5 hour drive to play the Washington State University team. That means Saturday starts at 4:00 AM. Also, I am on a pair. Last weekend, I came back home and said I was clean bowled after trying to 'pull' and the 'pullman' jokes are ON now. Everybody from wife to friends are asking me how I would feel if I scored another duck after a 5 hour drive. Hat-trick of ducks means I have to listen to 'marana kadi' jokes like "enga vootukaararu entrepreneurru ..kiriket vilaadumpozhuthey kozhi pannai vekkara idea varum" or "enga aatthukaararu pona jenmathula aryabhattar". It hurts nevertheless.
'Ondra ana' cricket has so many nakkals, I can't imagine what Agarkar's wife said to him in 1999.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Movie Review: Nadodigal

Yet another sumaar story glorifying friendship and the "natpu = karpu" formula. The twist here is that friends who give and give and give for friendship are actually not selfless but very selfish and expect stuff in return. So-so acting on one-trick-pony storyline.

This movie deals with (impractical, unreal, and cinematic) 'friends' playing the role of uniting two people in marriage but they do not know what most aunts, grandmas, periappa, periamma, chithis and chithappas who have brokered a marriage between 2 people know. That this is a thankless job with only criticism and complaints sent back as a thank you gift. A 2.5 hour movie on this is a waste of time.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Avani Avittam

Men who never do sandhyavandhanam but do 'kamokarsheeth' to renew yajnopaveetham know how blind men feel like when they pay bribes to renew their drivers license.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

News Channels

Today news is simply gossip by the people, for the people, of the people

A month ago, I briefly watched these news channels after a really long time. News channels have now become a TV version of Ananda Vikatan's "Anu Akka Aunty". It just consists of this central gossiper sitting in the middle and egging guests to generally say something. It can be anything. Even if the guests claim that they do not know all the facts, this "news anchor" presses them on to "just say something. what do you think might have happened. Just imagine something and say. We'll just flash your opinions as breaking news". They do this continuously for 3-4 days for an event that Shobana Ravi can cover in 2 minutes on the 8:40 PM news.

There is, for most part, really no new news at all on the event for several days days but they can go on covering the event forever. Even if they get a small update on the event - like the dead man's 3rd cousin's 4th athimber's 5th wife had a slight cough at 9:22 in the morning - they will grab on to this small strand of information like the way a hungry traveller grabs on to a morsel of food. Then these 3-4 people will sit like old maamis after a kalyana saapadu and generally gossip about infinite combination of possibilities that this insignificant update has. News Anchors are shameless 'thinnai arattai' people shown live on TV

One feels pity for the brain dead people who tune on to these channels frequently thinking that watcing news is (a) sign of intelligence and (b) source of information. Watching Shobana Ravi read the news for 20 minutes might have been considered as a passable sign of intelligence. In fact if we close all the N thousand different 24 hour news channels and simply have a 20 minute news update every alternate day people would be as informed as they are today. Probably even more. Watching news and political analysis today in these news channels is a clear sign that the viewer has gossip lust. My gradma would tell those people in no uncertain terms -"pommanaati maadhiri enna vambu vendi irukku"

Monday, August 03, 2009

A.R. Rahman & Composing Background Scores

1. If the same question had be asked to Ilayaraja, my gut tells me that that his answer to the first question would have been vastly different.

2. Somehow cannot imagine ARR as a MIDI user (even though it was in the past).

Describe your method for scoring a film.

I mostly don't write to specifically defined cues. I just watch the film a couple of times, stop watching it, then write something that comes to my mind from the film. This way, when I try to sync the music, the results are that much more wholesome. You get something extra that you don't get when you're looking at specific points in the timeline. The music is much more organic this way, not jumping cue to cue. It's more about counterpointing and, sometimes, walking hand-in-hand. Most of the time it works out. If you watch the picture and try to have a specific chord change here, a tempo change there, when the director comes back and wants to move picture, you find that you've wasted time. I think this way is more appealing to me and to the people watching the film. Click tracks and following the SMPTE are necessary for some things, but once you have everything in Logic, then afterwards you can edit and make minor changes.

What’s your typical writing workflow in the studio?

When I’m doing a song or any improvisation, most of the time I have a live input on it, with headphones on, and the performers in the booth. And I have a MIDI keyboard running simultaneously. So if I’m doing something that is partly Indian classical, I keep prompting the singer or the performer on the mike, and then keep playing it. After twenty minutes of that we sit down and edit the portions I like. Sometimes I work like that, but sometimes I do like the standard thing. You know, you have an idea and then you start playing more instruments, more Logic instruments.

Normally what happens is I have a rhythm, and it’s probably a loop. Then I do my vocals, and once I have a structure in place, I record with the singers and write lyrics. When I have the vocal recording, I then work in reverse for the music. We record live rhythms sometimes, and then start programming, and everything is complete. Then of course all the editing is done, and we go through the mastering. That’s pretty much it