Saturday, January 30, 2010

Aayirathil Oruvan: Too many Ideas in this Broth

Before I write anything about this movie, I'll get one thing out of my system: I feel Selvaraghavan for all his thamizh patru, must be introduced to two strangers. He really should meet them because he seems to have never ever met them before. The strangers are ழ and ள. Once he does meet them he will never say சோல instead of சோழ and irritate the viewer within the first 2 seconds of the movie.

I was impressed with the movie up until the climax scene. In fact while in middle of the gladiatorial scene in the rather strange second-half of the movie, I truly believed that the reviews were unfair to the movie (I still think they are to a certain extent). Selvaraghavan shows enormous amount of talent and creativity but has no discipline in sticking to one idea or story at a time. That climax scene, especially when sane men/woman with guns start dressing up in kavacha-kundalam, was the last straw that broke the backbone of my tolerance. Every listener expects a certain amount of discipline from the story teller. And there is very little discipline in this movie. Selvaraghavan reminded me of my father's bedtime stories to children. It starts with superman and spiderman, but soon they join forces with Hanuman and then Rajinikanth makes an appearance somewhere with some fair doses of Gavaskar and Indian Army thrown in. This movie is somewhat like that.

However, the movie has a very powerful tone and packs a strong narrative. It lingers on your mind for a while after you see it. Selvaraghavan is not known for his subtlety. He does not serve us nuanced stuff cut out precisely with a surgical knife. He takes an axe and beats us with a lot of rawness. So he is likely to evoke extreme reactions from audiences depending on whether you like this kind of rawness of not. I liked most of it. Some of the million ideas he undercooked in this movie were pretty good. The entire first half was very engaging. Now that I think about it Pudhupettai , another movie I loved from Selvaraghavan, was a also a case of good first half and an eccentric second half. I loved the eccentricities of Pudhupettai's second half than those of this movie. Having said that, I did enjoy this movie's second half because it woke me up from the coma caused by the medicority of recent thamizh movies. I only wished that he had shown more discipline to limit the second half to one or two ideas. In fact I think this movie would have been much better if he did not get the finances to make a mega budget movie.

Two other flaws that contributed to making an average movie out of this excellent concept with patches of awesomeness is (a) Casting and (b) needless CGI. To put it bluntly: women as an archaeologist and Army officer, that too in Thamizh cinema, look more irritating than funny. Thamizh cinema is the only place where you either have a boring Nasser as a psychiatrist/science-man/doctor or its straight to the other extreme where someone hot like Nayanthra etc plays a slutty psychiatrist. Reema Sen's introductory scene is unbelievable for its cheesiness and needless bandha. She does not fit that role at all. Neither does Andrea. Because they aren't regular women, they are 1.5 hot chics (Andrea isn't that hot..sorry) who can't speak the language. While I am okay with them stripping down, peeing in a vessel and sexing up Karthi etc, I am not taking their 'i only shoot with 2 pistols' military role and 'ola chuvadi' reading skills thing seriously. If Selvaraghavan had real integrity, he would have put a very good actor in both those roles and found a different way to get sexy chics some screen time. On performances, Karthi plays a role that connects the common movie goer to the characters in the movie. His character keeps the show very interesting and in the process he probably earns himself some star value.

The second flaw is graphics. I am not referring to the poor quality of the graphics shown in this movie. But to the fact that the director did not need them to get his desired impact. Whatever came floating out of the water was more funny than scary. Reminded me that good movie making is not about showing such creatures but making the audience feel them. Once you have fast-forward type scenes to make slow-moving chics appear as if they are quick moving action stars, you can be assured that the movie is doomed. Many times when these CGI thing appeared, I thought that Selvaraghavan could have clearly avoided this and still got the desired effect via some other way. This movie made me a little sad though. It had aspects that are underreprsented in Thamizh movies and those aspects are really entertaining to watch. To see them mixed with so much nonsense is extremely sad. I would recommd the movie though. It was never boring for a moment. I liked it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Death of Independent George

was inevitable in any marriage after a few years. I wonder why George was trying to save a poota case anyway!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Death of The Gaja

The proverbial "Desi H1B Consultant" receives the killer aapu from USCIS.


No new H1B application will be approved, as per the new guidelines provided USCIS on Jan 08, 2010 memorandum – for 3rd Party Consulting company.

No new H1B extension/stamping will be approved, as per the new guidelines provided USCIS on Jan 08, 2010 memorandum – for 3rd Party Consulting company.

If an employee has H1B approved or extension approved, and if he/she comes back to US from a vacation or from an emergency, he/she would be deported back to his/her home country from the Port of Entry (PoE) – for 3rd Party Consulting company.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

All Hands On Deck

If laziness was a religion unto itself then the couch in front of the TV would be its temple. If one has high ambitions of becoming a 1980s State Bank Of India officer, one must perfect the art of slacking on this couch. The moment one sits on the couch, all forms of thought slowly erode and disappear. The brain operates in a power-save mode. A mode that is good enough to channel surf but weak enough to pick up ringing phones. Once the mind locks in on an appropriate TV channel, comes total blankness. One has reached the ambition for the day. An ultimate slackers ambition, where short-cuts are the only path to success. This is when one must be wary of work disguised in various formats attacking the determined SBI officer. Because work has a way of disrupting the blissful emptiness that has enveloped the mind of the couch slacker.

Sitting on my couch in front of the TV, I feel like James Tiberius Kirk on the USS Enterprise who sits all day in his couch staring intently and purposely at the huge monitor in front of him. A couch in front of the TV is the ultimate nirvana. It is my calling. It is the final frontier. To sit on the couch and not do anything until I fall asleep is like going where no man has gone before.

This is when Klingons around you try and assign work somehow.

"Hey one request" says the wife and the mind suddenly becomes alert. Red alarms are flashing all around the USS enterprise. All hands on deck now. The emptiness wrapped around your mind is in danger of being eroded. Impending attack by work can be expected anytime now. Obviously, the emptiness, this natural force field that surrounds you as you slack in your couch, has extra-ordinary uses. It shields your ear from dangerous audio signals emanating out of your wife. So you don't hear her the first 72 times she said "hey one request". If you are hearing it now that must mean some damage to life-support system has happened. Either the TV has been switched off or the TV audio has been muted. Danger Will Robinson!!!. Danger Will Robinson!!!. Danger Will Robinson!!!.

At these moments one must be careful to avoid giving a weak answer to any sort of question that is posed. Wife is like the Klingon whose intelligence can evolve with your laziness. Innocuous questions like "is tomorrow Thursday" should be treated with utmost caution. A casual affirmative response could mean that "oh! then you have to drop off the Mixie in Renuka's house today as she is cooking a big dinner tomorrow". Work hits you like a neutron beam hitting the StarShip's energy canisters. "Are you going to office tomorrow" is an extremely dangerous question. Answers must be vague and non-specific such as "work is extremely tight and getting more and more complicated". If the Klingon says "then can you throw away garbage when you go out tomorrow" you can be prepared for a bullet-speed answer "which is why I am working form home tomorrow to avoid any distraction"

All your answers must end with "can I go back to watching TV now. I am actually thinking about a problem at work". If the Klingon was your mom she'd be zapped in seconds at that response. She'd withdraw her forces, call up her sister and say "my poor boy! he is so stressed from work". But the new Klingon is a different beast. It will test you out. "Can you remove the baby's finger from the power socket", "can you remove the dripping coffee mug from the carpet and wash it" "can you switch off the stove" "can you call 911". So many "can you.." questions come flying at you like missiles. You need to be at your wits end to somehow answer all these questions in such a way that will ensure that you continue to remain ensconced in your temple.

An amateur SBI officer is the only one who will begin a sentence with "can you.." inside the temple. Forbidden works spoken only when the remote control for one of the supplementary electronic equipment has been forgotten in the dining table. This is when the initiation ritual begins. An man who can convince the Klingon to get that remote, without him having to get out of the couch would have earned his place in the exclusive club. Here is a man among men. One who will not be required to do laundry or grocery. One who will eat his dinner on the couch and keep the plate underneath it. One who will ultimately become - the SBI officer.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What is that?

This video almost moved me close to tears. I am currently reading and digitizing letters written by my grandfather to my father. And this video came to me at an odd time.

Twitter

is an organized version of ircChat and YahooChat rooms of the 90s. People are simply chatting with each other 140 characters at a time. I am yet to figure out whats so interesting about it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bangladesh is an ordinary team

In fact a very mediocre team. I am glad Sehwag bluntly said that. Very impressed with Sehwag. Winning this test match isn't going to change the fact that they are a oothax team. Someone should tell them that their wins are classified as an 'upset' or a 'surprise win' because they only win once in a while. They make headlines during such wins only because the newspapers want to rub more insult on the team that lost to a perennial loser.

Tendulkar does think that they are an ordinary side. he just won't say it aloud. To hell with political correctness.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

One Hit Wonder

1. Sirippe Varalai! Seriously, he needs new themes outside of (a) mentioning his wife/kerala/regional stereoptypes often (b) Sree Shant/cant type aruvai jokes. He has written only one truly funny post.

2. Travails of any-Indian blogging male is that the longer/more frequently one attempts humor, the more labored/predictable one's humor/language usage becomes.

3. Factual error in that article. Kapil Dev retired in 1994. Late 90s he was a coach.

4. I am sceptical about long-term bloggers writing books because (a) see #2 above (b) they've exhausted most of their tricks in blogs, and (c) they lost their mojo.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Madhuvanthi

There is beauty, love, sadness and longing in this song. I simply love it. Get very senti if I listen to it late in the night. Wonderful. I have this crush on Archana as well.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Facebook Breast Cancer Campaigns

If having a facebook account and posting the color of your bra can change anything in this world then anyone with a dick and the ability to unzip his pants should be able to hump Beyonce.

Monday, January 11, 2010

'Sarkarai' Pongal

The quantity of ghee must be so high that by the time you take this delicious sweet sarkarai pongal in your hands and transfer it into your mouth, the ghee must flow down to the elbow and drip from there.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sherlock Holmes

This movie follows the time-tested formula of any action-thriller movie and begins with a Bond-esque tense opening scene. And in that first few minutes Watson asks a question that begins with "how did you know.." and Holmes gives his classic "Because I was looking for it" answer. This is not the only item in the not-so-esoteric checklist that Guy Ritchie uses to woo those looking for Holmes trivia in this movie. Irena Adler (who Holmes always referred to as "the woman"), Cocaine, Homes Passion for chemicals and toxins, Holmes physical fighting techniques along with not-so-subtle references to Mycroft Holmes and Moriarty.

Thamizh cinema viewers must be intimately familiar with Ritchie's movie technics as almost all thamizh movies have liberally begun to copy/employ it since the day Kaakha Kaakha borrowed it from Lock Stock & 2 Smokin Barells. It is the cramming of multiple frames within a few seconds to accelerate the screenplay. It helps Ritchie give us flashback, context, thrills, surprise and every thing else he can think of. In this movie he attempts to give Holmes a reckless cavalier flavor that Pierce Brosnan/ Bruce Willis effectively did in Remington Steele/Moonlighting. Watson gets to do counterfoil a'la a Stephanie Zimbalist/Cybill Sheperd - by playing a by-the-book, disciplined character who is always around to save their counterpart's ass.

I wouldn't blame Ritchie for rebooting Holmes in this fashion. Jeremy Brett, my favorite Holmes, played Holmes with a kind of unmatched style, verve and passion that it is hard for any movie to beat that game. Brett was the closest an actor could come to playing Doyle's holmes. And Brett was still far away from the real thing. Holmes is not movie material. As most of the thrill that people get from reading Holmes is his deductive thought process. Hardly something that can be replicated on screen without making the movie look like a documentary. If Ritchie has to side step a key value prop, he needs to fill the gap with a lot of action masala gimmicks. And he does that with moderate success.

This movie wasn't bad but I'm hoping for a better sequel.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Maaran's Escape Velocity

Suzh Visumbani

10-9-1

சுழ்விசும் பனிமுகில் தூரியம் முழக்கின
ஆழ்கடல் அலெதிரை கையெடுது அடின
எழ்பொழிலும் வளமேன்திய என்னப்பன்
வாழ்புகழ் நாரனன் தமரைக் கன்டுகந்தே

....
....
....
....

10-9-9

வைகுந்தம் புகுதலும் வாசலில் வானவர்
வைகுந்தன் தமர்எமர் எமதிடம் புகுதென்று
வைகுந்தத்து அமரரும் முனிவரும் வியந்தினர்
வைகுந்தம் புகுவது மன்னவர் விதியெ

Monday, January 04, 2010

The 4th Idiot

Chetan repeatedly insists that "his countrymen/people/readers are enraged". Although he does not say so explicitly, he leads us to believe that this is the reason why (a) he is also enraged and (b) his claim is just and fair. Reminds me of instances when Karunanidhi repeatedly insisted (to the Central Govt ) that "I cannot do anything if sentiments of people cause them to act emotionally and indulge in violence". Chetan probably wants us to believe that he has no personal stake in the whole issue and is simply a 3rd party fighting on behalf of "people getting enraged". And that "peepul getting enraged" is reason enough to prove that his cause is righteous and worthy of support.

Since anything is possible, Chetan may have enough money to out-bribe Vidhu Vinod Chopra and convince the courts that he has been wronged. Until then media war is Chetan's only hope. But while pretending to media and general public that things like 'logic' or 'justice' is relevant in such issues, he seems to be shooting himself in the foot by pointing out irrelevant things like the opinions of his "10th fail but 12th pass Seeman Tutorial School" type fans (or) saying stuff like "they don't know how popular I am as a writer" .