Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Revenge

While attending marriages, I am going to approach any and all elderly relatives I see and ask them "do you remember me? when I was a small child you said cooooo to me. Do you remember me?"

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mayakkam Enna

I am getting used to the peculiarities that happen in the 2nd half of a Selvaraghavan movie. Pudhupettai and Aayirathil Oruvan are the Selvaraghavan movies I have seen so far. The other movies I didn't care to see. In all 3 movies the first half seems to be cruising along telling us a good story in an energetic fashion.And the second half takes off in a direction that I never expected it to go. I found the second half of Pudhupettai exhilarating. The second half of AO had its odd moments but was very impressive. Everytime I feel at odds with the direction Selvaraghavan's story progresses in the 2nd half - I kick myself for having an expectation in the first place. I find aksing myself - why shouldn't the story progress in Selvaraghavan's way? It is eccentric but super entertaining nevertheless. Way better than the boring predictability that one is used to.

Mayakkam Enna is a lot about what Selvaraghavan refuses to show us. For example as soon as the second half begins there is a remarkable plot accelerator. I loved that. All the menial aspects of getting to a story milestone were dispensed off with. The story just gets to the point. Then there is another twist that elevates this from a happy-go-lucky movie to something serious. Not that the first half was by any means less good. It dabbles decently on the subject of making a career out of your passion versus having a career and no passion. My wife does not like Selvaraghavan because he has 'vakkra buddhi'. Maybe she has seen more Selvaraghavan movies than I have. But I like his perversion. This movie has a softer version of the same 'vakkra buddhi' seen in Pudhupettai. In that movie the ape just grabs the female from another male. This movie had splendid opportunity to explore this sort of forbidden love. But it plays it down.

What I didn't like about Mayakkam Enna was the angst part. Dhanush's angst wasn't brought out well. The movie spends a lot of time in trying to show it. But it comes off as a little superficial. Instead of showing the angst of a talented wildlife photographer being screwed out of a career, Dhanush shows the angst of a 8th fail boy who has been deprived of a great opportunity to stick Rajinikanth movie posters on the walls of public toilets. Angst has class too. The nick name 'genius' exists for no particular reason. Similarly if in the first half Selva was planning on showing 'carpe diem' as the reason why Richa falls in love with Dhanush then it doesnt come off well. Maybe he wasn't and I was imagining stuff with all that talk about passion and career. I almost felt like the reverse psychology of 'he hates me so much, I gotta love him' was what made Richa fall in love.

I didn't like all this dating, 'I have bought a ring to propose to her' kind of stuff. I also didn't like the 5-6 friends being so close that they live , eat, cry, fry, shit and die together kind of stuff as well. It felt artificial. It seems a little Amerikka wannabe. People who say 'it really happens in India' probably like to think it happens more often than it really does. Even if it really happens, it is so amerikka wannabe that it is an unpleasant sight. There is a cliche with 'wild life photography' being a sole example of having a different career. But since this is the first main stream movie to touch it - I guess we will have to wait until Nanban before really calling it a cliche. I suspect this career will become something like 'I want to be an astronaut' that all 3rd standard kids reply when asked about career choices. The market size for this sort of employment is in single digits yet every school child wants to become one.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Madras Theater Crowd

A scene where Dhanush asks Richa to pose nude for a photograph

Someone from the crowd "saami eallrum ezhunthiruchu veliya poo"

Thursday, November 24, 2011

LSE IX

I wont claim that its been a long while since I have been hit by lightning. However, this one kind of stood out. After 2 frustrating days of waking up at 2;30AM because of jet lag, I was hoping to sleep straight until 5AM on the 3rd day. 3AM: The 'bladder full' sign starts flashing. I had to go. One thing about bathrooms in West Mambalam is that you are never alone. I had about 100 odd Dengue Lakshmis and Malaria Malathys for company. All I wanted to do was take the piss and get the hell out. Flush and twist the door handle. Nothing happens. This is usually when door opens and I run out to get inside my blanket to get that shut eye. Instead I found myself standing and staring at the inside of the bathroom door. I twist and turn that special korean door handle lock that my builder charged a zillion rubees to install. One hand is warding away Virus Visalakshi and the other desperately trying to open the door. Finally I give up and start banging the door. After about 5 minutes of banging - I hear my father's voice slowly seep in. "kadangaara, who asked you to lock the door?".

I wonder about that for a moment and continue banging. I really need to be out of that room soon. I feel a few more physical exertions and I will be fully awake. Then there is no hope of sleep. I was holding on to that rapidly evaporating 'sleep feeling' for dear life. 20 minutes later: I was sitting on the bathroom floor and swatting mosquitoes. Hoping the loud clapping sound will wake up someone downstairs. My father is trying to work the door with spanner and screwdriver yelling "This never happens to anybody. Only you, so much complications. All the time." 30 minutes later, watchman is called, then watchman's son arrives and asks "yen saar lock podreenga". Really, the only answer I have as to why I locked the door is "because it is there". Finally boy breaks the lock open and splits the door into two.

5:15 AM - I commence kshethradam with hope of first visiting Thiru 'which room' temple, then driving on to thiruvengadam, and then visiting kanchi Varadhu on the way back. My chitthappa is sitting next to me in the car and he has opinions on why amerikka returns are such slow drivers. "Viswaroopam at 6:30 AM. Veera Raghavan waits for no one. Rush rush," he whips me. In North Arcot road I feel poor pick up in the car. I would later be giving interviews to press saying "Naan appove lighta doubt aanen saar". The next time I felt the pick-up lag was when I crossed 'where jasmine resides' Valli. Then it was all fine until we entered the first destination of 'which room' place. We are 2 hours away from Madras. I cross a flyover and the car refuses to budge after that. Everything looks fine, but no matter what gear I put, I cant get off neutral. 30 minutes later, a half-asleep mechanic says "Clutch plate outtu saar. 1 week aagum replacement. Towu pannidunga.. back to madras". The previous day I had withdrawn Rs 15000 from ATM with the hope that I would limit the entire Madras trip within the 15K. Towing car back to Madras: 5K. Clutch plate 20K. New Car rental for remainder of trip: 5K.

After the car broke down and we were waiting for towing to arrive, we decided to visit the temple. Don't ask me why? - Due to variety of circumstances and as a result of multiple back and forth between car and temple - I was in a situation where I was near the car, attired in a panchagajam, angavasthram, no shirt (shirt in temple) and Rs 20 in hand (wallet in temple). I had to go back to temple and I was trying to figure out how to get to the temple with Rs 20. The car had stopped right in front of St Antony's church. As I was standing on the road trying to stop an auto, a brother from the church walked out and stood next to me trying to stop an auto as well. We nodded at each other expressing quick acknowledgement of each other's faith among other things. Non-share Autos in 3rd tier towns are also share autos. The Auto that stopped for us had a passenger inside. The driver agreed to take us to our respective destinations for Rs 10 each. And lo behold! the 3rd passenger was a Muslim Bai with skull cap and the works. So all 3 of us sat and drove. The Bai had to get down first. So the brother and I got down as well to to give way for the Bai to come out. As Karim Bai fiddled with his wallet to pay the driver - we stood the three of us - in panchagajam, white robe and lungi. A casual bystander must've thought we were rehearsing for a remake of a 1980s DD advertisement on religious unity.

Why This Kolaveri?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Self Awareness, Steve Jobs etc

People put steve jobs quotes in their twitter, facebook, and blogs. Yes, the ones who put scene on how they admire his ability to 'fight' the status quo, 'think differently', live life in his own terms and rebel against the tide to get his way

These people are the status quo that steve jobs had to fight against. Almost all of them who profess to be inspired by steve jobs and display his quotes are exactly the people who would push back and suffocate someone who thinks differently. They are the tide who will negatively brand a person trying to swim against the tide. Steve Job's life was more interesting and his legacy exists because of the fact that he had to fight the sort of people who put up his quotes after he died. If these people lived in 80s and 90s and met steve jobs in a professional setting - they would be the kind who would strongly oppose his ideas and plans.

I am reminded of people who complain that no one responds to the emails they sent but in-turn they never reply to emails they get. They imagine that a self-professed 'I am inspired by Steve Jobs' quote automatically bestows upon them a cause worth rebelling for. While in reality what they fall in the category of those who block the minority few who actually have ideas.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

J.Edgar

I really liked this movie. I found it surprising that Clint Eastwood managed to keep the pace of the movie really fast. The movie was what we'd call a 'conversational movie' and so keeping a viewer totally riveted is a admirable task. I actually ended up liking J.Edgar Hoover. All I knew about him prior to watching this movie was he was a loony cross-dressing, longest-serving head of the FBI. And this movie completely changed my opinion of him. Eastwood seems to not really care about J. Edgar being perceived as a good guy or a bad guy and simply makes a worthy attempt at showing him for what he was. Yes, he was anti-black, anti-women, was a ruthless self-promoter, and black mailed every single US president to get his way. He (probably) was gay but maintained an aggressively anti-gay public stand. These were the items that were shown to portray his other side.

To portray his positive side, the practices he introduced seem to have helped crime detection/prevention world over. Especially his agenda to use finger prints as criminal evidence, begin a practice of collecting them and building a central data base for finger prints. He is portrayed to have made the Buerau of Intelligence from an agency of no power to the very powerful FBI that it i today. Yes, you need to be a unpopular and a prick to build that kind of beast. And he happened to be the one. And I didn't think he was any more or less biased than an average human being.

There is a unnamable magic about watching DeCapiro play this role. I guess it has to do with the accent and the way he enunciates words. The force of Hoover's personality has been brought out well. Agenda-driven. focused and ruthless men impress me. Even if they are bad men. And in showing all that very well this movie thoroughly entertained me.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Heavy D Passes Away

In the gzillion times I listened to this song - Heavy D's cameo was awesome every single time. Etched in memory. Man... I miss the age of MJ obsession.



"Jam Jam
Here Comes The Man
Hot Damn
The Big Boy Stands
Movin' Up A Hand
Makin' Funky Tracks
With My Man
Michael Jackson
Smooth Criminal
That's The Man
Mike's So Relaxed
Mingle Mingle Jingle
In The Jungle
Bum Rushed The Door
3 And 4's In A Bundle
Execute The Plan
First I Cooled Like A Fan
Got With Janet
Then With Guy
Now With Michael
Cause It Ain't Hard To..."

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Kedaram

Whats a Saturday evening if not spent on random patterns of music. Here are some songs in Raagam Kedaram.


Pon Maalai Pozhuthu



Sundari Neeyum



Ennavale (famously called by subbudu as kedarathukku sedharam)



Manam Virumbudhe



Raama Nee Pai thanaku (KJY)



Sawan Ki Bundaniya (Pt Bhimsen Joshi) - Very different :-)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

7am Arivu

I saw the movie on Sunday and wasn't planning on writing a review until I saw this elitist fool tear apart the movie with his '8th std fail 10th pass seeman tutorial' logic.

Let us examine how the logical settings in this fellow's brain is configured. Consider this hypothetical scientist. This scientis extols the virtue of The Sun. The scientist says, " the sun sustains life on earth, the sun provides valuable vitamin D..etc etc". The way Mr. Rangan will criticise this scientist is as follows - "but you are living in Earth. If you like the Sun so much, why don't you go and live in the Sun. Why do you live on Planet earth, drive on planet earth, see the moon every night, drink water from planet earth and go and praise the sun". That is how logic works in his mind. In the minds of elistist tools like him who suck up and pander to indhi audience - the "qualification" someone needs to have to praise thamizh is that one must not (a) wear jeans (b) drive german cars (c) one shouldn't make movies shot in forign locales.

So per the logic of Baradwaj Rangan type people - if you say Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina or claim that Jupiter is larger than Planet earth - the actual fact of whether or not Buenos Aires being a capital or not / jupter being larger than earth or not - does not matter at all. He will refute both points based on something that is irrelevant to those facts - you. He will say that because you have never visited Bueno Aires or Jupiter and have lived all your life in India - you cannot state anything about it. So Rangan does not care about the actual facts that Murugadoss and Surya seem to be saying. Rangan's claim is that because Murugadoss had a song called 'Ragamuffin' and wore jeans and drove in a german car - he is instantly eliminated as a candidate for promoting thamizh history. Less educated people like baradwaj Rangan believe a lot in Mutual Exclusivity. They have rigid narrow views that in order for a person to say X - the person must be steeped in X. Any trace of Y in that person and that is enough to kill the man. Someone wanting to co-exist with X and Y (say drive a german car and want to promote thamizh history) will be trashed as incongruous. That is because people like Baradwaj Rangan cannot comprehend complexity or nuance.

The talent that Baradwaj Rangan type reviewers have is that they can trash or praise any movie regardless of the actual merits of the movie. The logical flaws that he points out in Shruthi Hasan's transport mechanisms - he could have pointed that out in Manmadha Ambu and Ravanan. Instead he over praises those movies. Even Maniratnam may not have realized that the white salwar Aishwarya was wearing in Raavanan represents her chastity, that ploiceman vikram shoots someone in dark night t show his demon'like quality. But reviewers who need return favors will use any angle to over-reach and praise bad movies.On the other hand they will unfairly trash other movies if they have no incentive in the offing.

My thoughts on the actual movie: It is not a good movie. I am not saying this to avoid the perception that I am trashing Baradwaj because I disagree with him and think that the movie is good. The movie is bad - but not for some of the reasons Baradwaj has mentioned. And his reasons are insidious and illogical. I thought the movie had its heart in the right place but Murugadoss' inherent lack of class in story telling brought it down. As I noted in the Ghajini review - Murugadoss lacks class. He is persistently loud and uncouth. The logical flaws in the movie didn't bother me. I was willing to be led by the ambitious approach. The movie claims that we have no sense of preserving historical information and so that in effect means that whatever recourse bodhi-dharman prescribed for the deadly chinese disease - we must've have lost that information. That is the basic premise of the movie. (Note B Rangan's stupid question on the same subject).

Murugadoss cannot seem to decide if he wants to make a movie for A center or C center. He has a story that is inherently A center. But he decorates it with stuff that is targetted at C center. In the end the movie falls through the cracks and is neither sophistcated, underplayed or nuanced nor is it out and out masala. What it becomes is a good story trapped within a formulaic thamizh movie structure and language. Who in the world introduced thamizh cinema to these 50,000 cuts per second rule. Movie makers today sem to think that the faster and higher the number of screen cuts - the more brisk the pace of the movie. That is not true at all. It didnt help that the songs were horrible. It didnt help that the director forgot to have a tense tight narrative and abandoned everything midway to deliver a sermon.

It is true that thamizhs are losing the essence of their culture. It is also commendable that people like Surya and Murugadoss are marketing the features of thamizh civilization to create more awareness. That part of the movie got me on its side. I also thought it was very bold of the movie to state an anti-reservation and anti-religious conversion message. Murugadoss is scratching the edges of what I think is the truth. That I thought was really profound for a commercial director. But at the same time a little more nuanced story telling might've helped. Srilankan thamizh issue is too important and too senstive an issue to be a one-liner. All the items (60% of the movie) he aded for masala effect was not entertaining. I dont think C center people would've been entertained either. But it was important that this movie was made.