Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Here is A.R. Rahman's 'Adiye' song from Manirathnam's upcoming movie 'Kadal'. As soon as I heard it mind began wandering into "where have I heard this before" mode (No! its not the Aaromale song from VTV). Here is the Adiye song:

(After lot of head scratching)

Maybe there is a better "original" song in the same genre. But Boyz II Men was the closest that came to my mind:

But there were these boy bands from the 90s who have had a song much closer to 'Adiye' than I can remember. I searched Color Me Badd, EYC but couldn't get an exact match. I am pretty sure there is an exact match that I cant get hold of. Maybe its a case for my old buddy Karthik to crack.


some head scratching later Alicia Keys 'fallin' also has aspects that I like in Adiye

Friday, December 21, 2012

Rape, Rajo Tamas etc

I checked my twitter feed today morning and the first 30 or so tweets all had the same topic. It was people expressing extreme outrage on the Delhi rape situation.Twitter is a miniature, easily accessible version of main stream media. Smaller in scale but very representative. Both are just subjective opinions of and knee jerk reactions to some incident. So it was an interesting experience learning about what happened purely based on twitter reaction of people. I hadn't read a single news article on this issue at the time of logging into twitter ( I later read some news items) and I don't have cable TV. A lot of tweets were from men hurling expletives and wanted the rapists to be castrated and hanged (in that order). Deep down inside my heart - I couldn't help but feel a little suspicious about some of the men who appeared to be very outraged. A woman feeling this level of outrage - I get it. Somehow after reading some extreme tweets from some men (not all), I felt they were putting on a show. They were more interested in letting others know that they were outraged as opposed to being genuinely sad. And that is what this post is about. Not so much on those incidents (there is a little bit of that) but on the twitter reactions to those incidents.

Why did I feel so ? For example, one guy said he was brought up by strong women in his family (listed his grandmother, mother, and sister) and claimed that it was a reason why he always learned to respect women. Quite a number of other guys said stuff that was a variation of this. I felt that it was total bull shit. Let alone big time TPT (in an attempt to raise their personal brand value). I don't believe there is a man out there who does not view women as a sexual object. The statistics on number of men who watch porn (and the kind of porn) is a more accurate indicator of how respectfully men view women. The porn industry is built on forcing women to do things worse than rape.Its not like women study in some college aspiring to have a solid corporate career as porn stars. It is exploitation of women.  (Almost) All men watch porn and encourage the growth of the industry. Cognitive Dissonance anybody? If lack of respect was the sole reason to commit rape - you'd have 1000s of rapes everyday. The importance of 'respect to women' leading to a rape situation and the extent of how *constantly* a man respects *all* women has been severely distorted. This 'respect' factor does not have a stable value in a man. It changes depending on the situation, time and context.

Why is this reaction of the desi male in twitter is revealing? Lets say a man was murdered in a gory fashion because the murderer wanted to rob the victim's wallet and the victim resisted. It wouldn't evoke this kind of reaction. But lets assume it did. How would you feel if the reactions were "I respect life so much. My mother has life. My father has life. I would never take someone's life.". Really! What an irrelevant thing to say!  Why is this suddenly about you and what you wouldn't do? This song ain't about you brother. A murder is heinous and objectionable stand-alone. It has no relationship to the moral uprightness of the observer. If the observer inserts his own moral uprightness into the picture it looks more like - Unga appan Kudhiru kulla illaya? But in a rape situation people talk about how much they respect women. And I am also sure there a rapists whose mother or sister were actually good, honest upright and strong women. One doesn't lead to the other.

Since everybody is allowed a theory. Here is my theory on why people rape. Some are necessary conditions. A subset of others could combine to lead to sufficiency. But they are in the order of importance. 1. Opportunity to commit rape 2. Influence of Alcohol 3. Mental Illness 4 Poor Cultural/family Upbringing, family values  5. Lack of Education and so no fear of retribution (It could be Law or Police or Karma or God) 6. Viewing women as sexual objects 7. Repression due to lack of sexual satisfaction and many more. Like having small amount of poison in your body almost every man has small amounts of at least one or many of the above. While it is in moderation everything is ok. It is only when they grow to extreme levels and certain deadly combinations of the above factors occur does a man commit rape.

#1 is a necessary condition but need not be sufficient (although in significant number of cases it may have proven to be sufficient). What pisses me off is that #2 listed above is pretty close to being a necessary condition. A combination of #1 and #2 in many cases is pretty close to the sufficient condition.No one talks about the influence of alcohol in this incident. In the case of the Connecticut shooting the very same people rejected the notion that 'guns don't kill but people do'. They agreed that the nature of the person alone isn't the only reason. A lifeless object that enabled the person was the reason. In this incident they take the total opposite view. Why? because most of these people in social media are kudigaara pannadais. They don't want to blame alcohol because it risks their personal brand. However, cheap liquor/arrack available to uneducated/poor/shift-job people has become a menace to the society. It makes them animals. Have you seen how people in front of TASMAC behave. Have you walked with a girl on the street and crossed by a TASMAC after 9PM?

To conclude, I strongly believe that notions such as 'progress' and 'safety' have a life and inherent qualities of their own. We overestimate our ability to manufacture, customize and create these two concepts according to our wishes. You can't have everything you want and still have safety. It may never be possible. The world is a jungle. Life is a jungle. You can't control tumors appearing in your body and killing you. You can't prevent many diseases. This world is like that. No matter what happens to this world, you can never stop rape. It will never go away. If the world is filled with excellent mothers, sisters and grandmothers - there will still be rape. If everyone got educated in the best universities with the best ethics and humanities counselling - there will still be rape. That is the reality of this jungle. A view that assumes this to be the case is practical. Rape has existed for 1000s of years. Why would it go away now?

The key thing here is progress and safety are notions that has a subtractive quality. This means the quality of this concept gets better when you remove things from the system. Cutting off, stopping and removing the things we do help a lot. Safety becomes worse if you add more things into the system. Cutting junk food, beverages, stopping to overeat help prevent diseases better than adding more medications after getting ourselves into trouble. Doctors can't remove diseases from your life as fast as Drug mafias, alcohol mafias, tobacco mafias and fast food mafias can add them into your life. Similarly police cannot remove criminals from the society faster than the number of criminals added to the society by vulgar movies, loose moral standards and alcohol mafia. So - 'progress' and 'safety' phenomena is achieved by cutting things off and stopping a list of things we do. There is some humility in knowing that there are evils we cannot eradicate. The least we can do is reduce our personal probability of getting exposed to them. The government will still have their job cut out. But personal actions and government actions are not mutually exclusive. You can't have free flowing alcohol, party hopping couples hanging out in unsafe places at night, thinly stretched police force and still have safety. Feminists and certain groups argue that it is the duty of the government to guarantee safety of women under all circumstances. It maybe the theoretically right thing for the civilized society to have. But it is utopia and it will never ever happen. 

If parents feel that they should stop their daughters from staying out at night. They bloody well have the right to do so. They are removing #1 reason for rape - opportunity. Its not the ideal solution. But no one has the right to tell parents that they shouldn't do that. What some devious people do is play out the "removing #1" to its extreme case (i.e. they ask "are you suggesting women never leave the house and wear burkhas like in Saudi Arabia"). This argument tactic is deliberate, evil and detrimental. What is safe and unsafe is a subjective decision. One uses common sense and their knowledge of the local conditions. But mocking people who take a slightly conservative tact is pretty judgmental of these feminists in my opinion. The police may have to do their job of keeping the city safe. But that is separate from parents trying to keep their children safe. A girl child is not a bait for the society to test its law and order situation or its moral fortitude.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Dei Gautham Menon!! 1990s called they want their love stories back!

When I wrote that I really liked VTV, I was told by my friends - who went to engineering college in 1990s and had this thing called girl friend (back then it was called 'lover' as the concept of casual dating didnt really exist) - that only people (i.e. me) who had no idea of love or romance would really like VTV. They might be on to something. VTV was probably an excellent love story for losers from 1990s.  

I am guessing Nee Dhaane En Pon Vasantham would have been a great movie for the lovers from 1990s. Just that it should been made and released in the 90s itself. It looks kind of outdated now. It does not have those "50 edits per second" kind of artificial pace, it goes about in its own pace, sets the mood and tells a story that has been told since the days people learned to say stories. The problem is Gautham Menon has done the same movie before. Actually he has done it twice before. In Vaaranam Aayiram and VTV he had squeezed in every little bit of moody love moments that would have resonated with people who went to private engineering college in 1990s. There is just nothing more left to be said on this topic. Trying to draw from the same dry well has made him give us a rather vacuous movie in which nothing really happens. And really, Gautham Menon needs a dialog writer for his upcoming movies. He is a really bad at dialogs.

The sad part was there were pieces in the movie that I actually liked. I am a Jiiva fan. And Santhanam was really funny in this movie. I don't mind it when directors take off on their own trip and do a  movie which is essentially a 3 hour ego masturbation. Unfortunately, it becomes painful to watch when Gautham does it 3 times in row. I actually found that checking test match score during the movie was a useful distraction. And the scoring rate of Dhoni and Kohli was 2 an over.

The manner-less Seattle crowd was at its mokkai best again. I really wish there is a flyer given out to Thamizh people who watch movies in Seattle just to let them know in advance that they are neither cool nor funny. A bunch fat idiots started making inane comments that sadly evoked a few giggles. This encouraged them enough to make them assume that they were awesome and cool. So they started making mokkai comments throughout the movie. In fact 90% of the theater crowd were mannerlessly making noises. I didnt pay $10 to listen to these idiots. There was a bigger idiot who had mailed in a movie from India to pain me. I didn't need local help. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Day Thamizh Grew a Moustache

Remembering Subramanya Bharathi 

அக்னிக் குஞ்சொன்று கண்டேன்
அதை அங்கோர் காட்டிலோர் பொந்திடை வைத்தேன்
வெந்து தணிந்தது காடு
தழல் வீரத்தில் குஞ்சென்றும் மூப்பென்றுமுண்டோ.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Self Worth & English Vinglish

I was one of them. One of those ungrateful teenage kids who took their parents for granted. One of those kids who felt that they were entitled to the service and finances provided - with unqualified love - by their parents. While not necessarily disrespectful, I actually was a lot more demanding of their time and energy (maybe not their finances) than some of the other kids around me. Watching the Sridevi's movie English Vinglish took me back to a time when my mother suddenly announced that she had enrolled in a spoken English class. This was in early to mid-nineties. I didn't particularly have a problem with it or think much about it then. Many years later - when I had time to think about these things - I wondered what prompted her to do such a thing. She could read and write English very well. She wasn't planning on entering employment and she didn't really need spoken English to survive in Madras. 

The class was in Ashok Pillar and she completed the class in a few weeks/months. I later was told that she did very well in that class and was the best in that class. This 'achievement' does not translate to any capitalistic world's accolades or monetary benefits. What I didn't know then but realized later was that the whole exercise could have given her a much needed validation or boost to the self-esteem. From a child's point of view, I thought she had a family and a source of income. There was really no need for an English class. But strange are the ways of human emotions. That practical need is totally divorced from an an emotional need.

English Vinglish narrows down on this very concept of a housewife's sense of self worth and makes a story and movie out of it.  This is not the first movie to be made using this concept and I frankly thought it had become a very cliched concept in movies. Maybe its been a while since I saw a movie with this story or maybe because I personally connected with the story, I sort of liked parts of it. Sridevi is both good and bad for this movie. Her star power makes her too hi-fi to be a naive housewife but her performance is very credible. The bothersome aspect is this movie puts a Bollywood spin on this story - stuffs it with stereotypes, gay concepts, an inter-race marriage, remixes 'mind your language' comedy and delivers a packaged formula. If I closed my eyes and just heard the dialog, I could have as well been watching 'Bend it like Beckham'. The packaging used for this movie and the story telling of this movie has been often used in many 'hatke' movies. Especially when it comes to telling stories around a wedding.

p.s: When adapting movies to thamizh it makes sense to customize it to local culture. Just the way Hindi people use the 'v' syllable to twist regular words (English 'vi'nglish, happy, 'va'ppy, party 'va'rty etc) - thamizh people use 'k' (English 'k'inglish, party 'k'eerti, etc). This was a simple thing that could be controlled in the dubbing stage. Not doing that was very irritating.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Talaash, Aduttha Aatthu Albert etc

The only reason I couldn't predict the ending twist was because I didn't really think Amirgan would resort to this level of retardedness.

Up until the halfway point the movie was good. Really good emotional connect that Daddy Cruise managed to create in Minority Report. I guess during script discussion someone must have stopped and asked "does the world really need a remake of that movie. Everyone in the world has seen that movie and will compare Talaash with that movie". At that time they should have wised up and abandoned this idea. But they didn't. I am disappointed. Expected so much after the first half.