Monday, March 25, 2013

Panguni Uthiram



Iyam Sita mama suta
sahadharmacharee tava
prateechchha chainam bhadram te
panim grihneeshwa panina
pativrata mahabhaga
chhayevanugata sada.

These are the words spoken by King of Janaka, on the day when Uttara Phalguni star intersects with the full-moon day, as he offers his daughter Seetha in marriage to Rama. These words are uttered in every marriage that happens in the northern half of India. The translation of this goes "This is Seetha, my daughter. she will follow you in the path of dharma. Take her hand in your hand. She is both blessed and devoted and she will forever walk with you like your own shadow". Velukkudi often says that it is the wife who steers a man towards his dharma by being his conscience. And that is why she is called saha-dharmachareeni.  

This nice article outlines the significance of Panguni Uthiram. One of those days where I wish I was in Srirangam.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Review: Paradesi

How do I compare two categories of bad movies. Category A is a kind of movie that had shit material to start with and then was shittily executed by a nincompoop. Category B has awesome material to start with and an incompetent fool makes a shit movie out of it.  Now is the nincompoop more of a shithead or the incompetent fool? I would say the latter. But thats just me.

I don't know a lot about making movies. If I were given unlimited budget and a awesome technical crew, I wouldn't know how to make the characters speak with an even tone, how to adjust the dial so that the actors don't come off as over the top or don't extremely understate the role either. I'd struggle with quite a few things. Apparently I share all of these traits with Bala. The biggest problem I had with this movie was that it wasn't realistic or believable. Its very ironic given that the story really happened. First lets start with the poorly etched out characters. The hero guy cant act for nuts. For some reason he is not shown as a normal human being. Either he is retarded or that is his real acting ability  - but he is so over the top that I was left thinking if this was a movie from the 70s. Then there is his girl - who is also stupid and really over the top. The story was so explosive that there was no need for these abnormal characters to be around. And whats with the horrible dubbing? Is this an amateur movie?

When you have a great story you need some creativity and imagination to tell it nicely, engage the viewer and maybe deliver a knockout performance. The story should provide situations that makes the viewer empathize withe characters and go on a roller coaster ride. You know - the "Show, Don't tell" policy.  Bala lists each of these departments and botches them up in order. In this movie nothing happens that can even remotely called creative. Its not sincere enough to be called a documentary either. The entire first half is build up to a situation where people get themselves into shit. It has a wedding, a funeral, some hanky panky, and tasteless jokes. All done by some really bad actors with loud over the top voices. The second half is about what that shit they got themselves into looks like. Its bad. But then the movie is not about how bad that shit is. It is about how many people cry and for how long. You know - the "tell, don't show" botch-up. The second half is not about the situation. Its about crying, crying and really more crying. The movie is bloody freaking mind-numbingly boring. I couldn't believe it was 2 hours long. It felt more like 2 years inside a prison. It not about reactions to different situations. Its about same reaction to same situation. One trick keeps playing again and again.

I haven't seen a Bala film after Sethu. I thought Sethu was a tasteless movie for C center audience who don't require refinement in movie making. I stopped seeing Bala movies after that assuming the over-rating that he receives was from people with poor taste in movies. He is not on your face. He genuinely has bad taste. It sometimes appears as on-your-face because we mistake crudeness for boldness. Watching Paradesi now and reading the severe over-rating he is receiving makes me think the theory still applies. Bala makes movies for a strata of society that I would regard as typical C center front bencher crowd.  Dull, unrefined and severely lacking in taste.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Open Book Exam

This news about board exams being open-book exams might appear like good news for students. Well! it is so not good news for students. Its actually a nightmare. There were times in grad school where a bunch of desis would be praying that the professor would announce the exam as closed-book/closed-notes. We would recoil in shock if the prof said open book. If the test had to be meaningful even if you had a book open that says something about the toughness of the test, doesn't it? Its never going to be the case that the answer is in the book and test is about how fast you are able to find the answer and copy it to the answer paper. I am just glad I am done with school. At least once a week, I get nightmares that involve me preparing for an exam that I don't know anything about.