Thursday, November 27, 2008

Terror struck.

9/11.. 7/11.. 26/11 ..

The calendar is getting crowded with such dates of disaster.

Yet another terrorist attack. There is a certain numbness which seems to be setting in. No, not dumbness. That's more for the likes of Shivraj Patil.

The symbol of Indian pride. This was Jamshedji's message to the British,a century before Ganguly could say "f*** you* standing on the Lords Balcony. If ever there was any building which could carry the name of Taj without any dishonor to the original monument, it was this. The symbolism is tough to miss. A group of youngster with their tops already blown blowing off the top of this magnificent icon.

Foreign interest in this is apparently very high. Can we blame them? Not often are their citizens blown to smithereens. The 1000s of Indians dead before this count for nothing to them. The 10 of theirs here do. Kashmir is to them nothing but a blur on the map and the only interest for them is the colour to give it on the maps they publish it. Oh.. Did I forget the highly sought after Kashmir shawls?

The terrorists.

What next? 18 year olds wearing MegaDeath T-shirts?


In a couple of days there will be many many stories of courage, of heroic acts in the face of death. My salutations to all those who have staked their life and those who have laid down theirs in order to rescue the rest. May your souls rest in peace.

Image Courtesy:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Why not to watch: Kaaranam Aayiram

Not exactly. The title rhymes. Thats all.

Warning: Spoilers ahead. Proceed at your own peril.

(The second line refers more to the movie.)

But then it isn't exactly far from the truth, unless of course you watch this only for Surya and believe that Gautham Menon isn't too far from being the Tarantino of Kollywood as he wishes to be.

With its music(inspirational or inspired??) rocking the charts for long and the trailers and the banners promising a colorful movie it wasn't too difficult for the hype and the hope to build up.

As much as GVM has tried to create and emotional impact with his portrayal of the father son bonding in the movie, it fails to touch the right chords. At the end of the show you feel like having sat through two totally different movies in either half.

The movie opens with a series of short shots showing Krishnan(Surya, the dad) throwing up blood, being made to rest on the bed and then collapsing dead. It is strange that for a movie which is otherwise so painfully slow, these shots of pain and suffering are in this slick editing mode.

Soon the news is conveyed to Suriya(Surya,the son) who is an army commander on board a helicopter on a rescue operation.

Unintentional comedy one: Suriya's fellow armymen then offer their condolences which sound more like apologizing for stepping on someone else's toe.

Then with cries of "Daady daady" in the background, Suriya goes into flashback mode and in a narration in narration mode, Simran is shown recounting the past to Suriya, sometime before he left on this mission of his. Ah Simran! With her each moment on screen, she makes us rue all these years which have been lost without her gracing the silver screen. She delivers the movie's second best performance (after Surya of course)and with so much ease. Welcome back Sims!

After a few more scenes enters Meghna (Sameera Reddy), Gautham Menon's latest m(o)use. What a babe! . Her histrionic range in this movie is amazing. She has managed six distinct expressions.

1) Eyes open and mouth closed.
2) Eyes open and mouth half open.
3) Eyes open and gaping.
4 - 6 ) Repeat above with eyebrows raised.

And just when a scene arrived where her emoting was a little bit more demanding , Menon managed to get Surya between her and the camera.

Unintentional Comedy 2: In her intro scene, after a long conversation in local(chennai types) tamizh, suddenly Reddy comes up with this line "Nee SESHTA panna maatiye" !! All the ambi mamas would have died a second death in their graves.

Unintentional Comedy 3: She belongs to REC Trichy. Having studied there for 4 years, I can do Mother Promise and God promise that I had not seen any one even remotely as hot as her. And then to think this was 10 years back? That she ends up in Berkeley from here is altogether a different issue. Wonder how much money my college paid to Gautham Menon. All our fees just went down the drain.

What follows is a Suryavamsam like sequence where in about two minutes Surya goes from an absolute wastrel to a succesful businessman. And then with the blessings of his father, he flies to the US to pursue.. the heroine. Whatay father, whatay son!

Unintentional comedy 4: When asked to explain how he expected to be granted a visa given his financial status etc etc , Surya gives a speech on how he is going there to pursue his love and love only.And lo and behold he is granted the visa. A five year multiple entry one at that.

After the customary heroine death, Surya turns alcoholic and drug addict. However, with the help of his "daddy" he manages to get himself off drugs and goes off to Srinagar to reclaim his old self and then to Delhi. And then follows a needlessly long sequence of him rescuing a child from a clutch of gangsters (Prithviraj on comeback trail?). Then he joins the army and passes out with his new found love Divya(a neat and dignified performance) in tow. He is then called for an emergency rescue op and is forced to leave home in a hurried fashion. The extended rescue sequence after he gets the news of his father's death seems totally unwarranted and could well have been conveyed by the voice over.

Harris Jeyraj tries some innovative sounds in the background from time to time. Though the songs are awesome, the picturization doesn't do full justice to them. Mundinam Paarthene belonging to the 60/70s and Yethi yethi to the early 90s seem to be total misfits. With both the heroines boasting of family packs, it is down to Surya to flaunt his six packs in appearing from a waterfall for the Annul Maelae song.

Despite all these negatives there are quite a few positives in the movie(Anti-Murphy's law). Surya's performance is top notch in a role tailor and ready made for him. The change in his body language as he grows up, the pain caused by Sameera Reddy's death and his struggle to get himself off the drugs are well etched and perfectly enacted. The make up for the dad Surya is also pretty neat in most scenes. The scene in the hospital when Meghna's dad comes to collect her body is one of the very few instances when your heart actually goes out to the characters on the screen, as is the scene when dad mistakenly discovers his son's drug addiction.

Though an honest attempt by Gautham Menon,it is clear that he is more adept and comfortable handling action films, as can be seen by the style in which the second half is taken in comparison to the first half.

But despite the fact that this is supposed to be a tribute to all the fathers of the world, you might not want to risk compelling your dad to come along to watch the movie. If you still want to do so, then,to quote Russel Peters, "Somebody's gonna get hurt real bad".

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Stray Wonderings Part II

The following pictures(print screen + paste into paint + add image into blogger) are self explanatory. In other words, I am out of stuff to say and have resolved to such cheap tactics to keep my blog going. Of course, I can claim that this blog has links to videos of actress in bathroom fitting showrooms. But then it is one of the oldest tricks in the blog world and therefore should have been avoided.

So here goes.

The following picture might not make sense to non-tamizh readers. What has been highlighted reads "En kanaku" which is a transliteration of My Accounts. Nothing wrong with that but usually in Tamizh(the chennai variety), kanakku refers to business, the murder kind. "Kananka theekardu" which should mean ""closing the accounts" means to "to finish a person off".

And ya, Gaptun is back. Bigger (!), better and looking smarter than ever.

[Image Courtesy Indiaglitz ]

I leave you with a quote from MS Dhoni. "Reverse swing is crucial when the new ball does not do much for the fast bowlers to come back and make an impact in the game. It has been important right through the series. We have maintained the ball well and have done it (reversing) consistently. In Delhi it did not happen much because there was some grass on the wicket and in the outfield".

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Farewell Jumbo!

As he has done quite often in his career Kumble brought alive a boring final day in a Test match at Kotla today. However unlike in the past, this did not cause discomfort and nervousness amongst the opposition batsmen. Many are the batsmen who have been at the receiving end of Jumbo's super fast flippers and spitting leg breaks and though his form had dipped quite a bit of late there will be lots of them who will be more than relieved to hear that the warrior had hung up his sword.

Many are the special memories that he leaves us to cherish. The first of those came in the Hero Cup final when he picked up 6 for 12 against the Windies when a couple of wickets came thanks to yorkers which until then, even the Indian pacers couldn't bowl accurately. It was yet again against the Windies that he would produce a sight never before seen and possibly never again seen as he bounded in with his broken jaw to try and secure a wicket for India. His performance against Australia down under was perhaps something which he enjoyed quite a bit himself. His celebration after taking out Ponting in Melbourne after he had worked him out is one of those rare occasions when he's let his emotions be so visible in the cricket field. Ans so were his reactions after getting to his maiden century at the Oval.

But perhaps the moments which defined all that Kumble stood for, came during the course of that much discussed Sydney Test this year. Even as the rest of the Indian batsmen got out or gave their wickets away, he stood there at one end determined to fight it out till the end. With his limited technique he defied the Aussies, focused on playing out every ball and taking India closer to safety. However as fate would have it, with just five minutes to go three wickets fell in one over leading to the defeat. How much it would have hurt the man is for anybody to guess. And then with the whole Indian and Australian press waiting for his sound bytes after the most controversial Test of our times, he kept his cool and came up with one single statement which said more than a five minute speech would have.

Determination, commitment, composure and dignity are words which cannot be strung together to define any other sportsman better than him. Not many Indian cricketers have left the game on their own terms, but then the timing of Kumble's departure has been on the spot, much like his deliveries. Never once has he given less than 100% on the field and the moment he's recognized that there were factors beyond his control which would not allow him to do so, he's stepped down. Memory doesn't serve up any names of Indians who have retired as captains and he definitely deserves to have done so.

There are two kinds of great players. There are those whose very presence lights up the arena and then there are those whose absence speaks more about their contributions. India have been lucky enough to have one of each kind play in the same era. The large number of matches that he has won for India and the sheer volume of wickets that he has taken are but just statistical reminders of his contribution to Indian cricket. Season after season Kumble has spearheaded the Indian attack, at times plugging away on unresponsive tracks and mostly leading them to victory with spells which are lessons for generations of bowlers to follow . As Dravid, Laxman and the rest of the team members took Kumble on a final lap of honor around his favourite piece of turf, it is only natural that their shoulders would have sunk in under the weight of this giant, who never let his own drop, at any point of time.Goodbye Jumbo, and thanks for all the wickets.