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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

LICENSE TO KILL


The judiciary’s license to kill is a hot topic in the country today. The fate of Afzal Guru, Ajmal Kasab and the three Sri Lankan Tamils charged for the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi hangs in the balance today. On one hand, there are people waiting to get rid of these averred murderers who have put scores of human lives in peril and on the other hand, we have people concerned about human rights, questioning the very logic of a civilized society carrying out an execution. I don’t belong to either of the categories though I’m inclined towards the latter. My allegiance grew a little stronger after I completed watching the Japanese anime series titled “Death note”. Death note not only put to rest a few doubts I had about the moral precision of capital punishment and a human being’s right to kill, but it also got me pondering about other movies that were judgmental about the power to carry out an execution.

Death note is about Light Yagami and his dream of creating a new world devoid of crime after he gets access to the death note, a notebook that could be used to kill people by writing their names on it. The turn of events as the series progressed clearly seemed to indicate the fact that it’s impossible to exterminate misuse for selfish gains when a consummate amount of power is rested on one’s shoulders and especially, when the power allows you to kill another person. It also left me wondering as to how I had appreciated a movie like Anniyan that not only advocated killing but also professed carrying it using the most gruesome methods one could imagine. I finally convinced myself by assuming that I had fallen for the literary genius of the late Sujatha, who had made myself and a million others accept something that would have garnered appreciation only in a Barbarian society.

The Brad Pitt-Morgan Freeman starrer “Seven” is another case in point. The antagonist orchestrates the last of a series of murders in such a way that the termination of his own life is almost impossible and a noble soul who had dedicated his life to saving lives is to carry out the execution which would eventually help spread the message and inspire mislead psychopaths. It’s an undeniable fact that terrorists are trained to be philistine and phlegmatic even in the most extreme conditions of emotional stress and aren’t afraid to sacrifice themselves in an attempt to accomplish their mission. And its also beyond doubt that the terrorists who die in pursuit will be idolised as martyrs in terrorist camps and for all you know, they could be the role-models of the next 16 year old terrorist. So what exactly are we trying to accomplish by killing people who don’t mind dying and in the process of dying, possibly inspire a million others to continue the heinous crimes they had been notorious for throughout their lifetime?

Kamal Haasan acted in two movies that pronounced opposite verdicts on the issue. If Virumaandi championed the cause of abolition of capital punishment, Unnaipol Oruvan, a remake of “Wednesday” seemed to lean towards eliminating terrorists from the face of the earth. As usual, he remained confused and confused other people by equivocating effectively and thus disguising his original opinion on the issue. But it was the mediocre “Payanam” that actually planted certain serious questions in my mind about the absence of too many options as far as this issue is concerned. If at all we are to progress towards the elimination of terrorism, we are expected to make investigative progress which involves questioning captured terrorists and hence detaining them in custody. But once the job is done, they become a financial liability besides the security concerns that are tagged to it. “Payanam” depicted a situation where in a plane is hijacked and the hijackers demand the release of a high-profile terrorist kept in police custody. In such a situation, the police and the government don’t have much of a choice but to release the captive, endangering millions of lives in the process. Plus, all the money spent on the security of the captive, the lives lost in a bid to capture the terrorist to further investigations comes down to nothing.

 This leaves us with a lot of food for thought though I think the idea that the death of thousands of people killed in a terrorist attack is to be avenged by executing the captive is flawed at the basic level as it thins the line that differentiates a civilised person and a terrorist with boorish ideals. The ability to think without emotional prejudice in times of mental stress is what separates a civilised person from a terrorist, who you would expect to bomb a city at the slightest provocation. The ability to forgive is the most appropriate representation of evolution of the human mind over time.  But do we have a choice when a question mark looms large over the survival of mankind?

The analysis of psyche of a terrorist makes the whole thought process a little more tortuous.  The conditions under which people resort to terrorism is definitely worth taking into account. The book “Mind of a terrorist” (forgot the author’s name) is a good way to start your analysis. The very reason why people oppose terrorists is reason enough to consider their clemency petitions: no human being has the right to kill another. Just like terrorism, the turn of events in life is arbitrary. And unlike terrorism, life deserves this arbitrariness. I think we ought to leave death to the cycle of arbitrariness that dictates life on this planet as far as we can.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Assorted thoughts, catch up time

It’s been quite some time since I have written something about movies. I have watched quite a few of them in the recent past but somehow, I haven’t found the motivation to write about them lately. This queer behaviour can be attributed to my newfound passion for world history, something I have found to be extraordinarily intriguing. But amidst fun filled hours of learning about the conquests of Napoleon, the diplomatic strategies of Charles Metternich and Bismarck, I have somehow managed to squeeze out time for the likes of Engeyum Eppodhum, Muran, Vellore Maavattam and Vedi. I have missed out on Vaagai Sooda Vaa and I don’t intend to watch it in spite of the positive reviews it’s been garnering ever since its release. I don’t think I’ll be able to come up with a rational explanation for that; I just don’t feel like watching it.

Firstly, I found Engeyum Eppodhum to be engrossing. The movie’s gotta great script and the screenplay could have been messed up by any typical newcomer but Saravanan(surprise surprise: Murugadoss’ apprentice) doesn’t come across as a typical newcomer. The first scene itself comes as a big surprise. Amidst sentimental directors who commence their respective films with the sound of a temple bell and a long shot of a temple, here’s a newbie who keeps all such illogical irrationalities apart and comes up with a killer of a first scene (literally). The shocking first scene gives way to an exquisite orchestration of visual poetry. The non-linear narrative isn’t a gimmick here and its justified usage creates the desired effect as the film races towards the climax. The director has received plentiful support from his young actors. Sarwanand’s casual and elegant portrayal seemed to be the best of the lot. He was a treat to watch on-screen and effortlessly went on to show that you don’t need six-packs and forced histrionics to prove your prowess. But acting, I guess, is subjective and popular opinion can be widely different from what I think. So please feel free to pick on my opinion.

 It’s just that I feel we give an actor due credit only when he plays a larger-than-life character. Plus, a bad performance muscled up with histrionics designed to bring out a star’s “acting talent” doesn’t get the criticism it so badly deserves whereas a casual performance by an unacknowledged star that deserves attention goes unnoticed. On the hindsight, the bad performance is passed off as a good one, an award winning one occasionally; in cases involving a star gifted with a huge adulatory fanatic fan base, like Vikram. A detailed justification can be found here

Coming back to Engeyum Eppodhum, the other performances also came in as a pleasant surprise. Anjali has already staked her claims as an actress with considerable level of acting talent and she has furthered her case in this movie. Her voice though, is irritating. But again, it’s a value addition to the realism, an integral part of all her renditions so far. After all, how many good-looking girls are blessed with vocal cords emanating euphonious voices? Ananya has come up with a cute portrayal and this is Jai’s best performance till date but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to conclude that it’s good enough. It definitely wasn’t a bad performance though.
The dialogues were witty and I loved the Yaettu-DIG exchange between Jai and Anjali. The scene where Jai, dressed up like a corporate honcho (new, branded clothing and all that), enters a communist meeting in a bid to locate a person also impressed me as subtle humour. The music actually seemed pretty ordinary but the visuals made up for it and I don’t believe the fact that I’m almost addicted to them now.

I also managed to catch up with Vedi and Vellore Maavattam; unfortunately, at that. Sample this scene: “Hero gets beaten black and blue by 20 men double his size and four times his muscle weight, is left to die. His ear drums have just the right amount of energy to imbibe a faint attenuated version of a loud high pitched cry from his sister and realising this, the sister screams “ANNNAAAAAA” and magically, like in a Glucon-d advertisement, the hero regains full energy, gets up and effortlessly bashes up the gang of 20, also ending up disproving the laws of gravity several times in the process.” This scene forms the climax of Vedi and I think the rest, is self-explanatory. The lesser said the better. Vivek, the comedian who used to be hilarious once upon a time deserves a graceful exit from Tamil cinema.
Vellore Maavatam is another worthless movie I ended up watching. It’s a new movie that’s straight out of the director’s recycle bin known for its abundance of cop stories festooned with spice. There’s not a single reason why you must watch this movie, even if you are as vetti as the author of this article.

I also happened to stumble upon Rahman’s new album “rockstar”. It’s got two tremendously engaging rock songs, two lilting instrumentals and a sufi number that sounds similar to his earlier trysts with Sufi. The album as whole doesn’t sound as impressive as “rock on” did, but “sadda haq” and “job hi main” are truly terrific.

But one man who never ceases to entertain completed a rather boring week for me. Wilbur Sargunaraj’s new video “first class bhangra” is a scorcher. This man is truly a rockstar. Ranbir Kapoor you idiot, learn!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Silly question?? I don’t know


This is not going to be a conventional blog post of mine, one that’s going to bludgeon its way past the 1000-word barrier I usually set for myself and end up breaking habitually. It’s about a thought, a question that breezed past my mind as I watched trains screech to a halt on both sides of the platform; as the sweepers waltzed to and fro delicately holding on to one of those brooms that are characterized by long handles; as I was subconsciously trying to steal the attention of the lovely lass sitting beside me though she had dug deep into that novel of hers; as I laughed deep within because she reminded me of this(she was lanky and had long legs as well) 

I have been reading a lot of history of late and as I sat there in my chair observing the surroundings, thinking about what I had read and also fantasizing about the girl beside me, this fellow PROUDHON’S famous assertion, “property is theft” struck my mind. This Proudhon fella is known to be quite a rebel and a controversial thinker. At this point, I won’t be able to conclude if this statement of his influenced my line of thinking, but I thought this post would be meaningless if I didn’t mention his name. After all, how can I afford to call a post about a thought process complete, without contemplating about the origin of the process?


I have always been fascinated by trains and train journeys. Check this . This time, a simple (silly?) question struck my mind. Why does the person who pays more enjoy greater benefits? How many cases of first generation AC passengers do we see today? People who travel by AC or first class compartments mostly do so only because they’ve been entitled to better resources right from their childhood. In other words, it’s pretty clear that they are not beneficiaries of their own Karma, especially students. So why is not possible to have a first-come first serve system where the person who books the ticket first gets to enjoy better benefits? Its implementation is obviously going to be an arduous process, close to impossible I guess. But it isn’t wrong to dream, is it? Whaddya think?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Enna Koduma Saar Ithu?!?!?!

The following is a narration of an incident that happened last Friday. It’s one of those incidents that usually happens in movies and you tell a friend nearby, “Ithellam padathula mattum thaan da nadakkum” (all these things happen only in movies). But in movies, such an incident usually leads to an even more improbable incident. For instance, a ravishing female foolishly falls in love with the ugly looking hero with unkempt hair, who bathes only once every week because the hero’s attitude is too casual and simple; and something complex yet logically perplexing needs to be done to take the story forward. But since I’m no hero and since I’m in one of the many obscure ABC engineering colleges in India where there are no ravishing females as beautiful or foolish as cine-heroines, the story ends with the first incident.
Coming to the incident, it happened in the first case as a result of my biological clock getting reset. It’s not insomnia for sure because I sleep eternally in class and thus make up for staying up till 5 o clock in the morning on an average. As I had an exam on Friday and wasn’t anywhere close to falling asleep till 2 o clock, I decided to revise a few things before I made a virgin appearance in an examination this semester. I was damn confident that I wouldn’t wake up in the morning if I went to bed as late as that. So I started revision and by the time I was done, it was four o clock. After that, I didn’t see any point in going to bed as I wasn’t feeling sleepy and didn’t want to attend the next day’s exam half asleep. The possibility of me falling asleep in the exam because I didn’t sleep the previous day never struck me and my adrenalin was unusually charged up, pumping and boiling at 4.30 in the morning. So I started doing things that I usually do when I’m bored: played music, started writing, about a friend of mine who has been pestering me to write something about him and put it up on my blog (!?!?). After that I signed into Facebook and started chatting with a friend of mine who currently happens to be somewhere in North America( or so she says). She was the founding member of the vetti society back in school which consisted of her boyfriend Kabalath and herself. (I hope this statement doesn’t anger another friend of mine who proudly embossed the name “SRIGYOSS” on the first page of his 11th grade physics record.)
As soon as my north American friend pulled the curtains on a highly intellectual conversation that meandered over assigning some degree of meaning to the completely obscure and a deviously abstract display pic of hers (the photograph of a white cloth with a brown dot in the middle) that could be understood only by her and Stephen Hawking, a good friend of hers, I realised that it was six o clock and rushed to the hostel balcony to drink coffee. Soon I realised that I was running out of things to do. The newspaper hadn’t arrived either. After roaming aimlessly and waking up a lot of friends who wanted to study in the morning, I retired to bed with no other choice. It was 7.15 and I went to bed after checking the time on the alarm in my mobile twice: 7.35, it read.
I opened my eyes to a gloomy picture of quite a big mosquito sitting on my nose. I waved my hands over it and watched it fly off as I lazily reached out to my mobile. BLISTERING BARNACLES! The time on the top right corner read 21:58. “Ah, come on”, it can’t be. The sun was beating down hard on face, must be some problem with the clock; guess it tried aping my biological clock I thought. Yet I had a problem on hand. I wasn’t sure of the time and the bell symbol on the phone indicated that the phone alarm was yet to ring.
In a moment characterised by chaos and panic, I got up and put on my clothes and got out of my hostel only to witness a deserted picture of the hostel corridor. It was dark and amidst all the darkness a plump image with a divine aura surrounding it emerged, like a symbol of hope. I almost got my hands together to pray it as its presence reassured that I wasn’t late for the exam after all. As the figure came closer, I found it to be my friend Sibi, who walked up to me with a gleeful smile. I was about to say, “Machi two minutes wait pannu, we’ll go together” when he said those words, the words that shattered all hopes and left me gaping for a while!
 “Machi, exam eppudi da panna?” (How did you do the exam buddy?”) I stood right there, motionless and expressionless with an image of Premji saying “enna koduma sir ithu” flashing across my mind. As soon as my friend realised what had happened, he wasted no time in spreading the message. I explained the story myself to all my friends and watched each of them laugh to their heart’s content. (enna oru villathanam :X )
Today, the world is a different place. After an examination, the almost unavoidable question. “How did it go?” is not a part of my life anymore. It’s been replaced by “dai, exam ezhuthina la?”(Hey, you wrote the exam right?)
I haven’t told this to my mom and I sincerely hope she doesn’t come across this post. She reacts adversely to even the least significant incidents like my toothbrush falling off my cupboard. Mom, if at all you come across this post, I just want to remind you that all is well and my professor has agreed to give me another chance to write the exam.

Friday, September 2, 2011

SRIVIGNESH!


Dai naaye, this article is about you and is exclusively dedicated to you, as you have been pestering me to write one and put it up on my blog, for reasons known only to yourself. I am writing this only because I have nothing else to do, now that I have finished blatantly copying an assignment without much strain. I must thank the brilliant sound output of the JBL speakers on your laptop, Harris Jayaraj and the composer who originally composed HIS song for the same. I would also like to thank you for teaching me FEM today, a subject in which I hope to pass, thanks to you.
You have surely come a long way from the day when I laughed like I never have ever since or before, when you came up with a serious doubt when all of us had dived deep into the sea of applied thermodynamics. How could someone ask, after a semester of engineering studies, if density was the ratio of mass to volume or volume to mass? Others may find this hardly amusing because regardless of the effectiveness of my description, they’re likely to find it a mokka comedy. They’ll never be able to relate to it because: 1. They didn’t see YOU ask that doubt, that silly, characteristic expression on your face. 2. The timing can’t be recreated, not even by the scientists who recently simulated the big-bang!
When I first saw you and observed your reactions in class, I thought that you were one of those hopeless guys who would drop out after the first year. Very much in tune with my thought process, you failed in five of the six subjects in the first periodicals of the first semester (correct me if I am statistically wrong). The density incident only contributed to the Srivignesh-is-dumb thought that had stuck to my mind ever since I saw you. There was big air of mystique surrounding your entry into college. Every single person was talking about the guy who declined a mechanical engineering seat in NIT to join Amrita. My bullying-instincts itching severely, I badly wanted to rag this dumbass who opted for such a deal. And the dumbass was in attendance, right across my room and goodness-me, I was completely oblivious to it for quite some time, mainly because of two reasons: 1. All faces look the same during the first year of college. 2. I was busy with OTHER things.
But I wasted no time once I learnt about your whereabouts. I started bullying you everywhere: in class, in the hostel, in the mess, in the canteen, absolutely everywhere. I even gave you the nickname NIT: In memory of the famous college that you rejected. It became so famous that even Mallu dudes in our class, usually known to stick to themselves and the girls in the campus, started referring to you by that name! My ecstasy was short-lived as the film “saroja” released and people started calling you Bun: a character in the movie that happens to have a physique similar to yours.  After countless bullying and kalaichifying sessions, after becoming good friends, it was time for the spirit of equality to take over; it was time for us to get even. Thanks to some untoward incidents, that now look like sappa matter I came under heavy siege from you. You had successfully learnt to don the mantle of a bully and a kalaichifier, something that you had borrowed from me. The bullying and the teasing brought us closer and made us realise that we were of the same type. Rather, you had become my type. The scared, shy and taciturn bun was long dead by then. The sirripu don in you had taken over by then.
Cut, holidays, second year! We were separated by two floors and other things had kept us busy and we didn’t get much time to discuss things that were happening in each other’s life over a cup of tea in the night canteen. You were every lab in charge’s darling, as there was no one in class who could equal you in terms of submitting records on time after religiously copying them down from scarily long, totally incomprehensible notes. Inspite of repetitive warnings from you about a possible failure in the labs, I stuck on to my pudungi stance that I don’t see a point in chumma copying down stuff from a random notebook. And subsequently and fittingly, I failed in both the labs! REASON: I didn’t submit my records! Thanks for all the hardwork you put in as my lab partner in my absence, as I lazed around discussing about a movie I had seen the night before, mostly with Prahalad!
Cut, holidays, third year. By then, the logic behind you passing in all subjects without an arrear was beyond me! Though you were punctual and worked hard before the exams, I have always felt that you deserved to fail in any of the subjects. In my third year of college, I was spending most of my time in the company of you and your room mates. It was as if I had travelled back in time to the first year of college. Siddarth and Adarsh were missing though. Vijayanand, Arun and you had purchased laptops by then and I busied myself by playing ASHES 09 as you guys slogged it out before the periodicals. We were back to our vettiest best, discussing about pokemon, girls and college. Kulla thev***** had joined us by then and this led to the orchestration of eternally pointless discussions in the last bench of the volleyball court near the hostel. I committed a blunder when I posted a shirtless picture of yours on facebook. You got really angry and that was when I realised that you weren’t as sportive as I expected you to be. You had an emotional side and there was an iota of shyness still persistent. I didn’t let go after that incident though. I posted an image that featured you holding a knockout beer bottle, as if you were advertising the product. Thanks to the presence of your brother and cousins on Facebook, your teetotaller image back home took a serious beating. And I don’t want to apologise for that. I am proud of myself: evil laughter: P Saavu da Pun**
In the fourth year of our association, I am able to witness a significant level of maturity in you: the enthusiasm you displayed when L&T came to our campus to recruit students said it all. You suddenly seem to have let trivial things like vocabulary, aptitude and technical competencies bother you. The innocent, shy bun who struggled to string a few English words together to help a sentence make sense has given way to a new, enhanced Bun 2.0! We have also been lucky and gifted enough to have the one and only Steve koshy Mathew near our room. Ellam seri, but i am yet to understand why you wanted me to write this! But I tell you what; I will definitely treasure this more than you, when I read this ten years down the lane.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mangaatha review by a Thala "Fan"atic

WHY THALA, WHY? Why the hell did we have to wait for so long? But I tell you what, this film is surely a dedication for all of you that survived and endured the likes of Asal and Aegan, those of you who took the harder route of sticking on faithfully to your favourite star, unlike other fans who walked away at the sight of stars half his height and one-fourth his charisma! As a Thala fan who believes in his star’s ideology of being frank, honest and outspoken, let me make things loud and clear. Mangaatha is definitely not the best movie I have seen: in fact, it’s a very average movie that’s slow, occasionally immature and has a leading lady at her irritating best. Then why is it being celebrated and wowed over and over again by fans and critics alike. One word: THALA!

This film is nowhere close to the likes of Saroja and Chennai28 in terms of quality and I’m sure Venky knows that. But Venky is a smart cookie who plays his cards intelligently: that’s precisely why he made Mangaatha! He has made a lot of compromises, it’s a genre which is not within his comfort zone at the moment, but then he has built up his game around his trump card: a calculated compromise which has eventually won the game for him, comprehensively at that. Unlike his other ventures, Venky has got himself to accommodate unwarranted duet numbers and romantic speed breakers into the plot, possibly to woo his leading lady (a saleable, popular star herself) into the ensemble. This is probably Venky’s biggest blunder as he should have realised at some point that he doesn’t need backup stars when the king of screen presence, who can literally walk his way through a movie and yet make it a success, is in attendance!

Mangaatha is bound to be a resounding success because its maker has effectively used the hype, the symbolism and the euphoria surrounding the movie in an innovative manner. It’s a sensational celebration, a coronation of a king’s attitude; a king who doesn’t mind calling himself one, without a hint of worry about the responsibilities that are attached to it. He doesn’t flaunt a six-pack, he doesn’t have one in the first place, he sees no point in blowing up one’s biceps to the size of balloons, he doesn’t dye or colour his hair, he doesn’t speak dialogues oozing male chauvinism and resorts to mouthing expletives if and when he gets a chance instead; he drinks, smokes and sleeps around. He is not a champion of the poor and he doesn’t hug the heroine in the climax as he dumps her earlier as soon as his job is done; instead, he hugs a bit**, shoots her and says something that would have made her repent her entire life for that one moment before she dies as cheap fans like me got up and roared. The director has intelligently gone in for a close up shot fully aware of the fact that those two precious words were going to be censored! Thala is bad, dangerous and menacing; most importantly, he remains that way till the credits roll. He doesn’t reform and head towards the Himalayas after speaking dialogues laden with ambiguity and hope. Full marks to Venky for the beautiful, consistent characterization.

Venky comes up with a mixed bag this time: he has erred quite frequently, his immaturity and inexperience showing up here and there. The film deserves some merciless scissoring and the film’s length would put the Mahabaratha to shame. Venky has this tendency to overdo certain things: the shot before the climax where Thala looks right into the camera lens in a staggering close-up with a sinister smile on his face is a tad too long. It makes us feel a little uneasy: the uneasiness of sitting in an interview and thinking for an answer as four stern-faced people stare at you, waiting. The scene where Thala makes Trisha understand that she has been conned, without any dialogues but with a single action very much in tune with the attitude of Vinayak Mahadevan is simply brilliant! But why the hell did he have to follow it up with a “soga paatu” in which Trisha sheds plastic tears, especially when Trisha’s foray in the film ends with that song? How many times do we hear Thala say “money, money, money” and “I’m impressed”? The scene before the climax where Thala charts out his plan with a chessboard is gimmicky and unwarranted, but it definitely serves his purpose: putting “Thala” at the centre of everything and giving him a chance to exhibit his inherent exuberance and an exhibition of the exorbitance of lazy elegance that he’s famous for! Come on. It’s a star vehicle, stop looking for logic and meaning or relevance in every scene. The same holds for the very first scene.

Most of the songs are horrible and are a pain to watch onscreen. But Vilayadu Mangaatha was brilliant and Thala looked awesome! Machi open the bottle is peppy and offers us a pleasant treat: THALA DANCE! @Thala: graphics thaaney? :D The background music is apt and beautifully enhances the feel. And the grand trumpeting to signal the arrival of Thala in his fiftieth Avatar: WHAT AN IDEA YUVANJI!

The rest of the cast don’t have much to do but Arjun does impress with an extended cameo. Mangaatha is a gamble that has been materialised with two big gambles in mind, two sacrifices done in the hope of achieving a bigger bounty: Ajith at the expense of Venkatprabu and the box-office result at the expense of the film’s quality. Fair deal, I should say! GAME WON! Make way for the king and for the first blockbuster of the year. Ajith fans, enjoy youselves and Venkatprabu fans, you guys have some waiting to do! And the others, it’s definitely worth a watch!

                                                            MANGAATHA DA!





Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Anna and Hazaar problems


Coimbatore, a city that’s quite different from Chennai, my hometown is apparently destined to witness a student upsurge in a bid to join Anna Hazare and a dozen other talking heads on TV in their fight against corruption. I am yet to reach a consensus characterised by clarity on this issue; I am still oblivious and confused about a lot of things in pertinence to the whole saga. I have been a silent spectator of the thousands of debates that have been happening on Facebook.
The members of the civil society themselves seem to have different stances on the nature of Lokpal that should make the final cut. The opposition, as usual is busy uniting the “majority” on the issue with secessionist forces working overtime to paint the town orange. The ruling party meanwhile is craving for the support of the minorities urging them to call the movement undemocratic. The Netas meanwhile have been equivocating and contributing to the rich, old tradition of the Congress by spouting nonsense 24*7. The media is hyperactive as ever, discovering and rediscovering various angles to the protests, inventing or even creating a few occasionally. The “experts” have been quite cynical and haven’t minced words by calling it an undemocratic movement. The general public, on the other hand, are at their garrulous best: clich├ęs are omnipresent. Some call it India’s second war of independence, some are equating Anna to Gandhi or JP, and some are associating the scenario with the ones in Tunisia and Egypt. Some people sincerely believe that the inception of the Lokpal is gonna bring about a radical change and that its members possess magic wands that are likely to completely wipe out corruption. Few people understand that Anna Hazare is Anna Hazare and not Harry Potter!
I personally feel that it’s plain absurd to call it India’s second war of independence and refer to Anna as the contemporary version of Gandhi simply because the ground rules are different. Back then, we were fighting an alien imperialist force that was dictating terms and hell bent on keeping us on a lower plane; the convenience of an established system of representative governance was not available at our disposal. With a democracy in place, there is no need for us to take up an aggressive anti-establishment stance; atleast for the enlightened middle class that knows nothing about the struggles of the oppressed that are fighting a charged up capitalist class. There is no term in English to describe or abuse the comparisons of this movement to the ones in Egypt and Libya. It’s a blatant insult that’s been designed to hurt and abuse the concept of logical thinking and rationalism.
The biggest joke, however, is the belief system that the mere passing of the bill will lead to the eradication of corruption. I have my own reservations and queries about the constituent members of the Lokpal:
1.       How can we afford to select the members purely on the basis of faith and past records? What’s the guarantee that power won’t corrupt the committee after the bill is legitimised?
2.       Isn’t there a high probability that certain communities may remain unrepresented in the Lokpal and hence, feel insecure? When I talk about communities, there are infinite grounds of classification to complicate things.  Classification can be based on geographical, religious, casteist, political and ideological basis.
3.       How can there possibly be a proper system of selection wherein a team that satiates most of the people, other than a plebiscite? And in case a plebiscite is arrived upon as the method of selection, how can we even dream of a team devoid of political leanings?

I also feel that it’s unfair to bring the PM under the ambit of the Lokpal. Any minor reference or a trivial allegation by the Lokpal against the PM may initiate a nationwide upheaval which in turn will initiate a domino effect on the opposition and the media. So the PM will be forced to put all his responsibilities including that as the leader of the ministry on hold; nationwide calls for his resignation will become inevitable and a person of supreme national importance will be reduced to a position of helpless self-defence.

Calling it a totally undemocratic movement is an argument that doesn’t hold water though. 65 years post-independence, we are still being ruled by the same family that took over the reins as soon as the clock struck twelve on the 15th of August 1947 though they have been far from efficient in terms of alleviation of the various problems that plague the country. It says a lot of things: about the lack of options (a proper opposition that is), about the high-handedness and oppressive tendency of the ruling party (though that’s an issue that’s definitely not beyond debate) and the general tendency of the Indian public to constantly ignore the power of democracy and the serious issues that result when one chooses to neglect the duties of a citizen of a democratic regime. So the whole concept of democracy and its functionality in a country known for its diversities needs a re-think. I think we need to be quite liberal about its definition. The people have taken to the streets to fight corruption today simply because the popular definition of democracy seems to have failed them. Since the outcry against corruption is unanimous, peaceful and doesn’t marginalise anyone at the moment, I think it’s ok to take the liberty to call it a neo-democratic movement that places people’s views at the forefront. But the point is, if and when we dedicate one-tenth of the time and effort we have put in to make this movement a resounding success to our democratic duty, won’t the world be a much better place to live in? Do Anna and gang have the guts to take it to the next level and educate people about their responsibilities as citizens of a democracy? Do they have it in them to contest the next general elections and win it on the basis of good faith? Will the ever hypocritical middle class keep their casteist, religious preferences aside and vote for them?

Another critical point put forth by cynics with respect to middle class hypocrisy and media preferences is the constant snubbing of fasts orchestrated by Medha Patkar, Irom Sharmila and others for significant causes that demand attention. I think it’s not reasonable to expect the middle class to join the struggle against a cause that they can hardly relate to. On the hindsight, the media should take the blame for not sensationalising non-glamorous issues.  At the end of the day, I think nothing’s gonna change unless we evolve from species longing for spicy news on the arrest of a high profile minister to responsible citizens willing to contribute whole heartedly to the functioning of the democracy.


Friday, August 19, 2011

I MARCH ON

I generally abstain myself from writing personal posts because I feel no one but me will be able to relate to it. But then, a thought that struck me as I was busy attending nature's call at midnight today. One unassuming look from the third floor balcony of the hostel in which I reside was the reason behind that thought. I discovered that people are always interested in what's happening in others' life than their own. So much so that, their own actions tend to be moulded by the proceedings in the environment. Before I get a little more philosophical and hence, a little more boring, I'd like to issue a statutory warning. This isn't a post about one particular incident, this is just a random assimilation of thoughts, a collection of observations that have been wrecking havoc in my already incapacitated mind (not that I mind ,or care to repair!) And yeah, this isn't about Anna Hazare and his gang either. You're currently reading the mind of a person who is trying hard not to take things seriously and live the same on his own terms. If you are yawning already , fu** off: it's my blog and I have the right to be as authoritative and boring as my ex-girlfriend!
This is the last year of UG college life for me: the second most thought about topic ever since I set foot on this cursed piece of land. First thing, is my convocation day of course: the day they'll shove a worthless piece of paper up my a** and tell me to get the fu** out. I used to speculate a lot about how people would behave when the time to say bye-bye draws closer and closer, I used to gleefully think about it as the year when "equality and fraternity" and a world devoid of discrimination would finally materialize as nerds and free birds (like me) would unanimously hit the cricket ground with the sole ambition of having fun and leaving the field with a beaming smile in tact. I thought of it as a year free of responsibilities (it's always been like that for me though I have hated most things about my college life) for all my classmates. But as usual, my predictions turned out to be wrong.
Projects, placements, GRE, GATE, CAT, IELTS, TOEFL, passports, Visas and the list is long. Suddenly my lame a** friends who were not sure if density is the ratio of mass to volume or volume to mass are busy discussing about the prospects of getting placed in a core company, improving their vocabulary and aptitude. The guys who used to drag me to the ground to play are now busy with their projects. My friends who used to quibble loudly alongside me as we took a walk around the campus sipping a cup of coffee after dinner have chosen to restrain themselves to the four walls of their rooms and rejoice deep within at the prospect of having mugged up another word from the never ending Barron's word list. All of a sudden, the world has become a lonely place. Back home, my best friend is going to the UK in pursuit of bluer skies and another is planning to do his MBA  for reasons best known to himself and the almighty!
One emotion unanimously runs through the spine of every single person that is left with no other choice but to eat the sub-standard food that's being served at our place of residence: fear! The fear of things to come; the fear of the possibility of a neighbour knowing an extra word in the word list because you sleep for five minutes more than him; the fear of a company rejecting you, because there are ONLY 23 more core companies waiting to recruit you on campus and much more off it. The fear that has managed to confine my buddies to the company of the four walls that surround them has made me explore the hostel premises like a nomad, in search of a like-minded liberated soul that'd accompany me for a cup of coffee and a debate that comes with it.
Since I have not had much to do, I have been doing things I am usually sceptical about. Cleaning my room for example. The whole hostel came to a standstill as they didn't want to miss the opportunity of getting to watch a once in a lifetime event. After a few wide-eyed moments, the fiery-eyed monsters buried their heads into Barrons' as usual. And I sighed as usual.
If there's something more depressing than the placements, it's the dull faces and the complaint boxes that one gets to encounter after the knowledge that they haven't made the cut dawns upon the unprivileged! The level of pessimism that fills people's blood can reach dizzy heights, with medical consequences occasionally. I had the privilege of noticing two boys known for their jealousy whose faces had turned blue due to the changes in concentration of the blood elements, which in turn can be attributed to the overdose of pessimism. One boy wanted to file a police complaint against another because he suspects the latter of having frisked away a lucky pen of his deliberately, one that has brought him tremendous luck in his exams. A pessimistic dumbo who has failed in his interview is the worst person you could wish to meet. It's possible to listen to a drunk chauvinist complaining about his girlfriend's infidelity but it's impossible to listen to an industry discard.
When I talk about all this to my fellow friends, they accuse me of being incredibly carefree. Besides, they accuse god of blessing me with such an attitude and a life full of luck and totally devoid of disappointments while all that they have received is a mouth that's always ready to complain and a mind that's depressed by default! I have just one thing to tell them all. Yesterday, I faced the biggest disappointment of my life. I was dropped from my college cricket squad, the only thing I have been serious about after coming to college. It may sound trivial to the big men who are ready to lock horns with the vagaries of life. But for a person like me who still cherishes the good old ways of fun, for a person to whom the big things in life are not so big and the small streaks of happiness are the only ones that matter, whose belief system works on a minuscule span, it was quite a big blow! Still, I believe that I'll walk to the ground everyday to get my daily bit of practice, with my chin up. I am quite sure that an insignificant event like an exclusion from a college squad is not gonna hurt my love for the game which is obviously eternal. I am the same boisterous, exceedingly frank, eccentric, fun loving guy who enjoys attention and making fun of others.
I have my own plans for the future and I am quite optimistic and open about life as usual. I have been speculating about my own life, past failures in that dominion haven't stopped me from moving forth. I maybe wrong as usual and end up being the biggest failure that humanity has ever seen; but I am sure about one thing: nothing's gonna change my attitude. I am pretty sure that if and when a classmate of mine spots me sipping tea in a roadside shop ten years down the line, he'll see me doing it with the same degree of fervour with which I am doing it right now, not to forget a few friends alongside and a delicious debate for mutual company. I have learnt only one lesson in life: there's nothing bigger than momentary happiness and there is absolutely no point slogging temporarily in pursuit of greener pastures down the lane. Different things appear big at different junctures. My tenth and twelfth board exams were dubbed as events of astronomical significance, but now I know that they hardly matter. My dear friends sitting for placements and those taking the 3,4 or 5 capital lettered examinations, this moment will pass and you'll end up somewhere, irrespective of your choices and input. So cut the crap and join me. Lets hit the ground!


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Veppam review

Give Mahinda Rajapakshe a camera and tell him to make a documentary on world peace, let Ranbir Kapoor make a movie on manliness, ask Ilayathalapathy Vijay to make a video on the art of acting or challenge A Raja to make a film on the evils of corruption. If any of the four quoted instances happen anytime in the future, you may react the way you are likely to react after seeing Veppam.

You’d normally expect a director, especially a female, who has graduated from the Gautam Menon School of cinema, to make a stylish romantic flick complete with an overdose of English dialogues. But maybe Anjana Ali Khan wanted us to appreciate her daredevilry. Maybe she wanted us to acknowledge the fact that she has the potential to break stereotypes and to explore new domains seldom associated with female directors. Unfortunately for her, she has got her most important calculation wrong: had she apprenticed under the likes of Selvaraghavan or RGV, who have made films with similar characters that are scarily close to ones that we may get to witness in real life, Veppam could have been a noteworthy product. A question mark looms large over that possibility too, because the storyline is as stale as my canteen food and the “twist” in the movie is a disgrace to the word itself. A 5 year old kid who was sitting beside me in the theatre was narrating the overtly obvious second half to his dad who was listening with rapt attention! A forecast of things to come by a 5 year old is not such a crime in a Romantic flick, but for a whodunit script that wants to call itself a suspense thriller, it’s an offence that warrants capital punishment.

Veppam could have been the “Ok, watchable” kinda movie in spite of its hollow storyline if only a little more attention had been paid to the screenplay, the narrative. All characters in the movie are uncivilized people who hail from North Madras possibly, where education is as abundant as common sense among Justin Bieber fans. Ten minutes into the movie, it’s exceedingly apparent that the characters have been sketched by a Peter(Madras Basha word for an upper middle class person who finds it difficult to communicate in Tamil due to his/her familiarity with English) or by a person who has been trained or taught to think like one. So every time one of those Basin bridge characters speaks in Madras Basha, you find it hilarious because you can’t help thinking that they have been written in English and then translated. Veppam has one of the most ridiculous set of dialogues I have come across in the recent past.  Horrible!

To Veppam’s credit, it has a good looking protagonist (Nani) and an apt second fiddle (Nani’s elder bro in the movie) who have come up with good performances. Karthik and Nithya Menen are seen in extended guest roles as usual. It’s commendable on Karthik’s part to have accepted this kind of a role with so little scope, possibly to shed his “American Mappilai” tag but I think it’s going to take more of such efforts to convince us that he can be something else on screen.  Veppam has extraordinary music but unfortunately, it’s a misfit again. If the songs from Pudhupettai had been replaced by the ones in Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya, this is what it’d have looked like. The instruments used in the songs are the sophisticated ones, the ones that tales of romance yearn for; this kind of a movie calls for a few raw tunes with the spirit of the setting intact: we get the opposite.

But the most hilarious aspect of Veppam is the “ammaji” character. Outrageous casting. The character’s looks, her body language and the outfits that she sports in the movie guarantee her a place in one of those BRU ads where the maami says after a brief coy grin “ithu BRU naa”!

I am not daring enough to conclude that a GVM assistant or any Peter for that matter can’t make a good movie on people involved in shady deals in the dark streets of north Chennai. After all, Vishnu Vardhan surprised me with the chic Pattiyal, one of the best gangster movies I have come across in Tamil. It’s just that a GVM assistant is more likely to be coronated with the crown of success when she attempts a stylish romantic flick or a glossy cop movie where the focus is on characters that speak English most of the time. Anjana may go on to become a good director; this is her first attempt after all. But I presume that she’d boost her chances a tad more if she attempts a genre that she is familiar with. She’s just got to get her heart and mind together. Right now, they are miles apart!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ruminations of a fast bowler

Today(18-7) is Dennis Lillee’s birthday. Dennis Lillee, as avid cricket fans all over the world know, is the one of the deadliest fast bowlers to have seen the face of the earth. Dennis Lillee had everything going for him, his physique especially: a fast bowler’s dream! Tall, muscular, broad shoulders, a beautiful run up and a power-packed delivery stride. He looked like a monster in motion every time he ran in to bowl those formidable bouncers. Who can forget that little encounter against Thala Viv Richards, when he bowled four bouncers on the trot (there weren’t any restrictions on the number of bouncers you could bowl in an over those days) and followed it up with an absolute peach of a delivery that clipped the top of off stump? The best part about the encounter was that Thala Viv was not afraid to play that famous hook shot of his, even though Lillee was at his intimidating best! Thala Viv wasn’t even wearing a helmet, mind you!


I personally admire Lillee for his never-say-die attitude though my knowledge and visual memory of his famous conquests owe their birth and existence to YouTube and classics telecasted on Star Cricket. I also admire him for his sense of style. His moustache and those long locks he used to sport (before they had to give way to the vagaries of ageing viz. balding) Lillee quite fittingly played during the golden era of fast bowling. His stint at the international arena, characterized by grace, speed and power played alongside the very famous and the furiously fast West Indian brigade of Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Andy Roberts.  Not to forget the indomitable Imran Khan, though he wasn’t the fastest in business.
 The West Indian legends and Lillee gave way to the next generation of street smart quickies who were not all about pace and power. They had their core competencies in tact and also knew the art of standing up to a new generation of batsmen who were armed with helmets, high quality protection gear and brilliant bats. Shorter boundaries, fielding restrictions, restrictions on a supposedly “negative” line, restrictions on the number of bouncers that could be bowled in an over etc. placed serious limitations on the options available at the bowlers’ disposal. With the fielding restrictions in place, a delicate touch down to third man was all that was necessary to increment the score by four runs. These batsmen, on the other hand, weren’t afraid to shuffle across the line and play the leg glance or flick the ball through square leg or mid-wicket in spite of running a high risk of getting out LBW. Barriers were broken; 250 wasn’t considered a safe target anymore.
The changes in the game, mostly due to the Kerry Packer revolution definitely gave the batsmen an upper hand. It presented the bowlers with a heap of challenges. The new crop of quickies did live up to the challenges. Three fast bowlers from that era stood out. White lightning, Allan Donald, Wasim Akram, the Sultan of swing and the gentle giant, Curtly Ambrose. These three were distinct in their own way but then they carried forward the rich legacy of troubling batsmen with serious pace. They were the legal heirs of the tradition of bouncing batsmen out. Then, there were Glenn Mcgrath and Shaun Pollock, authorities of accuracy. They started the tradition of effective medium pace combined with deadly accuracy. Flashes of brilliance were on offer from the likes of Waqar Younis, famous for his toe-crushers and Courtney Walsh. This, according to me, was the last generation of pure and genuine breed of fast bowlers.

After that, we’ve had Brett Lee, Shoaib Akthar, Shane Bond, Lasith Malinga, Dale Steyn etc. but the fatal and the ferocious bouncers that were delivered with the sole aim of crashing into the human skull, toe crushers that yearned for blood and were intended to break the heels are now missing. The fire, the passion and the power that one usually associates with fast bowling is long gone. Yes Malinga knocks a slightly distracted batsman off his feet in a jiffy, but how enchanting a sight is it? The way he does it, his action, well, I’m unimpressed. You have to be a fan of the 90s brand of cricket, those low scoring encounters, the epic chases in Sharjah to see what I mean. Yes, Dale Steyn and Brett Lee bowl those leapers that brush the batsman’s chest on the way to the keeper but then it’s no where close to the ones that Allan Donald used to bowl. Where are the bodyline-type fast bowlers, the bloodthirsty ones who licked their lips on the way back to their mark, the vampires who considered the sight of blood dripping down a batsman’s forehead to be unmatched and the greatest in the world?

Look at what we have come down to, in terms of swing bowling! We have been relegated to such a level wherein we are forced to refer to Jimmy Anderson and Simon Jones as the modern day exponents of conventional and reverse swing respectively. What a disgrace, what a fall from the good old days of Wasim Akram and Imran Khan!?! The fact that Munaf Patel features in a playing eleven as a fast bowler is itself an ignominious retreat for the art of fast bowling! The cricketing world needs to reconsider bringing back a few rules:  lifting the restriction on the number of bouncers that could be bowled in an over in tests will definitely be a step in the positive direction. The BCCI may object, considering the inability of their batsmen to counter short pitched stuff, but then cricket needs to move forward and an endangered art needs to be rescued and restored to its past glory. The wide rule could be revised. Coaches need to turn back a few pages and revisit the history books of cricket to re-discover and implement the fitness mantras of the legends. The scheduling of matches needs to be looked into; over-kill of cricket is a problem that’s been discussed quite widely in the cricketing circles without productive results.

No one wants to see Tilakaratne Dilshan open the bowling for Sri Lanka in a world cup quarter final ever again. Take us back to the good old times. POWER, PACE AND PASSION, PLEASE!



DEIVA THIRUMAGAL: REVIEW

When Vijay of Madrasapattinam fame set out to make Deiva Thirumagal, I, for one, wasn’t too excited. Vijay could go on to become a film-maker of repute in the future,  but ever since he released the first feelers of this film he’s been busy telling people that “I am not Sam, I’m director Vijay; I have an identity of my own.”

I still remember watching the trailer for the first time during the interval of KO in a theatre. I could hear comments like “Dai over ah nadikaatha da”, “Kudutha kaasuku konjam jaasthiyaave nadikaraaney” from behind. They were basically echoing my feelings on the issue. Vikram is a class act, no doubt, but then every time I see his antics unfurl as the supposed-to-be-gallant-but -devastatingly-funny-Kandasamy, I wonder what happened to the Vikram who amazed us with a relaxed depiction in Dhool. Every time I watch scenes from Bheema, every time Lingusamy frightens me with those close-up shots of the macho man’s overgrown Biceps, I sigh and yearn a tad more to watch the slim and fit Vikram who gave me goose bumps with an effortless performance as an aspiring cop. Every time he goes Mambo-ma-mia with the garish voice of his on isayaruvi or sun-music, I can’t help feeling sorry for another fantastic actor who wants to be a Kamal-like-all-rounder. Kamal is a once in a generation magician gifted with just about everything, why does every frigging actor want to be a Kamal Haasan.

Every Vikram fan out there would definitely agree upon the fact that Pithamagan is the actor’s best performance till date. But I wonder if it’s the best thing that could have happened to the actor: ever since, Vikram seems to be pushing and punishing himself by working too hard for every movie; the casual, laid-back and the totally unfussy portrayals don’t seem to find a place in Vikram’s priority list anymore. Yes he came up with Majaa but we still didn’t witness the Vikram we know, did we? My facebook news-feed is full of posts and comments heaping praises on Chiyaan. But as an uncompromising fan, I have to admit that I’m far from satisfied. You have to watch Pithamagan again to discover the underplay and delightful subtleties that Vikram is capable of. And you have to watch “I am Sam” before you watch DTM to understand the degree of over-acting that has come from totally unexpected quarters.

Vikram owes his success as an actor to the directors he has worked with. Almost obstinate dedication to the roles he has played thus far has helped Vikram reap rewards. He has worked under the likes of Bala and Mani Ratnam, who certainly know how to make use of the best efforts put forth by an actor. He has faced commercial success under the aegis of Dharani and Hari, who certainly don’t belong to the league of Mani or Bala but are masters at mass attraction (that, if you forget their recently-released forgetful ventures). But I feel it’s a gross waste of talent and effort when he works under people like Vijay and Susi Ganesan. It’s as if Vikram wants us to notice his “acting talent” one movie after another. Is there no end to his portrayal of larger-than-life characters?

Coming to Deiva thirumagal, it’s actually Vijay’s (the director) autobiography with a tweak at the end. Vikram has reprised the role of Vijay, a mentally challenged with an IQ of a six year old and Sara, the small child in the movie who has been used a metaphor to symbolize the audience. The child is six years old because Vijay assumes the audience to have an IQ level on par with the child. Nasser plays “Gowravam” Sivaji’s grandson, the way he positions his mouth consciously to indicate his parental lineage is stroke of directorial brilliance I say! 

Vijay has employed various techniques to convey the message that he’s not Sam and that he is indeed director Vijay in disguise as Krishna, with an alarmingly low IQ level. First he ruins the most beautiful scene in “I am Sam” (the purchase of shoes for the kid); the characters sell their souls and manipulate their ideals if and when they feel like (Nasser and Amala Paul’s dad, cases in point. Not to forget Vikram’s change of heart in the climax!). Then there is the totally absurd, disturbingly cheap and crass comedy track featuring MS Bhaskar, his wife and Pandi. The court scene in the climax is an insult to “I am Sam”. What were Vikram and the kid behind those wooden bars in the court doing? And what was I supposed to do as they freely exhibited those circus-type antics? Without much choice and most predictably, I burst out laughing! I am often accused of being an unemotional, unfeeling *astard but this one was too hilarious to resist: only that the humor was unintended!

I wonder what would have happened if not for Santhanam and the two lovely ladies in the movie! The girl in the movie is super-cute and surely does know a thing or two about acting. Amala Paul’s got such an addictive pair of eyes and Anushka can act a bit I guess.( No I’m not talking about Shreya or Genelia) She doesn’t have much to do, but atleast she’s not annoying like the other leading ladies of today. And can someone explain the logic behind that song in the climax (duet?!?!?!) which arbitrarily pops up like an ICICI ad when one’s browsing a popular website? I felt like screaming Aala vidungada yabba!
Karthik Kumar, Tamil cinema’s aasthana American Mapillai has been given a makeover in this movie: he’s not an American Mapillai, but he’s just a Mapillai (cut American) in this flick! But yeah, a dismal fate awaits him as usual. Again, what a waste of talent!

Chiyaan, please! We’ve had enough of such rubbish. Take us back to the days of Dhil and Dhool or stun us with movies like Pithamagan and Sethu. We have enough actors to give such half-baked nonsense. (No, I’m not talking about Vijay (The actor. Hmmm, maybe I should rephrase.) ) And as for Vijay the director, please leave Hollywood classics and classy actors like Vikram alone. You will find actors of similar IQ levels (No I’m not talking about Vijay, the person who jumped like a Dolphin in Sura) in Kollywood.



Sunday, July 10, 2011

STOP TALKING "LIKE" THIS

Blogging is one of my favourite pastimes and like any other engineering student gifted with eons of free time, I also spend a lot of time on the umpteen number of social networking sites that have professionalized the art of joblessness. As I was massaging my ego by letting the cheap pleasure of my status messages, blog posts and pictures getting “liked” by a lot of people get to my head, I was simultaneously pondering over the credibility of the same. Every time I scrolled down to check the news feed from then onwards, every time my eyes rolled over a positive comment, I started questioning the very reason behind the same. The idea of a selfless “like” or a “comment” seemed farcical to me.

The phenomenon of getting “good one” or a “nice piece” comment is more common on blogosphere. The network of bloggers and their relationships have been fabricated in such a way that the idea of individuality can be made to look obscure. For a blog to be noticed, the blogger needs to check out other blogs and comment in a hope that his blog may be looked into. Indian minds or minds world over for that matter, function lazily. So it’s only natural that a person may be tempted to ignore the post, gift the blogger with a “good one” comment or a “like” and get away. The ignorant recipient of the “like” love is thus flattered into checking out the liker’s blog! A smart fellow, on the other hand, may return the liker’s favour by re-liking the post without looking into it!

The phenomenon of laziness is negated by the length of the posts on social networks as the length is directly proportional to the amount of time to be spent on it. But then, there are other significant factors that influence psyches and induce the basic instincts of selfishness to an equal extent, if not more.  Gender discrimination is one (not the kind you get to see on TV though; exact opposite in fact).  

1.       The probability of a post getting “liked” increases if you are a female. It doubles if she is holding a newly born puppy or a teddy bear. It quadruples if the girl is cute.

2.       Boys have their own ways of attracting attention. Sympathy is the best way. Status messages that condole the death of a pet or a long message that elucidates the values of friendship and true love are most likely to get “liked” by girls.

3.       Other boys like the prospect of seeing a girl "liking" a status, so they "like" the same just like that, even though they don’t like it. Because they seem to think that a girl liking them becomes a possibility if and when the girl realizes the boy likes whatever the girl "likes". (Now that makes a good status message)

4.       Tagging is the most effective technique, irrespective of genders. For a post to be liked, all you need to do is tag a friend of yours. Now that friend’s ego gets massaged due to the fact that someone’s considering him/her important enough to be tagged. So he “likes” it.

5.       And then the most obvious and logical factor. The more friends you have, the more you are on the site, greater the possibility of getting attention.

Coming back to blogging, the possibility of a girl getting greater number of hits is higher because she is a girl. But then I’d still say it’s a man’s world. When someone likes a post or gives her a compliment, she can never be sure if that was for the post or her profile picture. Testosterone has always been mankind’s (not womankind: P) biggest problem! The same rule applies to a man too, but again the way the numbers function hits a roadblock of inconsistency here. You may not get noticed for your profile picture unless you’re Hrithik Roshan.
So what does it come down to? It’s a world of attention seeking rascals out there involved in a rat race. Why is it that I always seem to find an overdose of grace and excessive humility on social networking platforms? What happens to the “otha” prefixes and the “mairu” suffixes on FB? Why is it that I always find the Peter equivalents, even when the rest of the conversation is in vernacular? Why do we always have our best pictures as our DPs? I have never found a DP featuring oneself after getting a bad haircut done, though bad haircuts are quite frequent: not many talented hairdressers out there you see.
Negative commenting is an unknown phenomenon in the social networks. No one wants to call a spade a spade. Seldom does one feel the need to spit at a bad picture, seldom does one feel the need to condemn a shameless exhibition of private grief in public in order to evoke sympathy. Seldom does one feel the need to criticize a shoddy piece of work.
 Ignorance is the most popular form of response; every person is a Buddha at heart, as charming as the latest Bollywood sensation, as intellectual as Amartya Sen and as altruistic as Santa Claus. But conditions apply: only on facebook, orkut, twitter, buzz, G+ blah blah.

P.S: PLEASE LIKE THIS POST AND SHARE IT IF YOU LIKE IT. COMMENTS WELCOME! :P 

P.P.S: WHO DOESN’T LIKE ATTENTION? LET’S “LIKE” INERTIA AND STOP COMMENTING ON THE IMPERFECT WORLD. GIVE SELFISHNESS A THUMBS UP, +1 SYCOPHANCY!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

500 DAYS OF SUMMER: THE EXPERIENCE



Ya so what’s he like?
He is, uh, yeah, he is good. He is confident, unemotional, smart, happy-go-lucky, laconic, considerate and open, mildly aggressive or energetic or whatever, you know. He has very strong notions and he is kinda religious about them.

And she?
 She, yes, yup let me see. She is emotional, the kind that wets its eyes after a touching movie. Her parents split quite early, so she has these ideas about marriage and relationships. She’s hot, talks a lot of nonsense, immature, does inexplicable and cheesy stuff occasionally, socializes at will, laughs a lot, popular. A verbose occasionally.

So what happened when he and she got together?
That’s 500 days of summer for you. And the following blog post is an account of the same seen through a pair of eyes that have gotten wiser with the experience of witnessing similar characters behaving in a similar way.
He and she get together for a casual experiment, an easy extrusion that stretches the boundaries of friendship a little farther: that’s how she describes it. He calls it a relationship, names it love, it’s magical, and he knew that she was the one as soon as he saw her.

500 days of summer is a story that unravels the process of he becoming she and she becoming he with time, 500 days to be precise. The story that unfurls the mystery of gender-definition exchange, the female acquiring the male character traits and the male mastering the art of thinking like a woman when in love. (No, I’m not discussing trans-sexuality here; discussion entirely restricted to an emotional level)
So Joseph Garden Levitt (Tom Hansen) plays the heroine and Zooey Deschanel (Summer Finn) is our hero in this love story directed by Marc Webb. This beautiful evolution of characters as they fall in love or so it seems is wonderfully elucidated by a subtle exchange of words: the leads describe a certain couple (Sid-Nancy) whose relationship had come to a futile end when Sid stabbed Nancy. Summer says she feels that their co-existence reminds her of Sid-Nancy and their relationship. Tom says they have had a few arguments but he hardly feels like Sid and that he’s very happy. Summer’s reply, “NO, I’m Sid.”
500 days of summer is a wonderful exhibition of characters that look unnaturally real. The Boss who keeps smiling, the smile is almost omnipresent, even when he is addressing someone with utmost seriousness. The friends, with almost pre-historic views on love, antique enough to deserve a special place in a museum, enlightening the protagonist about the way forward. One can’t help thinking that these friends are the drawing room versions of bosses at offices. They’re criminally optimistic, punctuate their words with a pointless smile and are seldom up to any good, constantly feeding people with hope to keep themselves entertained.
The director makes a successful knock on the typical man’s mind and gleefully exposes the way it functions when in love, much to our occasional delight and the rare embarrassment too, at having once embraced the stereotypes exposed. Men possess this constant hunger to impress their love. They play a song loudly, just to see if the girl turns back to take notice and say hi.There is also this delusion of being an intellectual, of reading into a supposedly cryptic incident, of attaching cosmic significance to a seemingly symbolic happening, that’s never anything more than plain coincidence. When she sports an indifferent expression, he assumes that she’s bored: feels that it’s time for a movie when it’s not. When she indicates that she’s tired and wants to go home, he reads too much into it, thinking that she’s bored and that it’s his duty to keep her entertained. The result, they end up eating pancakes in the nearby hotel. A casual remark becomes his gospel; a satirical comment assumes the dimension of a colossal criticism. Then there’s the childhood fantasy, the fairy tales, the sad pop and the movies. Just because the lift bell goes gong before the door closes, which also happens to occur after a hot girl passes a positive remark on his taste of music and leaves, he assumes that she is the one. That’s how it is, you know. When you see the one, when she talks, bells and chimes make merry with sound, the weather is pleasant and the sun says hi. These are results of the intertwining of the girl’s mind and the man’s heart.

 One usually associates confidence, loquacity and opening up with men and shyness, confusion with women. But it works the other way when in love. The girl is casual, effortlessly walks up to kiss his man. She strikes a conversation about her relationship with him and inquires about his feelings for her without any fuss. But the guy is often confused, he doesn’t know if he has to ask her out or if he has to play the waiting game. She’s on his bed and he seeks reassurance and comfort interacting with his mirror image, a metaphor for chaos and duality. He’s not sure about her stance, about their relationship status. He keeps telling himself that it is a juvenile thing to label it and bring it down to a term like “boyfriend” but deep inside, he knows that he’d be much comfortable if it were that way.

Then there are the fun moments with the friends. The typical tendency of men to brand girls as bitc**s just because they weren’t able to talk to her or she refused to entertain talks with them or simply because she was hot (sour grapes), the friends asking about the guy’s extent of progress on the sexual ladders (the jobs, that is) and the guy simply replying that they just kissed and he’s still unemployed (read: no jobs yet). The way men interact is really funny. I just realized that it’s almost impossible for us (men) to strike a casual conversation about a good-looking female without a reference by someone at some point to her being a bitch with a cooked up story to justify the case.

The director also pays homage to the film “The graduate” with a few references to the flick here and there (the final scene of the movie also finds a place in this film). The scene where Summer lies naked on Tom’s bed, with her back facing the camera certainly reminded me of the 1967 hit. Nice way of saluting the film-maker who made the classic, a proto-type for many more romantic films.

Summer, the central character, rules this movie. Her characterization sets up the experience. She is the super-cute female who does what she likes. She’s the normal girl, she talks like a girl, she sings but then the abnormal tendencies suddenly spring up, later in the day when she’s in it with Tom. She comes up with the usual bullsh** that girls assume to be cute but she can be supremely stubborn and mature when it comes to a deep-rooted ideology or something about love, life and relationships. She’s very clear about what she wants right from the beginning and it’s just that Tom doesn’t see it. The character of the other girl in the movie, the little one, is surely the brainchild of a feminist, a tribute to the independent, contemporary, mature woman who can be super smart and talk serious sense when it matters. She speaks about the illusions in the mind of a man in love and the same getting shattered with consummate ease. She is the one he turns to in times of distress, the physical stature and incompatibility notwithstanding. Men are also dubbed as emotional bunnies and idiots when it comes to love, something i can’t agree to disagree with. The scene where Tom’s male colleague over-reacts after Tom completes a monologue is a subtle stroke of genius.

The screenplay bears an uncanny significance to the mind of Tom Hansen, it oscillates back and forth, it confuses and is confused initially only to clarify and settle down at the end. The dialogues are delicate and delightful. And the lyrics of the song that keep playing in the background wonderfully merge with the situation and the music is apposite too. Best scene in the movie? The scene where Tom’s expectations and the reality are depicted simultaneously on screen. The door is gently shut on Tom’s expectations as we get a harsh taste of reality. Poetic and poignant!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Facebook destined to go the Orkut way??

How many of you still remember the terms scrapbook, testimonials, communities, fans etc... It’s been quite a while since all of us of united phlegmatically for the cause of dumping our once best friend online, Orkut, at the prospect of sending a friend request to a more popular, contemporary and spicy contender, Facebook. Suddenly communities and scrapbooks were not cool anymore and we started shifting to the likes of likes, status updates, wall posts, photo and video tags. Another online friend surfaced, his name being Twitter, but he operated on a parallel plane thus leaving Facebook unscathed.
 As facebook functioned normally, as more and more youngsters started getting addicted to it, as more and more parents started complaining and with every passing day, Mark Zuckerberg went laughing all the way to the bank. Just when we thought our relationship with Facebook was going to be eternal, Karma, the bit** infamous for her perpetuity seems to have struck with a vengeance. The monarch of the world wide web, his highness, the most revered Google has pulled  a rabbit out of his famous hat once again and the rabbit’s name is Google plus! Here’s what I got to know about him from the horse’s mouth (Google search, that is):

Circles
 How many times has your mom screamed at you for using the “f” word on Facebook after witnessing the same from her own profile? No one seems to have understood the embarrassment of getting screamed at, at the age of 20, than Google. Circles address this awkward problem presented by Facebook’s friends list by allowing users to categorise followers into groups like friends, family, work colleagues, classmates, neighbours etc. with an easy-to-handle drag and drop button.

Chat, photos and Hangouts
 The multimedia on Google+ is a super-power package: it’s complete with sharing, tagging and editing options with personalization, privacy and security options reaching new highs. Hangouts seem to be the most attractive feature: it’s like a group discussion about weekend plans with your group of friends in the neighbourhood at a local hangout spot! It’s functioning is simple: hangout, thus enter a VIDEO (a social networking first!) chat room which automatically sends out messages to your circles and the relevant people join in! All heads turn towards an addressee when he/she’s addressing. So instead of opening separate windows for each participant, the focus is always on the person who’s talking!

Sparks
 Bloggers and content sharers better start licking their lips right away. Sparks is a collection of content (includes multimedia and articles) grouped by interest.  So it will help like minded people to get access to reputed and relevant content in addition to socializing with the people who share the same. The probability of increased circulation increases with clicks on the +1 button: Google’s equivalent of like button!

Mobile
 Google has also devised a technology for all you couch potatoes that love taking photos but are lazy to share it on networks. With Google+, all you need to do is take a photo or shoot a video and it automatically finds a rightful place in your profile. Users of Android are likely to be the first beneficiaries of Google+!

Facebook is not likely to give up tamely without a fight. It recently acquired the mobile app Snaptu and is likely to strike a deal with Skype to address the “hangout” scare. Google on the other hand are eager to break the social network jinx and strike gold. They seem to be desperate to put the demons of Google buzz and wave behind them. Facebook’s financial might is formidable and the battle is surely going to be a very interesting one. Will Google succeed? Will history repeat itself? Do you think our attachment with Facebook will stop us from dumping it? We have to wait a little more for the answers. Before I sign off, I request you to share this post on Google+ sparks if you liked it. Oh wait, I almost forgot: share it on Facebook too! 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pillayar Theru Kadaisi Veedu: Review

 “There are movies that you’ll forget the moment you step out of the movie hall. There are movies that you’ll forget after two-three hours or two-three days. But there are a few movies that’ll make you forget yourself. Pillayar theru Kadaisi Veedu is one such movie. You’ll leave the cinema hall with a heavy heart and tears in your eyes. Jithan Ramesh has come up with an award winning performance. This movie will be his big ticket to fame.”

Golden words by director Thirumalai Kishore, the new face of Tamil cinema.

And what are you guys searching for? A review? I have promised my mom that I will enforce a blanket ban on profanity and unparliamentary or abusive language.

CHOICE IS A BEAUTIFUL THING. THE CHOICE IS YOURS:


 OR
 I'M DONE

Monday, June 27, 2011

The 10 “Oh my god” moments

I have always been a big fan of the small things in life. The big things don’t appeal to me: the big things that dad talks to me about. Career, academics, money, settling in life and the like. He often says “Don’t sacrifice the bigger things in life in pursuit of the smaller things”. The smaller things are street cricket, watching a D/N encounter on the day before the exam blah blah. These small things add a lot of colour to one’s life but there are “other” seemingly small things that irritate a person to the hilt. Things that make one go “oh my god, not again”.

1.       You get into a nice comfortable position on the sofa and start watching an epic encounter unfold between two of your favourite teams as your dad joins you and starts a conversation about the “big” things in life.

2.       You go to a marriage ceremony hoping not to run into a specific group of garrulous old ladies and it turns out that they are the first ones that you get to see as soon as you enter the hall. They start talking about how much you have lost weight and looked much healthier the last time they saw you. ( Ennada kanna, ippadi elashta? Hostel la sappadu nalla illaya? Konjam osanthurka polarkey?)

3.       I haven’t personally experienced the following OMG moment (because I’m not old enough just as yet) but I have heard about it from a lot of people. The amazingly vetti, good-for-nothing chatterboxes (mostly a gang of old ladies who keep complaining about a certain Ranganathan who married out of caste) that turn up for every single marriage that happens in town are the culprits again. The moment they spot a guy or girl of “marriageable” age, they waste no time in telling them that “Next nee than (you are up next)” in front of a group of teenagers lazing around with nothing to do.

4.       As the jobless teens burst out laughing and as you twitch and turn in embarrassment, the unforgiving descendants of Satan come up with another killer comment: “Aiyyo, vekkatha paaru (Ah, look at the shy look on his/her face)” The day these loquacious pests learn that it’s an expression of embarrassment and not shyness, the world would come to an end. But I came across this beautiful sms the other day, the perfect counter for all those evil ladies: just repeat the “next nee than” dialogue to them at funerals. That should shut them up once and for all.

5.       You visit a hotel with a bunch of middle-aged relatives. After a sumptuous banquet, you exorbitantly praise the hotel and the cook. The Maama(uncle) sitting right across your table says, “Enna irunthaalum veetu saapadu pola varaathu (nothing can come close to home-made food any day)”.

6.       You travel with your grandfather on a boring afternoon and plug in your earphones to listen to A.R.R’s latest. As you get mesmerised by the lilting music, your lips accidently start muttering the song. Your grandpa suddenly gets up and says “enna irunthaalum MSV, Bhagavathar paatu mathiri varathu (no musician can ever come close to MSV or Bhagavathar)”

7.       You go to a movie with your girl-friend and specifically ask for the corner seat at the counter. Just for the sake of re-assurance, you get it clarified with the guy at the counter three or four times. The saintly person on the other end gives you a warm smile and the tickets. As you enter the theatre, you find the allotted seats to be right at the centre of the hall, with a group of college boys hooting and whistling around the allotted seats.

8.       You head to Sathyam cinemas to watch your favourite movie on the first day after telling your parents that you want to get some doubts in heat and mass transfer clarified from your friend, only to find your uncle at the theatre. He coolly calls up your dad and tells him “Hey guess what, I’m watching my favourite film with your son.”

9.       You prepare for your exams according to the blueprint prescribed by your teacher and wisely omit a certain portion owing to lack of time. The sly guy comes up with a question paper with majority of the marks allotted to the portion that you omitted.

10.   You sing praises of the almighty for finding yourself opposite to a lovely lass in a reserved compartment. Just as you start Peter uttufying and kadala pottufying, a long lost friend turns up from nowhere and asks for a seat exchange with the girl.