Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Musical Doldrums:

MP3 and VCDs

Here is an small extract of what I wrote for Dhwanii's Rumbumbum column, which is yet to be publuished.

As you walk through the shops of any foreign goods bazaar, you could see music CDs from Illayaraja to AR Rahman costing just 50 bucks each. Imagine if you were a prudent buyer what would you prefer. Would you buy the 125 Rs. music CD which contains just music of a single movie or a latest MP3 CD which contains the latest 150 songs from 20 movies for just 50 bucks. Due to this music industry is in doldrums and it needs to be revamped.

Things have changed now, I don't even have to go to a foreign bazaar, they are selling brand new MP3 and Video Cds on the roads sitting next to my vegetable vendor. As you get see, Rahmans and Illayarajas are sold like half-a-kilo potatoes. I clicked this pic on sunday as my friend was picking up Best of Illayaraja CD. Pity the Music Industry !!

Monday, July 28, 2003

Kadhal Konden Review :

Why should you sympathize a psycho and why should there be an inter-college festival in udhayam theatre for that. The reason is pretty simple. To watch Kadhal konden in theatre is a complete visual experience. Other than the visual experiences of tank-topped college babes in the theatre, the movie itself is filled with powerful scenes and dialogues that rocks your emotions as easily as a child's play. On Saturday, Udhayam theatre was filled with boys and girls like a inter-college festival or rather I thought it was one.

Kadhal Konden
Dhanush, the protagonist with his unassuming looks creates waves in you. As you see him making those clandestine dance movements while kicking his competitor-in-love during the finals scenes of Kadhal konden, you would be sure that image has nothing to do with heroism. This new kid on the block was the same guy, I dismissed at first looks as someone who would have bribed money to find his way through the first movie Thulluvatho Illamai. And today as he celebrates his birthday (maybe just 17th or 18th), Tamil dailies are filled up with half-a-page ads for the four of his new upcoming movies. As we start to know more about him those assumptions are ruled out. Kadhal konden is directed by Selvaraghavan who is Dhanush's elder brother. He is the same guy who directed Dhanush's first movie Thulluvatho Illamai, the only silver jubilee film of the year 2002.

A number of factors make Kadhal konden an interesting watch. First the story which is clearly told without any confusions by the director. Second, the contrasting screenplays in the first and the second half of the movie. Third Yuvan Shankar Raja's awesome BGMs and super hit songs. The final and the most important reason , Arvind Krishna, the cinematographer who has reached heights in this movie with this natural lighting and grading techniques.

Selvaraghavan's screenplay does amazing wonders as he changes the path of the story from a simple college romance to an amazing pschyo thriller. And his clarity of thought which has made to build characters that stand in your heart throughout the movie. I jumped out of the seat to whistle as I saw Dhanush, making those amazing beautiful dance movements during the climax. It is one of the best thought about shot in the movie and that scene will stay in the hearts of the film-lovers until it is replaced by a better one. The movie takes a top gear just after 10 minutes of the start and never stops until the final smile of Dhanush.

Yuvan's part is more than what he is being credited. Though some of his BGMs are inspired by pop music like Richard Marx's I will be right here waiting for you, he creates the mood of the movie. Especially the theme music of the movie, which is the BGM in the climax, receives much credit for his composing skills. If only the climax was to be with some other music, the movie would have been less acclaimed that the present. All songs including the top hits Nenjodu Kalanthidu, Devadhaiyai Kanden and Kathal Kathal are good tamil music. Watch him closely. He is capable of improving the current trend of tamil music.

The classy work of Arvind Krishna will go unnoticed because his lighting is so natural that you would forget that there are lights around while making the film. Except in the flashback, where the crudeness has to be shown, he has used harsh lighting effects. If that flashback about pedophile and child-abuse touches heart, give hats off to Arvind Krishna for his immaculate contrast of lighting. Also the daring close-ups are something that cannot be expected from a new comer. Though this could be one of Arvind Krishna's early movies, his experience as an assistant to P.C.Sreeram has added value to the photography. He also acted as an important character in P.C.Sreeram's Kurudhi Punal.

It is true that the second half of the movie reminds you a bit of Kamal's Guna and it is also a bit dragging. But hang around because there is a very interesting climax for you. The shot just before the climax where the Cop, Divya and Adi hide behind a cushion sofa fearing the gun shots coming in, is just more than perfect. At that juncture of sheer fear and confusion, Yuvan plays a sober bit song. Bulls-eye. A similar shot can be seen in Mani Ratnam's Kannathil Muthamittal and Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan. The chemistry between Selvaraghavan, Yuvan Shankar and Arvind Krishna has been perfect that it contributes to the overall success of the movie. Recommended only for theatre viewing.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

I cursed my job, for once. Day-before-y'day I was pretty late and when I reached my house, it was already 10:30 in the night. Ktv was featuring Mani Ratnam's Thiruda Thiruda and it was already half-the-movie-done.

What a movie it was !!. Although directly inspired by the 1969 hit flick Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid, Thiruda Thiruda never failed to provide the same pace and action. Coming as the second movie with Mani Ratnam - A R Rahman combination, it had some of the best BGMs by Rahman. The BGM during the charriot chase is one of Rahman's all-time best and also the eerie music he generates while Salim Bose appears is fresh until today.

Mani Ratnam chose to direct such a light-hearted entertainer coming after the national hit Roja. Probably thats the diversity he needs in his films. The best part was that he paired up with P.C.Sreeram who wasn't involved in the previous two Mani Ratnam's films.

Though Thiruda Thiruda was dismissed as yet another film in the Box-office. It was yet another experimental film like Agni Nakshathiram. If Agni Nakshathiram had too much back-lighting and flare-lighting, this one was an experiment with colors. The bus stunt at mid-movie had too much of color grading. It would silly now but 10 years back, it was P.C.Sreeram who experimented this color grading effect in this film. The top half of the film would be graded red and the bottom half would have the natural color. If you aren't able to comprehend this, watch the movie to appreciate this technique. Also the final climax in the train was on the best ever picturised climax in tamil cinema history.

Thiruda Thiruda was released on a diwali day and I managed to watch the premier show in Alankar theatre (now the theatre is no more. P & L Netloyd company has it's office). After that every saturday after saturday I watched it continously for 7 saturdays. I doubt even if Mani would have watched this movie in a theatre for 8 times. huh !!

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Ticking...ticking...10 seconds....ticking....13.6 seconds and your windows password is cracked. This is the average time taken to crack your current computer's password. Stunned ! It happens with technology but this is definetely one quantam leap. Using 1.4GB of data (two CD-ROMs) it can crack 99.9% of all alphanumerical passwords hashes (2 37 ) in 13.6 seconds. As this is based on Martin Hellman's cryptanalytic time-memory trade-off technique which reduces the time of cryptanalysis by using precalculated data stored in memory.

The method involves using large lookup tables to match encoded passwords to the original text entered by a person, thus speeding the calculations required to break the codes. Called a time-memory trade-off, the situation means that an attacker with an abundance of computer memory can reduce the time it takes to break a secret code. Also you can your hand with this technique to break your computer's password. More here.

I am blessed to have Martina in my life. Coming from India, where the obstacles are great, one really found the passion in playing again. Now I don't have to play so much for money, fame or any materialistic need. I play the game because I am passionate about it; because I am a student of the game and physical training. I'm enjoying it a lot now than I did 10 years ago - Leander Paes.

Read the interesting 'n' inspiring Paes's rediff interview.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

What is poetic justice, asks Vaanam Vasappadum (The Sky can be controlled). Take a look at the website of P.C. Sreeram's latest flick Vaanam Vasappadum. Intrestingly it has many spotlights.

Being the India's first true digital film, being shot with state-of-art high definition digital cameras with the technical support of Real Image Media Technologies, the DTS gateway of India and the multicam giant EFX. See some samples of multicam miracles here.

It is also the last film of Mahesh Mahadevan, who died of cancer. It was for a cancer charity associtation in the name of Mahesh, his friends including Mani Ratnam, Kamalhassan, A R Rahman, arranged the Unity of Light concert in Chennai. Mahesh however didn't complete parts of this movie before which he died but he had compiled a dozen of BGM's which were used by his assistants to complete this movie.

This is a story of Sujatha's famous novel.

P.C. Sreeram recently took part in a seminar for the Visual Communication students where he re-instated that all this digital film making technizques are just an aid to make films. However the much bigger part depends on the story and the style of story telling. He also remarked that digital film making is in it's infancy in India and if only many more theatres would convert to digital projectors, digital films have a life in India. Digital films will keep a 10 year old movie still look afresh because they don't use the classical fim rolls to project a movie.

But as of now Vaanam Vasappadum is being shot in digital film cameras. However they would be converted to films because India doesn't have many digital thetres to film this movie as such. Yes, Vaanam Vasappadum.
This month in tamil is called Aadi - the month of breeze. Last evening was one such pleasant breezy saturday evening. Some highlights...

a) Driving along the adayar bridge with my hands free from the handlebar and the breeze swirling across the face. I was also humming the Girlfriend tune of Boys. Felt heroic and grossly cool. Just a small shake and I would have been thrown out of the bike. Would have looked like a joker. Fortunately, didn't happen.

b) Watched Jackie Chan's Shanghai Knights in an open air theatre. The breeze was also perfect and it was much better than an artifical AC theatre. It was a very ordinary movie but the thin line of fiction was innovative. It is a fictious interlude as to how Sir Arthur Conyan Doyle elevated from a Scotlandyard cop to a writer and coined Sherlock Holmes as his hero. Also another suprise was the fiction of Charlie Chaplin's childhood. Looked a fabulous idea to link famous celebrities as a character in the movie. Do u know any such movies before?

c) Offlate I noticed, Chennai becomes very neon-lighted in the evening. Signs of leaving the conservative filter coffee culture and moving ahead with the go-getter funda. If you don't think so watch the Boys movie. Quickeys coffee pub (!) serves kumbakonam coffee - the typical filter coffee of sorts. What you get for 7 bucks in Saravana Bhavan is served for 50 bucks. Just 43 bucks more. Why so much of difference? Coffee pub, man. It is a coffee pub. Much hyped interiors, latest fad babes, thin waistlines, chubby boyfriends, thier smallest nokias, american pub chairs, neon lights are some elements around you in a coffee pub. So prices are set accordingly. Did u ask for all these? Not me.

P.S: Maniratnam, has begun shooting the next day after was dicharged from the hospital. Workaholic !!

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Seeing the accident happen in front of his eyes, Mani Ratnam, who was taking the shot from up close, yelled and passed out. He was later admitted to B M Birla Heart Research Institute.

It is the third time that he gets hospitalised for a chest pain. The first was during his trip to Japan Film festival and the second followed immediately within a year. Hope he gets back to action ASAP.

Read more on Vivek Oberoi's accident while shooting Mani Ratnam's latest flick in Kolkatta.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

testing w.bloggar at 4 am in morning !!

Monday, July 14, 2003

Too many new kids on the block !!

Out of 47 tamil movies released this year, 19 new heroes, 24 new heroines and 80 new comers including directors and singers have been introduced. Is it for Good or Bad ?

Nothing, says Panchu Arunachalam, the master screenplay writer. In his interview with Sun TV, he remarked that the production costs come down heavily because of these new comers. Also there aren't much call-sheet hungama with these news kids. Also the director has his own way of taking the films instead of getting influenced by the star image.

Will this continue is a big question. While some are here to say many new faces have to go back to their old jobs.

Parthiban Kanavu, the new hit is directed by a new comer, Karu Pazhaniappan. An impressive debutant director with the same touch of class as Keladi Kanmani Vasanth. I could see glimpses of wonderful dialogue writing skills. Yet some scenes were meant just to convey punching dialogues, it is a pretty neat movie. The first scene has an unexpected twist. Hats off for such small twists all along the movie. Even the expressionless Srikanth, wades through the movie with his calm acting. Sneha's best movie till day. She plays a dual role and she has done a good job. Except for her irritating smile throughout the movie, she deserves a pat.

Vidyasagar's Aalankuil song reminds me of Chippi Irukuthu song from Varumayin Niram Sigappu. Though the later is a much classy one, the sudden soothening of tune in the mid-song and the wide angle shots of Srikanth-Sneha walking in a greenish lawn are inspired by Varumayin Niram Sigappu.

A good movie to plan with your family.
Possible Solutions for Kashmir given by BBC. By default it should have come from an Indian site. Link via Praveen.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Hmmm...So Six months. One hundred and seventeen releases. Eight hits. One hundred and nine flops. According to the trade magazine Film Information, the industry has lost about Rs 110 crores (approximately US $23 million) in 109 of the 117 films released in 2003.

Bollywood has been going bonkers since last 2 years and this is the pinnacle to that. Last year was worse with a total loss of 240 crores. This year it is status quo. Until someone can stop releasing bollywood flicks, think for a minute, re-organize, re-vitalize and re-view the bollywood films before they are released, only god can save them.

Read more from rediff here. Need I say more. They say I am more biased on Kollywood. Am I?

Tuesday, July 08, 2003


Virumandi's shooting has begun. My assumption is that Kamal's Sandiyar would be renamed as Virumandi - the protagonist's name. He has reportedly started shooting yesterday in an undisclosed place. However the title is to be yet to be confirmed by him. After his recent encounters with the Tamilnadu politicians, Kamalhassan is pretty cautious about his moves and he is aware that he is closely watched.

The media is reporting that Mani Ratnam's latest bi-lingual(!) flick is being shot in Chennai's Boat Club Road. A Kolkatta look-alike set has been erected for the same as thwe story is said to happen in Kolkatta. The film stars Ajay Devgan, Vivek Oberoi, Abhishek Bachchan, Kareena Kapoor, Rani Mukherjee and Simran. The film is being shot in sync-sound (direct recording of voices and no dubbing). The first Indian film in this category was Kamalhassan's Hey Ram. Lagaan and Dil Chahta Hai also sync-sound technology. It is being said that after the film is shot, Mani will start shooting the same film in Tamil.

However, these are just rumors as there is no confirmed news from Mani's side. I am very skeptical about this news. I firmly believe Mani Ratnam is the last person who wants to redo the same film again. All his films have been taken once and have been dubbed into other languages. From Kavithanjali (dubbed as Idhayathai Thirudathey) to Dilse (dubbed as Uyire) have been made once. He once remarked in an interview that the most boring thing is to redo the same film. Even Saathiya, which was a re-make from Alai Payuthey, was directed by Shaad Ali, his assistant.

Monday, July 07, 2003

The Reliance 501 scheme has shook the cellular world. In the last 2 days reliance has added more than 2 lakh subcribers becoming the 4 biggest cellular operator in India. When I went to a Reliance R-World showroom, the customer service guy was so busy in attending more 25 customers at a time and it finally looked like a goverment office.

Read that in some places of Bangalore, these guys resorted to the help from police to stop the mob from a law and order violation. I am not sure what is the revenue model behind this scheme 501 because the required documentation is pretty less and there are chances of fraud and defaulted payments. Whatever might it could be but Reliance came into being as a check to the GSM operators. Now it is in action. The best thing that happened because of Reliance is that the mobile phone prices have touched rock-bottom. Nokia 2100 which was selling at 6,800 bucks a month back is just 3,500 in grey market as of today.

Good going. The game has just begun. Watch the fun, unfold.

Also note that from next month pay only Rs. 72/- for your cable operator till further notice from the goverment. In a cold war between the cable operators and the private networks, the CAS issue is put on hold and the govt announced that till further decision on CAS, the cable operators should charge only 72 bucks inclusive of the pay channels. One more monsoon hungama. But be prepared, because of this decision, your cable operator might cut all the pay channels. Get used to private FM radio. Better friend at such times.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

Bite The Mango film festival, which concuded on 26th of last month in UK, had more than enough share of Bollywood films. Along with films like Bruce Almighty and Spike Lee's Bamboozled, it spotlighted A R Rahman. A small documentary called The Making of Bombay Dreams also featuerd along with Mani Ratnam's Saathiya.

Indian cinema reaching reaching international screens is the best thing ever happened to the Indian Film industry. Moreover, a dozen hindhi films including Shantaram's 1955 classic Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baje and Shekar/Anil Kapoor's hit flick Mr.India got nominated for the screenings. 1942 - A Love Story was one of the highest rated films in this festival.

Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now Redux (*ing Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando and Matrix fame Laurence Fishburne) was also spotlighted. Undoubtedly it is one of the extraordinary films carrying the genius of Coppola. A must see.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Cellular Hangama ;-)

All the 3 GSM cellular providers (you know whom) in Chennai (excluding the govt controlled BSNL) have this funda of hidden costs to their tariff bill. With TRAI coming to rescue (!) of the mobile users in India, these guys have decided to stay put and confine to their mantra of High-Price-at-Low-Cost-and-Fool-the-Customer.

The last 3 months has had too much color and drama in the telecom circles and we are now seeing shades of dirty gray in them, now. When TRAI took over research over the hyped cellular prices and tried to regulate them, it resulted in reduction of high incoming rates to free incoming calls. From then on, these cellular companies started getting less revenue than they used to get. This resulted in them changing their tariffs every now and then. At one point, the market was a perfect competition, meaning, all the 3 companies with same Postpaid and Pre-paid tariff. The customer was then left to select whichever provider he wished too. All 3 were giving away free incoming calls but the outgoing call's tariff changed totally. Till then cell-to-cell outgoing calls within the same provider was costing less than a rupee. I had a postpaid connection and I was charge 50 paise a minute for cell-to-cell within the same provider. But after incoming became free, all outgoing calls were made Re. 1.50.

Oh !! Here is the funda I thought. You guys advertise in bold colors as free incoming but charge 1 rupee more per call. Now that equals your revenue, which is lost in incoming-call-free scheme. Atleast during those days, myself and the receiver were sharing the costs. Now it is on the only one head. The best part in this whole hungama of TRAI price limitations, these guys are getting more profited. But we customers (read as poor foolish customers), think that the rates have really come down and use the mobile more. Result, Mobile phone bills for thousands of bucks. Moreover, many new PFCs (Poor Foolish Customers) are jumping into this cellular bandwagon. So even as many more people joining the cellular club, these companies are not ready to reduce their profit margins. And by lobbying with other competitors they can keep their prices fixed to bring the customer to a fix. So what is the use of talking perfect competition market, TRAI, Globalization, Mobile Phone era etc.

Meanwhile, while these private cellular guys are tampering the market, BSNL increased its price list by 50%. It was under the assumption that since more people would move to mobile phones, their revenue would be reduced. As a double whopper effect, finally it is the goody-goody customer who got crushed between the much-hyped TRAI intervention. A similar issue is happening in the Cable TV CAS issue. The dispute between Cable TV Operators and Private Channels has enlarged so much and it is now on the customer's head. I know the final outcome. It will be nothing but DUMP the price on the customer for he has no other option of leading a life without TV. Even the gods cannot save us now. Already they are being played football in Ayodhya. Who else can?

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Jayalalitha's regime has been bold enough to oppose the strikes by the goverment workers belonging to various departments. But her goverment is now criticized for taking a tough stand over the tamil cinema industry. Raising the rent for outdoor shooting in tamil nadu it has made the tamil cine indutry go bonkers.

Afterall, the current position of the tamil cine industry is in doldrums with producers waging a virtual war on high-priced heroes and skyrocketing production costs, this has become a yet another stumbling block. The goverment does has its rationale for the hike in rent and it is valid. But who else except the goverment can help this.

Save this sinking ship.

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