Friday, January 30, 2004

Strings, Euphoria and lil bit of Patriotism
(Title inspired by Chennai Blogger Meet 2004) :

On the republic day, the Open Air Theatre of IIT Madras took a hop for 3 hours. Strings, a guitar specialist band from Pakistan performed as a part of the Saarang 2004. Like Saiyoni fame Junoon ( not the DD megaserial), Strings have a distinct aura around them. Dhoor, their hit number was amazing. It takes a lot of attitude to perform in India on the republic day and these guys are definitely not short of that.

Then came running with the indian flag around him was 'Euphoria' Palash. Popularly known as Polly, this doctor-turned-pop artist, was with a white sleeveless banian and an unbuttoned shirt which seemed to fall off any time. From then for the next 2 hours he and his euphoric band kept the 8,000+ audience at their feet. So as he came running with the flag and started Jana Gana as the first song of the day, IIT rose up and stood unmoved. Polly continued to sing A.R Rahman's Vande Matharam. So did the crowd. We'll keep the argument surrounding A.R.R's Vande Matharam and patriotism to the next post. As you can imagine the decibel levels of thousands of collegers shouting at their alto voices, Vande Matharam. A spirit of patriotism swirled across us and it was a definite goose bumper.

While other bands keep singing their own compositions, Euphoria just bothers about keeping the audience happy. Their mantra is just hit numbers. Some interesting numbers they played includes Scorpion's With or Without You, Queen's We will Rock you, Bon Jovi's It's my life, Shankar Elson Loy's Dil Chahta Hai and ofcourse ARR's Dil Se Re.

With just a handful of albums and numerous hit within those albums, the future awaits Euphoria to create wonders. And they can really do it.

Observing Saarang :

a) Guys seemed totally geeky and girls, very freaky.

b) The Alpha and the Omega was found roaming around and I bumped over him on the second day.

c) I missed JAM finals in which I think Suds was also a jammer.

d) The Crossword show called Crossie seemed pretty much easier than I expected. Not that I crack crosswords with my left hand but I aint' bad also.

e) Hutch introduced the public mobile phone booth. So the hutch guy outside would be sitting with a mobile phone in his hand. If you want to make a call to your honey or to your nanny, you got to pick up the mobile and get into that mobilephone sized booth, talk and give it back to that hutch guy. Good Idea, wrong execution.

f) Radio Mirchi was trying to do something very different with a couple of RJs(Radio Jockey). It was fun to see the expression of RJs from a transparent booth where he/she was talking with that same FM supersonic speed.

g) A chap who was standing beside me during the Euphoria show was replying to SMSes with full swing. While Phalash started to sing It's my life, he was jumping heaven high and still typing sms in his mobile. I had no clue what was he trying to do. But thats the spirit of Saarang.

h) Finally, the sillier one. They sold pure mineral water with some added color and code named it as Pepsi for 15 bucks.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Kovil Movie Review

Kovil is that kind of movie which you would like to see in doordarshan as a sunday movie. Chandamama type villages called Pulliyangkulam and Vepangkulam have religious boundaries and two youngsters of different religions fall in love which eventually brings war and peace to these villages. Like Kathal Virus, this movie has been misplaced in the history. It is kind of a commercial story that could have been a silver jubliee hit, two decades back. But at this era of crossover films, the way in which the movie is presented blows the old trumpet again.

Saami director Hari's ability to race the script has risen the expectation for this Simbu starrer. But it is right on the director's part to try various styles before settling down. Kovil is scripted in a very patient manner which disturbs one's patience. But Hari manages to bring in some relaistic touch with such a pace to the movie. Also I am not sure if it is fair to show a character of a particular religion to be very fair and the other one belonging to a different religion as a fanatic.

Simbu has managed to do a clean job without yapping too much. He has clearly downplayed his Little SuperStar image which gives some confidence for his future producers. If he can etch such good roles, he could mould himself into the next new line of heroes. Though at some emotional scenes, his body language is similar to his dad, this kid has a long way to go.

Harris Jayaraj needs to be blamed for duplicating his effort. The situations and the songs are similar in Saami. You can even blame the director for that. But having composed Collegeukku Povom song very similar to Kamban Engu Ponaan song is unacceptable. Even if you listen to it for the first, you can just humm the original song.

Monday, January 26, 2004

IIT Saarang, very happening

Last week was very fast with the crowded IIT Saarang and today is the last day which will be celebrated with a Unity Concert by the Indian Euphoria and Pakistani Strings. Y'day it was the Choreo Nite and due to bubbling rush, it had some latti charges also. Though the Choreo Show proved very sub-standard for an inter-college competition, the crowd was rocking. The rock music competition was however fabulous. Also the Udit Narayan show wasn't upto the mark. Blame it on the pathetic sound systems. Udit must have reminded someone of that during the break and during the second half, both the music and sound was amazing. When Udit sang his all-time hit Papa Kehthe Hain, I was transported to the nostalgic 80s. Great voice.

Hutch's stall in Saarang is the most talked about. With a dozen beautiful chicks and few Madhavan type guys as Hutch ambassadors, Hutch is pulling the collegers under it's umbrella. With the fantastical dance machine, as it would call it, the remixes go a long way in encouraging guys to dance in hundreds. So if you a blinker at Saarang and you see a huge group dancing in perfect rythym, it is the hutch stall.

Also Madonna and Britney would run ashamed looking at the very-very-very-very low hipped jeans by the Saarang chicks. I prefer to call chicks because it gives you that right picture. As Saarang gets more and more sponsors like E-Serve, Hutch and Radio Mirchi, the pro-shows could be made much better in the coming years. Thanks to security and real hard volunteers, they kept the mischevious at bay.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Virumandi Movie Review - Beyond The Horizons of Screenplay

Kamalhassan as Virumandi

The moment anything is reported or written, truth suffers. This is one of the most fundamental points in reporting news. The eye witness's narrative is the most sought out at such times. At all possibility, the eye witness brings his perspective of the news. The moment a perspective is brought in, subjectivity creeps in. He selects which part of the news has to be told, which part of the news he remembers, which part he forgets and which part he compels himself to hide. Thus selection of the scene from eye witness becomes inevitable. Finally, the truth suffers. So what happens when truth suffers?

Excuse me for the cliché, no innocent be punished despite many criminals escape. The previous paragraph and the previous statement form the basis of Virumandi, Kamalhassan's directorial venture. Virumandi also touches upon the fact that capital punishment needs to be abolished but it doesn't dwell in this ideology like the Hollywood flick Dead Man Walking. Neither is Virumandi, an analysis of a death sentenced criminal's mind. Virumandi is a just an observation of modern day, cell phone cultured rural folks of Tamil Nadu. There is however a message implied in this observation which is made without passing judgments on their life style, their sentiments and their everyday outcries. This message implied displays the genius in Kamal. Only experienced directors and writers are capable of such subtle messages.

Virumandi by itself is like a festival of sorts. It is sensational at all times like a roller coaster with a huge cast and happening moments. Never dull and never a story-thirsty movie. It deals with slice-of-life of a 20ish naive-yet-brave Virumandi from a distant village in Theni district who is caught in a web of unscrupulous and covetous people. He check-mates their desirous behavior with a humanitarian cause and erupts at the loss of his beloved wife. As situations and the fickle minded people turn against him, he gets dubbed as a criminal who is responsible for the killings of 24 people and is awarded a death penalty. What would Virumandi do at this juncture of being presented a death sentence for no mistake of his? Being brought up with principles and no fear, Virumandi emerges as a demi-god in the prison, when situations force him and comes out of his gloominess. He gets a chance to fight for his right.

Kamalhassan's avatar as a director has overtaken the actor Kamalhassan. The director emerges as the clear winner amongst his dual role. The screenplay also becomes the indisputable part of Virumandi's victory. He believes in the fact that no star bigger than a movie, no actor bigger than a script. Being presented with two narratives of the same story, Kamalhassan unfolds a new story telling method which appears to be a badly planned movie at first. But as the movie races into the second hour you would gasp as to why it looked like badly planned at the beginning. The screenplay which Kamal has etched out is presented with the help of two narratives. One by the witness and one by the criminal himself. As the villainy Kothala Thevar (Pasupathy) who is the approver of the crime describes the scene of crime, you and I would believe that Virumandi is a real Sandiyar. But when the Virumandi, the criminal himself opens up, we know why Virumandi is a great humanist rather than a Sandiyan or Sandiyar. Virumandi, the dubbed criminal clearly details up the reasons and situations leading him to this unforeseen situation. A brave approach in film-making in spite of knowing that the story could be confusing at the start. However, we feel like being dropped in midst of a village clash and also the reason for the clash hasn't been described clearly in the start. The Madurai dialect and their idioms can be against the understanding of the city cultured audience. But that is the sacrifice Kamal is ready to make for sake of realism. Don't bother. He has also compromised a little because his major audiences are philistines and they only crave for Dhool movie types.

As Kamalhassan says, the entire cast consists of actors who have executed their job religiously. Sometimes they even overtake Kamalhassan in terms of performance. As the story requires more of other actors, Kamal has downplayed his title role to suit the story. The panchayat and the romance sequences brings back the versatile actor in Kamalhassan, however, you can't wipe away the craving for more actor Kamal. Kamal has adopted a heroic introduction in the jallikattu for him unlike his other movies. But it gives his fans some cheerful time.

Abirami as Annalakshmi is the immaculate suit for the role of a rascally village girl. With just her expressive eyes, she sits upright in our hearts and also in Virumandi's. Also her romance with Virumandi, though short-lived, is consummate. She slowly converts the village burnout, Virumandi, into a vitalized soul with her vivacious character. Truly, she isn't for the commercial stuff, a cut-above in the existing lot of actresses.

The 'Dhool' Villain Pasupathy as Kothala Thevar is one of the most interesting villains in the present Tamil films. With his fantastical body language and accent, he creates a modern day M.R Radha. A great talent to look out for. The mythological story of Virumandi calls Peykkaaman as the true villain of Virumandi. So here he is in the form of police officer Peykkaaman(Shanmugam). Shanmugam has done his job well. A good find for this movie.

Though advertised as main characters Nasser and Napoleon appear as cameo. Rohini as Angela Kattamuthu also appears in an important cameo role as a documentary maker and also as an activist against capital punishment.

Illayaraja crosses his set boundaries in background score. As said often, he introduces silence as the only music at times which really carries the movie to a different dimension. His music has overtaken his off late hit Pithamahan. The film flirts a romantic interlude between Kamal and Abirami. Coupled with Kamal's ability and Illayaraja's melodious touch, it is one of the most poetic sequences in the movie. Unnai Vida song is picturised with great passion and just mesmerizes the viewer. Shreya Goshal and Kamalhassan render this great number. Other songs are very movie oriented and they shine when watched with the context. Karbakiraham Vittu Saami song is placed in the climax and is a real goose bumper.

Kesav Prakash, the cinematographer and Prabhakar, the art director have created a true village in Campa Cola grounds. Very Appreciable effort. The editor's job is also commendable. Avid Editing, a new technique in editing which occupied most part of Kakkha Kakkha is certainly missing. It would have helped to speed up the movie when required.

The sub-plot in the prison makes for a good climax but gives a detached feeling from the main story. The ending is very heroic but the story is minisculed by then. It's a perfect judgemental move by the director to place a cinematic ending for the front benchers. The mix of good cinema and commercial cinema would pull more people thereby taking care of financial success, something thats essential for Kamalhassan. The movie however sports gore violence and the hero himself breaks couple of ribs and mutilates pairs of hands before getting behind the bars. Going by the theory, anything which is approximates is unreal, Kamal portrays a village so true that even the smallest of violence is captured with an eye for detail. But this itself takes the movie to one of the most violent Tamil movies list of all-time. The Jallikattu, Panchayat, Thiruvizha are all picturised with a true to life manner which makes it an offbeat movie.

Death Penalty Issue is still a virgin pasture for Tamil cinema though a recent movie of Lenin called Orukku Nooru Perr dealt with a similar issue. Kamal hasn't dug deep into this but he has superfluously dusted upon the subject. It is an issue which could have been detailed. Given his recent experiences in dealing with intellectual issues in Hey Ram and Anbe Sivam, he has just kept this issue like a pickle for the climax. The movie however captures the feelings of a victim-of-situations in detail. Some nuances like the videotaping and prisoner insurrection are amazingly sketched.

Kamalhassan has won in proving a point to the people who thought Sandiyar would spark off caste related issues. With Virumandi, new screenplay techniques are taken beyond horizon to prove that this Kollywood industry has a very important role to play in the International Film history. Virumandi makes up the gap for good meaningful cinema. Good Cinema would be appreciated by good audience. Are you one?
Sulekha Saarang Blog Fest 2004

Sulekha, one of the best online resources for NRI literature and Indian news is joining hands with Saarang team of IIT, Chennai for a Blogathan contest.

The idea being as simple as blogging on daily given topics for more than 400 words. One main condition is that you must be a collegiate of any institution or an alumnae member of any of the IITs. A good reason for you guys to open blogger and start typing is that you might end up as the best blogger at the end of Saarang festival.

Check out Sulekha Saarang Blog Fest 2004 site for more.
Gumbal, Sundal and a lil bit of Bloggal during Pongal !!

The Madras Blogger's meet code named Gumbal, Sundal and a lil bit of Bloggal is happening again this year. Organised by Suds and his team it is set to happen tomorrow(18th Jan 2004) starting 5 pm at Planet Yumm in Besant Nagar Youth Beach.

Last two years it was called Chennai Blogger's Meet organised by Kiruba.

There is already a long list of bloggers who have confirmed their presence. Unlike last couple of years, I am at chennai this time and will be dropping in to have fun.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Just caught him in action.

Hey Ram, Anbe Sivam and now Virumandi...

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

27th Chennai Book Fair - 2004

Chennai is flooding with bookworms or at least there are so much of onlookers for this book fair. I've been a regular to this book fair for more than a decade. I've never seen so many of stalls or even so much of crowd for this book fair. The publishing industry is growing by leaps and bound every year. This year there are around 500 stalls sporting their books.

I peeked in by 11 am and by the time I was out, it was already evening and KaviKo Abdul Rahman was hosting a Kaviarangam. The specialty is this. Every evening a famous author or a poet host special shows. Also you can bump over your fave author during these special shows. You can have a personal chat with them and find out that they are also as normal as us.

Every year you could find a book or two doing well in all the stalls. This year it was tamil transalation of The Life and Times of Che Guevara and also Akira Kurosawa's tamil transalation of his autobiography called Something Like An Autobiography. Also doing well is the Sahitya Academy winner Vairamuthu's Kallikaattu Ithigasam. It has offlate recieved fave reviews and is selling hot cakes even when being prized at a huge 200 bucks. If you would have read it already on Ananda Vikatan, you know why it received the award. The treatment and honest handling of the subject earned vairamuthu this award, which is one of the biggest awards in Indian literature. Ofcourse there are many debates about Sahitya Academy's selection of this book. It goes on forever.

I picked up a bagful of books and am planning to go back to buy the bound edition of Kalki's Ponniyin Selvan. When I was in Kavvya Book stall, I found Sujatha's Vivathangal Vimarsanangal. The book looked dirty and soiled. It was a 1985 edition and wasn't re-printed after that. The cover page has Sujatha's pic in his mid-forties sporting a moustache and a few gray hairs peeking on his head. Kavvya is planning to bring a re-print of this book this year. But I picked it up because it was the last copy and one of the rare books of sujatha books. This old book is what I am currently reading and just can't keep it down.

Uyirmmai Publishers have released some more books of Sujatha which include Sujatha's Thernthedutha Sirukathaigal (best short stories by Sujatha), Aazhvaargal oru Eliya Arimugam and Srirangathu Kathaigal. Another interesting release is Aathavan's Enn Peyar Ramasheshan. This is one of the books that I was amazed to read. Uyirmmai publisher's effort is commendable and their selection of books comes out of their passion for books.

Some of the books that I bought include Jayakanthan's Jaya Jaya Shankara, Indira Parthsarathy's Kuruthi Punal, Sa. Kandasamy's Tholaindhu Ponavargal (remember this was one of the most successful serials in DD), Indha Nutrandin Sirukathaigal - Vol 1(Best Short stories of this century - Vol 1) and some red books. Gnani's Theemtarikitta is back in print from last year and subscriptions are accepted in the stall. Kaalachuvadu publishers are selling fabulous paintings of Bharathiyar as a calendar. As usual, books like 30 days to Kundalini, Samaipathu eppadi, Saapiduvathu Eppadi are also found all over the fair and still selling hotcakes. lol.

Many drop in to book fair just to see what's in store. But the fact that is irritating is that they manage to munch a popcorn bag or cotton candy when they browse thru the books and by which they make the book dirty. Books are one's friends but they can't take such abuses.

Some pics on Photo Blog

Sunday, January 11, 2004

The Chennai Bookfair 2004 is open now and will go on till 19th of this month. Organised by the Booksellers’ and publishers’ Association of South India (BAPASI), it's happening in Quaid E Millet College. If you are expecing some dazzling girls there, don't bother too much. They are all concentrated in Nungambakkam stadium where the Carlos Moya and Srichappan are fighting for the TATA Open Tennis title. The last couple of years have been successful for the organisers and the participants of this book fair. The crowd was enoromous and sales reached it's peak. As Sujatha says, it's a cycle. Book reading habit will come back and people will pull out the heads that are stuck to their televisions. It's happening. I'm planning a peek tomorrow.

Saarang, the mother of all student organized cultural festivals is set to happen from the 21st of January to the 26th at IIT Chennai. The pro-shows which are the source of prime attraction include Udit Narayan's Light music, Classical music show by TM Krishna, the rock show by MOTHERJANE accompanied by Pin Drop Voilence and a special unity concert by Euphoria and a 2 man band from Pakistan band called Strings. As usual lots of musical fever and fun guranteed. Make sure you take a spin for a show or two.

Saw Matrix Revolutions again today in theatre just to get over the Matrix phobia. Couldn't like it as much as I did it the first time. Simbhu's Kovil has released today, taking an initial lead in the pongal releases. Virumandi is ready to hit the screens before which Kamal is doing his pre-release marketing through Vijay TV. From 12 to 16th of this month Virumandi Special show will be up in the air from 10:30 pm - 11:00 pm. And we know why Kamal is happy excited about the movie release. Being his own production, it has been sold out in all the areas for a huge sum. Guess who's the prime sponsor for Virumandi's ads. Reliance. Huge hoardings of Virumandi and Reliance are placed all over Chennai. Especially the one near Guindy reminds me of the grand Aalavandan release.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

CASed Away

I was one among the millions of cricket frency Tom Hanks of Chennai who were castaways by the CAS(Conditional Access System for Cable TV) introduction. No Kumbleys. No Googlies, No Mandira Bedi, No Cover drives, No Late cuts, No Dravids, No Tensed Gangulies, No Cool Steve Waughs, No Hoodibaba and ofcourse No Sachin. Heck! I decided to try out CAS.

Now I am poor victim of CAS who is facing a risk and discouragement from envied friends and neighbours who resist CAS but unable to resist their temptation for cricket. I bought the Set top box along with a big risk that the government is considering removing the CAS system. The first program I watched after buying the Set Top Box was ESPN Cricket Show, hosted by Harsha Bhogle. The guests included Sachin, Saurav and Ravi Shastri. Just after the day of the last test, Sachin and Saurav looked sleepy with a poor over-makeup. It was an one hour program analyzing the entire test series between India and Australia. When Sachin's batting in the last test was discussed, he confirmed that he was nervous for the first 20 minutes of the play and once he started playing the onside deliveries in an unusual manner, he communicated to the aussies that he isn't going for his usual cover drives and misjudged shots. It was good to see Sachin and Saurav complimenting each other not just for the show but in a natural unassuming way. Way to Go !!

This morning it was Forrest Gump in Star Movies. One of my all-time favs. With just these two programmes, I have got back the worth of STBs. No more discouraging me, guys !!. No more !!.

Monday, January 05, 2004

It's rainy season in Chennai

Kaaka Kaaka fame Gautam's new flick Chennayil Oru Mazhai Kaalam, starring Surya, is in production from today. Gautam has already impressed us with his an amazing screnplay in KK. This time he is coming back with the same crew except for Jyothika.

The ad today in tamil dailies for the film is intriguing. It is an old rusted photo frame. Behind the glass of the frame is a digital outline of the world atlas and water drops sprinkled all over the frame. Also super-imposed is a monologue that is written in tamil slang. It talks the difference between love and liking. What's up Gautam, this time ?.

Get ready for yet another Manmatha Rasa. Dhanush's pongal release Pudukottaiyilirinthu Saravanan sports a song Nattu Sarakku. Sung by Dhanush himself, it is a song that will make you jive(!!). Yuvan Shankar Raja has a simple chennai folk tune for this song. The lyrics very very local and obscenely descriptive. You can just humm the tune. Dare not to sing it. For it's lyrics will make girls go angry on you. Here's a sample :

Naattu Sarakku, Nachunu Thaan Irukku
Kitta Vandu Mutta Vandha Ginnu Nu Thaan Irukku
Thanni Kodamey Thanjavoru Kadamey
Mandirichu Vecha Oru Malayala Padamey...

Angry people, forgive me putting that here, I nay not know who wrote the lyrics. You loved Manmatha Rasa, so kollywood is producing similar songs in wholesale. Take it.
Sujatha - The Lazier Geek

I wished Writer Sujatha for the new year through the mail. Here is his reply. Catch it.

I am happy that he replied. But here comes my competitor in form my own favourite author. Lazier than me? No way. Here are some examples of how much lazy I am.

Pending Blogposts :
Pithamahan Review - Saw the movie with Anand, Kings and their friends. More than a month back. Long Pending. Also Elango has just warned me for that.

Kollywood Roundup - 2003 Coming...on the way.

Kal Ho Na Ho - Karan Johar isn't waiting for this review. But I would wish him to read this. Also coming. When ?. GOK ( God Only Knows).

Kangalaal Kaithu Sei - An AR Rahman album, I am thoroughly amazed by it. I keep hearing Azhagiya Cindrella...Cindrella, but keep forgetting to write on it.

Movies to see:
Enakku 20 Unakku 18 - My friends stopped me from seeing this. I wanted to see it, just for my friends who stopped me.

Finding Nemo - Missed this movie in US. Still finding a theatre near me. Also some convinient time to see. I you can find all the three (convinent time, theatre and ofcourse NEMO), just email me.

Jism - What the hell is Bipasha doing in a bollywood flick like this. I remember her being a model. Read that the movie's scenes are so erotic that they are listed in top 100 romantic scenes of film industry. Only Indian film to enter in this category. Just like the Oscars.

Whatsoever, Kamal is ready to let loose the Jallikattu Kalai on 15th. I am ready to face it . Yes, Virumandi will be in theatres by 15th of this month and will feature here soon after.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Mani Ratnam's latest bi-lingual flick called Yuva in Hindi is still under production, just like the website. Thanks Dhanya for the link.

Written in Black and White, the title font looks like handwritten. I am sure it is too early to infer much details from just the font. But given the small pieces of real info and tons of assumptions made by the media, it is very intersting for a film enthusiast like me.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Wishes for a Cheerful, Joyous and Colorful New Year of 2004 !!

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