Monday, April 28, 2008

A long walk by the roadside...

When I came to the US for the first time in 2006, I hardly had anything needed for a basic life in US - a car, a laptop and a good place to stay. Since it was a short term trip we stayed in a comparatively inexpensive hotel on weekly rates. The hotel used to be pretty strict and rude and I could remember the night we came back from the office and stood in front of the door that didn't open just because we didn't pay the rent in the morning. Life in US without legs is easier than that without a car especially if you are put up in one of the cursed areas where there is no public transport. Every holiday (at least in the beginning) used to be a combination of frustration, expectation and boredom that made us yearn for a timeout. Later on we opted to spend than suffer and we used to pay tens of dollars for cabs and other modes of transport to hang out in the weekends. The client office was a mile and a half away and we used to walk in the cold roads of New Jersey to reach the place. I could still remember the cold wind hitting my nostrils succeeding to cross the layers of my jerkin.

But things have been totally different in Tampa. Even though Florida isn't cold, as with any other place in US, 'near' is a word used to describe 5-10 miles and that obviously ruled out any possibilities of walking. My previous experiences made me settle down a bit fast and I got my license and bought a car within a couple of months. I had the laptop provided in the client office and I got my phone within the first week. Life here started getting comfortable and since then I couldn't remember walking on the streets of Tampa. Partly due to my impression of 'walkers' and partly due to laziness, walking had been quite remote. But today we had a long walk by the road side walking along the residential area to reach a near by pier - a place quite similar to the location in Khakha khakha. It was a beautiful experience - deep brown wooden bridge, navy skies, distant lights, rumbling water underneath and a peaceful atmosphere.

We (four of us) spoke about a lot of things, predominantly things that were running in our minds at the moment and our career. Was pretty interesting to get lost in thoughts after a long time and discussing things that were gushing in my mind like the flowing water. The only phrase that comes to my mind about this good experience is 'Nature and walking are beautiful concepts indeed'.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Arai Yenn 305 il kadavul - tamil movie review

I heard about this movie in the evening and watched it a couple of hours back. Till date, I've seen movies I loved, movies that were boring and movies that were OK but this is the first time I'm confused so much between the goods and bads in a movie. There were scenes that kept me spell bound and even before I could recover from the impact of the messages there'll be the silliest scene I could imagine, coming up. But despite all the oddities I should say the movie is a pretty decent entertainer.

Shankar has proven that he is a smart producer investing minimally and producing a good movie. Somehow he doesn't turn out to be an economical director and his budget never stays within 30 crores (300 million). The movie is a mix of philosophies, fantasies, absurdities, science and realities but the only problem is that all these don't form a homogeneous mixture. The director is confused by too many things and at one point, I could sense the movie's screenplay going out of control. Imagine Vieta's Formula (2/pi), purpose of God, man's greed, attitude problems with humans, the power of hard work, the poverty that grips mansions in cities, IT - non IT inequalities, a fantasy box that holds God's powers and a series of senseless incidents revolving around that box shown in the same movie and that too in subsequent scenes. That's what this movie is all about...

Even though Chimbudevan claims that this is his creation, to me it sounds like there are too many cooks that made this broth. Prakashraj with his philosophical magic and view of life could be regarded as the person behind the messages on life, God, theism and the practical advices. Shankar on the other hand would've contributed to the science and social portion of the movie (bank exams, Income tax, IT, etc). Chimbudevan (from the impression I got from 23 am pulikesi) would've invented the fantasy box on which the story revolves around. Putting them all in the same movie was a bad idea in my view and had it been just the philosophy, the comical and casual narration of serious things combined with some amount of science from Shankar; the movie would've been one of the best in the history of Tamizh cinema. After all it is not so impressive to see an excellent dialog like

"Life is like a journey... When we are out on a tour we ignore the minor disturbances on the way and keep enjoying the scenery outside the window, singing and dancing all the way. But in life's journey, we forget the window and magnify the minor things"

and a scene where God says He is helpless without a plastic box in the same movie. Height of absurdity is God fighting with a local rowdy to solve the problems of a woman in the locality just because his box is stolen. But things are not always at their best and that is what differentiates a picture-perfect movie like Mozhi from the rest. In short, the movie is a good entertainer and way better than the other movies that came in the recent past but it is also true that the movie could've been much better had Shankar or the director thought about cutting the crap out of it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Music, Songs, Lyrics and Poetry

Pretty obvious title... Isn't it? To people who aren't familiar about Indian movies, it'd be a surprise that songs are an integral part of a movie. I'm not talking about BGM scores or bit songs that express the hero's mood swings but actual songs where a 40 year old hero and a 20 yr old heroine dance in a completely irrelevant location as a consequence of an important conversation that took place between them. (Read - an Eminem track coming up in 'The beautiful mind' :D) The hero would propose to the heroine in a typical Indian village like Edakkunaattaanpaalayam (don't try reading it but trust me it's the name of a village in India) and the next moment the hero would be in complete Park Avenue gear like a brand ambassador and the heroine would be wearing a couple of colorful kerchiefs (modern attire as costumers call it) and they would be dancing in the Times Square; usually for a song that is loaded with more English words than the regional words. :))

However, being an Indian by heart, breed and brought up, I'm kind of used to this and a movie without songs has something missing in it. Despite the oddities and practical questions like 'Who the h*ck will dance on streets of a no-man's land with a bunch of strangers just because he proposed to a girl', there are certain songs that are too good and fit in the situation perfectly. Sometimes the song doesn't fit in the situation too well but the lyrics and music is just outstanding that you can't prevent enjoying it or pitying the director. So I thought why not list a few of them that impressed me a lot and share something good with you outside the same old outsourcing, religion, philosophy, culture window...

I'm refraining myself to Tamizh movie songs here since we are talking about situation, lyrics and music; and I'll add a post on albums and traditional music sometime later...

Song: Edhilum Ingu iruppaan avan yaarao...
Theme: An ode to Lord Shiva (the destroyer of evil in Hindu beliefs)
Movie: Bharathi
Best points: The strikingly similar writing style of Pulamai pitthan that makes us believe it is a trademark Bharathi (a renown Tamil poet) poetry. The stunning voice of Madhu Balakrishnan.
My fav line: Thavazhum nadhiyai tharittha mudiyaan, adiyum mudiyum ariya mudiyaan! (One who wears a flowing river in his hairs, the infinity whose start and end could not be assessed. Please read if you are not familiar with Hinduism)

Song: Engae yenadhu kavidhai...
Theme: Betrayal of love
Movie: Kandukondaen kandukondaen
Best points: Excellent lyrics that express a girl's pain so beautifully, Chitra's voice as usual.
My fav line: Paarayil seidhadhu yen manam endru thozhikku solli irundhaen. Paarayin idukkil vaer vitta kodiyaai nee nenjil nuzhaindhu vittaai... (I boasted that my heart is as strong as a rock but you crept into it like a plant that roots into a rock)

Song: Paartha vizhi paartha badi...
Theme: A long term desire fulfilled
Movie: Gunaa
Best points: Music by Maestro Ilayaraja, divine & expressive voice of K.J. Jesudas
My fav line: Madhi varuga vazhi neduga ozhi niraiga vaazhvilae (let the moon shine all the way and bring brightness to my life)

Song: Vennilave
Theme: Falling in love
Movie: Minsaara kanavu
Best points: Amazing picturization
My fav line: Poongaattrae ariyaamal poovai thirakka vaendum... Poo kooda ariyaamal thenai rusikka vaendum (Should open the petals of a flower without the knowledge of the fragrant wind and should taste the honey without the knowledge of the freshly bloomed flower)

Song: Vidugadhayaa indha vaazhkai...
Theme: Pathos
Movie: Mutthu
Best points: Superstar (thalaivar rocks :)), Hariharan's flawless high pitch
My fav line: Pasuvinai paambendru saatchi solla mudiyum, kaambinil visham enna karakkavaa mudiyum (A fake jury can testify a cow for a snake but how will one succeed in getting venom out of a cow)

Song: Mouname unnidam
Theme: Silence is bliss
Movie: Mozhi
Best points: The movie as a whole is awesome. Not sure what I should mention here.
My fav line: Sollai kadandha pennin mouna koottukkul pala kodi kodi porul kudiyirukkum (The silence of a girl that crosses the boundaries of words has millions of meanings embedded in it)

Song: Vizhigalin aruginil vaanam
Theme: Falling in love
Movie: Azhagiya theeyae
Best points: Lyrics, picturization
My fav line: Irudhayame thudikkiradhaa thudippadhu paol nadikkiradhaa (Is my heart pretending to beat or has it really stopped beating)

Song: Naane tholaindha kadhai
Theme: Love
Movie: Thavamaai thavamirundhu
Best points: Lyrics, awesome melody
My fav line: Viraloram kavidhai ooriyadhe... vizhiyoram kaadhal kasigiradhe (my fingertips have poetry flowing and love oozes from the corner of my eyes)

Song: Uyire ennuyire
Theme: Love
Movie: Thotti Jaya
Best points: Gopika's acting, music
My fav line: Naan siritthu magizndhu silirkkum varatthai nee kudutthaai (You gave me the boon to smile, awe and be happy)

Song: Poongaattrile
Theme: Yearning for the loved one
Movie: Uyire
Best points: Lyrics, Manirathnam's touch in expressing a girl's emotions
My fav line: Vaanam engum un bimbam aanaal kaiyyil seravillai... Kaattril engum un vaasam... Verum vaasam vaazhkai illai (I see you everywhere but I couldn't be with you, I smell you everywhere but that's not called living)

Hope you liked the list. Quite obviously I just listed the first 10 that came to my mind. There are so many other songs that impressed me but it's impractical to put them all in a post. Note to people who know Tamizh - I provided translations to the best lines as an sign of respect to people who don't understand Tamizh. If the translations are horrible or you feel they are funny, please bear with me as always!! ;) :)

HP Pavilion dv6700t and 'Internet Explorer has stopped working'

Ever since I or rather we (a couple of my friends too) bought the HP Pavilion dv6700t for 1080 bucks with the best configuration (as on the date of purchase), we were happy about everything except Internet Explorer. Every time I closed an IE window, I got an error message that said "Internet Explorer has stopped working" and eventually as a recovery measure Vista will reopen the IE window. Initially I was led to believe that it's a compatibility problem between Vista and IE. But none of my friends who got the other brands (Dell, Sony, etc) faced this issue despite using Vista. I predominantly use Firefox for surfing (even now I'm using Firefox for adding this post) but some sites, especially Microsoft related sites (exchange servers, extranet clients) that are inevitable from the work perspective, work umpteen times better in IE than any other browser. At times, the only browser supported is IE.

After endless searches and frustrations, I landed up on the solution. It had nothing to do with Vista or IE. The problem was with the Yahoo! tool bar for IE that is installed by HP. You know what it took to address the problem?

1. Go to Control Panel - Switch to Classic View - Click on Internet options
2. Go to the Advanced tab and click the 'Reset' button at the bottom of the Advanced tab.
3. Say 'Yes' or 'OK' wherever you are asked for confirmation.

That's it. Your HP dv6700t works completely fine with IE. The only question I had was 'How did HP miss this basic thing and ship its laptop with an incompatible tool bar?!'. But getting an answer to that was not as important as fixing the issue I had! :)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Is outsourcing bad?

A few months back, the client company for which I was deputed in US decided to switch software/software service vendors and eventually that means that employees from our company would be replaced by the employees of the competitor. But quite unexpectedly this created a buzz in the little town where we live. The link below is an excerpt from a local newspaper's website.

There are a lot of legal and moral issues listed in the article but what attracted me was the comments section. There were so many people who considered that outsourcing is a threat to the employment of US population and foreigners especially Indians take away a lot of their opportunities. Looking at this whole thing from a conservative bird's eye view, there are a lot of reasons to believe so. Some of them are

1. A lot of Indians could be spotted in Oldsmar (the town where I live) especially in and around the client location.

2. Apartments meant for the economically lower section of the US society (the labor class) are largely filled by Indians (the rent is cheap!!!).

3. The state transport buses which were once miracles in Oldsmar could be spotted quite frequently these days. And guess who's travelling - Indians.

4. Gym, swimming pools, public courts, you name it - Indians are everywhere and even worse, their population has grown like insects and the facilities are constantly occupied by them.

5. Walk around the client office and chances are that you end up seeing an Indian in every direction you turn. This may not be true with Americans. :)

And what is the sole reason for having so many Indians - outsourcing and hence outsourcing is bad. This is what majority of the local population believes.

So is this true? Or rather what is the degree of truth in these statements? Let us take a closer look.

The first and foremost thing is cost of operation to the US companies. A truly capitalistic nation should try to minimize its expenses and do good to its people and that's precisely what US does as on date. If an American charges $100 per hour for a job, an Indian does it for $20 or $30. This might sound untruthful but this is the reality. And guess what - the person who comes to the client location has all the expenses that a normal American has and still he is paid peanuts. And surprrrrrrrrrrise! The Indian is able to save quite some money and spend it for his economically downtrodden family back in India. What this means is that an average American charges n times as much as an Indian worker for the same job and trying to justify this, is a policy that US hates - communism.

Second is an impression that Indians do not pay taxes. I'm not sure how much an American pays as taxes. But as an Indian in US, I could say for sure that Indians pay a considerable sum of their earnings as taxes.

Third, the development of businesses that depend on demand-supply system are largely benefited by the floating population. Instances are groceries, household appliances, leasing, mortgage, automobiles, garage, etc.

I could keep listing reasons in this direction but suffice it is to say that outsourcing serves as a benefit to the American client, the American Government, the Indian/American vendor and thousands of Indian families. If the objective is to truly reduce outsourcing and make sure that local population is getting employed, the right way to do it is to compete with the Indian employees in the cost quoted just like it happens in any other business. After all, the lowest bidder wins and so is the case here! Might be hard to digest but this is the naked truth behind all these outsourcing myths.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

An Indian tale...

Sridhar Thyagarajan is an ambitious youngster in his late teens just out of his schooling. He is fair, tall and had piercing eyes that'd spell-bind any girl. Even though the society called them 'upper class'; his family's economic position wasn't any close to it. Sridhar's dad was an accountant in a private firm and his mother was a home-maker. His dad was one among the Julius Caesars of the middle class, who is constantly at war with his liabilities and commitments to meet the basic needs of his family. Right from his childhood Sridhar wanted to become a doctor and the sight of a white coat and a stethoscope decorating him in his dreams was amazing and blissful. The urge in him and his inborn brilliance made him a constant topper especially in Biology.

But as luck would have it, Sridhar had a severe hepatitis attack that kept him in the hospital for 3 months. It was a devastating thing that not just emptied his dad's reserved peanuts but also took away valuable time that he needed to prepare for his board exams. With not even a month left to prepare for all the exams he managed to score a whopping 92%. But 92% wasn't good enough for a 'higher class' 'upper caste' aspirant to become a doctor. It was a crucial position where he might get lucky or unlucky; and all he could do is sit and watch what was about to happen like an injured captain watching his team play from the stands and praying for its victory.

The big day came and the auditorium in Chennai Medical college was flooded with youngsters moving around with papers and files; as busy as bees in a hive. Sridhar has never been as tense in his life. His dangling position gifted him with a sleepless night and endless prayers which were still running constantly in his mind. There was still one seat left in the 'Open Competition' quota and as the candidates were called in one by one for their turn, Sridhar's heart started thumping so loudly that he could hear it echoing across the oblivion. "Sridhar... Reg no 501484" called the peon and with an anxious mind, high adrenalin flow and shivering hands Sridhar stepped into the small room. The officer glanced at him, confirmed his identity and asked for Sridhar's community certificate. Sridhar hesitated and mumbled that "I don't need a community certificate sir! I'm an OC candidate". The officer looked at him like a doctor who let down his patient and said... "Sorry! All OC seats are full. We only have BC, MBC, SC and ST seats left". Sridhar tried to plead but realized that the officer was helpless...

As he walked out of the room with sweat replaced by tears, he heard the officer talking to himself - "Every year, there are vacancies that are left unfilled and poor fellows like these are denied a chance. It's the curse of this country" and Gandhi was smiling as usual above the officer's head with a shining plate under him that bore the words "An eye for an eye makes us all blind".

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Flag Day :)

It's been a year since I came to Tampa and days as usual have flown off like a Ferrari driven by Schumacher in the last lap of a F1 race. Looking back, this year has been different in a lot of ways.

On the career front, I'd say 2006 (or at least the first 8 or 9 months of the year) was much more active and I was an ambitious guy back then, trying to get my promotions and rewards to add color to my resume. Movies were the primary time-pass and I hardly did anything outside work and watching movies.

2007 on the other hand began with a promotion but as time progressed and as I got more used to the idiosyncrasies of the industry, work became more and more monotonous and hence irritating. After all possible pondering, I landed up in the US for the second time and this time it wasn't a short two months trip.

Life at US has been good for the most part and it gave me some virtues that I couldn't have acquired back in India. I sported a lot, traveled a lot, met some interesting personalities and learned how to handle them. With a lot of friends, India-like weather, a car and a laptop I'd say I'm comfortably settled at Tampa but good things don't last long and pretty soon I'd be moving out of this place with new hopes, aspirations and expectations. After all this endless travel is something that defines our lives and the route we travel is what differentiates us. Isn't it?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sports and me!

Ever since my childhood I've always been a XXL (in Indian standards)! :) I tend to spend time on self-analysis, thoughts, movies, strategic games and perhaps magazines and books at times. Given that there are just 24 hours a day and out of that I spend at least 10-12 hrs (on a holiday) sleeping, this implies that I hardly got any time for sports. To complement this, the environment I grew up was not like a colony in Manirathnam's Anjali (see video below to get a feel of what I'm talking about).

It was a good mix of upper middle class, laborers and middle class families (let's say 10%, 50% and 40% respectively) each having their own aspirations and interests. With the lack of space and conflicting status/interests, we kids hardly got along with each other; let alone playing together. The wheezing trouble I had during my childhood was the chief of all these hindrances and it almost put a full stop on sporting. The best I played was during my summer hols when we played cricket and badminton and when I say summer hols it should be presumable that I'm talking about my high school days! Even during college, when I got involved in a wide variety of activities, the sports section of my resume still remained blank! :)

Years ran by, things changed and today I'm in US as a Software Engineer and I'd say this is the most active portion of my life as far as sports are concerned. Tennis, Volley ball, Table Tennis, Swimming and a bit of cricket, basketball and snooker have all become my frequent and favorite hobbies. I'd say tennis is the best of the lot in my view and my interest in the game has grown a lot off-late. Playing a physically consuming game like tennis is quite refreshing indeed.

Irrespective of the game that we play, there is just one constant factor to win - reduce the errors and at some point the opponent will commit a mistake. It's taken 25 long years to infer this basic rule and I wish, pray and hope that this trend continues and keeps me fit before I start becoming a XXL in US standards (trust me a XXL here is almost twice as wide as a XXL in India).

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tommies and Pussies

Having talked a lot about politics, religion, philosophy, girls, India and culture; I thought of writing something different and I resorted to talk about pets. The title is to denote dogs and cats; and no pun whatsoever is intended ;)

Pets are amazing indeed and the affection of your dog or the funny sleep of your cat will surely alleviate all your stress and bring up the smile that you badly needed. At times, pets are so shrewd that they leave us awestruck with their intelligence. Some of the videos I've seen in YouTube on such wonderful pets were mind blowing and I've embedded the top 3 here.

Feel like saying "What are you trying to say? Pets are cool... We know that and you don't have to tell us that!"? I'm not finished yet and in fact I'm yet to start the actual topic. :) As much animal lover as I am, I'm dumbfounded by the pet craze in US. People do love their pets in India and I'd say at least 30% of the Indian homes have pets of some sort but in US I'd say at least 75% homes have pets and the best part is that a huge portion of their fortune is spent in maintaining their pets. It's not uncommon to see a fat lady in a Wal-mart counter purchasing items for 100$, most of which would be pet care products and pet food. In fact, I've seen people who take a day off because their cat wasn't active in the morning or their dog is not eating properly. No exaggeration - I've seen them in person.

Why this difference and why so much importance to an animal when husbands/wives are divorced for silly reasons (snoring in the night for example)? Let me put in my thoughts on this... As usual put in all the disclaimers that relieve me from the clutches of generalization. It's purely my way of interpreting it and at times I might even be wrong. Humans are social animals and almost every man and woman need a companion and a society to survive. But the problem starts when it comes to drawing a line defining the personal limits and defining the term 'my space'. Everyone (or let's make it almost everyone) wants a kind, loving, caring, affectionate, trustworthy counterpart who never opposes his/her views and orders. When both the guy and the girl (let's forget about gays and lesbians for a second here) feel the same way, naturally things are bound to fall apart and the relationship breaks. The Indian society at least tries to answer this by stating that patience is one of the greatest virtues of a girl and it is important that a girl adjusts well with the new family she gets into. But when this is not defined, things are bound to go bad in the name of ego and liberty. The alternative to this never-ending quest for the ideal partner is replaced by the love for pets and the sight of a dog running to them at the snap of their fingers elates their soul and makes them feel they are God. With the loosely coupled society isolating them and pets giving them the happiness and company they need, they become indispensable family members and are given more or at least as much importance as the family members.

Wait a minute... Did I say in the beginning of the post that I didn't want to talk about philosophy and culture? Oops! I did it again... :D

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Non-Resident Indian parents

I've already spoken about the problems faced by Indians in completely adapting to a culture due to ideology conflicts. The height of that, I'd say is the way Non-Resident Indian parents bring up their kids.

Americans bring up their kids in a totally different fashion. The syllabus is limited and the elective concept is brought in at very early stages of their curriculum. Parents hardly shout at their kids and even when committing mistakes, kids will not be reprimanded. Indian education traditionally has been of high standards and until the child comes to an age where s/he can decide what is needed and what is not, choices are not provided. In the recent past, things have become tougher with parents forcing their kids to excel not only in education but in extra/co-curricular activities too. An average Indian parent would say his/her child should rank first in the state, play cricket like Tendulkar, chess like Viswanathan Anand, sing like SPB/Chitra as the case may be and be an obedient son/daughter. Somehow the concept of normal distribution and the fact that there is just one first place is not getting into their heads.

So how do Indian parents manage in a completely different setup? It's real fun to watch them discuss child care among themselves. "Rahul has turned 3 and counts better than the American kids. I don't know if it's good or bad", "The culture here is too different and kids need their liberty here", "Araksha (don't ask me if it is a name... Hard sounding, short Sanskrit names are fashion today) is not talking well these days... I guess we should change the day-care" are some of the most popular dialogs in the list. With no elders to guide them, with no idea on child care, folks who are are not even 30 and filled with confusion pretend to be real mature adults and the consequences become obvious. With their Indian minds not getting generous enough to accept the American culture and the American society not allowing them to think of any other option, Indian parents always stand on a thin red line when it comes to bringing up their children especially when it comes to girls.

Indian society today might be too fast for an average kid and comparisons have always been the heritage of Indian parents. Nevertheless Indian way of bringing up kids in my opinion scores better than the American way in that kids are exposed to a lot of things at least by force and the family embosses culture and tradition into the kid's mind. As Chanakya rightly says, a kid under 5 years is to be treated like a darling, a kid between 5 and 10 is to be scolded when they commit mistakes and when the kid turns sixteen, s/he should be treated like a friend. That is when a balance between value and freedom will be established.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The name is Rajinikanth

I'm not planning to review the book by Gayathri Srikanth here. But as a fan of the superstar, I'm presenting my views on him and the reason for his success.

If you are not familiar with the Indian film industry, I'm talking about the highest paid actor in India and perhaps Asia too - Superstar Rajinikanth. Yes! There are no real comparisons anywhere in the net that state Jackie Chan earns more than Superstar and even if that is the case, we are talking about the second highest paid actor in the whole of Asia. Had it not been for the $ to INR conversion rates, he'd be the highest paid in the world.

So what made him such a huge star?

Does he act in all Asian languages? No! He acts predominantly in Tamil movies (a language spoken only in one state among the 28 states in India).

Was there no great heroes when he came into the industry - No! Kamal Haasan was a well established hero when Superstar came into the industry. There were heroes from the previous generation who were still ruling the industry.

Has he won any Oscars? No! He doesn't do art films...

Is it all just hype? No! The producers of his films are happily paying him the money and they get so much in return that they could start their next film. Eyes shut!

No clue? There are three simple words that explain his success - style, charisma and simplicity. Ever since my childhood, superstar was an icon of style. His walk, his smile, his voice, his dialog delivery and every gesture of his is loaded with style. I've embedded a sample from the movie 'Padayappa' here.

Superstar adds a unique charisma to a movie. Regardless of age and gender, he mesmerizes everyone by his presence. Dynamism, fast paced story track and electrifying dialogs are trademarks of Superstar movies. Even in comedy roles, Superstar is stunning and this scene from his arguably best comedy film 'Thillu Mullu' is a proof!

Simplicity is the biggest plus of superstar and perhaps it is the rarest thing you could see in a celebrity of his cadre. He never hesitates to come out in his natural appearance which is far different from what his fans see on the silver screen. After all he's nearing his sixties and age has some effect on his appearance (see pics below). He never says he's great or he is the best. He donates a lot to charity, turned into a spiritual person maturing with age and keeps away from publicity as much as possible.

Even the story lines in Superstar movies are quite simple and are usually one-liners. That frees his fans from the need to follow the story carefully and provides the freedom to enjoy Superstar to the fullest! Everyone watching the movie will have something to admire in him and when you come out of the movie, you will really feel light which is why half of the Indian audience come to movies. To a laborer who spent all day toiling under the scorching sun, movies are the only source of entertainment and what he needs is a stress buster that completely entertains him and quite naturally there is no better alternative than Superstar's movies.

To make a long story short, it's not easy to retain a huge fan following for decades and if Superstar Rajnikanth is able to do it, it's not without reasons.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Top 10 Class 'A' actors ever...

If you had a chance to read my post named 'Anderson... Sam Anderson', I spoke about three flavors of actors and this post is about the first flavor of actors I spoke about - actors who dedicate themselves and provide the best quality output to their fans. Again, it's not a universal constant and art is complemented by the reach, interest and admiration of the viewers. So out of the movies I've seen, the acting I've enjoyed and the performances that made a difference (in Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and English movies), I've picked 10 great actors and their (arguably) best performance, of course limited by the availability in You Tube.

Sivaji Ganesan:

He's considered to be the best actor in Tamizh film industry so far. I've embedded the clip from Devar Magan where he and Kamal haasan talk to each other about the violence in their village. Kamal would try his best to match him, but Sivaji just outranks Kamal.

Kamal Haasan:

Not a surprise entry in this list! One of the best and arguably the second best actor in Tamizh cinema industry. A natural actor who fits neatly into any kind of role given to him. The clip below is just one example from the movie Mahanadhi.

Tom Hanks:

We usually call him the Sivaji Ganesan of Hollywood. An amazing actor who acts so naturally that it's hard to believe he is actually acting. His dedication for Cast Away just blew me off.


One of the greatest actors in the history of Tamizh cinema. He shines as a comedian, a villain, a character artist and what not! The piece from the movie Nammavar where he reacts to the death of his daughter is the outstanding piece IMHO.

Al Pacino:

One of my all time favorites. You could see the clip below from the movie 'The Scent of a Woman' and understand why the God Father is the favorite to so many across the world.


Balayya is synonymous to natural acting in the dictionary of Tamizh viewers in the past generation. An amazing actor who molds himself just so easily and his dialog delivery style is quite famous and its considered a Balayya trademark. The scene from Kadhalikka Neramillai is the classic example.

Aamir Khan:

Even though I haven't seen hundreds of Hindi movies, I've seen the performances of almost all the contemporary heroes. Eyes shut, Aamir is my all time favorite when it comes to Hindi movies.


A natural actor who acts with a personal touch. He starts living as the character and puts in things that he would do if he were the person he is enacting. I love him not only for his acting but also as a person.

Russel Crowe:

The Gladiator is one of the typical examples of his talent. His specialty is the small expressions that make a huge difference. A simple glare, an apparently invisible smile and a gesture would suit so naturally to the situation and the character.


A born villain I'd say. His body language, voice and gestures are quite so prominent that he is mimicked in almost all stage performances. The interview scene in the movie Mudhalvan is his masterpiece.

Hope you enjoyed the 'My favorite scenes' session!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Pursuit of Happiness

One of my all time favorite movies is 'The Pursuit of Happyness' starring Will Smith. But as the spelling for happiness indicates in the subject, this is not about the movie and is yet another philosophical crap resulting from a few hours of glare at the roof of my bedroom. Hope it doesn't get too heavy for you...

As the movie states happiness is something pursued and not something that is existing. A beggar gets happy if he gets some food to live on, while a millionaire (and a software engineer too) hardly cares about timely food. The situation is the same but the context is different and one is immensely happy about it while the other hardly considers it.

Thinking down this path to the days when man evolved from a bunch of apes, I could observe the best catch 22 situation I've ever seen. After all it is God who assembled the pieces in the puzzle and it is bound to be beautiful. Animals spend all their life roaming around, feeding and reproducing; and hardly any sense could be made out of their lives apart from the instinct to exist and preserve their species. Man on contrary claims that he possesses the sixth sense which has to question, reason and comprehend everything in and around him. This led to a lot of inventions/discoveries and the creation of the most (arguably) evil concept - money. With the mind or the sixth sense cruising in all directions, man needed a standard base akin to a logarithmic base to compare and contrast individuals and fortunately or unfortunately the standard became wealth and then money. Once the standard was established, people started running madly behind money and save a few, men keep running for generations together in search of money. But if you talk to a wealthy person, his needs from the heart of his hearts are simple - peace, health and 'happiness'. In this context, he pursues happiness as a worry free life and all the three requisites he listed were something that existed in/with humans when they were nomads living like other animals.

A nomad who wanted to satisfy his thirst for knowledge built a world around him and in the end he yearns to get his nomadic life back. Now isn't that poetic?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Onsite-Offshore model

If you are familiar with IT (Information technology) jargons, the term 'Onsite Offshore model' would not be new to you. But if you are not remotely related to IT, then this might sound as beautiful a phrase as 'for the people, by the people and of the people' would sound to a citizen under a tyrant's rule. This is a funny yet true narration on what this model is all about!

With virtually every youngster* in India getting into IT these days, India has quite a lot of Information Technologists. An intelligent business man taps these resources and builds an IT organization usually ending with the phrase - 'Consultancy Services' or 'Technology Solutions'. The business man realizes that doing projects for 'Shamuga pandian steel rolling mill' or 'Bhuvaneshwari gas agency' is not going to be so profitable and the exchange rate is where the trick is. If an average employee in US gets 40$ per hour for a job, the 'IT giant' (by now the company calls itself by a lot of names and the most famous of the lot is this one) quotes 25$ per hour for the same job. The US company prepares a farewell speech for its current employee that states "Bill is an excellent resource and has been a pillar to our business from the day we started...." and offers the job to the IT giant. To the IT giant the 25$ quote is a profitable business because the company gets 25 * 40 (the exchange rate for a USD in INR rounded off to the nearest tangible number) = 1000 INR (hope my math is right :D) per hour for an employee for a project. An average software professional gets around 35K INR per month and that means for 160 hours of work (at least that is the official number) he gets paid for 35 hours and guess where the rest of the money goes! Big deal...

However there is one problem. To a US company that doesn't know about this 'IT giant' it is hard to digest and believe the fact that everything could be done thousands of mile apart without a single soul in front of them. But if all the workforce is shifted to the client location, then the giant would no longer be in business (remember the *40 factor). That is when the IT giant comes up with the most innovative idea - "Onsite Offshore model". According to that model, a scape goat will be identified to sit in the client location (a.k.a. onsite) and smile at the client when asked to and give a serious look in meetings when the situation demands. Ideally this scape goat is supposed to understand the client requirements narrated in funky English, guide the offshore team and get the work done in stringent schedules. In return of his favor, he'll be paid in USD and due to the fabulous 40 factor, there is an omnipresent urge among the Indian IT professionals (?!) to become scape goats. Ironically, the team that is provided to the scape goat will largely be composed of freshers and trainees who haven't seen any real time code. This means that he has an offshore team to talk to but not a team where he can get the work from. At times the luck is reversed and the offshore team sits day and night at the office to deliver the project on time while the onsite representative just gives in a call to follow up on the status of the tasks allocated.

Apart from these folks, there is a third category - managers. Process Manager, Delivery Manager, Account Manager, Assistant Manager, Manager, Client partner, you name it. The purpose of these managers is to make sure everything is 'up and running', get more business for the company and try to cut down the expenses as much as possible. Quite often the third factor leads in scape goats being used as multi-purpose resources.

If you are an American and you see a lot of Indian population in your locality, don't be mad that the US Government has become so liberal in allowing immigrants. It's just that the onsite-offshore model is working out to benefit an American business and an Indian family; and in most cases the Indians you see are going to get back to India sooner or later.

* - Note to statistics experts - this is a hyperbole and not meant to reflect exact numbers.