Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bomb Blasts - The Bigger Message

As Al Gore mentioned in his speech that I saw earlier today, technology on one side contributes to the development of the human community but on the other side, it has led to some of the most destructive and suicidal inventions that question the existence of the human race! Certain inventions leave us puzzled and we often wonder if they are really boons or banes; and to me explosives are the most hypocritic inventions of mankind. While they are extremely useful in 'destruction for construction', they also contribute to the 'non-constructive destruction' that is illustrated at Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Turkey, Sri Lanka and a lot of other places where people are killed and massacred just so that some senseless group communicates its message to the world! But the real message that is being communicated by every bomb that goes off is just one - the death of humanity!

No one is going to live forever. We don't even know if we would be alive tomorrow; or for that matter if earth would be existent 100 years down the line. Then what is the point in fighting over abstract concepts and killing each other in the most undiplomatic fashion? What sin did a two year old kid waiting for her dad's arrival do; to have her innocent and affectionate father permanently taken away from her just so that someone else communicates a message to the Government?! Where would we end up after killing each other in the name of religion, caste, creed, race, nationality, hatred, greed, politics and a million other ways we have invented to divide ourselves? Do we really want to stare and stay away from every other human being, fearing if there is a belt of RDX that surrounds him/her? Is this the kind of insecurity that we would like our kids to have? Do we really want the next generation to live like rats fighting predation day after day? Nobody would be left even to fight if we keep killing each other at this rate...

Anything good will not prevent a man from valuing another human life and anything that makes a man ignore the value of another life cannot be good. The world is our home and the least help we can do to each other is to ensure peace to our neighbors and fellow human beings. Let's join hands, awaken the humans in us, make this world a better place to live in and let humanity live longer!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Chinky Chunk

But for a very few with whom I shared this incident, I guess the topic would be quite confusing, providing no real clarity on what I'm going to talk about. Never mind! You'll get to know as you read... :)

If you try to identify the speciality or the remarkably special characteristic of the US, the demographic cocktail out here would top the list. Caucasians, Hispanics, Asians, Indians, Africans... You name it and you'll find them in the US and this means that you have as many different flavors of English out here. At times, the English is so customized that you won't even recognize the language! But the most interesting of the lot is the Chinese version of English (Chinish?! :)) and one would love the way they speak as long as s/he is not the person who is supposed to understand what the Chinese person is trying to say! Seriously... You would find it so musical when a Chinese guy speaks English and the expressiveness in their sentences is just unbeatable. After all we are talking about people who exhausted the various combinations of rectangles, squares, lines and angles in the name of alphabets!! :) They almost perform a mono acting while trying to communicate; and sentences like "You don't fix the brake the car goes whohohohohoho (imitating a vibrating steering wheel)" are the building blocks of Chinish.

One thing that I never knew was that Chinese in US are called 'Chinky' by the people who take special interest in nick naming - Indians. :) Indians in US are called Desis, Mexicans in US are called Makkus (they might be offended if they knew what it means in Tamizh), Caucasians are called Goras and analogically Chinese are called 'Chinkies'... I guess now you got an idea on what I'm going to talk about... (You thought I already got into the topic?! Nice try!)

This Saturday I went into a Chinky 'hair studio' (that's how they called it) just for the sake of saving a couple of dollars (when it comes to spending, the desi in me starts roaring :D)... Usually I hate to wait but that day the studio ;) was kinda crowded and I had no choice but to wait! But pretty soon I realized that it's not a monotonous wait but it's entertainment altogether! Right from the moment I was welcomed with a couple of high intensity voices that got me stunned for a moment; the show started. An old Chinky man and a middle aged Chinky woman ran the show... The old man had a special zeal towards fantasizing and talking which kept him going on and on and on. On the other hand the Chinky lady was trying to be courteous and lively which made her crack jokes that left me laughing at her rather than the jokes. I was finding it difficult to control my giggle and I turned towards the pile of completely disinteresting magazines and pretended to choose one whenever I was smiling uncontrollably.

Like the classic comedy from the Tamizh movie Karagaattakkaaran where Goundamani says "Japaan la jackie saan koopptaaga...", the guy was telling all possible stories related to Chinese celebrities. "Jackie chan my good friend", "I teach Kung Fu... this just part time", "Jet Li you know... I taught Kung fu to Jet Li" and all possible fantasy stories in Chinish filled the air. Many would've noticed that barbers usually make their guests happy by comparing them to film heroes and our chinky was no exception. But since it is US and there were representatives from all ethnicities, the comparisons varied from Harrison Ford to Bollywood (I was the bollywood victim and I was thinking 'yenkittayaevaa?')!

Another class of comic moments you could encounter is desis 'being nice' to others in US :) They always smile and try to continue the conversation desperately failing to get the continuity and managing that with an artificial smile and a nod! Imagine a Gulte (from Andra) talking to the chinky lady about Oracle shares... Man... that was a sight indeed!

The best of the lot was when a Hispanic guy was getting his hair designed (afterall it's a studio!) and the conversation switched over to his kids. He said he had two kids and the Chinky lady who was completing the damage done by the senior chinky to my scalp got curious and questioned "Twins?" and our senior chinky replied "No twins... one by one!". I would've been ROTFL but for the electric razor just below my ears! :) When the conversation continued the senior chinky mentioned about a black lady who had twins one white and one black (world news you see) and all of a sudden he said "I had two puppies... brother and sister... both white puppies but mother black... if the hair is black it is black dog... if the hair is white it is white dog"! I was praying that the Hispanic guy shouldn't get offended while irresistably smiling at the statement.

When I paid the money the chinky lady said "Sanku... Next time come 1 o clock... you come just before open and you wait...", I thought why wouldn't I wait to watch such an entertainer!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The CMM level of Indian cinema

Though I said Indian cinema to generalize things and CMM level to remind you that I'm a Software Engineer, the intention was to talk about the improvements in Tamil cinema over years...

Regional language industries like Tamil (Tamizh), Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali, etc suffer one huge draw back - the reach... Unlike a hollywood movie that is released worldwide or a bollywood movie that is at least release all over India, a Kollywood (Tamizh) movie is supposes to be restricted to its province; thus shortening the reach, revenue and scope. For a long time, Tamizh industry was stuck to the traditional village stories or love failure stories; offered with varying screenplays and stunning pieces of music from Ilaiyaraja, MSV and others. But not anymore! Tamizh cinema and its reach is improving these days and there are some must-mention personalities who are making this happen.

The first person I'd like to mention here is Superstar Rajinikanth... So called film critics accuse him of taking up the heroism line at the compromise of the story! To me a movie's purpose is entertainment and if it does so, then it serves the purpose. In that sense, superstar's movies exceed the expectations (again in Software jargon). The reason I mention him as the first person in the list is the reach and fan following he has; and the extent to which it has taken Tamizh movies across the world. Japan, South Africa, Malaysia and a lot of other countries where Tamizh is not a common language screened his movie Sivaji without subtitles and still made truckloads of money. Of course I'd be biased if I don't mention Kamal haasan who strives to produce world class movies and improve the standard of Tamizh movies, in terms of the technical departments. A movie like Hey Ram or Anbe Sivam speaks for itself. However I'd still name him second because of his attitude to inject his personal opinions in a movie and a slightly ego-centric approach to film making which often leaves film makers in a huge loss.

Second comes the production department. Ever since Prakashraj started producing films, Tamizh cinema has become more beautiful I'd say. His productions Mozhi, Kanda naal mudhal and azhagiya theeye were exemplar movies to new comers interested in taking non-commercial and lovely movies. Though the credit goes to Radha Mohan and Priya for giving such beautiful movies, it takes a Prakashraj to fund the cause and color the dreams of an artist. Same holds good with mega-budget producers who spend a lot to deliver a rich movie in all aspects.

In the direction department, there are a lot of newcomers with a passion of making lovely movies and some of them indeed craft picture-perfect movies. The person who tops this list in my view is Radha Mohan. One could proudly boast the greatness of Tamizh cinema with his creations. Even in Tollywood (telugu industry) there are a lot of talented newbies coming up, passing fresh blood across the veins of a conventional and sluggish industry. I don't think it requires the mention of legendary directors like Mani Rathnam here; but at the same time directors like Mani speak for themselves while directors like Radha Mohan speak for the industry they represent. The difference is that Mani directs movies in Hindi as well and people in North India know him as a hindi film director than a Tamizh film director; and vice versa. But people like Radha Mohan carry the industry with them and when Mozhi was screened at Cannes film festival, people knew the exact industry he represents and came to know of a language called Tamizh and the classy films that are made in that language, as opposed to viewing it as yet another part of Indian film industry.

The other most important area which actually made me write this post is art direction. Outside religious movies, art direction in Tamizh cinema has always been a debatable topic until the last decade or so. But a movie like Iruvar or Hey Ram or the recent Subramaniapuram have completely renamed art-direction. Manirathnam, Kamal haasan and Shankar take a special reward in this segment to the extent of perfectionism they expect, resulting in world class art-direction. The latest hit song 'Kangal Irandaal' from Subramaniapuram is a standing example of this positive trend in art direction. The amount of care taken to depict Madurai in the 80s is just amazing... Silver colored Pandian Roadways Corporation buses (which have been renamed as TNSTC and colored these days), posters of old films like Kaali (Superstar starrer), Gouravam (a 70s movie starring Sivaji Ganesan) and Oru thalai raagam adorn the background. Not to mention the very small sequence that happens in the Meenakshi temple. I'm sure that temple authorities wouldn't have permitted shooting in the temple and I was literally reminded of the Sundareshwarar shrine (including the dimensions, the lighting, architecture, etc) when I looked at this small sequence in the song.

The only area that is yet to improve a lot is Graphics/Visual effects and this seriously limits the ability of Indian directors to take up fantasy stories like Shrek or The Lord of the Rings. I'm pretty surprised that despite having a large volume of software engineers and multimedia specialists in India, the film industry is still lagging in this area. I hope this turns out to be better in the upcoming days...

Overall, the trend is positive and even though making a movie like Troy or Titanic (in terms of the richness, art direction, etc) is going to be a distant dream for the Indian film industry (given the currency exchange rates and the useless politics in India), I'm sure that the day an Indian movie gets an Oscar is not too far!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Gandhiism - Will it work today?

The reason behind the topic is a movie again but I didn't want to write a hat-trick review and the movie (Aayudham Seivaom) didn't deserve one either... :)

Let me put the story in a nut-shell before I start with my view of the whole thing... A rowdy who believes in violence to get things done, meets a staunch Gandhiian and develops belief in that ideology. He starts his fasting to get justice in a murder case that has no evidences whatsoever and he gains public support due to the course of action he has taken for the struggle. This becomes such a huge issue that in the end the villain himself realizes his mistake and surrenders. Ahimsa wins...

My question is, is this an accurate prediction? Is Ahimsa a great weapon in itself today too? Let us see...

First and foremost, Ahimsa is a beautiful concept in itself and it'll surely make this world a much better place to live in. Hinduism considers this as one of the highest virtues that a human being can possess. So ahimsa as a concept in itself is beautiful and if everyone follows it, nothing like that.

Now that said, let us come to the applicability of Ahimsa as a weapon. Let me refrain from talking about Gandhiji for a moment here and talk only about Ahimsa, since my views on Gandhiji as a person have been quite controversial. All said and done, at least as a father of my nation, I have to respect this man and so will I.

Hinduism believes in one basic concept. The dharma or the rules that govern people will differ between the Yugas (the eras) and what is applied in one era will not be completely suitable in the other because of the changing human attitude and the (negative?!) evolution that humans undergo. In the same way, if we are talking about the 1800s or the early 1900s, the Indian society was extremely different and people led a liesurely life where they had time to cooperate and coexist with each other. In that kind of a setup if a person goes on fast, the news spreads and people become concerned about the person and may be they will help him accomplish his mission, depending on the validity in it.

Let us look at the India today (don't ask me which publication of the 'India today' magazine :)). Population has literally exploded and people have become more and more self-centered. You cannot blame them for that because they have the basic need to exist and survive in the maddening crowd. In this setup, if someone tries to follow ahimsa to get his justice, he wouldn't even be noticed no matter how long he sits on the street. And if it is a protest against someone in power, a sniper would aim the guy's head as shown in the movie but unlike what happens in the movie, the bullet wouldn't hit his shoulders but the center of his forehead.

If everything could be done in the Ahimsa way, why does Indian Penal Code (Section 302 if movies are right :)) have capital punishment as its integral part? Quite equally violence is not the answer to everything and it is disastrous. The answer to this question comes from Chankya in one simple line "Saama, Dhaana, Baedha, Dhandam". Try to talk... If it doesn't work, go for bargains... If bargains don't work, try to divide and conquer... Only when the entire sequence fails go for punishments. To me, this is the only rule that can be universally applied to any problem and any situation.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Vallamai Tharayo Tamil Movie Review

Two movie reviews back to back and my blog starts looking more like a movie review site; but I can't help it. I don't find any logic in my life at this moment and my only vent for the past few days have been movies, movies and more movies. Usually what I write is what I feel at that moment and at this moment, Vallamai Thaaraayao (as I would spell it) or Vallamai tharayo (as it is commonly spelt) is occupying my mind. So here we go...

One word review - Average.

Madhumitha proves that she is a debutant in a lot of ways but I should say the movie wasn't bad either. A heroine centered movie is a quite rare phenomenon in Indian cinema especially in Kollywood and this is surely one as one could infer from the trailer.

Story in a few lines:

Nandhitha (Chaaya singh) is from a conservative village family. All through her life she has been told that Shekhar (Srikanth) would be her fiance and all of a sudden she is forced to marry Anand (Parthiban) because of some problems arising between the two families. What happens in Nanditha's life after that is what this movie is about.

Plus points: Dialogs especially towards the end. For the rest, the BGM scores at some places. Chaaya singh has also done justice to her role.

Negative points: Well too many in this area. Karunaas tops the list. Horrible comedies for which I couldn't even manage to smile. Cast/Characterization - Parthiban for a young husband. Servant maid who speaks very eloquent Tamizh and at time uses English words too. Madhumitha should've thought a little bit on these things.

Ignoring logical errors like airtel recorded message coming up for a number abroad, Nandhitha failing to talk to Sekhar even once, appointing a servant maid just like that and letting her wander around the house without any discomfort, etc, etc... the movie still has a solid theme. The second half of the movie is much better than the first half and the scenes where Chaaya singh bursts out in tears, the scene where Parthiban explains how to take life to Chaaya singh and a few other scenes were simply superb. So Madhumitha is capable of making powerful movies but she needs some training and guidance; is what I felt after seeing the movie.

If you are bored and ok for an average (oru dhadava paakkalaam type) movie, then Vallamai tharayo won't disappoint you. But if you are expecting a solid movie crafted to perfection, your expectations will not be met.

Jane Tu Ya Jane Na (JTYJN) Hindi Movie Review

If you are a person who hates to read detailed reviews, my one word review on this movie is 'Excellent'. Just watch it!

So you aren't that impatient... Good! So let's get into the details.

The story of the movie is not new, the way it is narrated is not new, the screenplay is not new; but it's a combination of the best (for the most part) features from different movies that shone in the individual departments. Imagine a love story with a lot of gang mazaa in it, narrated like a fairy tale with a lot of interesting characterizations! That's JTYJN for you... You will be spell bound to this awesome entertainer.

Now that said, there are a couple of negatives about this movie too. The story line is too predictable (in fact it falls into this Indian trend of setting up a casual scene to reveal something that is going to happen later on in the movie) and a lousy climax even for a fairy tale movie. Somehow the armed guards/police officers/black cats in Indian movies always carry a state-of-the-art gun but never shoot unless they are a part of the villain gang :)

Performance of the stars deserve a special mention. Genelia gets artificial at times but in this movie, she has done complete justice to her role. Not just Genelia but Imran Khan, Pratik Smit Babbar, Manjari Phadnis, Ratna Pathak shah, Jayant Kriplani, Anuradha Patel, Rajat Kapoor, Kittu Gidwani, Paresh Rawal have all done a wonderful job. In the acting department I should give a 10/10 for this movie.

Plus points: Narration, screenplay, dialogs and especially the characterizations
Negative points: Too much of fantasy added to a simple movie, lousy climax, predictable story line.

In short, it's worth your money and do watch it!

Still not satisfied? You are someone like me who likes to understand minute things about the movie, admire them and then go out to watch the movie? Well... pleased to meet you! Let's discuss a bit of detail.

Spoiler Alert:

As I mentioned, this is only for those who 'study' a movie before/after watching it. If you prefer not to know much about the scenes before watching the movie, then I'd recommend you to continue reading after you watch the movie.

There were certain things that I simply loved in this movie. Let me talk a little bit about them.

The heredity stuff:

Having decided to present a fantasy story with a horse-riding hero in it, the director has seamlessly inter-twined heroism and fantasy into this story via the hero's family background. Hailing from a Rathod family; horse-riding, fights are all born with him, in him. And the way his dead father interacts with his mom is simply superb and well narrated/characterized.

The brother character:

Such a deep characterization. Lonely, solitary, artistic, casual, talented, yet loser-branded person. His dialogs were awesome in the scene where he explains how important his sister is to him and in the scene where he explains why the hero suits her better than the groom that their parents recommend.


She is not the heroine of the movie and again as usual you need some girl to induce the possessiveness in the heroine and thus comes in Meghna. I was simply dumbfounded by the level of psychology that goes behind her characterization. A girl who loves her parents a lot and hates to see them fight; starts to develop a voluntary habit of fantasizing. She tries to see something great about everything so that the world around her is perfect at least in her view. Should say hats off again.

The narration:

Though this style of narration is nothing new, it perfectly fits this movie. The best part about it is that unnecessary lengthy scenes are cut-short in the form of predictions from the listener. That makes the movie all the more interesting and even the intermission was completely casual unlike usual movies where you have some shocking incident, heavy bgm, hero's face shown in closeup and all that crap. :)

The only thing I could do beyond this, is to provide you the link to this movie just in case you don't have it released in theaters nearby. If you do have that option, I'd strongly recommend it not just for the efforts behind the movie but also for the entertainment it provides.

Download Jane Tu Ya Jane Na (JTYJN) movie at:

Friday, July 4, 2008

What should I scribble?

Blogging at least to me, is about inspiration... I laugh at certain things, I'm moved by a few happenings, I have a million unanswered questions in me and all these enter into the world through the libran's window (ok chill... :))

But when gloomy feelings cloud your mind, they never let the light of clarity enter through their impervious layers. I was thinking of writing about quite a few topics over this week but everytime I get to this screen, and think of those topics, they sound like the most disinteresting topics to me and my mind immediately says "what crap are you trying to put up!"! Not that none of those incidents left any impact in me but just that my mind is too loaded to think about anything else.

Given the sense of purposelessness that is consuming the maximum processor ticks, the only thing I remember is the conversation I had with one of my good friends. He was trying to say he is dead already and living makes no sense to him; and I was trying to defend the system of life and death. But cutting out religion, philosophy, soul, jeevathma, re-births and a million other things that could possibly explain the system; is there an answer to the plain simple question - "what am I doing here?". I really doubt it. When you and the society around you is filled with mortality what sense could you possibly make? Did man invent money and develop material interests just to feel important, complicate and there by make things interesting? Is this like some game that we play to wade off time while waiting for the train? If I assume that re-births are not true and my life is going to end when I perish, does it make any real sense to be forced to play a game just so that I can wade time and wait for the end? Honestly, I don't have an answer...