My World This Week #2

Watched the movie ‘Despicable Me’ on Sunday morning. Kids movie and a good one too, considering that the ticket price was just £1. Had I known that cinemas price their tickets so low for Sunday morning shows for selected kids movies, I would have taken Anirud for lot more movies than we have. Anyway, better late than never.

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Malyasia Vasudevan – what a gifted singer he was. Sang so many high-pitched songs naturally and his voice is definitely unique. Many of the vintage Rajini songs still stay in our mind because of MV’s voice. ‘Podhuvaaga En Manasu thangam’ (Murattu Kaalai), ‘Manidhan Manidhan’ (Manidhan), ‘Aagaya Gangai’ (Dharma Yuddham’, ‘Poongaatru thirumbuma’ (Mudhal Mariyadhai), ‘Aatukutti muttaiyittu’ (16 Vayadhinile) are some of his many evergreen songs. May his soul rest in peace.

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Enjoyed every bit of PM Manmohan Singh’s presser last week. I am so glad that he called for such a press conference. There were quite a few who believed on his so-called ‘Mr Clean’ tag. If not anything, last week took Mr Clean to cleaners and showed him what he is (in)capable of. More than Manmohan Singh, a lot needs to be said about the media. But, less said the better for electronic media sucks big time.

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Almost six years after moving to my current locality, we just discovered a lovely book warehouse – just a mile away from our home. They are open only on the third weekend of every month and have an impressive collection of books. Best part is not their collection, but that they offer 80% discount on all their stocks. Another, better late than never story. Have I been closing my eyes all these years?

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Got £30 worth of Tesco vouchers that need to be used by the end of February. We were planning to use it for a day out since summer, but the weather gods seem to have different ideas. Looks like I may have to get their validity period extended. But, sonny seems very keen on going to ‘Cadbury World’. Lets see.

Ravanan

When I read the reviews on this movie yesterday that said ‘unforgivably boring’, it was unbelievable. How could a director like Maniratnam dish out a movie like that, although I made a similar comment for his ‘Uyire’. Despite the fact that every child brought up in India knows the storyline, we went to watch the movie (the Tamil version) at Cineworld, Feltham. Story is not a big deal, it is the screen play and the treatment that counts. Isn’t it? After all, don’t we believe Maniratnam is different from Ramanand Sagar.

One issue with Maniratnam is his past performance. He has set the bar so high for himself that one starts expecting so much in three hours, comparable to fans expecting Sachin to hit a century everytime he walks in to bat. One must commend the manner in which the film opened. No filmy introduction of hero, heroine or villain. Mani came straight to the point. Locales were great. Kudos to whoever chose them and full marks to Santosh Sivan for handling the camera. Scintillating scenes all through the movie, as his camera traverses through the mountains and jungles, most of the time in rain.

For some reason, may be because we know the story line – the film was not gripping. Especially the first half, where we always seem to know what is going to happen next. Who doesn’t know that Aishwarya is going to survive when she jumps off the cliff? In my opinion, that is biggest setback for the film. The thing that was sadly missed is a riveting screenplay like that of Roja’s (again, a known story treated with brilliant screenplay).

Vikram’s characterisation was just okay. Did Mani want to differentiate his hero by making him utter rubbish like ‘dan dan dannn…’ and ‘Bak bak bak..’? That was simply annoying. Aishwarya looked good and a lot better than any of her other Tamil movies of the past. In my opinion, she acted too. What to say of Prithiviraj? Apart from looking like Aishwarya’s younger brother, he was totally clueless about his role in the movie. Shouldn’t one show some emotion when his wife is kidnapped? A total misfit. Perhaps Surya, or may be even Arya or Vishal would have done a better job.

How about the Oscar winner? Good, if not great. Perhaps, Maniratnam is missing the services of writer Sujatha. He could have turned to pros like Balakumaran or Jeyamohan, rather than letting his better half handle that responsibility. That was another big let down. Comparitively, the second half was a lot better than the first and the manner in which the film ended was also nice.

Overall, the movie was worth watching once for its visuals. If you watch it as one another Tamil movie, it is a lot better than so many masala stuff that come out every other month. But if you go expecting one another stellar performance from Maniratnam, you’ll be disappointed. Watchable once, certainly not ‘unforgivably boring’. Forgivable, for it is Mani who taught us to expect class in Tamil movies.

IT Guys

While watching a forgettable movie titled ‘Maththiya Chennai’ (Why do I get to see such films?), there was a dialogue that roughly goes like ‘Due to the IT guys, the house rent has shot up in the city and we can’t afford the rent for a house. So, we have to live in the slum’. Of course, the dialogue was in Tamil and that is not the point here. In most of the ‘ordinary’ Tamil movies of yesteryears that were based on ‘us vs them’ thingy, the baddies or the people who need to change used to be filthy, rich, arrogant guys. Now that tribe has easily been replaced with ‘IT Guys’. If I am right, the trend started with the movie ‘Kattradhu Thamizh’ few years back. The movie took on the high-earning IT guys and held them responsible for the degeneration of other sectors.

Although I don’t agree with the sweeping generalisation, it has to be an accepted fact that IT sector is one of the factors for so many changes in places like Chennai – right from sky high rental value of properties to ‘keep the change’ culture. When I was in Chennai few months ago, on more than one occasion I heard people comment that ‘only you IT guys can afford that…’ etc. In a typical Chennai slang, an auto driver said to me ‘You look like an IT guy but you are bargaining for 20 bucks’. It is not a simple case of jealousy or anything like that. The social divide is loud and clear. Sooner it is addressed, the better it will be.

NY, CB, FPS, 3i et al

First things first. Happy New Year folks. Wishing you the best 2010 possible.

Although we were very much awake when the clock jumped over to 2010, we didn’t get to watch the usual fire works stuff on the telly. Instead, Ramya and I spent some quality time with our friends downstairs over pizza, burger, hot dogs and Malibu gossiping all night about someone who wasn’t known to half the people present there. Wasn’t that sweet?

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In the recent times Chetan Bhagat (CB) – Five Point Someone (FPS) – 3 Idiots (3I) controversy has really spiced up the twitter bitten folks like me. I have read all the four books authored by CB and FPS was the first one I started with. I have been following CB on Twitter for the last few months now and the way he was sharing the news about ‘3 Idiots’ movie, I could feel his excitement on seeing his work being turned into a film. Irrespective of anyone’s opinion about 3I containing 2% or 20% or 200% of FPS, it is a fact that the credit for the main story belongs to CB. That the makers of 3I didn’t feel it that way is a shame, despite the fact that his name appears in the end (whizzing past, not letting the viewers see it properly). For anyone – whether he is big or small, nothing is more painful when you take away the credit for your work. On that count, CB has my sympathies.

Chetan explained his stand on the controversy with few detailed posts in his blog. Some people, Pritish Nandy being vocal among them – felt that this entire controversy might be a stage-managed one to derive more publicity to FPS and 3I. Well, anything is possible. But from my perspective, benefit of doubt goes to Chetan.

Ayan

Overheard conversation..

அயனà¯? படமà¯? பாதà¯?தீஙà¯?களே, எபà¯?படி இரà¯?கà¯?கà¯??

à®?யோ.. தாஙà¯?கல. 4 தெலà¯?ஙà¯?கà¯? மசாலா படமà¯? சேரà¯?தà¯?தà¯? பாரà¯?தà¯?த மாதிரி இரà¯?கà¯?கà¯?.

Could one get a shorter and effective feedback than this?

வெளிநாடà¯?டிலà¯? வாழà¯?வதிலà¯? உளà¯?ள மிகபà¯? பெரிய அசௌகரியஙà¯?களிலà¯? ஒனà¯?à®±à¯? – நமà¯?மூரைபà¯? போலà¯? நினைதà¯?த மாதà¯?திரதà¯?திலà¯? நணà¯?பரà¯?களையோ, உறவினரà¯?களையோ அடிகà¯?கடி சநà¯?திகà¯?க à®®à¯?டியாமலிரà¯?பà¯?பதà¯?. அதà¯?வà¯?à®®à¯? லணà¯?டனà¯?-à®? விடà¯?டà¯? சறà¯?à®±à¯? தூரதà¯?திலிரà¯?கà¯?கà¯?à®®à¯? நகரஙà¯?களிலà¯? வசிதà¯?தாலà¯?, எபà¯?போதாவதà¯? பிறநà¯?த நாளà¯? விழா அலà¯?லதà¯? வேறà¯? à®?தாவதà¯? பாரà¯?டà¯?டிகà¯?களிலà¯? சக இநà¯?தியரà¯?களை சநà¯?திபà¯?பதà¯? தானà¯? அவà¯?வபà¯?போதà¯? நடகà¯?கà¯?à®®à¯? தொலைபேசி உரையாடலà¯?களà¯? தவிர இரà¯?கà¯?கà¯?à®®à¯? மிகபà¯? பெரிய social distraction! வீடà¯?டிறà¯?கà¯? யாரவதà¯? வர மாடà¯?டாரà¯?களா, யாரà¯?டà¯?னாவதà¯? அரà¯?தà¯?தமிலà¯?லா அரடà¯?டையடிதà¯?தà¯? பொழà¯?தà¯? போகà¯?க மாடà¯?டோமா என à®?ஙà¯?கிய நாடà¯?களà¯? பல உணà¯?டà¯?.

இநà¯?நிலையிலà¯?, பà¯?தà¯? வீடà¯?டிறà¯?கà¯? கà¯?டிபெயரà¯?நà¯?தà¯? settle ஆன நிலையிலà¯?, கà¯?ரலà¯? மறà¯?à®±à¯?à®®à¯? எழà¯?தà¯?தà¯? மூலமà¯? மடà¯?டà¯?மே அறிமà¯?கமான விஜயà¯?-பà¯?ரியா தமà¯?பதியினரà¯? ஒரà¯? வார இறà¯?தியை எஙà¯?களà¯?டனà¯? கழிதà¯?ததà¯? எஙà¯?களà¯?கà¯?கà¯? ஒரà¯? welcome change. கிரிகà¯?கெடà¯?, அரசியலà¯?, கேபà¯?டனினà¯? திரைகà¯?காவியஙà¯?களà¯?, மகளிரà¯? அணியினà¯? தொலà¯?லைகளà¯? போனà¯?à®± ஆகà¯?கபூரà¯?வமான தலைபà¯?பà¯?களிலà¯? கரà¯?தà¯?தà¯? பரிமாறà¯?றமà¯? செயà¯?தà¯? கொணà¯?ட பினà¯?னரà¯?, அதிகாலை 2 மணி வரை விழிதà¯?திரà¯?நà¯?தà¯? ‘Returning to India for good’ பறà¯?றி விஜயà¯? கொடà¯?தà¯?த தகவலà¯?களà¯? எனகà¯?கà¯? மிகவà¯?à®®à¯? பயனà¯?ளà¯?ளதாக இரà¯?நà¯?ததà¯?. அவà¯?வபà¯?போதà¯? இமà¯?மாதிரி மனிதரà¯?களை சநà¯?திதà¯?தà¯?கà¯? கொணà¯?டிரà¯?நà¯?தாலà¯? நனà¯?றாகதà¯?தானà¯? இரà¯?கà¯?கà¯?மெனதà¯? தோனà¯?றியதà¯?.

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‘தசாவதாரமà¯?’ பறà¯?றி எழà¯?தாவிடà¯?டாலà¯? தமிழà¯? கூறà¯?à®®à¯? நலà¯?லà¯?லகமà¯? இதை ஒரà¯? வலைபà¯?பகà¯?கமாக à®?à®±à¯?à®±à¯?கà¯?கொளà¯?ளதà¯? எனà¯?பதாலà¯? ஒரà¯? சில வரிகளà¯? மடà¯?டà¯?à®®à¯?. இனà¯?à®±à¯? தானà¯? மேறà¯?பà¯?படி படதà¯?தைபà¯? பாரà¯?தà¯?தோமà¯?. ஆரà¯?வகà¯? கோளாறà¯? காரணமாக தியேடà¯?டரà¯?கà¯?கà¯? செனà¯?à®±à¯?, காசà¯? கொடà¯?தà¯?தà¯? டிகà¯?கெடà¯? வாஙà¯?கி இநà¯?தபà¯? படதà¯?தைபà¯? பாரà¯?கà¯?கà¯?à®®à¯? temptation-à®? அடகà¯?கிகà¯? கொணà¯?டதறà¯?கà¯? எனà¯?னை நானே பாராடà¯?டிகà¯? கொணà¯?டேனà¯?. இதைபà¯? படிதà¯?த நாளà¯? à®®à¯?தலà¯?, ”அடடா.. தியேடà¯?டரà¯?ல போயà¯? பாரà¯?கà¯?கற அனà¯?பவதà¯?தை மிஸà¯? பணà¯?ணிடà¯?டோமே” எனà¯?à®± à®?மாறà¯?றமà¯? இரà¯?நà¯?ததà¯?. இனà¯?à®±à¯? அநà¯?த à®?மாறà¯?றமà¯? இலà¯?லை.

I read and heard from many sources that this movie titled ‘Santosh Subramaniyam’ is one of the best to have happened in the recent times. Quite a few of my friends who had seen ‘Bommarilu’ – the orginal version of this movie in Telugu went gaga about it as well. More often than not, watching a movie with such a hype takes your expectation levels sky high and this is what happened when I happened to watch ‘Santosh Subramaniyam’ yesterday.

To be honest, it is a neat family entertainer packed with good songs, decent comedy and what not. With very few exceptions, I haven’t seen many movies that places importance to the role of female character lead. ‘Santosh Subramaniyam’ is one such exception. Genelia in the lead role is very live and bubbly and it is obvious that Jeyam Ravi has found it tough to cope up with her. In fact, so powerful was Genelia’s innocent character that the role is the main strength of that movie. However, by unnecessarily overplaying certain aspects of the character is in a way irritating.

Leaving aside these drawbacks, it is certainly a nice movie to watch and one must appreciate the director for presenting a serious storyline in a light hearted way laced with humour. Certainly worth watching, at least once.

‘சநà¯?தோஷà¯? சà¯?பà¯?ரமணியமà¯?’ எனà¯?à®± படதà¯?தை நேறà¯?à®±à¯? பாரà¯?கà¯?க நேரிடà¯?டதà¯?. பாரà¯?பà¯?பதறà¯?கà¯? à®®à¯?னà¯?னரà¯? அதனை வானளாவ பà¯?கழà¯?நà¯?த விமரிசனஙà¯?களà¯? படதà¯?தை பறà¯?றிய எதிரà¯?பாரà¯?பà¯?பை எகிற வைதà¯?தன.

அரà¯?மையான பாடலà¯?களà¯?, நலà¯?ல நகைசà¯?சà¯?வையà¯?டனà¯?, அனாவசிய கà¯?தà¯?தà¯? பாடà¯?டà¯?, இரடà¯?டை அரà¯?தà¯?த வசனஙà¯?களà¯? à®?தà¯?மினà¯?றி கà¯?டà¯?à®®à¯?பதà¯?தோடà¯? பாரà¯?கà¯?க கூடிய படமà¯? எனà¯?பதிலà¯? சநà¯?தேகமிலà¯?லை. அணà¯?மைகà¯? காலஙà¯?களிலà¯? வநà¯?த திரைபà¯?படஙà¯?களிலà¯?, கà¯?றிபà¯?பாக நானà¯? பாரà¯?தà¯?தவறà¯?றிலà¯? கதாநாயகியினà¯? பாதà¯?திரதà¯?திறà¯?கà¯? அதிக à®®à¯?கà¯?கியதà¯?தà¯?வமà¯? கொடà¯?தà¯?தà¯? எடà¯?கà¯?கபà¯?படà¯?டவை வெகà¯? கà¯?றைவà¯?. சநà¯?தோஷà¯? சà¯?பà¯?பிரமணியமà¯? அநà¯?த கà¯?றையை நனà¯?றாகவே போகà¯?கà¯?கிறதà¯?. ஜெனிலியாவினà¯? தà¯?à®±à¯?தà¯?à®±à¯?பà¯?பான நடிபà¯?பிறà¯?கà¯? ஈடà¯? கொடà¯?பà¯?பதà¯? ‘ஜெயமà¯?’ ரவிகà¯?கà¯? பெரà¯?à®®à¯? சவாலாக உளà¯?ளதà¯?. சொலà¯?லபà¯? போனாலà¯?, ஜெனிலியாவினà¯? வெளà¯?ளநà¯?தியான பாதà¯?திரமà¯? தானà¯? இநà¯?த படதà¯?தினà¯? பலமà¯?. ஆனாலà¯?, அதையே திரà¯?à®®à¯?பதà¯? திரà¯?à®®à¯?ப, சறà¯?à®±à¯? அதிகபà¯?படியாக காடà¯?டà¯?வதà¯? சலிகà¯?கிறதà¯?. நனà¯?றாக செனà¯?à®±à¯? கொணà¯?டிரà¯?கà¯?கà¯?à®®à¯? படதà¯?திலà¯? தேவையிலà¯?லாமலà¯? தொயà¯?வை à®?à®±à¯?படà¯?தà¯?தà¯?பவை இவை.

கà¯?றைவாகவே உளà¯?ள கà¯?றைகளை பொரà¯?டà¯?படà¯?தà¯?தாமலà¯? படதà¯?தைபà¯? பாரà¯?தà¯?தாலà¯?, ஒரà¯? சீரியசான கரà¯?வை நலà¯?ல நகைசà¯?சà¯?வையோடà¯? கொடà¯?தà¯?ததறà¯?கà¯? மூலகà¯?கதாசிரியரையà¯?à®®à¯?, இயகà¯?கà¯?னரையà¯?à®®à¯? பாராடà¯?டதà¯?தானà¯? வேணà¯?டà¯?à®®à¯?. Certainly worth watching, at least once.

Something I didn’t like in Sivaji

One of the things I hate about the movie ‘Sivaji’ is the fight with Kanal Kannan & co. in the musical instruments shop. I am least bothered about the logic of the fight or story or anything related to that, the thing that bothered me was the location of the fight. Shankar could have chosen so many places to film this fight, but unfortunately his creativity landed him here. Smashing guitars, veenas and other instruments was hardly enjoyable. For people associated with music, this would be a scene that they might like to forget. But for the jaw dropped fans, they were in awe as ‘thalaivar’ was smashing up some 30+ bad guys.

‘Sivaji – The Boss’ – 100% Biased review

I have never seen any movie on its first day, let alone a Rajini starrer. When the tickets for Sivaji started to be sold over the internet last week, I wasn’t very inclined as I preferred to wait for the DVD. It so happened that we chose to go for a dinner at a restaurant in Harrow and next to it was the cinema screening ‘Sivaji’. Just out of curiosity, I walked in and enquired about the ticket availability and there were three for the opening show. In a rush of blood, tickets were exchanged for cash. There we were at Harrow Safari (London) at the first day, first show of the most expected and most hyped up movie of the year. We didn’t even think a bit about how our two year old Anirud would react on his first movie experience.

The movie ‘Sivaji’ opens with the scene where a hand-cuffed Rajini is arrested and taken to the prison. So many versions of the story were doing rounds ever since AVM – Shankar – Rajini teamed up for this project. Rest of the story, barring the climax happens in a flashback.

Rajini as Sivaji arrives in India from States after making lots of money there. He wants to provide free education, free medical facilities etc to all and sundry. Villain Adiseshan (Suman) doesn’t like the idea as it would affect his business (what else – medical college, hospital, university etc) and creates hurdles through his cohorts in the government. Yet, Rajini bribes all the officials and goes ahead with the construction of buildings of the above stuff. Angered Suman effects the change of government and Rajini loses every penny he had and comes to the street. How Rajini gets back and takes revenge forms the rest of the story. In between he chases Shriya, sings few duets and marries her. Also, he brings out all the black money from the fraudsters including villain Suman back and turns them into white.

Did you hear the same story line in Padayappa? Yes, you did. Does the free education stuff reminds you of ‘Gentleman’? Yes, you are right indeed. The black money stuff – you would be right in thinking that you heard the same in ‘Mudhalvan’ and ‘Indian’ in a different flavour.

The biggest drawback of Sivaji is that even a child would be able to get the story after the first five minutes. ‘Sivaji’ is a borrowed mix of ‘Padayappa’, ‘Gentleman’, ‘Indian’ and ‘Mudhalvan’. Yet, Sivaji is different. Different because Director Shankar has never bothered to bring his pet theme of ‘abolishing the black economy’ into the foreground. Instead, he filled every frame of the film with lot of Rajini-isms sprinkled with good comedy. Vivek appears in almost every scene with Rajini and has single-handedly taken care of the comedy bit. I don’t know why they chose Shriya for this role. While she does a good job of exposing her assets, I think she watches quite a lot of Tamil megaserials. Ore azhuvaachi throughout. Suman has done a neat job as villain. Raghuvaran makes a brief appearance. So does umpteen other people like Manivannan, Solomon Papiah, Carl Hooper… err… Vadivukkarasi, Mayilsamy, Chinni Jayanth etc. There was a talk about Amitabh making a guest appearance. Where was he?

The main strength of this film is Superstar’s presence in every frame. It is a fact that his presence overshadows all the exorbidant sets that are filled throughout. In most of the scenes, he appears at least 15 years young. Not many punch dialogues, but lot of stylish mannerisms – especially the way he flips the 1 rupee coin, the way he gets the bubblegum into his mouth, the way he taps his ‘mottai mandai’ would be fun to watch. I wouldn’t be surprised if our crazy fans back in TN start biting chillies after watching ‘Sivaji’.

Songs have been picturised so well. In ‘Anniyan’ Shankar painted the entire village/trucks etc. In the ‘Balleilika’ song of Sivaji, he has painted the pot bellys with the face of Rajini. Nice to watch, but so typical. SPB has once again proved how his voice makes the difference for the opening song of a Rajini film. I was a bit sceptical about the ‘Oru Koodai Sunlight’ song, but it has blended well indeed. I guess the ‘Sahana/Sahara saaral’ song would have cost the producers a lot.

To sum it up, Sivaji doesn’t disappoint. Rajini seems to know his limitations and has provided what is expected of him. Whatever his fans expect – be it a fight with 50 people, be it style, be it punch dialogues it is there. It is an expensive Rajini masala. But what does this most expensive movie in India mean for Director Shankar? Sadly, this film has once again exposed that he could not or rather would not come out of the circle he has drawn for himself.

Is Sivaji watchable? Yes!
Is Sivaji entertaining? Yes!
Does Sivaji provide value for money? Depends on how much you paid for the ticket.

On a personal note, our little one watched in awe without moving a bit, which was a big relief for us. On the way back, he was saying ‘rayyinii’, ‘ballikaaa’. Well, here comes the next generation of fans for the Super Star. Typing this at 2:25 AM hoping that this would be the first descriptive review of Sivaji in the blogosphere.

Oh yeah… Nayan Tara looked gorgeous in ‘Balleilikka’. Wonder how she became this slim.