Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Slick firearm. Blank cartridge.

Okay let me confess.The main or the only reason for watching this movie was 'pester pressure'. Yes, we watched Thuppaki only on the insistence of a very assertive 4.5 yr old! We were very, very reluctant but finally gave in. What's in a watching a movie over a dull weekend anyway.

The only motivating factor was Murugadoss. We felt it might not be an utter trash movie because it is written and directed by Murugadoss of the Ghajini and 7-am Arivi fame. Rightly so. I think he was the only saving grace of what could have been one of those zillion terrorist movies. Haven't Arjun and Vijaykant nabbed all terrorists already? Well there seem to be lots more left for our heroes to single-handedly handle. What else would they do with all their physical prowess and intelligence?
So you have yet another hero-confronting-a-terrorist movie. But quite a few differences though. a) The very puzzled hero doesn't ask the most popular Tamilian monosyllabic existential question, "Yen? yen?" (why? why?) b) There are no fiery Jehad speeches by the 'terraarist' c) We don't even know which country they belong to. Those who aren't familiar with a and b, please refer to the aforementioned Vijaykant/Arjun movies or even Maniratnam's Roja for a better understanding. And oh, the difference  d) is that we have a totally drool-worthy handler of the terrorists.
Vidyut  Wow Jamwal! Amazingly fit, deadly voice and nice teeth. Move over, the tobacco chewing-stubbled terror chiefs of the past. You have a damn good looking competitor who is vain enough to engage in fist fights with anyone giving his ego the slightest pin prick.

Well, this is a script no hero, established or otherwise could have said 'no' to. An extremely brave and intelligent character. Army captain. A great opportunity to
show-off those 'we love our Indian army' sentiments. Maybe Vijay was too tired after all that emoting he did in Kaavalan and Nanban because he really didn't need to open up that facet here at all. And Murugadoss has done quite a bit of thinking for Vijay. I must say the plot is interesting. The twists and turns are all nice. There is a very broad but fair insight into how the terrorist groups actually work. (Alright, I'm not a stickler for logic, esp in movies). Though nothing is unexpected really, the director manages to get your attention. But we would have loved a little more of tension and suspense. You know...nail biting. I think Ghajini had that. The beauty of such movies is that we all know the hero will meet success ultimately but making us wonder how he will do it, taking us through the tension and even making us pray for his success is a director's biggest challenge.

There are a few moments in this movie that made me go "Oh come on". And let me recall..were there any wow moments for me? Yes, the 'group-game' that the hero plays with his batch mates was very well planned out, extremely fast and definitely an edge-of-the-seat moment. At least in recent times I haven't watched a similar scene in Tamil movies. Good job Muruguadoss!

Now to the rest of the cast. The female lead Kajal Agarwal. Female yes but lead, no. Neither does she lead the story nor even the hero anywhere. She is nothing but a pretty prop with an unusual dubbing voice.

Jayaram, an experienced and talented actor again plays a charcter of no significance but for a few mildly funny moments. When the director could indiscriminately get so many fingers chopped, a few of such extra 6th and 7th fingers could have easily been chopped. I am sure this would have lent more brevity and credibility to the story of an Intelligence officer focused on his mission and duty. But then however much intelligent a director might be, he has his commercial limitations too I guess. But I was really disappointed this time around because I thought Muruguadoss was finally one director/writer who allowed the female charcters to take the story in his action movies further - be it Ghajini or 7-am Arivu. Just as a faint connection, the hero's sister contributes just a little bit in Thuppaki. Perhaps she is the only female character who has any importance in the movie even if it is just a 5 min appearance. Similarly all the other characters are just appendages but its still understandable. Why such a treatment for the female lead, especially when you brag about your ideal woman being bold, sporty and 'modern' (whatever that means). Do I smell double standards here? Our leading lady's only mission is to get kissed by her man and she doesn't succeed even in that (sorry for the spoiler here).

Thank God the friend of the hero was played by Satyan and not Mr. Chatterbox 24x7 Santhanam.

The music. The songs are forgettable, except for the catchy Google-google number. I am not against songs in our movies at all. I think that's what sets our Indian movies apart in the scene of world movies. But aren't our movie makers bold enough to do away with 'heroines' and song and dance routines if they don't contribute to the storyline in anyway? Background score has never been Harris Jayaraj's strength.And when are they going to stop using eerie shrieks every time a terrorist or a bad guy is comes on screen. Rahman started it 20 yrs back in Roja and it has stuck on like the ubiquitous mole on a filmy rowdy's cheek. I look forward to the day when someone, someday  will think of something else. Will Rahman or Yuvan or Ilayaraja please contribute?

I must mention here about the lyrics. While watching the movie, I guessed the Google song lyricist must be Madan Karky. Back home, Google told me it was Karky indeed. But then there are two songs which have deliberately (for the sake of a remake?) used Hindi words liberally. Looks like someone has just picked up Hindi words at random and peppered not one but two songs with such nonsense words. One song has a sardarji sitting somewhere close to Mumbai singing a line like "tootak tootak", "balle balle".
And then after a wee bit of a romantic scene, cut to a hilly place in the north-east and a bunch of girls break into a chorus that says "Lo hogayi teri, lo hogayi teri, wah re wah". Lo hogayi teri can translate into mumbayya hindi as "teri to waat lag gayi"!! (Now don't ask me to translate that one.)
The theme music, though 'inspired' by some good Arabic number, sounded quite okay.

Another seemingly obvious thing in this movie is that it is ready to be remade into Hindi. With so many English and Hindi dialogues mouthed, ahem..is Vijay looking towards the north? Tell, tell?

I know its not fair to just diss a movie in the comfort of one's living room. But then I feel saddened. In my opinion both Murugadoss and Vijay are capable of much more. Here's my little wishlist: Though he has been working only on action-movies, I somehow feel Murugadoss might be good at dishing out something romantic with a dash of comedy. The funny moments are actually sweet, simple and decent in his movies I have seen so far and completely free of the comedy track burden. And then, Vijay. I think he did a much better job in Kaavalan and even Nanban. I know someone has to write something really, really different for him.
Mr Vijay, I am sure you can try flexing those facial muscles for a change. Now that you have really worked on your looks and complexion, it might not be difficult at all. Don't worry about your fans. They will like you either way. I am sure you are as brave in real life as in your movies. Come on take the challenge. I know you have now become an expert at fixing your own broken bones as easily as fixing a rubic cube, yet we would love to watch at least one movie of yours without a single dishum-dishum scene.

PS: The 4.5 yr old whose pestering we succumbed to, slid into a peaceful slumber as soon as all the songs were done and the movie got into a serious mode. Mission accomplished!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I wonder

Ever thought why people say "I DON'T KNOW" when they actually want to say "SORRY. I DON'T AGREE"?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

To be(long) or not to be(long)

Courtesy: Google images
A sense of trepidation. Heart beating slightly faster than usual. Questions buzzing in the mind. "Am I over-reacting?" "Am I doing the right thing?" "Will people think I am a snob?" "What difference is it going to make if only I do it?"

But then I always wanted to do it and I did it. No matter what. It might not be a big thing for others but it was a big move for me.


I have always been against the concept of fire crackers for the simple reason that they are a huge waste of money. That feeling started get stronger as I started seeing people buy crackers for 1000s of Rupees...5000-10000. At one stage of life I would think "Aha! Imagine the amount of ______ I can buy for this kind of money!" Fill the blank with clothes, music and books depending on whatever phase of life I was in :)
I then moved on to a phase where I started thinking 10000 Rupees is annual income for so many Indians..is it okay to just burn it all up?

The other reason I hated crackers was for all the noise they make. Shake up babies, old people and the
weak-hearted ones like me, break window panes and even shake the room, even if it was for a
nano-second. As such there is so much bombing going on all over the world. Do we really need this too? The more innocent sparklers, flower-pots and the zameen-chakkars are still better.

Then came the case of using child-labour. They say it's all banned now and they just don't use child labour anymore but we don't know for sure.

And now my biggest concern is pollution. Noise pollution and pollution of the atmosphere. Why do we have to add to the existing burden on Earth?

Okay all this might sound fair enough to read and talk about. But let me tell you by my experience. Actually putting this into practice is one hell of a tough one. First you have to deal with yourself. Have the utmost conviction. You will be faced with a lot of questions from within and others as well. Worst is this. "Oh you aren't bursting fire-crackers? Oh my God! But what about the baby? How can you deny her the pleasure?" I then have to explain myself. "The crackers are there. The kiddo is enjoying with the father. Its just me who's decided to stay away." "C'mon, what difference is it going to make? Don't deny yourself. Just go ahead and enjoy yourself." And I was like, "Hmm..oh...you know..still..." After the difficult conversation ended, I got thinking "Could they be right?" But then I stuck to my guns (pun unintended) and said NO. (I know you people are sensing a lot of confusion. Yes, I'm not hiding it. It was there - briefly though.)

Diwali evening: I suddenly found myself alone at home for a good 30 minutes. Initially,  I suddenly felt alone. Hubby and baby didn't force/beg me to join them.
I then switched off the TV, switched off all lights, lit up small earthen diyas, played some nice devotional music online. It was beautiful, surreal. I got ready to spend some good time with myself. And before I could even  start, the father and the daughter come barging into the house, making a lot of noise, turn on the TV to find a fav. movie playing and that's it!! :) I suddenly became this TV mummy grinning affectionately and rolling her eyes at the same time!

Anyway, my present state of mind is this. Successfully stayed away - thanks to my supportive family. But now what? Do I tell them to stop bursting fire crackers too? No way! My opinion is just mine. The other adults have theirs. The kid will form hers. I am not an activist. I cannot spread messages. I can explain myself if required. I can only follow what I strongly believe in. That's about it.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Art for Art's sake?

A little chat about the music director Ismail Darbar triggered off these thoughts.

I really liked the music in Hum Dil de Chuke Sanam, Devdas and even Guzaarish. I used to think Ismail Darbar was very knowledgeable and up-there when it came to classical music. But after the Grammy glory, I was saddened to see him bad-mouthing A R Rahman. He said things like all Rahman does is copy. I somehow lost my respect for Ismail Darbar. It doesn't become of a musician of all people to talk so. I look at all artisites - writers, actors, musicians...as a special creed because I feel they are truly blessed.

Agreed. Most artists have a built in quirkiness to their personality. Its the quirkiness that kind of brings out the art without any inhibitions. And I respect that quirkiness. Take for instance K Balachander, Kamala Hassan, M F Hussain, Kishore Kumar, Charlie Chaplin, Dali....the list is endless.

Then there is the ego too. A little bit of too I can excuse because again, this is a special lot of people. They didn't conform and so they are here, doing what they want to do. Else, they would be clerks in a bank or ticket inspectors on trains.

What I can't definitely agree is acts of abuse...verbal or physical. Haven't we heard of the real big stars bashing up people just because that 'saab' is in a bad mood? Or even the superstition about a famous director's slap can bring aspiring actors great fortunes!!

Having said that, I think aloud. As fans/listeners what should our stance be? Do we just pick up the good part and say 'oh what a great artist he is'? Does that give artistes the license to have multiple affairs and care a damn for the woman at home?
Or do we take the entire personality into account? I'm yet to decide if an artist's behaviour should/can affect our attitude towards his/her work. I can't make up my mind.
Wonder what most people do?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Talk to me Mama!

I rarely touch the computer on weekdays when I get back home from work. Its only during the weekends that I log-on to check my mails and FB.

One such Saturday afternoon, when I was lying on the bed and checking FB, my daughter came up to me and said, 'Mama you are always using the laptop. You never talk to me.' I was kind of shaken. I knew she was exaggerating but I knew she had a point, at least that very moment.

I immediately closed my laptop and pulled her really close to me. We would have spoken for exactly one minute and she drifted off to sleep!! 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Re-discovered gems!

Thanks to my newly acquired interest/need for morning walks, I am once again, after a long, long time, getting to listen to songs that I choose - not the random stuff dished out by the FM channels. And I'm loving every bit of it.

While downloading songs on to my MP3 player (which again has been given a new life), my list of must-haves included Rehna Tu and Dil Gira Kahin (both from Delhi-6, of course on A R Rahman's music). Yes, agreed both of these are not 'work-out'music but they take me to another world altogether. I'm so glad I re-discovered these gems now!!

Rehna Tu: Like someone mentioned somewhere, you listen to the song and you feel Rahman just hummed the song when he was given the lyrics and it was recorded. Such is the casual tone of the song. I'm always in a fix when I listen to this song. Do I listen to the words, Rahman's magical, yet friendly voice or the lovely musical arrangement?
And such charming lyrics sung sweetly 'Haath thaam chalna ho, to dono ke haath daayen kaise? Ek daaya hoga, ek bayaa hoga. Thaamley haath, chalna hai sang, thaamley.'
While I'm enjoying the song, I'm almost waiting for it to end, so that I get treated to this extremely unusual and exotic sounding tailpiece. Yes, it does take you  bit into the line, 'kangalai konduthan rusiyarium' in the song Kaadhal Anukkal (Enthiran), and maybe even the good old Vaishnava Janato for some reason. Don't know what raagam it is, but it's just so beautiful. And the instrument used, I think is called a Continuum Fingerboard. Check it out on Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuum_(instrument)
All I have to say is Rahman, Rehna tu hai jaise tu, don't ever change!! Coming to think of it, the lyrics of the song actually applies to him and his music!

Dil Gira Kahin - A beautiful collage!
Wow! What an opening to a grand song!
I cannot fit this song into any particular style - its just a beautiful amalgamation of creative lyrics, enchanting vocals and interesting bits of instrumentation. There are Celtic sounds, Chinese sounds and Indian sounds woven so seamlessly, like a lovingly made patchwork quilt. And then, there is Chinmayee's voice teasing you with a game of peek-a-boo. Rahman is at it again - the art of using backing vocals sometimes like a musical instrument and sometimes to add surprising twist to a song.
The best part of the song is perhaps the lyrics by Prasoon Joshi, with some very fresh ideas.
Jane Magar Yeh Naiyan, 
Teri Kahmosh Zulfon Ki Gehraiyaan
Hai Jahan Dil Meraa Uljha  Hua Hai.

Naiyan - haven't heard this beautiful word in a Hindi song in a long time (haven't paid attention to the lyrics in Hindi songs in a long time - didn't find anything worth the effort!)
Kahmosh Zulfon Ki Gehraiyaan - what a lovely expression it is. Who can think of this?

There are also lines like these that make you feel that person who has written the song, is just not a film-song lyricist but a real poet.
Sipiyon Ki Hoonth Se Moti Chalak Rahein Hai and
Samundar Lehron Ki Lehron Ki Chadar Odh Ke So Raha Hai
Per Mein Jagu Ek Khumari Ek Nasha Sa Ek Nasha Sa Horaha Hai.

If you happen to listen to this song, pay attention to the way the singer (Ash King) says "Khumari"- I love it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Harris Jayaraj

When I read http://soundcloud.com/parodesynoise/harris-jayaraj-for-dummies and laughed my gut out, I remembered a joke my DH and I used to share.

You can actually compose a Harris Jayaraj song if you are a sincere Church-goer!! Let me explain.

Take for instance the song, "Paartha Mudhal Naaley" (Vettaiyaadu Vilayaadu")
and sing "Yesu pirnadhaarey, indru Yesu pirandhaarey". Doesn't it fit? Sing it in a nice baritone voice - it'll sound even better!

Or take the song, "Ennai Pandhaada Piranthavaley" (Ullam Ketkumey)
and sing something like Nammai rakshikka piranthavarey...Works?

Disclaimer: I mean absolutely no offence to any religion or its music. No offense meant to Harris Jayaraj himself, many of whose songs I really love (esp. the romantic ones) and I have his full collection on MP3. (I particularly love listening to this CD because its like listening to a nice song that  goes on for one and a half hours!! :P)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Unsolicited advice

Courtesy: wikipedia.org

I normally don’t believe in unsolicited advice.
Last evening I did something that I don’t think I would ever have done. I still can’t believe it myself.

I was on my way back home from work. A lady on a Scooty zipped past me. She had a little girl with her, standing in front. When I caught up, I noticed that they had stopped at an ATM a few buildings away. The little girl was standing alone on the bike and the lady (perhaps her mother) had gone into the ATM. I almost went past the ATM but I just couldn’t get myself to ignore this little girl, all of 5-6 years standing alone on the road. I looked for the ATM watchman – couldn’t find him.

So, I took the decision. I went back to the ATM. Stood there – not too close to the girl – I didn’t want to scare her (she as such looked uncomfortable with me hovering around). I just kept standing there till the mother came out. Now, this was difficult. As soon as she came out, I asked her in English, “Can I please talk to you for a minute.” Wrong move. She mistook me for a salesperson and hurried away muttering that she is in a hurry. I then switched over to Tamil and said, “I’m sorry I’m not a salesperson. I’m a mother of a small baby girl too. I was passing by and saw your baby standing alone on the road and decided to keep a watch on her. I could have ignored and passed by but I was too scared for her. Anything can happen in 5 minutes.  I just request you to please never, ever leave your baby like that on the road alone. Sorry again and thanks.”

Looks like the lady was too shocked and totally unprepared for this kind of unsolicited advice but lady, I did what my heart told me to! They say times have gone bad. Fine, agreed but at least, we should take our precautions for the safety of our children. Every day we hear horror stories of kidnapping and what not. What’s the point in blaming the degrading values of our society if we are not careful ourselves?

I then started walking back home, mulling over what I did. Another lady was talking to a patrol policeman at the corner of my street. This is what I could make out from their conversation. “Yes Sir, they snatched her chain and ran away...there near the temple... the poor lady is still there…” I then heard the lady giving the policeman the location and he was getting ready to go there on his bike. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bahut burey lagte hai.....

A lot of people are upset about yesterday's episode of Bade Achey Lagte Hain on Sony TV. It was the episode where a couple married for 6 months finally fall in love with each other and you know finally..ahem!!
Well, I do agree, this is most surprising for an Indian TV show. The producers have dared to tread where no one else has, so far. Yet, I don't think this particular show or any of the so-called 'family dramas' are meant for children. The other serials might not show physical intimacy but the violent thoughts, hatred, negativity, family members scheming and planning against each others are definitely not meant for children. How will you explain to your child the concept of child-marriage as shown in "Baalika Vadhu" or how will you explain why a mother-in-law should `plot' against her daughter-in-law or vice versa? Imagine an entire joint family (in-laws and children included) watching these MIL-DIL battles together! How will you explain family feuds over property? How will you explain murder for gain? What about adultery? It doesn't even have to be an overt show of violence like a murder - it is the body-language and gestures that children catch so easily - wagging a finger at someone ferociously, glaring, rolling of tongue (so common in Tamil serials) - don' tell me you don't see kids mimicking these.

I was so saddened to see my daughter and another girl of her age playing a game...that too on my daughter's birthday. My daughter was supposed to lie flat on the floor and the other girl would go running around and yell, "Ivo setthupoita" (meaning: "She's dead" - in Tamil)!! I stopped the two of them the minute I caught them playing this horrendous game. My 4-yr old daughter, obviously after one whole day of serious thought, came up to me the next day and asked me why I stopped them from playing the game and why one should not say "sethupoita"? I couldn't help but roll my eyes! I am very much embarrassed to admit in public I caught my so-called 'little angel' inserting a foot-ruler behind her shirt collar and pulling it in slow-motion shouting out a very appropriate "Eeyye"...No, no she doesn't watch violent-village movies...she only watches "Siri-Siri"!!

The TV channels are full of such negative ideas in various degrees and various forms. Leave alone children, such negativity isn't great for adults either.

Why is everyone so angry about one episode of well-shot intimate scene between a grown-up, married couple? What about those parents that train their children to sing and dance for `item numbers' in the most popular dance/music competitions  So many babies in Hindi speaking families are affectionately called 'munna'/'munni' by their parents. Do these 'munnis' have any idea what it is to become 'badnaam'? Most of the judges of the shows (except a handful of them) don't bat an eyelid when children perform such numbers. They in fact praise them for the lively rendition of a badly-worded 'kuthu' songs. I have to tell you this. I once watched a boy, just 10-12 yrs old sing the popular Kamal Hassan song, "Ennadi Meenakshi" on some music competetion. My jaw dropped when the judge (I don't remember who it was), suggested that the boy should have brought more emotion and pain in his voice!! Right, a 10-yr old boy should definitely know about heartbreak by now!! The corrects 'aeyes' 'oohs' and 'aahs' of the raunchy 1980s songs carry extra marks (example? Come on, take any of those S Janaki songs. I will list them on another blog post).

Coming back to Bade Achchey Lagte Hain, the theme of the show and the timing itself shows it is not for "family viewing". There was a recent rule ordering all TV producers to shift their timings to after 10:30 if the show had adult content. Yes, the producers need to be careful when they repeat the episodes the next afternoon. It would be best to edit them appropriately.

There is no denying that adults definitely deserve their space and time to do their thing, after a long day's work. In my opinion, it is best done alone (whatever that might be) - after the kids are away at school or when the kids are fast asleep!
PS: Guardians of the Hindi language, I request you to please ignore any grammatical errors in the title of this post, as long as you get the idea!