Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Shankarabharanam

Ever since I stumbled on this gem on Jio music, has been wanting to write about the songs from the movie. I prefer slightly classical touch on movie songs accompanied by good lyrics to go with as well. K.V Mahadevan has composed most of my favorites from the Puranam/ Raja-rani series of movies. Be it Thiruvilaiyaadal or Konjum Salanagai or numerous other instances where the songs are class apart and are evergreen even 7 decades after. I vaguely remember hearing these songs growing up. During that time there was no recorder or player in our house and the tenant next door used to play these songs at a high volume, much to the chagrin of my parents, as it would disturb our studies. Recently, while going back home was song hopping across genres and landed up with KVM hits. I didn’t realize at first that the playlist was a mixed bag of tamil and telugu as well. So when “Omkara naadhaanu” song started, I was about to switch over to the next one. Sensing some familiarity around the song I decided to stay on it for a bit more and wow!! What followed next was the literal equivalent of “inba then vanthu paayuthu kaathiniley”.

I immediately googled for details about the movie, song and for trivia around it. Apparently Balamurali Krishna was roped in to play the songs and last minute KVM chose SPB to deliver, who basically was untrained on classical music. For the initial portions of the song “Omkara naadhanu” I almost felt SPB was trying to mimic Balamurali or maybe the audio was poor. But after that, it is his show all the way. There is a duet segment on the same song voiced over by S.Janaki. I couldn’t understand a word of the lyrics but from the emotions voiced, I believe it is about the admiration of the lady over the prowess of the singer. She gushes out and even continues with the song. The amalgamation of both their voices, crown the glorious song and one could almost visualize the claps in auditorium. Surprisingly, this song is indeed picturized on an auditorium and is the opening song with title credits running.

I decided to explore the other songs on the album and landed with “Bro che va” song. S.Janaki has this mesmerizing quality in her voice, which she manages to portray for heroines, mouthing sensuous lyrics and for kids as well. This song I believe is set for a student-guru scene, where SPB sings for the tutor and Janaki for the pupil. You could almost make out the aged person, trying to teach from the slightly trembling and tired voice of SPB. That guy is a sure genius who can make his voice act!!! It’s a short song and that set me all the more curious about the movie and the album. “Ragam thaalam pallavi” is your standard Carnatic song and almost has a stamp of familiarity about it and the voice similarity with Balamurali is unmissable. I almost thought it was the latter and on googling only got to know SPB has sung this one as well. Apparently it seems “Thaalam” is pronounced as “Thaanam” in telugu it seems(??!) Finally  the “Dorakuna” song. If you keep listening to the whole album in sequence mentioned, by this time, the versatility of SPB’s voice modulation would’ve made you realize that the male lead is ageing and probably on his last days. The song begins with an aged and tired sounding SPB’s voice accompanied with a soul stirring veena( or tambura??) sound. Halfway through the song, SPB’s voice throws up a rage of cough and Vani Jayaram’s voice pitches in for company. I don’t know how to describe voices in general. But there is something ..hmm…shrill/strong sense about vani jayaram’s voice and especially in this song, it is almost as if the voice/person is calling out for (god’s)help. A cry for support or help. I guess it is the song where the male lead breathes his last may be.

I’ve been listening to these songs on loop since almost a month now and the songs seems to switch on by default inside mind, even if I am not connected to any device!!! Eternally grateful for such artisans for having composed and created such magical numbers. Blessed are these musician folks, for they can transcend any boundary – be it language or otherwise. If you guys haven’t given this album a try, even though it is highly improbably and the movie itself is like 40 plus years old, plus if you are a semi Carnatic songs fan, do give this a try. I wish I knew a bit of these raga’s and swara’s to appreciate these songs better. Inspiring stuff.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

LKG - movie review

Considering the school hunt situation, this movie couldn’t be more timely at least from title perspective for me. And considering the response to the movie, getting a LKG seat, both in school and also for this one, seems quite tough. The movie is what “Tamizh padam 2.0” failed to be -  a tongue in cheek satire. The movie achieved what “NOTA” movie couldn’t – keeping audience interested, even though content wise both are more or less same. They are candid camera attempts on the current political situation in TN, post the demise of J. But LKG goes one step extra and picks up on the comical side of those issues and I am pretty sure, they are immediately connecting with the audience. Where NOTA failed was, it was mere representation of the situation and it made it look like watching the same news reel on screen as well. But LKG pokes fun at the satirical aspects of those sorry scenarios. Be it floating thermocol to save water, J’s death related controversies, school admission situations and the power wielded by councilors everything has been ridiculed at expert level. It’s not just local politics that is mocked, even the role of corporate in the form of influencers (Cambridge analytica) are trolled mercilessly in the movie. The way the analytics firm, comes up with solutions to prop up Balaji’s profile on social media and his antics are unfortunately real life incidents and would make everyone think twice before believing news from social media. Especially, the way, Balaji protests against the disease that has inflicted his leader, having ran out of options to protest. Really LOL moment.
Balaji, the hero of the movie, more famous as Radio Jockey, already has his RJ title as his initials. Probably post the movie, he would be more identified for his role as well. He is responsible for the story and some assistance or probably owning the dialogues as well I guess and my word!! The dialogues are witty crisp and super sharp in many places. There is a scene where he encounters an home grown politician on his home turf, on a tussle for MLA seat. The senior politician, being super strong on his home turf, responds to a retort from Balaji, who makes a comment that even Kamarajar was defeated in elections by a newbie. For which the other guy responds that, Kamarajar might’ve lost the election but does anyone remember the name of the guy who won? Even in defeat, Kamarajar remains himself and even as a victor that other person will never be his equal. Such a long drawn translation, actually robs the sheen of that dialogue and scene. On screen, it would be like razor sharp. I would be really surprised if it was Balaji who has helmed the dialogue for this portion. Awesome attempt to whoever it was. Priya Anand has an equal length role as the hero. Looks all bloated and is treated like a central character rather than candy floss heroine. The scene where she teaches Balaji, the A,B,C,D of election politics would surely tingle everyone.

Gils verdict -  a laugh riot which unfortunately is an exact depiction of the current political situation. Can surely watch for a relaxed laugh and deep pondering as well, depending on which side of the political spectrum you belong to. Wonder, how come no political party protested against this movie. But it actually spares no party and pulls everyone’s leg. Probably if at all any protest had happened, it would’ve been the single unifying factor in our politics.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Crucible by James Rollins - book review

A book that I was so eagerly awaiting, considering that it touches upon Artificial Intelligence. Knowing his penchant to weave thrillers from even hitherto un-interesting topics, I was having great expectations around this topic, only to see the book fail miserably on all counts. It starts off on an interesting historical note, as always in any James Rollins book, with the trial of Witches as background. There would’ve been a million references about the book on witches as to how it is supposedly the bloodiest book on documented human history, for it has contributed to the death of so many innocent women. Beyond a point, it has become so monotonous that, the build up around the book became pretty obvious. There was an even explosive parallel track of a pregnant Seichan (wife of the main character) being abducted along with the kids of another main character, with the wife of the latter, battered to near death. Usually, the parallel tracks wouldn’t have any knot till they converge on a spectacular boiling point from where the stories would merge. But here right at the beginning the hand is revealed and there is no sense of suspense as well. Even for a story devoid of any logic when it comes to fights and chase sequences, the way a heavily pregnant Seichan rides a Ducati and evades her attackers is too much cock and bull. If at all there is a portion that beats the log out of logic, it’s the sequence involving, picturizing brain activity to visualize whatever the person wants to convey, when they are in coma. Let me explain. The lady who gets beaten to near death, goes into coma. To find out about her attackers who have abducted everyone on the house, the doctors try to read her brain – literally. They induce something on her brain and map the result to paint a picture of what she was trying to think!!! There are some references on the author note, that such medical facilities are actually available. But it is impossible to believe the extent to which it has been used as a premise on the novel. Literary liberty at its peak I should say. Coming to the concept of AI, the way in which the author has tried to build up on the AI growing up and eventually out of control, is akin to Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park and other novels, where he follow similar timeline. But the comparison stops right there. If AI is actually intelligent, it wouldn’t read this book about itself and would probably dismantle itself post reading the same. The description and the conceptualization make it sound more like a virus than a supremely powerful being. And the ending was an absolute let down. It reminds of erstwhile movies, where to justify a “Subam” end card, everyone would pose for a happy picture.

Gils verdict – If you are a James Rollins fan, this book is not for you. If you are a first time reader of his books, don’t start with this.

Monday, March 04, 2019

F. R. I. E. N. D. S - viii

For previous parts click here

Joey and Chandler while taking the stairs to their apartment

“Wow man… that cab driver was rude” exclaims Joey
“Why…what did he do?” queries Chandler
“Whaaa..didn’t you see? He showed us the finger!!”
“It was Thumbs up”
“Is thumb not a finger?? then what is it?”
Chandler face palms and controls himself. “Dude..not all finger's are offensive”
“If that’s the case then why he got offended when I showed him the middle”
“IT IS offensive to flip someone with the ..middle”
“Who gets to decide that?” Joey opens the apartment and the conversation continues into their room, with chandler mimicking brain exploding, on Joey’s comment.

Both get startled to find Phoebe sitting on their couch and watching TV.
“Whoa….Pheebs..how did you get in?” blurts Joey
“What are you doing here?” asks Chandler
“Duh..thanks for your hospitality. No wonder you never get any guests” mocks Phoebe
“But how come you are here in middle of your working day? Aren’t you supposed to be at your massage parlor or something?” asks Joey
“Well I can ask you guys the same question”
“For starters ..we live here and both of us are on vacation”
“I got fired” says Phoebe gleefully
“Isn’t that a wrong emotion for that statement” queries chandler and upon nearing Phoebe realizes something is wrong.
“Woww..how high are you”
“Your grammar sucks. It should be how tall are you”
Rolling his eyes at Joey, who looks clueless, he mimicks drinking sign and points at her.
“Oh poor phoebes…Why did they fire you” asks Joey hugging her.
“They asked me to do something which I had no clue. I tried to play act it, for which they got pissed off and fired me. Heyy…How come you get paid for acting while working, while I get fired” cries Phoebe
“Because he is an actor and you are not” replies Chandler.
An irritated Phoebe warns him with a slashing sign on her neck with index finger.
Joey looks quizzically at Chandler to know whether that finger is allowed.
A groaning Chandler slumps into his seat.

Meanwhile @ Monica’s apartment:

Rachel is seen reading some fashion magazine, with Ross, sitting next to her and watching some program on Discovery channel.
Monica silently steps out of bathroom and tries to rush to her bedroom without anyone noticing, only to lose her footing and bangs her knee on the door.
“Whoa..can’t catch a moment of peace in this house is it” complains Rachel
“Sush..sush..keep your conversation silent please..i am making mental notes for my next presentation from this program” says Ross
“THAT’S IT. Rachel..if you want peace..go to your apartment and Ross..one more time you “sush” me..i would punch your face” bellows Monica, still wincing in pain.
“Calm down..Calm down..hey..wait a minute..you look…mmm..different” wonders Ross
“Yeah…right. Honey.. The second amendment might have given you the right to bear arms..but wouldn’t hurt to shave once in a while..especially if you are planning to have a social life” quips Rachel
A dejected looking Monica, makes face at Rachel and asks Ross “How fair do I look..i tried this new cream today”
“In all fairness..you look tanned. Was that cream made of petroleum by product” asks Ross
“Yeah..looked more like Vaseline”
“The effect look more like the other by product – TAR”
“Rubbish..you guys are jealous that I am practically glowing” waves away Monica
“And Ross..by the way..how is it going with that African American colleague you were dating..is she like Beyonce?”
“More like her cousin, Beyon-D for Ross” mocks Monica
A sad Ross confirms that she broke up with him.
Chandler, Phoebe and Joey enter Monica’s apartment in search of food.
“Ok guys, I need to leave for a seminar now. By the way, what do you think about this new clip-on neck tie, huh” asks a beaming Ross
Phoebe looks at Chandler and Racherl “Should I take this or do you want to”
Chandler offers “Let me” which is approved by both of them. He runs his hand around the tie as if to examine its texture and continues “Wow..its a master piece of tailoring. Great color, design and pattern. With a tie like this no one would be watching your seminar but you. I wouldn’t be surprised if you get called in to pose for fashion magazines for being the standup guy in men’s fashion”
Ross’ face turns from beaming with pride to scorn.
“Went Overboard?” queries Chandler to Phoebe
“You crossed the fine line between polite lying and outright sarcasm” confirms Rachel
“Sorry mate the momentum carried me over” says Chandler patting Ross
Before storming out of the room, amidst peals of laughter by others, Ross shows a raised fist at everyone.
“No fingers..now is that also offensive??” queries Joey, only to keep quiet looking at a glaring Chandler.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Timeline challenge

There is a buzz going around in FB about sharing your decade old photo, comparing it with present day ones. Interestingly, with facial recognition tools up on the rise, there is a controversial thought process as well going viral that, this is a ploy by WD to shore up their AI tool. A while back had wondered out loud in this space, why the fuss around data and what could anyone do with all those worthless mokkais I may share in FB. Apparently it seems quite a few things can take place even from those useless mokkais which has woken me up to a scary reality!! To be honest, off late I am plagued with more doubts and queries about the future that, at times I forget about living in the present. News items relating to shrinking waterbodies, oceans turning to garbage dumps, thinning permafrost (incidentally all these were part of the 10 year challenge pics as well) rising rate of irrational behavior, mob mentality, boldness with which crimes are being committed and the callousness with which they are being punished and above all the impunity with which educational institutions deal with syllabus, teaching and the students, it seems to be getting more and more chaotic. Irrespective of any country of your pick, there seems to be widespread coterie culture, which seems only take care of itself at institution level. You are expected to have opinion for each and everything and be vocal about it as well.

In this background, I am clueless in wonderment as to what should and what would I be leaving behind for my kid. Everything is in such a state of turmoil that, there is no clear direction for me on what are good values, what is a good education and what should be the most essential skill for him to survive. Some of the conversations that I am listening to during lunch hours from team members having school going kids are nothing short of alarming. 2nd standard kids are getting pulled up in school for passing love letters, watching adult content and are being penalized for using filthy swear words. The casualness with which the subject was being discussed was chilling. They were mentioning about the extended role which parents have in making sure they are not smothering the kids in the name of micromanagement at the same time nor leaving them totally on their own as well. Simply said. In situations like this, I often think about how my parents handled me and similar situations. Obviously the scenario of present day can never be compared with decades back. But as little exposure towards the vice for the kids, even the concept of what were vice where much different from the present. The challenges would’ve nevertheless been same. I would love to hear back from my dad what went through his mind during such times when I was stepping into school or into college. He would’ve been much busy in making sure we’ve the finances in line to meet our expenses. But still personally, his thought processes, his doubts, his fears and how he overcame them, would’ve loved to understand. Not that I am capable of having such open conversations, but it’s a theory that I fantasize about.

When in need...cheat

Last few weeks have been nothing short of nightmare with Junior falling sick. It’s heart breaking to see him suffer and with literally zero food intake he has grown unrecognizably thin.
As your kid grows, it presents many dimensional situations for the parent and for people like me, who have always been the Siddhartha for their parents, when it’s time to get into the real world, not everyone is capable of turning into a Buddha. Starting with chasing around references and recommendations for school admissions, there are several eye-popping-opener scenarios which I never thought my parents had to undergo, at all!!! Except for the one time when my mom was adamant that I have to get into CBSE and start speaking English like other kids, it was never a case of opting for recommendations from higher-up’s or influencers. Awkward was the least of emotions that went through mind when encountered with such situation. For someone who is used to get things done without asking, courtesy his parents, it was a scenario that I was totally unprepared for. It may make you wonder on what’s the big deal. But I believe there are several pampered kids like me, out there, who are in for some serious shock, when such situation present itself down the line. Personally, I take pride in being a meritocrat and I strongly believe one should deserve before desiring. But when you are in a free fall race, trying to hold on to any support is the basic survival instinct and the situations that lead up to the rat race begins right at this step of school admission. Every parent is insecure in getting a dream school for their kid. This insecurity breeds corruption and has made educational institutes, the money spinning monster they’ve become now and have created a whole new dirty world, that feeds and thrives around this nasty business of “selling” education. These are not new and not that I wasn’t aware of them before. It’s one thing to read about them, see them and a whole new thing to encounter. I would still make an honest attempt to get my kid enrolled solely based on the merit, but not sure how long such a vain approach will hold against the onslaught and cut throat competition arising out of impatience and insecurity of fellow parents. The urge to get things done early, the hurry to finish things first, the casualness with which process and regulations are treated with disdain and the utmost disregard for others who are fellow travelers on the same path, are fast creating a mutant set of an organism called “parent” who would go to any extent, breaking all rules and regulations to get things done for their kid. The same set of people iterate into other domains, which ends up creating unmanageable set of situations for those who are not influential enough. For all this rant, any one could wonder, why not opt for a government aided school and why should one hog private schools. The very fact that, the structure there has already collapsed beyond repair is the reason that people are flooding towards these mafia. Even before my kid enters schools, I think it would be me who would be getting lot of learnings, though unpleasant.

Mandatory Valentines day post

Certain people, you never realize, when they become part of your life, especially
Those whose presence are very much enjoyable and make you happy
Those whose antics and actions make you tear your hair or roll on the floor laughing
Those who, with their very smile, can wipe of your entire day of stress
Those whose kicks and beatings also make you happy
Those whose tears melt your heart and make you do unimaginable things to bring the smile back on their face
Those for whom you would be willing to let go and break any rules of yours
and when they become the evidence of your existence.
For all the reasons above and more, kutty paiyan would always remain the inspiration for any and many posts on this topic and wifey being the reason behind the post.