Friday, January 18, 2019

Jest junior

At times junior really stumps you for an answer.
His aunt and himself were playing with balloons. He is fascinated by balloons and gets amazed at those floating things. Would beat the hell out of them if it is in his swinging arc is a different story.
Knowing his penchant of them, my sister had bought a couple of colored ones and was trying to blow them into funny shapes.
Watching her curiously he asked “Athhai..sudratha?”
She was confused and asked “enna sudratha kekkara”
He replied “Illa balloona ipdi oothindu irukiye..balloon sudratha? Naan aathi tharatuma”
We were laughing like anything at the sutta pazham analogy.
For those who couldn’t get the context do watch “Avvaiyar” movie and the interaction between KBS as avvaiyar and bala Murugan.

Welcome 2019

2019 never felt like a “new” year. May be 2018 was so exhaustive and felt forever to extend or was it because people started wishing “happy new year” from Christmas itself, whichever was the reason, somehow, thought will never see the end of last year. Moreover, the last week of last year saw us clinic hopping with one after the other falling sick, didn’t make it any easier. There were lot of heartburn and near misses that made 2018 an year of regrets. But in hindsight they all turned out to be for good. Hope the right thing, which is much delayed materializes this year.

Latest addition to the list of favorite videos, courtesy Junior – Oddbods. Bubbles,Fuse,Newt,Jeff,Pogo,Slick and Zee are collectively called as “Oddbods” – are  the latest craze of junior. He has a knack for picking awesome videos, be it songs or cartoons. And whether he follows them or not, after a while, all those videos become family favorites. Be it ChuChu TV or now the current Oddbods, the videos are awesome and anyone can enjoy them. Kudos to the creative team of Oddbods and special mention to those who are doing the graphics. It’s hilarious and really funny and very much addictive. The storylines are not more than ten minutes and each of them are amazingly scripted and edited. Junior has become such a big fan of them at, he has begun to imitate them. To others it might look “odd” but we knew which is the one of the seven toons, he is mocking up and its really funny.

One day when I took him to a shopping mall, I risked taking him to the toys section. He wanted a toy train and whichever model that the floor assistant showed where not to his satisfaction. After a while that guy moved on to other customers. Feeling bad for not getting him any toy, I tried suggesting construction trucks and other automobile related toys. But he was very specific. If it’s not a green colored train, he didn’t want anything else!!! On the way home, there was a platform toy shop where he saw his green colored train and immediately picked it up. Same for his dress materials. His color combination would put Nippon paints to shame. Wonder when I would start rephrasing being specific to extremely adamant!!

Wishing thala Ramesh, adhivasi madam,  Vince madam and other readers of this space a lovable 2019.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Mandatory year end post

I always make a point to read the previous year ending post before posting the one for present year, just to get a kick of what was going on my mind at that time. Junior took to play school big time and had brought in a reform of sorts with his way of wishing. Whenever i go to pick him up from school it makes me feel so happy, to hear teachers from other sections as well, addressing him as the vanakkam kid. His tantrums at home are reaching critical mass and makes me worry about how we are going to handle him in coming years. Of the several things that i never understand, the foremost being, how my parents controlled me and my tantrums when i was a kid. My mom says (at least now) that i used to be very quiet and was never a mischievous as a kid. With each passing day,
the way junior is shaping up, is a lesson for me on my own childhood and also on the cause and effect theory. From being the fun and cute part, the responsible portion of raising a kid begins with this year starting with hunt for good primary school. 2018 was a year not short on my attempts to bring about a change in my career or in my way of working. Hopefully 2019 should be much more fruitful.

My only wish, as always been to read more books, watch more good movies, spend more time worth remembering at the end of the day. Special thanks and mention to Thala Ramesh for single handedly keeping this blog running with his comments :D      

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Picks of the year

Let me start off with this. I am not a big time reader. I barely average a book and half per MONTH!!! And my taste in reading is pretty straight jacketed around thrillers and commercial masala flavored scripts. But if I’ve to remember any standout story for this year, its neither of the 17 books that’ve read this year (excluding Sujatha’s short novels second part, that I am relishing at present). Both of my picks are from the weekly magazine Kumudham.

The first one is a short story titled “Maanudam”. The old man from the story, picks a dog from the street, as a pup and rears it as his pet. It listens to everything the old man says and he boasts that the dog even understands his spoken tongue – tamil. The old man’s son lives in some foreign land and rarely visits him. One day while on his evening walk along with the dog, he catches up with his friend. The old man tells him about his situation that his son has been asking him to relocate to the foreign land, for which the friend wonders why the old man is overthinking on a no-brainer situation. He urges the old man to relocate immediately as his health condition needs monitoring and he should spend the last days with his son. The old man wonders who will take care of his dog in his absence, which is laughed away by his friend. He advises that for something that was born on the streets, the dog would find a way of its own and best case scenario – can be left with blue cross and it will survive, but it was him who needs to pack his bags and settle with his son. The old man is still not convinced as he has gone to love the dog as his own kin and doesn’t have the heart to leave him, let alone give it to someone. He dozes away while thinking about this and when he wakes up the dog is nowhere to be found. The next day, his regular vegetable cart vendor informs him that the dog was run over by a truck and was dead on the spot. The old man becomes heart broken and his friend sees the bright spot in it that he no longer has to worry about the dog. Hearing this the vendor tells the old man that, he actually saw the accident happen and for such a smart dog, it felt as if the dog had actually lied down in front of the moving truck on its own. It dawns on both the old man and his friend that, having heard their conversation and the predicament of its master, the dog had made the decision. The story ends with both the old man and his friend crying inconsolably at the humanness of the dog, which is apparently lacking in them.

It’s a simple three pager in the magazine and I read it some months back. But for some reason, every time I think about the story, from the very first time I read it, it’s always moving and leaves me with moist eyes. I am not a big fan of dogs leave alone pets for I am scared to the core. Somehow the story found a resonance with me at a level I couldn’t quite understand and left a lasting impression. I still couldn’t understand why I get so emotional on a relatively normal story. But of all the dozen and half books of several hundred pages that I read, this is the one that stands out.

About the next one there is already a dedicated post. Yet, week after week, the write up goes up by a notch and it is something I have begun to look out for in the magazine the moment it lands in our house – Tamizachi Aandal. Initially I thought, the series where a rebuke of sorts at the Vairamuthu issue, who degraded Aandal. But the way in which Priya Kalyanaraman has shaped the write up, the vairamuthu incident would be nothing but like stray dog barking at the sun. The story of Andaal’s devotion to lord Krishna is known to everyone. How the love for the god grows in on her along with her from her childhood is shown in such a lovely and fantastic write up, that oozes with cuteness associated with a child and devotion that is associated with divinity in kids. I can vouch for it that anyone who once starts following this series, irrespective of their background, if they love good tamil write ups, would cherish this series. That, it comes with mythological stories is an added advantage. I wish it runs full steam into the next year as well.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Seedhakhadhi - movie review

It takes guts to have a guest appearance in your milestone movie or should it be called as craziness at its peak? In the entire runtime of 2 hours and 40plus minutes, Vijay Sethupathi, appears for the first 40 minutes and that's it.

Ever since the movie got released, this has been the talking point. How can a man, be so casual about his milestone movie, promoting it as his own, when he hardly has any screen time. Some even felt cheated. But considering the way, he has shaped up his career around solid scripts and not on his own image, the movie is a tribute to his own self.

During some of the promotional events, the director had openly stated that he would've wanted a much more older, well established actor, to play the role, finally donned by VS. The reason was very obvious on screen as it required someone with solid experience and unquestionable credentials to pull it off and the almost the entire running time of the movie, post the demise of the lead character is driven by the "aura", literally and figuratively. Guess "aura" would be the word of the year for tamil cinema - be it several 100 crore magnum opus or very recent VS release. It seems, the ghost story season from previous years have gone technical and have come out in its "aura" avatar.

Storywise, it felt like a spoof on tamil movie industry and movie stars in particular. Much more of a decent attempt than the damp squib of "tamil padam 2". When Ayya, the superstar of the theater, dies on stage due to old age, during one of his live performances, leaving behind an ailing grand kid and poverty for his wife and children, the "aura" of him, gets into fellow drama troupe artists and earns big bucks through them in movie world. Point to be noted is Ayya never wanted to perform on movies but his aura is pretty sensible when it comes to money. There are 2 knock-out scenes in the movie that would make you rotfl. They are quite lengthy shots, but still worth it. The scenes, bring out the difficulty in enacting even simple scenes, which deals with showing emotions on face rather than belting out lengthy dialogues. Logic is something that is never in question in the movie, to such an extent that, the entire public and cine industry accepts that its Ayya's aura that is actually performing and even awards "Best actor" to the aura. Suddenly the aura refuses to perform mid way into the movie and the issues takes legal route!!! What happens at the verdict is anyone's guess.

Vijay Sethupathi, for whatever little time he comes on screen, is hardly recognizable behind such heavy makeup. Chop off his portions, the movie still remains the same as they have no impact in establishing his character. Including the national award winning actress Archana, everyone is clueless why she was picked for that role, which doesn't have any dialogue or even scenes to perform. The real hero of the movie is Mouli, who conveys everything he has to say by just lifting his eyebrows and opening his eyes wide. Anniki adupu oothiya pullanguzhal, inniki gas stove patha vachuruku. Songs - Govind Vasantha. Guess that should be the comment which would suffice going forward. The man is presently the master of his realm and especially the "Ayya" song is both foot tapping and splendidly written, even though it appears for just a few seconds as montage shots. The so-called "villain" of the movie, who actually is framed for "killing the aura" is probably the find of the year. His comic timing is impeccable and the scene where he has to romantically call for his wife will bring the roof down. Infact of all the lot, his was the most sensible of characters. The way he cries out to the judge, how he can be framed for killing some one who is already dead makes one laugh and wonder at the same time on the sense behind the story.

Gils verdict - its definitely worth a watch for a different movie experience. The message is quite simple yet surreal - ars longa vita brevis.

Building your belief system

Of the handful of authors I follow, Sujatha is my favorite across languages. Though his books are only in tamil, his writing style is nonpareil, if one considers the timeline in which he published his stories. Being ahead of his time is something that sits lightly on him as his thought processes were always advanced. He is one of those authors who took to the concept of simplifying things and telling in a nutshell to a whole new level. He can talk about Chekov, Nabokov, Einstein , complex algorithms, tongue twister medicine, computers, hi-fi science fiction and human emotions everything at layman’s level and probably the frontrunner is bringing science fiction to tamil audience. In one of his advice/suggestions/recommendations, he has a ten point formula for leading life. The very first point is the basis behind this post.

He states that, everyone should have a value system – an unshakable belief – something to hold on to. It can be god, your favorite hero/personality, nature, own self or anything. But everyone should’ve some unflinching belief system, without which people often go rudderless. I’ve seen those recommendations of Sujatha, many times in circulation as forwards and posts on social media. The moment I read the first point, I would be stumped to proceed further. I never follow any one hero or personality. Same goes for god, of whom we’ve plenty in all forms and kinds. And nature is my closest to belief system which gets shaken badly in times of disasters. If finding the purpose of life is an never ending quest, having your belief system is mandatory – which is typically the navigator to guide in your quest. As for belief in my own self I am pretty sure of my weaknesses than any of my strengths.

A recent example of a friend mine is the trigger behind this post. His devotion for a matinee idol is borderline fanaticism and would go to any length to defend the superstar against anyone, be it family or friends. He has recently found a way to commercialize his passion and is reaping rich dividends in the form of fame and funds. What surprised me was the ease with which he cashed in on his passion and the coolness with which he went about it. When there was a conversation around this topic, he said I am way too idealistic for this world and is too much of a conformist. Accepting the fault lines is the first step on forming any belief was his argument. Maybe he was right. There is nothing perfect anymore and searching for a perfect thing/reason for following is no longer logical or sane.

My dad passed away 4 months short of turning 60. If I go by the same benchmark that gives me a little over 2 decades to get my answer.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The three secret cities by matthew reilley - book review

Not sure when was the last time I read a 400 page book in 5 hours’ time. This is one author, I couldn’t resist, just for the kind of locations and premises he comes up with in this series. What started as a casual airport read, when I stumbled on “Seven ancient wonders” had progressed onto “Six sacred stones”, “Five greatest warriors”, “Four legendary kingdoms” and has now settled onto this one. It’s not just with numerals on title, that this author carry the similarity with Chetan Baghat but also on the almost B-grade-ish way in which he lets his hero, Jack West solve the impossible problems. If the quest involves finding the lost tomb of Jesus, call up Jack. Is it related to identifying Atlantis- the lost city, El Dorado or Thule, call up Jack. He would even find all three of them in one shot on the same day itself. And even better, just give him a couple of ancient scrolls and books and some random imagery, he can save the earth from catastrophe, which the super villains in the series, with all their wealth and power, would fail to achieve. Throw him from an inverted pyramid (don’t ask why and how he climbed down one), bury him alive in concrete mix, chop off his limbs or simple, shoot him straight, he would survive each and everything and would come up alive and kicking.

Story wise, it’s an ongoing series, where our ancients have created a machine to protect earth from planetary alignments and risks from outer space. It involves almost every known monument and of historical importance and the quest takes the hero, his entourage and the readers across the globe. On the way, there are some interesting tit bits of history, alongside really crude drawings of how the places look like, where the major events takes place. Every time, some or other major character is fatally wounded only to be resurrected towards the end. If at all there are any characters that get killed, you can be for sure that they would be of literally no importance to the storyline, but for the emotional connect within the characters. And the punishments and fights get gruesome with every book in the series. There is an Indian connection as well, with Alagh – the scrapyard of the world, being described as Hell or underworld – literally. Despite all its crudeness and flaws, one has to doff the hat for the electric pace with which he moves the story. There is never a minute of rest, neither for the characters, nor for the readers and the sequence moves at break neck speed.

Gils verdict – it may not be your top of the shelf classic literature. But for adrenaline junkies who thrive on pulp fiction material with ample doses of history and myth thrown in, its unputdownable.