Friday, May 10, 2019

Vicious vet by MC Beaton - book review

Next one in the Agatha Raisin series proved to be everything that were noted from the first book. Not sure if I read it in sequence or not, but the pace of storytelling was bit quicker in this one. Agatha, forever pining for the love of James, keeps chasing him, only for him to reject her advances out right. There is a justification also, as to why he is so shy of committing to a relationship, but why not especially with her hasn’t been answered, in this book at least.

This book goes one up on the count of murders from the previous book that I read. One guy gets killed and the lady who speaks to Agatha about that murder, gets killed as well. Agatha, with bit of support from James, investigates and manages to unravel the killer. She almost gets herself killed and like typical movie plots, the police intervenes at the last moment and saves the day. To sum it up, it’s a crime of passion. There are some investigation scenes as well that are reminiscent of hardy boys and famous five. The way the villain, even though he is the one who ends up killed first, goes about philandering and cheating women, not sure which is the time period the story is set. Sounds more Victorian and projecting the women very naïve and delicate. It’s these mismatching sense of identity, that throws one off track. But other than that, the entire story goes at a lulling pace, with each action scene, fitted within the bouts of “he likes me” “he likes me not” scenes between Agatha and James.

There are constant references to her age, on the right side of fifty and appearance as well. Even though she is the central character, Agatha is often projected as vain and low on confidence about her appearance, forever swooning for other good looking guys and James.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Story prompt

This attempt is courtesy, the writing prompt shared by Raji, which mentioned about a story premise of soul mates. Apparently, there is a statue in the middle of a road, which will come to life, if the person touching it, happens to be the soul mate, of the person trapped inside the statue.

“So..soul mate vanthu silaya thotta..it will come to life..is that it?”
“Aama”
“Sounds so clichéd”
“What is clichéd about it?”
“From the time of fairy tales ithana solitrukanga. Kiss a frog, sleeping people or stone. Bring them to life. Make them as miserable as everyone else, so that they feel they are better off in their original form”
“You are too pessimistic to be even called a pessimist”
“Seri..un kanukku padiye varuvom. See that Greek statue in “shame shame puppy shame” pose”
“Cheee..buddhi poguthey”
“Hello..what if you touch it and it comes to life nu kekka vanthen”
“Means he is my soul mate”
“Mannangatti..means there would be a naked guy standing in front of you in public”
“What is your point"
"First dress vaangi vachintu try your soul mate experiment nu telling”
“Un kita poitu sonen paaru. Rasanai ketta mansuhan man you are”
“Kodumais of india. Seri..unnoda soul matea iruka what is the qualification. Other than being a statue?”
“What nonsense of a question is that?”
“Pinna..ivlo per kooda irukrachay..silaila soul mate theditruka”
“what do you mean”
“You know what I mean”
“See...paakraavanelaam soul mate sollida mudiyathu”
“Pazhagi paathu therinjaprum?”
“If you are talking about Anil, I’ve already told my answer”
“That he is older than you? Is that it?”
“Hey..the age gap is almost like generation gap”
“So what? You are afraid, he has more probability of dying before you due to old age? Is that the reason”
“What rubbish you are talking?”
“Just trying to understand..you both have similar tastes, synch up well. Age thaan orey reason na just trying to figure out how”
“Not just that..He is …hmmm….what is the word”
“Too perfect? Too gentle?”
“Dei..”
“Pinna”
“There is …no chemistry”
“mmkkum... Silaiya thottu chemistry varumo?”
“You are reading too much into it..freeya vidu”
“Seri..onnu pannalam..touch this statue..enakenamo..ithu un soul matea irukumonu thonuthu”
“Mannangatti..onnum venaam po. Overa pesita nee”
“Sorry..sorry..chumma was kidding. Oray oru thadava..try it. Un aasaya en kedupaanen”
“Nothing doing”
With no further ado, Ram pushes her towards the statue, which actually comes alive and catches hold of her.
She lets out a scream and faints.
After waking up to the concerned looks of Ram and the “statue”, still shivering from the shock, she angrily looks at both of them.
“What the hell…”
Watching the statue, clean up its mask, only to reveal Anil, she gets even more agitated.
“Enna idhu”
“Ada..nee thaana sonna..soul mate..silai nu. Thought we will pull a prank on you. Aaanalum Anil, after putting that get up, unna paaka vaalila Hanumaan mathiri irukunu thappa solliten. Oray thala Ravanan pola nu solirukanum. Paaru pulla bayanthu mayangidichi”
“Oru vela en azhagila mayangirupalo”
“Kolla poren unga rendu peraiyum…nonsense fellows. Aama yaar en mela ivlo thanni oothinathu”
“Adhu Ram” hurriedly says Anil
“Naan just sprinkle thaan pannen. Bayathula unna kanneerala nanaithathu Anil thaan. Rombavay tension aaitaan”
“Heart attack vanthu poirunthenna enna panirupeenga. Don’t do such things”
Anil looks dejected.
“And Anil..nee Hanuman vesham poatutu Ram ku antha role kuduthia. Unakaga nalla thoothu vidraan”
“Hey..un concept padi soul mate thotta silai will become alive. So…”
“Enna so…” she asks with a sly smile and stammer
“Dei Anil..Why are you blushing by the way?”
Both of them remain silent and smiling.
“Un vela over..edatha gaali pannunu solreengala”
They start to laugh in unison.
“Badil solra varaikum po maaten”
“Seri..naanga kelambarom” starts Anil
“Ipdiyeva po pora”
“Illa clean pannitu thaan..ipdiye roadla pona kaaka kakka podium”
“hahaha..adapaavi..ivlo mokka poduvia nee. Ivan kooda seratha inimay” she starts walking along with him, talking all the way.
“Kadisila Ramava mama aakitu poitanga. Nalla iruntha seri..” Ram walks in the other direction, whistling into sunset.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

K13 movie review

Certain movies, have their intent in right place. But the end result could be quite different from what was envisaged on the drawing board. I got that feeling while watching the movie and post the end credits as well, that somewhere there was a miss from what was intended towards what got made. With a running time of 100 minutes and a theme relatable with Hitchcock movies, the basic premises where all covered perfectly. But even within this short run time, there are scenes that looks redundant and could very well’ve been trimmed further. Especially the interval block and the immediate scenes post the block.

The movie begins with the scenes shown on trailer – hero being cello taped to a chair with heroine sitting on the opposite chair, with cut wrist. It becomes immediately evident, when they show the apartment number as K13, that the story is going to revolve within that room. With an open room and almost no one outside for most of the scenes, wonder why the hero doesn’t make a break for it, which anyway is what he did to get out of the apartment, towards the end. There are no pressing danger or reason for him to sit and justify his struggle inside the room. The reason why the heroine lies dead and the justification are weird, yet different. Probably might’ve made a wonderful thriller story, on paper at least. The end twist was quite neat and the reason why it reminded of Hitchcock. But felt it was too little too late kind of scenario.

Arulnidhi, the current favorite amongst tamil thriller genre movie lovers, lives up to his reputation of picking different scripts on the thriller genre. I am a big fan of his script picking knack. Even in his dud movies like “Naalu policeum nalla iruntha oorum”, “Oru kanniyum moonu kaala maadum” and even his very first movie as well, the scripts have all been quite interesting. But were let down by the presentation. In this movie, its only him and a dead body for almost 90% of the running time. Emotional acting doesn’t seem to be his strong point and he is not able to drive home, the fear or anxiety, needed to be displayed by a person, in his situation. Shraddha has to literally dead pan her role. For the portions where she has some dialogues, she comes out as a vulnerable, yet quirky character. The reason why she chooses the hero is quite muddled and is half baked at best.

Gils verdict – considering the last couple of tamil movies that came in this year, K13 is a much better attempt which could’ve been done much better.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Agatha Raisin and the potted gardener by M.C Beaton - book review

At last some shade of positivity at least in the form of book. Was really worried with the kind of content I was grazing at, be it books or movies. Thanks to mister Mages, who shared this book, which turned out to be perfect antidote. The story felt more Enid Blyton-ish in setup, flow and made a nice read. And it was a detective series as well. Probably the most naïve murder investigation I’ve ever read. But still makes up in its charm. I googled about the author and was amazed at the list of books published by her. My god!!!! She seems like a factory for churning out books. Not sure if you can classify these novels as kids section but may be bit more serious than the Nancy drew/ Hardy boys genre.

I suppose, this particular book, is somewhere midway through the series, for there are no formal introduction to the characters. Be it Agatha or the village or her crush James, everyone is being mentioned on the fly and any backstory related to them, discussed over the course of conversations as well. There is something about the way the English talk about their villages. It is not like our local ones which are mostly depicted as poor, dry or barren. The English villages are always green and there would be non-stop mention about their gardens. The people are known to be gossipy and there are so many clubs and societies where the entire community mingle. There are pubs and restaurants that are known by name to everyone on the village and fun events involve everyone in the village. A similar setup is what we get to see in this series as well.

Agatha raisin, is interestingly named. Guess, it must be as a mark of respect for the queen of thrillers and Raisin. She is not your petite young lassie, but a divorced women bordering 50 age limit. She is so much smitten by her next door neighbor, who runs away from her, whenever she tries to express her feelings, but he has no qualms in philandering with other women!! They are both partners(sic) in crime. Not in committing but on solving them. There is a smart young detective of Chinese origin who is always helpful and there are couple of other recurring characters, along with her pet cat, who make up the ensemble. In “Potted Gardner” the pace is so leisurely setup that, first 22 pages of the book talks about, Agatha’s return back to the village from some trip and what gift she had got for the village folks. There is this mysterious, cynical lady, who is so good looking that menfolk of the village are immediately smitten. She gets killed in a brutal manner, which was quite a deviation from an otherwise quiet and calm storyline. Agatha gets to find out who killed her. Basically that is the plot. But almost the entire village seems to be on suspect row, with that lady having rubbed everyone the wrong way. The investigative approach is quite straight forward- Agatha asks the person directly. No brain churning puzzles or clues. Straight as an arrow. There is a gardening competition as well, amidst all this chorus, which Agatha cheats, to beat the mystery lady, only to get caught. I thought there may be some key thing around the gardening event, for, right from the title and almost through half the book, it was being mentioned. But it turned out to be a damp squib.

Gils verdict – a new author and series to follow. Probably not the best first book to start in the series. But I love the premise. It may neither be for kids in their teens, nor be for adults. Oru rendugettan set of folks who are forever in between the gap (enna mathiri) may take a fancy for this series. Adutha book epdirukunu paapom.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Super deluxe - movie review

Finally managed to finish the movie, almost one month after I started watching. There has been so many reviews and research around the movie content. Ithaan un takka nu laam kekkapadaathu. It was a 3 hour long movie and first 40 minutes one sittingla got over. Adutha 2 plus hours paakrathukulla porumaiye poidchi. Evlo thaan forward pananlum kathai nagaravay illa. Ellarum ulaga padam Oscar range ambassador car range nu pugaznthu thallings about the movie. Honestly, I guess, even the double positive of the movie would’ve been negative. Avlo dark. Neo noire, chaaya kadai nair nu laam solitu kodi pudichitu vantha uruttu kattaiyaal adi kudukkapadum. Some reviews had mentioned it as dark comedy!!! Idhelaam comedyaada dei. Unga humour sensela theeya vaikka.
Naalu kadhai. Short stories may be. Adha onna oru andaaala kotti, kindi, kadhaiyaaka try panirukanga. Each one dealing with several of the seven deadly sins and how acceptable they are or they’ve become in our society. Adultery panra wife, whose lover dies during intercourse – porn star of a middle class lady, who is found out by her own son, while watching the movie on 3D along with his friends – godman, who feels specially blessed for he is the only survivor of a tsunami, missing guy who comes back as a trans woman to meet his family, each of them would’ve had a run time of half hour max. Adha mix panni 3 hour movie aakirukanga. They’ve no link till the end where couple of scenes are forced to make an overlap. To top it all, aliens vera. Yes!! You read it right. Alienslaam varuthu. Epdida intha mathirilaam kadhai thonuthu ungaluku nu extra-terrestrial beings laam aachaaryama ila adicha sarakkoda effectla kannu mannu theriyama shoot panirukangalanu therila. Either way, pity those who watched it on theater. Idhula, symbolism, directorial touchu, pinnitaan pedal adichitaaanu aayirathettu comment. Adaigala…padam puriyalaina ipdilam solli escape aaida vendiyathu. Idhula Samantha super acting. Ramya Krishnan life time performance. Vijay sethupathi chanceless nu side comments vera. Kola paniduven rascals. But his portion involving that kid, eagerly awaiting his dad is a lovely heart breaking story of its own. More so because of the kid and his performance but less as a story.

Gils verdict – intha padam edachum channella thappi thavira telecast aana, tv off pannitu, go out and have some fresh air. Adhuvay unmaiyana ragasiyam of life.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Of alphabets and words

As mentioned before, amazed as I am with the kind of videos picked by Junior, it is fast approaching alarm point of addiction. Luckily he has turned his attention to story books now and should hopefully develop on it. A while back, he was uttering all in comprehensible gibberish, in the tune of the alphabets song. We were worried to the extent that he may even forget the original English alphabets for he even started quoting some random gibberish as words. One day when I was feeding him lunch, while he was watching video, I thought the song sounded similar. Then only we realized that, the gibberish was actually Russian!!! He had been quoting Russian alphabets and words related to those all the while!!! The other song he had been humming all along had been a Chinese one. I was amazed with the ease with which kids pick up language skills, which at the moment, be it their mother tongue or any other language, is as alien. His sentences in tamil are mere repeats of what we talk in the house and he still doesn’t know the difference between “his” and “others” while speaking. On one hand I really do want to encourage him picking up other languages, but not sure if it is the right thing to do.
His way of going through story books is a routine of its own. We’ve to sit with the pages open in front of him and enact in detail about the picture on each page – right from what each character was depicting and how they would’ve spoken the dialogues on the page. If we miss out on any character from the picture he would specifically ask and point out the missing link. Last week, was reading him a story on curious George, the monkey and his trip to a baseball game. The guy, who takes George the monkey, to the game, is missed in on one of the pictures drawn on the page. An apparent miss by the artist I guess, for the page had dialogues for this character. Junior noted that, while I was telling dialogues for the guy, he was missing in the picture and was enquiring where he went. I made it up telling that, the guy went to have mammu (food) leaving George behind. Later that night, he was reading the same story with his mom. When that page came, he immediately told her that the uncle had gone to eat food, leaving behind George monkey. She was stumped and was clueless. I was laughing at it and later we decided that, any extra bit around the stories, should be circulated back for cross reference.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Chota Bheem and Junior

The gang of Dholakpur has well and truly invaded our space. Junior is so much smitten by Chota Bheem that, he refuses to wear shirt after having food and insists on wearing full trousers ala his favorite superhero. For a person who has seldom tasted any form of sweet, he would mimic chota Bheem’s action of eating laddu with both hands, do a fist pump like him and proclaim that he has become strong (“naan chota bheem aatam strong aaiten). Then begins the actual role play. Everyone else, except his mom, becomes Rakshasaas. He would ask us to “fight” with him and even otherwise, he would declare war on the “rakshasaas” and would begin punching with full vigour. The cartoon has various forms of Bheem aligning with little Krishna, Ganapati to fight super villains and also there is a full-fledged Bheemayanam, where the Dholakpur fellows enact Ramayanam. Junior is so impressed by Bheem that anything and everything he imitates that character. In Youtube, there are songs for each of the character from Bheem’s gang – be it Chutki the cute girl, jaggu the monkey, Kaalia the wrestler or even for the Golu twins. There are song videos for each occasion, be it Diwali or holi and all of those songs are so hum worthy and nice on the ears. Junior has memorized every single one of them and would be singing them non-stop. He talks to his soft toys and has named them after these characters.
The reason behind the post is to give credit to those amazingly creative team behind the Chota Bheem story board. They are doing an excellent job of retaining local flavor yet coming up with a cartoon that is on par with any other toon in the world. It retains the sense of simplicity and good morals along with creative story telling that is interesting to watch for anyone who can spare some time. I had often wished for some team to come up with jataka tales, Panchatantra, Birbal, Aesop stories in toon format. Of course there are quite few of them on the net. But I am not sure how many of them have such super hit cult franchise level fame of Chota Bheem. Now that I could actually see the craze it sets on kids, every kids shop that I see has some or other merchandise of Chota Bheem. Hope we get all of Amar Chitra katha in this format. If it’s already there would dig in deep for such videos. Really a treasure trove worth preserving.

Vicious vet by MC Beaton - book review

Next one in the Agatha Raisin series proved to be everything that were noted from the first book. Not sure if I read it in sequence or not, ...