Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Junior the Naradhar

It was on the day of his school interview, like Prakash raj from “Abhiyum Naanum”, we both were equally tensed around, how junior would handle the session. We reached the school venue an hour early. The security guy must’ve seen thousands of “enthu pattaanis” like us I guess. He shooed us away and asked to come back ten minutes before the interview time slot. When we finally entered the auditorium, it was like an outpatient ward of a hospital. Some kids were screaming, in some case it was the parents. One guy was seen chastising his kid and wife in equal measure. The kid was not repeating the rhymes he was trying to teach and was looking elsewhere. The receptionist was calling out names in her own sweet order. Junior felt restless and started walking over the chairs. There was a huge ground, which was one of the primary reason for us to pick that school, just outside the auditorium and junior wanted to check it out. When I was taking him out, wifey sternly warned not to step away from her ear shot as they may call us anytime. We were loitering around the bushes near the entrance, when junior started pestering for a walk on the sand. When he asks for something, he would plead with folded hands and puppy dog eyes, which would be impossible to resist. I didn’t realize how far we had moved from the venue, when suddenly I could hear some familiar scream. It was wifey, standing near the entrance, with her eyes blazing and luckily for us, the presence of other parents, prevented any beatings. She solidly scolded me for taking him out so far and making him all sweaty in the hot sun, with impending interview. Not that the school rejected anyone based on the session, but it was a fair chance not to risk. After listening to the verbal barrage, junior mildly asked “Did amma scold you a lot today?”!!!
During the interview, they showed some pics and asked him to name them, which he did with ease. One pic was a bouncer even for me, for it was made out of several cuttings of paper. I was thinking of which shape it represented, when junior called it out as elephant, which apparently it was!! Seems the “craft” work was done by the teacher who asked the question and she beamed with pride that someone did manage to make out whatever was the shape she had actually intended. The session went well and they asked us to pay the fees for enrolling the kid. On the way back, he patted wifey and said “don’t scold appa” and smiled at me. She thought I was the one who had directed him and was staring mad at me. Avvvvvvvvvvvvvvv… Pandrathellaam pannitu..epdi korthu viduthu!!!

Chaotic times

We are in the midst of something big that is happening. Biblical prophecies around apocalypse sound more sensible than present times.

Might sound like a starting line for some thriller novel or prophecy. But if you take a step back and have a careful look at day to day happenings, it would be surprising to miss out on these obvious situations. Should one call it as awakening or awareness, I am not sure. But more and more people are getting exposed to everything under the name of information. News channels, which ten years back would’ve been the sole proprietor of breaking news are facing a run for their controversy money, with anyone and everyone with a mobile phone and data pack, starting their own channel on You tube. You can be as stupid as possible, in fact, the more you tend towards the extreme side of the spectrum, the more famous and popular you become. Case in point being, Sam Anderson and Power star. One look at their videos, you would laugh off at their attempts. Second time, might tempt a forward to your friend. In the name of mocking, the video goes viral and the person achieves insta fame. TV channels looking for anything to boost their TRP’s would swoop in on such characters and that’s it. Their life is set. Soon, they become expert on everything under the sun. You can’t pass comments on them anymore like how you did while watching the video for the first time, because, by now, they would’ve formed an army, a literal army of followers, of blind followers, who would go to any extreme to defend their craze!! 2 decades back, it was Rajinists vs Kamalians. Prior to that it might have been MGRians VS Sivajiites. But now every single damn person on the tube has a love hate fraternity!! There is this reality show on TV where in one lady casually mentions about the way the other lady participants are dressing and posing. Ten years back, such costumes wouldn’t even have made their way into ads, leave alone primetime programs. But the program, supposedly targeting family audience, blatantly misuses its tag, with so much of cussing and swearing that every alternate sentence carries a beep. Anything and everything is being questioned with an air of arrogance. While the intent to question augurs well for an intelligent society, the arrogance of disrespect is bound to cause chaos and we are already witnessing a whole lot of them. Should acceptance be considered as tolerance? Should being open about your thoughts and deeds necessarily mean outspoken? Should everyone have an opinion about every damn thing under the sun?!!! Single parents, divorcees, wantonly spinsters, not by choice bachelors, gender confused groups are all on the rise. While every single segregation of these groups can defend and offend themselves, why are they suddenly on the rise? Is it because we have become more open as a society or more closed?

The more I look at people around me, the more I feel..aged!!! My school days and college days, which ever devoid of internet, where very slow to say the least. The same newspaper, that I used to read wrapper to wrapper for hours together, hardly takes ten minutes. For I’ve become prejudiced and biased about the content, the publisher, the article and the journalist as well. My mind refuses to accept anything that is being published on papers that have carried false news prior. Is it called polarization?? Will this aspect be tagged to a party and branded as someone or something? On one hand I see so many people, who couple of years ago would’ve been unemployed are becoming employers and are enjoying their work, which was non-existent a few years back. On other hands I see scores and scores of people who are opting to settle for lesser and lesser as they find themselves ill suited to the present day needs. Be it on professional or personal front. There is so much noise abound everywhere and inside that even at the quietest of times, its deafeningly loud. Maybe there is a reason why people take to the hills. Far away from this maddening crowd and cacophony.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Fringe - drama series

The only plus of having to travel 2 hours one way is to binge watch drama series, that is, if you manage to get a seat and not suffocate to death while standing. Fringe drama series, were introduced more like a “see if you can” dare by a colleague, who was super impressed with it. He was so fond of the series that, he was trying to sell it passionately to anyone who would listen to him. Sounds familiar? Felt as if I was seeing myself. The very first episode was interesting and I got hooked onto the series ever since. The theme of the series, deals with fringe science, hence the name. Some of the concepts are way too fantastic while some are kaadhula poo. But it has been advertised with reasonable surety that, most of the concepts mentioned are theoretical possibilities. Basically, all those machines and devices and impossible situations mentioned on the episodes are factual !!! Throw in a concept of multiverse, you got your show. The other factor that caught my interest was J.J.Abrams being one of the producer. His movies are usually blockbuster fantastic and with Leonard Nimoy aka Spock being part of the series, made it all the more curious. Before I knew, I am almost done with 2 seasons with 3 more to go. Till now, no regrets and each episode turns out to be more weirder than before. The most recent one involved “koodu vittu koodu paayum aavi”. They had packaged it scientifically as “memories and consciousness of the dead person possessing the person”. The twist being, the possessed had been declared dead as well !! The series throws up concepts of people walking through walls, time travel, teleportation, weird parasites and viruses, aliens, mutation, resurrection, genetically modified species and all these and more within the first 2 seasons itself!!! Wonder what else is in store for the rest. My favorite of the lot so far, is the killer spray agent, which is tailored to target a specific set of people in a group – a loose take on the Nazi bio weapon. Especially, the way it got resolved was really interesting.
The lead pair, especially the lady, looks super serious and emotes in cut short manner. She would rarely complete a smile or frown and would mostly look as if she was trying to say something but changed her mind at the last moment. The hero character is actually the hero’s dad. A maddeningly brilliant scientist cum doctor cum chemist who knows every branch of science possible. The hero often comes out as mere sidekick for these two. The guy who plays the hero’s dad has awesome voice. His diction, the way he pronounces each word and the modulating voice, Chaaancela. He emotes for all the characters put together and every wrinkle on his face is put to good use. The guy who comes in as the boss man for the heroine luckily has dialogues to prove that he is not the most terrorizing looking mannequin, ever!! May be it’s the norm of thriller series that everyone wears a deadpan, dead inside, expression to inforce the seriousness of the content?
Would definitely recommend the series, for those who liked X-files and other thriller genre type. Season 2, by far has been, absolutely riveting and can’t wait for the third to begin.

July 14th 2019 - remember the date

What a day for sports it was yesterday!!! With London playing host to two spectacular finals – one played out on the hallowed turf of Wimbledon and other on the supposedly cradle of cricket – Lord’s. Each of them were humdingers on their own and possibly caused the biggest collective loss of nails across the match watching globe. Felt like kid on a candy store, swapping between each channel to see which one will end first and towards the fifth set close and onto the super over on the other side, the remote must have surely cursed the day. The results made the super exciting Sunday, into a sadder one. But the thrill, more than compensated for the grief of the favorites losing out.

Probably the only final about which I ever made a passing reference was 2003, when Ponting, with his famed “spring bat”, sprang into action and threw the Indian challenge out. Yesterday’s finals, was supposedly the least watched one ever to start with, having seen the tournament’s joint favorites India and the ever dominant Aussies, out in the semis itself. It was supposedly a one sided contest and when the first half got over, even the English fans would’ve been tempted to think of preponing their Sunday plans. What was supposed to be a cake walk for the famed English lineup, literally became that -  a walk on slippery cake cream. Cricket has often been associated with individual glory and despite being a team sport, other than the invincible Aussies for a good part 2 decades and the Windies prior to that, it has always been the individuals who outshone the game. Even in the case of Aussies and windies, with majority of them world beaters, there were stand out performers, on whom the lion’s share of accolades where reserved for certain key players, whose eulogizing and idolizing over shadowed the game itself. It required some world record chases and freak innings to bring it back into limelight. But many had forgotten that Cricket was and is still a team sport. This is where, teams like New Zealand shine brighter. They are testimony to the fact that the sum of whole is larger than individuals. You have your Martin Crowe’s, Dennis lillie’s once in a while. But other than Kane Williamson of the present era, no one can stake claim to the glory that is kiwi cricket. They are the eternal scrappers, who pull in their punches as a team. May be they lack that X factor which makes them a fearsome unit. But inarguably they always are the most lovable and decent guys. Nothing to take the credit away from Eoin Morgan, who for all his worth, is one of the steadfast guys you can ever see on a cricket ground. He remains rooted to his Irish credentials despite leading English team. From the rock bottom pits of 2015 humiliation, he has helmed a team of ruthless fighters, each of whom have become super stars – Butler, Root, Stokes, Roy, Hales, Bairstow, Wood, Woakes, Ali and the list goes on. In a team of 11, he has 8 batsmen and 7 bowlers to call upon and each of them are not the typical “bits and pieces” Hollioake era players. But solid on their own. Nothing to take credit off England, but wish the cup was at least shared and not decided based on some stupid number of boundaries hit rule. Kiwis deserved the cup as much as everyone else on that Lord’s ground yesterday. Ironically, for a nation that is averse to immigrants and want to “exit”everything, their cricket team was nothing short of rest of world eleven, with so many foreign nationals donning the English colors.

If Lord’s was all about individuals vs a team, Wimbledon finals was gift vs grit. Federer is a player, I guess, no one can dislike. He is silken and all grace and elegance, with atrocious amount of aces, despite being on wrong side of the 30’s. A crowd favorite, wherever he plays and possibly the only person hating him would be on the other of the side, with everyone rooting for Federer. Popularly called as Fedex, he rarely misses his delivery and is inarguably the GOAT of tennis. But the man standing on the other side, had already denied him two Wimbledon crowns and was on the way for repeat of a third. Novak is no stranger to the realms of talent either. But unlike Fedex, whose nationality is probably what everyone wants to retired into, Novak is from a place, more known for its violence and issues than peace. From such a background, to beating the best in business speaks volumes of his grit. The game was nothing but a see-saw yesterday, with each set won by Novak, being pulsating tie breaker. The final set would’ve drained every cell in each of them and after 12-12, I thought the Duke would step in and call for truce with trophy shared between both. And as a repeat for third time in a space of 5 hours, Novak won again on tie breaker. An exemplary individual accomplishment, if there was any.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Junior tales

Usually junior never settles for anything less than “100” stories before going to sleep. After narrating three, I would find myself asleep in no time. Works much better than reading or watching drama series!! Once I put it back on him to narrate me a story in return. What followed was a mishmash of every story he had ever seen.

“Adhu..Narasimmar..raatchasa..leg la vachunduthaa”
(His latest “crush” is watching mythological cartoons and Dasavatar had been running it seems with Narasimha avatar in particular. I was slightly worried about the ending part of the story and tried to prompt him differently)
“ratchas thoppai la kich kich pannithaa”
“Illa..keeri vitruthu”
“appo anga ganapathay mooshak mela vanthuchu”
(Narasimha avatharathula engada ganapathi vanthaar nu yosikarapo)
“ganapathi laddu saaptuchaa..aprum..rakshas kitta…chooo..po sollithu”
“oh..aprum ennachu”
“meow odi poiduthu..paatha..“chinni Krishna flute vaasichithu”
“Aaama..koooooo nu vaasichuthu”
“dance aadithu..naan aadi kaatava”
“ipo venaam …night aaiduthu..day aanathum dance pannalam..ipo go to sleep”
“innum kadhai irukkay”
“oh..mudiyalaia..flute vaasichitu ena pannithu”
“onnum pannala”
“appo hanuman vanthu seetha kita pesithu”
“aama..ravanan kooda dishum dishum nu oray sandai”
“paatha..sivan vanthuchu”
“ganapathi sivana ulla vida maaten sollitha..sivan angry pannithu”
“apo chota bheem romba tired aaitaan”
“chota bheem engada vanthaan ithula”
“laddu saaptu strong aaitaan..chota bheem rakshasa kooda dishum dishum sanda poataan”
Then started the ABCD song.

I didn’t knew how the story it ended. But pretty sure the script would give Avengers a run for their casting  money.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Game over - movie review

A pakka Hollywoodish movie. For those who crib that our guys slow up the movie with songs and dance this movie would be the answer. A very bold attempt to say the least. No unnecessary scenes – be it humour or romance or sentiment. With a running time of under 2 hours, it felt like a slightly extended short film. But credit to the director for ensuring that, the impact, would’ve been created by a short film, has been maintained and ensured.

The movie starts with probably, the most violent beginning ever witnessed in tamil or Indian cinema I would say. Makes one wonder, whether the UA rating was justified. May be they went by the logic(!!) that, you simply don’t rate a movie on one scene alone, even if it involves a beheading, with the head being kicked around like a football and burning the rest of the body. But considering that, as the movie progresses, it could all be diabolically symbolic, could’ve been the reason(?) for a more accommodative rating. It is a dark movie to say the least, literally and figuratively. But considering that there are multiple interpretations possible, some may think, it is somewhat a different take on liberation and female empowerment as well !! Wonder, should all these have to be wrapped up so much into so many layers. For a casual movie watcher like me, who just watches movies for the thrill of it, the movie wouldn’t make immediate sense. Since the premise was intriguing, I googled across multiple reviews and got some idea about the way in which it has been depicted. Not sure if such a level of thought process went on the minds of the makers themselves, but some of the reviews would put HBR analysis to shame. Literalla room poattu yosipanga pola!!! Symbolism rules the roost and its left for open interpretation of the viewers. What happens on that new year? Was Tapsee assaulted along with her friend or was it an isolated incident? Is that entire house set up an illusion or real? Is the story happening in real time or dream? Is it actually a ghost taking revenge story masquerading as a mean thriller? Answer as you wish and the movie would fit in the genre you want it to be.

Very few characters and except for the policeman, who has a 2 minute appearance, rest are all women, who count to 5. The story has only Tapsee (heroine and laddu performance. Wonder why she doesn’t do much in tamil) for major portions of second half and that too with hardly any dialogue. BGM more than makes up for it, sufficiently supported by good acting. I like the lady who plays the maid. She is effortlessly original across all the movies, she has played so far- aandavan kattalai, va.va.sangam, etc. Vijay TV Ramya has a thakkunundu role. But possibly the game changer from story line perspective. With most of the scenes happening overnight time, second half would’ve been the cheapest movie section ever filmed I guess. Oray oru veedu. No lighting. No dialogue. Just Tapsee and the maid lady, screaming and rushing scared. But on big screen, it would surely raise some jump scare moments.

Gils verdict – Tapsee is Topsy in the movie. Semma performance. Aana, Chennai thaandi padam oduma therila. Definitely meant for multiplex and mall theater audience. But very well executed for the target audience. An original attempt that could become a cult classic down the line.

To New Beginnings

As the day broke, for a change, without any alarm or anyone beating/shouting, I woke up on my own!!! Yes. It was nothing short of a medical miracle that me getting up on my own, even after so many years of having gone through the. When your nervousness crosses an invisible threshold, body clock starts ticking in explosive sound that, you can’t keep your eyes close, even if try to shut them tight. I was fidgety to say the least and went on autopilot mode to get the morning chores completed.
It was Junior’s first day of school re-opening.
I was getting tensed as if I myself was the one, who was starting his school life, again!! Junior, though, was at his sprightly best and was all laughing and playing. He was extra chirpy and got ready in no time. All the way from home, I was holding tight on to the auto, with my wife mentioning something to junior, repeatedly, about which I couldn’t quite figure, for I was mentally elsewhere. We both took him inside, to his class room and he waved us off. She was so happy that he didn’t create any fuss and wasn’t crying. We decided to hang back late to watch the proceedings as we had reached the class early. The prayer was about to begin and off marched the kids, with their arms folded back, walking on a stringy straight line. Some of them where crying, not just the kids(!!), some rushing, some came casually strolling, while some were wondering in amazement at the huge playground full of people of all shapes and sizes. Junior was observing everything with his usual curiosity and was noting a huge Ganesha mural on the building. I was pretty sure what would be next on the shopping list, when he came out. Having already screwed up his dance performance, by making myself visible to him, I had been strictly warned, never to show my head, till the time he went back to class. We both were literally hiding behind a wall, watching his every step with a sense of eagerness and dare. After the prayer got over, he was looking around and slowly walked back to his class. Didn’t even realize I was holding back my breath all the while. I slowly started noticing other kids. They were all looking alike, just like my junior and not just because of their uniforms. It felt as if I was standing on a garden, full of beautiful flowers of all possible colors, about to bloom and I was right there in the middle, witnessing the whole event. I felt like gathering all of those kids into my arms and hug them tightly. None of the kids knew what they were up against and each of them were enjoying and living the moment on their own sweet way. On a cynical note, if not that, then what is it worth, felt as if they are all getting ready to be straitjacketed into the societal norms, harnessing their wild, raw spirit and making them all factory ready. Nothing but my own reflections on our schooling system. But, going with the tide has always been the way to go.

Junior the Naradhar

It was on the day of his school interview, like Prakash raj from “Abhiyum Naanum”, we both were equally tensed around, how junior would hand...