Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind



                   Blessed are the forgetful..for they get the better even of their blunders.

Many times i've wondered, if at all there was an option, to wipe out those memories of embarrassing situations, memories of sadness, of failure, of all those negative that which hang around mind like unwanted files, cluttering the space. The pain that is associated with them, which gets rekindled each time you revisit. The bouts of suffering that which gets reminded each time. The shudder that runs through the body and the cold chill on the spine reliving those embarrassments. If only we could, not just forget about them, but also make sure that they are erased forever. But even if we do erase those memories, will it make life any better? So goes the theme of the movie "The eternal sunshine of the spotless mind".

First thing that attracted me to the movie was the title. Some sentences or word, however big or clumsy they are, gets immediately fixed. I saw it once on a cover and it got branded right into my mind. For a long time, i contemplated on watching it and even bought the DVD. But felt, it might be too boring and skipped it each time. When i got to know that it had Jim Carrey starring in it, that was the second vote casted on its favour. I simply love that man. Behind his facade as a hyper energetic character, lies a highly sensitive personality. And i am a huge fan of Kate Winslet for the variety of roles that she tries. The movie boasts of a top notch cast. Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Elijah wood, Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst and any more biggies, it would've been like J.P Dutta's "L.O.C", a parade of superstars.

"Sand is overrated. Its just tiny pieces of rock" and so begins the movie. First line kaetta udanaye it felt different. Jim Carrey meets Kate on a train and though their personalities couldnt be any more different they fall for each other. In the very next scene Kate is seen kissing a person and feigns ignorance about Carrey who is heartbroken. In the following scene Mark Ruffalo and Elijah wood are seen performing some test on him.The stroy telling mode is so jumbled that, it takes a while to adjust to the twists and turns. After a while you get to realise the choppy butchered way of story telling, which is so much in synch with the theme of the movie.

Carrey and Kate are estranged lovers and due to their conflicting personalities they quarrel a lot. During the aftermath of one such fight, Kate decides to take the ultimate step of removing the very presence Jim carrey from her life, past and present and visits a memory correction clinic where they map the brain tracing the memories that you want to get removed. When Carrey gets to know about it, in an urge to get back at her, he also subscribes for similar treatment. While undergoing the test, he backtracks his memories, while they are getting erased and re-lives those situations. He realises that he is equally at fault on each of the situations and how he could've avoided them and more than anything, that he is still in love with Kate. The moment the realisation strikes him, his mind works over time to protect the remaining memories of Kate and tries his best to hide them. Those scenes are so touching and masterfully created that they hook you right into the storyline and you begin to enjoy the ride, getting totally in synch with the back and forth storytelling style. As the memories get erased from latest to oldest, the final few memories of how he met her and what made him fall for her, that get erased the last, makes him miserable. Before it gets completely wiped off, he retains the final sentence said by her, to meet her in Montauk. That is the first scene of the movie where in Jim Carrey is seen rushing into the train before it closes.

In between, there are two parallel stories that happen in real time. Elijah wood, steals all the personal belongings of Jim carrey that  has all his notes about Kate and uses them to get Kate attracted to him. Kirsten Dunst who is shown to be in love with Mark Ruffalo finds out to her shock that, she herself had undergone memory erasement procedure, to break off her relationship with her boss. In a fit of rage and having realised the futility of the treatment, she mails the details of all the patients back to them reminding them of the very memories that they got erased. Both Kate and Jim Carrey also gets back their tapes and realises how bad they had been thinking of each other that had driven them to this decision. After contemplating whether its worthwhile to pursue their relationship again, they decide to take a chance on themselves and give it a try again.

"Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each prayer accepted, and each wish resigned."

Many scenes from the movie are as poetic as the title itself. In any relationship, there has got to be ups and downs. While going through the tough times, when one realises the happier moments that each had with other, i guess people may not opt for divorce so easily. A lovely movie and must watch i would say.

P.S: There is one SJ Surya movie , Ah..Aah, a crappy one at best, which is based on similar theme. Now that i've seen the original, the tamil version doesnt sound that bad at all. Definitely it could've been done with better casting. But an interesting attempt at best nevertheless.

Friday, October 26, 2012

One test and many learnings

When i had taken learners permit, it was more for an id proof/address proof kind of thing and never had any intention of taking it up further. When roomies went for driving classes, joined them for fun and even after going for half a dozen training sessions, was still in no mood to actually take up the test. One fine day, it finally dawned that, Why not? Afterall i've spent so much for each of those classes, i might as well take up the test. All the while i was playfully attending without showing much interest on learning the rules and the moment i realised i had to prepare for the road test, it was throwback time to the school days. Looking at the way i was driving, the instructor booked a much early slot for me and all of a sudden things were not so easy anymore. The same roads, that were comfortable to Vrroom around appeared like obstacle courses. During the final class, looking at the way i was driving, the instructor asked me to pull over.

"What the hell is wrong with you"
I didnt even turned to look at him and kept staring ahead. "You are not doing a brain surgery here. Why are you so tensed. Relax."
The reason for the dressing down was, he asked me to make a left turn and i did a complete U turn on the lane. He was so shocked that he couldnt bring himself to shout at me then and there and asked me to pull over.
"Why did you make that U turn"
I kept quiet for some time and finally confessed the real reason. "Just a left turn alone sounded too simple"

He started laughing so much that he had tears running. "Oh my god. Why do you want to complicate things? You are not appearing for Guinness record my friend. Its a simple road test and how much ever you want to complicate it, this much only is what they are expecting you to perform during the test."

Infact, a similar sentiment was echoed by my manager sometime back when i pestered for a project change. I told him that i was feeling bored in the current setup and wanted something that would demand more from me. He said "Enda..ellarum easya velainum kaetta nee en valiya poi vambu venumngara". And upon my constant nagging he finally got me changed to a high pressure project.

Its not that i always go after difficulties. But for me, having things getting done easy, always had a feeling of guilt associated with it. That unless a task is complex it doesnt give the satisfaction of getting it done. Ithana naala ellarum sonnapolaam realise pannala..aana when the instructor laughed about it, it really stuck for the very first time, that how simple it sounded. Even during my student days, when i solved a math problem fast, i would never feel satisfied and would think that it was an easier one and hence i was able to crack it. And during the course of that driving class i realised it a lot. Rather than making things simple, i imagined complex, thought complex and that only ended up increasing my mental stress. Finally i was a nervous wreck on the day of the exam that i almost gave up. Better sense prevailed and today i feel more relieved than happy that i cleared the test. The roads have widened up again and travelling has got back its merriment. When my examiner told my driving instructor that i cleared the test he only said one thing "I always advice my students to think sharp while behind the wheel. But for this guy, i begged with him not to".

So, athaaaagaaapattathu....enna solla varennaa... license kedacchaahhuuuuu ...wooohoo :))

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pirivom Santhippom

After years of waiting, finally i managed to finish reading "Pirivom Santhippom". I so badly wanted to read this novel for so long, but was unable to get the full copy anywhere. Whenever i went to any book shop, i would either not get a copy or will forget to check, remembering it only later. Onlinela there will be only the second portion of the book available and never the complete set. There was a movie, Anantha Thandavam, based on this book and even that movie, i had never seen from start to finish. Always from halfway portion. I thought i was never destined to read this book. Then one fine day finally managed to get the ebook of the entire two parts and promptly forgot where i saved the file!! Few days back stumbled on the file and immediately started on it. Sujatha never disappoints and no wonder this book of his is such a huge hit among his fans.

Its a simple love story, but alas love stories can never be simple right? A story of an young man, full of confusions and doubts and impulsiveness that comes with his age, meets an young girl and falls head over heels in love. He gets the job the interview of which he did miserably. He feels like getting his confident back to face life and suddenly everything begins to look rosy. He feels lucky and strong and powerful enough to take over the world and with each passing instant his love for his girl grows manifold that he decides life without her is not worth living. Their love story goes so smooth and fast that it proceeds to their engagement without a hitch, that at one stage he think out aloud how come there is no villain in his love story. His wish gets granted and in comes a American maapillai. He sweeps the girls parents off their feet with his show of wealth and even sways the girl's mind into marrying him. The heartbroken hero tries to commit suicide in vain. Motivated by his dad, he takes up higher studies in US only to run into his lady love again. The story takes the usual twists and turns, with cheating husband, unsuspecting wife, ex-lover getting blamed etc. He meets another girl at a party and her parents too are immediately on to him and coerce him into getting married to their daughter. Meanwhile, the girl finds out the true colors about her husband and begs the hero on the day of his engagement to take her back to India. A tragic climax unfolds leaving everyone heartbroken.

It might be too simple a story to shrink it in so few a word. But the real magic lies in the details. The way Sujatha describes Pavanasam dam and its surroudings to the minutest of details that you could see the mist and fog and sound of water flowing nearby and he is equally at home in describing NYC. The characterisation of Raghu is top notch. He brings out the confusions of a teenager entering adult life very well. If there is one word to describe Madhu, its confused. Her character gets swayed by anyone and everyone and she is always on freefall mode right from scene one. Totally contradicting Ratna's, the other girl in Raghu's life, character, who is confident and independent but still gets dictated by her dad on her choice of husband. Both Madhu and Ratna's parents are shown as sly and cunning and both the families try to gobble up Raghu, taking advantage of his innoncence and forever confused state of mind. Both the families bypass Raghu's dad, who sounds to be the only sensible and sane person amidst all the characters. There is another wisehead in the form of his dad's friend who gives asylum to Raghu in NYC. A typical foriegn settled Indian, having seen the bright and dark side of life in US. Every single character in the book has shades of grey in them. They are confused and make hasty decisions only to repent later and their approach to life mimic real life people.

The movie is a literal adaptation of the book. For every single page of the book, i went back to the movie. Couldnt quite imagine anyone else for the role of Madhu other than Tamanna. She looks like a doll, as always and is so refreshingly good looking and innocent that she was the perfect fit for the role. Wish she had acted a bit too apart from looking like glam doll. But the story is from Raghu's perspective. Wonder if the director could've chosen a different hero. That guy looks irritated throughout the movie and never looks interested. Rukmini does a neat role as Ratna and looks sharp and intelligent with a  NRI air about her. There is a situation in the novel when Raghu takes Madhu for a trip to Disneyland upon insistance by Madhu's husband. He would still be madly deeply in love with her but would be restraining himself. In the movie, the situation is picturised as a song "Poovinai Thiranthu kondu", one of the best songs by GV Prakash with finest lyrics. You would appreciate the song more after reading the novel.

Love has always been the most complex yet most easiest of all human emotions. The very reason that we go all the way into loving someone, over and above oneself, makes us into believing that we get a say on their life. Which in a way negates the very meaning of love, which is supposed to be selfless. Not sure if such kind of love ever exists..but it would be the purest form of it all. Very happy to've finally read the book and this would be one book i would cherish for a long long time.


Monday, October 15, 2012

English Vinglish



Nowadays story lines of movies are held so much in secret that, cine people might put their lives in front of it. The more they try to keep it under wraps the growth of hype and mystique around the movie grows rapidly. Here is one story, which anyone can say looking at the title itself, what its going to be about. Touted as being Sridevi's comeback vehicle, it becomes even more obvious. A central lady character, her struggles with the English language and it has to have a positive ending and so logically, she must be overcoming her hiccups and win over her troubles in the end. The forced inclusion of a cameo from Big B (Thalai in tamil version..honestly Rajini would've been a hoot on this role. Imagine Rajini Sridevi combo after all these years..avvvvvvvv) only raised more questions on the directors confidence in their own product. Despite these stumbling blocks, the movie is a winner all the way. Its not just about a lady's quest to learn a new language. Its all about gaining respect from those you consider your own. Its all about self respect.

Be it Hollywood or Bollywood or any wood for that matter, stories on underdogs are sure shot winners. Everyone roots for the underdog and more the people can relate to that character, brighter are the chances of bonanza at BO. Its been a while since we had saree clad middle aged lady characters taking center stage. Who better than "Athiroopa Sundari" to bring it to life on silver screen. In a scene where she feigns illness, to attend her English class, she would be on bed fully covered in blanket and only her face will be visible. The sheer glee on her eyes after she successfully fools her sister and the joy on her face reminds of her mind blowing performances in "Moonraam Pirai". That childish mischievous look yet vulnerable at the same time, guess very few actors can manage that. But her nose reminds of a bad imitation on Michael Jackson :)) But i love the way she does a mini usain boltish stunt each time she feels happy. Whether its feeling sad that her own daughter and husband are insulting her lack of English knowledge or happiness in playing with her son or silent pride when her classmates appreciate her and when her teacher labels her "entrepreneur" or a tinge of romance with the French guy or guilt of almost falling for him or anger when she explains her situation to him admonishing him in hindi or that shy smile when she is corrected by him that French fries are not exactly delicacies from France ( my personal favorite scene) or calmness and clarity with which she raises toast to the newly weds adivsing them on life after marriage, intha navarasam solvangalay..well..she covers them all. And in many places more than the dialog, its her expression that carries the scene. Feels like watching vintage Sachin scoring a masterful century. Some of the dialgoues are so beautifully crafted that they stay with you even after the movie is over. I loved the one that comes in the final few minutes of the movie, which Sridevi tells to the french guy- If you don't like yourself, everything around you looks bad. But if you are happy with yourself, the same things look good. Thank you for making me feel good about myself. Touche.

Rest of the cast form an interesting sidekick bunch. The English class group reminds of "Zabaan Samhaal Khe" team. The Pakistani driver guy shows semma attitude and is very confident. The tamil/teluguwala Ramamurthy, that guy looks familiar. But he is a hoot. All the scenes that he comes are absolutely humourous and the way he stresses on the syllables in a typical south indian way is a delight :) More should be said about the English teacher. Guess he must be a foreigner. But he has understood his role and has played his part to perfection. I loved that sleepy mexican nanny. Semma cute expressions and the chinese doll like lady is also sweet. Had a big argument with roomies on which movie the French guy is seen before. Very familiar face and semma natural underplayed performance. Priya Anand ...avvvvvvvvvvv...ennoda most recent crush. She looks so pretty in her tamil movies..ithula veetla irukara dressa poatukitu vanthiru solirupanga pola. She is ordinary and vara sceneslalaam srideviya adore pannikitu irukarathulaye odiduthu. Guess she must've been overawed to work with her. The scene where she hesitatntly asks Sridevi does she like the French guy and quickly adds up saying that its natural to fall for him, highlights the maturity of her character. The guy who plays Sridevi's husband reminds of Kay Kay Menon. Loved the kid who plays their son. Apdiye thooki konjanum pola avlo sweet. Songs were pretty neat too. I liked the tamil version of the climax song. Neat word play on "Ummachi" and "Um Aatchi" and the title song "English Vinglish". Foot tapping numbers.

My mom can manage english but is not confident of her spelling or vocabulary having been away from the language for so long. My sister and dad used to tease her playfully and she would take it very sportively and would respond that the very reason why she is making us study in a better school is because we shouldnt be facing her challenges. It would lead to fun filled situations and those are moments i treasure for life. Just like Sridevi's character, whenever she comes to my school for PTA, she will ask me where i sit on the class and will look at the classroom with awe. That scene in the school reminded me of my own case.When in my 6th standard my English teacher called for my mom. She started talking in English and when my mom responded in tamil, i felt so proud that she made my english teacher struggle for a reply :) something that she does to me on class on a regular basis. One more similarity. My mom also prepares yummy yummy laddus. Ohh..how much i miss them :)

This movie brought back lot of memories. And i should say, struck a chord with every audience, for even on the late night show in theater, everyone was waiting till the end credits were done and were clapping whole heartedly.

Gils verdict: go for it.

P.S: I had written a different post on the movie and after seeing it for the second time (in 2 days) it got totally changed. Want to buy a DVD of this one :)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The grand debate

Be it Brit or American, any author worth his salt, or if at all he wishes his name to be seen on NY pulp fiction best seller list, there has to be a novel on the US govenment and particularly involving the president, be it his romantic escapades or attempts on his life or the run up to the presidency. Many of Jeffrey Archer's novels, my favourite author and my English teacher to a large extent, are based on these premises. And almost all of them are blockbuster hits. My favourite picks are "Shall we tell the president" and "Prodigal Daughter". The first one deals with an insider's plot to assasinate the incumbent president while the latter traces the rise to the top post of a Polish immigrant's daughter. I strongly believe, Archer was in love with that character, Florentyna Rosnovski, for the way he had shaped the story is so special and is probably even better than his master piece "Kane and Abel". Being a conservative, he somehow has a preference for Democrats i guess for most of his "presidents" are from that party. In this novel, he details the electoral process and behind the scenes activities of a presidential election. In fact there are so many elections being described in that novel, it almost feels like a commentary transcript of US elections. But only Archer can make them sound so interesting and spellbinding.

I've always been fascinated by the US elections. Mostly because, the novels i read always spoke about them and those novels were my first peek into the world of politics. I learnt about primaries and electoral colleges more from his novels than from my civics text book. Never in my life did i imagine that i would be in this very same country and even more surprisingly when the elections are happening. I am fascinated by debates and even the biased shouting matches on national television in the name of multiparty debates used to fascinate me. But more than being a truthful and interesting discussion it would be more like, you cant question my mistake for you have done it even worser in your term. People would go out of their way to justify their party and very few honest responses will be there to see. When i heard the news that there is going to be three rounds of debates between the incumbent and the challenger, i was super thrilled and was eagerly awaiting the telecast. It was a totally different experience to watch Obama and Romney slug it out face to face. I always root for the incumbent and underdogs. Since Romney, i felt, was neither, i was naturally supporting Obama. But it was Romney who stole the show. He spoke like a president. His body language was like a president. He portrayed the typical aggressive American to T and no wonder he stole all those points over Obama, who was more like a school kid who had forgotten his homework. Hope the remaining rounds see a fair match. Though at a basic level, all politicians are rotten cases, the pretense that they pose around is funny which ever the country they are from. Especially in a country like US where every single second of their public and private lives are under so much scrutiny that even if you poke your nose in public it becomes discussion topic. Indian politics and US pose such a stark study in contrast. Whatever is held sacred here is torn to shreds and dissected in detail and viceversa. In the name of press freedom the Americans go over board on everything and at times it feels the politicians are more afraid of the press than even their own justice system. Mistakes are mercilessly published and blown out of proportions and bigger the celebrity you are the more the press enjoys and celebrates their fall. In this country, as much as success even failures also sell.

I had to say, the debate was nothing like, how it was glorified on the novels. It was a touch disappointing but the experience of having seen it in real of what i've been reading about in books is something i would really cherish. One more ticked off from the bucket list :))

Be it Obama or Romney, may the man who support India's cause win :D :D

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Dishkoom..Dishkoom



Ada... Dumeelu thaan dumeelu thaan...gilsu gun nula sutta dumeelu thaan :D:D
Erkanavay athu dappanguthu song..athula lyrics change vera thevayaanu kekareengalaa :D yesssuuuu...for..me the floating in air :D

Enaku pudikumngarathaala generalise pannala, but i guess, for most of the guys, their childhood aasai would definitely be to own a toy gun. The noisier and funkier it is the better. Me a huge fan of all LEO Toys products ( a kambeni that was swallowed up by the Fisherprice, Toys R Us monsters..down with FDI ). They had launched a machine gun model that made the typical rat-tat-tat-tat-tat noise along with flashing lights and also came with a dart. It was the ultimate toy i could ever imagine and whenever i went to my friends place who had bought that gun, i would never keep it down. It was way too expensive and i never had a chance to own one. Once while walking on the Nagai kadai Madaveethi my dad suddenly asked me, "Do you remember that gun toy?". I was into my second job then and was surprised that he still remembered my craze for that toy. I later realised that he never forgot that i never had the gun.

After watching an episode of How I Met your mother, in which Barnie creates a ruckus in a Laser tag competition, we were chatting about trying it out once and were enquiring about it. Casually i threw in the idea of going to a shooting range, if at all there is one near by and trying it out with the real stuff. Never did i realise that it would be taken so seriously :) My roomie got all 3 of us coupons with great deal (almost 85% Off !!) and last weekend we all went for shooting. While those two were literally freaking out with fear, hearing the REAL noises made from REAL guns with REAL bullets, i was trembling with excitement.  There was a mandatory video watch on safety procedures before the shoot. Never had i watched a documentary so intently and seriously in my life. By the time it got over, I could recite every single syllable of what was told in that 30 mins video. Looking at the wide eyed stares we were giving and posing with all the guns, the guy at the counter who was giving out the guns, started his sales pitch to us. He told that since we were trying for the first ever time, we should go for one with minimum recoil and suggested a .9MM. Makkalay, cinemala kaatrathelaam summa ullullaaikku. The real ones are amazingly heavy and loaded ones even more so. Ivlo ganama irukkay vera model pakalam sollitu he showed a colt revolver. That model is in existence for past 200 years. He said, that's more of a ladies and rookies gun as it can be concealed in purse or pocket and easy to use too. No safety latch and all. Just point and shoot..literally. Since it was looking more like our roll cap deepavali thupaaki and was literally weightless, we wanted to see something in between range and he showed us a Smith and wesson gun. When the choice came for picking the gun, we were so greedy that, we followed the "Kodaali kathai" and took all 3 of them. There was an instructor who taught us how to load the bullets and he again repeated the safety instructions. After that he left the lane to us and went. I wanted to take the first shot and the roomies were more than willing to let me try for they were still shaking.

We set the target at 5 feet initially and i started with the revolver. The moment i took aim, it all came flooding back. The scenes i had imagined with my toy gun, all those years of unfullfilled aasais. For a minute i didnt know what to do. And suddenly i was brought back to my sesnses with a deafening noise. I had pulled the trigger subconsciously and the bullet had struck right at the neck of the target. Al three of us were jumping with joy and the people from pakkathu lanes, guess they wud've been used to seeing such things, gave us that been-there-done-that look and continued with their shooting. We took turns of 5 bullets each and tried out all the 3 guns. One hour flew like anything and soon we were the only people left on the shooting lane and the caretaker lady had to literally drag us out. Last try, Last try solliye we stayed for 15 more minutes. Athuku mela late panna, that lady made it abundantly clear that she might have to use her gun on us to bring us out. Ara manasoda we came out.

For a person who never had a chance to try a toy gun, it was an initiation with Beretta, Colt and Smith&Wesson.

There goes an entry from my bucket list :)