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.


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Flash - drama series

Latest addiction.

Have long been wanting to check this drama series, specifically because of the kind of memes that were floating around, teasing the timeline concept. I started watching the current season, Season 5 and got immediately hooked to the series. The concept of time travel is pretty interestingly explained in the movie and you would never be able to use the word timeline in normal sense ever again once you start with these series. The titular character, The Flash, is played by a guy who will never age I guess. Reminds a bit of the fight club guy, Edward Norton and has a Matthew Mcconaughey-ish voice. Conceptually, I thought, Flash must be the weakest of heroes for his strength is nothing but run!! If in case of danger, he may probably be able to outrun the danger was what I felt while reading about his super powers. It’s the same, literally in the series and storyline as well. But how he develops on it and uses the same power to overcome different types of villains has been interestingly told. In fact, the premise felt very Harry Potter-ish with a bunch of friends, helping him out on every single fight and more than his powers, it’s their tools and inventions which actually help him in overpowering them. There is a DumbleDore like character who mentors Flash, only to reveal in the cinematic twist that, he ends up as the main villain. The first season of the series itself, has been neatly framed with the villain, being revealed mid-season, dies at the end of season, only to be resurrected in every season there on. With the concept of timeline, add to it the theory of multiverse with multiple Earth’s floating around different timelines, where the same person is present across every earth and some of them try to break into the other Earth’s through, worm holes and gap in timelines, it all goes beyond physics and normalcy and you’ve to be really hooked on to the series, which I am pretty sure one will, to follow up. Every episode, where the timeline gets altered, throws in so many logical queries, which are answered on subsequent episodes and the list of questions are never ending to say the least.

The “accident” which creates meta-human of an otherwise normal CSI guy into flash, also creates super villains for him to fight every episode. It also bestows his friends with super powers as well. Literally, everyone except the police guy who is guardian for flash, has some or other super powers, which are considerably better than Flash himself. Wonder, why such a simple powered guy is the theme around which other characters are built. There is a character, who can see though time, one who can freeze anything, one who runs even faster than Flash (who is the villain), one who turns into cyanide vapor at will, a guy who can turn into molten tar but to top it all, there is a character called Firestorm, who are actually two people fused by the explosion into one. Maybe Shankar lifted this concept for infusing Pakshirajan’s aura into Vaseegaran Rajini? Till the time I was watching only “Supergirl” drama series, this concept of intermixing dramas never struck as odd. But with “Arrow” episodes mixing in with “Flash” where each characters makes a guest appearance in fighting villains across different series, it kinds of adds to the ongoing confusion of which Flash from which timeline are we presently watching. I started watching 2 weeks back and before I knew season 1 got over and season 2 is more than halfway through. For someone who loves time travel and often mentions about the concept in this space, this series has been highly entertaining.

Interestingly the first weekend I was binge watching season 1, I had a dream wherein, I was the villain guy on wheel chair and not Flash!! His character is super cool and as a scientist he can do anything and come up with a fix for everything within no time, all this sitting on a wheel chair, which is revealed to be actually charging him to be more faster!!! I was actually thinking, if at all I need to go back in time to alter any event in my timeline, which would be it. There were so many that came up that, I might need to be more than just a speedster to fix those things.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Life's lessons from Junior

When junior gets really cranky, the only option that would calm him down would be a walk down the road. I hardly go out and wifey is worse than me, which leaves junior frustrated like a caged animal. But when I do take him out, it’s me who enjoys the most, looking at his antics. Many times, I over think and over analyze and it is not off limits from junior as well. I’ve never been able to quite comprehend my childhood on how I turned up the way I am today and always try to watch him closely to see his reactions. It has helped me a lot in understanding my own psyche and some key reasons behind my personality. Having grown on a steady diet of Amarchitra katha and jataka tales, I try to infuse those stories and reading as an habit into him. At the moment it’s a grand failure with any book going into tatters within minutes. Padhichi kizhichathu is happening literally.

On our late evening walks, he would exclaim with joy in identifying the name of gods he had seen on the videos and book covers. He would be counting how many ganapathis’ and krishnas’ he had seen on the way and would report back at home to his paati and mom. Last week, while walking across a convent, he was fascinated by the multi coloured star decorations and was awestruck for a while. He was tracking the colors it was displaying and noticed the statue at the entrance. He immediately called me out and said “Anga paaru…Yashodha and krishnar”. I was searching around, wondering what is such a painting doing in a convent only to realise that he was referring to Mother Mary carrying baby Jesus!! Semma bulbu. No wonder children are equated with god. They are without any prejudice or bias and are unpolluted. I am not reading too much into the religious aspects of it, but wish adults have that maturity displayed by toddlers.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

2.0 movie review

Costliest movie ever made in India. First movie, out and out shot for 3D viewing. Biggest ever technical crew assembled on par with blockbuster Hollywood movies and longest ever wait for a tamil movie, with never decreasing hype. All these hyperboles sum up the desperation to ensure the movie somehow manages to break even the production cost of about 400 crore rupees. Funnily this number started from somewhere around 300 crores and has now crossed 500 crores. The fans just couldn’t let go of any opportunity to bring in the superlatives when their idol is concerned, but this might be a matter of different concern for the producer if the IT department starts noticing. Come to think of it, it’s a significant FDI on one particular venture and should probably have the blessings of the government from a “Make in India” scheme perspective!! With the Superstar being open about his political ambitions and transforming his fans club into party setup, every single movie release is treated as a precursor to party launch. 2.0 is no exception. More than movie review, its seen as a political statement, mirroring MGR when he was about to make his political splash.

Story wise, it’s a major deviation from usual template of Shankar. There does exist a protagonist, the typical one man army who takes on the baddies and the system and comes up trumps. This time, instead of hailing him as the hero, he has been made the villain and the usual villains in his previous movies – the government, scientists et al, have all swapped roles. Had Rajini played the role of Akshay kumar and vice versa, things might’ve been different I guess. But with the superstar having already set his benchmark as the robot in the previous version of the movie, there was never a possibility. In fact, the only character, that has some semblance of likeability is Akshay kumar’s Pakshirajan – the ornithologist who takes up the crusade on behalf of the birds, that are pushed to near extinction by telecom operators, violating the transmission norms. He even gives up his life, succumbing to repeated failures. The disturbing trend of bad winning over good, creeps into commercial movies and that too by someone whose movies oozes with positivity and vigilantism. Age has finally caught up with Rajini and despite the mega budget allocation towards his costume and get-up he looks very old and tired. That, he was very sick for major portions of the movie, doesn’t make it any easier. The absence of master talent like Sujatha is extremely evident on the screenplay and dialogue departments. He has been the invisible pillar and secret recipe of Shankar’s success formula and Jeyamohan, for all his literary peaks, doesn’t manage the commercial mix, that is needed for movies. The much hyped 3.0, kutty chitti, looks more like a mock attempt on Rajini himself. Another disturbing hype around the movie is that, it’s being projected as a kids movie. Nothing could be far from the truth and those who spread the news are oblivious of what are “movies made for kids” or they are clueless on the content of this movie. It shows the person, who cares for birds and wants to limit technology related impact to nature and other living things as bad and shows those who support such heinous things as good guys. The final dialogue which praises the thoughts of the ornithologist but condemns the means to achieve it, doesn’t absolve the movie off its screenplay.

Gils verdict – Watch the movie for special day release on Sun TV.

The Gilsbert way of How not to tell a joke

Gilsbert at onsite:

“Hey I am Gilsbert”
“I am Tan”
“Is it so? Doesn’t look like it”
“err..means?”
Looking at his reaction, quickly back tracks into a different conversation.

After sometime, while trying to resell the same joke.
“So Tan..you sign by cause”
“err..means”
This time wanting to clear the point, Gilsbert puts in “extra” effort
“Sin/Cos”
“I didn’t get you”
“Not a maths guy is it?”
“What??”
“Sorry..” muttering to himself walks away.

While leaving for the day,
“Ok Tan..catch you tomorrow”
“Sure man”
“What time you are planning to start?”
“Not sure..will take a couple more hours”
“Wow..you ARE a workaholic” sensing an opportunity “may your spirit never tan”
“err…sorry. Couldn’t get the last part”

Oh..Come onnnnnnnnnn

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The girl in room 105 - book review

Yet another Chetan Bhagat book review. Despite all my raves and rants, i never miss reading a single novel of his. That says something about me?!! Anyways.

As often i mention about his books, there is a template setting, that starts from the name itself. There should be some number associated with it, 5 point someone, one night @call center etc. It was at the risk of getting into rational number territory considering the title "half girlfriend". But since rational is something that is generally not associated with his books, probably he reverted to whole numbers with this one. There i go again. Why read the book if there is so much to complain, duh!!? But still i am not that suave a reader to feast only on classics. My rest of the reading list is not that fancy either.

Coming back to the book, there are major changes for fellow readers of CB, who follow the template to rote. There do exist IITians and IIT as backdrop and guys entering forbidden territory of girl's hostel and almost no pre marital physical scenes, which - spoiler alert - does happen per the template towards the end. And of course, with the lead guy being the narrator, telling his story to the author on his flight back home, that is almost always the pretext for his stories, is the same in this as well. These apart, credit to CB (!!) for trying out something different. Its not your typical love story and to "quote" the author, its an "unlove" story (whatever the hell it means).

The theme of the book is crime and detective work. How much ever amateurish it has been designed and written, its way off from his usual mix and match supposedly rom-com stuff that he dishes out on his books. There is this guy, who is the narrator, who has been dumped by his girl, gets a message to visit her on the night of her birthday, only to be found dead. The lovesick ex-boyfriend of our hero, goes heads over heels into investigating the murder, from being the first accused, arrested by the police. Since the girl is a Kashmiri, there are ample references to the situation there and as if someone restricted the author from expressing his real thoughts, which would result in controversy over the otherwise silly book, the characters refrain themselves, literally, every time they enter into a conversation about Kashmir and RSS. CB should take a leaf out of how Ilaya thalapathy Vijay markets his movies in tamil. Controversy sells like anything and if at all the story, it would've made up for free publicity for the book. The hero, being a IIT coaching center faculty (what else could he have been in a CB book) along with his bumbling, near gay friend (which is disproved in the end with his fascination for "Tinder" girls), embarks on the investigative journey that takes him on a Bharath darshan from Delhi to Srinagar to Phalgam to Hyderabad and back to Delhi. The investigation resembles more of Pink Panther than Poirot. Not sure if it was intended or by accident though. Finally the grand reveal of the killer!! Even the crime patrol on Sony would've retained some thrill. The reason for the murder couldn't have been any more contrived as CB has literally thrown his heroine under the bus for the sake of a twist. No points from feminists i guess. And such utter and unbiased racism towards south Indians and their complexions is another template feature that is carried out shamelessly on this one as well. Way to go CB. "Black black ugly ugly" it is.

Gils verdict - The girl in room 105 is what happens when Sajid Khan tries to be Satyajit Ray. Again, there goes the prejudiced me in banishing the creative capacity of individuals. But this is Chetan baghat's book we are talking about. If its not prejudiced, then what else can it be!!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

I yaam a rajini fan - book review

A little note about the author -Dev. He is my college mate and is very well known for his tamil poems and short stories that he carries out till date on his personal blog. Been associated with him for almost 2 decades now and his passion for reading books is never diminishing. Considering the amounts he spends every book fair, pretty sure, he could start one of his own. An avid movie enthusiast, its a no brainer on who his favorite hero is and how he feels about him, considering that THE MAN himself has posed with a copy of this book and for a change, the author got a signed copy.

The book, as the title gives it away, is a proclamation of undying love for rajini. There is a slight twist as it also involves his first love, who is also named rajini. How the two rajinis travel along with him in his life's journey is vividly captured. The book is full of booby traps of nostalgia. Infact, the entire story is structured in such a way that, every single incident in the life of Arun (the lead character) is told with an associated movie release of rajini and his interaction with the other rajini at that time. There is an immediate and undeniable connect to the situation mentioned on the chapters as everyone of those movies mentioned are blockbusters and definitely the readers would've watched each of them. There would be nostalgic connect to each of them and would take the readers back to that very moment and for a story from their own life. There are political undercurrents as well and a tinge of sadness that is associated all throughout with the book. Its an open ended ending, with Arun remaining steadfast on his belief on either of the rajini's irrespecitve of the demands of his situation and their's as well.

I loved the childhood portions where the kids fight over kamal/rajini posters. I've never been a big fan of any star in particular, with favorite movies for almost all of the actors. After reading this book, which is literally a booby trap of memory triggers, i was reminded of the time when i saw Thalapathy. It was 90th day show i guess, went with my dad to the theater owned by his boss. They played only MGR movies on that theater and Thalapathy, on its 90th day of the release then, was closest to a new movie release that screen had ever seen. Probably the only tamil movie that i could recollect seeing with my dad on theater ever. 

I am pretty sure, each of you would have your own stories to recollect, when you read the book and those "90's kids" "80's kids" and "kids forever - like me" will sure have quite a nostalgic trip. Really proud of the efforts that has gone behind the book and it involves many of my friends. Its truly a remarkable achievement and having seen things behind scene a bit closer, it made me truly appreciate the work that goes behind in a story seeing its print version - web or hard cover. Kudos to Dev for his work and would be eagerly looking for more such stories from his side.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

As I see IT - 3

EGO.

My class teacher once explained that Ego means “Edging God Out”. Even after decades, that expansion is still stuck in memory, not just because I am a sucker for abbreviations, but more so on the meaning it conveyed. In the journey so far in IT industry, one thing that I could find omnipresent is nothing but overinflated megalomania level egos of individuals, that screws up the peace of many. I’ve been at both sides of the table and have not so memorable experiences.

Compared to any other industry, IT is the youngest and most evolving of all. In fact, with so much of process being shoved year after year in the form of maturity models, business driven changes, best practices, lessons learnt et al, it should be the most conformist of all industries. At the same time, its most prone to disruptive changes as well, that shakes the very foundations of established norms. The industry renews itself every decade and the lead time between the shredding of old tech to new is forever under stress. It’s probably the most democratic of all, where in any change, which has good impact on ROI is easily absorbed as the norm and almost everyone toes the line of the industry leaders. Considering such a background, working in IT should be a shoo-in for anyone. But so many of the employees suffer from stress related illness, heart ailments and life expectancy could pretty soon be a major talking point in this industry. For a place, that is built on the foundation of best practices and clear cut processes, why should anyone even struggle begs a soul searching question.

If we turn the clock back to the moment of big bang, to understand the purpose of its very existence – IT was and always will be a support function to business. To put simply, Its necessity is to make things easier for business and reduce the turnaround time in getting things done. The concept was always that, a smart guy teaching  a dumb terminal to make monotonous things simpler. With the advent of including “Smart”ness into everything, the ghost in the machine is wide awake, literally and figuratively, shutting down the humanity in people. Off late I find people to be more comfortable dealing with machines than with their own kind. Machines don’t have ego hassles. They never misunderstand the content from its tone or the emotion behind the statement. Emails don’t provoke mail storms when directed to machine monitored mailboxes. In between all these advancements in technology, which is supposed to make the life of end user easier, we’ve lost a critical thing in translation – the empathy for each other.

When there was a raging conflict in one of my teams, I spoke to both the parties individually and asked them to first hear each other out. It was an simple issue blown out of proportion due to the individual ego’s in play and neither were willing to budge. What was surprising was, it should’ve never been an issue in first place and when I suggested that, each of them should respect the other’s decision and should give a patient hearing, it was knocked off as an unfathomable attempt of a solution!! Eventually, the stick won over the carrot. When we can pick up machine learning and AI on the fly, work out complex semantics and syntaxes for evolving programming languages, work wonders with internet of things, we are seriously and severely pegged back on our social skills.

If I’ve to RAG it, it’s fast moving away from Amber to Red.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Junior's jestcapades

At times, makes me wonder, while rest of the time I am absolutely unsure, that, how the hell he manages to do what he does.

Ever since he noticed the Big Boss promo, the part where Kamal introduces the show, before and after the ad break, as “Vanakkam... Ithu Vivo v9 vazhangum Big Boss”, it had caught his fancy and he rephrased it as “Veena vaana big boss” with the traditional way of telling “Vanakkam” with folded hands. Gradually, the rest of the sentences went out of his mind but the “vanakkam” part remained and somehow he linked it to the fact that, it’s a way of greeting. One day, when the apartment driver had come to our house, junior greeted him with folded hands and said “vanakkam”. The driver was stunned and he was so happy. He immediately responded back with joy and repeatedly they said Vanakkam to each other. Ever since, it has been the way of greeting for junior and wherever he meets anyone new, he would immediately say “vanakkam” to them. More than “hi” or “morning/evening” wishes, I find that people are overjoyed when someone  wishes them in mother tongue and everyone responds back with one of their own. While on a mall visit, we met a north indian couple and when junior greeted them they were so happy that they decided to make it a habit of their own. When I went to his play school to pick him up, everyone – right from his aaya paati to his class miss, where calling junior to say vanakkam and he duly responded to every single one of them. They told me that, as part of their lessons to teach greetings to kids, which had only the English way of greetings, it had been updated to include saying vanakkam. They even showed me videos of kids telling vanakkam to each other.  It’s a simple thing and probably something pretty basic for anyone and everyone to follow. The reason why it struck me with awe was not just because he is my kid. But how people relate and adapt to positive change.

You need not be in your thirties to trigger something. It can start from three itself!!

Saturday, October 06, 2018

96 - movie review

Very few movies live up to the hype. In this age of fake news, fake media and fake..everything, it is becoming very hard to trust anything, be it mainstream news or even movie review for that matter. When the songs for this movie got released, it literally set the social media on fire. Facebook was agog with status messages dripping in the saccharine sweetness of the songs and everyone who listened to those songs were getting nostalgic about their past love(s). The songs were really good and much different from what were being bandied about as chartbusters by the erstwhile puyal. When the movie got released, there were unanimous acclaim and every review was positive. Having already received bulbu over "Chekka chivantha vaanam" I was very much apprehensive. But was counting majorly on Vijay Sethupathi. That guy has the midas touch for movie scripts and majority of his movies are watchable, credit to his realistic performances. And another intriguing factor was his pairing with Trisha. When "Nanum rowdy thaan" was being announced with him pairing Nayantara, was wondering how their combination would gel, for I thought Nayan, at the risk of sounding chauvinistic, having worked with mostly senior actors prior, might look like his elder sister and Vijay Sethupathi, often characterised with unholy approach to his looks, might look even older. But the casting proved a blockbuster hit and both of them looked a million bucks with crackling chemistry. At least Nayan has maintained herself over the years and is turning out to be the lady version of Benjamin Button. But Trisha? For the doubters, she has pretty much been herself in the movie and her effort to try not hard to impress has succeeded big time.

Story wise its a simple and straight forward one of high school love between the lead pair, that survives even after 2 decades, with one of them even being married to someone else and having a kid. The theme glorifies first love as something that would remain forever fresh and would survive even if it doesn't succeed in marital union. The movie begins slowly, very slowly with Vijay sethupathi taking lots and lots and lots of pictures. Those ten minutes make you wonder on your decision to watch the movie. The moment Janagaraj comes on screen, the story slowly gathers pace and you never realise when it reaches interval. There is love, romance, bro-mance, friendship care and every form of lovable emotions on display for the next one hour between every character on screen. Devadarshini, my all time favourite TV comedienne, proves yet again to tamil movie industry their fallacy in not utilizing her full potential. If she was a hoot as elder sister to Prasanna in "Kanda naal mudhal" watcher her as the sister-friend to Vijay Sethupathi. The ten minutes she gets on screen, is all hers. Baks from "Naduvaula konjam pakkatha kaanum" plays the side kick friend to perfection. If not the love story portion, definitely everyone would've had, having, friend like him and Devadarshini in real life. There are many scenes in the movie where there are no dialogues, especially the school portions where the younger versions of the lead characters have dominated. Especially the girl who plays Trisha's younger part. Very cute and very realistic. The kid who plays the shy Vijay Sethupathi is so original at times you dont't realise that its an act for a movie. Very candid. Ilayaraja proves yet again why he is so highly rated for his melodies. All those songs, that are sung by the girl, without any music, still recreates the same magic. Very rarely we get to see guys being portrayed as shy, realistically and not over the top or psychotic, in tamil movies. Kudos to the director for showing school love in all its originality, yet retaining the filmy touch. The moment Trisha joins the party, the party literally begins and from then till the end, its just her and Vijay Sethupathi.

As is said, there are way too many close up scenes, with little dialogue and no BGM, solely relying on the capability of the lead pair to take it forward. With just the two characters, who doesn't even change their costume for three quarters of the movie (when was the last time such a travesty happened in tamil movies, I couldn't quite figure), doesn't even speak in certain sections, it couldn't have been any more expressive. Their eyes light up when they discuss about their time together and reflect the pain of near misses that have set them apart. Their smile is so genuine, you wouldn't quite realise that you were smiling yourself, being like a third wheel on a lovely conversation. My pick of the eminent lot of characters would be that of Vijay Sethupathi, who/which brings out the subtlety in a guy, so madly in love, that he is content to watch her from a distance, leading her life and him in memory of his love for her, could've gone bombastic when that character gets a chance to be with her alone after a gap of so many years and yet retains his dignity and emerges untainted. The movie ends with one more piece being added to his memory baggage, literally and figuratively and the ending didn't felt sad. For such an out and out romantic movie, which doesn't have an happy ending, it proves that, even normal and realistic ending need not be sad or clichéd to be successful, for the climax does happen in an airport.

For almost 2 hours of the entire running time of two and half hours, its just these two, their emotions and conversations and yet its hardly boring. In many places there is not even BGM to stir up the audiences, who would've very well caught into the unfolding romance between the lead pair by then and would've been rooting for them to unite. The director remains true to his sense and the movie heads towards a logical and practical end. Considering the current trend of glorifying live-in relationships, getting physical before marriage, with even legal system supporting adultery, its noteworthy that the movie comes clean on the "moral" aspects. Probably because the theme is love story from the late nineties? Wonder what would've been the ending had it been '06 instead of '96!!! Last but not the least - the songs. For those who are familiar with the album, when you are watching the movie, you can very well guess which is song that is going to fit into the next scene. They have been melded into the storyline and for a movie that thrives on silence and simple conversations driven by emotions, the songs add up to the glory.

Gils verdict - love stories often make people nostalgic, either of their own stories or the ones about their friends and mostly about their own road not taken. The hangover post watching this movie, had it been because of Ram and Janu (the lead characters) that would be the success of the movie and I believe it has succeeded.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Kolai Kolaiya munthirikka - 2

Time: 1.30 AM
Venue: Vasantham apartments

“intha dead body a Ippo ennada panrathu” asked Ram
“panrathelam pannitu enna kelu” snapped Anil
“Ennada ennamo naanay kola panna mathiri pesara”
“Pinna antha aalay kazhutha nerichikitu suicide panitara”
“Enna ketta”
“Konnuduven..cha..paaru un kuda irunthu unna polavay en thoughtsum maaruthu..inniyoda un sagavasam cut”
“Dei…please da..nambuda..sathiyama naan kola pannalada”
“Appo intha dead body epdi inga vanthuchu”
“Vanthapo uyir irunthirukum..apruma mandaiya potrupaan”
“Mandaiya potana illa nee mandaila poatu anthaala poatu thallitia”
“Ennada logic ay ilama pesara..naan edhuku intha aala kola pananum”
“Enna ketta..nee edhukaga inga vanthio..enna vera ithula korthu vitruka..naan paatuku sivanaynu irunthen. Vandi repair nu solli bikela lift kudutha kuthathukaga..ipo oru kolai kutravaaliyoda naanum santhega casela maatika poren”
“Ennada romba baya muruthara..naan kollalada”
“Pinna enna thaan achu inga..”
“Naama rendu perum bikela vanthoma…nee dhum adika porentu ponia..naan inga vanthu calling bell amukinena..”
“Calling bell amukki antha aal vanthathum ..avan kazhutha amukki konnuta”
“Paduthaathada..calling bell sound ketu yaarum varala”
“Appo kadhavu yaar open panna”
“Openaavay thaan irunthuthu…rendu thadava kooptu paathen..Sivaraman badhilay solala”
“Adhukaga Sivaramana savaramana aakitiyeda paavi”
“Saniyane..solratha muzhusa kettu thola..Yaarum badhil solalaye nu ulla etti paathen. Balcony pakkama Sivaraman ukkanthirunthaar”
“Innumenna “irunthaaru” irunthuthu sollu”
“Ippo grammer romba mukkiayama…solratha kelenda…ennada koopda koopda badil sollama pudichi vacha pullayar pola ukkanthirukaanaynu kitta ponen..paatha pechu moochu illama ukkantha badiye Sivaraman out..bayanthadichitu thaan unna koopten”
“Iru iru..ukkanthabadiya..ipo body paduthundu iruku?”
“Adhaana…oru vela balcony kaathula keezha vizhunthirukumo?”
“Padubaavi..kaathula vizha adhu poo udal illa..boodha udal..kolrathu konna seri..enna enda maati utta..naan paatuku sivanaynu irunthen”
“Kanna..Anil..nee thaanda ipo kaapathanum..un bestu friend Ram kaga ithu kooda panna maatiya”
“mkkum..ramayanathula ramaruku anil udhavi pannathuku mudhugula moonu kodu kedachauthu..unkuda vantha paavathuku enakku mudhugula tinnu katta poranga…aama police epdi adhukulla vanthanga..usuala climax mudinjaprum thaana varuvanga”
“Ennamo Sivaramanay phone panni vara sonna mathiri solra..naan inthaaala paaka varapora vishayam enakkay one hour munnadi thaan thonithu…”
“One hourla kola panna plan pannitia..adapavi..”
“Ipidye solitruntha nejamavay naan kolakarana maariduven..unna poatu thallitu”
“Venumda venum…un kuda vantha enakku ithuvum venum inum venum”
“Seri..ipo enna polambi enna panrathu….aaga vendiatha paapom…evlo Sujatha novelsla pathirupom…namma fingerprint laam clean pananumay..edhachum thuni edra”
“Kashtakaalam..Sujatha must be turning in his grave”
“Chaancela..avara erichutta”
“Chee..thuni yelam ipo thoda koodathu..saavu theetu da”
“Dei..nee vera saavadikathada..po..poitu engalam finger print vanthirukumnu paathu clean pannu..kelambara vazhiya paapom”
While Ram and Anil where busy wiping off the fingerprints, the dead body let out a loud sneeze, alarming both of them. Anil, who was wiping the balcony door, slips and falls on the body.
“Ram..Ram…kaapaathuda..”
“Enda kaththi oora kootra”
“Unna maathiri kola pannitu silenta irukara alavuku ennaku dhairyiam kedaiyathuda”
“Moodhevi..sivaraman enna sofa cum bed a..ezhunthu thola”
“illada..intha aal..i mean..idhu ..ipo sneeze pannithu..bayathula kaal slip aagi vizhunthuten”
“Bayathula kaal mattumila..kannu mannu theriama slip aaguthu unakku..dead bodyku epdida sneeze varum”
“Enna ketta..unakku neria mun anubavam irukum pola..neeye sollu”
“Vaaya mooditu velaya paaruda..maadi portionla yaarachum sneeze panirupanga”
“Edhukum balcony doora close panni vaikaren..bodyku kulira poguthu”
“Nyayapadi suthi ice vaikanum..nee kulira poguthunu kadhava saathara?”
“Un alavuku enakku teriathuda…seri..seri..eli paaya praandra mathiri nara naranu palla kadikaatha..ipo enna pannanum”
“Bodya dispose panra vazhiya paakanum”
“Naama enda dispose pananum? Sonthakarangaluku sonna avangalay vanthu sadangu sambradhayam senju dispose pannida poranga”
“Un per thaan Anil na moolaiyum anil maathiri thaana…evlo cinemala pathirupom… Kutravaali edachum chinna thappu senjirupaan..adhavachu police avana pudichirum… Body naama secreta dispose pannita Sivaraman edho ooruku poitu return aagalanu ellarum nenachupangalla..namma mela sandhegam varaathu”
“Namma mela ila..un mela..idhula enna edhuku kootu sekkara”
“Adhelam theriathu..maatina unnaiyum serthu arrest panna solli naan approver aaiduven”
“Paavi..adhu approver ilada..confession..kolaiya nee pannitu naan maatikitene..josiakaran aanikey sonaan..ezharai naatu sani start aaga poguthu nu..maatikita ezhara varusham kambi enannanum…seria tally aaguthu”
“Ipo epdi intha bodya velila eduthutu pograthu..iru..edachum koni saaku pai irukaanu paathutu varen”
“Thania vitutu pogathada..intha dead body vera thideernu sneeze panrathu..naanum kooda varen”
From the shadows emerged a figure,  moving stealthily towards the corpse.
"Boss.. Boss.. "

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Kolai Kolaiya munthirikka - 1

Time:10.30PM
Venue: police station

“Hello..E2 stationa?”
“Aama..”
“Sir..enga apartmentla oru kola nadanthiruku sir..”
“Oh.. ..neenga yaaru?..hello..hello” irritated that the call got cut, head constable Vasanth, banged the phone back to its cradle.
“Ennaya..romba chellama phone vaikara..naalikum ithula thaan pesanum..nenavula vachukka” entered Sub-Inspector Ganesh,watching with amusement at the reaction of Vasanth.
“Pinna enna sir..murder pathi solitu detail kekarathukulla line cut panitanga”
“Murder a!! Yov..yenga ..ennachu”
“Ithe thaan naanum keten..cut panitaanga”
“Ennathaan sonanga call la..detaila sollu”
“Voice keta lady voice pola irunthuchu..high pitch..full tension..”
“pinna murder pathi inform panravanga softa husky voicelaya pesuvanga”
“ada..neenga vera..kozhapaama kelunga..mylapore jain temple pakkathu flatla..yaaraio murder panitanga udanay vaangannu solitu cut panidichi”
“Innum enna wait panittu..athaan address irukulla..kelambunga..”
“Sir..neenga intha areakku pudusu..avanga solra edathula moonu apartment iruku..irukara ella flatlayum poitu kathava thatti..inga edachum murder nadanthirukaa na theda mudiyum?”
“Yov..moonu flat thaanaya..ennamo township poora theda pora mathiri solra..kelambu seekram..kooda innum rendu constables kooptuka”
“Aama..ungalukena poachu..angalaam veedu vachirukaravanga paathi per MLA, MP benami…avanunga veeta artha raathiri poitu thattina..police aana nammalaye muttiku mutti thattiduvanunga..sonna ketta thaana” muttering under his breath, Vasanth started for the car.
“Siren podathayya..itho irukara apartment poga car siren..inum peria STFlam koopduva pola..nee vandi start panrathukulla veedu vanthirum..seri..antha post office entrancela edam iruku paru..anga vandia park pannitu vaa..naan adhukula poitu intha apartment security kita pesitruken”
“Entha apartment sir firstu porom”
“Antha pacha color building ..entrancela iruken..vaa..neenga rendu perum, micha rendu apartment security kita poitu visaaringa..door to door check panunga”
“Yes sir”

Time: 11 PM
Venue: Vasantham apartments

Ganesh enquires the security.

“Inga motham ethana flats iruku?”
“First floorla moonu second floorla moonu..aprum terracela outhouse onnu”
“Penthouse solria?”
“Rentukelam vidaleenga..elaamay owner thaan”
“Renthouse illa..pent...seri pogatum..ella flatum occupieda?”
“Sir..sale enquiry na office contact pannunga sir..shift time mudinju naan kelambanum”
“Yov..enna nakkala..murder investigation ku co-operate panala nu solli case poatu ulla thallina than nee saripattu varuva”
“aiaiaoo..murdera..enga sir?”
“Athu thaan visarikaren..seri..oru half hour munnala intha flatlenthu santhegapadra mathiri yarachum velila ponangala?”
“Sandhega padre mathirya..apdi yaarum paakaliye?”
“yaarachum tensiona illa bayantha mathiri or vegam vegama odikittu ponangala?”
“Apdilam ila sir”
“CCTV camera iruka..last hour footage paakanum”
“Adhulaam ON aagirukathu sir..repair aagi romba naalachu”
“Ennaya ivlo coola solra..seri..enga kooda neeyum vaa…hmm..Vasanth..neeyum intha aalum first floor la irukara ella apartmentslayum search panunga..naan second floor poren”
Vasanth and security get down on first floor from the lift.
“En sir..inga nejamavay kola nadanthirukka” asked the security
“Vaaya mooditu vaa..”
They quickly check the three apartments and finds nothing suspicious. Soon Ganesh also joined them with same result.
While waiting for other constables to finish their search, they wait outside the apartment entrance. They also turn up with no update.
“Hoax call a irukumo? Yarachum velaadraangala?”
“Therilaye..station ponathum..control room ku solli entha numberlenthu call vanthuchunu check panna solanum..maganay ipdi nadu rathiri hoax call vachu kadupethinanvan mattum en kaila kedachaan..ggrrr”
Few pair of eyes were watching from the balcony on the first floor as the police started back.
“intha dead body a Ippo ennada panrathu”

As I see IT -2

It’s been such a long while since I posted that I had almost forgot about this space!! There were many incomplete posts in draft status and while checking on something else, stumbled on them. So… here we go again.

I’ve been all of admiration and astonishment about IT industry for, basically, this is the only industry my career has been associated with all throughout and secondly, the rapidness with which it changes. Probably the one industry that boasts of so many process changes and revisions and upgrades which it recommends for every other domain and yet, is woefully short when it comes to its own self. We have service providers who delivers the world for decent compensation, for their clientele having lot less employees than their own, but when it comes to in house projects, tighten their purse strings. Some of the biggest service providers, themselves have employee headcount over min.150K. One look at their internal service setup would make you wonder how much do they really grasp the enormity of the task on hand. For ex. Take the case especially of the PF, Pension and other finance related admin services in any of the top 5 firms in India. I am more than sure, each of those departments would be grossly understaffed and carrying backlogs of several months, if not years of ageing tickets. Personally, I’ve gone through hell in almost every single company where I’ve worked, when it comes to dealing with these departments and in some cases the knowledge level of those involved itself being questionable. More than personal grudge or vent, this area is something that is neglected and skeletal support is what is provided on best of days.

When companies take stock of employee welfare, admin services are the least bothered and worried about area and for obvious reasons as well. These are never revenue generating and are cost functions that require optimization. As much as we train and focus our employees, who are the revenue generators, into learning and updating their skills about other country payrolls, finances, its highly imperative for people to understand their own salary. How many IT employees bother to even view their pay slip, unless its required as a document by banks or any other institution. How many times in a year, they even access their pay slip? Understanding one’s pay slip is probably the first step towards reigning in your expenses I believe. Or as the name proverbially says it would rather be pay “slip”.

During my formative years, one phase that use to scare the hell out of me was bench period or in between project time periods. Typically, one is expected to sharpen their axe, upskill/cross kill themselves,  invest that time for improvement and you can fill in the rest of the management catch phrases accordingly. But in simpler terms, it used to scare me like anything. First and foremost, when will I get my next project? where it would be? Will they ask me to transfer? If I reject will I be laid off? And on a somewhat positive note, what should I study? Something that would help me grow in my career or fine me my next project soon? Somehow the people higher up tend to forget that the majority lot of people whom they’ve inducted have all been procrastinators till few months earlier, pushing their studies till the last moment or the day before exams and if the expectation that one offer letter will shook them off into becoming more responsible.. well, we all have our own versions of fool’s gold. Will ponder a bit more on this bench window and how it shapes or doesn’t someone’s career in the subsequent posts.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Movie watch

Mission impossible – Fallout

Somehow, unlike any other franchise movie, I always manage to turn up for a MI release, on theater. The latest installment, MI 6 – Fallout, is very special for it’s the first and only movie that I’ve seen on IMAX, accompanied by the gang of usual suspects, at Forum Mall. The most ground breaking, earth shattering thing that happened even before the movie started was, I was the first one to make it to the venue!!!! Punctuality and me are two sides of two different coins. Probably the Ethan Hunt spirit (!!!) in me pushed myself to take up this impossible activity. Story wise its nothing new. There are some nuke warheads on loose and MI team has to disarm them and save the world. Stunt wise also its nothing new. Tom Cruise, seems to be on repeat mode when it comes to MI movies. He dangles from famous high rises, runaway planes, mountain tops on every single one of them. There would be an jaw dropping bike chase scene and whether his movies run or not, he would be seen running across every single form of terra firma. At times, it resembles high budget Ajith movies except for the fact that, the effort put in by Tom Cruise, really shows. For a guy who is pushing the wrong side of 50 age wise, seems to have only grown stronger since the last MI installment. All said and done, the last half hour is paisa vasool. Especially the helicopter fight, that literally makes you feel like watching you are watching a 3D movie and not 2D, is so realistic one can’t help but wonder was it really crashed or simulated. Had lot of high expectations about the IMAX screen and if not for the climax stunts, would’ve been hugely disappointed. There are lot of dialog portions in the movie, that makes it dull to watch on IMAX. How big and for how long can one watch a couple of characters talking on screen!!!

Tamizh padam 2.0

My most expected movie of the year since it was launched. With every FB update about the posters for the movie, the expectation kept raising and the trailer was the crowning glory, sending everyone a quest as to how many movies were being spoofed within that 2 minute time. The previous part of the movie, that literally made everyone rolling on the floor laughing, had set the bar pretty high for the sequel and the trailer raised the hype stratospherically. If it had been an inkling funny would’ve got consoled. But in the entire 2 plus hour running time, there is not one single instance or a joke that even make you smirk, rather smile. More than Kaala this was the most anticipated release for several people like me and the movie turned out to be such a bad dud. It makes one wonder where things went wrong when the director had dutifully stuck to the winning formula of first part – making LOL spoof out of famous movies. Probably the charm and fanciness of the first attempt which was unique to tamil cinema, was lost and the lack of witty dialogue to add strength to the screenplay was sorely missing. Such a huge letdown and such a waste of datapack.


Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Life and times

At times junior makes a mockery of the proud parent in us.

I have been through many such scenes when my over eager newly became parent friends, would show case their kids talent, making them say the alphabets or rhymes. At times it would annoy the kid and most of the times they would go silent and shy. I am one among those annoying parents club parading their kids talent with pride. But junior has his own way of getting out of such situations.

Once while going on a walk,  was word coaching him as usual, telling him new words about those things that we saw on the way. When we came near a Sabha there were few people standing outside who were watching junior identify things near that place. There was a huge statue of goddess saraswati in all her splendor and junior immediately called out her name which drew the attention of that group. Needless to say I was beaming with pride. I pointed to her hand and asked him what was she holding. He named it as book and chain much to my own amazement as chain was supposedly a new word for him. One old man from the group, who was clearly impressed,  pointed to the instrument on her hand and asked what was it. Junior promptly replied "GUITAR"!!! The look that old man gave me had so many interpretations least of which being how callously I was teaching him about the goddess of learning!!! While walking back home I was wondering where he learnt that word guitar and the answer was staring right at me on the rhymes he was watching. 

You may be thinking that I would have learnt my lesson. Obviously the answer is no. Next incident was around coaching him for interview about himself. We had taught him to tell his name, mine, his mom, grandma and aunty. When questioned back, this was his response.

"What is your name"
Answer: "What is your name"
"Errr..no kutty. What is 'pointing at him' your name"
Answer: exact replay with same action.
"Ok..what is your father's name"
"Daddy"
"Oh...ipdi onnu irukko. What is your dad's name"
"Father"
"Adapaavi..what is mommy's name"
"Mother"
The response was Ulta for the other way of posting the same query.
Thought we should try in Tamil and asked 
"Aththai per enna"
"Aunty" was the prompt response!!!!

Avvvvvvvvvvvvv

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Chumma oru try - 6

Previously


சகுந்தலை-

காமம் ஈன்ற குழந்தை
அவள் வாழ்விலோ பல விந்தை
விஸ்வாமித்திரன் அவள் தந்தை
ஆனால் அப்பிள்ளையின் மேல் இல்லை அவன் சிந்தை
மேனகை அவள் அன்னை
தன் சேய் மறந்து அடைந்தாள் விண்ணை

உறவுகள் மறந்த
உத்தம உள்ளம்
செவ்வனே வளர்ந்தாள்
கன்வரின் இல்லம்

காலம் வரைந்த
அற்புத கோலம்
அவள் அழகை போல்
முன் கண்டதில்லை இஞ்ஞாலம்

மானும் மயிலும்
மரமும் மண்ணும்
பூவும் வண்டும்
புல்லும் செடியும்
போற்றி வளர்த்த பெண்டு

அவள் பெருமை கூற
வார்த்தை தேடியது நிகண்டு

எதிர்பார்த்து
நிகழ்ந்து
இறந்து
சுழன்றது காலம்

ஒரு நாள் –
நிசப்தம் நிரவி
நிதம் நித்திரையில்
இருக்கும் அவ் வனம்
முரசு கொட்டும்
சத்தத்தில் முழித்து எழுந்தது

அவ்வொலியின் அதிர்வில்
பூக்கள் பல உதிர்ந்தது

வேட்டை ஆரம்பம் என
மிருகங்கள் உணர்ந்தன
உயிர் பிழைக்க மறைவிடம்
நோக்கி விரைந்தன

அலைபாயும் மனதை விட வேகமாய்
விரைந்து வந்த தேரில்
வலைந்த வில்லும்
வலையாத நோக்குமாய்
குறிபார்த்து அம்பு எரிந்தான்
நந்தன்
அவனே துஷ்யந்தன்

சூறாவலியாய்  சுழலும் தேரில்
சுற்றி வந்தோர் வழி மறைய
தன்னன்தனியே தொடர்ந்தான் வேட்டையை
காலம் தொடங்கியது தன் சேட்டையை


Monday, August 06, 2018

As i see IT - 1

Few years back, I had pondered in a post, on how my batch had never seen anyone retiring from IT and would probably be the first to witness it. The reason being, even a decade back, there was so much of chopping and churning happening, with companies big time into consolidation mode and new software were blooming in every single day. To put it in context, the software that was hot cake in the market, which was the product of my very first project, became obsolete within an year, to such an extent that, those developers almost became redundant, with their skillset amounting to nothing. Technically, It didn’t entirely go waste as the coding skills got remapped to another product but they did have to put in effort to learn the semantics and syntax. Those who were senior managers at that time, had worked on Pascal and Cobol and punch card related systems that were long obsolete. I often used to wonder, would the managers be continuously learning new products, for a) their skill set were long redundant and b) how can they manage someone when they have no clue as to what the resource was doing?

To (mis)quote Gandhi, my life is my answer to my own queries raised above. I saw my COE head retire and as I moved onto a different role to what I was doing before and encountered the very same situation described above. Now that I can visualize in person, on how these situations are handled, unless there is a better way that I am not aware of, I am not too thrilled on neither the process nor the result. All throughout my career I had always gone after those products, that were niche yet more aligned to business. In short, it would be a rare skill set (and would be rarely needed as well !!) but would be closely aligned with business needs. Every 30 months I was switching between tech, by choice and by design. Each time, I could actually see how my work was helping the business. I am a big time fan of support projects, for they are the very foundation of service industry. When you  solve a ticket and receive a thank you  note, it gives a sense of immense satisfaction that you have actually helped someone.

My “developer” friends used to contradict by asking, how many lines of codes that I developed for that day. For them, developing something from the scratch, based on a few lines of requirement, gave them their thrills. Production support was looked down upon as a menial activity, which ate up your personal space and time over weekends. Batch job monitoring was seen more as a punishment. Despite all this, there was a sense of wonderment and fulfillment at the end of the day, when you receive a thank you note and that of bewilderment and anger if there were any escalation mails, questioning our commitment. Mental stress, was a word that got included in everyone’s vocabulary and “workaholic” was a tag that was worn around with pride.

Why is that sense of belonging to the industry suddenly missing? What are the reasons for the disillusionment? Is it all imaginary or real and how much is ageing related to these thought processes? It is going to be a real long thread of posts!!!

Friday, August 03, 2018

Life of a song

I’ve long been wondering about the, choice of songs on super singer competitions, that are being conducted across any TV channel worth its salt. Season after season, be it junior, senior or super senior category, any contestant who participates, never ever chooses any song that are recent and even possible chartbusters. Only logical reason could be the proprietary rights issue. Else, not sure whether it’s a rule or choice, but invariably, majority of the contestants stick to songs that are from movies which are minimum 50 years old.

Across all channels, when it comes to season finale, the contestants while choosing songs that exhibits their skill, always chooses song from either MS Visvanathan or KV Mahadevan. Very rarely do we get to witness even an Ilayaraja musical winning the title and till now I’vent seen an ARR song rendition winning one. The reasons could be multifold. Probably those songs are avoided because of the orchestra limitations, rights issue, due to scoring suggestions by their mentors, but whatever the reason may be, no super singer season finale is complete without someone singing “Neeye unakku endrum nigaraanavan” from Bale Pandiya with mandatory standing ovation reserved for the “maama maapley” portions, “Singaravelene” from Konjum salangai is another sure shot winner, Any song from “Thiruvilaiyadal” and offlate “Isai arasi” song. Contestant after contestant, season after season, across channels, take to these songs as a success route. Nowhere I am saying these are simple songs and can be easily rendered. The fact that people realize the challenges around it, often is displayed openly on the admiration that is adorned and on the accolades shared. Fact is, these amazing songs with those classic lyrics, written and tuned almost 60 years back, is still winning competitions, speaks volumes of the caliber of the team involved in the mix at those times. It has become like an assembly line, where, year after year, people sing the same song and win titles, only to be disappearing from the scene post a few playback songs. The demand against supply is way too much skewed for singers and the cases like SPB, Mano, Chithra who all had uninhibited run across thousands of songs are virtually impossible in present day. We hardly get to hear the same voice for more than a few songs and even in single song, multiple tracks come into play.

I really doubt, if another 30 years down the line, would we still be having such shows or to what extent they would’ve morphed into. But whatever the format be, would a finalist belt out a “Gaana Bala” number or any other song post 2000 year mark begs an opinion. Be it ARR or Anirudh or any cine musician for that matter, have long been addicted to the complexity of the technical arrangements of the song and very rarely has the focus been on the lyrics or on the voice quality of the singer. The more techno it becomes, it is just a synthesized arrangement of frequencies and the soul of the song is lost. Any of those title winning songs, have one common factor. The voice of the singer is predominant and the lyrical quality is in synch with the composition. For that matter, no one calls themselves music composers nowadays, but more of technicians. Rather than being an art, music has become more artificial and mechanical. Many of Ilayaraja’s chartbusters, would carry a story within themselves. You can get the feel of the scene or the situation for which it has been composed, just by the audio. It’s a cause for lament that techno portions have taken over every aesthetic aspect of a song and has almost wiped out the tribe of good lyricists, with Muthukumar being the last glorious exception.

Sometimes, I wonder if Junior would take up singing. I would love him to take up some art form related to music, be it singing or playing any instrument. With so much churning and changing happening across music field, not sure what shape it would’ve taken in coming years. But for the sake of simple pleasures of life, I do hope it retains some of its natural flavor, residual from the footsteps of those giants who have ruled that space.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Of rhymes and reasons

The fact, that Junior had taken to rhymes in a big way, dawned on me close to midnight, when he was chanting “Johnny Johnny yes papa” in his sleep. I was so surprised that he had picked up his first rhyme I woke up wifey immediately so that she doesn’t miss out on that momentous occasion. She looked at me with eyes full of sleep and anger and said that he has been singing that rhyme for almost a week and went back to sleep!!! Nevertheless it was exciting that he had picked his first rhyme and I was so happy. Nowadays, it is his signature call for addressing anyone and everyone.
One day when I was reading something he came to me and called “Appa Appa”
“Ennapa”
“uhumm..Yes Johnny sollu”
“er…yes Johnny?”
“reading paper?”
“yes”
“uhumm..Yes johnny sollu”
“Yes Johnny” (I got the drift only now)
“telling lies”
“no johnny”
“Open your mouth”
I actually did open my mouth and got corrected again that I should say “ha ha ha” instead (apparently the drift drifted over)

The other favorite rhyme of his is “Finger family”. He would call out for his mom or me by singing “daddy finger/mommy finger where are you”. The correct passcode of a response is “here I am..here I am.. how do you do”. Anything to the contrary would be rejected and would be deemed as “User Id or password invalid”.

I could already see AI playing a big part in education system down the line. Junior is big time into YouTube video watching and despite all restrictions he would be immersed into it. He knows more slokas and bajans than me and wifey put together (me contributing a mighty zero to the score with a measly few dozen from her). He started watching one chant and the AI setup kept throwing bajan after bajan on similar lines across all gods and he keeps singing them even in school. ABCD recital would’ve Sai Baba aarathi intervening and the alphabets would culminate with Ganapati bappa moriya!! He has a tap dance kind of step for Shasti kavasam and uses this pretext to put maska for his paati getting allowance to watch his cartoons over the net.

Even in office, for some of the sessions, instead of CBT’s we’ve been provided with YouTube videos for reference, that are even editable to the point of being made interactive. Watching videos to learn may be the way to go and pretty soon even the schools have to start adopting, if not already. Right from infrastructure setup to proper counselling and guide for adopting such approach needs lot of planning. Do we’ve the right set of people, both at policy maker level and at implementation level, begs a query. As for anything and everything, only time will tell.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Thamizhachi Aandaal

If anyone can read the title correctly at first go, well, you do know your way around tanglish for sure. When the Aandal controversy, kindled by the pompous and arrogant ass of the movie song lyricist Vairamuthu, was at its peak, probably that was the trigger point for this series or maybe it was initially on the pipeline and its release was a mere co-incidence, I would never know. But this story about Aandal starting from the time of her birth and events preceding it has been progressing beautifully in the tamil weekly magazine Kumudham. Every week, I eagerly watch out for this particular piece, written by Priya Kalyanaraman, on that magazine. I’ve been a big time fan of this author for his previous work about temples and stories associated with them. Not sure if it had come out in book format, but it would serve as a fantastic guide to know about south Indian, especially Temples of TamilNadu, for any casual tourist, or those on pilgrimage, as it tells the story of origin for each of those temples in a simple and casual format along with the deities, way of worship along with route map for the location as well.

Coming back to the series, “Thamizhachi Aandal”, is a pleasant read for the sheer casualness associated with it. It encompasses not just the devotional aspect but solely from a girl child’s point of view. The conversations that happen between Aandal and her dad and the story telling sessions between her and her mom has driven the story till now. Such is the beauty of the word play that, in many a places, it would be really heartwarming and touching. The dialogues written as spoken by baby Aandal are so sweet and yet profound that, it brings out a genial yet gentle kid, querying her parents and the sweetness with which the proud parents respond has been brought out beautifully. You could sense the glee with which the kid cross questions them and cross references across previous stories and it takes you right into the setup. Plus the “Paasuram” in chaste yet simple to follow tamil. It’s such a delight to read through the series and hope that it comes out as a book sometime pretty soon.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Kaala - movie review

By now the verdict on the movie is already out and what would be spoilers in this post are common knowledge. Still, for the benefit of those who are yet to watch the movie, watch out for spoilers, which I would rather want to call as highlighters for the reason why the movie is disappointing. Oops.

For those who have seen Kabali – the previous venture between Ranjith and Rajini, The first half of the Kaala would feel like scenes that are Kabali discards. The story simply refuses to take off and keeps roaming on the runway. Even from the few cuts in trailer, it was very clear that this is going to be a fight between Dharavi Rajini against political bigwig Nana Patekar over the land where the chawl is setup. With the basic premise set clearly on the two minute trailer itself, the movie takes almost a whole hour to reach to that confrontation point. Ranjith, to give him the benefit of doubt, is just 5 movies old and 2 of them are with Rajini. For a commercial star of Rajini’s caliber, it requires specific fine tuning in screenplay, which is clearly lacking with Ranjith. On one hand, people make no mistake in pointing out the folly of dancing around trees with heroines younger than his grand-children, forcing Rajini to play his age, it simply cannot be half baked in attempt like Kabali. There are 2 scenes that could’ve brought down the roof in mass effect, one is the police station scene, where Rajini mocks the sitting MLA asking who the hell he is. It could’ve been Kaala’s equivalent of “Ennaku innoru per iruku” from Baasha and ends up as a comic squib. The other scene that had potential to be a blockbuster on the lines of Rajini’s confrontation with Ramya Krishnan in padayappa where he pulls the swing from ceiling and stylishly sits on it, was his interaction with Nana at Nana’s den. “Such a waste“ was the feeling after the scene got over.  A Ravikumar or any other regular of Rajini, would’ve made it into a memorabilia of the millennium. Even the much touted ”Kya re..setting ah” from the trailer fizzles out. Those three scenes would’ve been enough for paisa vasool moments for Rajini fans who’ve to make do with the flyover fight alone. The final straw that fails the movie is that Rajini actually dies. Right from MGR days, very rarely have movies succeeded in tamil where the hero dies. I don’t recollect the last movie where Rajini dies and none that’ve gone on to be successful. The much touted climax, full of colors, brings back the dead don, metaphor-morphically and the violent end of the villain is shown as a colorful as Nippon paint would possibly allow.

During many scenes In the movie, it felt as if, Ranjith play acts in giving some leeway to the superstar in Rajini only to reign him back into a normal character. In fact, it is one of the lamest and weakest don roles ever to have hit the tamil screens and considering its Rajini who has played it, only has made it look even weaker. Consider this – during the police station scene, Rajini gets beaten and doesn’t fight back (Yup. You read it right). He even playfully lies to his wife on the way back that he gave it back doubly to those who beat him at the station only to watch her and his son in the next few minutes. The don doesn’t take any action but only visits the villain’s den alone to show his gethu. The villains create chaos and beat up his Kith and kin, during the protests and all the don does is again look angrily onto the camera. It was so 1980’s-ish and atypical to sivakumar may be, but not for superstar Rajini. The first half, showcasing the family life of the Don are nothing but dead weights to the storyline and his ex-love interest angle might’ve just been added to show case Rajini’s acting chops which does nothing to the overall pace of the movie. They could mercilessly chop of 45 minutes of first half and still the movie would make sense or not. The other off putting aspect being, there were way too many hindi/Marathi dialogues that it felt like a dubbed movie at many places, especially with Nana patekar doing his own dubbing in tamil. There were scenes that were clear bait traps for political parties to pick up and protest to ensure backup publicity for the movie, post release. If the movie is about glorifying Kaala, the Raavan of the masses, why degrade hindu deities? If ranjith had put in bit more effort to understand the story of Raavan, he won Lanka from his brother and chased away his own brother from Lanka for siding with Raam, his enemy. Considering that land is the basis for the movie, this section of Raavan’s story would’ve made more sense. Off late it has become fashion statement of fringe in TN that anything related to Hindu gods, if denigrated, would give them leadership status and wisdom to blabber about anything under the sun. Surprised to see that Rajini, an aspiring politician, has been gullible enough to be “tricked” by Ranjith into this situation. The movie might very well be the platform for Ranjith to launch his political outfit than Rajni, if at all that was the reason behind the attempt.

Gils verdict - as mentioned on paid reviews, it's not 51% rajini and 49% Ranjith movie. But out and out ranjith's film. It would have stood out on its own had the hero been anyone but rajini. It has nothing for the fans and is a total disappointment from that perspective. And it's not a shade on Nayagan just because it has Dharavi as setup. Biggest and only beneficiary is Ranjith alone.

Monday, June 11, 2018

1001

As the title states, this is a major milestone post in this space – having completed 1000 blog posts. What started as a whim, 12 and a half years back, when many of my peers where posting things left right and center, had outlived most of them, shows much about my producti”vetti”. Many a times in between, I had thought, this would be the end of this blog space. It has overcome restrictions in the form of proxy servers, mind blocks, lack of time and simply being lazy most of the times.

All through, one person who has stood by through thick and thin and has commented on almost every single post of mine, ever since he started visiting this space. He is truly “aayirathil oruvar” and deserves special mention. I make it a point to mention him on every milestone post, to not just put “maska” for getting comments (aaiaioa unmaiya sollitene) but also as the only way to express my gratitude. He is like Sadayappa vallal to Kambar for me. When Kambar was writing his Ramayanam, he made it a point to include a line in praise of his patron every 100 songs. When there were objection from the crowd that there are way too much mention about the patron in line with the god himself, Kambar moved the mention to every 1000 songs and said, truly it matches his patron as he is one in 1000. Naan Kambarum illa. Inga posta varathulaam ramayananum ila J But he is one true patron for this blog space and it is none other than “Thala Ramesh”. As much as I see if the post has been uploaded correctly, the next closest thing that I keep checking for are his comments, probably the only saving grace on/about the post. Even for the mokkaiest of them, he would grace it with his presence and even for those points he is dead against, he would still ooze grace in the way he puts forth his point of view.

The next person would be one of the reason behind majority of the book review posts in this space – Bragz. He is like book curator for me and always is kind enough to drop me with specific books, that he feels I might enjoy and needless to say, has a more better understanding for my taste in books. Majority of the book reviews in this space are credit to him. Till few years back, when I was still watching movies in theaters, it was Aarti who was my partner in crime. Most of the movie reviews are attributed to her undying spirit of watching movies and the bug had rubbed on big time on me, except that the theater watching experience is off late replaced with home experience. Many thanks to her indirect contributions to most of the movie reviews in this space. There is Athivasi madam who drops by occasionally and has memory rivalling only Sheldon cooper in pointing out for aracha mavu posts, when I repeat myself. And to any other person whom I’ve missed out, my sincere thanks for enabling this space to clock 1000 posts.

Innum evlo naal odum therila. But it has been such a wonderful journey to meet so many interesting folks across all these years and indirectly the space being an record of some of the events, it has nostalgia written all over it and credit to all of you for making it happen.

Mikka nanri.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

To new beginnings

It was junior’s first day at play school.

( Play school - An oxymoron of an institution, made necessary by our current life style. They claim to teach the kids to have fun and interact. In the age of “made to order” even innocence comes with a price)

All the while, during the commute, he was repeating that he is going to school to learn ABCD, thanks to his Paati who had told him that. She was the most vigorous and vociferous opponent to the idea of putting the kid in playschool. But with no kids to play in our apartment and junior crossing the 2.5 age mark, we felt it was the right time to introduce him to the concept of school.

The moment he stepped out of the auto, he took both our hands into his tiny ones and started leading us inside the campus. There were already lot other parents and kids who had formed mini groups and while the parents were chatting, the kids were running around on the play area. I was closely watching junior to see his reactions, for he doesn’t like the usual see-saw’s and swings. Till then, his playmates have all been several decades elder to him and his other form of time pass being watching devotional songs and rhymes on YouTube. Soon the school buzzer ringed and we were all asked to join the first day first session , involving prayer songs and class teacher introduction. I could sense that he was super tensed at all these strange happenings as he couldn’t quite fathom if it was for good or trouble.  There were some kids who were natural to the surroundings and immediately picked whatever the teachers asked them to do like touching their toes or doing sit-ups and clapping hands. Junior clung to his mom like a kangaroo and never got down.

When they were all paraded to the classes accompanied by the parents, he kind of relaxed a bit. He started moving around and found something interesting to play, when a kid slightly bigger than him came and tried to take the toy from him. Unexcitingly to the big kid, junior gave away the toy and sat down. The big kid tried to push junior to sit on him. He wiggled away and went the sanctuary of his mom. Looking at my reaction and before I could say anything a stern warning was issued in the form “don’t even think about it look” by wifey. She almost rejected me to be present, on the first day, as there was a threat that I would pull an “Abhiyum Naanum” Prakash Raj. I never have any fond memories of school or school days and have very strong reservations against the way in which our education system is setup. Looking at the “classroom” in that play school, an image of how junior prances around the house running headlong, cropped up, as against that “room”. The main difference was that, it was filled with lot of kids and the exposure to other kids, would have an impact on his ways and end of the day that’s what makes and moulds personalities.

I am pretty sure he would be afraid to be left alone in that place, to start with at least and hopefully, definitely, he would adapt and would proceed to have a life of his own. There would be tears, anger, sense of being lost, happiness, joy and new relationships (for a moment I lost track of who I was describing about, him or myself) and he would become a different and much more better person. He is definitely going to surprise all his teachers with his range of knowledge on shapes, colors and things and rhymes, if at all they can reach out to him ( I know I sound quite obnoxious when it comes to teachers. Can’t help it). It’s a grind which everyone goes through and surely he would have lot many adventures and a whole new bunch of experiences. Someday, down the line, I might show him this post, for him to laugh at how tense and nervous I was on his first day at school.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Cockroaches by Jo Nesbo - book review

Considering that this was the second in the list of 11 (till now), I guess, probably this is the book that formed the strong template for the other novels in the Harry hole series. It has everything that the rest of the series borrows into, probably the only few of the lot with actual deduction scope for Harry, the repeated twists towards the end which hurriedly try to hoodwink the reader and rest of the characters to believe that they’ve found the villain only to be fooled further and the James Bond like womanizing character of Harry, only change being, he really falls in love with the lady characters who only end up getting murdered, fueling his alcoholic rage. There is a racist undertone as well, which propagates across his other novels too, especially when it comes to referencing the only muslim character from Pakistan or the way the detailing about Thailand and Thai people being addressed in this novel. It may not be intentional and those characters could originally be factual representations of real life situations and people. But considering that as an author, he not only trashes the flesh trade industry of Thai but balances out by painting most of the perps as peads, who are Norwegians, makes the presentation ambiguous.

Is the intent and theme of the series, especially this novel, is to explore the dark underbelly of the forgotten people of the society? If that is the case, why make the setup all the way across to Thailand when the same can be based out of Oslo? In the first book, Bat, also similar dilemma arises. Nesbo goes to great details in explaining about the rainbow culture of Sydney and accepted racist lifestyles of Australians and their ill treatment to aborigines. While the latter part is mentioned at a fleeting reference, how aborigines misuse their freedom is explained in as much detailed manner possible. If one has to treat the novel as just another crime story with the setup in just another region, it may not mean much. But considering that from book 3 onwards his entire series rests and revolves around Oslo alone, makes one wonder, was it a forced change or where Australia and Thailand the only foreign countries Nesbo ever visited.

Story wise, it begins like an Oscar movie, tracing the backstory of an young girl, forced into flesh trade by her own parents. The casualness and the sheer lack of any melodrama in those portions lead to the first paragraph. Its constructed in a way as if, that is the accepted norm in Thai society. The girl’s customer, the Norwegian ambassador, ends up dead and enter Harry as the man of the moment to solve the case. Despite all the power struggles at home front and people being shady and not so forthcoming with information, the knotty thread of deceit and lies slowly untangle and ends in Harry knocking out the villain. There are some serious logic flaws in the investigation but all things considering that this is one of those novels, where harry actually does some investigation and deduction work, those loopholes can be forgiven. The storyline deals with nauseating setup of children being forced into this kind of unmentionables and thankfully Nesbo spares us of the details.

Gils verdict – unless you are binge reading the series, would never recommend this book. Boring for most part of it and singularly uninteresting set of characters. With this the 11 part series comes to end. I still have some more of Nesbo’s other novels to finish. Hope to find sometime down the line for them as well.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Nadigaiyar Thilagam - Movie review

The movie based on the life story of yesteryear super star actress Savitri, is already making waves in both Kollywood and Tollywood. First thought that came to mind while watching was, though touted as a bi-lingual, it felt more like a telugu movie dubbed in Tamil. Some of the dialogues from Savitri’s initial years were purely in telugu. Though not difficult to follow, the cast and the conversations, give it more of a telugu movie feel, which would’ve been intended I guess, considering that she came to Chennai and then only picked up the language. The story begins with the death of the Superstar and traces back her origins as a bubbly little girl and how fate took her all the way only to be bashed down to earth on a gloriously tragic fall. The narration grows as analyzed by Samantha, the reporter and through her conversations with her journalist colleague. The movie runs the risk of being a documentary and is saved by the screenplay.

Coming to the characterizations, the biggest let down to me was Dulqur as Gemini Ganesan. The fact that, he has managed to hold on to his own in depicting someone who has loose morals (as dictated by the society), a charmer all through, a ladies man harboring chauvinism bordering on villainy. Brining the real life Gemini Ganesan onscreen is no mean task for that person has several different shades to his character. Dulqur does it on his own style and considering that he is depicting a real life person, the comparison is inevitable and that is where he falls short. Especially his lady counterpart, the heart and soul of the movie, who has an even bigger un-enviable task of playing the lady superstar, not just aces her role, but sets so much high expectations on the rest of the cast. Pretty sure, Gemini ganesan’s family wouldn’t be thrilled by his portrayal and the makers can expect a few law suits already. Samantha, as the stammering reporter, who does all the digging around the rise and fall of Savitri, has underplayed her role to such an extent that, it felt as if she is already aware, even if she cries her heart out, the performance portions of the movie are already owned and the focus will never fully be on her. The rest of the characters gets blurred and are lost in the whirlwind of the legacy portrayed with such brilliance by Keerthy Suresh. I’ve to admit. I had never high hopes of her performance and despite all the reviews going gaga over her, was still under the impression that they would be paid reviews. But from the moment she comes on screen, I forgot that it was someone else portraying Savitri the superstar, but a candid camera act by the lady herself. Such is the visual similarity that, one can’t be faulted for thinking she is related to the superstar. She has bulked up for the character and for a mainstream commercial movie star, has bravely played the role of an alcoholic mom of a kid. Everyone else in her presence simply doesn’t register and what could’ve become a caricature of an effort, gets a new life on screen. Though the face cut match helps to a huge extent, be it the scenes  where she has to lash out or those tear jerkers typical of yesteryear films, Keerthy suresh has done an extraordinary job and deserves all accolades. She owes a major chunk of the credit to the star she has portrayed on screen, though. To me the stand out scenes where the confidence with which she asks “how many drops of tears” and the boisterous way she play acts in Mayabazar. Savitiri would’ve been proud.

Everyone remembers, “Singaravelane Deva” song from Konjum Salangai, for the magical voice of Janaki and the musical arrangements that compete with each other. There is a shot in the song, where Savitri, with a big bunch of jasmine bundled on her hair, gets up from her place, walks to the lamp and adjusts the wick, dubbing for the song in all sincerity with a warm smile on her face. If at all there is a need for picture perfect grace, one need not look any further. There is a shot from another song “Mayangugiraal oru maadhu”, which talks about the swaying mindset of a lady, caught in the whirlwind of love for her fiancé. Not sure if it was her swaying to the lyrics or the camera, it would be perfect symphony - of the song, the artist, the lyrics and the camerawork. Her face is one that can launch a million platitudes just for its grace. Though almost all of her movies are tear jerkers and full of melodrama, I couldn’t quite watch them fully, despite the million times it played on DoorDarshan, it’s her songs that I find unforgettable. Be it the way she play acts Ranga Rao in Mayabazar or her feigned anger in Missiamma, she is one lady who can hold on to herself amidst a galaxy of male superstars. As a kid I used to wonder why my parents cried their heart out whenever “Paasamalar” played on tv. As much they tried to brave it out, there will be tears and not just for them, anyone who could hold on to their own without breaking down watching the climax was touted as stone hearted. Guess human mind is really weird when it knows for sure that those on screen are acting and when such is the credibility that not just the first time, every time when it’s played it evokes similar response, says volumes about the capability of the actors. Being a superstar, her private life was hardly private and credit to the director for having the guts to bring it out on screen.

Gils verdict – A rags to riches to rags life story, of a lady superstar, married to an equally well known, but shown as highly insecure, philanderer of a movie star and their tumultuous married life adorned with cute heartwarming moments and plagued with ego clashes, leading to the ultimate fall, has all the ingredients of an Oscar winner of a script. Considering that it’s a real life story, only goes to prove that, fact is stranger than fiction. The Telugu title felt more appropriate for Tamil as well. Mahanadi - she is and will remain.

Just junior things

Me and junior were on a train to Madurai a while back and we were sharing the upper berth. He was watching his favorite toons on mobile, whe...