Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Oh, I have a blog?

Shame shame puppy shame,
not a freakin' soul knows your name!
Way to go, looser!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Upbringing, tastes and prejudices

I posted this write-up on PFC couple of days back. Here's the extract of the text. The original post (and some interesting comments) can be viewed here: http://passionforcinema.com/upbringing-tastes-and-prejudices/

VK is cornered at K’s. He wages a lone battle against the alliance of K, M & V.
K: Dude, how can you call yourself a movie buff and even aspire to be a director when you haven’t seen a classic like this?
VK: Don’t know… somehow haven’t tried watching it so far. And I don’t like Shahrukh.
K: How can you say that when you haven’t even watched the film yet. How many movies of his have you seen anyway?
VK: Hmm… Hey Ram, Swades and Chak De. That’s about it I think.
K: My god! You don’t even have the right to comment on him then!
VK: I don’t know, but his acting doesn’t work for me.
K: You ought to watch this. I bet you’ll eat your words!
VK: Is this the one that has Madhuri and Karishma dancing in skin-tight costumes?
V: Grr! That’s Dil to pagal hai. You haven’t seen that also eh?
VK: Oh… is this the other one then… with Karishma Kapoor and Kajol?
M: Wrong again. That’s Kuch kuch hota hai… and its Rani and Kajol.
VK: Ah! Total confusion! Well, which is the one that you want me to watch now?
K: DDLJ… Dilwale dulhania le jayenge.

The pressure is stepped up, VK yields, helplessly, unwillingly. K determinately locates the folder on his computer in no time. The movie begins to play. VK, however, hasn’t moved and can see the monitor yet. He silently continues maneuvering Snake Xenzia towards her prey on his 1100.
A sudden sound, of what seemed like a cross between a goat’s bleat and a chicken’s cluck, distracts VK. The sound repeats, frequenting either the beginning or end of each dialog spoken. Giving the movie the benefit of doubt, he enquires, “you playing some mimicry act dude?” K notices VK immersed in his mobile phone and retorts, “the movie is already playing”.

VK puts aside his phone and does a quick prejudice-cleansing in his head and moves to face the monitor. A few seconds pass and he feels his neck muscles flexing away from the screen. ‘Patience VK, patience’ he tells himself and strains back his head to look in the direction of the screen. Comments pop up now and then. M says Kajol looks hot; K says the pair is magical, V says Karan Johar looks gay as always. Shahrukh suddenly breaks into a king-kong exercise on a majestic looking piano. It’s time for a song which implies that’s it’s quiz time in the room.
“Mr. Ilayaraja, which song is this?” K fires at VK. VK forgives him and lets the context-less, irreverent reference to his god pass momentarily. He sincerely attempts humming along with the chorus to see if it could lead him into the song.
“Najaane mere dil ko kya ho gaya?”. Negative.
“Jaado theri nazar?”. Nonsense.
The prelude nears its ending. VK still hunts for patterns. “Disgrace to India if you don’t know this song, such a big hit this one is” declares V.
VK concedes defeat as Udit Narayan begins ‘Rukh jaa oh dil deewane’.

K’s mom calls for him; nature calls M and V turns to the iron table. VK smells blood. He slowly advances to the computer, silently shuts down the movie player and gets back to Xenzia.
“What happened to the movie?” K enquires on returning.
“I don’t know, I was ironing” says V. All the three turn towards VK.
“Yup. I turned it off, I had enough” exclaims VK, the relief showing on his face.
“Thoo! Useless fellow! I would’ve seen the movie at least 40 times!” says K emphatically.
“Hmmm… this movie ran for one or two years I suppose?” asks VK.
“It’s the biggest ever hit. It has run for 750 weeks and still runs housfull in a theatre in Mumbai” he is told.
“Hmmm ok, so be it” VK dismisses.
“Play the movie to any girl and she’ll fall in love with it. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll do whatever you ask me to!” K challenges VK.
“Doesn’t affect me.”
“It’s the most entertaining of all movies I’ve seen in my life. Pure entertainment. Any normal Indian family guy would love this” says K throwing another challenge.
“Well, if its entertainment, its Michael Madhana Kamarajan for me. Now that’s something I’ve seen umpteen times!” counters VK.
“Yuck! I thought that movie made a complete mockery of everything” complains K.

The conversation, for some reasons, ended thus, quite abruptly. As you might have guessed by now, K is K and VK is me. K’s last statement left me thinking about how varied and contradictory people’s taste can be. What is it that makes DDLJ and MMKR as top favorites for K and me respectively? And more interestingly, how is it that, each regards it an intolerable fare, what the other considers a classic?

Nostalgia could be one of the reasons connecting us with these films for they released, roughly, in the same time period; MMKR in 1990 and DDLJ in 1995. These were the childhood/schoolboy days for both of us. Let me try and trace my liking for MMKR from then till now.

Kamalhassan, in spite of having publicly shunned his religious/brahminical background, found a soft corner with my family members because of his roots, apart from his fair looks and acting skills. MMKR, that featured him in four different roles, also had a significant chunk of brahminical references, dialogs and sentiments. Quite naturally, this resonated nicely and was well lapped up in the Thamizh Brahmin household that I grew up in. This meant that the movie found a place in the ‘good books’. Ours was a house without a VCR/VCD. Movies, whatever and whenever seen, were in cinema halls, that too purely for entertainment purposes. A movie was either good or bad, no analytical discussions or postmortem of any kind followed any viewing. Though I do not remember watching MMKR with my family, I do recall the song Sundari neeyum and the ‘Bheemboy’dialogs being popular among my folks; possibly the foundation of my taste for the movie. Later in the early cable TV days, I remember watching ‘comedy scenes’ and songs from the movie, but my acquaintance with it remained along the same lines. I liked Sundari neeyum though I had no knowledge about its composer, singers or ragam. Bheemboy, some fights and car chase sequences appealed to the na├»ve schoolboy in me then. With the advent of my interest in music and more specifically, Ilayaraja, in my PU college days, the songs from the movie became increasingly favorites. The usage of Kedaram ragam in Sundari Neeyum, the bass lines, the violin solos in Sivarathiri, the trumpets and violins in Rumbumbum; each discovery or realization was a thrill. It was only last year that I purchased a DVD of the movie and only after viewing it then and thereafter did I fathom its brilliance. A whole new dimension of subtle humor unfolded in place of, what I hitherto perceived as simply, loud humor. Kamal’s nuanced, master-class performance in combination with Crazy Mohan’s inimitable, razor sharp witty writing makes the movie a thorough laugh riot. Now add in top notch performances (from every single character), great songs and background score, good screenplay and direction; and there we have it, a complete entertainer! Or should I say my recipe for one?

(Considering K’s lament about the movie, let us assume logic to be the biggest victim here, i.e. the movie makes complete mockery of logic. I will and can, in no way, deny this argument. I think it could be mildly possible, to view this movie as logically perfect, upon watching it, while performing Sirasaasana, after emptying a bottle of Old Monk Rum! We are talking about pure entertainment here, aren’t we? How much significance does logic play here? The movie is fun, at the cost of logic, surely, and if I may very reluctantly add, mindlessly funny; reluctant because, the seemingly mindless fun is because of some really brainy wit!)

Now, let us switch tracks and move on to DDLJ. Personally, for a movie to have a sound influence on me, it either has to be technically competent or connect at an emotional level, if not for both. Connecting with a movie emotionally or sentimentally is where, I feel, factors like background and upbringing come into reckoning. In common parlance, this can be explained as ‘relate to it’. Language of the movie, the actors starring in it, the story and its settings, are what I consider, some general pointers for a connection of this sort to be established. I grew up speaking Thamizh and English and my staple movie diet, though limited, consisted of Rajini and Kamal films along with some older ones of Sivaji Ganesan and K. Balachandar. Fortunately or unfortunately, Hindi movies were almost non-existent. Not that there was a bias against the language or sorts. My father and his brother were avid followers of Hindi movies and music; Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna, RD Burman, Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar to list some of their favorites. They treasured their collection of audio tapes that ranged from originals to recordings, spanning across boundaries, from MSV to Bappi Lahari, Serghazhi Govidarajan to Mohammad Rafi and spread across genres, from Sivaji sad songs to Amitabh’s romantic duets. These tapes, even today, lay stacked in a cupboard in my house, like memories, like peaceful retired veterans. All ok, but what about the loss in connection with Hindi movies you may ask. Though I’m unable to pinpoint exactly when and why, there was a lapse, a certain one, somewhere in time. Movies and audio tapes took backseat and paved way for shlokas and devotional stuffs. Maybe, it was the end of the angry-young-man era in Hindi cinema. Or maybe my folks suddenly felt that school going children at home ought not to be distracted by cinema and songs. Thus, along the way, withered, buried and lost, was the connection with Hindi cinema for about a decade. Sharukh, Salman, Madhuri, Juhi, etc became ‘their actors’; national blockbusters became ‘their cinema’; popular Hindi songs became ‘their songs’. Whatever was theirs was theirs; it was of no consequence to us, for we had ‘ours’, our movies, our actors and our songs; smug and cozy with the known. Prejudiced. Biased.

Someday, maybe I will accept and appreciate ‘pure entertainment of the normal Indian man’. Till then, I will wait, shamelessly prejudiced, shamelessly biased.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


A pristine chord in music,
a part of me,
turns 68 today;
Dear lord, dear Raaja, happy birthday!

Isaiye... pirandhanaal vaazhthukkal!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Vedanti helidanu (Sage and the poet)

An accomplice sent in lyrics of a song from a Puttanna Kanagal movie Maanasa Sarovara and asked me if I could try translating it into English. The song showcases some disapproving views of a sage on materialistic life, women and luxuries juxtaposed with romantic, optimistic views of a poet on the same.

Vedanti helidanu, honnella maNNu maNNu,
kaviyobba haadidanu, maNNella honnu honnu.

Vedanti helidanu, ee heNNu maaye maaye,
kaviyobba kanavarisidanu, hoon ivale cheluve cheluve,
ivaLa joteyalli naa swargavane gelluve,
naa swargavane gelluve.

Vedanti helidanu, ee baduku shunya shunya,

kavi nintu saaridanu, ooo idu alla shunya,
janma janmadi savide naaneshtu dhanya dhanya,
naaneshtu dhanya dhanya.

I tried using the same pattern as in the original, which appeared to follow a sort of dismissive, direct one liners for the vedanti and a slightly more detailed, happy counter arguments from the kavi. Regretting any injustice to the original, here's an attempt at translation:

Said the wise one, gold just is mud, worthless muck;
Sang, the poet, soil is gold, precious, priceless gold;

Said the wise one, woman, an enigma is she, a mystery;
In romantic trance, soliloquized the poet,
yes, she’s the moon, the radiant moon;
with her, win the world over, will I,
reign supreme, will I.

Denounced the wise one, this existence is void of essence, shorn of substance;
The poet, he announced,
Oh, hollow, this is not,
for, I have relished, transcending all births;
fortunate, am I, so privileged am I.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Exit stage...still left

I recall using KSRTC’s online ticket booking facility some years back. That had been my first (and only till date) visit to their website. The reason I still remember this is not quite due to any technical/functional wizardry of the site, but for reasons a little more notorious. Among all the websites (or for that matter any user-interface) I have used or seen so far, I think this one could take the top spot for housing some of most un-friendliest of messages/comments. Now sample these:

'We cannot display the list of buses if we do not know your destination of travel.'

'How can we show the ticket availability if you do not enter the date of travel?'

No, these aren’t my exaggerations. They might not be the exact messages but I’m pretty sure they were very much along the same lines. Whatever it was, one thing very evident was that a bunch of IT dudes (or who ever was responsible for developing it) had taken the customers (most possibly a bunch of lousy gourment-aapiss uncles) for a ride and neatly got away with it. An easy opportunity for some payback they had reckoned, I imagine.

Drawing inspiration from this, combined with the effect of facing ‘Do you want to save the changes you have made’ and ‘Are you sure you want to exit’ a minimum of 150 times every day, I thought - why not take these modest questions, sprinkle some uppu, melagu and kaarapodi and make them a little less boring? And thus born was this list of ideas.

Are you sure you want to exit?
(User: Yes)
How sure are you? Enter value in percentage.
(User: 100%)
Invalid entry. This value is applicable only to Carnot engine’s efficiency and George Bush’s idiocy. Please enter correct value.
Yoooser thambi!!! (pop-up box does 3 quick rotations)
Nee ‘No’ button amtheeteena onnume illaama poodum. (rotates thrice)
Konjam miss aaidichna unneyum onnume illadhavana panneeduvaanunga (rotates thrice)
Nalla yoschi sollu… parava illiyaaaa? (rotates thrice again)
We are currently unable to perform this operation as you have opted not to save. We believe that precious effort might go wasted due to irresponsible decisions that can be influenced by an unclear state of mind. To perform the operation you desire, it is necessary to prove your clarity of mind. Kindly contact any Govt. hospital and enroll yourself for an alcohol-level-check blood test. The closure of your file will be decided upon the receipt of your report from the hospital.
Is you shoorly want exit?
(User: yes)
Just a minut for 2 minuts. You not doing saving. Reyally ok?
(User: WTF)
Oh, not understanding? I telling clearly no, not save mean gone case. Govinda Goovinda
(User: #$%#$#)
What problem man? You want helping?

Monday, March 15, 2010


More often than not,
a work of art,
just is.

Expecting of it,
to deliver explicit,
meaning or message,
consolation or solution,
is just not,

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Between us and a romantic confluence,
stood like a dam,
our personas,
child-like hers and uncle-like mine.

I try to give in,
render songs of love;
my intentions, timid but clear.
I get told "nice to hear".

Most of me tends to agree,
that appreciation in place of reciprocation,
isn’t after all,
an inhumane bargain.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The weeping womb

Passionate days, passionate nights,
week long, month long intercourses
and thus I was born.

Joyous, he welcomed me,
nourishing and nurturing me
dutifully in his womb.

But times, they changed.

Infidel, he began sinning with a vamp,
falling prey to her trap.
Now, impregnated into the same womb
is their offspring.
Feasting on his unlimited supplies,
the new one grins at me as I starve.
Choking me, he whispers into my ears,
'to thwart you and abort you am I here,
farewell you silly dream... my name's fear'.