Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dialogue Avec Mon Jardinier

I do not watch many French movies, so I am not clear about the average standard of their movies. But it has been a long time since I have watched a movie that portrayed the simple life of a less hurried man so beautifully. The screen play is just awesome. To me, it was sort of a revelation. I look for taut editing, untold visual cues and so on - but the flow of the screenplay also played a very important role in this movie. It is more like sipping a very hot cup of coffee for one hour. Slow, yet not lazy and deep, yet not rambling. The amount of effort that has gone in even on minor visual cues is very surprising. For example, as the old friends reminisce about one childhood event, the footage cuts back to a flashback to show that to the audience - even if that meant collecting an old camera from the old times just for that scene.

The other awesome aspect - there is no background music, if I recollect correctly. Just the last five minutes, to accentuate impact - that of Mozart!

Merci Jean Baker! smile

Je ne regardent pas beaucoup de films français, donc je ne suis pas clair quant à la moyenne de leurs films. Mais il a été un long temps puisque j'ai regardé un film qui dépeint la vie simple de moins de hâte un homme si joliment. L'écran de jeu est juste génial. Pour moi, c'était une sorte de révélation. Je suis tendu pour l'édition, d'innombrables repères visuels et ainsi de suite -, mais le flux du scénario a également joué un rôle très important dans ce film. Il est plus comme en sirotant une très chaude tasse de café pour une heure. Faible, mais pas paresseux et profonde, pas encore la randonnée. Le montant de l'effort qui a été en même mineur sur des indices visuels est très surprenant. Par exemple, comme le rappellent de vieux amis d'enfance sur un événement, la séquence réduit à un retour de flamme pour montrer que, pour le public - même si cela implique une collecte de vieux appareil photo de l'époque seulement pour cette scène.

L'autre aspect impressionnant - il n'ya pas de musique de fond, si je rappeler correctement. Il suffit de les cinq dernières minutes, pour accentuer l'impact - celui de Mozart!

Merci Jean Baker! smile

Note: I am not responsible for the French. Blame Google!

Monday, July 28, 2008


What Your These Fireworks Say About You

You are a rather reserved person in day to day life.

However, you do have a few topics that truly excite you.

When you become impassioned, it's a surprise to everyone around you.

But if they blink, they'll miss it, because you get back to being calm very quickly.

Probably not true. This test draws too many conclusions from a very thin thread.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Is Your Willpower Strong?

You Have a Fairly Strong Willpower

Temptation doesn't get the better of you all that often.

If you set your mind on a goal, you'll do your best to achieve it.

And while you don't have a perfect record with willpower, you do okay.

If you fall off the wagon with something, you're usually not off the wagon for long.

This test might give you a few "ah ha" questions! biggrin

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What your workspace says about you...

What Your Workspace Says About You

You are generally fairly organized, but you have occasional slip ups. You find keeping organized challenging.

You tend to work at your own pace. If this means things don't

You enjoy your job and don't feel guilty about how much time you spend working. You have a good balance between work and your personal life.

You are still trying to figure out your ideal career. You could quit your current job on any given day.

At work, you are an introvert. You don't like people coming around your work space.

A good test! And an accurate outcome smile

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Are you bold?

You Are Bold When it Counts

You don't make a big fuss about getting what you want... unless it's really important to you.

Then you're as bold as you want to be. You just go for it!

You're often up for a little excitement and adventure. Well, as long as the cost isn't too great.

You enjoy risk, but not for it's own sake. Let's just say you've learned a few lessons about risk in your life.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Atul Kasbekar

Click here to visit his website

On 12th July 2008, Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend one of his workshops. It was not a "workshop", per se, but a glimpse into his world. If you do not know him, check out his website for a mini bio. However, almost 100% surely, you have seen one of his photographs. From the covers of Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan to ad photographs of Sachin (Adidas), Sharukh (Tag Heuer) - you will find his name - or you won't, but he created those photographs! He also conceived the Kingfisher calender. You surely have heard about it right? biggrin

He was full of himself, but unabashedly so. Once you settle down to this fact, it is very enjoyable to hear talk. Perhaps, the true highlight was when he ran through a massive slideshow of his work - mostly pretty models with scanty clothes, but made with the eye of a talented photographer who also appreciates beauty. He fielded questions from the audience on technical aspects - and he withheld no information on how these photographs were created. He was supremely knowledgeable in his field and the comfort with which he shared his knowledge showed how grounded he was within (if you want to contrast - to this date, Kamalhasan has not revealed how he implemented the short "Appu" from Aboorva Sagotharargal). He made the session really spicy by sharing interesting tidbits of his interactions with the people he worked with, and it was done with the comfort feel of a known audience group. You probably won't hear him say the same things in an interview! (did you know Sharukh charges 1.5 cr per day for ad modeling?)

To me, the session was an eye opener:

  1. I did not know there was a guy called Atul Kasebekar till then. But more so, the countless familiar photographs for which he was the creator. It opened up an entire world!
  2. The ideas for the photographs and his insights on how he achieved them!
  3. The amount of engineering that happens to a photograph after it was taken. What the camera sees and what you see may be totally different! Adobe Photoshop plays such an important role. This is not my preference (post photo engineering), but it is a necessity in some cases. For example, if you are a wild life photographer and if you capture an awesome snake in garbage, you most certainly want to remove the garbage after the fact and add a black background in place to just highlight the snake! Let us just say that much more happens in this world.
  4. If you become popular as a photographer, the amount of money you can make by doing this for a living! In any case, kudos to him for quitting his engineering degree in his first year.
  5. Camera equipement that cost an obscene amount of money!
One thing that settled down on me as a "point and shoot" photographer - even with the equipment I have - I was just scratching the surface of what was possible in photography! I really appreciate the fact that Atul volunteered to share his deep insights in an unbrideled way.

Update 9th Oct 2009: I noticed that a lot of visitors want to know the camera equipment Atul uses. He has answered that on his website FAQ. He uses Canon brand of cameras (they sponsor him most certainly). I presume he has the entire suite along with the lenses! I also presume he uses the EOS xxx models.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Are you a green driver?

You Are a Fairly Green Driver

You driving isn't the greenest, but it's greener than most people.

Whether you have a fuel efficient car or try not to speed, you try not to use a lot of gas.

You do your best to drive less. However, it's not always possible.

You may end up driving more than you'd like, but at least you're doing what you can!

All this when I am in Chennai. Think about the US!?! The sad thing is that, in terms of alternatives, we don't have much.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Snakes: A Concise Guide to Nature's Perfect Predators

This is a great book - and as it's title mentions quite concise too. What sets it apart are the stunning photographs that embellish the simple and factual statements about the lives of snakes. Some of them are so outlandish - it makes me wonder how they got a capture with such precision, both in terms of image clarity and the timing of the shot.

I read this book for a different reason - I wanted to see if I would be able to tell a venomous snake from a non-venomous snake if I saw one. That didn't happen, I presume that would require a more detailed study or some practical on field knowledge. In any case, of 2500 species of snake, I don't think anyone can possess a detailed know how of them.

Nevertheless, perfect predators or not, snakes are fascinating. And the little knowledge this book provided mystified their aura a little more!


1) Click on the title link to see book details
2) The picture above is not from the book. See the blog post footer for details of this picture, used with permission.

Note: The image in this post is licensed with creative commons.

The copyright for this image belongs to Felix Francis. Click on the image or here to view the image on Felix Francis's website.

Monday, July 14, 2008

You Are a Summer Person

You Are a Summer Person

You are energetic, outgoing, and active.

You love to be out and about... hanging out with friends or getting things done.

Summer is the perfect time for you to be as hyper as you want to be.

In fact, during the rest of the year you feel half-asleep!

If not for the very last statement above... biggrin

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dasavatharam - தசாவதாரம்

Very few movies get so much pre-release hype if you discount Rajnikanth from the scene. So considering all the hype how good is this movie?

First, I feel that, to properly review the movie, you need to dissect it into two: Kamalhasan and the script (not necessarily just the screenplay, the entire movie itself). Reason being, every one knows the ordeal the actor went through for his ten roles and that magnificence can get easily mixed up with the story and can distort things.

As the actor, it is sufficient to say that no one else in the industry (IFI at least) can pull this off! The person who is capable of the feat has acted in this movie. The sore point is the make up - even acknowledging the effort. It bears a mask like layer and can be discerned. If you have ever tried to maintain a distance from your personality, putting on ten different "masks" should give you an idea. exclaim Kamal has even managed to change the gait of "his" personality. I do not have details if all ten "voices" are Kamal's. If they actually are, the achievement borders on the stupendous. If budget was available (I read that it already was 127 crores {~30MUSD}), CGI could have been used more powerfully to really obliterate any traces of the "original" Kamal! Having said that, I think "ten" was picked to break an existing record! There is no real need script wise to do ten. It just complicates everything and the effort that should have gone into the script is wasted on the make up.

And now the movie! It is almost a total letdown! Considering that the movie is 150 minutes, about 90 to 100 of them are spent on chasing a stupid vial! Come on, with a 100 cr + budget and a humongous effort going into the "acting" part, some one should have taken up in building a steel-fortress of a script. The dialogues are all "crazy mohan" style silly-cracks and really get tiring. Kamal / KSR have done this in enough movies and should have steered clear of all these cliches. Kamal is really capable of excellent screenplays (cases in point - Hey Ram and Anbe Sivam). He has also acted in one recent movie with ultra solid screenplay (Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu). I presume his effort got sucked into the mammoth task of forging his ten personalities. A management decision should have been to hire a professional screenwriter with Kamal overseeing the stuff (may be even Gautam Menon!). Some reviewer mentioned that the movie will not recover it's costs. If the budget is actually 127 cr, I doubt the same. Kamal has burnt his fingers (and others' as well) enough times without doing a cost analysis chasing fantasies (Hey Ram and Anbe Sivam were sad endings to almost everything done right, Aalavandhan was an atrocious act and this one - we will just have to see). It is probably time he does a sanity check before he runs out of sponsors for his ideas. That would be really sad because we have very few people with magnificent talent.

  1. Some people opine that this movie is used by Kamal to voice his athiestic views. On the contrary, I feel he poses enough cases for both view points. The movie tantalizingly exaggerates enough incidents to suggest both, while the climax dialogues tend to tilt it in favor of atheism. (No spoilers! wink). I would say, very well done!
  2. Only 4-5 characters are really needed!
  3. You will probably need to watch the movie twice. One for Kamal and one for the story! The sheer effort into his acting deserves this treatment!
  4. For all practical purposes, the story is made of ten different characters (hmm, or nine!), despite the fact that one actor has done it. You should watch it the same way!
  5. !!Spoiler!! Why should people on rebirth have the same appearance? AFAIK, every single movie in this concept follows the same style! And it is surprise that the athiestic Kamal is actually make this a factual screenplay setting! !!Spoiler!!
  6. Kamal's fetish for gore is un-understandable. One scene, you can may be discount as a historical re-creation. Even then you were not there at that time and people will understand if you are toning it down! Time and again, we see him doing this in all his movies with painstaking detail - for what!?!
  7. CGI is very ineffective - especially, in the climax, you can easily make out the graphics! Given the scale of this movie, I don't think budget is an excusable explanation! Hmm, if only Pixar was given the task biggrin
  8. As an experiment, if some Hollywood studio gives Kamal a no-strings-attached budget quota (and given that 100 mill is a very paltry movie investment these days at Hollywood), it will be really awesome to see what Kamal comes out with. Some contact who can manage this? As a side note, I would also love to see if Ilaiyaraja can get such a leeway. May be, Kamal will make IR the composer and give him a no-holds-barred orchestra budget (think how "Hey Ram" came out!). Sigh! sad
  9. Per my understanding, the inception of the movie and the climax are not connected. It is just a very trivial link. If I am mistaken, some one can correct me.
  10. Some one posted a review linking the ten avatars of Vishnu and the ten roles of Kamal. That was way too mind-bending, but I cannot rule out Kamal thinking that way. If it really is the case, there may be screenplay ideas we have not uncovered which Kamal has already thought out. He can't keep his mouth shut about them anyway, so we may hear about them soon! smile
  11. Asin! hmmm, Sigh!
  12. I want to write about the individual characters - at least a few of them, but you cannot do that without spoilers!
  13. Bio-weapons - nothing path breaking about the concept. The movie anyway degenerates to a silly chase sequence in the end. "Outbreak" has a much more focused screenplay around the same subject. It also provides a good case for a solid screenplay!
  14. Kamal's spoofs about "George Bush" are really well done! If GWB really thinks that way - gives me the shudders! (Examples, !!Spoiler!! "Can't we drop a nuclear bomb on the city? We can't? OK!" or "If it's complicated, don't explain it to me!" !!Spoiler!!)
Overall, people spend so much time over reviewing and probably re-watching the movie. Kamal has earned that for himself with the effort and dedication he has placed into it - and he richly deserves it. But one can't help but say that the the movie maker has taken too much complexity upon himself without the necessary effort (yes, it requires much more!) and budget (yes, it requires much more!). In the end, it will remain a movie that could have been so much more!

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Lizard!

You Are a Lizard

You are intuitive and sensitive.

You pay close attention to your subconscious and your dreams.

You embrace your fears and the darker side of life.

It's easy for you to be detached and objective when you need to be.

You are able to let go easily. You don't get attached to much.

And considering how often you change course, people shouldn't get too attached to you.

I don't know what to say about this! Too hard to validate or write off!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bangkok Journal

OK - a final post to wrap up Bangkok!

Link to "Interesting things about Bangkok"

A selection of photographs taken at Bangkok is below. Hover over the "notes" link to read the picture notes.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Garfield - The Movie

The hardest decision as far as this movie is concerned must have been the presentation format. Garfield is too quirky to be portrayed as a "real" cat with CGI helping out on the implementation. Personally, the decision should have been to either

1) Go 100% CGI (Ice Age, Finding Nemo kinds) or
2) Go 100% CGI for Garfield and his dudes.

The right choice was to use Bill Murray as the voice man for Garfield. The offbeat wise cracks tune very well to Bill's regular screen flicks and match Garfield well.

The first half of the movie goes very well, but the ending tames out becoming very cartoonish! Part of the reason for going 100% CGI.

But you can't complain much when a favorite cartoon character is on screen can you? The risk is that the series might die out after one or two tries because it didn't work out very well - whereas the problem might be that it was not presented perfectly. I don't think Garfield is outdated!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The answer is blowin' in the wind

Read this article:

It is really painful to come across such articles. It is one kind when terror attacks happen. It is another kind when disasters / accidents happen. But when a life ebbs away due to sheer apathy - not sure what to say. The paper edition carried his smiling photograph as well and it was truly embarrassing to watch. Sadhguru used to ask us see other people as one's own kith and kin - and if I try to associate this person as my brother or my dad - it gives me the shudders.

This has been India's bane for a long long time now. I recall Bob Dylan's song ".. the answer my friend, is blowin' in the wind."

Isn't it about time that we evolve a policy where medical emergencies are just a call away, where public can help by just making that one call without fear of police or judicial entanglement? And isn't it about time that private hospitals take any medical emergency without redirecting it to a Govt hospital without fear of some police nonsense? And isn't it time that the absolutely nonsensical rule of registering a case prior to providing medical treatment goes away? And isn't it really time what we don't make an accident a movie picture where we drive away watching what is going on? I have only questions - without any answers. sad

Friday, July 04, 2008

Chennai - Diesel Shortage

Chennai is currently running on a severe shortage of fuel, diesel in particular. This has disrupted "normal life" in a good way, but nothing is in a standstill. The shortage however, is due to a major lorry strike.

However, it is a good glimpse of how things may become a few years down the line (say, 10 years or so). Fuel prices are already very high - the only saving grace is the Govt controlled pricing. I personally think it is a mistake, but that is a separate topic.
It would be interesting to see how things will turn out if this shortage goes on for say a week more. This however, is a remote possibility and I think normality will be restored quite soon.

It is a good opportunity for reflection and seeing how we can evolve alternate travel habits!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Vanilla milkshake

You Are a Vanilla Shake

Vanilla, yes, but definitely not boring.

You are subtly complex and deeply sophisticated.

You're the type of person who has always been ahead of their time.

You don't fall for gimmicks or tricks. You are drawn to what's true.

I have always felt this. Only the world is lethargic in understanding! twisted

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


The most outlandish dream...
The most incredible friendship...
The most outstanding graphics you can ever see...
All three coming together!

What else can you say?

There were certain times when the innocence of "Remy" is portrayed so well, it almost brought tears to my eyes. And it's graphics, for god's sake! I don't know how far Pixar is going to evolve this development. In my head, there is nowhere else to go!
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