Sunday, December 27, 2009

One line reviews

Avatar: I've never seen anything like this before. So, I'll be humble and skip even the one liner.
T4: Technical blitzkrieg with very carefully constructed restraint. Very nice! Sort of nice irony that the original (T1) was directed by James Cameron
Horton hears a who!: Saw this movie after reading Prabhu's review. Really cool! Directly related to this post - you should check this movie out!
Paa: Very simple story with an unpretentious screenplay. Would not have been in the limelight if not for BigB. All credit to him!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Shipping to West Bengal?

Saw this on an ebay seller's page. Is this true? If so, this is another example of a broken system. How is it that citizens of that state are accepting and living with it?

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Remembering Bhopal

I am sitting here @ India and I had no clue.
Read this article by Ann Leonard about what happened at Bhopal and what is continuing to happen.

Indian corporations and bureaucracy never cease to amaze me. Such brazen insolence is only possible here. And you can get away so easily!

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Taking of Pelham 123

I am sooo smitten by Denzel Washington :)
So, I loved this movie!

இதை தமிழிலயும் பாத்தேன். செம காமடி!

Travolta to Train Driver: Where are you from?
Train Driver: Ireland
Travolta: You're Irish? I thought so!


Travolta to Train Driver: எந்த ஊருடா நீ?
Train Driver: மதுரை
Travolta: மதுரை காரனா நீ? அதான் இவ்ளோ தெனாவட்டா இருக்க!

There were many places where the content was itself botched up in translation. But the overall storyline was fine. I guess it is difficult to keep up with Hollywood dialogue pace!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Some Introspection!

Too much to tweet! So, one post to cover the Blogthings backlog. I am wondering if these tests truly show something about you or are just for fun!

Your Best Trait is Friendliness

You enjoy the company of others, whether you're at work or at play.

You believe that almost everyone has something to contribute to this world, and you treat people with courtesy and respect.

You're a natural extrovert, and you have a dazzling charm that is not easily forgotten. You are good at building rapport.

You're the type of person who can meet a stranger and feel like you've been friends for years after a few minutes.

My notes:

You see some interesting things in tests like these. Extrovert? :)
Also, that last sentence is amusing and amazing! A variant has happened, whereby after a few minutes, a person has come across as absolutely trustworthy!

You Are a Trick

You were a very mischievous kid, and you still have a naughty streak in you as an adult.

You may not go off and toilet paper people's houses anymore, but you're still up for a lighthearted prank every now and then.

You are truly fearless. You live in the moment, and you're ready to take on any challenge or dare.

Your wild antics sometimes do get you in trouble, but you're also very talented at getting yourself out of trouble!

My notes:

No Halloween at my part of the world, but I can relate to the questions and the results! :)
"truly fearless" - c'mon!

You Are a Hippie

You may not have long hair or a closet full of tie-dye, but you definitely dance to the beat of your own drum. (And you may even play the drum as well.)

You are a true free spirit. You don't let yourself be weighed down by rules and expectations.

You are creative, philosophical, and caring. You want everyone to have a better life.

For you, the worst thing in the world is being stuck in some rat race. You rather be broke than have to wear a suit every day.

My notes:

I like the result! :)
But rather be broke than wearing a suit? I certainly am not doing that now!

You Should Write in a Journal

Part of what's stressing you out right now is not having all your thoughts sorted out.

There's a lot of confusion and chaos going on, and you need to get a handle on it all. And there's no better way to do that than to start writing.

At first your journal make not make sense to you, but that's okay. Just writing things down will help you.

Over time, you'll find that it's great to have an outlet to think, vent, and dream without judgment. Just make sure to put a lock on that journal!

My notes:

Pretty good advice!

You Are a Chicken

You are a very observant and even snoopy creature. You are curious about the world, and you're always aware of what's going on.

And while you're interested in the world around you, you are also very private.

You are protective of your personal space, and you don't like it when you feel like your boundaries are being crossed.

You can get along with others, even in a big group, as long as you're able to maintain your uniqueness and individuality.

My notes:

Last time, it was "donkey". I guess this shows that the results depend on the person's mood at the time as well.

Road Rage

I think, in India, the first training in driving must be for drivers to drive with concern for their fellow road mates. I am not talking about accidents here, but a need to drive with a little more alertness of their surrounding vehicles. The other need has to be for the driver to drive calmly. Especially with the vibrant diversity in the kind of vehicles that ply on the road (So India isn't it?!?), it is more important - perhaps even more than road rules.

I think these two aspects will take care of a lot of problems that we see on the road. This will not change overnight, definitely, but if this training is inculcated into drivers as a prerequisite to getting the driving license, it would help a lot. Today, it is more like a joke. A good driving school more or less has inside contacts to the RTO, that if you enlist in a driving school, your license is assured.

When I said problems, a few common things that keep repeating (city after city):

1) A public bus stops smack bang in the middle of the road to drop/pickup passengers. Some thought on part of the driver will cause him to park to the left end of the road to allow other vehicles to pass

2) Rude cutting off of other vehicles (The one cutting off isn't rude. He just doesn't have this aspect in awareness. The one who is cut off perceives this as rude!)

3) Literally no sense of left, right - brute force overtaking

4) As an offshoot of all these - incessant honking. I think some drivers drive with their hand on the horn!

Wondering about the title? I was crossing the road a few weeks back. A car was cut off by a two wheeler and the car driver had to sudden-brake. He totally flipped - I presume it must have been the n'th time that day - and went into a bout of rage and started honking incessantly. While accidents are a drastic change in situation from day-to-day driving, the climate that exists in today's roads in India is certainly good ground for accidents to happen!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Soda Pop Stop

This particular food brand is not my favorite, but this video is a must watch nonetheless. (Click on the title link to go to the website). It shows how this store owner, while steering clear of the big2 soda brands (you know what they are), managed to setup a shop that brings hundreds of local/small business sodas to limelight. As he speaks, you can visibly see the immense passion he has for this business. You can also see this translate into his in-depth knowledge of individual brands and the way they make their products.

This is also another example of how you can carve out a living for yourself doing what you love. It's a niche way, but also shows there is no easy/simple answer!

Monday, November 23, 2009

City of God

I call this movie "scary" because it posts and extreme point of view, combined with a sentence that has a lot of import - "Based on a true story".

Gun culture in the western countries is quite ubiquitous. Some places like USA have some sort of a tab on the usage, because police has some weight here. Move over to Rio-de-jinero, add corrupt police and gun wielding children to the mix, you have the recipe for total anarchy. Perhaps, two things the movie points out illustrate the situation very well:

* The protagonist who narrates says this about their living situation - "Our lives are removed far away from the picture perfect photograph on the post card"

* A small boy is executed by a gangster. To prove a point, he uses another small boy to do it as training ground.

So when the protagonist survives all odds of getting sucked into the trigger happy culture and becomes a commercial photographer, it is no mean feat. For, detached far away from the scene from the comfort of a silver screen, it is only too easy to comment on situations like these. What do you do, when you have to pull a trigger for day to day survival? The morbid ending of the movie where a group of boys have the final say after pulling off an inevitable execution and then go about planning their gangdom only leaves you wondering where this will eventually lead to.

I lost count of how many people were executed in the movie. What it left me wondering with was, where we became so screwed up that the man next to you became the equivalent of a fly that gets swatted at whim?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tweetposts - 15th Nov 2009

Posts that are not small enough to be Tweets (well they may be!) but not large enough to be individual blog posts.

At Subway today: Saw a plate full of plastic bottles, papers, napkins etc. Outcome of one dinner of two people probably. Is there no other way of consumerism possible? Or, say - are sustainability and consumerism oxymoron's?

Watched "City of God" today. Will probably write a separate review, but let's just say it was very scary!

I have been eating very heavy dinners the last week. Should take a stock check!

Was feeling very sentimental today about my car today :)
It's been one awesome companion over the last two years! I haven't been treating it very well though.

Was reading about crabs earlier today. Not sure when my love for them started. It was probably when I saw the huge king crab claws at Walmart. They used to make me sad. What magnificent creatures! I want to lift a live one, not sure whether it would happen!

Saw Bruce Lee's scene with Bob Wall in "Enter the Dragon" recently. That one scene freaks me out (for years now) still. So sad, Bruce Lee had to depart in such an untimely fashion. We probably would have an enlightened martial artist among us otherwise!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Team Hoyt

When you call something "inspirational", it should make you (or make you want to) rise above any of your existing limitations. This video or story certainly fits the definition!
See here for the story.

Friday, November 06, 2009

November Sky

It was a very strenuous day at the office. Work got over at 9:30 PM and I was driving back home. I switched on the stereo. "November Sky" was on on the randomizer. Well, it's 5th Nov 2009 and it's technically November sky here as well! I couldn't see the sky through the darkness though.

This man was looking at the sky on a beautiful November day and this composition happened! Seriously, life can be taken either way. We get so lost in the day-to-day processes that we forget there is another way to live! My heart ballooned with joy and I was driving with a big smile the rest of the journey. Another aspect is that, when you live your life like the way the composer lived "that moment" when the composition happened, you tend to inspire your folks around you. In one moment, all that stress from that day disappeared because someone somewhere in sometime was inspired! I certainly felt the November sky!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mumbai Meri Jaan

A movie on the lines of "A Wednesday", but this movie is "live" and is covering on the ground.

A bomb rips the limbs of those in its vicinity. It also rips the hearts of those away from it. The movie flinches neither from the physical goriness of the impact nor the emotional strings that get ripped away as a result. What really pulls them together into a cohesive unit are a few things:

- The movie never dishes out any advice against terrorism. It explores the lives of people on the scene
- The attempt is sincere. There is no victimization, mushiness or taking sides.

Eventually, the poignancy reaches a level where you end up responding with your tears only! The fact that the movie tells you can reach a step higher than where you are even in the context of a bomb blast is a big big thumbs up.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


Subway was my haven in the US when I didn't get to know the Indian places yet. I must have eaten at this place about 20-25% of my period of stay there. Of course, the options for a "vegetarian" were very less, but you can "make" your own sandwich - so it was pretty cool. They later toasted the sandwiches (when competition from Quiznos heated up) and that is pretty much a standard now.

So, I was quite thrilled when it was introduced in India. They pretty much have the international menus and in India also introduced local flavors. But I realized it's expensive only in India :). Their "sub of the day" was very popular for they offered one flavor each day of the week for about 60% of the marked price. Vegetarian subs were on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays (I am guessing this might vary across stores). Delightfully, I found a Subway in Coimbatore as well.

Last week, I was pretty miffed when they stopped the "sub of the day" offer and provided some other combo offer. I didn't eat there and later filled out a complaint form from their website. If you heard my rants about Indian customer service, or if you already knew them yourself - you could tell I wasn't expecting a response. But I did get a call from the store manager. I am not sure if the international DNA is running here as well. But it was pleasing. He did explain it was not a local store promotion but a national one. But the new offer was not doing well and that they would be restoring the "sub of the day" offer back.

That's two good things in one - customer service and falafel on honey oat!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A Wednesday | unnaippOl oruvan | உன்னைப்போல் ஒருவன்

We're essentially talking about the same movies here, but the fact that the Hindi is the original needs to be remembered. The theme is very relevant, so it is actually beneficial to remake this in Tamil as well. However, the temptation to contrast both versions is inevitable for me.

The Hindi version is definitely superior. The primary reason being that there were no compromises to the original vision, the director, Neeraj Pandey had. The Tamil version is dramatized a lot, and compromises have been made to suit the audience liking.

Another startling difference is the difference between the performance of Nasaruddin Shah and Kamalhaasan. Nasaruddin Shah's performance is notably superior. When we're talking about "the stupid common man" and his rage crossing a threshold, the mannerisms of that person must match the description given. It feels like Kamal is caught between his super hero status and the role the script demands. The climax performance is definitely telling. The pain in Nasaruddin Shah's voice is clearly visible, while the Tamil version uses an extremized violent situation to drive home its point.

The other difference obviously is the other central character's role - that between Mohanlal and Anupam Kher. I sure had underestimated Anupam Kher so far - he effortlessly matches the given role. Mohanlal also has a good foray into Tamil cinema now. The actor has often been underused or insulted by directors and producers here. I think the role was a cake walk for him as well.

The other two characters (the two police officers), there is no contest - the Hindi script is characterized so well. The Tamil version misses out on the emotional aspects of the characters. I have a feeling they should have stuck with the Hindi script and relied only on minor corrections instead of the dramatization they planned for.

A definitely relevant theme. It's about time the "stupid common people" of India (that's all of us) started asking questions!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Brave Rajput Warriors

I am reading stories about these people.

Aside from their bravery, one thing stands out in most accounts:

- Whenever Mughal kings attacked them, they defeated them, time and again several times and sent them back courteously. Until the Mughal king regrouped, made allies, may be in some causes created a traitor within the Rajput king's army and finally captured the king. How different would the history of India have been when say, the king spares the Mughal king the first time. But the second time, the Mughal king is not spared in the second attempt. Case in point is Prithiviraj Chauhan. He defeats Ghori Ghazni seven times and sends him back. The eighth time, Ghori allies with Jaichand (who has a feud with Prithiviraj) and defeats him. He eventually blinds Prithiviraj when his attempt to humiliate him fails.

- I think petty differences consumed Indian kings. They had failed/refused to unite for a common cause. Eventually, this paved way for Mughal kings, and finally the British.

Of all Mughal emperors, Akbar seems to be the most reasonable one (which also probably accounts for his might). Birbal was a brahmin and was a key minister in his court. Whenever he annexed kingdoms, he appointed Rajputs in key positions eventually leading to a lot of them actually favoring Akbar.

But stories about the Rajput warriors amaze me. Such fierce loyalty to their motherland and their favoritism towards death rather than subordination stand out as common traits. It would be rare to see more than a handful of their kind today. We are today the kind that will watch a man bleed to death in a road accident.

It is easy to observe these in retrospect, but these events have permanently shaped our history and are influencing our culture today to a very great extent.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Same company - differing juice packs!


100% Juice Pack - Costs Rs 5 more


Non 100% Juice Pack. As you can see, there is a big difference. In the US, there is one more category that says "not from concentrate". That's not even there in India. And instead of sugar, they normally use "high fructose corn syrup".

The level of effort that goes into the subleties of marketing a box of juice boggles me.

What I am listening to now...

Prejudice/bias warning ahead! :)

My Comments
Om Shivoham...
Naan Kadavul
This is a masterpiece creation. The chants, the cymbals, the general mood of the creation - to top it all, when you watch this on video with Arya on in shirasaasan! How did IR know to use these precise sounds to create the mood that the song does?
When I first heard the song, it sounded catchy. The orchestration is also quite complex. After you see this once with the movie, the load the song carries on its shoulders begins to sink in. I think this "genre" is unique to IR. Another song that comes to mind is "ulagamE nEE" from Ivan.
Maanam Idi Idikka...
Unnai Nenachen Pattu Padichen
A trademark IR song. Simple rhythm, catchy tune, precise emotions. Throw in SPB/SJ - it's typical 80s song!
Mahadevaya Namaha…
guruvin madiyil
This song will reflect how far Sounds of Isha has come in its journey from its humble beginnings. I think what keeps the music so sublime is that their creations are still being done like an offering.
Souls of insects...
Joshua Hults
This is my surprise discovery. Search for this track on ccMixter - it's available for free for download
kannil thAgam...
achchamuNdu achchamuNdu
KR seems to have this knack of catching a song from the heavens and giving it in audible form. The pain in this song is incredible. By and far when KR gets a movie after long gaps, he still has the audacity to experiment with tunes like this!
Kurai Onrum Illai
Sacred Chants - Vol VI
This is the traditional "kuRai onRum illai" song, but mildly reorchestrated by Stephen Devassey. It only accentuates the impact with superior recording and the awesome prelude. If people know what they are doing, there is no sacrilege in endeavors like this. He's left the core soul of the song intact
Aathi Vadaiyile...
Sindhu Nadhi Poo
Soundaryan is one of those talented music directors who has faded off because of his flopped movies. Balabarathy also comes in mind. Our vision is so shortsighted. This happens when the criteria is "hit". This song is an example of making the case of "inspiration" through the sheer strength of a tune - rather than resorting to fancy orchestration (nothing wrong with that though). But doing it through a tune requires access to both the emotion and the skillset of translating to the aural counterpart.
Shambho Shiva Shambho...
Sundar C Babu
Sundar C Babu absolutely nailed it. I watched it with the movie first before I had a chance to listen to the audio. I remember Sasikumar walking with an intense look on his face when "Shambooo" started. The impact was quite powerful. Though the "Shambo" and "Shiva" lyrics were just added for impact and make no direct relevance to the movie situation, the song really carried a lot of load. In fact, it allowed the director to crash about 3-4 hours of video time in 4 minutes because of the song's intensity. I got the CD just for this song!
kaNdEn kaNdEn...
pirivOm san-thippOm
Just wait for the opening flute piece to start - there on it is highway to heaven. The lyrics, the tune and the corresponding emotions are a dizzying concoction. VS's melody making capability is excellent!
methuvA methuvA...
pirivOm san-thippOm
Two in one movie! The intimacy between a husband and a wife - how more beautifully can you capture this in a song! (not necessarily referring to sexual intimacy)
Paadu Paadu...
When I first heard this song, it touched me so deeply that it had me going into a deep musing about "Science" and "Spirituality". But seriously "தாரம் தவிர இன்னொரு பெண்ணை தாயாய் நினைப்பது இங்கேதான்..." - is this any longer true in India? Or is the reverse true (sorry if it sounds too crude). We cannot keep going back to our once glorious culture. We're really rotting today as a culture!
rangu rangammA...
Harris Jeyaraj
The big drum sounds are great in this song. Some how, the "feel" of dancing on a boat is there in this song! Lyrics are unfortunately trashy!
ava enna...
Harris Jeyaraj
vAraNam Ayiram
Supposed to be a dappanguththu - but I've noticed this in HJ songs - it has a modern underlayer always. This song is no exception. But it is good - he managed to bring a feel of pain in the song even though it is a dance number
azhagar malai
I loved the opening of the song - the bonding between two lovers and the flow of romance is clearly visible. Of course, the director must have said to IR - it is a "love song with group dance" - LOL. It goes down hill from there. The lyricist also does a commendable job in screwing the rest of the song
Thanni Konjam...
Julie Ganapathy
I am not sure who the singer is, the insinuating tone of the voice is incredible. In the movie itself, the situation of the song was totally uncalled for, but having decided to put this there, the song really does it's job.
n-Adu pArththathundA [IR]...
The time duration of the song matches with the video footage length (which cannot be altered because it is a historical recording). The tune itself has a happy and a pathos version. The happy version is of different time duration and has a peppy
undertone. I think it is an IR only realm! When it comes to the place "வலிமை இருந்த போதும் மிக எளிமையோடு இருந்தான்...", it pains too much. We lost another great leader owing to our apathy again! Such a shame :-(
oru kudam...
It is drizzling right now as I type this. We are not talking about science here, but an emotional connection of happiness and our primal relationship with water that falls as rain. It goes back many million years! Beautiful.
Lucky Lucky...
Imagine a cricket match where the batting team needs 40 runs of 20 balls. Very tight. A wicket falls. Becomes harder. Then, a batsman walks in and scores 25 off 6 balls. Now it becomes a no contest. SPB is that batsman in this song. Intentionally or otherwise, the opening with Sukhwinder singh (with his usual தமிழ் கொலை) sets up a nice contrast for the cameo performance of SPB in this song. An interesting tidbit is that, Sukhwinder singh's voice is used for SPB on video, and SPB's voice goes to Nagarjuna. Irony! I can't remember how many times I must have listened to this song so far!
thadakku thadakku...
Another beautiful song (largely unnoticed) in celebration of rain. I think VS can come up with a tune like this in the instant of a finger snap!
ippavE ippavE...
rAman thEdiya sIthai
This is another song that captures an intimate setting between two lovers. It was interesting that it was given to Pasupathy on video, and that he plays a visually impaired man in the movie.
muNdAsu sUriyanE...
Yuvan Shankar Raja
I like this song mainly because of Rajkiran. He effortlessly handles the huge load placed on his shoulders. Especially, the lines "கம்பங்கூழு குடிக்குமொரு கடவுள் ஏதடா? அத எங்க ஊரு எல்லைக்குள்ள வந்து பாருடா..." are too good!

Monday, September 28, 2009

One line reviews

One post to cover the backlog :)

15 minutes: Nothing special - despite Robert De Niro's presence
Boiler Room: Intense and very well made. Ribisi's performance is good!
Highwaymen: Well made, but doesn't connect enough with the viewer.
Final Destination: So death is the enemy! Surprisingly well made - can be seen from the creation of its sequels.
Thimiru / திமிரு: Ahem, too masalaish!
Kireedam / கிரீடம்: Not sure why it flopped. Quite good, and kudos to Rajkiran (may be I should write a separate post on him)
Kismet Konnection: Though the ending was predictable, it was good because it made a Konnection!
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai: Melodramatic trend of that period shows. A tad long. Excused for Kajol :)
What just happened: Same question here!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Marketing in movies and music

I've long been an avid music and movie fan. I think it was college time when I started spending, and I haven't had a count of how much I've spent on them. In my head, I always decided that there was no "no" when it came to spending for books or music (not movies).

Over the course, I've been observing how marketers have been adapting to changing consumer patterns from their pricing, packaging and advertising.

- In the late nineties, an audio CD cost about 400 Rs on average. It's now 99 Rs on average (Tamil movies). The change was because of massive MP3 (pirated) infiltration. It made me realize that all cost was padded until then. Filthy profits!

- English movies were always unaffordable. They still are. One movie costs about 499 Rs or 599 Rs, though specific titles differ.

- Recently, I've seen movie titles in English for 99 Rs. An Indian company called Eagle DVD markets them. They're older movies, but I've gotten quite a few good ones (Crash, Boiler room etc)

- Region coding is crappy. It's another crooked move to make more money out of the same movies.

- Blu Ray's are filthy expensive. Imagine paying Rs 1799 for one movie! Again, region coding is crazy. Stop playing such tricks!

- My take is that piracy is rampant only because content is kept so unaffordable. I recently saw a tamil movie (kanden kathalai), that was priced Rs 27 (audio cd). If you can price it that way and still make a decent margin, why are you pricing it at Rs 99? Personally, I don't buy these 99Rs audio cd's unless the music is exceptional. After 2-3 months, they release a combination pack with 2-3 movies for the same rate and I buy them.

- Now, some music companies are sensibly placing about 50 songs in a cd and selling them in mp3 format. I've seen some good value in these offerings and got a few of them as well. They're priced reasonably as well (50 Rs to 99 Rs)

- Another technique is to bundle 2-3 mediocre titles with a good one in combination packs in music. Review and ignore!

- I never buy DVD's made by Ayngaran. They originally priced them at Rs 425, and seeing competition selling DVD's at Rs 65, Rs 99, Rs 125 etc, are now pricing it at Rs 250. It's still a crazy price to pay for one movie. I did buy one or two movies for their quality. I must say their mastering technology is excellent and picture clarity is great. Still no excuse!

- The moser bear dvd's are pretty good. They range from 50 Rs to 99 Rs depending on the movie. I bought a lot of them. But on the flip side, you have to watch 5 mins of advertising crud before you get to the dvd menu. Some smart folks that they could also disable any remote control operations. You do all this and wonder why people pirate? I normally switch on the dvd and switch on the tv after 5 mins after all the nonsense has passed. (Same case with Ayngaran. Should I pay Rs 425 and watch how they plan to expand their business?)

Overall, good quality movies and music with honest/decent pricing are hard to come by. They're still gaming the situation based on purchasing trends. Sad situation!

I would say, do this to keep people away from piracy (the majority - I don't think you can make piracy zero!)

- Price an audio cd at Rs 50
- Price a tamil dvd at Rs 99
- Price an english dvd at Rs 150
- Price a blu ray at Rs 250
- Don't region code it - open it for all regions
- Don't advertise on the top of the movie. If you have to, allow the user to get to the menu
- Don't club multiple movies on a single DVD. If you have to, explore dual sided dual layer dvd's and put one movie on each side
- Don't strip out multi channel audio into mono or 2.1 to get more space out of the dvd. Leave them in in all their glory!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Paypal Survey

Got this email from Paypal.

So, I went to their link and took the survey. After the survey was over...

Hmmmph. Why ask for a survey then?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

When you no longer care...

As a corporation, when you no longer care about your customers, they will eventually move away. It is only a matter of time. As needs facilitate, people may hang on. It is only a matter of time. The history of the corporate world is replete with examples of either tainted integrity or careless handling of the people who make your business, eventually going down.

Right before my eyes, I see so many companies here of that kind. I can't help but think - "it is only a matter of time"!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

From the skies

Imagine a thrill ride like this: You take off from the ground to a height of say five, six or seven thousand feet and get a planscape view of the city. You hover around the city like this for say 5-6 minutes and then come back to the ground. How much do you think such a ride would be priced? I would bet it would be at least 1000 Rs. If in the US, I am guessing it would be about 75-80 USD at least.

Such a ride is built into the price of an aircraft ride from one city to another; or you can say it comes free with the travel. The view from the window of the outside world is priceless! Very recently, as the aircraft took off at night, multicolored lights orchestrated the city canvas. Areas that were without light were dark. It looked exactly like an abyss filled with water. In other words, it appeared as if Chennai was in the midst of an vast ocean. I remember another instance where the aircraft couldn't land due to congestion or coordination issues. This was early morning and it took a round over marina beach. It was spectacular, more so because it was lower than normal altitude. If only they had opened the windows for the sea breeze!

Finally, the icing on the cake was when the flight took off from Los Angeles. One image that is frozen on my mind was where you see ocean meets land meets mountain. This tritopograpy meet was the best cap to an intense trip. You can never plan for such an event! I am imagining how this would have been if I had dozed off!

Anything else as bonus? During take off and landing, you reach a point where the vertical velocity force and the gravitational pull cancel each other out and you experience a weightless moment. It grinds the stomach. I realized that this is how fear feels, but this reaction was very bodily. How closely the mind and body are tied together!

Flights are a strange form of transportation. High greenhouse emissions clubbed with incredibly crashed travel time and a unique view not provided by other forms of transportation. You can say they are necessary evil.

So next time the check in employee asks "Window or aisle", say window! If you're not asked, ask for a window seat :)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Sadhguru on DD News

Sadhguru was interviewed on DD News yesterday about Isha, his life and other topics in general.
Interview was only 30 minutes. It sort of appears that Sadhguru is becoming a "known face" in India. The interview itself was something many people have asked him over and over again now. Topics covered his childhood, "that day" on Chamundi hills, existence of God, his visits to Davos and a few others. The amazing thing was how he answered these questions as if he were answering them for the first time.

* - Program telecast @ 10:30 PM IST on 31st Aug 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The ornery movie post

No I am not going crazy. Quite some time back since I posted the last review rite?

mOdhi viLaiyAdu / மோதி விளையாடு : Same Charan who directed vattAram? :-( :-(.
a) Please stick to Bharadwaj, don't let the chemistry go
b) Have the characters emote a little

Dishyum / டிஷ்யூம் : Bold new direction of modern cinema! Really well done. I think it got an "A" certificate just for that one crappy song. Funnily, that song gets detached and gets shown on all TV's. LOL!

Baba / பாபா: I would say Rajnikanth almost had it and threw it away. The movie failed to create a good intersection between Rajni's mass image and the story. But that scene where the kite follows Rajni and that corresponding BGM - goosebumps!

Sathyam / சத்யம்: I think it was a fairly decent movie. Not sure why it flopped. But seriously, some director should experiment next with one man versus 400 goondas. Time for a reality check in that aspect. Nayanthara  - skin show as usual :-(

20-20 : Not sure where I have seen so many stars in a single movie before. Let's see - Mammootty, Mohanlal, Jayaram, Kalabhavan Mani, Suresh Gopi, Gopika, Nayanthara (one song). Simple story, but awesome direction and performances!

pollAthavan / பொல்லாதவன் : Totally wasted climax. Otherwise realistically made plot.

Bheema / பீமா : I think it flopped for the climax. But I would say it is the perfect climax for violence. Anyway, same comment about 1 man vs 400 goondas.

Crash: Will every single setting have a racial insinuation? But this movie is very relevant for the daring questions it raises. Time for a reality-check! Even for the viewer, the kind of revulsion that Matt Dillon's character creates is a directorial triumph!

Guru [Malayalam]: This is a cinematic masterpiece! So grossly and sadly underrated. The way these movies are treated is a reflection on us as viewers!

poo / பூ: Watched only the climax. A poetic ending, but something that would probably not go well with the mainstream audience!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Typing this from Trivandrum.

Came here for a friend's marriage. Sweet-shock. Being the capital city, it is surprisingly low key. Very less population, very moderate buzz-buzz. Even autos are cheap :)

Weather is slightly more than moderate (hotter side). The views from the train are stunning (Kollam lake is massive and beautiful. I even saw swans on it!)

Couldn't spend much time roaming around since I got only a day's leave. May be some other time.

I even got the movie I was loong searching for (Guru in Malayalam).

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Random Marketing Musings

Watch the above ad for Tropicana 100%. They tell you it has "no added color, sugar or preservatives". They don't tell you it has no added flavor. Indeed it has added flavor. So does it really count as 100%? Anyway, this version is a lot better than the sugar added version. But it is still a good example of subtle marketing isn't it?

I was browsing through some chocolates where I saw this one called "Fruit Tella" from Perfetti. What caught my eyes was that it had the dark red symbol on it (instead of green - which implied it was non vegetarian). So looking through the ingredients, it listed gelatin from animal origin. Scary! Who ever thought you would have to contend with animal ingredients on a chocolate? And in India! May be we should start watching out for more of this. I am at least happy they listed this clearly. In India, you can get away without doing any of these. I remember another chocolate called "Mars" that also had the dark red circle on it. But from the ingredients, I never could make out why. Eggs?

Friday, August 07, 2009

Spam Cheating

Today, I got an SMS from an unknown sender called "MD-TWORLD". Not one, but 16 messages.

First, it was spam (unsolicited, non-permisson message). Next, it was an attempt to cheat. See the message content:

Apparently, several other folks have received this same message (so many winners in the draw!). See here. Apparently, the senders haven't even bothered to filter duplicates in the numbers and have blasted this message umpteen times. One would think that these messages would be ignored normally, but a few close folks I know have fallen for these kind of emails. There were few who were checking the authenticity of the message (which is good, but it is still a waste of time).

The normal process is to collect a "processing fee" to transfer the money. It works by the magic of numbers. If one million people were spammed, and let us say 99% ignore. The 1% who fall for them make the count 10,000. If one thousand rupees was collected as fee for each one of them, the scam fetched 10 million rupees.

Sadly, laws in this country are not yet so rigid to prevent these occurences. I am only wondering how this sender got my number. Or would that again be just permutations of ten digits? I just hope no one falls for this.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Effects of Global Warming?

I read something chilling today.

This news article lists ice cap images from American spy satellites and it shows that they're receding. Well, this is the same thing Al Gore was saying all along. Again, there would be people who say that the temperature rise is not man made.

Anyway, the chilling thing was not that it showed the ice caps were receding. But the fact that these were available since 2006 and the earlier [Bush] administration tried to hide them (or marked them as "classified"). This is the exact problem we have been facing for centuries now. People who can make a difference serving vested interests instead of the common good.

Makes me very sad :-(. In any case, a personal note of thanks to the Obama administration for letting these pictures out. It is a very boosting sign that the issue is being taken seriously.

Monday, August 03, 2009

One line reviews...

Heat: Top notch screenplay. But extremely heavy movie. Plods on for 2.5 hours. Intense!
Training day: Denzel and Ethan Hawke light up the screen. For the gangster theme it carries, it still says "What goes out comes back around"!
Duplicity: Whooooooooosh! Falls flat because of its [needless?] complexity.
12 Rounds: Quite entertaining, so long as you switch off your brains at the start. That villain was irritating!
6 days, 7 nights: I think Harrison Ford wanted to do some feel-good off beat movie. Nothing special or bad about the movie.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

I am a professional

A scene from "Man on Fire"

Kidnapper to Denzel: I am a professional
Denzel: You know, everybody keeps telling the same thing, and I am sick of hearing that.

What the kidnapper was implying was that he was a small part in the big kidnapping incident and he just played his part as a professional. Some times, this dividing line works, and sometimes it doesn't.

A cab driver picks up a hitman and drops him at his destination (cabbie doesn't know).
Most will agree it's ok.

A cab driver picks up a hitman and drops him at his destination (cabbie knows he is on an assignment).
Technically, the cabbie is just doing his job (of dropping a passenger at his target place).

I am guessing the parties will be divided here. There is no clear answer. Will professionalism work here? Is there a demarcating line where the person is just doing his/her job versus contributing to a situation which no one wants to exist in general?

The gun manufacturers are just manufacturing guns. It's (just) an industry. But is there a link between them and the number of murders that happen through guns? What about bombs?

There truth is, "I am a professional" is not a valid answer. However, in differing contexts, where we draw a line between ok/not-ok will vary. Not just by the context, but by person as well.

Extrapolating this - what about entire industries that behave "professionally"? For example, consider an IT organization that develops programs or provides IT services for a company that manufactures guns.

No easy answers - but definitely needs enough thought and clarity!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Training day

I was originally going to write a very small review about this, but it wouldn't do justice to Denzel's work. Oh my god, he totally rips this apart. After you try and sit back to analyze the movie's story or screenplay, it's just Denzel Washington that comes to mind. Glad he got an Oscar for this one, may be he should have gotten, one more!

I remember watching this with my friends in 2001. At that time it looked like an entertainer alone. Didn't see anything specific with Denzel's performance. But I was quite happy when he got the Oscar then. Unfortunatly, Ethan Hawke's great performance also took a back seat only because it was overshadowed.

Oh well, this movie is one where it becomes a classic because of one man's brilliance! Watch the scene below [it's a transition from his very strong personality to where he freaks out and tries to save face]. It's really scary what he can do in the right setting!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Horizon Realty is making a mistake...

We all know the internet age recontextualizes, blurs, redefines, simplifies they way we interact and the implications of what we say can be far reaching. But we are in a state where we are moving from point A (static and clearly defined in an unconnected context) to point B (clearly defined in a connected context) and there is bound to be a lot of confusion on the possibilities. I earlier quoted an instance.

So, when a tweeter decided to post a seemingly harmless tweet to her 20 followers stating... Oh, well, read it here :)

My point is after this: Horizon Realty is making a mistake

1) The original tweet was quite innocuous. People are entitled to opinions, subjective ones, false ones. Give them that bandwidth and don't try to play big brother. She wouldn't have posted that tweet if she was delighted with Horizon Realty's offering. There is no point trying to be technically correct on what is mold, how much % of the apartment was mold covered, what type of mold was there, how much % does the Chicago municipality allow and so on.

2) Horizon Realty's mistake likes in keeping that tweet on the pedestal and creating negative publicity as a result. Millions of people knew about that tweet as a result.

3) They worsened it by saying, "We're a sue first, ask questions later company"! That caused people to pull in feedback about their homes [-ve ones that is] from all over the internet and quote them as references on blogs and the twitterverse. Try this search for a test.

4) They worsened (3) by saying it was a tongue in cheek comment!

Anyway, we will probably see more of these coming along until companies learn that their era of playing the big guy is over. The internet hands over immense power to the customer and the sooner the corps realize them the better.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Man on Fire

This would have been a meaningless revenge oriented movie if not for two reasons:

1) The relationship between Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning. It is so strong, that the climax sets off emotions that are hard to describe

2) Denzel Washington himself! I heard this part was in consideration for several other actors, but having watched him here, it is hard to imagine anyone else.

Dakota Fanning seems to be over smart for her age, but she has a really beautiful smile!

The dialogues in the movie are quite excellent as well. ("Forgiveness is between them and God. It's my job to arrange the meeting.").

It also gives glimpses of how dangerous Mexico City is. I was wondering if it was another Hollywood propaganda or exaggeration, but reading upon real life experiences of people, it does appear to be as dangerous. A city really goes down very badly when the protectors (cops) turn into accomplices of crime or become criminals themselves.

I think this is where Tony Scott and Denzel Washington starting striking up an excellent chemistry for their following movies!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Penalising the folks who market or deliver for you...

That is not a good business model.

The people who work for commissions or who deliver stuff for you? If the product or service [or process] isn't that good enough, the marketer may anyway not come through with the sale. Or, if there is no clear need for the customer, even a good product or service will not sell through.

I think companies need to direct their effort in improving their products *and* training the folks who market them. The burden of making the sale must be on the marketing department and the people making the product as well [they're the ones anyway getting paid the big bucks]. Not on the final end-man who is at the end of the straw reaching out to people.

I recently had some one from Eureka Forbes come over. He asked if I wanted to see a demo of a new vacuum cleaner that came out. Even before he started, I mentioned I wasn't interested. He anyway explained the features. I then paused, told him politely that I did not  need a vacuum cleaner then. He was equally polite, did not push for a hard sell and then left after thanking me. I was wondering about his day. He has to go through the routine the entire day, the entire month [can't be impolite even for tiredness or frustration]. Some might agree to take the demo but eventually do not buy [which probably doesn't count on the company's book]. The conversion rate will probably be 4-5%. So if the salesman needs to sell 10 of them, he might have to visit 200 to 300 houses. And if his primary income is commission, it would be a stress filled job. It doesn't sound fair for the salesman to bear the burden of a product's quality/expense.

On a related note, some time back, I got a note stating that the pizza delivery guys who fail to deliver within 30 mins (remember the "30 mins or it's free ad"?) end up paying for the pizza, and not the pizza company? That sounded very unfair. Later, a Domino's pizza pamphlet said they did not penalize pizza delivery folks for delay. That forward must have created a furore. Anyway, if it is happening now [or even it *was* happening], it is not right. Needs to stop. Those folks deliver for a living. Not for the pizza chain to make more money. If the real focus is piping hot pizza for the customer and the 30 minutes is a quality parameter, it needs a separate process work flow on how to make it happen. You don't handover the pizza box to the delivery boy and say "You pay for it if you don't deliver it in 30 mins" and send him from ICF to Perambur in peak traffic!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I bit into a pepper...

Too good! I love the chemistry between George Clooney and Brad Pitt!
The follow up is also great - explains the fate of Terry Benedict!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What I am listening to now...

S.No Artist Album Title My comments
1 iLaiyarAjA Devar Magan Maasaru Ponne Varuga... This has a very ancient spiritual appeal. Has awesome lyrics and just lifts the scene to a different category when it happens!
2 iLaiyarAjA Devathai Oru Naal... This is a highly underrated song. The prelude, the interludes, the way SJ sings...
3 iLaiyarAjA Dharma Durai Maasi Maasam... Deva took the rythm of this song, created "கட்டிபுடி கட்டிபுடிடா" and in the process made it sleazy as well. This song drips with eroticism. One of those songs you recognize just with the rythm itself. Again, one of those songs that is destined to be a hit even on the first hearing!
4 iLaiyarAjA Dharmathin Thalaivan Muthamizh Kaviye... Such a lilting melody, surprisingly worked on Rajnikanth :) - Had me just with the prelude
5 Vijay Antony dishyUm dailAmO dailAmO... This song grew on me after 2-3 hearings. Has a lot of energy. Meaningless lyrics, but very enjoyable to hear
6 Deva Dum Chaanakya Chaanakya... This song gets caught in the middle of being a lilting melody and a rythmic song. But it worked well. I hope it is a Deva original :)
7 kArthikrAjA Dum Dum Dum Ragasiyamai... Hearing songs like these makes my heart bleed for KR. If one composer deserves a mega-break it is him. Not sure what is not working!
8 iLaiyarAjA Ellame En Raasadhan Veenaikku Veenai... The greatest creation possible by a human, is creating another human. And this piece reflects the magnificence of such a happenning. One time, when I heard IR singing "உன்னை பார்த்து உருகி போச்சு, இரும்பு மனசொன்னு பாரம்மா...", my eyes were wet with tears.
9 iLaiyarAjA Ennai Vittu Pogadhe Ponna Poola... Though his songs on mother are blindly categorized into "Amma Sentiment Songs", each song stands on its own in terms of context and emotion. This song creates a gut wrenching feeling. I don't want to hear any other voice other than IR's for these type of situations. I doubt any one else can bring that "feel"
10 Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev Eternal Echoes Beyond Love - Firefly "... if life's summers have warmed you, and your inner spaces have charmed you, I can set you afire and the word too!" - Brrrrrrrrrrrr!
11 Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev Eternal Echoes The Divine Secret - Tenderness "With the work done, why linger on? Depart gracefully, says my mind. But what to do with lovers? Who have lost themselves in the process of loving..." - Good question :)
12 Martin Davich ER: Original Television Theme Music and Score Hell and High Water (From "Hell and High Water") This piece has undertones of the ER Theme (which is one of the best pieces composed in terms of what it depicts - you can feel you are in an emergency room just hearing that)
13 Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev Eternal Echoes Glimpse of the Master - Shameless The first few times I heard this, when it came to the verse - "The strength of shoulder of donkey in prime, would make a wellbred horse stand in shame..." I used to cry. To this day, I am not able to precisely say why.
14 iLaiyarAjA Friends Kuyilukku Koo Koo... After 30 years, he comes up with a song like this. Also passed by uneventfully was the fact that three stalwarts sang this together - SPB, HH and SM.
15 iLaiyarAjA Geetha Vazhipadu En Paava... இவர் பாடும் பாவ கணக்கு பட்டியல் எல்லாருக்கும் பொருந்தும் என்று நினைக்கிறேன்! Just that not everyone thinks like this!
16 Harris Jeyaraj Ghajini Yoheio Ghajini... Just wait for the drums to roll and the chorus to start. It brings the mood of revenge precisely! That flute piece makes me shudder. I am curious to know how ARR handled this in the Hindi version!
17 Harris Jeyaraj Ghajini rangOlA... Another masquerading song. But nice tune!
18 vidyAsAgar gilli kokkarakkO... Excellent song, unfortunately sung by Udit :-(. It makes me switch off internally!
19 Hans Zimmer Gladiator The Battle This piece deserves a standing ovation. Unfortunately, because of YSR, I think of Vijaykanth walking all the time!
20 kArthikrAjA Grahan Kehte Ki Jisko... Just wait for the opening humming! Hooked on thereafter!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Summary reviews...

American Gangster: Very well made movie. Denzel Washington is strong as usual! Recreate the late sixties quite beautifully!

Toy Story: Yes, watching this only now. So not writing any review. Just that, ever since they came out with this movie, Pixar have consistently done two things: Increase audience expectations, and then match them. They've been successful at this up until their latest movie now.

Pancha Bhootha Aradhana

About what it is, you can read from the source:

After a long time, I had the opportunity to attend this. I have no clue what happened inside. But after it was all over and I came out, one resounding feeling was within. To precisely describe this:

"Life is so vast. And I know only a tiny speck of it!"

Just the horizontal is so vast. A million songs to listen. A million books to read. A million people to meet. Then the vertical - which is totally another dimension.

The search will never stop. May be I will never know it all. But why does that seem more than fine?

Monday, July 20, 2009

What I am listening to now...

Well, the opinions are subjective (bias/prejudice warning!)

S.NoArtistAlbumTitleMy comments
1MaragadhamaniAzhaganSaadhi Malli Poocharame...Very simple song - but the appeal is in the simplicity. Also, the lyrics are beautiful - கடுகைப்போல் உனதுள்ளம் இருக்கக்கூடாது. கடலைப்போல் விரிந்ததாய் இருக்கட்டும்!
2BharathibArathiyAr pAdalgaLKakkai Chiraginiley...Bharathiiiiiiii. His brilliance is what has caused just the utterance of the word "kakkai chiraginilE" to associate with this song. Another thing to note is that he chose this to be the first phrase instead of anything else. The man saw God in everything! "I feel you when I let my hand in fire!"
3BharathibArathiyAr pAdalgaLAcchamillai Acchamillai...When he says, do not fear when the sky falls on your head, there is very little to comment isn't it? The nerves steel when you hear "பிச்சை வாங்கி உண்ணும் வாழ்க்கை வந்துவிட்ட போதிலும்..."
4BharathibArathiyAr pAdalgaLEthanai Kodi Inbam...This song shows that Bharathi is deeply aware of the goal of a spiritual process. In essence, he says, this world, the "other world" - everything is so psychedelic!
5Harris JeyarajbhImAsiRu pArvaiyAlE...HJ impresses with his glossololia style openings. He seems to have a continuous supply. Another thing he is quite good is presenting (masquerading) a western song in native format
6rahmAnBombayPoovukkenna...What an outrageous presentation! Wonder if MR was expecting this from ARR when he gave him the situation. The song carries six-seven years of story with it. In the end, when it hits the crescendo, with the chorus, tabla and flute - totally outlandish, yet strikes home very closely!
7vidyAsAgarchan-thiramukiaththiththOm...Don't ask why, but this song is proof that there is a Creator (aka, atheists are wrong!)
8Ravi ShankarChants of IndiaMangalamWierd coincidence, I decided to put this song on my playlist. I then later heard this in a very sacred setting as well. "Sarva mangalam bhavathu bhavathu bhavathu" - Kudos to this culture!
9vidyAsAgarchan-thiramuki - pinnaniFinal Confrontation...Makes me want to watch the movie again. Makes me wonder, our composers are equally at ease with native music as well as Hollywood style music!
10Ravi ShankarChants of IndiaMahaa Mrityunjaya"Sacred" button on!
11Harris JeyarajchellamEARiya uthadugaL...Very peppy. Very direct lyrics! But somehow doesn't cause any discomfort. The first interlude violin pieces are awesome (kudos for not using synthesizers)
12iLaiyarAjAChinna GounderAndha Vaanatha...Now a classic. I love IR's voice :). I remember the impact this caused when watching with the video. It's now beaten to death, yet still survives!
13iLaiyarAjAChinnavarPadagottum Pattamma...I love the effortlessness with which IR pulled an excitingly pepply, but native song out of his hat. The first interlude, you can see, he literally toys with the notes.
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