Friday, January 30, 2009

Calorific!

Friend 1: How was your potato sandwich?
Friend 2: Terrific! How was your cheeseburger?
Friend 1: Calorific!



COL (Crying out loud)


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Abiyum Naanum - அபியும் நானும்

When we were in Coimbatore, we went to this movie when we had a few hours of unplanned time. We decided on this movie after a few minutes of debating. Other nominees were Ghajini (too much violence!) and Varanam Aayiram (வாரணம் ஆயிரம் - Vetoed by me, as I had seen this already once).

Well it turned out to be a good decision. More than the movie, it was because we got to see Radhamohan and Prakashraj (and "Mr. Beggar" - I do not know his name!). It was a surprise visit which was planned unannounced (to us that is). They just walked in on the podium during the interval. The agenda was to thank the audience for supporting good movies. The audience was more than delighted with this unexpected surprise they were receiving. Prakashraj drove them nuts by starting with "I love you Chellam!". Essentially, both the director and the producer said the same thing. The essence of their message was - the kind of support these kind of movies receive will dictate the frequency and inspiration of future movies like these.

Which is definitely true! I greatly admire Prakashraj's clarity in this matter. As an actor, he is one among many. He dons many roles (including masala roles - you name any kind). He is very clear that they got him to the position where he is now able to produce a different kind of movies. As a producer, his movies have always been high quality. True, I have seen many reviews stating "not subtle enough" or "not deep enough" and so on, but clearly these movies raise the quality bar a bit higher and have the potential to lift the industry itself a notch higher. Vivek in the success festival of "Mozhi" (மொழி) mentioned, "Many movies entertain people at their level. Few movies pull the audience to a higher level and entertain them there." Very true, and very will worded by him!

You can go ahead and write a critical review of this movie. But it will be good, if in parallel, you can acknowledge the above fact as well. We need people treading a new path. The fear of commerce is a crippling one. If the movie industry must rise above this, it is up to us as viewers to take them there.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Roads in Chennai

these black roads
roads that satan dreads  to reside
humans from chennai
did undertake the game of deathly duel!





A loving little poem on the GST road (Tambaram to Chengleput) and Vandalur High Road (Vandalur to Kelambakkam) and Chennai roads in general!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

OMR Highway and the ego

Two months back:
I saw the toll plaza being completed here. The ticket was priced at 17 Rs.
[To myself] This is not going to work. The price is such that people will be: handing over 20, 50 or 100 Rs notes and there is going to be a change crunch in the plaza. Why can't they price it in round numbers? (15 or 20)

Very recently:
We were crossing the toll plaza. My dad handed over a 20 Rs note
[Toll attendant] Sir, there is no change. Do you have 2 Rs?
[To myself] This is soo dumb. I could foresee this even when the board was being put up. Don't they think about these things before hand?

Much more recently:
I pointed this out to Radha [yeah, a little proudly :)]
[Radha] May be they want to force people to buy the monthly card considering the headache people go through every time trying to pay cash!

Moral:
[bulb breaking] When your ego is puffed up like a balloon, perception is blind sided. Other possibilities that exist don't exist for us anymore!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Just back off!

A couple of days back, I posted about a different world!

Within hours of witnessing that, I was treated to a startlingly contrasting scene at the railway station at Coimbatore.

The station was crowded, so we were waiting in the hall, seated in the ground. A man was about to walk away, but he slipped down and hurt himself in the head. Apparently, it was a mistake by his wife - she must have hit his leg when he was walking. I did not witness what exactly happened but I saw him hearing his painful shout.

He got up, first picked up his shoe and threw it at his wife. Then, he shouted at her. Not having had enough, he then went to her and started physically assaulting her. A foreigner who was seated on the ground along with others, got up, went to the man and sternly ordered him to "Just back off!". Not expecting an intrusion, the man was shocked, but no longer harassed his wife physically. But it then changed to a bitter harangue for some time.

It was a shameful moment - not for the man, but for all of us watching!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Congrats ARR!



Whoops! reading the news didn't make as much impact as watching this on video. Pitted with the likes of Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard and coming out on top is an awesome task! :)
Besides, with this, Rahman has done two other things - he has increased his visibility to a wide range of western audience bringing Oscar very close. The other, he has opened the gates for other Indian music composers to emulate this feat and make this a more common occurrence. He will be a forerunner in internationalizing Indian music. Hats off to you ARR!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A different world

Isha Yoga Center, Coimbatore

A small boy threw a used coffee paper cup from the bus on the ground.

There were about ten people standing outside the bus.

I was looking at the cup, and took two steps towards the cup. In the meantime, another meditator walked towards the cup, picked it up and threw it in the dustbin nearby.

Prakash was watching both of us and smiling.

It is a different world out there!

Monday, January 12, 2009

All in the mind!

The travel to my office (one of the offices actually) is about 30 kms (the other office is 60 kms away!).

The junction that joins Thiruvanmiyur with the east coast road is replete with congestion. It is only because MTC buses take a right into the bus terminus. When four or five buses are in queue, the road is blocked until these buses are cleared. But it hardly takes a moment for impatient drivers who try to preempt the buses causing a jam. What could have finished in five minutes would end up taking fifteen!

Yesterday evening, at the same junction, a traffic constable was posted who was regulating traffic - leaving buses, then other drivers in a round robin fashion. Both parties waited patiently for their turn. In the end, it all turns out to be a decision to wait patiently. The constable was only a facilitator. When he is absent, we decide to resort to anarchy. We can choose otherwise, but we do not.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Trailers

Ever since Srini wrote about movie trailers, I realized the value of them. For some one like me who spends half his life with movies, a movie trailer is a good preview to decide if it is worth spending 2 to 3 hours of "life time" on the movie!

I also recalled some recent trailers.

Seval: Watched this trailer in a theatre. I told Radha that I must be grateful to the director for coming up with the trailer. I decided not to watch it right there!
Thindukkal Sarathy: Hmmm, not sure!
Thenavattu: Nope!
Padikkathavan: Unless it comes to me - no!

I am not waiting for the trailer of "Naan Kadavul". It is on my "to watch" list ever since first news of the movie was out! I haven't watched the trailer of Villu also - but my default rule for Vijay (and most Ajith) movies is "no unless proven otherwise by reviews or hear-say!".

Friday, January 09, 2009

Satyam, TOI and The Hindu

The recent corporate shock wave everywhere must be Satyam.

Personally, I feel sorry for Raju. It was a mistake, but it appears to be a chain out of which there was no exit. His letter to the board appeared heartfelt and as he simply put it - he was riding a tiger. The amount of turmoil he must have gone through in the past months must have been incredible - but the repercussions are inevitable. One high point in his letter, which no news coverage pointed out, was that he gave a clean chit to every other board member and owned up to everything. No attempt to take down others with him. A few days back, a close friend of mine and I were talking. He had recently quit his previous company and joined Satyam! We were discussing on how Raju was expecting to pull off the Maytas deal (8% stake, $1bn in cash and company was his sons'). At that point, *no one* (analysts, "experts") was able to see through any fishiness in the scenario. It was only perceived as foolish judgement. Anyway, right now, I feel most sorry for the shareholders. In a matter of few days, they have seen the script tumbling down by ~80%. Employees are next. While we can safely assume most of them would be placed elsewhere, the interim turmoil is another aspect to consider.

Where things get hazy are that, given the level of cover up, how no one within the board was able to see through? (I am not trying to play the devil's advocate). Especially, the point on the OM (quoted OM of 24% vs actual OM of 3%)? As NRN pointed out, the auditors who passed this will also be made accountable shortly. Somethings aren't still making sense - an OM of 3% looks like an impossibility in Indian IT standards (consider - CTS 17%, Infy 28%, TCS 25% and so on). We will need to see what else is uncovered.

One final question - is it morally (not legally) wrong to invest in Satyam's stocks now? Everything is out in the open - the script has tumbled by ~80% to as low as 30% and Raju has himself gone out and the corporate is going to be revamped.

Regarding TOI / Hindu - ever since TOI was out in Chennai, we were buying both. I was able to contrast their reporting style. TOI is more gossipy (I am not referring to falsification, but they like drama!). The Hindu is more matter-of-fact and they keep opinions to a minimum. TOI presentation style is excellent - for any issue, it is traced back in a vivid manner to give a complete picture to the reader. But the benchmark of objectivity will always be "The Hindu". I recall a few years back, where there was a protest against the paper (politically driven). They reported it matter-of-factedly without an iota of prejudice or opinion. I was awestruck! I could see that again in context of Satyam. TOI reported "Satyam, a 7000 cr lie" and The Hindu reported "Satyam's chief admits to fraud, quits". Inside, TOI spiced it up saying "Satyam's asatyam"! TOI is more interesting to read, but "The Hindu", as far as what I have seen, is the benchmark on objectivity!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Books, books and books

There has always been an overabundance of books. The number is so high - I am not sure how to come up with an estimate. Multiple languages, multiple genres, multiple editions for a single book - all add to the count. Some come from recycled paper, some come from fresh wood pulp. The "some" in the latter should actually read  "almost all". Case in point, I "tweeted" about one (one, that is one!!) magazine called "Wired" a few days back.

Now, several books focus on the environment and/or a shift/change in consciousness. I am sure you know umpteen examples. The writers may be sincere. The publishers make the same kind of money from these books just like they do from the thriller novels. These consciousness books belong to the "new age" genre and have already become a fashion statement of sorts. The publishers still push for sales and come up with multiple editions of these books ("New! revised and updated with latest data for 2009!").

My rant? The world isn't changing! Rain forests change to pulp while the publishers attempt to feed us new-age data! Where are we going with all these? Why can't we find a way to make paper without cutting down trees? I feel it makes sense to think about this now instead of ten years later standing over barren land which used to hold forests once.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Bringing up children

Watching Bommarillu triggered a few thoughts - especially the confrontation scene and the opinions voiced by Siddharth. The specifics are important, but the generalization is more important. Apparently, it got my mother thinking as well. After the movie was over, she came over and asked if I had felt the same way when I was growing up. She tried to sound humorous, but I could realize she really wanted to know the answer. I mentioned "A little!".

Earlier, Ramsi wrote about deciding to bring another life into the planet, mainly due to population concerns. That is a very hard sell :) (read the last comment in that post). Even deciding to have a child, we need to make up our mind on how to bring up this child. The child must be taken care of, protected, but given all the freedom to grow up on its own, make its mistakes, fall down and get up, and given sufficient opportunities to nurture its intelligence. It needs an atmosphere of love - but this must not border into indulgence. It needs sternness at times - but this should not border into anger or hatred at any time. Parents need to be able to tread this fine line. Harder fact is that, each child brings a unique disposition into this world. That makes the "fine line" different for different children - which means there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

In the end, it all means that we need to learn how to live life properly!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Bommarillu - బొమ్మరిల్లు

This was a charming and fresh movie that I picked up by impulse. Until my mother told me, I didn't even know it was the precursor for "Santhosh Subramaniam".

I think, central to the success of the movie was the characterization of Hasina's role. Genelia did an excellent job with the role (I presume she was being herself!). The other aspect was that the movie captured the subtleties of relationships with ease.

And finally, the confrontation scene between Siddharth and Prakashraj was done excellently without overdoing anything.

This movie easily scores a home run!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year

We went to Taj (Chennai!) on new year's eve for dinner. My dad, in the middle of conversation remarked, "Dec 31 is just another day!". He was talking of existential perspective. Obviously it was true. Saturdays, Sundays, Thanksgiving days have no existential significance. The sun, the moon, the stars, oceans, tides - all follow their normal course. My dad knew that also.

But these days have a lot of human significance. These are pivotal days for us to renew something within and to show greater commitment for whatever we are striving for. If we lived life in our pitch peak intensity, new years or any other day will have no special significance for us as well.

In light of this, I guess the best blessing some one can give to us would be - "May the next new year have no special significance to you!". True, but it sounds truly ridiculous to hear. We've gotten used to living this way and getting inspired in spurs.




A side note: The dinner cost Rs 3000.00 (per head). A couple of weeks back, for my dad's birthday, we had arranged dinner for 70 children in a home and it cost us about the same amount. No, I am not typing this out of guilt, but the stark disparity in economics is startling. And the restaurant was brimming yesterday!

Taj had a relatively quiet new year eve - in mark of respect for the Mumbai attacks where it was directly involved.
 
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