Friday, February 27, 2009

The Power of Music

I realized recently that listening to music on audio only conveys part of the emotion. It was sort of apparent in the background all the time, but it became crystal clear when I was watching "Naan Kadavul". When the Sanskrit chants play in the background in the "Om Shivoham" song, Bala decided to use that piece to show Arya standing in "Shirasasan". As the camera slowly circled to his face, it literally freaked me out. Yes, I knew the song was powerful, but *this* powerful? It always had it, but it came out in context and was amazing!

Another example is the now classic "Barbarian Horde" from Gladiator. This track, even on audio would set the adrenaline rushing. Rahman recently mentioned he was a fan of Ridley. As fate would have it, he might be working with him now. Who knows :). Anyway, this background was set for a bloody (and a little gory) battle. As fierce as the battle was, the fierceness of the music matches the context frame for frame. As the violins hit the crescendo, it was used for depicting the intruders entering the battle field. The music got so associated that I watched this one battle so many times despite the bloodiness of it. Moth to flame!

Note: That Mr. YSR decided to use that (read: copy-paste) for depicting Vijaykanth walking is another matter. May be he felt that captains gait was the equivalent of a gladiator battle!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Congrats ARR!

Congrats ARR!
After Golden Globe, you have now pocketed the Oscars (yeah, plural because of two of them!).
You have created a great breakthrough for all musicians across India in terms of visibility to a big section of western audience.

Your carrer is now going to happen in a new scale now. I hope to see a few full fledged Hollywood movies crediting you as the composer!
All the very best!

Note: I will try to embed a video here after I can get my hand on one of them! Haven't seen this myself :)




Oscar 1:



Imagine someone giving a speech like this after a momentous occasion!




Oscar 2:





Saturday, February 21, 2009

Rain Man

I re-viewed this movie recently. This movie was made in 1988 - go figure!
Barry could have recast this movie *today* and it would still be contemprary! May be, swap land lines with mobile phones.

Though everything about the movie was great, what would stand out would be the performance of Dustin Hoffman. Throughout the movie, I was actually trying to look for "acting". It made me curious about the kind of homework he would have done for this movie!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Indiscriminate involvement with life!



I am wondering - what Nandita, Prahlad and the host would have discussed if Sadhguru was absent. I presume Nandita did her wholeness after this discussion! Too bad, they wrapped this up in 20 mins.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Acting Index

I tried to put together a list based on my earlier post:

It is subjective and may be controversial. Feel free to point out discrepancies, but there is no use debating, because I may be totally wrong!

Both "Personality Subordination" and "Acting Capability" are on a scale of 1-10. Acting Index is a product of the two.

Actor Personality Subordination Acting Capability Acting Index Remarks
Vadivelu 3 5 15 Same as vivek
Ajith 4 5 20
Vivek 4 5 20 His timing skills are excellent and he is occupying a niche segment.
Arvindswamy 4.5 5 22.5
Vijay 4 6 24
Vijaykanth 5 6 30
Karthik 5 6 30
Madhavan 5 6 30
Srividya 4 8 32 A rigid personality coupled with an excellent ability to engineer emotions
Prakashraj 5 7 35
Parthiban 6 6.5 39
Sivakumar 7 6 42 He was an actor, who however worked exceptionally hard to get his work right
Rajnikanth 8 6 48 Of course, he makes this up with his riveting charisma
Vikram 7 7 49
Sharukh 7 7 49
Surya 8 7 56
Manorama 8 8 64 She is as versatile as they come
Kamalhaasan 8.5 9.5 80.75
Sivaji 9.5 9 85.5 No questions. Unfortunately, areas where his subtleness shined are very limited.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Acting!

To me, there are two components to acting. One is not more important the other. Knowingly or unknowingly, the great actors have been the ones who have been able to manage and sustain both aspects consistently.

1) Subordination of personality:
The actor, as a real life person has some traits. These must not be reflected in the character being portrayed. Some actors go to the extent of changing their gaits and other mannerisms while acting. This aspect of acting is the hardest part.

2) Engineering emotions:
The other aspect is enacting out what the character is required to portray on screen. Highly capable people are here, but (1) is make-or-break. Some actors do not engineer - they actually be the emotion they are required to portray (Dustin Hoffman for example). Either way, with (1) and (2) together, it is a perfect combination. If the emotion to be portrayed is not engineered, but people try to "live" that emotion, it accomplishes (1) as well. For example, in one scenario, Dustin Hoffman was required to act out a scenario where the character talks after running five miles. He actually ran for five miles and then took the shot. Some one jocularly commented to him, "You should try acting, it is much easier."

This doesn't however cover niche skills like dancing, stunts or singing. People with exceptional skills can survive without being exceptional in (1) or (2). For example, comedy.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Snake!

I had a not-so-close-not-so-distant encounter with a medium sized snake at my apartment complex recently.

Clearly, it was out of its comfort zone, that being mosaic tiles, and was smack bang in the middle of the path way. No one else was around. I stood about one meter away and was watching its actions.

It was moving quite slowly and tried to clear a six inch vertical parapet, which it could not. It travelled along the parapet then and slowly crawled into the watchman room!

He wasn't in, and it would have put me in a difficult situation if the snake had decided to stay on. I would have had to inform him, and surely, it wouldn't have lived on thereafter!

Fortunately, the snake crawled out as gracefully as it crawled in. I hope it found a bush to settle down for the night.

PS: I was a little shaken by the encounter. Too bad, there is not enough discretion to tell a venomous snake from a non venomous one. And as incarnation principles go, I was a snake once - this fear is a little embarrassing :)
How some one was able to sleep with snakes, not one but several, is beyond me now!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Star Halo

Well, not limited exactly to movie stars, but more easily seen with them. It has happened, and continues to happen to an extent, with people I interact on a personal level as well.

Due to their personality, charisma people like these possess an attractive force, subjective of course, that whatever they say or do seems to be the right thing. I have noticed that it stays on for a while and then wades off. Then the same thing happens with other stars. Now I have gotten used to it, so I know when it happens that it is going to go away - so it doesn't affect me so much. In a way, this is not good as it is a form of prejudice - but what to do when it happens "on its own"?

People who have been on this list for me -
Bruce Willis,
George Clooney,
Rajkiran (no kidding),
Sachin Tendulkar,
AR Rahman,
Ilaiyaraja (still on to some extent),
Yanni,
Sharukh,
Vijaykanth (college time!),
Rajnikanth (still on to some extent),
Isha Gopikar,
Manisha Koirala (it didn't happen on its own. A friend of mine in college used to keep talking about her all the time, he adored her so much that I had to pay attention. Not so much of a halo)
Aravindswamy,
Cho Ramaswamy,
Maniratnam,
Surya (still on to some extent),

I think I can keep writing a few more if I think about it. It is surprising how many people have an influence on you like this.

My current "star halo" - Mammootty (an old one, renewed by "Love in Singapore")

There are a few real stars who have a real halo! It will probably not wear out :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Traffic Optimization

The flyover near IIT Chennai has been made two way to avoid congestion. This is effective from 5PM to 8PM only.

I am not sure how effective this is going to be. But I am happy that it is being experimented instead of letting the congestion be. We can make a lot more changes if we observe traffic patterns carefully.

The system is too lethargic!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

FCC Rules and Humans

The Federal Communications Commission  rules (part 15) list the operating conditions of laser products. Two basic conditions are below:
(1) this device may not cause harmful interference, and
(2) this device must accept any interference received, including interference that may cause undesired operation.
How nice it would be if all humans followed this? :)

Friday, February 06, 2009

Customer Service?

In customer service, there are two rules of thumb that are normally used.

1) The customer is always right
2) If the customer is wrong, read rule 1

Is this customer service or ego service? True, many corporations, especially corporations in India need to buckle up on their customer service. It is in the state it is now, only because they can get away with it. Areas where they cannot get away with it - either because of laws or intense competition, they have always evolved. In the western countries, customer service has evolved to the point where any product or service involved, people can get it done online or through the phone without even getting in touch with a service rep.

Anyway, back to my point. I think there needs to be a distinction between servicing quality and servicing the ego of the customer. No one needs to stoop down to satisfy a fussy customer. In terms of quality, the bar needs to go as high - and continuous improvement must be the norm. When innovation - both in terms of product and customer service - is in operation, there are no gates and barriers.

From the corporation perspective - realize you are in business because of the customer. Get down from your pedestal and realize that you need to go to any end to meet quality expectations.
From the customer perspective - realize you are buying a product or service from the corporation. Get down from your pedestal and realize that your expectation ends with "how" your "service" is being administered in terms of quality.

In the end, however, we are talking about two people from either entitiy. If a beautiful "relationship" emerges, none of what I said above will apply. But this relationship is possible only of the corporation truly cares for the customer and creates people rooted in that culture. If we are talking in terms of processes, drawing lines and nitpicking is inevitable I think. Edges are always sharp!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Love in Singapore

Typically, my experience of Malayalam movies is that they are grounded and simple.

This movie was different. Very masala'ish, almost like a tamil movie, but still had traces of its simple Kerala roots.

Of course, star of the show is Mamooty. He effortlessly dons several roles (in the same movie). He even manages to make 5-10 people fly in a fight in the climax.

Overall, the movie was slightly disappointing mainly because of my expectation (first sentence).
You can always watch this once for the big M!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Caffeine

The human body does not need stimulus to carry on with its day to day activities.
If a need is seen, it is mostly because it is not kept the way it is supposed to be.
I am specifically referring to caffeine (and anything related - nicotine, alcohol, drugs* for example).
It stimulates the central nervous system directly and provides only temporary gratification.
If you do not take any stimulants currently, it might be wise to stay away from them (for good!)
Again, if you do, it might be wise to withdraw from it gradually and give it a goodbye kiss!

PS: I am writing from the high-users end (of caffeine) of the spectrum!

* Technically - caffeine, nicotine, alcohol are also drugs. Here, I was referring to the likes of cocaine, marijuana etc
 
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