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!
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