Wednesday, 25 May 2016

My Experiences in AC Coach

F
or the last four years, I have been frequent traveler in Indian trains. Most of them are overnight journeys that last 8-10 hours. And, I hate traveling in AC coaches!

When I tell my family and friends that I don’t like to travel in AC coaches, they call me a miser. Some of them tell me that I don’t know how to enjoy little luxuries that life offers.  I deny their accusations and tell them that life is not about affordability; it is about comfort.

Scene No. 1
Once, every second minute, I was scratching my head like a school girl. Something was not alright. I bought a comb designed to lice and frantically combed my hair. I noted at least three louse running for their life between the bristles of my new comb. I felt disgusted. I did a retrospection and figured out the source – the blankets that comes along with the AC train tickets. I had travelled to my workplace that morning and voila! I have louse in my hair. It took multiple bottles of medicines and several sessions of relentless combing to get rid of them. Louse are gone for good, but those memories of controlling the urge to scratch head in the middle of a meeting can never be forgotten!

Scene No. 2
After the blanket debacle, I started carrying my own blanket. That night, I got into the train sweaty and sticky, and soon, I was shivering! For some reason, the AC was unusually high; a complete contrast to the summer heat outside. I struggled to fall asleep, but I could not. Soon, I started sneezing and began to feel pain in my throat. Next morning, I was down with fever!

Scene No. 3
I was cozily snuggled between the blankets (note: my own thick blanket!) and drifting in the dream world. The stillness of night was slowly spreading within the compartment. The journey was very comfortable and I was glad about it. Until… Uncle No.1 started snoring. He was sleeping on the berth opposite to mine. Soon, the grandmother No. 1 on the lower berth started. From the side berth, a young man No. 1 joined the chorus. Many more uncles, grannies and young blood joined the snoring club. The compartment felt like a madhouse with people (both young and old) competing in some snoring competition. I wanted to scream. I could not. I wanted to run away. I dared not. I silently missed the noise of sleeper compartments

Scene No. 4
I was very tired that night. I knew that no snoring could wake me up. Once again, I drew “my” blanket closer to me and closed my eyes. The silence of the AC coach let me fall asleep in no time – only to be disturbed by a wailing baby. I checked my mobile phone and noted that it was only ten at night. I looked at the helpless mother who lovingly started nursing the just born baby. I smiled and happily drifted off to sleep. Another sharp wail. This time from another baby. Then, I heard many other babies crying, as if they were chatting to each other in their own sweet language. I tossed and turned. I tried to shut my ears and concentrate on my breathing. No escape! The parents started losing their temper and the grandparents started making weird sounds to distract the crying babies.
The noise of sleeper compartments is so loud that such petty noises could never overpower it. Cursed myself for booking the AC coach (again).

Scene No. 5
My house is always clean and I take any trouble to maintain it at its best. But, the cockroaches started bothering me. They were in almost every nook and corner. I didn’t know from where it could have come. And, I figured out the source of those cockroaches when I traveled in the AC coach (for the nth time). I found many in the compartments and realized that they would have entered into my luggage and made a house in mine. Between, did I mention that there are rats too? I think that these creatures feel as trapped as the travelers in the AC coaches.  

Scene No. 6
Disclaimer: I am single/unmarried and happy. And I don’t feel jealous towards committed/married people.
Having cleared the air, some couples mistake the AC coaches to their private chambers. With the nice blue/brown curtains around, they take advantage of the privacy. I have seen couples kissing each other, letting their hands explore each other and what not! They cuddle on the same berth under a blanket and pretend to be enjoying the scenery outside (mind you, when it is pitch dark outside).


So tell me, is life all about affordability? Can any noise be as soothing as the noise of the sleeper coaches? Can the AC be the alternative for the normal temperature in the sleeper? Can the kisses be more sensuous than the stolen and shy glances between the couple? Can money buy peace, freedom and happiness?

Sunday, 22 May 2016

நீ இருந்தால்...

நீ இருந்தால்;
யாரில்லையேனும் குறையில்லை.

நீ இல்லையேல்;
யாரிருந்தும்
பயனில்லை.

Translation
When you are with me;
It doesn’t matter if there is no one around.

If not;
Presence of others would not ever matter.

PS: I have tried to make a good translation. I am sure that the essence is captured. But the beautiful wordplay is amiss I guess.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Nelivugal...


Nelivugal means “corrugated” translates google… I am not very sure if it is right…
But, Neli kolam is a kolam form where the lines are twisted and turned…
Hope you like this!

PS: Because many people asked me what a Kolam is…
Kolam refers to intricate patterns drawn both free handedly and by joining dots. These can be widely seen in the Southern part of India. Women draw this early morning, preferably before Sunrise after cleaning the courtyard. Earlier rice powder was used – it was a means to feed ants and small insects. However, these days, stone powder and even chalk is used. If such powders are used, it is called Pudi Kolam. Sometimes, brick powder will be used as outline on auspicious days, Tuesdays and Fridays. If rice powder is mixed in water and similar patterns are drawn, it is called Maavu/Maa Kolam. In West Bengal, it is called Alpona. In North India, people used rice/stone powders for the outline and fill the patterns with colors. This is called Rangoli.

It is believed that Kolam brings prosperity. It is drawn for almost all the auspicious occasions like marriages and festivals. When someone dies in the household, the family don’t draw any kolam for a year.  

Children in small towns learn the art of making kolam at a very young age. In fact, a girl who knows to draw impeccable and intricate kolam is a pride for the entire family and the village she stays. However, owing to modernization, city life and apartment culture, this art is soon dying.


Monday, 16 May 2016

Little Things From Goa!

When I was lazing on the shores of Goan beaches…
I decided to look around through my camera lenses…
Instead of my eyes!

Yay! I got the diamond!

Take my picture please...........!


I am in the top of the world!


Where is the shade for us?!



Waiting for my love!


How is my engagement ring?

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Who said?

Failure is the stepping stone to success
Who said?
When the steps are never-ending;
Its excruciating pain is interminable.
The perpetual desire to succeed-
Would wear out; motivation would die
Each step feels heavier.
Life becomes uncertain; unending
A dying urge to run away engulfs
Success is round the corner-
Says a feeble voice within.
Eyes search for it; heart waits for it.
But there are only more steps.
Finally it ends;
When life ends too!


Thursday, 12 May 2016

24 (Tamil Movie)

Cast
:
Suriya
Samantha Ruth Prabhu, Nithya Menen
Saranya Ponvannan
Director
:
Vikram Kumar
Cinematographer
:
Tirru
Kiran Deohans
Editor
:
Prawin Pudi
Music
:
A. R. Rahman
Producer
:
2D Entertainment
Release Date
:
May 06, 2016
Length
:
2 Hours & 44 Minutes
Language
:
Tamil

My Thoughts
24 is a sci-fi film in general and an emotional saga in particular. Dr. Sethuraman (Suriya), a scientist invents a time machine which looks like a wrist watch. His evil twin, Atherya (Suriya), kills him and his wife to get hold of the time machine. Before dying, Dr. Sethuraman hands over the baby to Sathyabama (Saranya) along with a sealed wooden box that contains the time machine and pleads her to take care of the baby. Sathyabhama brings up the baby Manikandan alone and he grows up to be a watch mechanic (Suriya again). Mani accidentally gets hold of the key that opens the box and finds the time machine inside. He predominantly uses it to impress and play tricks on his lady love, Sathyabhama (Samantha). However, when Athreya finds the whereabouts of the time machine and manipulates Manikandan. He tries to use Manikandan to suit his needs. Will Manikandan find the truth about his parents? Would Athreya get hold of the time machine? Does Manikandan win the heart of his girl? These are the questions that get answered during the course of the movie.

As a concept, use of time machine as the central point of story is nothing new to movies. 24 is differs because it is more emotional than scientific. It is a winner if the logical mind is left in the locker. The screenplay is very complex. It shuttles between the past, present and future. The editor has done a commendable job. The cinematographer and the art director has created a 'surreal world in Dr. Sethuraman’s house.  AR Rahman’s music is below average. The choreography of songs also doesn’t look appealing. It only adds to the length of movie which is already long.

Suriya in triple role has given his best. He has worked on the voice modulation which gives a different style to the characters. He doesn’t really shine as the villainous Athreya. But, surely makes a mark as the timid Dr. Sethuraman and carefree Manikandan. Samantha comes across in the traditional heroine avatar which includes adding the oomph factor to the story and looking pretty in songs. Saranya shines as the selfless foster mother of Manikandan. Nithya Menen as Dr. Sethuraman’s wife has very little screen space. But, her character is impactful and she connects with the audience.

24 is a well-executed project. I repeat, as audience we would appreciate it ONLY if the logical cap is left at home. However, towards the climax there are some instances (I don’t want to reveal them here and be a spoil sport) which would make us realize that some degree of logic is required in illogical circumstances also. And that’s when the movie starts disconnecting. The loose climax further worsens the experience and makes you feel confused. May be that’s how all the sci-fi would be!

In short, the movie wins in the technical aspects.
Watch it with family J

Rating
3/5

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Sparkling Kolam


A few dots…
And some lines…
Kolam sparks!


PS: Because many people asked me what a Kolam is…
Kolam refers to intricate patterns drawn both free handedly and by joining dots. These can be widely seen in the Southern part of India. Women draw this early morning, preferably before Sunrise after cleaning the courtyard. Earlier rice powder was used – it was a means to feed ants and small insects. However, these days, stone powder and even chalk is used. If such powders are used, it is called Pudi Kolam. Sometimes, brick powder will be used as outline on auspicious days, Tuesdays and Fridays. If rice powder is mixed in water and similar patterns are drawn, it is called Maavu/Maa Kolam. In West Bengal, it is called Alpona. In North India, people used rice/stone powders for the outline and fill the patterns with colors. This is called Rangoli.

It is believed that Kolam brings prosperity. It is drawn for almost all the auspicious occasions like marriages and festivals. When someone dies in the household, the family don’t draw any kolam for a year.  

Children in small towns learn the art of making kolam at a very young age. In fact, a girl who knows to draw impeccable and intricate kolam is a pride for the entire family and the village she stays. However, owing to modernization, city life and apartment culture, this art is soon dying.



Friday, 6 May 2016

MS, A Life in Music


Details of the Book
No. of Pages   : 303 Pages
ISBN               : 8172237081 (ISBN13: 9788172237080)
Language        : English


From the book blurb
For MS music was a therapy of the soul. In music, she found strength, solace and stimulation. By giving her music everything she had, she received in return a blissfulness nothing else could give her.


Author
TJS George is a writer and biographer. In 2011, he received a Padma Bhushan award for his literature and education.


What I think
MS Subbulakshmi, the owner of ethereal voice which always takes us to the space of serenity and closer to divinity, has been an enigma. MS, A Life in Music tries to throw light on this legend whose voice gradually graduated to be the voice of spirituality. As I read, I realized that the book is more about music in general than about MS in particular.

The book starts by describing how music evolved. It talks about Sabha and Kutcheri. It also throws light on how women were eventually stopped from performing arts and eventually how the arts (both dance and music) was injected by male domination. It also explains about Devadasi community, MS being one. The author describes these aspects in depth which makes us realize why MS is a phenomenon! When women belonging to Devadasi community, continued to follow its customs, her mother pushed MS and her siblings beyond its customs and traditions. Later on, MS herself resolved that she would prefer a respectable lifestyle. MS is an intriguing personality. She breathed music; her lifeline. She had a trait to hide her emotions and let it go through music.

Her marriage with Kalki Sadasivam shows that she was shrewd and that she was clear about who can get her what. Her submissiveness always complimenting Sadasivam’s dominance helped MS in making her husband’s dreams come true; which were also the inner dreams of MS. Behind the successful MS, it was her husband and his confidence in her. If MS’s music was the foundation, Sadasivam’s relentless plans and its careful execution were the pillars on which her musical empire was built.

The author also links the evolution of theatre and dance forms along with music which gives a comprehensive view of the bygone era. Finally, he ends with how music started drowning by the emergence of film music. He discusses such evolution until the times of AR Rahman.

Author’s thoughts are clear which reflects in his writing style. Sometimes, he is forced to talk about dry aspects like the history of performing arts. But he has handled that very well. Some of the pictures of MS is given, starting from her childhood days. What I missed in the book is a flavor of MS’s personal life, her thoughts, preferences and her dreams. The book is more from a distant spectator’s perspective. So I doubt if this book could be termed as a biography of MS; it is more a story about music per se.

To sum up, if you are a music lover… If MS has always been a part of your life through Suprabhatham and Vishnu Sahasranamam… If you feel disgusted that we have abandoned our values and arts while accepting the western culture… If you simply want to understand that strong determination and willpower is required to make it big, read this book… I am sure that you will hear music differently after that!

Rating
4/5

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Manithan (2016)

Cast
:
Udhayanidhi Stalin, Prakash Raj
Hansika Motwani, Vivek, Radha Ravi, Aiswarya Rajesh
Director
:
I Ahmed
Cinematographer
:
R. Madhi
Editor
:
J. V. Manikanda Balaji
Music
:
Santhosh Narayanan
Producer
:
Red Giant Movies
Release Date
:
April 29, 2016
Length
:
2 Hours & 24 Minutes
Language
:
Tamil

My Thoughts
I. Ahmed’s second directorial venture (first being Jeeva and Trisha starrer Endrendrum Punnagai) Manithan is the official remake of Subhash Kapoor’s Hindi film Jolly LLB which was inspired by real life hit-and-run case by Sanjeev Nanda’s in 1999.  The movie is all about Shakthivel, a law college graduate who is infamous for callous way of fighting petty cases in the court. He files a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against Rahul Dewan who kills some people sleeping on a platform in a drunken state. Manithan is a story where justice triumphs and reemphasizes that everyone is same in the eyes of law.

The story is very relevant considering the fact that rich get away from punishment and poor always suffer. The recent hearing of Salman Khan’s hit and run case and the remarks of his lawyer makes this story more relatable and poignant. The screenplay is power packed and hold a lot of surprises. It tries its best to be free from heroism and succeeds in showing a common man who follows his conscience would win. The editing is often crisp and makes the movie interesting in spite its length (two and half hours!). The cinematographer has infused liveliness while showing hero’s love life; a grave tone while showing the plight of the poor or dilemma of the protagonist. Santosh Narayanan’s background music is a strength to the movie and the way Aval song is shot would bring a smile in your face. The movie surely wins owing to the fact that it doesn’t break into a song when as an audience we pray that it shouldn’t (there are two such instances).

Udhayanidhi Stalin as Shakthi, the unambitious lawyer makes the character believable. He is at his ease and at its best. He comes across as a common man who has a family, loves a woman. He initially struggles to make it big only to please them (not due to noble deeds). Eventually, however, he detangles himself from the selfishness and fights for a higher cause. This transformation is not forced. Being gradual, we empathize with him. It was refreshing to see him in such a role; a welcome change from the other characters he has essayed – aimless, jobless and helplessly in love with some unusually beautiful girl whom he chases tirelessly.

Hansika Motwani as Priya looks slimmer and younger. Her costumes are wearable. She plays a matured character who is already in relationship with Shakthi. She doesn’t have a lot of screen time. Yet, her character is well-established.

Prakash Raj as Adhisheshan is money minded and cannot accept failure. He is a leading criminal lawyer with a mind of criminal. In his introduction scene where would be arguing in the court defines the character as well as caliber of Aadhisheshan; showcases why Parakash Raj is a great actor.

The movie’s strength is not only the screenplay, dialogs, music or the lead actors but also the supporting actors also. That constable who is assigned as the body guard for Shakthi… The eye-witness Kamala Kannan… Vijay Nair… The no nonsense reporter (played by Aiswarya Rajesh)… Shakthi’s uncle (played by Vivek - a talent not used at his best in the film)… Radharavi as the uncorrupt judge and so on!

In short, the movie is well-executed. It celebrates the victory of humanity and morality and would surely strike a chord with you!
Go for it with the family.

Rating
3.5/5

Monday, 2 May 2016

Dear Parent...

Y
es! I am a woman. I understand that a woman should have motherly instincts. I acknowledge that your child is your God. You devote all your time, energy and soul in them. Of course, you have given life to them, comforts, education and what not! I am also happy for you that you have a child. I am very proud of your child’s achievements (like waking up after sleep, feeling hungry when stomach is empty, feeling thirsty when the mouth is dry, sleeping when feeling tired/sleepy, etc.). But my dear parent, at the end of the day don’t expect me to feel the same as you do towards your child.

It is awesome that you identify the need to take your baby along to watch a movie (even if the baby is a few months old). You buy a ticket and try to console the wailing baby throughout the movie. Of course, the baby would be uncomfortable with the darkness and the noise. But, you pacify. In this process, do you realize that you are ruining the movie watching experience of several people? Expecting them to be caring and understanding is a little too much, don’t you think so? And, I fail to understand why the authorities who run theaters do not prohibit carrying children below the age of five (three at least) in the same way as they prohibit water, food, bags and what not! Yes, babies must be prohibited entry into theaters. It is for the comfort of baby and the parents; sanity of all others.

Next, if you have a baby you don’t have to call the poor child and force him/her to sing in front of the crowd. Or ask the child to identity a color or read out an alphabet or number. Don’t ask the poor child to dance; force them to recognize a particular friend or relative. Ask yourself, would you like to be forced to do such things? Sing, dance or whatever in front of people? Then why your child? Just because it is dependent on you? Or because you want to wear the child like a medal?

And the never ending my <insert child name> did this… did that… blah blah blah! Why do you want to bore your guests, friends and family with these stories? In your eyes it could be an achievement. But, every child does that. They like to watch cartoons, they don’t like to eat vegetables, loves chips and chocolates, likes to sleep on mother’s lap or climb on father’s head. They wake up in the middle of the night and cry and in the morning they play with their favorite toys. Yes, girls like teddies and boys like cars. They will fall and cry. They will jump and laugh. They will not let you sleep and ask you to be with them always. This is how children are. This is what every child does. So what??!

Needless to say, you are not getting enough rest. All the attention goes to your child; not you. Life has become child-centric. Your life has tremendously changes. You have gained a lot of weight due to pregnancy or lost a lot of weight running behind the naughty child. Your career is at stake. You can’t leave your child and at the same time, cannot compromise on your professional goals. The husband thinks that the wife is obsessed with the child. The wife thinks the husband is not really interested in taking care of the child. They don’t communicate their feelings and most of the times when they communicate it would be about the baby. In this process, they forget that they also exist. And the friends always get to hear only about these stories.

One day, as an onlooker, if you think you can’t take the parent’s obsession with their children anymore or the fact that the parents expect you to behave/feel the same way as they behave/feel towards their child, you explode! And that day, you will get to hear, “one day you would be a parent too. That day, you would also be like us!”

Saturday, 30 April 2016

The Jungle Book

Cast
:
Neel Sethi
Voice Cast
:
Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong'o,
Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken
Director
:
Jon Favreau
Cinematographer
:
Bill Pope
Screenplay
:
Justin Marks
Based on The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Editor
:
Mark Livolsi
Music
:
John Debney
Producer
:
Walt Disney Pictures
Fairview Entertainment
Release Date
:
April 15, 2016
Length
:
1 Hour and 25 Minutes
Language
:
English

My Thoughts
Director Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book narrates the life of Mowgli in an Indian jungle in the midst of wolves, panthers and bears. He leads a happy life as one among them until the menacing tiger, Sher Khan warns the wolves that letting a man live in jungle and nurturing him is against the laws of jungle. He threatens to hurt all the animals if Mowgli is not submitted to him as prey. The wolves under the guidance of Bagheera, the Black Panther, bids adieu to Mowgli. The movie describes the story of Mowgli during his half-hearted journey towards the man village. Does Mowgli reaches his destination – the movie answers this question through an interesting screenplay.

The screenplay is often gripping, most of the chase scenes are well-choreographed and editing is well done. The incident with Bandar-log was lagging. Bill Murray’s voice for Baloo is soothing and caring. The Baloo looks cute too – no wonder that Teddy Bears are universally loved! The sweet voice of the slithering Kaa, rendered by Scarlett Johansson is mesmerizing. The animation of the animals is commendable. They come across real and lively. The sceneries are nicely captured. The background suits the mood of the film.

However, the 3D effect is disappointing. Most of the times, it doesn’t feel like a 3D film and the huge pair of glasses remains as the only reminders of that fact. The movie is also not displayed full screen, making the view a little irritating for the audience in the corner seat. The anglicized pronunciation of the Indian names (Baloo, Bandar-log, etc.) was really irritating. The voice caste must have been trained to pronounce the Indian names in the right manner. The cinematographer should have taken care of lighting aspect. Most of the times it is too dark and doesn’t give a sense of what is being shown. Especially, the scene involving elephants and Mowgli during a night in the Jungle.

Little Neel Sethi as Mowgli looks like the Mowgli described in The Jungle Book. The voice to the animated animals are rendered by famous Hollywood stars. They instill emotions and feelings into them.

In short, the movie is less than two hours long, holds your attention and entertains you. It makes the adults nostalgic and takes them back to their childhood days. The children would surely enjoy it.

Take your friends and family along. Read The Jungle Book!

Rating
3.5/5