Under the sun

Friday, October 28, 2005

As Gloomy As It Gets

I was beginning to like the rains. Infact, i took a proud bow before Chennai accepting gleefully the fact that it was I who brought the rains. Now, as much as i like rain, it seems things went a bit too far, i'm afraid. The Big Gloom has set in and it reflects in my life and work as well. Its just like a symbolic "metaphor" shot in a Satyajit Ray movie. I'm dead sure i can't meet my deadline, which was set in the first place by a couple of moronic managers [moron, manager -> synonyms?]. I'll have to dig deep into the mine called resolve and maybe find something to get excited or cheerful about. Or maybe i'll just look at other [read better] blogs and have some beer......

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Sachin Ala Re!

The Doubting Thomases can now eat a large helping of humble pie. SRT has roared back to form with his quick-fire 93, adorned with some vintage shots as has always been his wont. Unfortunately i missed his innings by the time i got up today but managed to see bits of his vintage cover-drives and the long-missing flicked one-bouce fours. The tennis elbow has healed. Beware Federer!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Bloggers Meet

Prabhu [Ferrari] and Chandrachoodan have come up with the idea of having a bloggers meet in Chennai this Sunday [October 30th]. The agenda will include burstin' crackers, blogging and the IIPM issue, which, IMHO has already been done to death.
Anaivarum Ani Thirunadu Vareer!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Jinxed and Axed

Very.Very.Sad Laxman has been dropped again. I'm beginning to feel a bit sorry for him. I don't have his recent scores in ODIs at hand but going by this article in The Hindu, i feel he's been getting a raw deal from our selectors. Maybe the upcoming tournament will prove the selectors right, who knows.....
The good news is that Dravid has been made captain (albeit only because of Dada's injury) and hope he gets a long enough stint before he is judged. Greg Chappel is said to have remarked "All are equal but some are more equal than others" when asked about Sachin being brought into the team after his injury. Hope Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar roars back to form and justifies Chappel's statement.

Monday, October 17, 2005


The concert was going on and the singers where singing, the musicians were playing and the audience was listening. A sudden commotion and a sudden roar from a section of the audience in the galleries towards my left. I stood up and what i saw next left me in an inexplicable state. I saw my guru and Aandavan for the first time in my life. If he is 50+ years old, you won't believe it when you see him. The enclosure where i was sitting was full of the Lords-pavilion types. VIPs and VVIPs, you know. You had to bribe them to clap generously (there were exceptions).
They reacted with shock and disbelief when a man stood up, arms raised, and hollered like his life depended on it "Alwarpettai Aandava!" as soon as Kamal Haasan entered. [That man was me]
From the 5 snaps i took of thalaivar, the one posted above was the least blurred [for obvious reasons :) ]
Too bad i was a few rows behind him. Anyway, there's always Novemner 7th.
When he got on stage, i'd whistled like crazy and shouted "Paattu Paadu Paramakudi PopeAndava!". Unfortunately, it didn't happenen and in fact it was IR who sang an impromptu one about thalaivar "Kudikare! Paramakudikare! KudikkAre!".

Moral of the story:
When Paramakudi Parandhaman meets Pannayapurathu Pavalar, sparks fly!

Andrum, Indrum, Endrum

Netru ille naalai ille
Yeppavum naan Raaja!

As quoted by SPB in the concert:
We recorded the song "Sundari kannaal oru sedhi" from Thalabadhi in Mumbai with R.D Burman's musicians. After performing the sections following the notes written by Raaja, the players put down their instruments and gave Raaja a standing ovation

Yesterday was no different, when this song was played. If there was any doubt as to which is THE REAL concert, it was put to rest yesterday.

[The snaps are here]

Reached the stadium around 5PM and since the first rows were reserved for celebrities, took the seats a few rows back. For 2,500 bucks, they could've left some more space between the rows of chairs. The stadium was almost full by 6 0 clock. They had two fairly big screens and a small one in the center on which Jaya TV's coverage was being projected.
The sets were done quite well but from where i was sitting, i couldn't see the tabla players.
The orchestral arrangement was elaborate and you could see everyone from the IR staple - Sundararajan, Purushothaman who was the conductor, Napoleon and others - it was clear that they were striving for Studio-level quality in the music. Listen to any song of His and you will know what it takes to reproduce the arrangement, timing and sound in a live concert. I was particularly looking forward to two elements in the arrangement. The violin-cello piece and the bass guitar, which are trademark Raaja domain stuff. Later, i would find to my disappointment that the sound systems and sound engineers in our concerts leave a lot to be desired. Like any other concert, it started late, with a movie-like "title", with recorded music, titles on the screens crediting all the singers, musicians and the people behind the scenes and on stage, there were a group of kids dancing. Ilaiyaraaja emerged amidst thunderous applause and fireworks, flanked by two kids on either side.
First stop was "Janani Janani", with Yuvan and Karthik Raja joining IR. IRs voice was shaky to begin with but after the initial few lines, he was at his soulful best. Many people think IR shouldn't sing at all and that he doesn't have a good voice. I completely disagree and maintain that when you listen to Raaja singing a particular song, you feel his soul in it.

The orchestration was for the most part mind-blowing. As far as possible, they stuck to the original songs, note for note. Watching the violin and cello players and IR/Puru condutcting them was awesome. IR made a special request to the audience to listen carefully for nuances (especially in the strings sections) which we might have missed while listening to the original versions. In fact, this concert was more for the connoiseur and for the one with a deep love for music than for the chair-crashing "have-a-blast"er. We would have all heard that IR is very strict when it comes to recordings, that he is a perfectionist, and the singers are either afraid or is in awe of the man while singing. Yesterday, you could see it for yourself. Often, it was like watching him (and the singers and orchestra) at work in the studio. Which other MD would stop the orchestra IN A CONCERT and tell them to start all over again because he felt they weren't getting their C-sharp right, in the middle of the absolutely brilliant string-section opening in the song "Sendhura poove " (16 Vayadhinile). He would do that a couple of times more in the songs to come. Some people may term it otherwise but for me, that was an experience.
Parthiban and Mahathi were the MCs and they did not disappoint. The crowd went into raptures when IR launched into his aalaap in "Naan Thedum sevvanthi poo idhu". The crowd demanded and got an encore for this, in which IR improvised with his own lyrics because the female singer for that song Manjari had gone backstage not knowing about the "once more"!
"Sundari kannaal oru sedhi" reached orgasmic heights in its orchestration and majesty and unfortunately, there was no encore for this. As it started getting late, some people left before the concert was over. They missed out some really good stuff happening in the last leg of the concert. Sivamani was getting into form and Chitra was GOD-level in "Ninnukkori varnam".
Accepting the incessant pleas of a section of the crowd, IR sang the "Masatra Sodhi" piece from "Polla Vinayen" in thiruvasagam. Mind you, there was no orchestral backing - just his voice and a lone percussion. The impact was the same!
As expected, 3-in-1 was played [a composition with only 3 swaras "sa","ri" and "ga"]. IR added more sophistication this time compared to the Italian concert version. Shreya and the chorus were amazing in their exchanges. Raaja means harmony, raaja means counterpoint, raaja means melody.
Mood Kaapi preceded 3-in-1 and this too was rendered slightly different from the Italian concert version. By the way, IR rates "Olangal" [Malayalam] as Balu Mahendra's best film.
The grande finale was "Veettukku veettukku" from Kihakku Vaasal, which was Raaja's take on Mozart's Symphony #25. All the singers were on stage for this when Sivamani took over and went beserk. I had been clapping and whistling right through the show but Sivamani's performance injected a fresh dose of whistling energy. Thus ended the musical Sunday night. And already i was feeling bad that the night was over, reconciling reluctantly to the fact that life and all its banalities would go on. Outside the stage, just when i was about to "shoot" Sivamani for my first close-up shot for the day in my friend's modest 2.0 megapixel Nikkon, the batteries died!

Needless to say, it was a great musical evening. It would have been greater, had the sound quality been better. To be precise, Sivamani and the violinists could hardly be heard many times during the concert and IR had to constantly signal to the people concerned to increase the volume for the violinists.
I was disappointed with the set list for the evening. IR is great because of his coverage of the entire spectrum in film (and non-film) music. Sadly, IMO, the concert did not cover the whole wide spectrum. "Enna Solli", "Khajuraho", for example had no place in this concert.
Why were the following not played?
"Ilaiya Nila"
"Ilamai Idho idho"
Mike Mohan 's golden hits...
(to name a very few)

All in all, cribs apart, this was a never-forget-night. People who were not lucky enough to be there for the show can wash their sins by watching the program on Jaya TV, whenever it is.
Ilaiyaraaja, naan un isaikku adimai!

UPDATE: Shreya Ghoshal was in stunning form on Sunday night. She was unbelievable when she sang "Kaatril endhan geetham" and she mispronounced "Theduthey" as "ThOduthey" and when IR later corrected her in the middle of the song, there was a rousing response from the crowd. And how could i forget to mention "Pothi vecha malliga mottu" [vintage SPB], "Padariyen" and "Mari mari" [Gaana kuyil Chitra] and the masterpiece "Thendral vandhu theendum podhu" - Avatharam, where Ilaiyaraaja was absolutely enjoying himself and lots more....

Thursday, October 13, 2005


Got transferred back home to Singara Chennai a few months back after shifting my ass to work in other places for a little over the last five years. And what have i brought with me? Chennai should be grateful to me for bringing the North-East monsoon back where it belongs. Applause, please, while i bask in the rain and glory!
wogey, wogey, remba over i know.... all this rain, great weather

and Red Hot Chili Pepers just made me cranky :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Fake accents and bug-fixing

What can be worse than UAT/bug-fixing? Fake accents, especially when you involuntarily overhear conference calls with people speaking withfake accents, and worse still, just when you are fixing those damned bugs. I let the moronic and sonorous sound of the whacko near my desk who's put-on accent is as inspiring as a Kanchi Acharya speech, get on my nerves. As a result i'm hungry, angry and virtually unproductive and left with a totally fucked up mood.
I just want to go home and "let law take its own course" as our charge-sheeted politicians always say........

Monday, October 10, 2005

Ticket Vangiyaachu

Got myself a ticket for THE CONCERT on October 16th.
At Rs.2,500 it IS expensive but since i wanted to see Ilayaan and his band up close and also, since we don't take anything with us when our time is up, and since mine is a mannu thingappora udambu, what the heck! Aaj maut, kal dood (innikki setha nalaikki paalu)
Bala counting starts.........

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii

The Woodstock was the concert which symbolizes the spirit of rebellion, free love and peace of the swinging sixties. It was also the epitome of a concert which dwarfed stadium-hall concerts by the weight of its sheer crowd, believed to be over 500,000.
Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii, was if anything, anti-Woodstock. There was no audience. None whatsoever. It was a breathtaking marriage of music and the settings and backdrop of the ancient volcanic site Pompeii. A melange of art and creative genius.

A few years back, when i was in college, Channel V did a program featuring this concert. I hadn't recorded the programme and i was lucky to get the DVD in my library. I could still feel the mesmerizing effect the concert had on me after i watched the DVD last night. The 360 degree Roman amphitheatre with not a soul watching, the pleasant reverberation and resonance of the sound bouncing off the circular structures, the band totally involved in their no-frills-no-gimmicks music was a treat to watch.
A must watch for not only Pink Floyd fans but for anyone who loves good music.


1. Tending to or expressing an awareness of things as they really are:
2. Of or relating to the representation of objects, actions, or social conditions as they actually are:

1. So slight as to be difficult to detect or describe; elusive:
2. Difficult to understand; abstruse:
2. Able to make fine distinctions:
1. Characterized by skill or ingenuity; clever.
2. Crafty or sly; devious.
3. Operating in a hidden, usually injurious way; insidious:

These two words are strangers in the Tamil film industry and even if they are not, they are just like guest lecturers gracing some rare occassions with their presence.
The marked lack of subtlety in narration and acting was evident in MurugaDOSs's Ramana, inspite of Captain's fiery and adrenalizing rhetoric and Ilaiyaraaja's brilliant background score.

Realism and subtlety do not find a place in Ghajini. [The film was supposed to be originally titled "Mirattal". I guess "Sodhappal" would have been more apt].
If not for thanmaanachingam Saravanan a.k.a Surya and the beautiful Asin (living proof of the claim that women are nature's greatest works of art), Ghajini would have been unwatchable. As is my wont, i'll pull out the culprits first.

Harris Jayaraj: What the hell was he doing, sitting in the re-recording sessions? Apart from the two songs "Oru maalai" and "Suttum vizhi" and some BGM pieces in romance situations, the rest was nothing but noise. Something must be wrong somewhere. Is he the same guy who scored the BGM for Minnale and Kaaka Kaaka?
He has used the music which comes in the opening frame of Kaadhal in Thotti Jaya and in this movie also. If that were not enough, he has used a piece recurring in the second half of Kaadhal in this movie as well. HJ, you would embarass Deva.
Mere hollering of "BOZO! MAZO..... sheeyaa ooyyyaaaaaaa maayyaaaa...!!!" doeth not maketh a background score.

Nayan Thara: She is annoying. I can't stand her. End of the story.

The Villain(s): Remember the baddie in Thotti Jaya? Some Rawat guy? There are two Rawats here. Sorry, the award for "worst villain" stays with TJ. Thankfully, "Thalaivasal" Vijay has dubbed for one of the Rawats in this movie.

MurugaDOSs: Nobody expected him to be faithful to the original Memento script [Everyone must be knowing that Ghajini is based on Chris Nolan's Memento]. You cannot remake a movie with that type of narration without customizing it. What one didn't expect was the tangential deviation the director has taken in customizing it. He could have done without the now-essential-service of big fat dumb sidekicks serving an even dumber main villain. You can have murder without 8 fat men, and a villain mouthing "Aaaeeey! avana pudichu kollungada" in Hindi.
When i was a kid, i and my cousins used to "direct" movies with all the essential ingredients that we thought (at that age of 5 or 6) a movie required. Fight, love(yes!), songs, amma sentiment, police etc. I can take all the flicks we "directed" and still can't come up with a dumber depiction of a business tycoon than what we see in Ghajini. Surya is always surrounded by 5-6 men, a couple of them whites, even when he goes to the loo. If only the director had taken even half the care in these matters as the costume designer had in the selection of Surya's costumes, it would have been much better.

Ghajini is about a man suffering from short-term memory loss, avenging his girlfriend's murder.
He makes notes of his day-to-day tasks and photographs everything from the persons he meets, the ones he kills and the street and the apartment where he lives. He is captured by a cop played by Riyaaz Khan, who is busy flexing his muscles and running a la Carl Lewis, rather than acting. As Riyaaz reads Surya's dairy, the flashback unfolds.
Surya, the tycoon scores over Surya, the patient, who tends to overdo it a little bit. The former is breezy and suave, aptly fitting the role. The tonsured Surya (after the incident) does well too, but his wide-bow-legged walk could have been done without.
Asin is a harmless and adorable ad-model who cons her colleagues into believing that the telecom bigwig Sanjay Ramaswami (Surya) is in love with her. They meet each other but she doesn't know that he is Sanjay Ramaswami. For me, watching Asin on screen made me oblivious to the disappointment i felt on seeing how this movie had come out. Thamizh heroines like Trisha should take the cue from this Malayalee beauty to dub in their own voices. Asin's dubbing is flawless for the most part, except for pronouncing "rendu" with a Mallu accent, but that's just like asking for too much. Love blossoms and the two songs "Oru maalai" and "Suttum vizhi" are well picturized.
Still not revealing his true identity to Asin, Surya leaves to London at the same time Asin leaves for Mumbai on an assignment. She saves a group of little girls who have been lured by (guess!) the villain's men into flesh trade in Mumbai. And as expected, Asin is murdered and Surya is injured. The rest will obviously fall into place.
Nayan Tara comes as a medical college student who is more than interested in studying the "Sanjay Ramaswami" case. She screws it all up for Surya, only to help him out ultimately in the end. Even after all the running she does in the movie (in fact 90% running, 9% gyrating, 1% acting), she has managed to look her own fat self. Our directors can insert glamour anywhere they want. Take for example, the scene where she is chased by a group of bad elements. The director says "Let there be rain" and even as she gets drenched he hollers to his cameraman "Zoom in on the right parts!"

The biggest disappointment of the movie is the fact that the director has either completely missed the point of the original, or he assumes that the intelligence of the Tamil audience is only marginally superior to that of an ant. Instead of making the audience see from the mind of the protagonist, thereby keeping the suspense alive, he totally removes the suspense and the "guess" factor and instead concentrates wholly on action, propped by (not again!) Matrix-like fight sequences. People may say that compared to the other movies lately, this one is far superior or whatever. Or that it is entertainment with all the necessary ingredients. My grouse is that he could have done that with any actor. Why waste Surya in this?
The movie's taken a grand opening and for Surya's sake, i hope the movie sustains the momentum.

P.S: [The biggest joke of the movie]
A senior police officer, examining Surya's tattoed body and noticing a number like 95550 65656, remarks with Sherlock Holmes-like ingenuity "There are ten digits in this number. Surely, this must be a mobile phone!". Needless to say, the whole of Satyam theatre was in splits. By the way, for 90 bucks, the seats in Satyam suck big time!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Noam Chomsky Leads

Noam Chomsky heads in the top-intellectuals poll conducted by Prospect magazine. Go vote here.
I voted for Chomsky, Paul Krugman and Amartya Sen (5 votes allowed max) and entered Arundhati Roy's name in the "bonus ball" option. Its an irony of the times that the likes of Chomsky are pitted with scum-bags like Paul Wolfowitz.

Also, The BBC has been asking visitors to pick a team to run the world among a list of one hundred political leaders, economists and thinkers. Without any sort of mainstream media coverage (or assistance from chomsky.info!), Noam managed to get to the 4th place, just below Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton(???) and the Dalai Lama. By comparison, George W. Bush ranked #43, below Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, who ranked #33 and #36 respectively. As the article announcing the results acknowledged, "[p]erhaps the biggest surprise was the success of the American linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky, who came fourth."