Different Worlds – 25 years or 250 Kilometers away

I think I would trade Orthopaedic injury for any other illness ANY DAY. Why?
a. you can eat and drink anything
b. theres no nausea
c. you can eat and drink anything
d. dont have to pop a pill
e. you can eat and drink anything
Thats why!

My uninterrupted showtime is continuing for a “3rd successful week”. Last week, I watched 2 films which are not set in the World I live in.

‘Children of Men’ is in my opinion, the most important film made in 2007 (I have not seen ‘Eastern Promises’ yet and so I will reconfirm shortly!) – and I am not saying this in any temporary, post-movie hangover. It has actually been about 10 days since I saw it. Alfonso Cuaron – the guy who made the fun-but-profound ‘Y tu mama tambien‘ has written and directed the film.

It is set 25 years from now, when the human race loses its ability to reproduce (a.k.a its mojo!). That world is not ‘AI’ or ‘Minority Report’ish, but a darker one. One without hope. The first thing that hits you about the film is the art and production design that reflects this mood beautifully. The cars are ‘futurish’, but jaded; The city landscape dark – with uncleared garbage, and greying buildings – almost screaming at you with despair. It is not all about the facade. The detailing is equally stunning. In the shot below, the news papers on the wall carry fictional news of destruction of the times. Award winning stuff 😉

…and the long shots…wow!….7-8 minutes shots….not just dialogue, but action sequences. Beautifully choreographed….and no green screen! these are real time shots!!…..Now, I have never been a fan of film makers who employ visual effects simply because they can…but I dont think it is the case here……the visual language of this film is very distinct and is consistent from the start till the end credits……really, some of these shots make you pause and rewind…..not only becuase you loved it, but also because you cant believe they actually pulled it off!!

and the script….a philosopher’ delight…..the audience’s delight too! The way spirituality and politics of the land have been handled is very very interesting. Overall, the kind of film that you want to rip immediately and add to your private illegal collection…..the kind of film that will make you feel dissapointed if it din’t win the ‘picture of the year’…..and the kind of film that you want to force into the hands of the next person you see and say ‘go watch’!

…and then i watched another film from a different world…..no, not 25 years from now, but 250 KMs from chennai….’Achuvinte Amma’

How can a state that is a 2 hour bus ride from Coimbatore be so different from the rest of south India? how is it that milions of people in Kerala go to the theatre and watch ‘Achuvinte Amma’, when the movie does not have any sex; nobody is raped in the climax; no guns; no stunt sequences with earth shattering music; no dumb and deaf heroine; no lip synced songs; no close ups of navels; no songs shot in new zealand or greece; no crane or dolly shots ending in a close up of the hero mouthing a punch dialogue; not even a comedy track! what changes when you travel 250 KMS westwards from Chennai? If it is communism, then lets have a revolution ASAP….

I know I am not the first to ask these questions and I wont be the last.

‘Achuvinte Amma’ is a Sathyan Anthikad film that won a state award last year, along with Lal and Blessy’s Thanmatra. The protagonists are Urvasi and Meera Jasmine – two of the best actresses in the country, in my opinion. It is a tale of a mother and a daughter. A mother and daughter that we have all met in a bus, visited, lived next to or even have in our family! A simple yet poignant tale. I dont think they even rented a dolly for the film! But I totally loved the film.

The thing about Achu that glues you to the seat are the performances. I mean, obviously! Its Urvasi and Meera! I am a self-proclaimed Meera fanatic. There is something very peaceful about seeing her on screen….and boy, what a talent!! Loved her in Perumazhakaalam. Saw ‘Sandaikozhi’ only because she was in it….but this is probably my most fav Meera film yet (will reconfirm after seeing Rasathanthram)…why she will act in a SJ Surya film is beyond me…..;(

It is now official….

Yes. I have registered the domain www.uditnarayanshouldnotsingintamil.com

I believe this is the best $1.99 or Rs. 79 buy of my life (Thanks to yahoo for the 7 day offer). It is weird, but I am having a feeling of overwhelming pride. I think I have done my bit for Tamil, the motion picture industry and may be even for global warming, to a certain extent.

It has been coming for a long time. Over a decade, actually. However, the ‘sahana’ song did it. I could not take it any more after that.

The site is under construction. Please send me ideas. One thought I had was to train thousands of commandos / special task forces and let them torture him to death the next time they see him anywhere in Chennai. Thoughts?

Spidey 3 and Superstar

OK. Have finally seen the world’s most expensive film. First day, last show. Spidey 3 is a lot of fun. I dont care too much for the ‘Kirsten does not do justice to Stan Lee’s MJ’ or ‘Goblin is the real hero in 3’ foul crying. Honestly, I remember so little of the spidey strips I read in school that I would’nt notice it if they had made goblin a busty blonde! OK…I accept am not a confirmed spidey fan…back then and even now, my allegience was / is always with a certain bat in a cape.

(spoiler alert!)
Back to Sam Raimi. Surprisingly, the thing that sticks out like a sore thumb in the film is the special effects….Now, I am pretty sure this had nothing to do with my lack of sleep the previous night. The special effects just feel like….well….’special effects’! Especially the scene where the crane rips the building apart…..i could have sworn that crane looked like 3D art…. is it just me?
or may be its because I assumed you could do a lot with $258 Million (Now, that is more than 10 times the budget of Bhansali’s Devdas – arguably the most expensive Indian film ever made. It is also 80,000 times the budget of ‘haze’!).

And yes….most of the reviewers are right…..Tobey cries way too much and removes his mask way too many times…..but Kirsten Dunst is exceedingly adorable. especially in her ‘waitress in a Jazz bar’ attire…I know not too many people agree with me, but I think she is a real beauty….kinda a ‘hot gurl next door’ (in spite of ‘Marie Antoinette’).

Now to the best part….the story line…..our hero is a super hero….he fights for justice….he has a lady love and a best friend….the friends have a misunderstanding….best friend thinks that the hero killed his father….a rift….but by the end of the film, best friend realizes his mistake and they both together fight the bad boys and save the girlfriend……sounds familiar?…remember Annamalai?? James Franco reprises Radha Ravi!!!!

OK that was a stretch….but it really got me thinking….when the protagonist is a super hero, I guess your options as a writer are very limited…..you pretty much ‘hang’ interesting emotions around the central character and spin the story….a.k.a masala….so I guess there is in fact a ‘universal’ method to the madness…be it spidey or Sivaji-The Boss!!

PS: by the way….on another note, I think I am going to offer an online jackpot to anybody who can translate Sivaji songs to Tamil….

of Royalty and Railroad employees…

Trivia time…points from the prev quiz will accrue…

1. This is quite literally a once-in-a-lifetime-event. Its name translates to “Collective Visit” and involves the congregation of Indian Royal families at a temple. After 41 years, it last occured the past weekend(!!) and it had 23 royal families in attendance (I did not even know so many existed anymore). Name event….half the points for naming the city

2. This is about a person with whom I have a love / hate relationship. Mostly hate. Connect, “Atmiyo Swajan” (Bengali film – 1999), Desh (2002) and Rediff.com. He is also related to Omkara in an unimportant way. Who?

3. Etymology…now, there are a lot of theories on this one….but this one seems to be more credible than the others….This 19th Century railroad superintendent introduced what was then an innovative system of merits and demerits for railroad employees of New York state. Accounts of his system were published in railroad journals, and american railroad employees soon began referring colloquially to “………”, and at some point, the term entered the general vocabulary. Fill the blanks!

my hugs and undying love for early birds!

Giving in to the temptation….

OK….it has been in my mind for long….and I guess it was eventually bound to happen….especially with an elite crowd like this….Lets Quiz! wow….it has been 10,000 years since I did that!

anyway…cutting to the chase….the funda is that we would resist googling until we cannot take it anymore….I will keep the scoreboard ticking….and the eventual winner will get the most coveted prizes of all….applause and my unending love!

opening bells…

1. Connect: ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ and ‘Monsoon Wedding’

2. Her maiden name is Watson. This comic character first appeared in vol#15 of the series, but was virtually an ‘unseen’ character until volume #42. In all her other appearances inbetween, the artist made sure that her face was always obscured.

3. Connect: Branson of Virgin Atlantic, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, John Carmack – the creator of Quake and Doom, Jim Benson – founder of the first ever search engine Compusearch, Paypal founder Elon Musk and Robert Bigelow – founder of ‘Budget Suites of America’.

Spilling the beans…

Alright folks…about time I introduced the flavors to each other!

Since this is a bunch of my most favorite people, the only way I can order the introduction is in alphabetical progression…..and in this post, I am goin to write about only those who have accepted the invitation…theres a bunch of fellow lazy beans who have not yet taken the trouble of registering. Will save them for another morning’s brew.

Constant Displacement

Deepti Pookat. I think the nick kinda sums up Deepti….I first met her as a nerdy cryptographic engineer from MIT (M for Madras), when I was working in Odyssey….the kind that I immediately associated with the ‘first rankish’, ‘always smarterish’, snob girls who gave me a troubled childhood in school. But I was way wrong. This gal did have ciphers for breakfast and semiconductors for lunch, but was still loads of fun and could take half of a litre of vodka for dinner. A confirmed travel addict and the most eligible spinster in bangalore. Packs her backpack every other friday. Deepti, i think it is about time you traded in your Zen for a Scorpio or a life-time Indian railway pass!

Kiru

Kiran Unni. We had the weirdest of introductions. Met as colleagues in Frost. She was in San Antonio when I joined in Chennai, but we heard so much about each other that by the end of my first 2 months there, we had already become bum pals even before meeting each other. A fellow quizzing addict and the only person I know who has dedicated 30 percent of her lifetime to furniture shopping. A Jazz freak and one of the 2 people I know who has finished reading 80 percent of all books that were ever printed on the planet. She is also the only woman that I have known in flesh and blood, who has taken the stage as a finalist in a ‘Landmark Quiz’ (Swami & friends, 2002).

Not All there

Aaarathi Edward (or whatever it became after she got married). Met as a best friend’s sister and ended up being fellow tribe. It is kinda difficult to slot Aarathi into any one definition as I have known her do 20 billion things…..but all with the same phenominal energy level. Traveller, Photographer, film maker, PR specialist, Event manager, back stager and also a fantastic quizzer (though she doesnt actively quiz). I am sure I have missed atleast 5 more. The kind of person I wouldnt be surprised if I saw inside a space ship 10 years from now.

Raja

Rajaram Sankaran. ‘Knowledge Worker’. My first ‘golt’ best friend. It is difficult to separate the quizzer from the person. Another ‘finalist friend’ from ‘Swami and friends’.
A walking talking pharma specialist. The most head-hunted homosapien south of the himalayas. Gets an offer from a company every friday. Can talk shankarabharanam and string theory in alternate breaths. Raja loves his kingfisher as much as I love my RC. May be a dash more. Will take anything said against barley as a personal insult. The best part about Raja is that he has everything figured out in life. I make very few big decisions without his advice. His Highness’s Voice…..On your screen now.

Tinker Bell

Archana Edward Madhavan. Honestly, I think she needs the least introduction to the group. If you dont already know her personally, then you would have heard tonnes about her from me.
She is old now, but in her prime was a legendary head turner and super awesome fun to be around. Infectiously smart and funny, but always a bit spaced out. My main inspiration to read more, she is the other member of the 80 % club. (Inspite of having a bulb nose), Arch has an eye and ear for all things good in life – Tull to Tirumurti. ‘We believe in fairies’ (claps).

VK

Vinu Kurian. The only non-blogging material in the group. I included him simply because there are a very few things I have done sans him. Partner in crime – Literally and figuratively. Machan, I dont think you would have forgotten the Higgin Bothams incident. An absolute cool dude. For many years, we made life’s most crucial decisions together, over omlette and Royal Challenge on his terrace. The only vertebrate I know, who could throw away a Manager’s position in Standard Chartered to start a surgical gloves manufacturing facility in Kottayam and actually make money.

OK….I think I have done justice to the Corona Lager I had with dinner….and hence solved the mystery of the nom de plums. Welcome to our blog….and Please….write anything, everything – but only when you feel like it! 😉

Chick Flicks et al

Been the most relaxing weekend in a long time. Spent most of it at home….surprisingly, havent done that in a long time bcause of the moving and then friends and family coming over, etc. Saw Guru finally and also managed to catch 2 other films on TV – both of which I have seen atleast 5 times. ‘Titanic’ and ‘Goodwill Hunting’. While the latter has been a personal favorite for a long time just for the way it has been written (matt damon/ ben affleck co-wrote it), I got the feeling that Titanic has been a critically under-rated film unfortunately.

Many of my friends slot it into the infamous ‘chick flick’ pigeon hole. I guess that is justified as a genre for this film. However, as I saw it today for the millionth time, I could see once again how smartly written that film is. Agreed, Di caprio mouths some very trite cliches, which sometimes border on the mundane…..but that doesnt really break the spell all that much….I think cameron has done a fantastic job of crafting this film with the greatest common denominator, so a majority of homosapiens can relate to it.

Guru was as expected, very good. I think it is the closest Mani has come to ‘engrossing’ cinema that is both believable and entertaining at the same time. Am thinking…if it takes someone like Mani roughly 2 decades to hone his skills to this level….what about shaky-kneed part-timers like me? Time is running out, I guess….I might see it again just for Mithun!

By the way….bought a new couch through craigslist. This website continues to freak me out. I wonder how popular it is back home. I see a packed page when I go to chennai.craigslist.com. have attached the couch image. I think it might have broken the record for the largest piece of furniture I have bought in my lifetime. All of 8 feet long and 3 feet tall

After years of hating it…

Blogs. Joblessness. Pointlessness.

I hope I got those spellings right. Anyway, thats what I thought all along and to be honest with you, I still suspect it is true. However, that notwithstanding….I am trying this out. All of a sudden, it seems to have ‘fun’ potential. I just turned 29. Considering the life expectancy for the average Indian male is 60 something….this could be a mid-life crisis.

Anyway….trying as I am, I dont want this to be a monologue. I think it will be fun to keep this as a common scrap book…..like a rental car….a ‘1 by 2’ tea….a shared apartment….the local pub….a laundromat…. carpool….a public toilet….ok that doesnt sound good….lets stick to rental car. So please post anything and everything on it. I am also going to invite multiple groups of friends….so hopefully, it’ll be a peacefully co-existing and interesting motley crue. In the next few days, I am going to check if this will be possible…..as in, if all of us can post and comment at the same blog, at the same time. Please bear with me during this and keep giving me your feedback….

If this doesnt work……well, theres always ‘e-mail’. 😉

Cheers,
K