Monday, December 13, 2010


If you take all the ideas that one comes across in day to day life which you think are "Out-Of-The-Box" and put them all in one box, this movie would be OUT of even that box. When I first saw the movie "The Dark Knight" I couldn't make head or tail out of it. I couldn't make out what was going on. I dismissed it as "too-much-complicated". Only after watching the movie 3-4 times since comcast started screening it, did I really understand the lines on which the movie was made and appreciate the stuff that was showcased in it. "You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villian" turned out to be one of my most favourite dialogues. I slowly realised the time and effort the director should have put into scripting the screenplay of this movie.

Just when I had made up a mental note to follow this director's movies in future I saw that a friend had reviewed Inception in his facebook status. Me, senthil and smitha were already on our way the very next day to see what the buzz was all about. Little did we know that we were in for the most complicated thriller ever taken. The first fight sequence suddenly had water coming in from all sides and the next scene had the actors falling into water tubs. In a few mins Di Caprio was expecting Ellen Page to design a puzzle in 1 minute that take 2 minutes to solve. Then we are suddenly introduced to Shared Dreaming sessions!!!!!!!!!!!! There is not one moment in the movie that you can relax and sit back.

I would like to ask the director if he had a shared dreaming session with like minded people to formulate this idea. I am a fan of such films in particular which have a seperate line of thought as the root of the movie as in The Matrix. Until Inception Matrix was my most favourite movie till date in terms of concept. And as we slowly settle down to dreaming sessions the director brings in another concept of a dream within a dream.......!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There is a point in the movie where Ellen Page says "Wait a minute, Whooose sub-concsious exactly are we going into now ????? ". Believe me I was exactly asking the same question. But the good thing was I was not fed up that I didn't understand the movie. The director keeps you occupied in the movie in a way that you dont try to question the logisticsof the movie, you dont question the possibility of the concept, instead you get engrossed in your own interpretation of the story line (Rmbr the red pill - blue pill). If analyzed from a physics point of view there would be a lot of unexplainable concepts in the movie but the screenplay is as gripping and as engrossing that you don't stop to think of irregularities and impossibilities in the movie that Newton would probably not agree with, you just enjoy the movie for what it is.

Lots of people do a lot out of the box thinking but end up with some crap which others cannot agree since the story teller fails to capture the fascination from his thoughts into his narration. As a result the viewers are not able to see, feel and appreciate the fascination in the idea. That is the difference between such other movies and Inception where Nolan stands tall. He has been successful in transfering or infusing the fascination in his thoughts provided by this idea into the brains of the viewers. I have heard many people question this movie a lot but most of such criticisms have been only about ridiculing the scientific base of the movie than about the idea or the presentation. No wonder it is on No.4 in the all time IMDB list.

Great Idea, Great Screenplay, Great presentation, Hats off.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Maniratnam - Can't write him off, Can't have expectations either......

My dad took me to a house somehwere in the outskirts of Calcutta where there used to be one big hall with one TV. This house was the headquarters of some Tamil entertainment association in that city and they used to screen movies in a VCP. This was sometime in 1988 I think. We used to go there once every 2-3 months and I used to go out and play with other kids when the movies were screened. Of all such films the only one which I didn't get bored of that I sat through most of the movie was "Mouna Ragam". I didn't really appreciate the actual depth or the effort in the movie then cause I was barely 8 years old and I didn't know squat about films but still something didn't make me go out 10 mins after the start of the movie. Now in 2010 everytime when I see that movie I get more and more convinced even after seeing Alaipayuthey, that there possibly cannot be a more romantic movie than Mouna Ragam.

Dad got transfered to Chennai and my movie habit started off sometime only around 1995. That's when I used to get around with my friends and cousins to seeing movies in halls and theatres. Some of my first movies were the exact formula masala crap and the first movie which made me sit up was Anjali. This is the first movie that I remember sitting through fully in the hall. I used to believe that the film was a true story and the lil gal in the movie actually died and someone just happened to tape it at that time which was then released as a movie. Until then I didn't even know who a director was, who a producer was and how a movie was made. That's when my elder cousin sisters started educating me about films and made me see a whole lot of movies in a short period of time. Of all that crap the only movies that I remember now are Mouna Ragam, Naayagan, Roja and Bombay. Only after a few years did I realise that all these were the creations of one man called Maniratnam. Ever since I seriously started watching movies I have concsiously watched all his movies many a time.

His movies are of the sort that you like them for different reasons everytime you watch them. If Naayagan is the best adaptation of Godfather ever made (of course after the Francis Cappola original) Agni Natchatram, Idhayatthai Thirudathey and Thiruda Thiruda were masala movies that everyone talks until today. Anjali is the only movie that I remember crying in the climax, Roja and Bombay was were the movies that seriously addressed the then social issues of terrorism and communalism. But now when I watch the movie Thalapathi, I seriously cannot but wonder as to how he managed to get the super star to act like that without his usual gimmicks. I like Rajini movies only for his gimmicks which only he can entertain people with, but this movie showed him as an angry young man, the way we knew him from his yesteryear movies. Everytime I see it now I see new things (in both Naayagan and Thalapathi) which I missed to note the first few times I saw those movies. I cannot forget the way I felt like shouting out loud when I first heard Madhubala say in Roja "Avanga kadatthinadhu oru Minister oda payyana irundha neenga idhaye thaan solluveengala".

I have personally felt that his movies are not to be watched just for entertainment. I have had a lot of people review his movies as slow, dark and being boring in patches. I have only one thing to say to these people, go back to mindless remakes, only those are for you. Please leave Mani and his films alone. I don't buy the argument that ALL movies are to be watches only for relaxation and entertainment. I like movies which are realistic, intense and those which have been created with a lot of effort and attention to detail. I have always felt that the best part in his movies are the subtle things which we tend to miss, be it the art direction in recreating a middle class LIG quarters house in Alaipayuthey, or the rectangular yet spiral staircase in the flat complex in Anjali, or the way Background Music by itself is a character in Mouna Ragam as Karthik or Revathi themselves. Madhavan mentions in his interviews that other directors still approach him saying that they expect him to provide a lover boy performance like Karthik in this timeless classic.

If anyone likes cameramenship he/she cannot be any more awed than by his location selections. Everyone travels abroad for exotic locations when he fishes out such breathtaking locales in his movies that are very much within our great country. The locations that he and only he fishes out become so famous after his movies that they become tourist hubs after the movies are released. Most people didn't know that the Ooty-Mettupalayam train journey is as scenic until he unleashed it's splendour in Chayya chayya. Some people, even after the movie, refuse to believe that it is the Ooty-Mettupalayam railway line at all. Only little do they realise that the journey seems so scenic only if shown from certain angles and in some color combinations.

Apart from all this his greatest contribution to India on a whole is the man that India prides on today. He found, nurtured and provided a human jackpot called A.R.Rehman to every indian around the world. This combination has created probably some of the best music in the indian film industry in my opinion, only to be complimented by great cameramanship from the likes of Santosh sivan and PC Sreeram. Iruvar was a classic, Kannathi Muttham Ittal and Aayutha Ezhutthu are two movies that I can't decide which one I like better and if anyone asks me the first movie that instantly comes into my mind for this combination is Dil Se.

Now, having said all these good things about this man who creates such movies with just his simple approach, I also feel that currently he is running out of subjects or is in dearth of such awesome screenplays that make his movies "Mind Blowing". Guru was a very mediocre effort and Raavanan was impressive only in some departments and that too only intermittently. Is he losing his touch ? Does he not have it in him anymore to provide different yet simple(y) mind blowing movies ? Has his formula become so very beaten about that it does not make you go WOW on seeing his movies ? Has he reached the stage the once-great-legend Balachander reached about two decades ago ? Will we ever get to witness another Aayutha Ezhutthu or Mouna Raagam from this man ? I want to say yes though I don't know if it is sensible to expect it.

Friday, December 03, 2010

San Francisco

My dev manager says that I have visited more places in the US in 2 years time than he has in 11 years. Saving Orlando and Alaska I have been to most other tourist destinations in the US. But the place that has interested me most is the oldest city of the western US coastline, the place known as the Silicon valley. I have been to this city many times and I get a feeling similar to that of home here. Pity that MS doesn't have a development center here. Most of the cities in the west like LA, LV and Portland are newer cities that have been rebuilt more recently. It shows in the buildings in these cities that most of them have been planned and built in such a way that none of them have any history.

Other cities like NY and NJ have a lot of business centric life styles. One cannot find an old structure still maintained beautifully in these cities. But the city of SFO is a nice mixture of both early US styles and a modern outlook. It is one of the oldest cities of US but still happens to be one of the costliest places though it is not a business hub. I have been here so many times that I know what jokes the guides say to the tourists at Mystery Spot and at what time of the tour :) :) but I still would happily take up a job here any day.

The other thing that strikes me about this city, and makes me long to be a part of it, is the weather. Such weather would let me ride my motor bike all throughout the year as against being able to ride only for 3 months in Seattle. A place where I don't have to look up the weather everyday morn before starting the day is always better than walking around in drizzling conditions all year long. Most of the software giants like Google, Apple, Cisco, HP, Oracle, Yahoo to name of few are headquartered here.

Not that other cities are not good but I would kill to work out of this city and enjoy what it has to offer now that Senthil would also move out there eventually. Lets see what fate has in store for me :) :).

Marriage - Of course the Argument continues :) :)

When is it that one becomes ready for marriage ?? It is probably a million dollar question but I can't help wondering. I was and still am a guy who always used to ridicule marriage. I never ever got to understand the idea of taking two perfectly happy individuals and binding them forcefully with marriage and definitely changing their lives altogether. Agreed that the change may be for the better but I still cannot brush the changes that marriage brings in a person's life under the carpet. And before you start screaming "Bloody chauvinist" I am talking about both the gal and the guy involved. In fact the life of a gal changes too very much compared to that of a man after marriage. New people, new surroundings, new way of life.......

I could in fact accept marriage too but I still cannot understand the concept of getting married with time. Marriage has become like, you go to school when you are 3, you go to college when you are 17, you go to work when you are 21 and you get married when you are....... ????? What kind of a time table is this ? Not to mention all the peer pressure arising from the marriages of all other cousins and friends. Is this why and when someone gets married. Sariyana himse......

The moment one asks these questions he/she is branded as "You are not married, you won't understand". DUUUHHHH.........!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was looking through the slam book of one of my friends from her 10th standard and I couldn't help laughing out loud at the kind of expectations that kids have about marriage when in school. There was an item called "Most Memorable Moment" and someone had written "First night......". Worst part is that the same slam book gets handed over to the class teacher also to write down her contacts and everything. Don't know if she saw these petthals...... Dhanu says he even remembers his teacher asking in the whole class....."What do you guys know about First night that you have put it down as your most memorable moment....." Maaaan what a laugh she must have had........

City Life - The buzz that I long for...... at onsite

Having spent about 24 of my 29 years at the heart of Chennai I can safely say that I am a thorough city bred. I have done most of my schooling, college and my first few years at work at Chennai and I have always argued with my dad that settling down somewhere in the city outskirts is not the life that I can even think of. I somehow cannot have enough of the city buzz though I do hate traffic jams, the pollution and the water shortage ordeals the city is faced with.

When I landed at onsite everything was new to me and so I settled for a more known group of ppl whom I could talk to in case I needed anything. Arul mailed me saying the doors of their house is always open for me :) :). It was so strategically placed in Redmond that I didn't need a car to get to office. All the indian stores, restaurants and eatouts were very much in the vicinity and hence I didn't bother. It then kind of got me into a zone of comfort that I could not get out of at all. I kept telling Ullas (and he used to unfailingly remind me that no one is stopping me from moving to downtown) that I hate the calm and quiet of Redmond and so need the buzz of city life to keep me from getting depressed.

In my most recent project I met with a person who happened to be from a place that had a more faster lifestyle than chennai. Being from Mumbai he shared the same thoughts about city life. He travels almost EVERYDAY to downtown Seattle and keeps himself occupied.

The environment in which you reside during your college time, I feel, makes a lot impression on you. I know every small good eat out, every chat stall, every small mall, all different beaches in Chennai and it never bored me to go to the same places time and again. I was also fortunate to have most of my school buddies from the same area as mine and we are in constant touch till date that life has always been HAPPENING. Some activity is required in my day-to-day life to keep me occupied and to keep me interested. Not that my current life is not happening enough but the same routine of cooking, gyming, seeing movies and then going off to bed has kind of had it's effect on me that I am in dire need of some thing more than these routines. Though one would basically end up doing the same stuff everyday even if one were to stay and work in downtown it would be with a flavour of city life, with some amusement, with a lot of crowd and other aspects of city life to keep them interested.

Seriously thinking of moving to downtown at least for a few months if not more when the count becomes 2.

Yamaha - The machine drives me crazy................

I am not stunt man with my RX-135 but I am so attached to it that I affectionately call it my Mayilvahanam. I am not attached to anything as much as this. I fondly recollect how I used to ask for rides in my childhood from ppl who owned bikes. The machines fascinated me mainly because of the speed and the adrenalin that their operation used to pump into my blood. In college everyone had their own cool factor, like cell phones and desktops and organizers but I had only gadget in mind that was the coolest. A two stroke fast bike was my dream all through college and it turned into a reality after my first year at Infosys. I cherished and relished every ride I ever had on this machine until three years later when I had to travel to onsite.

At onsite it was about cars, everyone had a craze for the four wheel machines and thanks to the weather at my place, no one even thinks about motorbikes. They are not safe, they are not handy for travel, they are costly, they are useless. Man, even I bought these stupid arguments and bought a car which is, to this day, my most regrettable decision. Coincidentally, even at onsite, I ended up with an R6 from the same manufacturer with a 650CC and 108 hp and things were just bliss after that. I did 100 mph on a scenic driveway and that was my happiest day at onsite till date. But still my 135 stays my fav. It listens to whatever I say. It obeys me and NEVER fails me. It's operation has got into my subconscious self. I don't have to be extra careful with it. With my R6, I have to pay attention to it. I have to be weary and diligent. Takes part of the fun out of riding.

Somebody asked me why I like my 135 even after my R6 if it was only speed that interested me. I just said 135 is the wife, R6 is just an affair to remember.

Life is not fair

So many debates, so many philosophies, so many beliefs..... Most of them preaching a lot of stuff in their own flavours. And all of them have a lot of believers. I have always believed strongly in the fact that "As long as you don't spoil anyone else's life or wreck anyone else's family or make sure that no one is hurt by your actions, your life will still be good and everything good or bad happens for a reason." I have always felt that it is for one's own satisfaction and happiness that one does good deeds like charity, social service and other philanthropic stuff. I never seriously had any logic to believe that these good deeds will give us a good life or will make our next life better though I somehow accepted without reasoning that the moment you make another person's life miserable it will definitely come back to you. At least that is how I judge, decide and gauge what is right and what is not.

The last few conversations that I had with her were about me being a guy in the head, she said that things always have to make sense to me for me to accept them. This makes it all the more difficult for me to accept that she is not with us anymore. Why create a life, give it all the goodness of a great family, good friends, nice culture etc ? Why make her so sweet that she touched so many lives? Why make her a believer and get her to good deeds like spread the word of GOD and then take back her life in a cruel unjustifiable manner when she is barely 30? Why give her so much suffering and make all her near and dear ones suffer by looking at her misery when she won't even knowingly hurt a fly? Is it because of the bad deeds that everyone else around her committed ? Is it a punishment to all others around her to miss her so dearly? If that is it what did the new life created by her commit already even before coming out of the incubator to be deprived of it's mother's love and care?

I do not know what to tell her mother, father, husband and sister. I have no words of consolation cause there is nothing in here that they can be consoled with. This is not just some unfortunate fate, this is total injustice. If only she had to go why make her suffer in her last few days on earth? Images of her right after the first few days of radiation therapy will keep haunting me all though this life. I have only one thing to tell her countless other friends and relatives who did not get to meet her in last few days, be happy that all your memories about her are always those of her being happy.

This is not going to turn me into a non-believer. But it will definitely get me thinking again if it really makes sense to believe that your life will be good if you don't hurt others and everything does happen for a reason. Cause seeing a lot of sinners around us being happy is still no reason for us to loose hope but when one good person faces a fate that he/she should not have faced it shakes the very beliefs that your faiths are built on..................

Cannot convince myself that you are gone Arthi..... :( :(