Jul 28, 2003
Unfortunately, I haven't seen Kannathil Mutthamittal, but everyone who has seen this Mani Ratnam film tells me it is a classic Mani-saar creation. I have seen a few clippings, and can't wait for someone to get me a copy of the film to watch (hopefully, this will happen soon). I was also told that it is has probably the most realistic depiction of war in an Indian film (evoking analogies again with Spielberg and Saving Private Ryan in an Indian context), and Keerthana (who is the central character and is the daughter of Parthipan and Seetha, a couple who've worked in Tamil films too) has put in a standout performance as the child in search of her past. I was wondering who would win Best Child Actor this time: thankfully they gave it to both the top contenders Swetha Prasad (Makdee) and Keerthana.
KM also picked up Best Sound, Best Tamil Film, Best Lyricist and Best Music Director. I saw some conflicting reports as to whether it won Best Editing and if the Special Jury Award that Prakash Raj won was indeed for this film. If the latter is true, Prakash Raj's second National Award would again be from a Mani Ratnam film (Iruvar last time). The clutch of awards should hopefully perk up the recovering Mani Ratnam (he was admitted with chest pains after the Vivek Oberoi accident in Kolkata and his brother G.V recently committed suicide). The media didn't really follow his condition, in the blaze of the Vivek Oberoi story, which is a little bit of a shame, for he is one of India's best directors.
The combination of Vairamuthu and A.R.Rahman has been a very successful one in the past, and I don't know if this is the first time they've won the awards for Lyrics and Music in the same year. It comes at a time when there are rumours that they're no longer working with each other, the reasons not entirely known. KM was not really a commercial runaway success, but it did go down well with the critics. The songs were not meant to be crowd-pleasers, so it is a little pleasing to know that the film won these awards. I just missed the announcement in the live telecast, but did hear Prakash Jha (Chairman of the Jury) read out the citation that the songs rose "above the conventions of film songs to reach the realms of poetry". Vairamuthu's lyrics, especially those for Vidai Kodu Engal Naade (evoking the pain of the refugee, and voiced by Tamil Film Music legend M.S.Vishwanathan), were quite impressive.
Having missed the actual announcement as to which film Rahman had won, I was a little surprised to hear most channels (Hindi ones at least) claim it was for Saathiya. Of the three possibilities (KM, The Legend of Bhagat Singh) and Saathiya), that seemed the least likely. Thankfully, it was widely misreported and KM was the film. The KM songs ranging from the playful Signore, the more conversational and offbeat Sundari, the simple ode to peace to the accompaniment of a guitar Vellai Pookal, the two versions of the title song and the lament of the exile Vidai Kodu make up for a deserving collection. For those who might not entirely agree with the choice, I will agree that this album was not a choice that stood head-and-shoulders over the others, but it definitely was not undeserving of such an honour. Rahman's fourth award (previously Roja, Minsaara Kanavu, Lagaan) can be considered just reward for being overlooked for Dil Se, Alaipayuthey or Kandukondain Kandukondain.
A surprise was Udit Narayan winning for a not so well-known song from Zindagi Khuubsurat Hai, but Shreya Ghoshal (Devdas) and Saroj Khan (Devdas) were no surprises at all. I was not expecting Ajay Devgan for The Legend of Bhagat Singh, but as I have had noted before in these columns, his performance was very strong, consistent and competent. But I was a little surprised to find no other efforts surpassed his. Yet, there can be no doubting Devgan's claim to the award, and is another indication of the great leaps he has made in the last few years. I would normally disregard any Devgan films in the past, but I pay good attention to all his upcoming releases (however bad they may seem!). I haven't seen Devdas, and I'm not sure I will, or that I will complete the film if I start watching it. But going by the reports of some of my friends (Nikhil, Akshay) who did, it did provide "wholesome entertainment", but not all of it was intentional. Also, the wrongs of Oscar nomination have been righted to some extent, with the aggrieved Kannathil Mutthamittal nabbing a few while Devdas picked up the awards for opulence.
Chandrashekhar (who has put in a few good performances in the past in Tamil cinema) won his maiden award (Best Supporting Actor), Rakhi got the female equivalent, not too many Marathi names (despite one news channel's announcement of Atul Kulkarni having won Best Supporting Actor, something he did a few years ago - stale database?), the other heavyweight Malayalam cinema sadly didn't feature much in the big awards.
The media coverage was a little weird, news channels covered the announcement live, but most annoyingly, broke off in the middle for various things, and did not have the sense to fill in what happened when they weren't beaming live. News channels here have a long way to go in live telecasts. Also, most news bulletins had only the prominent winners and there was no coverage of the other winners. Newspapers weren't too great either, devoting very few column inches again to note the main winners. The website of the National Film Festivals of India had no list of winners too. I still haven't found the complete list of winners.
Jul 26, 2003
Led by N.S.Ramnath's blog (btw, one of my frequent reads, features nicely written posts on life in Madras, journalism among other things) to the INSULTINGLY STUPID MOVIE PHYSICS page that in its own words : ... Strikes a Blow for Decency in Movie Physics!
It discusses common physical phenomena as observed through a camera lens and rates movies using grades that range from GP = Good physics in general to PGP-13 = Children under 13 might be tricked into thinking the physics were pretty good; parental guidance is suggested and even XP = Obviously physics from an unknown universe .
The Matrix scored a RP i.e. Retch! rating (it was a simulation, dear reviewers :-) !), Road to Perdition got itself a GP and Armageddon, not surprisingly, enjoyed more pillorying with its XP (extreme prejudice ?) grade.
These physicists are probably playing killjoys, though. Someone ought to show them a few Rajni and Mithun blockbusters. That'll sweep them off their feet, even though that may not be possible physically.
Jul 25, 2003
We are seeing the tip of the iceberg right now, because robotic replacement of human workers in every employment sector is about to accelerate rapidly. Combine that with a powerful trend pushing high-paying IT jobs to India. Combine it with the rapid loss of call-center jobs to India. When the first wave of robots and offshore production cut in to the factory workforce in the 20th century, the slack was picked up by service sector jobs. Now we are about to see the combined loss of massive numbers of service-sector jobs, most of the remaining jobs in factories, and many white collar jobs, all at the same time.
Jul 23, 2003
Jul 22, 2003
I didn't think it would quite happen to me, but like they say in the books, there she was, walking on the cobbled stones, down the street and into my heart. (If you think this is one of those cheap ha'penny stories that end with the object of my intense passion turning out to be some inanimate object, be assured, this is no ephemeral tale, but my own personal masterpiece that I chose to paint for eternity's wonderment.)
But hark! As I stood there lost in the mists of the searing passion that rose from the deepest recesses of my being, she stepped lightly past me. I could not thank the streets for being narrow enough; she brushed close past me, the fluttering of her skirt of red mimicking the flurry of intertwined emotions in my throbbing mind. Ah! the cruel hand of fate: after she was past me, she slipped and clutched wildly at a passer-by who helped her regain her balance. That could have so easily been me, I could not help bemoaning the loss of a divine chance to feel the touch of that flower who had set me wild on the path of intoxication.
For she was glorious in her womanhood, her red cheeks glowing in the wintry air, a petal seeking my hungry sight, lips luscious and redoubtable, daring and beckoning. She flitted about, seemingly no care in mind, but I knew what her destination would be. Or must be. It must lead to me, and to me alone.
Rarely does one know. I knew, I knew. From the depths of my heart I knew she was the one who would complete my life's mission. There had been a few before her, but I could never feel the same way about them as I felt now. It was glorious, my friends, and I wish I could share my joy with more people! But I wish they would understand, no, they couldn't and wouldn't. I had to press my heart to myself, this affliction was deeply personal.
Dream I might, but as I stood there amidst the gentle patter of the rain that had begun, I suddenly realised she would soon be out of sight. I could not bear to confront the fact that memories were all that would be left of her, and I began to run towards her. There she stood, laughing along with some girlfriend of hers, the tinkle of her pretty voice tugging playfully at my earlobes. Stop it! I wanted to tell her playfully, without really meaning it. Stop being so perfect! You make it very difficult for me to resist!
You see, I didn't know her. But it was not such an insurmountable task though, that of approaching her. I could boast of some experience in these matters. I waited patiently for her plain friend (plain it seemed to me, though some might have disagreed, but oh! such was the manner in which every other work of beauty paled before her) to retreat. It was a question of time, I knew, I was more convinced of my destiny now.
Soon, my girl (how wonderful that sounds to me!) waved her goodbyes to her friend, and walked on, turning into a sidestreet that was solitary, and if I had to talk to her alone, this was my chance, my godsend. I sped up towards her, the nightfall unable to diminish one miniscule portion of her rouge cheeks, her swirling skirts kissing the paved stones. She stopped by the lights to check one of her heels and must've seen me coming, but she didn't straighten up immediately as would any other woman in a lonely street at night. Not this lass. My girl was feisty, that I could see. Her heels fixed, she looked coquettishly at me. I had wrapped my coat tighter around me, the chill in the October air was getting more pronounced by the minute.
"So sir", her voice betraying her Scottish ancestors,"you're out pretty late for a gen'l'man, ain't yer?". All I could was smile sheepishly, like some teenager unable to comprehend the first flushes of infatuation. But it was the blood coursing, roaring, thundering through me that left me speechless. This was not the first time I had been in this situation, I knew what to do , but my lads, it is like a debut each time. "Hurry up now!" she said. "Don't want to keep me waiting, do yer?". And she looked around for a place to keep her hat.
At which point, I decided I had enough and slit her throat with my trusted scalpel, a friend that never let me down. The redness of her blood seemed to go perfectly with the scarlet that is such a mark of her profession. My friends, the joys of the next few minutes I can still feel, though I can't recollect in stark detail their occurence, that of steel meeting unresisting flesh and bones. This one was special, my best ever, my pinnacle.
So it came to pass on that dull and drizzling October day in Her Majesty's reign, I walked contented, an artist and teacher in the classrooms of those East End streets, the gaslights bouncing off my grey coat as I receded once more into that all-embracing fog that endeared my city to me. As I dodged the newly-formed puddles, I couldn't help reflecting on her. She had been special, this one, she had something the others before her did not. Some might have even considered her heavenly. But there was no doubt that most of my fellowmen, now and in what we called the future, would consider that I had come from nowhere but From Hell.
Jul 18, 2003
Jul 17, 2003
Probably my first post in bad taste:
The Romans even had a special name for the middle finger -- they called it digitus infamis (infamous finger) or digitus impudicus (indecent finger).
Want to see some notorious examples: You might want to check this one. (The best one is the close scrutiny of O.J.Simpson's)
There's even a book: "The Finger: A Comprehensive Guide to Flipping Off". The above page even has a reason why you should buy it: If you buy only one book this year, you'd be an idiot to pass this one up. .
if ( ! doYouKnowWhatFooIs )
printf("\nYes, the answer is %s !", bar()");
Thanks to an illuminating discussion on acronyms in the weekly newsletter sent to subscribers of A Word A Day including one on the various degrees of having f***ed up, I know the answer to something I always wanted to ask, but was afraid to. The question is why do a lot of examples in c/c++ textbooks use the strings foo and bar in examples. The answer lies in the geeky sense of humour and the expansion of FUBAR.
More info at this link (look up the link for foo and bar as well)
My contrib. to this time's newsletter (inspired from a question from an old Mensa quiz ) provided a happy punching bag for many :-)
Whenever I edit my blog from IE (from home), the interface is different from the one I'm used to i.e the two frames with the top for posting and the bottom show old posts. Instead, in IE, I see only one textarea for posting, after which I can't directly post-and-publish, but need to preview, then publish. I thought the new blogger interface was not so good.
But while using blogger with Netscape, it reverts back to the older interface (the better one). Why does Blogger do this annoying thing? The same url in Netscape that leads to one interface is redirected to another url (with the "lofi" uri in it) which shows the single-framed window.
Kya pain hai! One more reason not to use I.E.
Jul 14, 2003
"... and so I stood at the end of it all, taking a breather, letting my swirling thoughts settle down. But the knowledge that soon it would (sooner this time, later next time) begin all over again cannot be banished from the foreground.
I stood at the starting line, waiting for the gun to go off. Again. It is an endless cycle, it seems, but I can do something about it if I wanted. I could probably change the venue of the run, or may be if I created enough of a fuss, I might even change the starting point. But it is very difficult to see how I cannot run such a circuit given normal circumstances. I am not alone in the trot though, there are many doing it all the time, some with me.
I think I would be one of those who'd prefer each lap to be exactly identical, or as similar as possible: I usually learn with each iteration, and more importantly, improve as I run back to the beginning. Some others would argue for the opposite: they wouldn't mind the journey occasionally straying off into uncharted territory (which it often does), but unless I make it out safely, I wouldn't consider the adventure a success, the path not outscoring the result. For you see, in this race, I never have enough faith in my abilities: my stamina, my reflexes, my instincts, my technique all remain under suspicion. Therein, my friend, lies the difficulty in coming back to the starting line, and pushing off on another run. But there are some others that think my self-flagellating criticisms are baseless, because (and this is rather hilarious) I can jump higher and longer than most others. They naturally assume I'm a gifted athlete in every other athletic event, but why should I pay the price for someone else's assumptions?
I prefer it when I can run with someone I trust, trust to pick me up when self-doubt cramps the legs, trust to have a good shot at finding the way out when we're lost. I can be vice-captain of this track team, never cap'n. I can remember what I did on a near-previous visit to this tricky swamp area, and hence I can help new runners to avoid being sucked down when they choose to rest their weight on some unsupported tuft of grass, but I cannot believe I have the fortitude and imagination to hack the exit out myself. I have fallen a few times and been a little lucky not to drown yet, but do not doubt the fact that I have had to wipe the slush off my clothes, scars of the slips that were.
So why did I choose to run this race (Is it a race? Not for me, I should think. Do the planets race each other around the sun, like excitable kids? Guess not. It is their need to live their existence, to avoid being caught out by the invisible and powerful force that would otherwise suck them to their end, like moths and their fiery nemeses.) I could have run at other places, so I thought, but a lot of runners seemed to find this a good surface to try their legs on. Having also lost the ability to ponder on the destinations these cross-country exercise take their runners, I have no choice, at least for the moment, to make the cyclic journey.
Let me get specific! This time's run as a sample; not representative, but still a sample. This time's journey would be different because I had lost my pace-maker for ever, and had temporarily lost my radar and rosary. Which meant that beset by the devils of the track, I would have to make the play happen myself, with some rookies looking over my shoulder for a little direction. I ran with apprehension, but if someone had seen the start we got, they would've laughed my anxiety away. The run took us into a new area, yes, but this was verdant and peaceful, with the sparkle in the air that seems a little too artifical to be true. Instead of allaying the pins-and-needles in my feet, these happy surroundings seemed to heighten my fears.
It is the turns, the sharp corners, the ends of the bridges, the sudden drops in elevation that seem to be the best settings for surprise. But there was no question of being taken aback by that for imminence can be a feeling that makes "there-didn't-I-tell-you!"s the winner each time. The road got rough, there were hurdles of heights that I had never attempted before, and even a water jump! I don't like to get wet when I run outdoors, and especially if I haven't even crossed half the distance. The coach made an unexpected stopover at one of the rest-points to *instruct* us, when all I wanted was a gulp of glucose and vitamins instead of lectures on my technique and strategies that should've been someone else's work to theorize over. Take your pointing-stick somewhere else, I want to tell him. But the trouble with coaches is they run your races merely in their heads or in distant memories, whereas I have to do it in the now. By now I know I've dropped even the pretence of making a brave run. They all know the only thing I care about now is to drag my sorry self back to base. But have I given up too early? And is it not important not only to try and succeed, but to also *try*? J'accuse! I gave up too early!
If you keep running long enough (however slowly you do) in a track (however meandering it may seem) that's supposed to lead you back to the starting point, the sheer force of that inevitability can take you home (there are many ways of going home, All roads lead to Home!, but in different states of wear-and-tear). I did so too.
But even after the race, I was on my face. Tripped over the bloody finishing tape. When I thought I had put all my grief behind me and was looking forward to some rest, light training and a new start. But having been denied that luxury, it seems that I haven't really finished the circuit to look forward to the next attempt. Instead, it feels like the two races have coalesced into two laps of the same race. Drat.
I just caught an energy drink, not bothering to look at my times for the last attempt. I stood at the end (?) of it all, taking a breather, letting my thoughts settle down. But the knowledge that soon it would (later this time, sooner next time) begin all over again cannot be banished from the foreground..."
Jul 12, 2003
These trailers caught the eye, for wide ranging reasons:
* Darna Mana Hai : continued its innovative plug for the ghost stories medley that becomes more and more awaited as the ads appear. The creativity content did dip with an unwanted song featuring Sameera Reddy, but the latest (and last, I should think) set of spots pushed it up again. The basic idea is to show a clip from a film, and say aana mana hai ! if you're the kind who likes the film clip shown from a family drama or romantic film or so on. The delicious bit is that all the clips are from previous Ram Gopal Varma films. Who else would have the confidence to run himself down to promote another of his own!
* MPKDH (I can't bear to sully these pages by the complete expansion): Each year trots along a film that hits you in the solar plexus with its incredible silliness. The mushiness permeates every aspect of thes movies, leading also to some of the hammiest (they can make words ham too!) subtitles. Giving the immortal It's all about loving your parents - Karan Johar (It was the byline that tipped the scales above the tolerance-meter of every sane-minded man. Did it in turn inspire the coccyx-like Times of India "Our Comment" ?) a run for its mushy money is this year's topper with I will love him till the end of time. Any more thought on it and I'll probably evaporate with infuriation.
Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost: If this inspires dollops of deja vu, then it
probably is because:
* The film is shot in a desert location
* The umpteen "how-we-made-the-movie" clips tell you how the locals were roped in to act in the film
* The Director is Aditya Lakhia who is definitely a relation (but what kind) of Apoorva Lakhia who is in the film too, sans the spinning hand though.
* Yashpal Sharma (dunno if he is a carpenter this time also) has more than just eyes for the local gaao.n ki chhori
* There is a temple on a hillock nearby
* There is a pujari who seems to enjoy a long hairstyle
* The hero is touted as a "Leader"
* The choreography is by Vaibhavi Merchant
Of course, these could be mere coincidences with Lagaan, and there seem to be nothing common with the story except for young man versus unnamed bad people.
Tere Naam: A wide gamut of hairstyles for Salman Khan, starting of with upturned-bowl-of-noodles cut to prickly-cacti styling. Accompanied by what is now becoming his trademark dancing style (he does with his hands what Sunny Deol does with this feet) in which right hand pushes an imaginary piston to the left while the rest of his body twists in exactly the opposite direction. Repeat one-two-three with left hand and there's no need to go to Laughter Clubs anymore.
Koi Mil Gaya: I'm beginning to believe his teeth are clamped in some sort of hideous death grimace, like the deceased Sholto brother in The Sign of Four. Or else, why doesn't Hrithik Roshan stop baring his canines and incisors? I don't really wish to "vibe with" him, but if it will make him stop grinning, I might. If only I could understand the rest of the lyrics that go xxx-cha hai, yyy-cha hai, zzz-tta hai, sab khel hai. His pose (can't call it a dance step) at the zzz-tta hai makes me feel he is saying "kutta hai", but I'm inclined to discount that as a little too extreme even for the Roshan clan. Add to that his choice of colours for his costume, a bright blue, red and yellow ensemble, after which can anyone blame me for getting visions of the flags of the collective Central African nations when the trailer is on?
Hawa: Ghastly, not ghostly. Pass please.
I didn't think I heard it properly each time it came on, but a news item in today's paper seems to make it plausible that the words in a song from the cross-over (from the border of course) film Dil Pardesi Ho Gaya is indeed Ek Pakistani Chehra... (followed by lehra and sehra in quick succession.
And quietly lingering in the background with establishing shots of the Metro and crowds is Calcutta Mail.
Jul 9, 2003
And speaking of the great Martina, imagine coming to the same tournament for 30 years! And if you throw in the fact that a kid was named after her by a mother who happened to be a big fan of her as well as a tennis coach, the kid then grows up to win a few Grand Slams of her own including Wimbledon, and the kid even retires early due to career-stopping injuries, puts the longevity of the ex-Czech American in sharper perspective.
Jul 8, 2003
Not to say that I've had a completely spotless traffic record, but atleast I don't consciously try to break the rules. When I make a mistake, I feel guilty and if I were to be caught, I'd have to accept the consequences, I would have to take the blame. But it is completely shocking when some people, without a trace of shame, profess to turn a blind eye to the rules, or claim they don't know most of the rules, and even state that they don't agree with certain rules, hence they break them.
Even if they did, they lack basic etiquette in their traffic behaviour. We've got down-counters at red lights telling how much time is left, a good facility by any standards. But when there are about 8 secs left and there is no longer any traffic which can use the green-signal, a few morons will start honking or speed away. How much difference does 5 seconds make in a person's life under normal circumstances? Isn't one's life the most important than getting to point B 5 seconds early? It is just extra-ordinary, this level of indifference.
I sometimes feel like going over to some idiot who's doing something silly and give them a nice clunk on their heads: they better have a helmet! I had an idea for a small story on this subject: The protagonist of the story is a ghost, having died in a traffic accident for no fault of his own. He takes it upon himself to drum some sense into other offenders, using the fact that people can still see his ghost vehicle and him not knowing that he's a phantom. Essentially, this guy goes about giving these idiots a good scare on traffic whenever they've broken a rule, to get them to understand what could happen. A little contrived yes, but soothing in theory!
At the end of the day, rage at these people won't solve anything because we can't educate these idiots by telling them anything. The only way is if they pay the price for their own ignorance. The only thing I'd like to say is that I value my life, so don't run me over. You may not value your own very much, so swerve and hit the electricity pole instead. The pole won't mind much, and seeing how you drive, neither will anyone else.
In this season of formulae, I believe I might have one of my own, which ought to be more acceptable to the vast and silent majority of this country. It probably requires a lesser amount of suspension of reality, and it may have certain fallouts that would appeal to quite a few people.
The scheme essentially involves collecting together in one place, all these self-styled representatives of both the communities, more the rabid the better. (One thing seems to stand out: here the most common factor is that most of these reps. have beards). The formula espouses a collective and democratic spirit, so the more of these people the better. We then proceed to bundle all these bearded barricaders into a room. Conventional politics has it that there are usually two ways to settle an argument: violent and non-violent. We've made several (mundane and half-hearted) non-violent attempts to settle the dispute, but let's face it, these guys have often specialised and distinguished themselves with two eyes for every hai! hai!. So why curb their natural animal instincts?
Having pushed our representatives together into a room, we announce that this is a fight to the end. Instead of every Indian going at each other's throats, we let their well-meaning representatives to do that. The ones left standing at the end are declared the winners, and the land in Ayodhya is now theirs for keeps.
And when you tap my shoulder trying to get me to inhale smelling salts, I'll confess there's no way this solution will solve anything. When one community makes it out of the room with a few casualties of their own (martyred!) but having wiped out the other non-believers, do you think the vanquished community will accept the verdict? (Court judgements are doomed to have the same fate). No, they won't, and so the game will continue. But, and this is the nub of it all, we shall atleast have become rid of a few bearded rabble-rousers, and the noise will be a little less for a few days.
These days, that's the best one can hope for.
Part two was installing Movable Type and setting up a small blog of my own. Amit first pointed me towards Movable Type as a clean way of blogging with a great deal of control. I decided to set up a little internal-to-Persistent blog as I can set it all up on my machine.Since I don't have space to host it on the Web, it can't be seen by outsiders, but if anyone from Persistent is reading this and wouldn't mind a dekko, let me know and I'll send you the url. This blog is called Perspiring Pistons (a hark back to this), a tribute to my constant exhortations to my colleagues to turn the AC settings away from Cold and well, to the up-and-down cycles of work!
There's still a long way to go in terms of it settling down, but so far MT has made it very easy to use. The blog is meant to be rather lightweight in content, with emphasis on recent on-goings in my immediate workplace.
Jul 3, 2003
This has happened quite consistently for the last few years: Tim Henman moves up to the quarters or even further, he gets some of the best crowd support in tennis, he plays up-and-down tennis, sometimes scraping through, sometimes falling by, but always giving his British fans a lot of nervous excitement en route. I've been trying to think of another sporting parallel, especially Indian, but fail to come up with such an occurence that happens so consistently. Perhaps India's annual cup-of-woes at Sharjah about a decade ago would qualify in the amount of expectation and disappointment that Henman provides at Wimbledon each year.
I hope there will be a silver lining for Henman at Wimbledon some day soon.