Sunday, July 12, 2009

I guess I have lost interest in writing. But I hope this too shall pass. I hope I get back to do what I used to love. I hope to get back to some writing. To get back to narrating stuff and conjuring up stories.

Sooner than later.

I hope.

Till then. Bye.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Its the 26th and its my 26th

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Ombattu Gudde Trek

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Be a REBEL! - En route Nagalapuram

Video shot last Sunday while traveling towards Nagalapuram for the trek.

And for your information, the guy in the red T-shirt is the one who is driving the car and I am the one who is shooting the video! ;)

ps: Watch the HQ version (might take a little time to buffer) and make sure the audio is on.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Naan Kadavul

Naan Kadavul is Bala’s fourth outing after attaining critical acclaim with his first three movies Sethu, Nandha and Pithamagan. People familiar with his movies and characters would know his fascination towards the morbid and the macabre. Naan Kadavul stays faithful to that genre.

Close to three years in the making, the movie has generated considerable hype accompanied, by a truckload of rumors. When one hears that the protagonist of the movie is an Aghori, it is quite natural for people’s imagination to take flight. For starters, an Aghori is a sadhu, an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva, who has his own rituals and practices to reach God. He lives in crematoriums, meditates on corpses, smears ashes from burnt bodies and eats flesh from the dead. Or at least, this is the picture one gets after some research online.

So when a director of Bala’s caliber makes a movie with an Aghori as a protagonist one expects to learn more about the life and ways of this unusual sect of Sadhus who live in Varanasi. The trailer too had enough elements in it to whet one’s appetite about the same.

But unfortunately Bala disappoints here. The Aghori part turns out to be a very small portion of the vast canvas that he has chosen to paint (in dark colors). Naan Kadavul is never really about Rudran (Arya) or his background in Varanasi. In fact the scenes shot there are too few and they get over quickly before you settle down. The character in itself occupies very little screen time. A small portion of the amount of care taken to project his physical appearance could have gone into the making of his mental setup as well. The audience is left in the lurch as to what exactly is his philosophical stand point in life.
Unlike Kamal Hassan’s ‘Anbe Sivam’ which carried a message that there is God in everyone which can be put as ‘I am God but so are you’, the protagonist of Naan Kadavul only proclaims ‘I am God’. He never seems to care about any one else. All he does is smoke pot, utter mystic sayings in Sanskrit, strike upside down yoga poses and walk fast in his langoti with his chest pumped out. It is never clear as to what philosophy he learned from the Aghori sadhus who had brought him up. Even in the scene where his mother demands to know from his father what he was up to in Varanasi, his explanation is muted with background score.

As a child Rudran is abandoned in Kasi by his father as advised by astrologers. Years later, the father repents for his act and goes in search for his son and finds him. Rudran’s guru pulls him aside and instructs him to leave with his father and put an end to all this worldly relations and return to him when the time comes. And he adds that Rudran himself would know when the said moment arrives.

It is now that the director starts painting elaborate brush strokes on the canvas in blood red as the focus shifts to the world of physically and mentally deformed beggars (or urupadies as they are refereed) in Malaikoyil, South Tamil Nadu. Controlled by the beggar master Thandavan, the plight of the beggars is spine chilling. The cries of a cripple when Thandavan pulls a spiked rod on his back to keep him crying in order to evoke sympathy, stays with you for long. Though we might try to calm the sense of nausea and uneasiness that creeps up and wraps around our body as Thandavan mercilessly unleashes his cruelty on the hapless beggars saying it is just a movie, deep down in our hearts we do know that the probability of such things happening are very strong. We don’t live in a world of saints and angels.

To lead authenticity the entire cast has been selected from real-life differently abled people. And the song ‘Pitchai pathiram’ picturized on them has to be one of the most gut-wrenching songs in Indian cinema. It had me on the verge of tears. Absolute pathos and too heavy on the heart - One of the main reasons I am hesitant to watch the movie a second time. But the reception to this portrayal of beggars in a society that conspicuously shuns the very sight of them is to be seen.

Similar to Rohinton Mistry’s ‘A fine balance’ all is not bleak and dreary with this bunch of beggars that beg outside a temple on a hill top. It is rather surprising that the dialogues delivered by them are so simple, witty and sharp in spite of their circumstances that it has the audience in splits most of the time. Especially the midget who has you smiling just by the way he laughs. It is a wonderful and amazing performance from them given that they are not regular actors. Their characters have been so well etched that though you never really know their names, their characters remain memorable.

And enter Hamsavalli (a stunning Pooja) a blind girl who earns alms singing in trains. She is spotted on one such journey by Murugan an accomplice of Thandavan and he promptly has her separated from her troop and clubbed together with the rest of the beggars on the hill top. And it is not hard to guess in whose hands she would be suffering henceforth. The scene at the police station before the separation, with Hamsavalli’s troop of imitation and mimicry artists is hilarious. MGR, Sivaji and Rajini would never mind but I am pretty sure actress Nayanthara would not be pleased by the way she has been portrayed. You got to see the movie to understand what I mean!

Bala’s heroes are getting more animalistic with the passage of each movie. Sethu was a very volatile young man who at least was a college student. Nandha was a murder convict and a henchman. Sithan was an animal in human form born and brought up in a graveyard. And in that league of ascending violence, now we have Rudran whose one shout is enough to have a police constable scampering for cover like a rat and a baby burst into a terrified wail. It is interesting to note that in spite of all the violence that his characters indulge in, they almost never use a weapon!!

Though the characterization has its flaws, Arya has tried his best and lent a brilliant performance as Rudran. His very appearance gives loads of attitude to the character, add to it his superb built, gruff voice and powerful stare. Brilliant. The fight sequences are too good and packed with raw machismo. Both the fight sequences are awesome and the way he drags Nair among the bushes is equivalent to watching a lion drag a deer to its den. Had the Aghori practice been portrayed clearly earlier this would have been a truly shocking scene. But it fails to deliver the punch as we are forced only to assume what he did to the body after he killed it. When questioned about it in court his response is censored.

And providing rock solid counter performance is the villain Thandavan. I don’t remember a more terrifying villain in recent times. His body language and dialogue delivery are spot on. He is an embodiment of physical cruelty but also makes you squirm in your seats with his verbal assault. It is shocking to watch the way he inspects each handicapped person and comments as if they were handicrafts in an art emporium.

But it is Pooja who shell-shocks us with her performance. In addition to acting she has dubbed in her own voice for the role (a prerequisite for national award consideration). The only sore point with her character is when she sings, it suddenly becomes very cinematic. It sticks out like a sore thumb. She is beyond recognition in the scene where she rues about her miserable and pathetic existence and begs Rudran to relieve her from this misery. (It is believed that Aghoris have the power to stop rebirth and help a person attain nirvana.) And what happens next is pretty graphic.

And now coming to the very backbone of the movie - Maestro Illayaraja. This man is a true genius. The re-recording is terrific and matches the mystical, uneasy aura of the movie. The introduction song for Rudran ‘Om Sivoham’ is amazing invoking other worldly sound beats and in complete contrast is the melodious and soulful ‘Pitchai pathiram’ rendered by Madhu Balakrishan who does a K.J. Jesudas here.

On the whole, a typical Bala film with his signature style and theme. Only that it got all the more darker this time around. I would have been a lot happier had Rudran’s character been portrayed better.

This movie is not recommended for kids and people who hate gore and morbid themes.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Chennai Tweetup @ Broken Bridge

Joined a bunch of tweeters from Chennai today morning for a tweetup @ Besant Nagar. We had great fun. We gathered in front of Planet Yumm, had our breakfast at Murugan Idly Shop before driving down to broken bridge. For those of you people who don't know which bridge it is, recollect the scene from Ayutha Ezhuthu where Surya practises breaking bottles! Got it? Good. Then came back to Alsa Mall for...what else...sandwich! 

Here are a few pics...

Saturday, January 03, 2009

King Ashoka and the Carrot Halwa

I had this recurring dream.

Kunala Harihara Prasada Shastrikal was this kick-ass cook in the reign of Ashoka the Great. Every time he cooked something, King Ashoka went to the kitchen and kicked him in the ass. Every single time. But until he made carrot halwa for the king one fine evening.

Ashoka was completely floored that he immediately called the HR and promoted Harihara Shastrikal as the Chief Executive Cooker. But as expected this did not go down well with the remaining cookers.

So one night, under the cover of black darkness the bad cookers smashed Shastrikal's head with a huge boulder.Their anger was so great and menacing that they took turns to smash his head. And the palace echoed with their vile laughter when someone remarked Shastrikal's head now looked like carrot halwa

King Ashoka never heard a sound for he was busy with his wife in his deluxe bedroom.

The bad cookers threw the body into a huge dry well in the suburbs and went to chill out in a discothe. There they danced with great joy and vigor for "Adra adra Nakku Mukka...Nakku Mukka"

And King Ashoka, when he came to know of the incident, cried for 8 days and 7 nights in memory of the carrot halwa. He never really missed Harihara Shastrikal.

So, when I had this dream this afternoon as well, I decided to decipher the meaning of it.
I went to the kitchen and made carrot halwa

It was so mindblowingly terrific that it floored everybody in the household. Shivers shot down my spine when I understood the context of the whole bloody thing.

And now I am wary of sleeping in the nights.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Aham brahmasmi

The audio release of Bala's 'Naan Kadavul' took place today. As I had decided to cut down on TV time, I didn't know this. Not that I would have attended the function had I known. But would have bought the audio CD today for sure if it had hit the stands. The music is by Maestro Illayaraja.

Now it has to wait till tomorrow.

And for me, this would be the first most awaited movie this year. 

Jai Bolenath!

May you all have a nice and fulfilling time ahead and in the process achieve, if not all, at least a few of your dreams.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Tada Falls - Dec 25th 2008

Click on the right most icon at the bottom to view in full screen

These are selective snaps from our trip to Tada falls on December 25th. Shall be updating the same once I get the pictures shot by Ranjith. By the way, he owns a Canon EOS. These pictures were shot using my Canon IXUS 80IS.

Link to Flickr Webpage  (Contains Commentary!)

Monday, December 15, 2008

The legend does it, yet again

With the passage of years...

I may have stopped fanatically collecting every single picture of yours that appears in the newspapers

I may have stopped repeating your famous boost ad, start to end, word by word without missing a beat

I may have stopped sticking your posters in the walls of my room

I may have stopped raving to my  friends about your Sharjah 'Desert Storm' innings

I may have stopped switching off the tv when you get out

But still...

... you were and are and shall be my HERO

We love you Sachin.

Image courtesy: Cricinfo