Sunday, February 26, 2006


From Gentleman to Shivaji...

All the talk now in kollywood is about "Shivaji." No, its not about the veteran Tamil actor, but about Shankar's next movie starring superstar Rajinikanth. It’s always unique and irresistible when great names join forces. In this case, it is Rajinikanth, Shankar(director), AVM(producers) and AR Rehman. Wow, what a combo?! I can hardly wait for the movie. Shankar's movies usually take quite some time in the making, because of his unique ability of concentrating on little details and giving a well-finished product.

Shankar started his career as an assistant director working for some big names like S.A.Chandrasekar ("Ilayathalapathi" Vijay's father). His big break came when he was working as an Asst. Director to Pavithran during the making of "Suryan". This is when producer KT Kunjumon saw his potential and offered him an opportunity to unleash as a director. It all started with "Gentleman." Here was a director making his first movie and straightaway bending all the conventional hero-ethics a little bit, by casting Arjun as a big time thief (but for a noble cause). It was a different storyline, different approach and altogether different category of movies that the Tamil audience had ever seen. No wonder, he heaped success in the box office, with the film running full shows. It was also well-acclaimed in the commercial movie setup. Shankar might not quite be a director who is well-appreciated by the artistic clad of film-makers, but from an entertainer's perspective he's priceless. His movies are fast paced, daringly different and hugely entertaining. It is widely talked about that Kamal was first approached for Arjun's role in "Gentleman," but Kamal politely refused as he was not in agreement with the shades of the character.

Then came "Kadalan" which didn't have any message or thought-provoking ingredients, but it was a pure college-goer's entertainment basket. The songs were trend-setters, and the theaters had the youth dancing all out for "Urvasi" and "Gopala Gopala".

Then came another unique blend with Shankar joining hands with Kamal to come out with yet another wholesome entertainer - "Indian". The concept and the plot were amazing. The storyline and screenplay were awesome. Shankar's attention to detail was evident once again and Kamal was, as usual, matchless. Shankar's maturity as a director entered a new phase with this movie. He was talked on par with Maniratnam, which for any film-maker is a huge accolade. The whole idea of "Indian thatha" and his focus on building a corruption-free society was a wonderful onscreen idea and indeed immensely engrossing.

He followed up with "Jeans" which was not really special except for the presence of Aishwarya Rai, who was the talk of the town, then. But it did have its fine ingredients, Aishwarya's double action sequences,'s little cameo and the songs (just like in all other movies).
Next came his home-production,"Mudalvan". This movie again had a novel idea - One day CM. Where does he get such ideas from?! Although one feels Rajini would've made a master fit in the movie, Arjun didn’t come across like a makeshift cast. It’s a little ironical that Shankar's two movies with Arjun have a commonality involving the two big guns of Tamil cinema - the first movie had Kamal as the first choice and for the second, Rajini would've been the best fit!

Then came ‘Boys’ . . . well that's one movie that's less talked about, the better. It was in all probability, Shankar's first flop! But everyone has his hay days and he had his too.

But, out he came with a bang- "Anniyan". Yet another idea that only Shankar's brain can think of and he gave shape to it as an interesting and thoughtful celluloid representation. Vikram's popularity and fan-following added spice to the movie and all about "Boys" was a forgotten history now.

It would be totally unfair not to mention AR Rehman's immense contribution as the music man behind all Shankar's movies (except for Anniyan for which Harris Jeyaraj won appreciation).With Rehman coming back to spend more time with the Tamil audience and his association with Shankar resuming, its great news for movie lovers.

Rajini, no wonder, is the hottest aspect of "Shivaji". Already, there are lots of stories floating around regarding the movie’s plot. Whatever it is, with all big names of kollywood joining hands, it would be nothing short of a special buffet that the Tamil audience has probably never tasted! Good luck, Shankar and co.!

Friday, February 24, 2006


Take it easy...

This is meant to be in the 'Comments' section of Deepa's post. But, I had so much to say that I thought I’ll post here.

Three or four years ago when I was naive to anything American, even a phrase used to express farewell caused unwanted confusion. A trainer from the US visited India to train a team of five bright and guileless graduates-turned-employees. We were running on a tight schedule to learn his twenty-odd years of experience in just a couple of weeks. It was a little uncomfortable to know that his experience was really more than our respective ages. It was very important for us to win his trust and satisfaction, so that the process migration to India went smoothly without hiccups. But, he found a problem in everything...right from our nodding heads to our English. He expressed annoyance over which we had little control...from B'lore traffic to a guide who took Rs.3000 to show him around Bangalore botanical garden.

One day after he handed down an ultimatum, in a rather despotic manner, to finish a particular task by the end of that day, we all worked on the same, individually and jointly, without being able to achieve the results required. We kept pushing every nerve to think differently, unconsciously downing mugs of caffeine...did everything we could to assure him that we were capable, without making it obvious, that we were struggling. We thought it was too early for him to expect from us, the kind of expertise the task in hand required. In between bits of words and long silence, all five of us had just one thing to say in common - "NOT FAIR"!!!

A couple of offices away, he was getting ready to leave for the day. We eased out our knit brows and pretended to look calm with composure. He passed by with a loud - "take it easy guys..." with a huge smile and an obvious stress on "take it easy". Again, we all looked at each other with rebuking glances that read - "Who the hell told him we were struggling?!" Until we came to know, much later, that it was a good-bye phrase, we all thought of him as a sarcastic and stuck up American!

Sunday, February 19, 2006


Dhoni rocks!

Indian cricket seems to have undergone a phenomenal change in the recent past. Though controversies are nothing new to cricket in India, the recent scheme of things is different, because even as controversies keep brewing on one end, the national team seems to be producing talented youngsters one after the other, my favourite being, Mahendra Singh Dhoni. From a batsman's perspective, he's probably India's answer to the likes of Gilchrist, Afridi, Jayasurya and Flintoff.

With my limited knowledge of cricket, hardly do I recall any other Indian wicket-keeper batsman being as effective. The current chairman of selectors, Kiran More was an excellent wicket-keeper with great fighting
instincts, but wasn't quite a classy batsman. Though Dinesh Karthik is another talented WK-batsman, he is definitely going to find it hard to make it now, with Dhoni rising up in the contribution scale. Dhoni seems to have become such an integral part of the team and more importantly a true life-saver who comes in to play when the ship is sinking and brings it afloat with pride. You see him play and it looks like he is going to hit a six every alternate delivery. That's the confidence he exudes! His 77 (6x4s, 4x6s) of 56 deliveries today is yet another example.

Cricketers, especially batsmen are very possessive about their batting slots and never want to give away or change their batting positions whereas Dhoni says "I have been shifted a lot in the batting order, so the more I play, the more I would get used to the batting slots like batting at 6 or 7 or 3 or even opening." He looks at how he could adjust to the new challenge that is thrown at him each time! That's the flexibility that this Indian team needs. He may not be a success in all his innings. Like all the others, he will have failures and 'lean patches', but the focus, aggression, self-confidence and the 'threat' that he is to the bowlers, will take him a long way.

In the 'not so old' olden days it was an accepted fact that Sachin's master craftsmanship with 'hi, 'hello' contributions of a shaky middle-order that used to shape Indian victories/close to victories. (Even then, there were/are many who argue that Sachin was never a match-saver, which according to most of my friends is a long-debate, so let me jump off that one). Raw talent was something that the team terribly missed those days. But with the emergence of talented youngsters like Dhoni and a few more, there's no ‘one-man’, ‘one-magic’ dependency anymore. In Dhoni, India has found a good wicket-keeper and a cool-headed batsman, batting at crucial positions without fear. For a person who started his career in a different sport (as a football player), this is quite an outstanding achievement!

Of course, not to forget few other valuable talent that seems to have come out in the recent past - Pathan, Raina, Sreeshanth, Venugopal Rao, RP Singh....! Well, hopefully these are good times for Indian cricket. There will be losses, there will be victories, but as long as the morale is not lost and the talent stays coupled with fearless aggression and instinct to win, Indian cricket will keep marching with pride!


Thursday, February 16, 2006


Touch typing

Besides being the day of chocolates and roses, Feb 14th is also the birthday of one of the most important inventors of the modern world - Christopher Latham Sholes. Although typewriter patents date back to the 18th century, C.L. Sholes invented the first useful typewriter, which was later manufactured by Remington Arms company. The arrangement of letters on the keyboard was Sholes’ idea of preventing the machine from jamming often. This keyboard is called the QWERTY keyboard, which we use to this day. It got its name from the arrangement of letters on the first row of the keyboard.

Even after the invention of the modern marvel, it did not create waves in the market because typists used the hunt-and-peck method of typing, trying to locate each key making the system ineffective. Soon, a clerk named Frank.De.McGurrin came up with the touch-typing method of using all the ten fingers to improve the typing speed without actually looking at the keys. It is amazing how human brain is capable of storing movements of the fingers when done repeatedly over a period of time. Using this strength of our brain, typewriter became widely useful not only to businesses but also for personal use.

As computer became more popular, traditional technique of touch-typing completely faded and gave way to ad hoc method that we use today. I remember the days when, my older cousins used to boast of their typing lower/higher diplomas. These lessons in typing were once as important as their Science and Mathematics courses. Although we don’t realize what we are missing with our individual typing style, we cannot deny that the traditional method is foolproof/typo-proof.

Talking of typos, I am reminded of a day at work in India, when I was conversing on AOL IM with my on-site manager in the US. In a sheer rush of my fingers, I typed - "Give me a sex" instead of "Give me a sec" and became the laughing stock of the place. That day, I cursed Scholes so much for placing x next to c, that I thought I owed him a post of appreciation for his incredible invention. Now, it's leveled out.

Try this test to know your WPM (Word Per Minute).


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Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Mask of cynicism

"Haha! That's really funny," I said, rolling my eyes in disgust. "You should really have your own sitcom."

I was responding to a snide comment made by some stranger passing by. By this point, I just shrug it off, if I am lucky. But if not, my hard, turtle like shell protects me and sends the remark zinging back. I started making my shell as a kid, when I just started to discover how cruel people could sometimes be. Since, people of all ages could be mean, people of all ages could be hurt as well.

Different people react to disparagement in different ways. Some hold it inside, and let it out later. Others keep it inside, never letting it out until the pressure has built inside them so much that they explode like a volcano. (I imagine these are the same people who have mental breakdowns.)

There are also the ones like me. People that cover it up with scathing a.k.a sarcastic comments, using them as a mask. Sometimes I even unconsciously wish that my comments hurt the person that made fun of me as much as his or her insulted me, but regret inevitably follows. Only after the words have jumped out of my mouth, do I realize that it is not an effective defense strategy recognizing the damage it has caused. So, this mask of cynicism is like a two-edged knife. It hurts both, the person stabbing and the one being stabbed.

Seemingly, there is a better way to react to such acrimony - Silence. I have heard people say "Silence is the best kind of denfense." But, this makes it hard to figure out who is more cold, heartless and unfeeling. Is it the person who made the comment, or is it yourself, for not being hurt?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Why do we blog?

I am always a little befuddled when I attempt to answer the question everyone here has faced one day or the other - "Why do I blog?", for I cannot explain my motivation clearly in only a few words.

Many people write many things, and have different reasons for all of them. Writing about things happening around us, I guess, is more voluntary. I am grasped by an urgent need to just sit down and put fingers on the keyboard. It is a way of pouring myself out through my words. A method of chronicling and organizing my thoughts and feelings in ways that my mind alone cannot.

Often, I purge what I did not know was there, what has boiled up from myself. Words that were trapped, stuck not in my throat, but at the edge of my mind, that were previously bound up by lack of avenues to share. They come from some point - some intersection - between heart and mind, conscious and subconscious. I blog to give vent to my thoughts and for keeping myself occupied. Both combine into a passion, an absolute love.

I am sure most bloggers like me feel that this is their own little space in the the web world and to every person, it is personal and special, whether others like it or not. Here, in this diversified blogworld, we find bloggers who have similar interest and perspective as ours, and also the ones that differ from us completely. There is no common rule to measure and that is what makes this place so addictive and free.

But at the same time, when I express something on an open forum, I understand that I am subject to criticism and judgment as much as appreciation and readership. Having understood this, let me thank this blogger for letting the world know that my blog exists.

Thursday, February 09, 2006



Once, when my mom couldn't resist her compelling need to get me married, she went crazy on matrimonial portals and spent hours expressing interest in profiles, that she thought appropriate for me. I had told her clearly that I needed time to talk to each one and that I could not decide my life's most important decision in a matter of a few minutes. She assented.

So, that left me with chat sessions that covered my entire day and sometimes even ran into the midnights. I limited my chatting to two people on a single day.

I started my conversation with one of them, it started well, proceeded on the right track and ended on a nice note. We spoke sweet nothings about everything and everything about a few things that we had common interest in. It was not as intimidating as a matrimonial talk. It included, but was not limited to where I studied, grew up and expectations from my partner. It was a friendly conversation that led into exploring each other. At times, there was ";)" to denote good natured sarcasm and at times, we shared ":))" wide laughters. In all, I was successful in giving him a fair idea of who I really was and he was happy with his expression of who he was.

Towards the evening, I met the other person and the conversation started on the cliche - "I don't want to treat this as a matrimonial talk. Let's be friends and talk, so we could decide more freely about what we feel." The beginning was interrupted with some urgent work on his side. I sent my mail with my picture which he thought was a pre-requisite to a conversation. There were spells of uncomfortable silence. He sounded cold and high-heeled and I sounded the same to him. I tried to ease the conversation as much as possible from my end, but it never happened. I told him casually in a conversation that I had a thing for geeks...and he thought I was referring to him as a geek. Until then, I never knew it was such a profane word. He started criticizing me on that one statement. At first, I did not know how I offended him, but too quickly, I realized that I was getting offended. When I thought that no further fair conversation was possible, I politely bid adieu. He still pressed me for reasons and I had to tell him that I felt he was cold. With that, all hell broke loose. He accused me of indulging in psycho-analysis of his personality. Although, at the very first moment, wedlock became an impossible topic, I felt bad that I left a bad impression of myself on him. The day passed by.

The next day, I saw his nick glow in the list of my Yahoo buddies. I buzzed to apologize. Without going straight to the topic, I beat around the bush, with questions like how his day had been and what he was doing. After he answered those couple of questions, he seemed to be in a rush to tell me something with his "OK listen," "yeah...The thing is" and he went on to hand me down his piece of mind on not seeing a prospective wedding alliance with him. Like, I didn't know!:) Well, I agreed with him and told him that I was here to apologize for the misunderstandings caused, to which he acted indifferent. He said, he never felt that I was rude and he thought I was nice to talk to. Again, I felt this was another dosage of his cold aura.

Well, I am still unable to understand how I could, with the same personality be perceived of as two different things by two different people, on the same context in similar conversations. Strange are the ways of electronic communication!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Crime and Punishment

Situation 1:

Suppose, you did an act of crime in anger and frustration. Although, initially you did not know what to do, you are ready to apologize and go any far to prove that you did not pre-meditate the crime. But, you are convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

I have been following Cody Posey's trial for three weeks. He is an abused child who snapped and killed his father, step mother and step sister after years of physical and mental abuse. The jury found him guilty on all three counts.

But, surprisingly, if you read reviews or heard people talking about it, none of them could agree on the verdict. Everyone felt that he should be allowed to walk out of the court free after counselling. The number of votes that saw his innocence was far more than the number that found him guilty despite his acceptance of offense.


Situation 2:

You have committed a crime and people came to know about it, in spite of your best effort to avoid the evidence. Initially, when people begin to get a smell of it, you try to hush it up. But this is an age of hi-tech gadgetary systems. When you see no escape, you dub the reports baseless, the nefarious design of your opponents. You hire the country's best attorneys and win the case in your favor.

I followed Michael Jackson's case closely and again, felt differently than the jury and so did thousand others. The votes that came in favor of this thought outnumbered the votes that held him innocent.

In both these situations you lose your calmness of mind because you have indeed committed an act that you are now trying to suppress or tend to rationalize. Whether or not people learn about your unlawful act and whether or not it is proved are peripheral issues. The fact that your committing the crime and not acknowledging it itself puts you on the wrong track. Your continued preoccupation with it atthe neglect of good experience of life, is a punishment in itself.

When debating the issue with my friends, one of my friends quoted Joaquin Miller,

"In men whom men condemn as ill, I find so much goodness still.
In men whom men pronounce divine, I find so much sin and blot,
I do not dare to draw a line between the two, where God has not."

There ended the debate, both among my friends and within my head.

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