Sunday, November 21, 2010

Notes from an overgrown island - Part I

Hiya there!

Ya I know - I have not been posting much since my landing in this country. Been planning to post something about my first views of the place for about 3 months now. But you know how it is with blogs - you always wish to post something, and you keep delaying, and before you know it, you keep delaying even further.

As is customary with any blogger who has shifted base to a new location, I shall now pretend possessing total knowledge of everything about the place I am in and deliver verdicts with the apathy of those suited reviewers on Sun TV movie reviews.

So this is my FIR about my experiences in England. Or United Kingdom. Or Great Britain. Or whatever else this place is called. Trust me, I don't think many natives here know the difference between UK and GB. Being a consultant, I had to illuminate a Brit friend here  with that knowledge (that I myself had acquired from Wiki) to get "Oh is that so? Never knew that. Thanks!" for a response. God promise!

In the months I have been here, my biggest learnings have been about the social customs of the place.

Being polite to others is a way of life here. I suspect if they don't perform any act of kindness to others in a day, they'll end up with digestion problems in the night. The most common 'act' you will find here is - opening doors for others.

Back home, opening a door was a simple process.
1. Reach the door
2. Open
3. Exit

Here, people have a fairly elaborate procedure for this.
1. Reach the door
2. Open
3. Wait like a sentry until someone else turns up
4. Then smile at them, and say 'After you'
5. They will smile back at you and insist that you go first
6. Smile, shrug, and go over to the other side
7. Then hold the door open for the other to pass through
8. Say "Cheers" and leave (not "What ho" or "Pip pip" or any of that stuff you read on PG Wodehouse)

I have had some fairly interesting experiences with this protocol.

Once after an unduly long meeting, I had to rush to the restroom (don't snigger, grow up). As I reached for the door and opened it in a hurry, I saw that it lead to a small passage with another door at the other end. And as providence would have it, at exactly the same moment, someone opened the other door from the other side. I know this might sound confusing, so I have taken the pains to draw out this complex graphic for you:
I guess you got the point now - there were two of us standing at the two ends of the passage, each holding a door open for the other. Remember multi-threading deadlocks? Exactly that. The atmosphere was tense. The air was crisp. Sweat covered both of our foreheads. Our brains were trying to work a way out of this stalemate. Furrowed brows. (But still, smiles on the lips). After a volley of "After you"s from both of us, we made a mutual decision to 'do it' in sync. Falling just short of counting to 3, we left our doors and lunged to reach the other door at the same time.

And we succeeded. 

As the other guy heaved a huge sigh of relief and turned back to smile one more time at me, I had already rushed in to reduce my weight by a few grams.

Then there was the time when another complex situation arose cos' of this protocol.

I was just reaching the entrance to my office and was about to push the door open, when it opened by itself. There was a man on the other side wanting to get through. As I smiled and stepped aside saying "After you", he smiled and stepped aside saying "After you". And a lady joined in from his side, also wanting to get out. That's 3 people trying to get through 2 ways of 1 door. If that wasnt complex enough, add in the "After you"s and the fact that 1 of the 3 is a lady, you get a potboiler.

Eventually we guys somehow sorted it out and went on our paths relieved, but confused if we had followed the right protocol. And no - I don't remember how we really got ourselves out of the tangle.

But I had learned an important lesson that I have been putting to good use ever since - now if ever it looks like I would be reaching a door at the same time as someone else, I would dish out my phone with nonchalance, move away from the door with nonchalance, and nonchalantly start speaking on the phone until the moment of embarrassment passes by.

Yet another social custom I took some time adjusting to is: the greeting. On my second day at my client's office here, as I reached my seat, my neighbour looked at me, smiled, and asked "Are you alright?". I froze in my tracks, and wiped my face, checked my hair and de-creased my shirt and responded to him with a very doubtful "Well.. Yeah.. But.. Why?". By the time I managed to say all that, he had turned away. The incident affected my balance - was something wrong with me that I didnt know about? Shortly, I rushed to the restroom and checked in the mirror. Everything seemed fine. Perplexed, I returned back a confused man. It was much later that day that I realized that this was the standard greeting here; their means of saying "How are you?". And it is meant to be responded with "Not bad". Felt like an idiot when I learned that.

Again, I did not make any of this up.

To be continued (hopefully)...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Endhiran: Movie Review!

As a kid I was mad about Rajini. God knows what I liked about him, but I used to be a die-hard fan.
20 years later, after DAV, PSG and IIMB, I am still the same. If only more in awe of the man for his reach across A, B and C centres.
Literally couldn’t focus on work at office the whole day! All my thoughts were about this movie that I had booked tickets for. With the added excitement that I had no feelers about how good the movie was (except that lone indiaglitz article that I did not really trust). And the additional excitement that I would be helping to form public opinion on something for the first ever time in the history of my blog :P Ulaga laptop-galil mudhal muraiyaaga....
As I type this, am just settling down after all the euphoria.
The movie was brilliant stuff.
Of the kind never seen before in Tamil film history.
It sure takes production standards to a totally different plane!!
Frankly, after Sivaji, I was quite ‘worried’ about Endhiran. I did like watching Sivaji, but somehow I felt it lacked a certain something that defines any Rajini/Shankar movie. Was quite disappointed. And I couldn’t bring myself to believe that this was going to be better. I knew this would be entertaining; but would it be a movie that I would like to watch in 2025? Or would I still have to stick to Baasha to up the spirits? THAT was my concern.
Now, having watched Endhiran, I should agree am a trifle disappointed. No typical Thalaivar stuff. No entry song. No ‘mass’ signature tune. No punch dialogs. And an extremely simple opening scene (I had a more gethu opening scene in my marriage video)!! In fact, the audience was largely silent through out the movie. None of the euphoria one would expect from Tamil-movie-hungry audiences getting to watch a thalaivar padam FDFS in faraway land. In fact, the whole mass of people moved out in silence after the movie.
But I just loved the movie.
This was a great Shankar film; not so much a Rajini one. After the movie spoof that was Sivaji, this was like the good ol’ days – a usual Shankar movie with all the right ingredients. (Maybe lot lesser comedy than is conventional, but it still makes the cut). Welcome back, Shankar!
Any review is supposed to have spoilers in the form of a story brief. Here goes:
Dr Vaseegaran (Chandran Rajini) creates Chitti robot (Indiran Rajini) – the most human adro humanoid ever made. His aim is to get the army to use the robot to avoid human losses in war. In an attempt to make Chitti understand the importance of human life, Vaseegaran injects peelings into the robot, who then promptly falls for Vaseegaran’s daavu (Aish). Soon comes by evil Doctor who injects powers of destruction into Chitti and refurbishes him into Chitti v2.0. Then comes the standoff between Vaseegaran and the immensely powerful robot he himself unleashed on the world. Who wins in the end and how, forms the rest of the story.
End of Spoiler.
I generally am not a big fan of Aishwarya Rai. I never find her gelling with the character she dons. She ALWAYS appears like Aishwarya Rai the beauty queen who endorses numerous products like Pepsi, Nakshatra and Abhishek Bachchan. She always seems to carry around a halo that says “Ok, am supposed to be stuck with ruffians in the middle of nowhere, up some mountain that has a geographical identity crisis, but I have none; I know am THE Aishwarya Rai. You may go.” In this context, I always felt hurt and couldn’t understand why Thalaivar was hell bent on casting her in his movies. Especially when she has always spurned his offers.
(My theory is that this is Thalaivar’s way of putting an end to the age old ‘Amitabh Vs Rajini’ argument.
Amitabh: Mere paas North hai. East hai. West hai. Central hai. IIFA hai. Blog hai. Tere paas kya hai?
Rajini: Aishwarya Rai ke saath movie hai. Hey hey he he he. You can never hope for that now)
Anyway, I digress. The fact of the matter is, I hate Aish.
But I have to admit, she was just perfect for this role. Had any other heroine been cast in a character that is supposed to make a robot fall in love, it would have been hard to believe. For once, I give her some credit. Also, she looks sizzling hot in some songs.
Don’t have much to say about the music – didn’t really notice it in the movie, but the songs were all great and picturized well. ‘Kilimanjaro’ was top-class for the location, music and costumes. Would like to watch it on the big screen again!
As the scenes unravelled one after the other and one realized that this was a full-blooded sci-fi in Tamil, one realizes how Sujatha must have added strength with his presence in the team. We do not know how much he has exactly contributed to the movie, but I feel this is a great farewell movie for him. Typical Sujatha stuff.
And I just adored the stunts! Especially the ones in the first half with Chitti v1.0. Am sure the stunts were performed by Peter Hein and Rajini’s face was morphed in. But I care a damn. It sure looked good. And credible too, as it was Chitti and not Vaseegaran who was performing them. Good stuff!
These days it’s become fashionable to hail movies for the production cost. Every now and then some movie comes up, that’s supposed to be the most expensive movie made in this side of the planet. When Endhiran was credited to be that, I didn’t really give it a thought initially. But now I agree. The money and effort showed on the screen. And for once it didn’t seem like superfluous spending.
Graphics itself would have cost fortunes. Am sure the quality of CG in the movie was comparable to any recent Hollywood fare. Of course there were a couple of ‘Aayirathil Oruvan’ style comedy cartoons too. But they were just that – a couple. The rest were all incredibly credible and life like. Hats off for the effort!
Mattha ellaattha patthiyum paesiten. Now moving to the point.
Pinnittaaru. Pattaya kelappittaaru.
The thing with Rajini is, he may never give a Kamal-like performance where his histrionics set the screen on fire. But he is an amazzzzzzing actor all the same. All the hype about his style makes one overlook his acting skills.
But everyone will take note, in this movie.
He more than adequately differentiates between Vaseegaran and Chitti v1.0.
And Chitti v2.0 was terrifyingly terrific!!!! Seemed like an encore of Vettaya Raja. Ennaaaa oru villaththanam! My most favourite role in the movie is Chitti v2.0 for the pure ‘Rajini’ness. Awesome stuff. Sometimes I feel Rajini’s Superstar image has taken away an excellent villain from the industry.
Chitti v1.0 was likeable. When I saw the promos, I thought he looked like a uricha kozhi (much like I do now). But as the movie unfurled, one starts liking the way Chitti looks. Young and refreshing. And he does ‘feel’ different too – an evidence of Rajini’s subtle but excellent acting skills. And it was good to watch him do all those stunts and perform those dances. The graphics was wonderful - didn't feel artificial at all (largely).
Vaseegaran was fine as well. But nothing much to say about the character. Usual stuff.
But the icing on the cake was the pleasure of watching 100s of Rajinis fill the screen in the second half, led by Chitti v2.0. 7 pounds worth for sure!
In all, Rajini bears a movie on his shoulders, yet again.
Bottom line: Superb Shankar movie. Interesting story line. International class Indian movie. Chandramukhi kinda character for Rajini – less of style and more of content initially, and a negative shade towards the end.

----- UPDATE -----
Watched the movie a second time on day 2 :) Some notes:
- There are a couple of signature tunes in the movie.. for the two chitti versions..
- There is a wee bit of mass entry for both the chittis.. Not usual thalaivar level.. but something at least..
- Chitti v2.0 was all the more exciting in the second run, cos I knew what was coming.. So right from his entry, it was andrenalin-pumping..
- Most favo scene from the movie: the black sheep scene!!! Terrorrrr!!
- Chitti v2.0's laugh has to be seen to be believed. Nakkalaana oru kodoora kaara sirippu..
- Arima Arima rocked on the screen.. Wasnt a big fan of the song before watchin the movie.. But on screen Rajini adds so much power to the song.. And ARR's music fits the situation like a glove!
- Didnt realize Arima Arima was sung by Hariharan!! Superb effort..
- For the first time in decades, the 'SUPER STAR RAJNI' graphics had poor background music :( :( Feeling let down by ARR!!
- Dialogs sparkle in many places.. "Unakku unarvugal oru arivaa than kodukka patturukku".. Whattay!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Kurichi, Karuppan and Pullai

In an exclusive interview to VTTV, India's External Affairs Minister Mr SM Karuppan (name changed to protect identity) spoke about the recent Kurichi-Pullai episode to our chief correspondent Ms. P. Butt.

Excerpts from the interview:

VTTV: Good evening Mr Karuppan. The last few days must have been really tough on you?

SMK: Good evening Ms PainInTha Butt. And what tough? All channels showing me only. Yaeeee! Finally I overtook my பேத்தி Ramya in the popular-most-in-the-family polls.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

It's all about the money

(Apologies for the long-ish post. The happening meant a lot to me. Hence the long-winded post)

The 3rd of July in 2006 was the day I entered the Indian workforce. For the first time.

It was a symbol of growing up of sorts.

I would be staying in a PG then on. I would wear a tag with my photo and name on it. I would start using Outlook and use email for non-forward purposes. I would be dining ‘outside’ every single meal. Mostly at one of the dharshinis that gave idly-vada for 15 bucks in the mornings, and roti-curry for 15 at nights. I would have a CUG sim, with a postpaid connection. And a credit card, very soon.

It was a symbol of growing up of sorts.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kavidhai Kavidhai.. Padi!

I am a very passive listener of songs. In the sense that I never pay attention to the lyrics. Not that I don't want to. But I just don't (manufacturing defect).
So on those rare occasions when I actually listen to the lyrics by some luck, I get stunned sometimes. And mostly I find that's when Vairamuthu has penned the lyrics.
(Ok frankly, I cant differentiate Vairamuthu from Vaali or anybody else. But just thought that last sentence will make me look intellectually more adequate.)
This is a listing of some immortal lines from Tamil film music that have attracted me.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bite Joke

Just got smothered by a slew of bite jokes from a friend. Couldn't resist putting some up here.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


It is after intense thought that am writing this post. I just unearthed a priceless piece of general knowledge. Or even wisdom, you may call it. And simply having it in my head is painful. I want to get it out.

Post rating: U / PG (Meaning, read only if U are alone, living in a PG. Veetla irundhaa padikkaadheenga)
(Ok, very seriously, this post has infinite direct allusions to a very popular and fulfilling Tamil swear word. If you are the kind who winces on hearing such words, you might have a seizure before you finish reading this post. Don't blame me later!)

Come Maadi Learn Maadi

All you non-kandu buggers at Bangalore.. I know exactly how you feel when folks on the road give you directions that consist wholly of words like "aagbittu hogbidi.. periya bittu malabar beedi" and the like. So here's an effort to learn the basics of the language that will ensure survival in the city:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Movie Review: Singam

Vanakkam machas and machis. Generally I don't write movie reviews cos' at one level I find that quite repulsive. It takes months and years of hard work to get one movie done, and eventually arm chair critics simply write stuff off as "flops". Must feel really painful for the creator to see his creation being torn to pieces by folks who do not even realize the amount of effort that has gone into the making of the film.

That is at one level.

Now I have realized that, at another level (viz. lower), I too feel writing reviews could be fun! So here's my first.

Singam is Director Hari's new offering, which is very novel in that the hero has been given a name that is usually given to his Dad or the
kanakkupulla ("maths-kid", if it helps): Duraisingam.

Also, this is the only movie in Tamil film history in which the combined height index of the hero and heroine is 15 feet.
(Surya contributed 5 to this number, and Anushka's legs, an equal number)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I am the back!

Aaahhhh dandanakkaaaa.. Aaahhhh danakku nakka!!!

Usuroda than keeren machi's!!! After suffering from life at IIMB and the complete joblessness thereafter, I am back!!
(Ok this is the closest icon I could find that kinda indicates a historic return. My intelligently thought-up search terms ("back") took me to a lot of backside pictures (wink wink) that I don't like seeing.
in office.)

A lot has changed in the world since the last time I blogged (except my blog itself). For starters, my course at IIMB is done. And as a result I have been re-inducted into my family. Been enjoying loads of quality family time in the past couple of months. Felt so refreshing to be back in context at the home turf.