Friday, August 3, 2007

This week in Tamil Cinema

Still young at heart

Is it superhuman to compose 7 songs in 27 hours averaging less than 4 hours a song? Fact says NO. Maestro Ilayaraja has composed 7 songs for the film ULiyin Osai that is based on the novel written by none other than the legendary writer cum politician, M. KaruNanidhi.

I've still not gotten over Ilayaraja's magical Thiruvasagam. I can't wait to see how the maestro composes for this literary work.

Paruthiveeran valiantly wins at Osian's Cinefan

Osian's Cinefan is a film festival for Asian and Arab movies held every year at New Delhi. At this year's function which took place a couple of days back, Paruthiveeran, directed by Ameer, bagged the best film award.

Ameer has explored radically different stories with his 3 films - Mounam pesiyadhae, Raam and Paruthiveeran. He has evidently matured as a director and this award should give him the confidence to make bold movies such as Paruthiveeran.

Priyamani, the heroine of the movie, was adjudged the best actress. She did perform well. But I was surprised on coming to know that Karthik did not receive the best actor award.

Music function at Chennai

Hariharan and Shankar Mahadevan will be performing a live music show on August 12 at Chennai's Nehru indoor stadium.

I had a few comments when I read this piece. First - I don't know of too many songs sung by both of them together and, to me, the biggest attraction is only if the singers share the stage on the same song (I still cherish the SPB-Yesudas concerts). Second - I read news elsewhere that Kamal had to play a clout game to get access to the Nehru indoor stadium for shooting Dasaavatharam, but apparently, it is easy to reserve it for film related functions. Poor Kamal.

Nevertheless, this concert should provide a gala time for the audience in Chennai who would, by now, be either roasted or soaked (I meant the heat and the rain!).

Fans blow climax away

I meant Ajith fans. How does the conviction of a writer matter when thousands of fans want the climax of the film Kireedam changed? The fans could not bear Ajith's fiasco, in Kireedam I mean. What will they do about our real Ajith who is floundering and faltering to save his career.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Review: Kireedam (Tamil)

Class to crass.

Rating:5.9/10 (5,5,8,6,6,7,5,5)

If all it took to remake a classy movie was to recruit big names, make it anachronistically modern and retread the original scenes with bad acting, then Vijay, the director of Kireedam, would have made it. However, success takes more than blanketing a classic story on top of a modern setting and additional masala. This would have been a riskfree venture if Ajith could have gotten over his past failures and mustered some enthusiasm to act. But unfortunately, through out the movie, he lacks confidence. Ajith takes on the role of Mohanlal in the original and Rajkiran dons the role of Thilakan.The backbone of the original are the characters and the beautiful relationships. The lack of the bone here is because of shallow characters and undeveloped emotions.

To recapture the story: Rajarajan (Rajkiran) is a steadfast constable whose biggest ambition in life is to make his son, Sakthivel (Ajith), a Sub-Inspector. After an emotional send-off when Sakthi goes to write his SI exams, Rajarajan confiscates the car of a law-breaker who happens to be the son of a politician. Since Rajarajan refuses to apologise, the department has no other choice than to transfer him to Kodikarai, which is haunted by the rowdy Varadhan (Ajay). Meanwhile, Sakthi proposes to Divya (Trisha), and their parents give their consent to this relationship. Once Sakthi returns, a clash between Rajarajan and Varadhan ropes in Sakthi, and in an outburst of rage Sakthi mauls Varadhan. This promotes our beloved hero, much against his will, to the position of a rowdy. For every step Sakthi takes forward, the gang wars make him take two steps backward. At a point when his family's well being is at stake, Sakthi resorts to the do-or-die attitude.

The biggest problem with this movie is the acting, or better put, the lack of it. Ajith simply has to act. It's that simple. He is lifeless throughout the movie. He blew my top off when he hogs, like there was no tomorrow, when Rajarajan brings him food when he is in jail. The scene turns from an emotional scene to some sort of an advertisement for SaravaNa Bhavan! The underdeveloped love between Divya and Sakthi is nauseating to add to which his proposal dialogue "first payyan apparam poNNu" has the potential to drive any movie critic crazy.

I think the biggest problem with this movie is that it has a yardstick to measure against. When the original is a blemishless piece of art, to even try to live up to it, the remake should have tried to resemble reality. In choosing to glorify the hero and have big cities as the backdrop for the story, the director fails to hit the spot.

To the whole crew's credit, this is better than previous Ajith's movies and even better than most recent masala movies. Also I feel Ajith's potential as an actor is more than what he has displayed in the past. I was expecting this movie to elicit his talent, but I was disappointed to find that it did not. He does not have too much steam left in him and if anything miraculous has to happen to make his career float, it has to be now and it has to be movies that have strong stories such as Kireedam's.

Rajkiran does his part well and so does Saranya as Sakthi's mom. The pair reminded me of Thavamaai Thavamirundhu. Rajkiran remains docile for most of the movie, except for the action scenes. Vivek's presence is not felt much, and most of the humour falls flat amidst the atmosphere of the movie.

The music is above average and my favourite, as would anyone else's be, is akkam pakkam. It is a sweet melody and Sadhna Sargam does a good job with the tune and, unsurprisingly, a bad job with the pronunciations of the lyrics. Kanavellam is a fast number with a catchy tune. The theme music is haunting and fits the story well.

If only Ajith and Trisha had acted...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Comic Strips on Stem Cells

I found a few comic strips on Stem Cells and I'm posting a couple that are funny.

George W Bush:

Legal system's stance on stem cells, relatively:

Friday, July 20, 2007

Review: Kireedam (MalayaLam)

Story telling at its precision best. Crown of Indian film making.

Kireedam is a very poignant story about a youngster, Sethumadhavan (Mohanlal), who unintentionally and unwillingly gets involved in a gang fight that keeps roping him back and finally costs him everything - from his relationships, to career to even his life. Sibi Malayil, the director, has turned a simple story into a grandiose masterpiece. This movie is nothing short of brilliant, with its strong dialogues, spectacular acting, crisp direction and editing. I'll let the rest of the review support the hype created above.

Sethumadhavan, a youngster in a village who aspires to join the police team deriving inspiration from his father Achuthan Nair (Thilakan), is part of a happy loving family comprising of Sethu, his mother, father, younger sister and brother. Achuthan, an honest cop and a doting father who is hellbent on making his son into an honest cop too, gets transferred just after Sethu writes his exams. Little does the family know what is in store for them in the village which is troubled by Keerikadan Jose (Mohan Raj). Achuthan joins the police force that has thus far turned a blind eye to Jose's plunders and crimes. One fine day, Achuthan hears of trouble by Jose at the local market, and the honest cop that he is, single handedly sets out to arrest him. Meanwhile, Sethu comes to know of this showdown, hurries to the market to save his dad from any troubles he may be getting into. Unable to bear the sight of Jose kicking his father, Sethu confronts Jose and subdues his imposing figure. From this point on, his life takes a turn to the worse. Sethu gets typecast by the society as a 'rowdy'. His futile efforts at getting back to normal life with family make him feel helpless. Even people in his own family start to suspect him of getting his hands dirty in mob fights. Hydhrose (Haneefa) and Sethu's brother-in-law are characters who add further complexities and woes to an already emotionally riddled Sethu. Finally unable to handle the precarious position that the society is driving him to, Sethu finds no other solution than killing Jose. In an exemplary climax, a fight ensues between Sethu and Jose, and in a fit of rage Sethu kills Jose.

This was the first malayalam movie I watched fully about a decade back. Instant love, is how I'd describe my instinctive reaction towards the movie. A simple story that is replete with complex emotions, is handled with nonchalance by the experienced crew that includes Mohanlal and Thilakan. I've always heard Mohanlal being compared to Kamal in his potential as an actor and it took this movie to prove to me that the comparison by no means is irrational. The actor's subtle and underplayed emotions in the movie, in contrast to Kamal's active body language and louder recitals or dialogues, was different and resembled reality as closely as Kamal's acting. As Sethu, the gleam in his eye that expresses a yearning for a normal life could not have been played to such perfection by any other actor. A few scenes were made to stick - the one scene where he goes to see his mom and dad in a hospital just before setting out to kill Jose, the scene in the school where he tells his love, played by Parvathi, to etch a new life for herself sans him and of course the stunning climax where he displays a wide range of emotions after killing Jose. Thilakan also lives up to the standards that Mohanlal sets. His character is of appalling dimension, sensitivity and charm and I'm not sure any other actor could persuade us so well on all three accounts. The other characters support the story line and every actor has done his role quite well. This movie gave Haneefa a much needed break.

The music is set to the film's tempo and theme. The song by M. G. Sreekumar, KaNNeer Poovinte, which laments about Sethu's life being a complete wreck for no fault of his, bestowed him the national award for the year. Needless to say, Mohanlal bagged the national award for the best actor for his role as Sethumadhavan.

The special interest in this movie now is because the Tamil movie Kireedam, the Ajith starrer, is based on this epic drama. I think the crew is guaranteed success if they diligently retread the MalayaLam version into Tamil. Let us wait and see how successful this remake is.

This week in Tamil Cinema

This week in Tamil Cinema has been very active. Interesting news abounds.


Kireedam, an Ajith starrer, is releasing today. Ajith's previous movie, Aazhwar, sunk like a rock. Trisha, whose previous movie with Ajith - Ji - was barely pecked by the Tamizh audience, is the heroine of Kireedam. Raj Kiran, who has grown to be the Tamizh Big-B in choosing dignified roles that suit his stature, plays the role of a doting father to Ajith. I've developed a soft corner for Thala since it appears to me that he has stopped taking himself too seriously. The preposterous role in Citizen, where he thought he could get away with portraying an annoying stentorian village bum, just cannot be accepted. But from then on, he has been toning down his mannerisms and polishing his histrionics. Now he acts reasonably and looks pleasant. I hope he gets a break through Kireedam and we see more movies of his movies such as Vaali and Aasai.

Balaji's thoughts at this impending release is here.

Shreya, who is rumoured to have demanded a whopping 65 lakhs for Dasaavatharam after being carried away by Sivaji's success, is starring opposite Thala in his next movie. I think today's heroines realise that their stint in movies will be rather short compared to that of the men in the industry and feel that they might as well make hay while the sun shines and demand unreasonable salaries. While it is fair that the market dynamics offer high salaries that they deserve today, misestimating their worth can cost them their career. I hope Shreya realises this.

Eccentricity is hereditary. Living proof is Simbu, son of T. Rajendar. Kettavan starring the former, it seems, is about his relationship with Nayantara which failed.

I feel that both the dad and the son are very talented, but that the talent is eclipsed by their eccentricity. The schizophrenic feel they have - sometimes displaying flashes of brilliance, sometimes making a complete buffoon of themselves - is what attracts me to their movies.
Saving the best for the last, here is more news about Dasaavatharam from randramble. The news item he links to does not come as a surprise knowing Kamal, but is very pleasant in that we learn Kamal is still his diligent hard-working self. His conviction in portraying scenes as close to reality as possible is one of the main reasons for his success in the industry. 'Ethaartham' (meaning real and natural) is one of his main themes in anything he does. So much so that I actually thought for a second that the the above was really GWB, one of the characters he plays in Dasaavatharam.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Short Story: Love is an instinct

Veera Raghavan (Veeru) had dark skin and sharp eyes. Eyes that seemed like they could scathe if stared into. Eyes that sparkled. His hirsutism gave him a particular masculine charm. But he was a slave. He was violent. His violence was welcome as long as as it was directed towards the enemies who dared to break into the walls of his empire, Thandavas.

Veeru's upbringing, like any of his peers', was steeped in loyalty. Loyalty was as natural to him as was his hatred towards the armies of enemies. At the prime of his life, he was the most efficient warrior in his legion. But, he also wanted to find personal happiness apart from the satisfaction that his loyal warrior self bestowed upon him. A youth that he was, he wanted to find the love of his life, a girl whose lineage was of utmost importance and whose loyalty would measure up to his.

Nirmala (Nimmy) was a beautiful girl in the neighboring kingdom, Cowravas, allies of the Thandavas. She was fair and softspoken. Loyal she was, but being a girl, did not have to serve conscription as men in kingdom had to. She was an orphan and her foster parents showered enough love to pamper her. She was a perfect example of a spoilt rich kid. But she was soft within. She was emotional. Though her foster parents were loving and all that, she knew that they had bought her from an orphanage. This was a splinter that kept burning in her mind. She wanted love that was pure and that was not paid for. So, she was looking for someone who would accept her for the rest of her life for who she was.

One day, when Veeru was guarding the boundaries of his empire, he laid eyes on Nimmy. Their eyes locked and the connection was electric. They were lit with love, at first sight. She approached the border between their empires and they played and pranced for a while. A few days flit past and they decided to escalate the matter, Veeru to his king and Nimmy to her parents. The king invited Nimmy's parents over for a dinner, obliging Veeru. The King said, "Veeru is my farourite and is very loyal. He'd make a perfect match for your Nimmy." Nimmy's mom replied, "Yes. We realise the depth of their love and have seen them meet a few times on the border. We thought we'd officially unite their love. My girl is very docile and will perfectly fit the bill. Their horoscopes match too. If you don't have any objection, let's unfetter them."

And so, the king let Veeru go free as Nimmy's parents watched on. Veeru and Nimmy ran towards each other, in slow motion. Like Kamal and Sri Devi. Like Surya and Jyothika. When they came close to each other, Veeru and Nimmy wagged their tails and happy "BowWow"s filled the air.

Love is an instinct. An animal instinct.

This story is inspired from a short story by Jeffery Archer in the book "A Twist in the Tale".

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Harry Potter book leaks before release

At a point when Harry Potter is the topic of the conversation virtually everywhere, a bothering news surfaces about an illicit release of the book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, on the internet. The author of this blog says he found the book on the pirate bay. The photos of the book are all fingers and thumbs, literally. If I were the an Onion editor, this would be my story:

The underworld mafia release an illicit version of the book on the internet. The photos were taken by a camera screwed to a chewing gum that was chewed for the whole time the book was photographed.

The author J. K. Rowling and the publisher are claiming a loss of $90 trillions. They said this number was calculated based on the losses purportedly incurred earlier by software companies such as Microsoft, Oracle etc and music companies such as Sony, BMG etc due to the piracy of their proprietary material. The far-reaching effects of this economic calamity will be felt all over the world. Countries will be without electricity, heat, water, spicy food and even underwears for more than a decade. The destruction caused will likely bring the US back under the British rule, make superbowl a game of cricket, disturb the peace in the middle east and unite India and Pakistan.

Such are the effects of piracy. Such.

Will 911 save you from cops?

It's better to acquaint yourself with numbers other than 911 in cases of emergencies like this. An intoxicated man, very intoxicated man, calls 911 to save himself from the cops and gets arrested.

This sounds like an Indian movie where the hero's sidekick gives a complaint about the villain to a corrupt cop and gets whipped.

The above story is one more reason for me to remain a teetotaler.


In the same spirit, here is another story where a couple of unemployed scientists from NJ prove that dogs like binge drinking, prefer beer to other alcohols and like Bud Light the most. Ok. I made the last one up. But at least dogs should be glad they don't have to deal with 911 when drunk.

Read it with a plate of salt since this is an Onion story.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Pa(y)tents or No-Pa(y)Tents

(Courtesy: NY Times)

A recent study has found that, on an average, patents, excluding the ones girding the pharmaceutical companies, smaller companies and individual inventors, do more financial harm than good to the company. This is true especially for the IT companies. Apparently, most companies end up spending more in litigation costs than they receive in royalties. Worse yet, there is data to show that the companies that do the most R&D are sued the most.

Is the economy being driven to a point where companies don't have any incentive to do research unless it helps them increase their revenue through products?

Update: If you're unable to access the NYTimes article, and if you'd like me to send it to you, do let me know your email id through a comment (use 'at' for '@' and 'dot' for '.' to avoid any spam scripts from picking up the id)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Muralitharan Cruising at 700

(Courtesy: CricInfo)

Muthiah Muralitharan claimed his 700th test wicket in the 193-run innings victory against Bangladesh yesterday (14 July 2007). Becoming only the second bowler in the history of test cricket to reach the 700 mark, Murali is now just 8 wickets behind the Australian legend Shane Warne who holds the world record for claiming the most test wickets.

Murali has come a long way, a very long way, since his debut against Australia on Aug 28, 1992 - 6 months after Shane Warne's debut. Little did anyone know on Sep 2, 1992 that the debuting bowler having claimed 3 wickets in his first match would go on to become such a relentless wicket-taker as to shrug off this feat as a routine, but shrug it off with reverence; He values his statistics and records, but he takes inspiration from his recent record to set the next one. Now, he says, it is the 1000-wicket mark that he is eyeing and not eyeing surpassing Shane Warne's record of 708.

So deceptive is this Sri Lankan's action that Alan Border mistook the bowler's first ball, an off-breaker, for a leg-breaker. Among the multitude of tricks that he has up his sleeve, the doosra, his most coveted weapon, when unleashed, makes all hell-mets break loose, including those of the umpires' (for their dislike for his doosra action, to be detailed below). Murali's action in his own words were:

Ball in first two fingers, thumb to the side, the ball pushed out, that's the slider, the one that scoots low on landing. Same grip, only thumb on top and fingers running over the ball on release, that's the toppie. And the doosra - I really turn the wrist one more than normal.

Murali honed his skills sharper than the blades of a knife but not without his bout of hurdles. Murali has valiantly battled his share of controversies but continues to set records unfazed by the criticism he faces for his bowling action. With a short run-up and a quick wristy spin action, Murali's bowling action is one of the most controversial in cricket history. He was tested by the ICC a number of times after he had been called for "chucking" and "illegal action", incidentally (or not) each time in Australia. His action was finally deemed legal attributing the "controversial" action to a congenital defect in his arms that disallows him from straightening the arm any further.

(Above: Darrell Hair no-balls Muttiah Muralitharan at Melbourne in December 1995. It was the first time an international umpire had called him for a suspect action. Muralitharan was later cleared by the ICC. Courtesy: CricInfo)

At the age of 35, Murali seems as fresh as a debutant in his spirits and as composed and strategic as a veteran in his technique. His each wicket whets his appetite for his next. So much so that he has taken only 12 tests to reach from the 600-mark to the 700-mark, averaging 8.33 wickets per test. At this rate he will surpass the Australian's record, ironically, against Australia in Australia!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Stand Up: Modern Art

The picture posted above is of the stand-up comedian who changed my fundamental outlook on stand-up from disgust (since most of them have generous vulgarity with umpteen expletives) to finding humour in the simple things in life.

"I have never understood modern art. I mean, what is it? To me it just looks like someone who had a clear picture in mind and starts drawing, half way into the painting gets disgusted at it and throws the rest of the paint and the painting around and then sells it for hundred thousand dollars.

If you're a bad painter and have a bad temper, you'll be a successful modern artist.

And who'd buy modern art? You go to an exhibition and look at all the paintings. Most of them make sense to you - sunrises, forests, kids playing around, fall colours, rivers and all that. But this modern art is one thing that you don't understand and so, you buy it to have it for the rest of your life to figure out what it exactly means...

I have seen people walk by fast at regular paintings and when they get to a modern art they twitch, squint, stand upside-down and then, buy the painting, sometimes having nowhere to hang it since they just sold their houses to buy it..

Friday, July 13, 2007

Top 50 websites

TIME magazine has come up with a list of the hottest websites in 2007. Out of the 50 websites listed, I've been to only 3! I stay on the computer for about 12 hours a day and I've been to only 3! They are, LinkedIn, INGDirect and StarWars. I haven't even heard of most of the others.

I know what I have to do for the next few hours this weekend...

Intel befriends OLPC program

Intel, an adversary for the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program until recently, has agreed to join hands with Nicholas Negroponte to bring PCs to children around the world. When the OLPC program was launched, Craig Barrett, Intel's CEO, derided OLPC's 'XO' machine as just a 'gadget'. But Intel themselves recently launched a Classmate PC whose design is much more naive than its competitor XO, while selling it for a whopping $225 as opposed to XO's $100.

Intel has now not only agreed to be on the board of OLPC, but also support and fund the program actively. Intel now joins AMD, Google and Red Hat in this effort. The computers that will be reaching children around the world this autumn will, nevertheless, be made of AMD processors. Some suspect Intel's move as a step in pushing AMD off its pedestal.

I say, as long as the children around the world benefit, who cares about these brand wars.


As long as 120,000 years ago, Greenland was apparently covered with lush forests, according to the latest findings detailed in this article. By analysing ice cores that are almost a mile deep, scientists have been able to find intact DNA belonging to conifers and a collection of insects. It is remarkable how the ice has so artistically preserved the genetic data, almost as if they were waiting to be discovered.

So far, the knowledge of the past environments of such ice-covered regions has been very limited, because the fossil evidence, if any, may be hidden. This study, however, has unearthed the possibility that many deep ice cores might contain genetic information about the environments of the region in their basal layers of ice. The result is also promising because there are many more ice covered areas on the earth, whose ecology and life forms can be studied by extending this technique. With facilities available to analyse DNA and identify species on a large scale, this offers a whole range of areas to be explored on a manageable time scale.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Kamal's remakes and Dasaavathaaram

Rumour has it that Kamal's Dasaavathaaram is a remake of the Spanish TV movie Tempus Fugit (Time Flies). This rumour has gathered momentum owing to the discovery that Kamal has bought the rights to remake Tempus Fugit and the indismissable similarities between Dasaavathaaram and Tempus Fugit.

This rumour launched me on an armchair travel through Kamal's remakes to figure out a couple of them I liked the most. The contention was not for the first spot, which was unequivocally clinched by Anbe Sivam, but for the second spot. I was finding it hard to decide between Thenali and Kurudhippunal, and finally let them tie.

Anbe Sivam, arguably Kamal's seminal movie, directed by C. Sundar, is loosely based on the Hollywood flick Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I call it 'loosely based' because the movie's theme is not inspired but the means to the theme is inspired from the original. The movie, in bringing together two noble characters who are as different from one another as possible (which is the inspired bit) etches the theme - love is God, and God is love - (which is very different from that of the original) in the minds of the audience. This is a perfectly balanced movie with the right blend of comedy, sentiments, love, friendship, politics and satire. In addition, brilliant performances from Kamal and Madhavan, witty dialogues by Madhan and mellifluous music by Vidyasagar make it my favourite movie of all times.

On the other hand, Thenali directed by K. S. Ravikumar, a movie that is loosely based on the movie What about Bob?, is a commercial entertainer that relies on 'Crazy' Mohan's wordplay, Kamal's versatility, slapstick and physical comedy. Through funny, and sometimes contrived, circumstances, Thenali (Kamal) hooks on to Dr. Kailash (Jayaram) and slowly transfers his lunacy to the Doctor himself. The movie owes its success mainly to the rhythmic exchanges of dialogues between Kamal and Jayaram. The movie is one of my favourites among the Kamal-'Crazy'Mohan ventures.

Kurudhippunal, a remake of the Bollywood classic Drohkaal, directed by the veteran cinematographer P. C. Sreeram, is the story of the cop Adi NarayaNan (Kamal) going through, within himself, a battle between his love for his family and his conviction as a cop. Stellar performances by Nasser (playing Badri the terrorist), and Arjun (playing Adi's friend Abbas, a cop) strengthen the movie's impact. This is a movie without any songs and so thankfully we're saved from seeing the hero and heroine run around trees and play hide-and-seek. The brilliant cinematography is a treat to the eyes.

Avvai ShaNmugi, a remake of the Hollywood hit Mrs. Doubtfire, and Vasool Raja, a remake of the Bollywood blockbuster MunnaBhai MBBS are the other movies that were in close contention. Avvai ShaNmugi gave Thenali the run for its money.

Kamal is one film maker who can improvise on books or other movies and create a remake that is even better than the original. Hence, I share the confusion with randramble of not knowing whether I want to see Tempus Fugit before Dasaavathaaram...

Update: I don't consider Nayagan a remake even to the extent that Anve Sivam is a remake. Nayagan is based on real life events of the don Varadaraja Mudaliar. Some scenes may be inspired from God Father, but that isn't criterion enough to consider it a remake.

Letter to Manny

Ice Age is a movie about a lonely abandoned mammoth, Manfred, finding companionship in a sloth and a scheming tiger. As beautiful as the movie is, it makes us sad that the curse of extinction has wiped these imposing creatures from the surface of the earth.

Dear Manny,

I take great pleasure in breaking the news to you that your species' footprints of existence were discovered in Moscow, Russia. Manny, you may be glad to note some representative comments from our species:
"It's a lovely little baby mammoth indeed, found in perfect condition," said Alexei Tikhonov...."This specimen may provide unique material allowing us to ultimately decipher the genetic makeup of the mammoth," he told Reuters by telephone.
You may also be elated to notice the fact that the discovered mammoth is a female, Lyuba, who is also being called in my native language a fifty KG TaajuMahaal (translates to: as beautiful as a 50 kilogram Taj Mahal, one of the New Seven Wonders).

I hope this epistle bears news happy enough to raise your ever-flagging spirits, be it in the Ice Age or during the meltdown or when you loved Raymond.

Yours sincerely,
oLi (Light)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Black plays White

No it's not Chess!

It came as news to me that Captain Vijayakanth is known as 'karuppu' MGR. It came as a bigger news that the 'fighter' producers think it is humanly possible to amass enough white paint to convert the 'karuppu' MGR to play the real MGR. May be they plan to shoot the movie and then play the negative of the reel in the theatres. Otherwise, no matter how much make-up is used, no matter how hard one squints, it's going to be hard to accept Captain as Vaathiyaar.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ponder this in July 2007

Ponder This Challenge: Given a square piece of property of unit side you wish to build fences so that it is impossible to see through the property, ie there is no sightline connecting two points outside the property and passing through the property that does not intersect a fence. The fences do not have to be connected and several fences can come together at a point. What is the minimum total length of fencing required and how is it arranged. For example you could place fencing along all four sides. This would have total length 4 but is not the best possible.

I do not have a proof that my answer is minimal. I will accept as correct any answer that does at least as well.

Since there is no constraint on whether the fences can be laid within the property, right now my solution is - if the fences are laid on the diagonals of the property, it prevents any line of sights from 2 points outside the property, which results in a 2.828 unit fence. I'm sure I'm missing something very obvious, but am not able to figure out what.

In the case that the fences can be laid only on the boundaries, I've not thought enough. But my instinctive answer currently is 3 units, covering 3 sides of the property. But I'm NOT going to pursue much on these lines since the constraint is imaginary.

Update: The above solution is incorrect and there is a marginally better solution to the above 'ponder this'.

Song Review: Mathey - Morning Raga

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Music is panacea, believe many. If not that, this song can at least catapult your moods from any depths of sorrow to zeniths of joy. Beautifully rendered by Sudha Raghunathan, Mathey, set to the raagam Kamas, starts with a music that infuses in you the same euphoria as do the first rays of the sun rising from a peacock-blue ocean. The song is accompanied by a perfect sprinkle of drums, mrindangam, ghatam, violin, dhandia, salangai(ghungroo), guitar and bass guitar that neither steals the song's carnatic origins nor cloys it with western influence.

Mani Sharma's minnalai pidithu from ShahJahan was an example of his potential to stretch the boundaries of music. Morning Raga's sound track is, in addition, his display of daring talent to experiment with carnatic fusion, which is as risky a proposition as William Tell's aiming at the apple - either he gets it right or he kills himself and his baby. Mani Sharma and Amit Heri split the apple, just with this one bolt, Mathey, from their quiver. Though purists may scoff at the idea of Westernising Carnatic music, the composers have not only created sensational music, but also ensured that the masses who don't have access to carnatic music are exposed to the art-form.

The initial brief Alapana gives the song a very colourful beginning. Kamas is fundamentally a happy raagam with Shadjam (Sa), Chatusruti Rishabham (Ri2), Antara Gandharam (Ga2), Shudhdha Madhyamam (Ma1), Panchamam (Pa), Chatusruti Dhaivatham (Dha1) and Kaisiki Nishadham (Ni1) and Sudha exploits the raagam and her vocal brilliance to infuse the listener with elation. The synthesised sounds add additional beauty and texture. The percussional confluence of Ghatam, drums and mridangam, all set to adi taalam, maintains an overtly subtle rhythm throughout the song. Guitars - both the classical and the bass - can be noticed only by straining the ears, but even to those ears that cannot pick these up explicitly, their presence adds an ineffable dimension. The violin that runs alongside Sudha's rendering of the chittaiswaram is a creative improvisation.

On top of the multifarious instruments, the punctuated laughter by a girl provides a context to imagine the song's setting in the movie. Unbeknownst of anything about the movie, when I listen to this song, I imagine a Kerala-ic dawn in lush green fields studded with coconut trees, and a girl of 20 wearing paavadai-dhavaNi singing, while her little sister prances around the field laughing.

This varNam song composed by
Harikesa Nallor & Muthayya Bhagavathar in Kannada and Sanskrit, is widely used in dance renditions and requires technique and good facial expressions. Sudha's jadhi-swarams during the second half have a fluid choreographic eloquence to them. The following is the song's lyrics and translation.

Mathe Malaya dhwaja pandya samjathe mathanga vadana guha
Sakodari sankari Chamundeswari chandrakaladari thaye gouri
da da ni da da ni da da ni da da ni pa ma
da da ni ri sa ni sa da ni sa da pa pa ma
da da ni ga ri ni ri sa ni da pa ni da ma
da da ma ga ma pa ma pa da da ni ni da ma
da da ri sa ni da ni da da ma da ni ma ni
da da sa sa pa da ni da da ma ga ri sa ni
da da pa da da ni da da sa da ni da
ma ga ri sa ni da ni sa ni ni da da pa ma
(Ist speed & second speed)
Data sakala kala nipuna chathura
Data vividha matha samaya samarasa
Data sulabha hrudaya madhura vachana
Data sarasa ruchira tara swaralaya
Geetha sukada nija bhava rasikavara dhata
Mahisha suranada nalmadi srikrishna rajendra nadaya
Sada pore mahitha harikesa manohare sadaya
(Ist speed & second speed)
Mathe Malaya dhwaja pandya samjathe mathanga vadana guha (11/2)
Shyame sakala bhuvana sarva bhoume sasi mandala madhyaga (5)
1.MA,MA, pani dada papa magamapa MA,MA, nida MAsani dapadada(2)
Shyame sakala bhuvana sarva bhoume sasi mandala madhyaga
2.nidanida dapapama PAPA nidapama gamaPA nidaMA sanidapa MAnida(2)
Shyame sakala bhuvana sarva bhoume sasi mandala madhyaga
3.saSAsa nidanisa niDApa magamapa maMAma samagama pasanida NI;(7)
nidani padani mapadani gamapadani samagama padani samagari sasanida pada
Shyame sakala bhuvana sarva bhoume sasi mandala madhyaga

O Mother! You are the daughter of the Pandya king Malayadhwaja
You are the lady with the face glowing green
O Mother! You have the beauty of the moon
You have the great expertise in all the arts
You allow equal rights to all the creeds
You are soft and sweet spoken
You express affection in music and rhythm
You inspire us with your beautiful and expressive song
You have gained fame for killing the demon, Mahishasura
You protect and care for Sri Krishna Rajendra, the Maharaja of Mysore
Ever pray to Siva and the mother, Parvati
Mother! You glow with the blue color
You care for the whole world
You glow like a full moon

Monday, July 9, 2007

300 x 911 = McDonald

Statement: McDonald is like crack. Once you're hooked, you'll do anything to get it. You'll even call the cops 300 times to order a burger.

Proof: A girl, 4, called 911 300 times on a deactivated cell phone to order a McDonald's burger without her mother's knowledge.

Corollory: Cops are worse than most delivering stores. You have to call them about 300 times just to get a burger, and you trust them to get to you pronto in time of emergency?

Burp less to fight global warming

Seems to be true for cows, atleast. This Reuters article suggests that the bovine belch can generate an average of 100-200 litres of methane a day! Staggering, to say the least. Given that methane is almost 25 times as potent a global warmer as carbon dioxide, reducing methane emissions could bring down global warming significantly.

Researchers are now frantically trying to find new plant-based diets for these cows so as to make them belch less. Usually, a poorer quality diet results in significantly more methane gas. It could be because cattle feed, these days, is less chewy, and cows are not able to break it down well before it reaches the stomach. This leads to incomplete processing, and therefore, more methane, which comes out in the belch.

On the positive side of things this emission of fuel may fuel better regulations on what these animals will be fed.

Sun eats mobile signal

According to this Inquirer article solar flares can attenuate mobile signals significantly. And this does not mean if you go into a burrow you'll be getting signal bursts. The sun actually causes the signal-towers that face the Sun to lose signal for brief periods. And since the Sun attacks the hub, the tower, solar flares are apparently responsible for 8-20% of the dropped calls.

At least now the mobile companies don't have to take the blame anymore and better yet, they can blame a cause that does not have any solution, the Sun.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Wine tastings gone wild

Doug Kuntz for The New York Time

I had earlier written here about wine helping us to live longer. But meanwhile, being a teetotaler, I've been thinking (a) what are the consequences of trying to live long by consuming wine? and (b) Do I really want to live that long given people around me will be all high on wine all the time wanting to live longer?

Frankly, I don't understand why people drink. The main reasons I don't drink is that I want to remember that I had fun and to remember the fun I had. And not only do people around me drink and float in a puddle of puke, but also often make me share the miseries they go through!

According to this New York Times post:

There also are reports of tastings gone wild involving intoxicated visitors who have tossed back full glasses of wine without regard to nose or body until they grabbed the brass spittoon for baser purposes.

The above is one reason I wouldn't run a vineyard or a wine-tasting event.

The latest additions to local lore include a story about members of an inebriated group at the Palmer Vineyards here who hopped off a hayride and began gallivanting naked through the vines.

Aforementioned is one reason why I would not want to be around people who're inebriated on wine.

One thing going in favour of alcohol, quoting Jerry Seinfeld, "Say what you want about alcohol, but not only are there not a lot of optional accessories, alcohol actually helps you get rid of things. Family, home, job, driver's license. In fact, at a certain point, the only thing you have to remember to get, is more alcohol, and maybe a rag for your squeegee."

I'd rather follow the Bible:

Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly!
In the end it bites like a snake, and poisons like a viper.
Your eyes will see strange sightes and your mind imagine confusing things.

Review: Chennai 600028

Dokku, Gaaji and Bet-matchu you can relate to.

This low budget venture by Venkat Prabu, son of Gangai Amaran, is a street-cricket centric light hearted tale of two teams, Sharks and Rockers, and about their rivalry saga reaching a pinnacle at the impending flood-light tournament. The beauty of the story is that, if you ever lived among the 'local' cricket teams, you'll immediately be able to relate to every character. The characters don't have depth enough, but even the superficial portrayal elicits memories of someone that you match each character with, and that made me relive my fond street-cricket moments (this is why I gave the story a 7/10). Visalakshmi-Thottam, the home of the Sharks, reminded me not only of my local-cricket past, but also of my frequent visits to a friend who actually lived in Visalakshi-Thottam. The portrayal of Visalakshi-Thottam is very accurate, with jobless guys bullying around newcomers and kids, extracting rides from their new bikes and borrowing their new bats/balls (I've been a victim, and so the emotion :) ).

The movie starts with SPB introducing the characters of the 'hero' team, Sharks, in a magnific voice and a jovial tone. This kickstarts the movie on a very light vein that immediately puts every cricket lover in a comfort zone. Raghu (Jai), a lead 'Royapuram' Rockers bowler, moves to the Sharks' area since his father gets transferred from Royapuram and this creates friction between him and the Sharks. Also owing to his inability to attend Rockers' practice, he is suspected of being a Sharks-spy and is demoted in the batting order. This rubs him the wrong way, causing him to gradually shift from the Rockers to the Sharks. Meanwhile, Karthik (Siva), the Sharks team captain, falls in love with the sister of the lead Sharks batsman, Pazhani (Nithinsathyaa) which creates a intra-team conflict when the big game around the corner. To further complicate matters, Karthik gets stabbed by one of his brother's enemies, and this prevents him from playing against the Rockers. Raghu's Rockers knowledge comes as a vital weapon during the Sharks semi-finals against the Rockers.

I enjoyed a few characters and situations that I could completely relate to. Seenu (Premgi Amaran) is a self-proclaimed all-rounder and I immediately fell in love with his character. I mean, who would not fall in love with a character who is pretty bad at cricket, is the funny bone of the team and is happy being that way. Seenu's delivery of a Chandramukhi take-off is nothing less than hilarious. Half-way into the movie, the team wants to garner money for a 'thaNNi' party, and compels a middle-school team into a bet-match on the beach. If you've ever played bet-matches, you'll realise how funny this gets - I've been in situations where we were over-confident getting into a bet-match, without having money at stake, and later had to pawn our cricket-kits for a few days until we gave the winning team the money.

The movie ends in a very unexpected but a very funny note. This way, you forget the unspectacular meat of the movie and just remember you were happy during the start and at the end and have an illusion of satisfaction after the movie.

The movie negatives were average performances from the amateurs and not-so-special screenplay. The positives were that it strikes the love of the masses - cricket - and that it still does not make a fool of itself unlike movies such as I love you da. The last time I remember seeing cricket as even a side theme was in uLLam ketkume and the movie did a reasonable job of portraying it credibly. I would like to see more movies with cricket as their theme, mainly because of the audience base that it can muster. But since the audience are very aware of the subject, it becomes difficult for the director to give a real-feel. Chennai-28 succeeds in giving the movie a real feel by resorting to street-cricket and by studying the nitty-gritty of the game.

The song Yaaro-YaarukkuL by SPB is my favourite in the movie and has the SPB feel that reminds me of ellorum sollum paattu from Marupadiyum. World cuppa is a catchy number with funny lyrics and un paarvaimele pattal has a classic Yuvan signature. It is noteworthy that the music was composed by ILayaraja-puthran Yuvan and Amaran-puthran Premgi.

Review criteria

The following is the method I came up with to calculate the rating-metric of a movie and will try to tweak it as I receive feedbacks from you folks.

I shortlisted the elements I generally break down a movie into. They are -

Music/background score, Stunts & Choreography(2)
Cinematography & visual effetcs(1)

The numbers in the bracket represent the importance associated with the respective criterion. Each movie will receive a score for each criterion out of 10 and then the final score will be evaluated by factoring in the importance of the particular criterion. For example, let's say a movie has the following ratings:

DIRECTION (3) : 8 = 24
ACTING (3) : 8 = 24
STORY (2) : 8 = 16
DIALOGUES (2) : 7 = 14
SCREENPLAY (1) : 9 = 9
MUSIC/CHOREO (2) : 6 = 12
COMEDY (1) : 10= 10

The overall rating comes to 116/15 = 7.8.

I know this sounds too meticulous, but I don't intend to make this excruciating for every review. I will assign a score such as 7.8/10 (8, 8, 8, 7, 9, 6, 7, 10) for the above movie and link to this post, and anyone interested in knowing the details can read this post. The scores in the brackets correspond respectively to the scores for the individual elements listed above.

I've often wondered what would be a good metric to assign a numeric rating to a movie. I really like Balaji's method of star-rating a movie, and I've always wanted to discuss with him how he comes up with the ratings. Since his rating mostly coincides with how I feel about the movie, I rely on it heavily to decide whether or not to watch a movie. But, for example, when I see a metric in RottenTomatoes the take-away is not clear to me at the end of reading a movie review. If there is a clear metric associated with every movie, and I know how the metric was arrived at, it would give me a reasonable idea as to why the movie is rated the way it's rated especially when it is rated by a single reviewer.

I hope I'm able to keep up with this rating system, and that it is of some use to you readers. Any comments on how to improve the system is much appreciated, as I've mentioned above.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Taj Mahal is still a Wonder

Taj Mahal is still among the seven wonders of the world. According to the WSJ article:

Brazil's Statue of Christ Redeemer, Peru's Machu Picchu, and Mexico'sChichen Itza pyramid were chosen alongside the Great Wall of China, Jordan'sPetra, the Colosseum in Rome and India's Taj Mahal....

Among the places left out were the Acropolis in Athens, Greece; the Statuesof Easter Island, Chile; Cambodia's Angkor; Turkey's Hagia Sophia; and Russia'sKremlin and St. Basil's Cathedral....

The Great Pyramids of Giza, the only surviving structures from the original seven wonders of the ancient world, kept their status in addition to the new seven.

Glad, I am. But, who is attesting the status of these wonders? According to the wikipedia article, it is organized by a Swiss corporation called New Open World Corporation (NOWC). Why should the whole world, including you and me, crave for this attestation by a not-so-established organisation? Taj Mahal was given the world heritage status in 1983 and no private organisation can strip it of the status. In fact, according to UNESCO:

In order to avoid any damaging confusion, UNESCO wishes to reaffirm that there is no link whatsoever between UNESCO's World Heritage programme, which aims to protect world heritage, and the current campaign concerning "The New 7 Wonders of the World"....

UNESCO's objective and mandate is to assist countries in identifying, protecting and preserving World Heritage. Acknowledging the sentimental or emblematic value of sites and inscribing them on a new list is not enough. Scientific criteria must be defined, the quality of candidates evaluated, and legislative and management frameworks set up.

To me, the seven wonders of the world are like the ivy-league institutions. It is not about whether there are new institutions that have surpassed the imposing nature of the older ones - it is about a rich history, with splendid credits - both of which can never be stripped from institutions that have been proclaimed to have the status.

Again, I'm very happy to learn that Taj Mahal still stands as an edifice that evokes awe from the majority of the world, but I'm not so sure I would have been disturbed if it had not made the list. Whether or not it made this list, Taj Mahal would have always retained its sheen - officially too.

Short story: Leftovers?

Disclaimer: Read this story at your own discretion. Children, expectant women and weak-hearted are strongly discouraged from reading this story.

Belgokiler, a 43 year old Belgian man, invited Dumby for a casual dinner party to introduce his stepson, 11 years old, and his wife, 46 years old, to Dumby. The dinner was a grand affair and the guests were delighted by the scrumptious food and wine. Anticipating the guest crowd to heat up the air around the dinner table, Belgoklier had already arranged an alternate place for his family. A place that was cold, freezing cold, away from the bodily warmth and the heat generated by the candles in the dinner table.

After a boisterous dinner, but still not having met his family, Dumby helped Belgokiler pack the leftovers. "Do you have place enough to stuff all of these left overs?", asked Dumby. "Are you kidding me? We, in Belgium, have freezers that can house an entire family, well, almost.", he said. Still feeling a little queasy about not having met his family, Dumby continued to pack the leftovers, now at 43 boxes.

Dumby walked to the freezer to put the boxes and opened the freezer door. Belgokiler rushed to her saying "Mrs. Dumby, meet Mrs. Belgokiler and her son." Dumbfounded, Dumby looked at them and said "Heeelllllooooo. Sooorrryyy yooouuu'rre lalall..lllate".



That was an inspired short story, inspired from real-life events with the names of characters modified. THAT is spooky!

Review: Karuppusamy Kuththagaidhaarar

Old wine in a new bottle. Fresh start, but familiar aftertaste.

Rating: 6.2/10(6, 6, 7, 7, 6, 5, 5, 7)

Given the number of films that come out each year with love as their subject, directors have to scout consciously for new ideas to serve the old wine in a new bottle. That is exactly what director Murthy has done with Karuppusamy Kuththagaidhaarar. He has served a premeditated theme in a new setting - love hindered by the lovers' desire for education.

Karuppusamy@Jerox (Karan) is a cycle stand contractor (which might justify kuththagaithaarar in the title), also runs a dance troupe that stages actor-lookalikes. This blend of professions gives a unique air to the movie's setting. The movie opens with Nagesh, Chandrababu, Kamal and Sivaji clones dancing on stage when Karan is introduced as a Rajni Kanth 'Jerox' and comes dancing on stage for the song pothuvaaga enmanasu thangam. I was actually quite surprised at how closely he resembles KaLai. Jerox is a happy-go-lucky Madurai-bred youngster mouthing a thick Madurai-Tamil accent. All his friends from the troupe form a jolly circle that is portrayed beautifully. Jerox meets Raasathi (debutante Meenakshi), a medical student, who is a customer at Jerox's cycle stand. She is drawn to him owing to his illogically close character resemblance to Raasathi's mother - a character that is unassumingly selfless, and casually caring which makes the audience invariably develop a liking for Jerox. Raasathi expresses her feelings to Jerox, but also mentions that she is unable to concentrate on her education since he disturbs her emotionally, and guarantees that if he stood by her, she would go on to become a successful Doctor. Initially confused, Jerox slowly develops a liking for Raasathi and his main motive becomes to see her successful in her career (at this point, I was reminded of the Suryavamsam relation between Sarath Kumar and Deivayani). Uptill this point, the movie is fresh and the relationships portrayed are believable.

When Raasathi's father starts opposing her love for the lower caste Jerox, the movie flashes back to explain why and how Raasathi, her father and her grandfather willfully estrange themselves from the rest of the family. Raasathi's father, now, reunites with his family primarily because he thinks they will be able to save them from an impending discomfiture. Jerox's main intention still being to see Raasathi successful, trades his love for her education. But the villainous characters (resembling those in Kadhal), plot against Raasathi and Jerox. What happens to the star-crossed lovers forms the rest of the story.

The Jerox-Raasathi relationship's undercurrent of education adds a special dimension to love that no other movie has exploited. The simplicity and clarity of their relationship is very touching. The climax of the movie floats like oil on water, and does not fit well with the simplicity that was established all through the movie. The second-half of the movie is difficult to digest and starts smelling of old wine. The occasional jibes in Madurai-Tamil are really funny.

I have not yet seen Karan's Kokki. But since I saw him last, he has gone down tremendously and looks as young as ever. I used to like Karan as an actor about a decade back, and more so because he used to live opposite to a friend of mine from school. Even purely as an actor, I've always felt his potential wasn't exploioted and about 6 years back, I've argued with friends that his potential is as untapped as was Chiyaan Vikram's. I'm happy that he is getting projects that scratch his talent. Meenakshi is impressive for a beginner and has a homely look. But her appearance might deprive her of chances in non-village based subjects. Her eyes, eyebrows and facial make-up reminds me of Sruthika. Vadivelu's comedy track isn't all that funny and like many of his recent films, is patched over the movie almost as an after-thought. But the movie's comedy was likeable and subtle except for Vadivelu's sections.

Dheena's music is run-of-the-mill for most part. I liked Sangam Vaithu for Karthik's voice and for a pleasant fusion of folk and western music. O. S. Arun, I feel, has been brought into the soundtrack for no big reason. His song Kaadhal Enbadhu is very ordinary as is the song by Bombay Jayashree - Uppu Kallu. The song Karuppan Varan is inspiring and fits the movie perfectly.

More TVs than people

I read elsewhere this humourous article, but could relate to it instantly since my grandmother always talks about Gayathri as if she were her daughter. Gayathri is actually a character in a Tamil serial on SunTv, or so I think. But the following was hilarious:

The average American home now contains more televisions than people. What do you think?

Old Woman

Danielle Prediger,
Systems Analyst
"Does that include the people on the televisions? Because they are just as much a part of my household as my children."


George Riley,
"Are you sure that report wasn't talking about books? I could see that being the case with books. As a nation, we love to read."

Young Man

Lionel Kelley,
TV Repairman
"As a TV repairman and serial killer, I feel partly to blame for this problem."

What do you think?

Friday, July 6, 2007

Eternally Sweet-16

The fact that we are at the brink of a bio-technological revolution is substantiated by researchers' finding drugs that combat aging! Think about it - why would scientists try to find drugs to stop aging? Is it a disease? Have we solved and cracked the cures for all the other diseases in the world that we are jobless enough to start combating aging? Soon, I think, we will find scientists researching drugs for reducing a person's age!

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Jokes apart, it is an earth-shattering finding that a chemical found in food products, as common as red-wine, is anti-aging, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and life-prolonging. Yes, life-prolonging. The miracle chemical is resveratrol. The consequences of the discovery of this drug have tentacles that seek to explain the French Paradox. The paradox is that French have a very low incidence of coronary heart disease inspite of diets with very high saturated-fat content. The explanation is that the resveratrol present in red-wine offers its benefits as an anti-oxidant to promote over-all health.

According to CNN's article on resveratrol:

Resveratrol is the ingredient in red wine that made headlines when scientists demonstrated that it kept overfed mice from gaining weight, turned them into the equivalent of Olympic marathoners, and seemed to slow down their aging process. Few medical discoveries have generated so much instant buzz - even Jay Leno riffed about it in his opening monologue.

One of the first companies to invest in this chemical is Sirtris Pharmaceuticals. There have been animal studies to buttress the working of the chemical and it is yet to be established that this works in humans. The company was started by a few Harvard alumni with Professors from MIT and Harvard on the advisory committee. They even went public end May.

How does someone find so much promise in such an inceptive concept as to give up lucrative jobs/careers to start-up? I understand that is what starting-up entails, but still, sometimes it is hard to see how people take so much risk. I admire their passion and hunger for more success, and I wish I develop such instincts and passion someday.

Meanwhile, let's all party, mind you though on red-wine only so that we may all live longer. Long live...

Review: Unnale Unnale

It translates to 'because of you' but really, whom do we blame?

The movie's director Jeeva passed away on June 26 2007 after a fatal cardiac arrest when he was shooting for his next film, Dhaam Dhoom, with Jayam Ravi in Russia. May his soul Rest In Peace.

The earlier ventures of the cinematographer turned director Jeeva, 12B and ULLam Ketkume, were fresh, youthful and funny. This movie has a mild dose of youthfulness but glaringly lacks in the other two aspects.

The movie is about 3 educated youth involved in a love triangle. The subject of the movie is so trite that it is difficult to handle the subject without sounding clichéd. Here, one should appreciate Jeeva's efforts, since this is not the aspect of the film that lets it down badly. Karthik (Vinay) who is now a Civil Engineer, in flashback, falls in love with Jhansi (Sada) during their college days. Their characters are poles apart. Jhansi is a stickler with respect to what she expects from her love and Vinay is a compulsive flirt who flirts at every chance he gets. After an implied break-up, Karthik still likes Jhansi but isn't able to understand her expectations and thinks she is unreasonable. Well, with their characters designed to repel each other, I don't know why two such people would even talk to each other, let alone fall in love!

Karthik gets an opportunity to fly to Melbourne for his project, and in his flight to Melbourne he meets a chirpy bubbly girl Deepika (Tanisha). Some of her pranks and antics on the flight are lovable, but does not do much to save the film. In Melbourne, Jhansi, Depika's colleague, comes to receive Deepika at the airport. At this point in the film, it become blatantly obvious that the movie is going to revolve around the three protagonists going in and out of a love triangle. Deepika slowly develops a liking for Karthik, but still sincerely tries to patch-up the two poles. By taking the characters in and out of emotions, the movie does well in the keep-guessing aspect of the suspense - which was what prevented me from pressing the 'stop' button.

I think all 3 protagonists have dubbed voices, which actually slows down the pace of an already snailing film. There is an idiom in Tamil - 'kadichu thupparathu' - which perfectly describes Vinay's dialogue delivery. Vinay's light-hearted look helps in many scenes, but isn't a strength in serious scenes. Sada does not have much of dialogues, and I think her character was such that she had to do much of the acting only through her eyes and facial gestures which she does reasonably well. Tanisha, living up to her sister Kajol's reputation, does very well to raise the spirits of an otherwise flagging movie. Sridhar's comedy comes as nothing less than annoying. It completely stalls the pace of the inching-film and his slapstick and loud style does not gel with the subtle emotions the film tries to convey. I'd prefer not to comment on Raju's (Raju Sundaram) comedy stint in the movie.

The song unnale unnale is the highlight of the soundtrack. Karthik's voice does the magic again as it did in oru malai iLa veyyil (Ghajini) and oru ooril azhage (Kakkha Kakkha). June ponaal has Harris Jeyaraj written all over it, and one interesting fact about this song is that it was written with the movie name July katril in mind which was later changed for tax reasons. Hello miss resembles the song vaNNaththu poochi from Bala. The other songs did not make much of an impact. The background score is kept alive just by the tune of unnale unnale and is otherwise quite dull.

Other interesting trivia about the movie is that Arya and Sonia Agarwal refused when offered the lead roles in this film.

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