Chennai gears-up for Mani Ratnam's Aayitha Ezhuthu and Yuva

As I bike across the stretch of GST highway from guindy to tambaram, Aayitha Ezhuthu hoardings and banners keep springing up slow and steady. It is not that I am amused for the first time about Mani Ratnam‘s strategy on his film’s promos. I’ve always liked the strategy of slow approach that he takes to keep his audience guessing. Be it Thiruda Thiruda which flopped heavily in Box-Office or be it Roja which sweeped the Box-Office like the Andra Pradesh election assembly results, his strategy has never changed.

Aayitha Ezhuthu’s teasers were out a month back. What has to be conveyed through the teasers are done. Now it’s time to set the ground for more expectations as the movie opens up next week (May 21, 2004). Even the second level of trailers are out on TV Channels. It shows a much detailed description of the three characters and the conflict that happens in the Napier Bridge. Of course, the conflict could me heard and not seen. If you are blinking about what the conflict is wait and watch the movie or read Amores Perros’s synopsis.

Madhavan as Inba Sekhar seems to sweep the Aayitha Ezhuthu trailers with his cool attitude as he appears before the mike in a gathering and says Vote for Inba Sekhar. Many of my friends feel Madhavan and Bachchan will be the best among the six characters of Aayitha Ezhuthu and Yuva. From the trailers it looks like their assumption is right but it’s too early before the release to ignore Surya.

When I was in Satyam theatres to watch Main Hoon Na, I could see the Aayitha Ezhuthu and Yuva posters drawing huge crowds and if you lend your ears there for sometime, you might even get some cool assumptions of the movie. Someone said, that Madhavan liked the character of Inba Sekhar which prompted him to debate with Mani Ratnam for the same role in Yuva too. The other common statement was that Isha Deol looked very old as she pairs Surya in Tamil and Ajay Devgan in the Hindi version. Well, I only wish Mani and his team would endorse these assumptions/facts (??).

And as I watched the new Yuva trailer during the break of Main Hoon Na, I could see Kolkatta shining in Ravi K Chandran’s camera.

You can find some more pictures on my photoblog on how Chennai gears-up to welcome Aayitha Ezhuthu and Yuva.

A Gem on the Mother's Day

Celebrating Mother’s Day isn’t a big deal. I have my own personal apprehensions just like millions of others in this country on this issue. Mothers’ day and other celebrated days are just children of this commercialization era. That’s however an old story. It’s been spoken, written and debated all over since the peep of such customs into Indian society. This blog post isn’t about it. Here is a gem I found over the media on the mother’s day.

– Visu’s Arratai Arangam in Sun TV deserves a mention. Rather than just being a yet-another-talkative-show, it has elevated to a forum of outcry of social and economic issues. Often you find people being pompous about their public speaking skills. Instead on focusing on the issues for which they are present to talk, they brag in Ethugai and Monnai like T Rajendar. That’s a huge diversion from the main topic.

This lady, who was talking in favor of parents being the single most important source of social sense for someone, uttered some genuine experiences. She said, during my childhood, I used to come home after classes and a tough play hour. My mom comes out of the kitchen, greeting me. As I hug my mom I could smell oil and other spicy smells from my mom who used to toil in the kitchen from dawn to dusk. Now, in this Singapore, as I can smell a plethora of perfumes around me, I am still in search of that oily, spicy smell of mom. I couldn’t find that.

What a way to put it. Hats off that lady who was genuinely longing for her mom like many others who settled in foreign countries, leaving their mom behind in India.

Happy Birthday, Mr.Feynman!

Guest Blog 8 – Anand Chandrasekharan

Richard Feynman (1911 – forever)
Member of the Los Alamos Project.
Inventor – Quantum Electrodynamics.
Physicist.
Professor at Caltech.
Nobel Laureate.
Bongo drummer.
Safe-cracker.
Painter of still life.
Reader of heiroglyphics.
Poet.

Here’s my favorite Richard Feynman quartet:

I wonder why, I wonder why,
I wonder why I wonder…
I wonder why I wonder why,
I wonder why I wonder.

Happy birthday, Mr Feynman! Your lectures in Physics continue to inspire as much your poetry will…

Thillana's Mann Vaasam

Guest Blog 7 – Anand Chandrasekharan

Oorai Vittu Veruooru Vandhaalum, unakku ullirukkum Mann Vasam
Naarai Vittu Poo Uthirndhaalum, Nalla Manama Veesum Mann Vasam
Yaarai Marandhaalum, Yenna Muyandralum, Marakka Mudiyadhu Mann Vasam
Paaraikku Naduvula Padinju Kiddakura Eeram Dhaan da Mann Vasam.

What happens when a bunch of talented people get together, and move well beyond personalities and egos to gracefully share the stage and put up a spirited show that compromises neither on quality nor on originality? The audience has a ball of a time. It’s about a week since THILLANA, the popular Bay area music band, did their annual bash (proceeds of which will be used for Vibha‘s projects in India), and also took the opportunity to bid farewell to Alex Babu, one of the guys who brought the band together (and is now moving back to India). Some thoughts:
– The play, which was a spoof on Kamal Hasan‘s Virumandi was distracting at times, but never boring and held the show together, besides making it more than just another musical event. Good job on integrating it with the music! (the villagers singing Kaadu Potta Kaadu from Karuthamma when a visiting teacher asks them to describe their village, hit the spot besides showcasing Alex’s wonderful vocals). The hard work that had gone into the backdrop design for the village setting and the Poikaal Kudurai definitely showed as well.

– The “all-girls” rendering of Acham Illai (from Indira) and how it was interwoven with the play is worth appreciating. It was also cool to see my friends Kavitha (on the drum pads…she was also the female lead in the play) and Padma (Ragavan’s wife, on the keys) do their thing. Good platform for the artistes to avoid the boredom of doing the same thing and allowing all these evidently multi-talented people to bring out their wares.

– Whenever there was slack in the music (on rare occasions), the projection TV would pick up and keep the audience engaged. Members of the audience got a chance to relive the nostalgia and cheer their favorite singers, writers, and actors as the pictures appeared when the songs were belted out. Fun Tv and its creators left a lasting impression and lifted the energy level of the event!

– Some songs deserve a mention: Ragavan‘s (a good friend of mine) rendering of Yesudas’ National award-winning Rama Katha from the Malayalam film Baratham almost brought the original alive (not to mention, his tamil rendering of some parts of the original lyrics). It also made the day of one of my Keralite friends at a Tamil concert! Same for Adho Andha Paravai (Aayirathil Oruvan), an intensely popular and nostalgic yester-years number, and Thee Kuruviyai (from KKS, original by Harini), which is not an easy song to sing live! The ability of the musicians to recapture the arrangements and the orchestration of the originals definitely lifted the quality of the show a notch. A little known fact is the RagaMan recently playbacked for Kanavu Meipada Vendum.

– One thing no one will complain about is lack of originality. Mukundan (Mux) performed a song from his upcoming music album Drive Time (the album definitely deserves a better name for it to sell!), which sounded fresh and had a good mix of Indian and western influences. Mux also was busy arranging all the songs at the event, and one wondered if that sometimes distracted him from his singing. That said, his rendering of Rakkamma from Dalapathi (backed up again by excellent instrumentation) definitely stamped his talent as a singer in his own right. Also, in what is now a Thillana tradition, the RagaMan wrote an original composition Mann Vasam dedicated to Vibha, which reminded one of lyrics from yester-year songs – simple, philosophical, evocative (the lines used above are from that composition).

– Towards the end, they seemed to cater to the crowd a little much. I honestly half-expected Jana Gana Mana and the cries of O Yuva Yuva from Aayitha Ezhuthu to end the concert, and atleast one song from Kadhal Kondein in the repertoire (in honor of the emerging Yuvan Shankar Raja). Folks who did not want to ‘shake it’ had to tune out for the last 20 minutes. Also, the rendering of the two Boys‘ songs (Dating and Boom Boom) and last year’s best song, Uyirin Uyire from Kaakka Kaakka was without the passion and intensity that defines these songs, especially when seen against what was excellent orchestration of these complex, multi-layered tunes.

All said, a full-hearted rendition of three hours plus of quality South Indian film music and all-around entertainment around it, that captured the Mann Vasam and the audience’s imagination.

Vaanam Vasappadum – Movie Review

Now, I understand why Writer Sujatha is averse for his books taking shape as movies. From Gayathri to Karaiyellam Senbhagapoo, Writer Sujatha has communicated his apprehensiveness in transforming his books to movies. Writer Sujatha’s book Irul Varum Neram, based on a real-life situation which happened in Bangalore was fictionalized by him as a novel. Vaanam Vasappadum pitifully joins that long list of attempts of making a movie from novels. Sujatha’s story is very moving and powerful. It’s just that the transformation of a novel to a movie hasn’t happened as expected.

The story deals with the case of a rape and aftermath of the rape. The viewpoint is from the rape victim and so it draws a consummate picture of the pain and hardship, a rape victim undergoes. The media has just briefed this as the story in its reviews. The story also deals in-depth on lives of two teenagers and their spoiled childhood. This dwelling in the mind of the teenager’s childhood that has makes the story a different one.

The movie goes on like pulp-fiction. It weaves through the intersecting stories of a young couple and two spoiled brats. As the movie begins and starts jumping from one story-line to other, Sujatha and PC Sriram get applauded for their skills of taking us through this exciting ride. Few such movies have been taken in Tamil especially in this pulp-fictionary format. However if you ever get to read these crime & killer pulp-magazines casually you would appreciate this style.

The biggest let down in the movie is the screenplay. PC Sriram and Lara’s screenplay is lagging and such a powerful story would require a racy screenplay. Also the editing has let down Sriram’s efforts to bring the story to life. At this juncture when I say that editing has been a let down, frequent songs also take credit for lagging the story.

Mahesh Mahadevan music is the most interesting component in the movie. All the 7 songs are highly melodious. Especially the Harini’s lullabying voice in Megamey might fetch her accolades. Seithi Suda Suda Seithi is a magic. With that high-pitched voice of Ranjith, they could have done a lot in the movie. The song however gets played in the background and goes without notice. However they have at least used this song in the trailers. Vaanam Vasappadumey song is also appreciable just like the duet from Hariharan and Sujatha called Kangal Theendi.

It’s very incidental that this was Mahesh Mahadevan’s last movie. I am sure he will be remembered Poonguil Paadinaal from Nammavar but it is this movie has been his all-time masterpiece. Kudos to him but we are definitely missing a great musician.

The beginning scenes and the Vaanam Vasappadumey song brings a sense of DejaVu. They are heavily inspired by Alai Payuthey. Even though you would compel yourself to disregard this thought, the hero bikes himself bikes with headphones over his head reminding the Alai Payuthey Madhavan.

Karthik Kumar is promising except for some scenes he looks as though he is controlled by the director. Poongothai as the heroine doesn’t contribute much to the movie. Especially her artificial dialogue delivery irritates at time. The two newcomers (not sure if they are new) as two teenagers have acted their heart and soul for the movie. Highly Impressive performance.

PC Sriram’s displays his technical craftery as a cameraman. But I am just left to feel if he could have done better as a director. Especially after his last movie as Kuruthi Punal, it is true that one would have expected much more from him.

Bollywood Junta Party

This 2004 election will be in historical in many dimensions. One important fact would be that the political parties have managed to rope the most number of stars than any other election before. Every single party irrespective of their representation in parliament have roped in stars.

Bollywood has shelled out the major share of it’s stars for this election campaign. From Dharmendra to Govinda to Hema Malini to Sharmila Tagore, Sudha Chandran, Phoonam Dhillon, Zeenat Aman, Smiriti Irani, Om Puri, Yukta Mookhey and Namrata Shirodhkar, this list extends endlessly. South India, known for elevating simple stars to supremo of a state, also offers a bouquet of stars.

While accepting that the stars have added glitter and glamour to the election campaign, are they experienced enough to contest for the MP seats. While it is even debatable if the existing non-star politicians are adding value to their consituencies, a rain of stars in the election will make up for more face and no intrinsic value.

Triggerring a debate if stars should become politicians is as old as elections themselves. I ain’t for it. But just showing them off for a election campaign and trying to woo the voters doesn’t seem ideological. If only stars could denounce the politicial parties, what a noble virtue it would be.

I am just dreaming. Lazy, wake up !!.

Footprints…

Guest Blog 6 – Anand Chandrasekharan

One can hardly forget the haunting voice of Rani Mukherjee and the piano as the Bengali lyrics of Akashe Jyotsna (Moonlight in the Sky) are recited in Hey Ram just before the song Nee Paartha Paaravikku unfolds. The poem is written by Jibonanda Dass. I pestered a Bengali friend to translate it for me when I first heard the song (and he did a pretty good job of it!), only to find a good English translation online:

Akashe Jyotsna
Moonlight in the sky
On the Forest Trail the Scent of the Leopard
My Heart is like Deer
In the Silence of this night, which way am I going?
The silvery shadow of leaves on my body
No more deer anywhere
As far as I go I see the moon bent like a sickle
Cutting the last golden deer-grain
Then sinking slowly
Into the darkness of all the sleep
In the eyes of a 100 does.

The analogy of the deer (the heart) wandering about in the forest trail, and the moonlight (love?) shining wherever she wanders paints a very vivid picture in the listener’s mind. The mention of the sickle and cutting of the grain also evokes abstract memories a la Kahlil Gibran’s Prophet. Is it just the capturing of a random walk in the mind of the singer, or is there is a deeper meaning?

Rajini Avatars as JAGGUBHAI

I was surprised when my friend called me this early morning and asked me if I was looking at the newspaper. Not the English dailies he said but the Tamil ones. He dropped the happy bomb too. See it, a surprise awaits you.

I knew it was coming. There were talks all over the last week about it. It was said to be on 4th. I was awaiting it but I never knew it could be one day before. It rained all over yesterday and today morning. So I biked against the drizzles to the newspaper mart only to find that Rajini has announced his new film Jaggubhai. Ravikumar had announced last week that he would be directing Rajini’s next flick and so he does. But AR Rahman back on the tunes and Jeeva on the angles have certainly impressed me to the core. I am sure Jeeva can pitch in a lot with his experience.

This move of Rajini announcing his new movie Jaggubhai is certainly very dramatic. For a complete Rajini Fan like me, it is refreshing news. But when I look at with an outsider view, it is dramatic in all the angles. Especially during this moment when Rajini’s integrity gets beaten up by the media and the political arena, this move of Rajini balances him as level-headed. Still it is very dramatic pre-dominantly because Tamil Nadu is set to vote in just one week and the opinion polls suggest DMK / Congress sweeping across the state.

Having been an all-time fan of Rajnikanth films, I was definitely not convinced by his off late call for democratic opposition against the PMK. Rajini who was expected to be refreshing change in the political arena shouldn’t be seen as someone who is involving his fans for a personal benefit. Though I am sure it wasn’t his intention, it was projected by the media and he was forced to do it.

On the promos Rajini poses like a muslim/hindu with a gun beside him sitting in an odd pose. This oddness isn’t new for Rajini. When I saw the first ad of Basha on the same paper, I felt it. The name was very odd. Continuing the same oddity of name was Padayappa. I was thinking that Basha would fail miserable for the name itself. But both Padayappa and Basha proved in the Box-Office as the most successsful movies.

For the hunger stricken media, this odd costume and the pose, inclusive of the name will be a dream come true news. In the next few weeks, Jaggubhai will occupy the first pages and screens of most of the media. Jaggubhai’s news will be bitten, chewed and eaten by the every available media till they over expose the film and it’s cast. I only hope Rajini plays safe this time with the media and makes sure he feeds them well, else the hype would be blown enough that the bubble bursts soon after it’s created.

Check out the Daily Thanthi Ad of JagguBhai.