Nayakan on All-'Time' Top 100 Movies

Kamal as Velu Naicker

Bollywood is shorthand for Bombay Hollywood, seat of the largest Indian film industry. But it manufactures only about 200 of the thousand or so Indian feature films; a half-dozen regions boast production sites larger than most of the world?s national cinemas. Madras, capital of the Tamil state, is one such place, and its leader – arguably India’s top pop-film auteur – is Mani Ratnam. His movies, often dramatizing social unrest and political terrorism, churn with narrative tension and camera energy that would be the envy of Hollywood directors, if they were ever to see them. Nayakan, an early, defining work in his career, tells the Godfatherish tale of Velu, a boy who embraces a life of crime after his father is killed by the police. Velu (Kamal Hasan) has trouble juggling his family life with his life-and-death mob “family”; Ratnam has no such difficulty blending melodrama and music, violence and comedy, realism and delirium, into a two-and-a-half-hour demonstration that, when a gangster’s miseries are mounting, the most natural solution is to go singin’ in the rain. – Excerpt from Time Magazine.

Again, just like the Oscars for a tamil movie, I don’t think something is achieved when you have a Tamil movie featuring in the list of global all-time favorites. But it’s a feel good factor. One reason why I am personally happy is for Mani Ratnam’s Nayakan[needs subscription] making it to the Time’s Alltime Top 100 movies, is that despite being based on Mario Puzo’s God Father script, Nayakan had its own share of Mani Ratnam’s brilliance at throughout the movie. If you ask me to stick out a single favorite shot from the film, I may be dazzled.

Nayakan had a team that was one of the best during that decade. It had geniuses like Illayaraja, PC Sriram and the Nayakan himself.

I haven’t subscribed to Time and hence couldn’t read the entire article. Thanks Vilvanboy and Srivats for passing on the link, It made my day.

Rajini moves north


[Thanks – Vikatan]

Yeah, North but not to bollywood. To Himalayas. After having put Chandramukhi on-screen, Rajini takes-off to Himalayas. This time a Vikatan reporter joined him to write a mini-travelogue[by subscription].

While, I would have expected a longer version of the travelogue, this picture of Rajinikanth with the typical red towel reminds me of PithukuliI Murugadas. For the starters, Murugadas as a voice of bronze and has sung some of the most authentic devotional numbers about on the tamil god.

Adutha Padam Eppo !!

Weekend Webclips[Google style]

Anand‘s Aeroprise wins First Prize at Mobile Showcase 2005. A time to rejoice. Congrats Guest Blogger!!.

Anniyan website is now functional with some more odd looking Vikram’s snaps. I am not sure how many more different Vikram’s are inside the movie. The trailer is also up but it isn’t the version thats has hit the Chennai screens.

Walmart closes down DVD rentals, hands them over to Netflix. Now it’s Netflix Vs Blockbuster assuming Amazon stick with it’s business.

Dilip D’Souza has good set of easy-n-tough Tin Tin questions. Try your hand. I got atleast 5 correct answers, I think.

Top 13 Rahman Hits

It’s never too late to create a fave list, especially for Rahman. In the Ascending Order –

.01 Zikhr a.k.a Alah hoo – For the Rahman’s voice of sheer passion and the amazing piece of harmony that creates magic throughout the song. Usually you would humm a song for not more than two-three weeks. But I’ve been humming Alah hoo!! Alahhoo for more than a month now and the craze hasn’t still reduced. The tempo keeps increasing in mad pace, so no driving with this song on the disc. Rahman mesmerizes !!

.02 Ekla Chalo – I’ve never been a Sonu Nigam admirer. This one made me. Classy Vocals leading to a high pitch and you hear the quick run of piano keys as the pitch comes down. Though the tune seems very similar to a song which I couldn’t identify the mix of bengali lines by Nachiketa Chakraborty made it to the top.

.03 Azaadi – A Rahman solo. On the lines of Vande Matharam even the base tune resembles it constantly. He stops the music for a quick moment before he starts in high pitch saying Azaadi Paayenge!!. Grand Orchestration.

.04 Afghanisthan Theme 2 & 1 – This clandestine instrumental number reminds me of the yester year movies with the wind instruments opening the B & W screen in front of you. Can’t stop thinking Chandralekha or Vethala Ulagam.

.05 Des Ki Mitti – With the little Dilwale Kuch Dulhania Kuch Le Hota Jayenge Hai hindi I know, this one has a well written lyrics. Yet another Sonu Nigam gem. And there is also our Anuradha Sriram to accompany with a cute hindustani aalap.

.06 Hum Dilli Dilli Jayenge – The trumpets and the band march past as the synthesizer follows. So do you. A true independence song.

.07 Jana Gana Mana – The can make Rahman’s version as the official version of National Anthem. There is no modernisation or any kind of nonsense which can trigger political eruptions. Just the same tune with some nice synthesized music and surprising interludes. I remember my friend saying that Cho replied to a question on Rahman’s Vande Matharam that we don’t need an A R Rahman to induce patriotism in the people. I liked what he said then. Now it may seems pointless. This is really a neat version of the national anthem if you are open-minded.

.08 Hitler Theme – Haven’t heard the amount of violin used in a Rahman song before. Violin was always a speical instrument of Illayaraja. Can’t stop comparing here but Rahman does a great job with the violins. I think these aren’t computer generated violin sounds. Just true violins playing. I haven’t heard his violin composition for Vanessa Mae but this one rocks.

.09 Kadam Kadam – Yet another marching army song but this one has a good mix of female vocals. After few times you might turn it down for being repetitive.

.10 Ghoomparani – Before I could grap that this was a lullaby melody it put me to sleep. True. Though it has a very simple folk tune, its Sapna Mukherjee’s voice that gives the lift. Listen the water flowing through your ears as your hear it on the earphones. I bet you would sleep.

.11 U Boat Theme/War Theme – Even as your listen to one a war happens in front of your eyes. Would make for a good viewing on-screen just like the Sundari Kannal Oru Sethi interlude. I am sure Rahman loves the piano as he keeps dropping those easter egg piano bits inbetween songs.

.12 Nethaji Theme – The kind of theme for the movie with more silence than sounds.

.13 Emily Theme/Durga – For visual viewing. Good on the first listening but you may not listen as your proceed further.

Wondering why I named it as Top 13 Rahman hits ?? All these numbers are from Shyam Benegal‘s Bose – The Forgotten Hero, my current Rahman favorites. One of finest Rahman albums in recent times. All the numbers talk about Rahman’s maturity and sheer growth in his composition skills. Rahman can run for Prime Minister. Allah hoo !!

Web 3.0/2.0 – Version Conflicts

The big change in the read-write sphere came about because of applications such as weblogs, the personal journals that put newer material at the top, and wikis, sites on which anyone can edit any page. Not only could people make their own sites, but they could update them easily and rapidly.

Blogs have been especially important in the world of the read-write web.

They are far more than the “what I ate for breakfast” diaries of cliche; they have become a key part of a growing, complex global conversation.

We are moving quickly beyond text and pictures in this version of the web, to audio and video.

The cost of the gear we need to make high-quality content is plummeting while the power and ease of use continue to grow.

And then comes the latest web. This is where it gets really interesting.

The emerging web is one in which the machines talk as much to each other as humans talk to machines or other humans. As the net is the rough equivalent of a computer operating system, we’re learning how to program the web itself.

Dan Gilmor‘s column on the paradigm shift of the web, Web 2.0? Try 3.0 was an interesting read. Link via Emergic. Offlate the talks about Web 2.0 is on the rise. As some try to call it as – It’s a Whole New Internet, Bloggers like Kottke and Andre Torrez have their last laugh.

Whatever name it’s been called and however it’s been debated out, this is getting to be one of exciting times for the WEB.

The E.T – Infinite Ingenuity

ET

It was probably 19 years since I watched E.T on screen. Obviously, I was a kid then. My orientation towards ET had different dimensions. My eyes were filled with tears when the lonely alien lies there in the middle of a hall in Planet Earth and weepingly utters,”Mom Mom!!”. Since then I believe(!!) I’ve grown up. I have discovered my liking towards movies. I’ve watched hundreds of films since then. Have watched the T-Rex walking mightly in Jurassic Park. Have enjoyed the gigantic space ship on the skies on an Independence Day. Have seen Titanic go down, Apollo 13 getting stuck in the space, Robots getting away with Artificial Intelligence and Darth Vader fighting Star Wars. Having this huge line-up of graphical wonders lined up, ET still seems to a wonder of movies. As I watched it yesterday, I still had tears running on the same shot. I don’t call it empathy for an alien. I prefer to call it as the magic of E.T.

Steven Spielberg‘s ET The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) brings out the child in you. As Spielberg says, ET is like a good quality wine. The more the age the better it gets. What a genuine storyteller we have in Steven Spielberg. After E.T, he has a share of heaven reserved for him. He has soothened so many souls with ET just like what Illayaraja and SPB did to millions of tamilians.

When I finished watching the movie, this is what I felt – If only…If only I get to make a movie and If I can weave a story as profoundly imaginative and strikingly humane as ET, I would feel accomplished.

Namma Chennai

And you know how I would feel for this title on an Hindu article, Namma Chennai.

The green buses, occasional smell of filter coffee, the cursing in Tamil on the roads, and the roads themselves impart to Chennai a rare flavour. The youth are relatively uncorrupted. Branded clothes and video cameras are still not too visible. But Mylapore and Mandaveli – they are too ancient, dude!

While I parltly agree to the line of youth being relatively uncorrupt, this paragraph roughly sums up Chennai. Man I miss this city badly. Thanks Andy for the link.

Hugh Hewitt‘s book, Blog : Understanding the Information Reformation That’s Changing Your World wasn’t a very inspiring read. I probably read it with a perspective of a blogger while Hewitt summarizes the advent and growth of Blogs as history. You would love to read it especially if you wanted to know how Blogs revolutionized the information spread and how the popular acronym MSM[Mainstream Media] was used and sometimes abused in the blogosphere. It also talks on how CNN’s popularity was came tumbling while FOX News was starting to be accepted by the American people. Hewitt’s earlier writing on Blogs given in the Appendix are lucid with a strong passion for blogs.

If you are looking for a good book to understand the mechanics and practical ways of maintaining a blog, I would recommend Rebecca Blood‘s The Weblog Handbook. Above all if you are looking for some suggestions on blogs, do it the classical way. There are no suggestions, Just Blog.

I have no clue why Rediff is so bold over by Aishwarya’s presence in Cannes festival. Someone’s is fetish.

Illayaraja‘s tunes for Adhu Oru Kanaa Kaalam hasn’t come out with flying colors. Except for Andha Naal Nyaabagam rendered by Vijay Yesudas/Shreya Goshal and the Bhavatharini song, the rest of songs can missed without creating a sin. The moment you hear the first song you know it has Balu Mahendra + Illayaraja combo. But no classics here.

Over the weekend

That moment - Closest Look !!
[More on Flickr]

Other than polishing my monday shoes and watching three flicks in a row, I did some nice tripping around the suburbs of Seattle to glimpse the forever beauty they had in themselves. The state of Washington is called as the evergreen state and every inch of that is goddamn true. Lush green trees around you would make your ride a comfortable one. Especially if your headphones sing Illayaraja, Rahman or Dire ‘Sultans of Swing’ Straits, your drive would be certainly memorable.

Seattle is the the kind of place you would aspire to plan a honeymoon. Often, honeymoons settle down to be moneymoons. Thats a different story though. If you live in Seattle, you could enjoy that same atmosphere day in and out. I wished to take a trip to Alaska to enjoy it’s natural beauty. But after glimpsing Seattle, I’m certainly happy that I saved bigbucks on that trip. It appears exactly like the Dehraduns and Mussories as described by Ruskin Bond in his lovable stories.

Lake Washington seperates Seattle from the town of Kirkland. And that provides a great view of the Seattle landscape from Kirkland. Kirkland has the smallest of roads and cross flags planted on crossings. Yet it consists of the costliest of condos and a hugely priced real estate. Kirkland and Mercer Island are the small heavens of Seattle.

The Argosy Cruise which takes off either from Seattle downtown or Kirkland, takes you through the long strech of Lake Washington for an hour and half. There is a live running commentary about what we see on the shores, throughout the trip. Lake Washington’s shores are filled up with the homes of rich and famous. You encounter the ultra famous home of Bill Gates, the neo designed house of the Author of Excel/Word and others. So the interesting commentary sounds like a stock quote with number droppings quite often. You also travel beneath the hanging bridge of Seattle which is a freeway called IWA-520. Other than the sour cream and onion chips packets, I heard(?!) they serve good cocktails.

While the cruise was exciting and refreshing just like greenery you see around, it is also a must-go for the visitors. Some pictures of the Kirkland Cruise on the Flickr.

Iruvar; A Schindler's List ?

Watching the Steven Spielberg‘s extended interview in The Directors DVD set me thinking wildly. While talking about Schindler’s List, Spielberg says, When my kids ask me “What did you do dad ?”, I didn’t want show them the big gothic movies which I made. I wanted to show them something that truly happened. Something that happened to our people.

When Iruvar released, this is what I remember Mani Ratnam stating for an interview. Iruvar was a film for the next generation to come. For them to look back at the history of their Tamil Nadu and have an unbiased view of it. He went on to say that when entered the movie making business, he had in mind the kind of movies he enjoyed making. Unfortunately due to commercial pressures, the lanes departed and he was soon making run-of-the-mill movies, according to himself. Iruvar was comeback to his path, style and love of movie making.

Though I am just quoting what I remember from the interviews, these are not exact statements that they had shared in the interview. If you look deep into these lines, they sound similar by idea. Both movies are the best of each of them. Schindler’s List touched millions of people with it’s moving images of holocaust. Iruvar didn’t do a similar thing but it talked about how the political history in the state shaped up in an unbiased manner.

For me they are strikingly same. If Spielberg was talking about his Jewish history, a born Tamilian like Mani Ratnam can only talk about the making of Tamil Nadu. He probably could have talked about Indian Independence you might think. But a movie maker should probably be making what he can relate to the most than what others want him to. Mani Ratnam did exactly the same. With the available resource, technology, cast and crew Iruvar was an exemplary movie of Kollywood. Something that only movies like Uthiri Pookal, Mundraam Pirai or Nayakan can come close to. Spielberg’s Schindler’s List was arguably his best movie till date. Not because it was shot in B&W and it gave a sense of a classic film. It’s because he was able to tie down 25 of us watching the movie in a lonely Sathyam theatre. Twenty days after Iruvar released, there were hardly 20 people in the ultra-cold Woodlands Theatre. And I was there watching the classic with 10 other friends who slept half the way through. Classics don’t show up as classics the first time around. A pity.

Ab Tak 56 – Count on Cops

Well, I’m late. But it is never too late to watch a good movie. Especially to discover a good movie when you watch it with no expectations. Ab Tak 56 could be Ab Tak 156 by now but it’s only today I got to see Nana Patekar lighten up the screens. Ab Tak Chhappan released more than a year back but would be talked about for the years to come.

It’s not a cop’s saga nor some brave attempt of a single man fighting against all odds. Sadhu Aghase is a normal no-nonsense-cop and if you try to brag him with sentiments, he might not budge. Though he is special. He has mastered the art of encounters and can make great South Indian sambhar. Not just that but he demands grammatically right English. In the life of a cop, he gets into a special crime branch and heads a special division thats is formulated to wipe out long-time criminals by encounters. Though he doesn’t keep count of his encounters, someone keeps reminding him of the count. When things go hayward, things change drastically, but for him it is Ab Tak 56 and still counting….

I hated Ram Gopal Varma’s hyped-up movies. I certainly loved Satya. More than liking it terrorised me about a city called Mumbai. But the so-called on-the-road movies that followed were nothing but hype. Even Company wasn’t great. But with a debutant director, Shimit Amin, Ram Gopal Varma produces a movie that more classier and more stylistic than his earlier movies. I wonder how cop movies are made slicker than the romantic ones. Both Kakkha Kakkha and Ab Tak 56 have great BGMs, camera and more importantly some great piece of editing. Not only Shimit Amin gets us into the plot very soon, he also manages to take the movie without a drag. Until the final 20 minutes, I never felt a need to getup and get myself a cup of coffee. The cop story also encompasses the affairs of internal politics in the police department.

Even with a bad supporting cast, the movie would have survived. Shoulder courtesy; Nana Patekar. As Sadhu Aghase, Nana Patekar is at an all-time ease. He isn’t roaming around like someone dipped in starch like most of the cop movies, smokes too many cigarettes than all the Rajini movie put together and utters Saala and Chutiyaa more number of times than any other hindi movie. Performs like a true spirited actor. Nana Patekar has immense talent thats been under-utilized by stuffing him with pyscho roles with an alto voice. I am unable to stop comparing him to Prakash Raj in Tamil film industry. He can also be on the likes of Nasser if used appropriately.

While I was assuming that Revathi was in there because there was a huge role ahead of her in the movie, her miniscule character gets a bullet in the midway. She was probably there to represent the South Indian wife of Sadhu Aghase. Ram Gopal Varma could have probably gone with the humpteen stand-like-a-doll actresses available in dozens in the Bollywood. Kunal Vijaykar gets a role that demands enough eating as much as acting. A role that he would have waited for a long time. Great show.

What a theme of Ab Tak 56 that was. Salim and Sulaiman well known as Salim Sulaiman just took Ab Tak 56 to great heights. With no songs and pelvic-3D-thrust dances, they have used their music positively in the BGM that grips. If only I was worried that I missed the movie in theatres, it was because of the background score. The titles read Murad Siddiqi as the editor. I don’t know anything about him but his job in the movie is a commendable effort.

Shimit Amin chooses to take the reality path in movie making and emerges as a winner. With no unwanted situations and scenes, the movie has a tight screenplay. Except for the lastpart when the movie begins to loose away from the track and treads on the revenge mode, it has been well made. All these exceptions are however handled in the final conversation that ends by saying, Once a Cop, Always a Cop. Watch it, if you haven’t yet for it’s just 56 as of now.