Seattle getting Tunneled !!

Seattle Tunnel
[Click for a bigger image]

Seattle was busy this weekend. The main newsmaker was that Seattle Tunnel which was closed yesterday. Seattle’s tunnel unlike the one in other cities doesn’t feature tubes. Once the buses from the suburb entered the downtown, most of them go via the tunnel. Starting yesterday, they sealed it for the next two years when it will be equipped to run tubes as well as buses. And there were celebrations through out last week, arranged by the King County travel department. Some pictures that were shot using my mobile camera are on the Seattle photoblog.

The downtown traffic would just get heavier from the coming week with all the underground traffic moving above and I am expecting that it wouldn’t cause any delays. Throughout the last weekend, people were flicking pictures all along the tunnel that they are going to miss for the next two years. It was certainly a sight to watch and reminded me of people who took their last journey on the Old Chennai electric train a year back. Wherever you go, the cities & its people may be different but the emotion is all the same. An universal truth that is.

A biased review !!

I am going to enjoy the new yahoo mail. No doubt about it. The new Yahoo mail which has added Ajax technology to make the mail app look like desktop mail application. Many of us who are used to Outlook’s look and feel are going to enjoy the virtual Outlook through Yahoo Mail.

But this review on WSJ by Walter Mossberg is certainly biased to a large extent. From the review –

Similarly, Gmail forces you to view ads alongside your emails. Unlike Yahoo, it offers no paid option to avoid the ads.

I’m sure Gmail will get better and better, and will eventually adopt the new programming techniques that allow desktop-like ease of use. But I’m not sure Google’s arrogance will ever make room for user preferences on things like folders or ads, or how emails are grouped.

Yahoo’s new email program would blow Gmail away if it were widely released today. That’s partly due to its features, but also to its respect for user choice.

GMAIL, when it was introduced last year, it was appreciated for being radical in approach and not following the boring and conventional method of email maintenance. The replacement of folders to labels was similar to Web 2.0‘s tagging. And if someone doesn’t understand what tagging is all about, cribbing about GMAIL changing folders to label doesn’t stand up to the levels of WSJ’s reputation.

I googled, googled and googled throughout the review to see if there was a mention of free POP access that GMAIL give. Yahoo was giving free access and then took it back few years back. I am not sure which user doesn’t want POP access which GMAIL gives. Not everyone might need it but the idea of re-opening POP was done only by GMAIL. And the stingy 4 MB limit of yahoo mail was raised to 1 GB only to counter GMAIL 1 GB storage. This news of yahoo raising its limits after being forced by GMAIL indirectly is comfortably forgotten in the review.

And what an dramatically sweeping statement that is to say Yahoo’s new email program would blow Gmail away. I have to say NO WAY. Yahoo may be the top notch on webmail as of today and may introduce the Oddpost way of email to the online community. But it’s because of GMAIL that the email revolution 2 started and I assume its the first product to be used by millions of people even when its in BETA. So there goes the Yahoo pride !!

Why I like/dislike Selvaraghavan?

Selvaraghavan's Pudupet
[Pic – Dhanush and his ‘team’ in Pudhupettai. Thanks Vikatan]

7G Rainbow Colony made me think, this dude has understood the language of screen than many other seniors of the Tamil film industry. Though I didn’t vibe exactly with what Selvaraghavan tried to convey in 7G Rainbow Colony, I thought it was a much superior and a matured effort than the ‘Guna’ish Kadhal Konden.

Selvaraghavan mostly dwells (from the 3 movies he has made/contributed) on the yuppie side of adolescence with a thin line of pathos running throughout the movie. It�s this thin line that�s developed into a much larger issue at the climax. The major focus when the movie starts is usually shifted to this under developed sub-plot by the time the movie progresses into the first hour. Now what does this mean? Kadhal Konden started with a happy note on college and what seemed like a college romance suddenly turned into a nail-biting thriller and the guy who seemed as a hero-of-the-friend was developed into a sort of semi-hero. The movie has its own share of silly college comedy and inspirations from several films. I for once certainly didn’t expect Dhanush to turn into a psycho. It came as a sweet shock to me.

7G Rainbow Colony was a complete effort and had Selvaraghavan sparkling as a director. It may not have had the unexpected twists and turns like Kadhal Konden but it had an honest depiction of mediocrity. Infact, it is one of those movies that celebrates mediocrity. Except for that abrupt ending which was a thorn, I enjoyed most part of it.

Selvaraghavan like some of the best directors knows what audience love to see on screen. Even if they don’t like what he shows he knows to brain-wash them with those fabulous set of images [shot by Arvind Krishna, always] to his way of thinking. He knows how to convert a set of ASCII characters of the shooting script into moving images that resemble real life. I enjoyed his series in Vikatan called Kanaa Kaanum Kaalangal.

If we were listing the future architects of kollywood, Selvaraghavan definitely has a pole position. And in the movies to come, I would expect him to capture life as-it-is with more vivid images and compelling stories.

So why would I hate him when one is all praises for him. It�s his personality that one can see in every character he shapes. A writer certainly has his personality in some form or other, whether he consciously does it or not, in his characters. A lot of Sujatha’s character can be seen in his characters. Actually it�s tough to write a book/script by hiding your inherent smartness/dumbness. Selvaraghavan has his personality, his body language hidden in both of his protagonists. What we thought to be Dhanush’s body language and dialogue delivery skills in Kadhal Konden was replicated by Ravi Krishna in 7G Rainbow colony. And it’s irritating. Annoying to know it wasn’t Dhanush’s own talent for which we can take back the accolades given to him on the Kadhal Konden reviews. Also annoying to know that Selva is also like his guru Balachander. And this crib of Balachander’s way to dialogue delivery is imbibed with all his heroines. From Sujatha to Suhasini to Geetha to the girl in Premi, I hate when that body language is repetitive. All of them are radical protagonists like the Sidney Sheldon girls but it�s truly an over-kill when they walk, talk and act like Balachander himself.

Anyway, I was so impressed by the stills of his next movie Pudupet which stars his famous combo Dhanush-Sonia Agarwal (my fave). His interview[userid/pass required] to Vikatan tells that the movie is a about North Madras and it deals with people as they are. The picture of Sonia Agarwal as a girl from the kuppam seems too good to make me await the movie. I am sure Selvaraghavan would Chennai as it is. Sitting here in Seattle that’s one thing I would love to see.

Recursive Moondrampirai

It was Moondraampirai played in a loop. It was 50 First Dates. It had Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore starring. It had some pathetic dialogues like You are the girl for me and I’m the man for you. Still, it wasn’t boring. It was a light-hearted comedy. And above all it would make a great tamil film, if made without introducing anymore thaali sentiment.

The E.T kid is now a babe and she does the role with a perfect ease and full of grace. Though annoyingly loud, Adam Sandler does his Waterboy thing again. They only thing that didn’t gel with the movie is the Hawaiian backdrop for the movie. Its evident that the director chose a background like that to make the audience believe that the girl really didn’t have a chance to knwo the truth. On a city like Manhattan or even SFO, she could easily bump onto the truth of dates with the TV or the people around. Making her world smaller in this small countryside village, he was able to convince the audience. But the truth is that we aren’t used for a countryside romance from Hollywood. The last movie that I enjoyed with a similar setup was A Walk in the Clouds and it was nice then.

Not the kind of movie I would love to watch everytime but certainly more laughs per hour. Taking a guess on who would be flicking this movie in Tamil, I would say Charan(from his Jay Jay – Serendipity combo). And you ?

Cinema Paradiso expands

The Chennaites crib of not being able to watch the Best of Hollywood from being in Chennai. Cinema Paradiso and Tik Tak are two good stores that I know which rent DVDs. Sadly they both are located at Abiramapuram. I am not sure it there is a better shop somewhere at Adyar or Egmore.

They may not supply all of the best but its a good start. When they opened up they charged more than 100 bucks as a single DVD’s rent. Seems like they have reduced the rental since then and they have also expanded to Hyderabad and Bangalore. I am not sure of what prompted them to expand in Calcutta instead of Mumbai where they might get some good market.

Santhosh, the guy who, alongwith Vaan Nila Tharum fame Richard started Cinema Paradiso talks to The Telegraph on their recent expansion to Calcutta and also drops few names here and there. From the interview –

“Kamal Haasan, (A.R.) Rahman and I used to exchange DVDs, before I started off my parlour with just 300 titles from a tiny place in Chennai’s Alwarpet in 2003 along with my partner Richard,” recalls the 32-year-old software engineer from Trichy.

Collecting DVDs went hand-in-hand with his camera cameos, first during a stint with Mani Ratnam’s cinematographer P.C. Shriram, and then with Hungarian lens ace Vilmos Zsigmond, who had worked with Spielberg in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. “I collaborated with Zsigmond in Rush Hour in Hollywood and then also worked in Playing by Heart, starring Sean Connery and directed by Willard Carrol,” says Santhosh, who is set to return with his camera to the Ratnam stable soon. Cinema Paradiso has remained a parallel passion, though.

With DVDs rental lowering down to Rs.50, I am happy chennaites would crib too much and Nilu doesn’t have to travel so far to watch Mulholland Dr.

Rahman 3D Tour – Update

ARR 3D Tour

The show is all set. The tickets are on sale for the Bangalore venue. Click on the image above for a bigger version of the poster and ticket details. If you are in need of tickets, there have a bunch of Rahmaniacs from bangalore co-ordinating the effort. Email Radha for tickets and you can rock to Rahman‘s Humma Humma.

The Physics of Superheroes

[Pic – Amazon

First Off, I haven’t read this book. Infact, the book itself hasn’t released yet. So you know this is no book review of The Physics of Superheroes.

I heard James Kakalios‘ interview on NPR and got instantly interested. Being a huge comics addict during my teens[except for archie and jughead], anything on comic heroes puts on the interests. Just like how The Unbreakable and Incredibles used super heroes to explore deeper into the human mind, seems like this book explains theories of phyiscs using super heroes and their nifty equipments/tricks.

Pretty Impressive way to explain physics. If only my physics madam[classy dressed with a bob cut hair] at school tried to teach physics this way, I would have been writing like James Kakalios by now. Anyway, I hope she still teaches how to experiment ohm’s law in the lab. It would never work for me especially on the day of final examination at school. Physics, huh !!

Crashed !!


Hemanth recommended Crash as we were sipping mocha at bucks. I went straight and added it to the top of my flix queue. Took it over to Ram‘s place to project it over a big screen and watched the crash happening one after another.

Crash has a fascinating screenplay. It isn’t unique. But still fascinating. 13 peoples’ life come in and go out of each others life on an unassuming day in LA. Most of the ‘come in and go out’ happen unexpectedly and that’s the screenwriter’s skill. Even as the movie runs as bits and pieces of incidents, its put together with absolute continuity and perfect harmony with other scenes such that no single incident seems better/worse than the other. These people who crash onto each other’s life are perfect strangers and belong to different races.

The movie talks about racism and post 9/11 anxiety issues which common people face in everyday life. An old meticulous Farsi shopkeeper who wants a gun to safeguard, a powerful attorney’s paranoid wife, a perfectly loving father who is victimized just because of his race, a chinaman caught under a truck for no reason and many more such good and bad people bump onto each others life. Scripting this movie could have been a tight rope walk. It’s easy with so much happening at the same time, the movie could seem like a collection of trailers. Paul Haggis, the writer-director of Crash seems to be a reputed TV series guy. I found that while reading about him after I watched the movie.

All the characters seem as important as the other and each one’s life changing event has been dramatised enough for the audience to relate with. The dialogues are provocative and blatant as required. With a studio producing the movie, these dialogues would have been dumped even during the pre-production. But it’s the same dialogues that makes one relate to the movie better. Independent films like these ensures a hope that movies can also be used for better purposes than entertainment. Movies needn’t propogate social ‘messages’ only through dialogues. They can be strong, subtle and might end-up on you as some kind of revelation. Someone watching the movie heart-of-heart will walk around their neighborhood looking for positives within people. And that’s a success for Paul Haggis.