Happy Birthday Dude !! – Sujatha Rangarajan

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A friend of mine came from India last week. He brought along some Ambika appalams and Manga thokku bottles. I threw them aside and got hold of something else which I wanted desperately. Sujatha‘s Selected Shortstories Part II. He gave me a wierd look and said, “Machan Itha ethukku eduthundu vara sonna ? “. I smiled and started reading the first page. He wasn’t bitten by the Sujatha bug. I was, badly.

It wasn’t until I read Nila Nizhal I went gaga over Sujatha. Like Sidney Sheldon, I was thinking Sujatha was a female writer initially. I was amused when (s)he wrote about teenage bloopers in Nila Nizhal. It was just a beginning and it was there my journey alongwith Sujatha started. From the Purasawalkam’s Tana street potti kadai to Tambaram Sanitorium library to Mylapore Azhwar Kadai, I have bought/read/enjoyed Sujatha everywhere. I even carried a Sujatha novel to my first interview. To read when I got some spare time.

As a teenager, I was quite amazed how could realistically write a teenager’s mind in Aathalinaal Kathal Seiveer and that same amazement follows me through the wineshop scenes of Shankar’s Boys. When I watched Enn Iniya Iyandhira on cable, I had the book in my hand to follow it real close. With Anithaavin Kaathalgal, I was convinced that this guy wrote better romance fiction than many contemporary tamil writers. With Kanavu Thozhirchaalai I was sure that my interests matched Sujatha. I read Madhyamar and started worshipping. Roja, Indian, Mudhalvan, Kannathil Muthamittal and Boys continues to say what an interesting dimension a book writer can bring into a movie. I am still positive that my interests match Sujatha’s. What a stupid statement you would think. I am not bothered. But I relate to him so much. A millions of other fans join me. It’s probably this USP of relating to him makes him supreme than others in Tamil writing scene. Just last week, I completed reading his Madhyamar and Thoondil Kathaigal, again, in the bathroom. Though till day, Guruprasadin Kadaisi Dhinam continues to reamin as my all-time favorite of Sujatha.

Why would directors like Mani Ratnam and Shankar go back to Sujatha when they are savvy enough to pen screenplay & dialogues by themselves. When Mani Ratnam shot Uyire[Dil Se] he discussed the story with Sujatha. Sujatha then wrote the story in a novel format. The format was then converted to screenplay and dialogues were written.

Sujatha’s first story was published in 1954 in a magazine named Sivaji. His next story Athirchi was published six years later in Kumudam. So if we assume 1954 to be his official start date as a writer, he completes 51 years in writing.

I probably cannot finish the post as I have a tsunami of thoughts on his writing. So here’s wishing a man whose brains I would wish to own, A Very Joyous Birthday, as he completes 70 years on planet earth. Here’s Sujatha about himself –

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Happy Birthday Dude !! – AR Rahman

AR Rahman

As South Asians took root around the world and their local movie culture avidly followed them, one could hear Rahman’s music even if it didn’t puncture the consciousness: as background music in restaurants and posh stores, in the very beat of certain neighborhoods, and of course in the movies that occasionally broke out of Desi ghettos. Lagaan, the insurgent epic centered on an Anglo-Indian cricket match, was nominated for the Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar. Again Rahman’s work went uncited — though not, by Western film cultists, unappreciated. As they discovered India’s pop cinema, they realized that along with the ferocious emoting and delirious dances, there was a master composer — the man Indians call the Mozart of Madras.

The column of Richard Corliss, That Old Feeling: Isn’t It Rahmantic?, appears to be a timely one. A fantastical testimonial of AR Rahman and his timeless compositions. A must read for Rahmaniacs on his b’day.

My bit is here. On a hot sunny afternoon, walking by the crowded streets of Tambaram, I stop by the corner of the road for a synthesised music blaring from an audio shop. I could even identify ABBA, Jackson, Eagles and Carpenters before that. But this music was soothing and very different. I’m not making nay comparions here. No exaggeration. True. Someone on the audioshop said the composer was a 25yr old guy. I bought the cassette not for the music but for Mani Ratnam. It was Roja. The year was 1992.

Since then I’ve been mesmerized by AR Rahman for good and never turned back. If I were to know a Rahman music album got released, I bought it blindly. I never bothered the crew and the cast. If it was Rahman, the cassette was mine. I even bought music of movies like Andhi Malai which never released. And yeah I closely followed ARR music release schedules. Would have posted them here if only there were blogs in 1995.

Rahman still continues to inspire a generation of people , around the world(is that politically right?) who are transfixed to his musical chords. And we should be pleased that a unassuming dude from Chennai is making the world dance to his HUMMA HUMMA.

Happy Birthday Dude !! – Steven Spielberg

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[Pic: Intercom with spielberg’s signature ]

The passion for storytelling, the passion for being highly imaginative and the passion for delivering films with a sense of belonging can be attributed only to Steven Spielberg. As a kid, he was probably my first biggest inspiration for the wonderworld of films. If I could recall one instance of becoming an addict to cinema it has to be Spielberg’s E.T. For me, a kid on 3rd grade, watching a film’s story expand beyond boundaries of imagination and touch hearts despite dealing with a weird looking alien was sheer magic. And Extra Terrestrial still remains a magic till day, even after 22 years after its release.

From then, I have closely watched most of Steven Spielberg‘s movies with a sense of belonging. As though he was a friend teaching me the art of movie making. And never, never he has left me down with his movies. Even my favorite Indian Spielbergs have left me down in a couple of places failing to impress.

Having watched even the not-so-commercial movies like Schindler’s List and Amistad in the dark and hot cinema halls of Chennai, like crazy, I can rather write a full length analysis on Spielberg and his dimension of movie making. Thats certainly not the point. Having watched his movies so damn well, I still can’t guess what would be his next venture. Just like the how he made Catch Me If You Can after the techical wizardry in Minority Report.

Though we know Tom Cruise starring War of the Worlds[Trailer, must see], based on HG Wells sci-fiction, is set to release the summer of 2005, I can’t wait more to watch it.

Spielberg loves to quote, “The only time I’m totally happy is when I’m watching films or making them”. While he is turning 58 today, the movie lovers of the world would join together and wish him a filmy birthday. We don’t have to hope for better films from him. He loves the movies more than the movie lovers themselves.

Happy Birthday Spielberg!!

Happy Birthday Dude !! – Subramanya Bharati

Subramaniya Bharathyb
[Thanks to Thiru for the pencil sketch]

Last evening, after the office hours, me and a few of my collegues, unconsciously got into a conversation about Bharati. One of them had brought the Bharathiyar Kavithaigal to office and what started as an informal poem reading session ended up in a conversation of sorts on Bharati. Finally, we concluded that any amount of re-collection of his poems, forethoughts and writings will not substantiate Bharati. For he was always larger-than-life.

His birthday is being celebrated as a four-day Bharati Festival(starting yesterday) at Bharati illam, Thulasinga Perumal Koil Street, Tripilicane. This festival is a great way to remember the man behind these lines –

Ooyuthal Seiyom Thalai Saayuthal Seiyom
Unmaigal Soalvom Pala Vanmaigal Seivom
.

Happy Birthday Dude !! – Kamal Hassan

Kamal as Velu Naicker
[Pic – bizhat.com]

No yaps, no cribs. Just a birthday wish to this gentleman on his 50th birthday. Am saving many more such wishes for the coming future that will reiterate Kamal Hassan‘s name in the History of Indian Cinema.

Happy Birthday Mr – Krishnaswamy, Nalla Sivam, Chappani, Guna, Velu Naicker, Senapathy, Abay Kumar, Saketh Ram, Shakti Velu, Kameswaran, Virumandi, Appu, Udhayamoorthy, Satyamoorthy and the list goes on.

Poongatru Thirumbuma ?…

Sivaji Vs Sivaji in Gauravam
[Pic: hindu.com]

Not many would be as lucky as us to witness this greatest actor of the last century. If you think that Sivaji Ganesan shouldn’t be called like that, you hadn’t probably seen the essence of his acting, still.

There are lot of movies that one could re-collect, while talking about Sivaji. Apart from all those Paasamalar, Paavamaippu types, which I love, there are a couple of movies that I feel that were radical in Sivaji’s career.

One, Uthama Puthiran which re-defined tamil cinema’s horizon. Sivaji in dual roles, as the vivacious and the pleasant Parthiban, was at his best. Especially as Vikraman he displayed plethora of emotions and also paved way for splendiferous anti-hero roles. Who would forget the classy moving camera shots and the amazing Yaaradi Nee Mohini dance sequence. It was well ahead of time and was path breaking.

Two, Muthal Mariyadhai which showed that Sivaji has grown over period and has learnt the art of adapting roles that would well suit his age. It was in a way the making of the older Sivaji. Bharathiraja‘s taste for village romance and Sivaji’s tact of getting deep into the skin’s character met chords. The old man – young woman romance of Mudhal Mariyadhai was in a way a brisk effort by Bharathiraja and Sivaji elevated the movie to different heights. Forget not the excellant performace ‘foul mouthed’ Vadivukarasi. And ofcourse, the Poongatru Thirumbuma wonder song by Illayaraja. Chef-d’oeuvre.

Having lost Sivaji Ganesan to the good old destiny, I couldn’t wish him Happy B’day Dude!!, rather earn for his return to the acting deprived Kollywood. Hence will that Poongatru Thirumbuma [breeze come back ] ?.

Happy Birthday Dude !! – MS Subbulakshmi

MS Subbulakshmi
[Pic:thehindu.com]

As MS Subbulakshmi, the god’s own voice, celebrates her 89th birthday today, all we can do is to wish her The Hindu way, Many healthy happy peaceful returns of the day. Offlate, her recent setbacks on health front did worry millions of her fans across the world and this is probably is one nice way to wish her great health.

The quest to enjoy her music, live in an auditorium, has only grown over the days and has never suffered a downfall. Everytime you would hear Kurai Ondrumillai or the Bhaja Govindam or her Meera Bhajans, her music grows on you. These are just some popular examples that one can relate to. A long time carnatic music fanatic would be able to identify a raaga sung by a contemporary singer and relate to how MS has/would sung the similar raaga better.

While Raaga Aalaapana, they say, is easier said than done, I have heard people who talk/write about her ability to research deeper into a raaga during the Aalaapanai and still keep the audience glued. But again, we are just gifted to listen to her music on tapes. I constantly envy those who have enjoyed her carnatic kutcheris in person.

Few years back, while I had to visit my friend in the Apollo Hospital, we saw MS was just walking slowly in the reception area, probably for a doctor visit. And before me and my friend could realise it was MS herself, a few teenaged girls literally started running towards her. Bowed her down and were damn excited to see her. The next moment, a small queue got formed and they started falling down on her feet to get her blessings. While me and my friend stood transfixed by her tejas and the kind way she responded to those girls, we also realised that she was so embarassed to have a queue waiting to fall in her feets. All this within minutes and then she had gone. Though I had seen her before in a kutcheri, this recent one remains so fresh and couldn’t believe even today that we actually glimpsed MS, so near, in person.

Fly here for a complete profile of MS Subbulakshmi. This Happy Birthday Dude!! is kind of getting on like a impromptu series, so allow me to call everyone informally, a dude, including MS.

Happy Birthday Dude!! – Vairamuthu

Vairamuthu

Pachai Kiligal

Need I say more than quoting him from my favorite all time song from Shankar’s Indian. This guy from Vadugapatti in Theni District has already reached Sahitya Akademi for Kallikkattu Edhikasam (The Epic of Kallikkadu), with his magical pen.

Apart from his well known, most popular association with AR Rahman, Vairamuthu is also equally known in literary circles for some of his good contributions during yester years. His first work in Tamil literature called Vaigarai Megangal was a runaway success. His modern poetry called Kavirajan Kathai, detailing the life of Poet Bharathi is also regarded as a great contribution to Tamil literature. I’ve my own set of favorites which includes the autobiographical Indha Kulathil Kal Erindhavargal and Sigarangalai Nokki.

From that Idhu Oru Ponn Malai Pozhuthu in Bharathiraja’s Nizhalgal, Vairamuthu has become a mainstream lyricist for Tamil movies. He and AR Rahman rocked the Tamil music scene for over a decade. My list of songs by A R Rahman and Vairamuthu combo would run pages. They include Pachai Kiligal – Indian, Pachai Niramey – Alai Payuthey, Ithu Annai Bhoomi – Bombay, Kanukku Mai Azhagu – Pudhiya Mugham, Vellai Pookal – Kannathil Muthamittal, Minnale – May Madham and so on.

I can’t stop myself from quoting my most favorite song of Vairamuthu. It’s Pachai Kiligal Tholodhu from Indian. The lyrics celebrate life, the pleasures and sorrows of life and finally quote the joy of life in totality. Unmatchable lyrics combined with that beautiful flute interlude of A R Rahman where Indian Thatha dances clandestinely inside the potter’s mud.

Chinnanchiru Kootukkuley
Sorgam Irukku
Ada Chinnach Chinna Anbil Thaney
Jevvan Inum Irukku
Pattampoochik Kootathukku
Patta Ethukku
Ada Paasam Mattum Podum Kanney
Kaasu Panam Ennathukku

Happy Birthday Vairamuthu !!

Remembering Sivaji on his birthday:

This gloomy eyed guy became the biggest star of tamil cinema and the first guy who was called as A Man with thousand faces. Featured by a swaggering gait, protuding big expressive eyes, enviable gift of acting was Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan. His ability to get into the skin of the character was envied by his contemporaries. Over his ruling of tamil cinema for more than 50 years, he has acted in all sorts of roles and but unfortunately did not bag all kinds of awards.

Doesn’t matter he still stays in the hearts of good cinema lovers. Here is a piece of note left by my friend senthil in the comments when he reminded me of shivaji’s birthday. Read this. Goosebumps ahead. Take care.

im surprised to see the love and affection they have for chevalier sivaji ganesan here in Malaysia.Though they don’t have the poster culture, there were continuous programmes in tamil radio channel and articles in tamil dailies .For eg, the aired his famous dialogue clippings from parasakthi to padiayappa,song snippets from all his famous films,interviews given by actors like superstar , kamal all this since morning ( now the time is just 12.00 noon).I remembered the day when he died , where radio 6 – a tamil radio channel conducted interviews where people were cryin and choking without words.Almost around 200 people( im not exaggerating) saw his death procession in TV standing in front of a cofee shop.I was surprised to see even young guys watching with tears in their eyes.Sivaji lived like a king and died like a king. Actors should not even try to match this great man…He will live in the hearts of all the tamils througout the world.