Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Star to Follow

Lines from Nuovo Cinema Paradiso - Between Alfredo and Toto , as they walk by the sea -

Alfredo : You haven't seen her?
Toto : No. And no one knows where she is.
Alfredo : Probably that's how it was meant to be.We, each of us, have a star to follow.

Perhaps one of the most easy-to-say and most-difficult-to-do things in life is finding out your life's star,isnt it,that elusive little star. For some,the star is a guiding light,a beacon,a compass used to help navigate to your destination- could be a friend,a parent, a sibling,a book even- helping you on your way to your life's aim or your heart's desire. For others, reaching the star itself is the ultimate aim - the star could be a degree in a dream university, a dream job , or the love of your life. Following it becomes paramount to your existence.

Made me wonder what my star excatly is. Presently foggy,but hopefully should see with better clarity of vision the more i focus my lenses. How i wonder what you are!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tamil cinema at its nadir

The last 10 visits to the theatres to watch tamil flicks have been,to say the least,extremely disappointing - the sorry state of tamil cinema lacking quality and merit,the brand of films being released now is absolutely pathetic - cannot even think of rivalling those yester year classics or anywhere near the horizon of being labelled a modern classic. Huh...let being called a modern classic alone,they should strive to be called as watchable first up!

These films include :

Kuruvi (started with this,setting new lows for tamil cinema,challenging others to beat this low line mark!)

Silambattam (God Forbid! Unbearble.)

Kadhalil vizlunthaen ( No,thank you.)

Padikathavan( Cant believe they still make films like these in 21st century)

Maasilamani ( sunaina was the reason i saw..better should have stuck to seeing still camera pics)

Muthirai ( the only muthirai that this movie leaves on you is the mark of stunningly bad cinema)

We can take a little heart though-there were a few that were watchable,and infact was good in parts , n even better in certain parts : Pollathavan , Vaaranam Aayiram , Abiyum Naanum , Yaavarum Nalam - easily watchable,worth one visit to the theatre.

On the whole , Hopeless.

I watched Cinema Paradiso this afternoon,and what a movie that was!! Simple,elegant,very moving piece of cinem - the name says it all. Hoping for the day that such movies are made in Tamil.

A lost cause? Lets see.

Auditory Symbolisms - Sounds of Emotion

Crash of the ocean waves

roar of a waterfall

splatter of rain

a splash of water

rumbling of thunder

creak of the wild bamboo

rustling of the leaves

cry of the morning peacock

These are , for me , auditory symbolisms for beauty and solitude.

Sounds have the power to trigger certain emotions and memories and they give rise to a stream of thoughts.They say emotions have colors. I think they have sounds associated with them as well.

Probably thats why we sing or hum when happy, laugh out 'ha ha',exclaim a 'ohw' of suprise, a 'aargh' of frustration ,a 'hmm' of thought , a 'mmm!' for a delicious recipe . These are primitive sounds,nevertheless reflect natural and powerful emotions.(ofcourse,there are the more linguistically expressive souls who use a not so natural sound for all these emotions,a little more complex sound than ohw and ah,considered unparliamentary but the most used 4 letter word-yes,you got it right).

There are sounds in nature,sounds of water for instance, that never fail to move me,to transport me to another place,the choice of place depending on the sound and its related emotion.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Movie Comments : Muthirai

Directed by : Srinath
Music : Yuvan Shankar Raja
Starring : Nitin Satya , Daniel Balaji , Lakshmi Rai , Manjari Padnis .

BottomLine : A movie you will never regret missing,or rather will definitely regret that you went to the theatres.

Suspend reason, forget that you know there is something called 'fluidity' between scenes, forgive the poor acting , for your own sake ignore the fact that all characters lack intelligence , ignore the poor sets,and most importantly, know that this is a very cliched script that you can guess the plot well before it actually unfolds - then perhaps you might think this movie is not so bad.

Background score is average overall,and at times tries hard to lift the movie with the suspense-music , but fails to evoke any thrills because the acting and the direction lets it down awfully.
But the camera work and the stills are good,so helps the film be more bearable , atleast the visual aspect. Cinematography saves some face for the team.

So here s the story,for those who are still interested (on paper its sorta good,but the execution,a pretty sloppy affair).

(Two separate stories join together jus before the intermission)

The movie starts with the political murder of the Chief Minister who s in a meeting with a senior party member and with the CM's brother. Discussion turns into an argument and on the shake of the camera the CM,his brother,the aid and a security guard all lie in a pool of blood- we later know that CM dies,his brother s in coma,the aid is shot in the arm.The brother is blamed for the shoot out. The senior leader says he doesnt care for political power and wants to serve the people as a simple party worker - having watched tamil cinema for so long , you are almost sure that he is the bad guy.Then it shifts to the second line of events.

Daniel Balaji is a tough (!) and smart(!!please) city-dwelling con who deals with high level crime,passports for instance,as is shown.Atleast this is what was expected to reach audience i'm sure - the tatoos across his upper body and his curt manner are attributes that are meant to point in that direction i guess. He has his own private apartment where he doesnt let anyone enter , and is furnished apparently of expensive items . The sets let you down-not as impressive as you would expect of a rich con with taste (or no taste! this would make better sense).

Nitin Satya is a petty thief , who introduction scene is : women with broomsticks in hand (lead by his mother )and men with sticks chase him down the streets , and several scenes to depict that he is a street smart thief (several characters appear to tell you what his crimes are). Since his cover in his village is blown, he migrates to the city. He also talks too much on screen,and if the director thought that it was in good humour,sorry it wasnt. It gets annoying after a point -only a couple of phrases in the entire length of the movie manages to bring a smile.

As expected they come across each other - in a pub (again poor sets) - here s a song starring Rakhi sawant with her crass glamour - The passports Daniel has spills out from his pocket,and there you go you have a pub-shattering fight with the security guards there,and Nitin saves him from a guard who comes to stab Daniel - they become bestu friends - Daniel takes him to his apartment and you would almost say they are romancing seeing the doting scenes that follow - Nitin coming from village doesnt know to use the gadgets and Daniel hittin his head evertime for his silly errands (for instance he doesnt know the difference between body spray and room spray).

Next are the love interests - Lakshmi Rai for Daniel and Manjari Padnis (Meghna Character from Jaane tu ya jaane na) paired with Nitin Satya. Manjari plays the pretty-girl-with-absolutely-no-brains character(her dream guy is someone from the CBI or the military), i mean who believes a guy who says he s from the CBI when he s caught sneaking in a womens college (he says he s come to catch a guy who plans to plant a bomb in the campus) and she believes him , and voila , love bug has bit both of them - and there you have a duet.

The movie has several such incidents,and even i'm bored of typing for so long- so i ll cut it short - the songs slam the breaks on the flow of the movie - the 2 couples are caught up in the murder trail of the CM - they come into possession of a laptop which has video evidence of the murder- (the hidden cam can zoom and turn and focus on faces from all angles..the starting scene is played frame by frame in the video ( dei...yosikave maatingalada??)) - police chase them - they run away - bad guys catch up with them - fight - duet after fight sequence (come on,hero wud like hot romance after every bad guy gang they beat up right) - they blackmail bad guy - bad guy tries to double cross - but clever hero double crosses the double crosser - police catches the bad guy - justice is done -...phew.

I went to this movie,because i had nothing to do that evening.

Could have slept at home.

Thanjavur-Kumbakonam Trip!

The trip to Thanjavur and to several towns in its vicinity opened my eyes to a world different to that of Coimbatore - I had thought previously,before the trip,that not much would be different there in terms of lifestyle of the people, the city , or the way in which normal everyday people talk and behave towards others - turned out that i was wrong.

And i liked only one thing in the city - the ancient temples.

Not the dirty streets , not the half cooked idly , not the disrespectful tone of the hotel servers and the auto n taxi drivers , not the graffiti on the heritage sites , not the over crowded buses , not the garbage strewn bus stand with people affected with leprosy or elephantiasis lying around, not the suffocatingly hot weather , and not the transport facilities (the bus took two and half hours to travel 55 kms), not the bumpy roads.

Another thing which was so depressing to notice was that flooring in the inner areas of the 2000-yr old temples have now been overlaid with mosaic or marbles! The sanctity seems lost, with something so misfitting to be seen at such places..disgrace to the temple architecture..upon the name of renovation i'd say they are spoiling the beauty of the temple.They ought to have stuck with the tradition and used the black stones. I asked the priests there why such a measure has been taken ,and they blame the government for it. One can take a little heart seeing that the inner sanctum sanctorium has been left untouched.

Some photographs.

The Thanjore Palace.

Thanjore Skyline- View from the palace tower.


Ithu Namma Ooru- Makkal Thirunthave maataangala - God save us-Inside the palace.

Shiva's Cosmic Dance - Surrounded by a ring of flame,killing the demon of ignorance and darkness - 10th century Bronze statuette - Each civilization has its own version of depicting God,here the Cholas chose the image of Shiva's dance - now become the symbol of south indian culture - Majestic isnt!

Brihadeeshwar Temple Elephant

The Idly at gowri shankar where the rice batter was gouged out.

The little molluscan takin a stroll on the karaikal beach.

An image unique to India.

No sun shades at the bus stop.

A Poignant Picture - there s something in this picture that moves me..

A little bit of history.

Thanjavur,or Tanjore, is one of the ancient cities in India with a history of 2500 years - now known by repute as the 'Rice Bowl of TamilNadu' , for its vast cultivation of rice as the area is best suited for it,being near the Cauvery deltaic region,one of the most fertile lands in India.It is also famous for its numerous temples , most importantly the Brihadeeshwar Temple (Thanjai Peria Kovil,built 985 A.D),a world heritage site.Thanjavur,once the seat of Tamil tradition and culture , the place where literture, music, dance,sculpting and painting flourished under the Chola rule.

Just as the age of the Guptas shaped the Indian Civilization in the north in the middle ages, in the south another great civilization arose to prominence ,and created an empire that would rule across southern India and the islands of the indian ocean- The Cholas (300 BC-1300 AD) -who ruled from their capital city of Thanjavur,the city which still stands.

The Cholas were at the height of their power from the later half of the 9th century till the beginning of the 13th centuries.Under Rajendra Chola I and his son Rajendra Chola I, the dynasty became a military, economic and cultural power in Asia,with Chola territories stretching from the islands of the Maldives in the south to as far north as the banks of the Godavari river in the north. Rajaraja Chola conquered peninsular South India, annexed parts of SriLanka (Ilam) ,occupied the islands of the Maldives. Chola sent a victorious expedition to North India that touched the river Ganges defeated the ruler of Pataliputra. He also successfully invaded kingdoms of the Malay Archipelago.Click here to read more on the Chola dynasty.

Present Thajavur can be a lot better than how it is now. How nice it would be to see a city flooded with the classical arts ,followed by the comman people , cutting across all classes , a city filled with educated people who, least of all , know how to keep their rich city clean!