Saturday, February 28, 2009


In the year 2020...

On the set of another reality show...

Host: Welcome back to Ungalil Yaar Adutha Kalaimamani! All the competitors have finished their performances, and it is time for the judges to reveal this week's winner and elimination.

Guest judge Jeeva : I would like to come onto the stage.

Other judges : Aarambichutaanya... Intha guest judges stage-ukku ponaale elimination illanu artham..

Jeeva : All of you danced very well. The elimination is... erm... Master, I feel very bad, let's just give the Kalaimamani to all 8 of them!

Host : Wow, all 8 of them have been awarded the Kalaimamani! This isn't a simple achievement, contestants, only 3 million people have gotten it before!

In a school compound...

Student A : Dei, I've been selected as the Role Model student for 3rd Grade!

Student B : Che, all I got was a Kalaimamani!

Student A : Aiyo paavam, how could they do that to you?

Student B : I don't know, I think it's because I didn't hand in some assignments. Romba avamaanama irukuda. Everyone's making fun of me, they're writing my name on all the toilet walls!

Student A : I really feel bad for you man...

On a poster on the road...

"Vote for me! I promise you sweeping reforms! Not only that, if I win, I promise that each household will get a Kalaimamani! Veetukku oru Kalaimamani! I can feel the pain of the common man, that he does not have a Kalaimamani. If you vote for me, I will make the Kalaimamani award available at your nearest Ration Kadai!"

On the news...

News anchor : A new twist in the Kalaimamani awards this year; the number of awards given out this year has fallen compared to last year, to a lowly 9500! This is the first time in years that the number of awards has fallen below 10,000. The announcement was met with riots in the streets and the burning of buses. The Chief Minister commented upon the decision.

Chief Minister : We have tried our best to hand out awards despite the current crisis. We were unable to find any people in Tamil Nadu who have yet to get the award, and have resorted to bringing in immigrants just so that we can award them. I'm pleased to announce that Kumari Paris Hilton has agreed to take up Indian citizenship, and that she is in this year's award list.

Opposition Leader : This is injustice! When there are so many poor people in our slums, how can he give the Kalaimamani to other citizens! Is the Chief Minister blind to their needs! Doesn't he know they crave the award too!

News Anchor : In a new twist of events, Sandhana Kadathal Veerappan has been posthumously awarded the newly created Kolai-mamani award. Having appeared on TV more than any of the stars receiving the Kalaimamani, he truly deserves the award!


If you guys don't know what I'm talking abt, check this out. The award is becoming a joke, and an insult. As Vinith pointed out, if they are giving the award to both Kanja Karuppu and Saroja Devi, they might as well go on to give it to J.K. Ritheesh!

And about the first scenario, those who saw Ungalil Yaar Adutha Prabhudeva last week will know what I'm talking about. This "no elimination" nonsense is getting on my nerves. The only situation for no elimination is when everyobody is so good that you can't decide. If two idiots screwed up, and you can't decide who to eliminate, eliminate both!

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

I saw the movie over a week ago, and read the script online a few days ago. This is the second movie script I have read after watching the movie, and it is quite a different experience. It consists of way more than dialogues; the scriptwriters write their descriptions like novelists, and bring life to the inner emotions that are not spoken. I guess this makes it easier for the director and the actors to connect to the writer's intention. If you haven't done so yet, check out It has a nice collection of full movie scripts, and it is quite enjoyable to read the script of a movie you just watched.

As for the movie itself, it was enjoyable to watch, though the movie is far from perfect. I liked the performance of Julia Ormond as Daisy's daughter; she looked very natural (and surprisingly young) in the role. The flow of the script is good, without any excessively slow portions. 

Brad Pitt did a decent job, though I didn't think it was very memorable. His personality stayed pretty much the same throughout. His characterisation was quite weak; I think the writers just left his characterisation as "guy who ages backwards". But how about who he is as a person? We never get to know. There was an interesting lead about how he grew up seeing death around him, but the issue is never fleshed out to show how that makes him who he is.  

Cate Blanchett's performance is significantly more impressive, as is her character. Daisy shows a wonderful range of personality changes as she ages, going from a carefree girl in her 20s to a tired woman in her 30s to a dignified lady in the later parts of the movie. Because the writers weren't distracted by a basic premise like they were for Benjamin, they have fleshed her character out so well.

The main feeling I got in the movie is one of lost potential. There were a lot of things that started to develop and were dropped halfway. The clock that ages backwards was a symbol that could have been used more, and the link to Benjamin's life should have been a lot tighter, more than just "both go backwards". I still don't know what the hummingbird is supposed to represent in the movie. Like I mentioned earlier, Benjamin's characterisation is poor, which is a pity. With such a bizarre character trait, a lot more aspects of his personality could have been fully explored. There is a message of "Live life to the fullest" in the movie, but I could never see how that tied in with Benjamin's bizarre character trait. True, he learnt that from the people he saw in life, and those parts do tie together nicely. But why would he have not learnt these exact things if he had aged properly? At the end of the movie, he sounds like an old man who has seen life, which is what he is. But why does he sound like any other old man? How did aging backwards change his view? What was the point of the fundamental premise of the movie, if it is irrelevant to the conclusion? There, to me, lies the basic problem of the movie.

I did enjoy the movie, but not as much I had hoped to. The movie tried to provoke me, or teach me a message of living life, but it didn't quite connect with me. I have yet to watch Slumdog Millionaire, the other big Oscar movie. Need to catch it sometime soon.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Ilayaraaja vs A.R. Rahman

There has been a very interesting discussion ongoing about Ilayaraaja and A.R. Rahman on two blogs I respect deeply, Suresh's Yours Musically, and Emjay's 7swara.

I have said much of what I feel in the comments pages of these posts, I just wish to reproduce here one of my comments to another blog post on Emjay's blog.

I, too, am speechless at the level of pure "aathanggam" evidenced by the search queries. 

I agree with all that people say about Ilayaraaja's talent and legacy, and I understand the silent pain that he hasn't been recognised internationally.

But at a time like this when an Indian has won the Oscars, two at one go, it is surely a moment for pure awe and pride. When Abinav Bindra won the Gold at the Olympics, nobody asked "Why didn't P.T. Usha win in 1984? The swim team trains so many times a week, why haven't they been recognised?". When he won, we were all proud of him and felt a sense of awe and wonderment at the achievement. But when Rahman won the Oscars, the fact that the first thought of some people is to search for these terms on the net is plainly disgusting. 

Raaja-vai veriyoda rasippathu veru, Rahman-ai veriyodu veruppathu veru. The two are not the same, and the latter is quite a sad state of affairs. Just my opinion.

I think there is a clear distinction to be made between a person who likes a certain composer and a person who hates all other composers actively. Feeling bad that your idol doesn't have recognition is one thing. Getting angry and indignant when another composer gets an award is closer to the behaviour of an extremist/crazed fanatic than to that of a fan or music lover.

Not all music is equal, and (to quote Orwell) some are more equal than others. Some people like Rahman, some like Ilayaraaja. Some enjoy the western rap interludes of Yuvan, some like the smooth pop feel of Harris, some enjoy the gaana of Deva. There is nothing wrong with that; if art wasn't subjective, it would lose its beauty. But please, let's get this hatred out of the way.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Go Rahman!!!

He won both!! Boo-yeah!!

A.R. Rahman and the Oscars

Just a few minutes left I guess, let's hope for the best.

My prediction, I think he'll definitely get Best Song (I hope he gets it for O Saya and not Jai Ho, though the latter seems more popular in the US). Best Score, I think it's likely he'll get it too. I'm a bit doubtful about Slumdog winning Best Picture, but let's see.

Good luck, Mozart of Madras!

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I don't know what has brought me back to blogging. I used to blog here, but that blog died of unknown causes more than two years ago. Hopefully this blog has a longer lifetime.

I'm not one to discuss my own life online, and this blog will mainly talk about my views on movies and music. I watch/listen to mostly Tamil movies and songs; the occasional Hindi movie and soundtrack; quite a few English movies, and virtually no English music. Music-wise, I'm a fan of A.R. Rahman, and any good music in general. Movies-wise, there are quite a few actors and directors who can induce me to watch their movies; Kamal, Mani Ratnam, Gautham Menon come to mind.

Oh and I'm not sure if this matters, but if I review a movie there will be spoilers. Not intending to spoil the movie for anyone, just wish to express all of my opinions without having to restrain myself.

Wish me luck, let's see how this goes. 

Naan Kadavul Review

I liked some of Bala's previous movies, but the extended hype for this movie had also tired me out, so it was with a mix of anticipation and nonchalance that I went to watch the movie.

I didn't really like the movie. I liked the Pooja half of the story, but the Arya half was very underdeveloped; to the extent that I found him irrelevant whenever they showed him, and wanted the story to return to Pooja

I didn't like the fight scenes either, looked exactly like Pithamagan climax to me. In Pithamagan it was shocking and intriguing. In Naan Kadavul I found it boring; the two fights in the movie even resemble each other. The character's violence seemed very forced to me.  

The MGR/Sivaji portions looked very irrelevant, as if there was a channel change to Vijay TV Kalakkapovathu Yaaru. And I also thought they should have rerecorded the songs that Pooja sings; I found it distracting that they just played the original songs.  

Minuses aside, I did like some things about the movie, like most of the Pooja story arc. The very poor Arya characterisation is in stark contrast to the unbelievable depth in the Murugan character. The humour scenes involving the beggars, while crass, are quite funny.  

Overall, the movie looked like Bala was very distracted and never had time to complete his thoughts. I really liked Pithamagan and Nandha, but this one didn't click for me.