Being Sudhakar

Friday, February 26, 2010

I've moved

I've moved

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

An Ode to Angels

You gave me life, you brought me into this world,

Enduring pain that no other mortal could bear.

You cared and loved me like no one ever could,

You quitely shed a tear when I wasn't near.

You made me the man, that I'm now.

And I would owe everything I have, to you forever.

I wondered where you got all that strength and love.

You're a goddess, but you chose to be called a Mother.

- To a Mother - an Angel, a Woman

I've broken a few of your Barbies myself,

And hid a few other dolls when you broke my bike,

Although I feel embarassed to admit it,

Those imaginary tea parties were the best ones in my life.

Oh those days of fighting, about whom mom loves more,

Pulling hairs, and throwing pillows at one another

The world thinks, that its fight, that we do best,

But only we know how much we love each other.

- To a Sister - an Angel, a Woman

You came as a stranger, and became my life,

You held my hand for eternity,

You walk by my side, as a constant companion,

And promised to love me unconditionally.

You work at office, you work at home,

You stay busy when the rest of the world is free,

You're a Manager, Counsellor, Friend and Critic,

They say men are stronger, but I disagree.

- To a Wife - an Angel, a Woman

You are the happiest when I succeed,

And the first one to tell me when I'm wrong,

You pull my ears when I do something naughty,

And listen to my non-sense all day long.

You tell me all your secrets, and I trust you with mine,

And I can tell you about my latest crush without fear,

With you around, I am never alone,

You are always there to wipe that tear.

- To a Friend - an Angel, a Woman

A woman, I believe, was created with care,

God indeed took that bit of extra time.

A big heart, strong mind, in an aura of splendidness,

An embodiment of brains and beauty, Oh Woman, you are divine.

Here's wishing all the Women-
A Very Happy Women's Day!

(P.S - This was written by me for Women's Day 08th Mar, 2008)

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Sudhi Learns to Drive - 2 (Top Gear)

Part 2 - Top Gear

"Vaanga Sir, ukkarunga. Namma vandi dhaan". I wasn't so sure about that. It looked as if it belonged more to the dirt and mosquitoes of Ambattur. It looked absolutely Un-sittable with a capital 'U'. However, the vision of me driving a Red Ferrari in OMR, while waving out to the traffic police who were bowing at me in salutation was driving around in my head. I had to learn to drive. I closed my eyes, mouth and nose and garnered all my might to slither into the 'cockpit' of the Omni. As I gradually opened my eyes and saw the steering wheel in front of me, just behind the dusty wind-screen overlooking the vast expense of road - I wanted to floor the accelerator and scream across the turf as fast as the Omni could take me. There was only one problem however. Of the three pedals near my legs, I did not know which was which.

I was given a crash course on the car ABC's by Karthik, all while I was seated in the driver's seat. Accelerator, Brake and Clutch. Quite literally the ABC's of driving a car. I realized that Karthik may have had a few bad apples like me. That was primarily the reason why, there was a set of brake and clutch on his side as well, perhaps to save our lives if I decided to do anything funny (or even anything normal by my standards). I did not like it at all. I wanted to be in sole control. The Matrix fan that I am, it reminded me of one of Neo's dialogues in the movie.

Morpheus: Do you believe in fate, Neo?Neo: No.Morpheus: And why not?Neo: Because I don't like the idea that I'm not in control of my life.

Atta boy Neo. And I didn't like the idea that I was not in sole control of my Car. But in hindsight, I am rather thankfull that I wasn't the only one with car's controls that day. I was taught about the gear shifts by Karthik. "One-u, Two-vu, Three-yu, Four-u, Revers-u" Karthik motined his hand across the gear-rod to make me understand. I learnt that Omni did not have a high speed engine because of which it did not have a 5th gear. I was shattered again. Wiping that tear off my eyes, I was busy practising the gear shifts with an imaginary gear rod while Karthi was advising away to glory. I had a few vrroom vrrrooom sounds thrown in to set the mood, before Karthi realized that I wasn't listening at all. My instructor gave me a sombre 'Why-does-it-always-happen-to-me' look and told me to start the engine. Those were the exact words that I was waiting to hear since a good 15 minutes. I moved the gear rod to neutral, turned the ignition key clockwise, and smiled like an idiot at Karthik and Shiva (Who was trying to find something to hold on to in the back seat) as the engine coughed to life. Karthik checked if everything was ok, made sure that he had his control of the car as well, and then nervously signalled - "Polaam Saar" (Let's go Sir).

The auto-driver who drove past me, gave me a puzzled look as he crossed my stationary vehicle. I don't blame him. I was grinning from one ear to the other. That day, I was perhaps the happiest guy who ever started an automobile. The road beckoned. I throttled the engine, slowly released the clutch and we were moving. A Snail would have moved faster, but we were moving nevertheless. Gradually we gained momentum. I was just about to put my arms out and cry - "I am the King of the World", when Karthik ordered - "Now go to 2nd Gear". "Huh… what… Oh gear… this one… how.. Why?" I was already under pressure. I moved the gear-rod up, and it did not bulge. "Oh my God, the gear-rod's stuck. What do I do now?" I shouted as I slammed on the brake and nothing happened. "The brakes are gone too.." I screamed as we scorched the road at an unbelievable speed of 10 kmph. I was about to slam the hand-brake when Karthik shouted "Irunga saar" and told me to cool down. It took me a while to realize what had happened. I then realized, that the gear-rod had to be moved DOWN for the second gear and not up. Also I was stomping on the clutch thinking it to be a non-functioning brake. It was embarassing. I sheepishly looked up and lied to him as confidently as possible - "In UK and US everything's placed opposite you know" as if I was born and brought up in a foreign land, and praying fervently inside my heart that he knew nothing about the driving habits of other countries. But I think he knew that I knew nothing about the US or the UK. But being the gentleman that he was, he said nothing, and was content with a 'yeah-right' kind of a look, while Shiva was going hysteric in the back seat.

After having put the embarassment aside, and Shiva having survived his laughter marathon, I was doing pretty OK for a beginner. Karthik is a compulsive yapper. One of those unique pieces of work that can talk non-stop. Kind of like Sholay's Basanthi or Jab We Met's Geet. He has something to say about everything in this world. And that made me even more determined to concentrate on the road, especially after my gear-shift debacle a few minutes earlier. The steering just could not keep the car straight, and hence it needed constant manouvering to keep it from hitting the median or the pavement. Everything was fine untill I reached my first 'U' turn. I down-shifted to the 2nd gear as per the instructions and having found a clear spot, decided to turn. That was when I was told - this vehicle did not have power steering.

It was like the wheel of Captain Jack Sparrow's ship, that required serious physical labour to make the Omni boat do a 'U' turn. I turned and turned, when suddenly I forgot about the accelerator and the Omni stalled in the middle of the road. I bet you have heard of parallel parking. Well this was Sudhi's version of 'perpendicular' parking. I even scared the mosquitoes away. A lorry driver was honking away the horn to glory screaming for me to get out of his way. Karthik was as cool as cucumber and kept on yapping something about neutral, start and first gear. That was exactly what I did and slowly but surely, negotiated the Omni out of harm's way. I brought the vehicle to a stop and reluctantly got out to let Shiva do his share of driving for the day. Karthik was wiping the sweat off his brows, as I took my place at the back. As I sat down in the passenger's seat, I contemplated on the mistakes that I had done, and what I should have done in those situations. But more than that, I was dreaming away about the Ferrari, the OMR, the crowds of people 'wow'ing at my ride and the embodiment of coolness - me waving out to them. Man I love that dream…

I practised my driving on route to Office and back to home, in my seat in the bus, driving my imaginary Ferrari as the bus crawled throught the traffic, to TCO and back. I woke up occasionally to mild screams and taunts, when I kicked the legs of the guy sitting in front of me when I pretended to hit the brake or when I woke up my friend in my adjacent seat when I fell on him negotiating that hair-pin bend. I was all set for my lessons for the next day. Not bad for a day's drive eh?


I was determined as ever, when I dropped in at 6 o'clock sharp, to find Karthik just driving in. The Omni looked cleaner that day. Perhaps he had watched the geography of my face change the previous day, as I was trying to sit inside the car, and perhaps had invested a couple of buckets of water for the car. As I prepared to sit in the driver's seat, I checked with Karthik as to when I would get his Santro to drive. The usually chirpy Karthik, grew a wee bit serious - "Very soon saar. Apparam saar, payment…?" Aah.. Then I knew what a major reason for not driving the Santro was. I promised him that I'll pay him once we come back from driving today. Karthik grew back to his old chirpy self immediately…

I was over-all better with driving on the second day. Except a minor incident in the start, where I tried to reverse the car without even starting it. Aah well, everyone does that once in a while so lets forget about it. Also today, the van did not stop while executing the 'U' turn. I had constantly revved up the accelerator throughout the exercise. Everything was perfect. The only catch, however, was that I almost gave a poor old man in his bi-cycle, a heart-attack, when I missed him by just a whisker during the turn. Also Karthik had told me to avoid a pit on the road. "Right-a ponga saar" (Take the right, sir) he had advised. I promptly followed him and turned left and avoided the pit. Karthik was fuming. He wanted to know why I had gone to the left when he told me to go towards the right. I innocently told him that I thought he had told me to drive right (correct), and for me, at that moment, 'left' was indeed 'right'. I smiled, but perhaps Karthik did not get 'Mokkai' Sudhakar's P.J.

After we finished our rounds for the day, I handed Karthik the money and the documents for my LLR and License. I was planning on visiting the Red Hills RTO that day for the LLR. I asked him in all seriousness if I had to drive an '8' on the RTO grounds for me to secure a license as for the bikes. He shot back - "For Car and all, you not put eight saar, you put eleven. Ha ha ha ha…" I knew immediately that this was his revenge for my 'right' joke.. I was at the receiving end this time, while Karthik laughed his guts out. "Hee hee.." I coughed up that fake laugh, that I usually reserve for the bad jokes at office. After he was done laughing, he counted his money, checked the documents and told me with an air of utmost confidence - "Saar, in 1 week you will be ready for taking license saar. But license you will get in 1 month only saar. Very easy for you saar. Nalla drive panreenga…" (You drive well) Yeah right! I was impressed by the man's optimism. He really did have an eye for detail, he knew a Michael Schumacher when he saw one. Only that this Schumi clone was called M Sudhakar. And about the 'only 1 week' thing, well, Dream on Karthi boy. I want my 15 days of driving… I nodded at him with a sinister smile on my face and that Ferrari dream still running in my mind…

(To be concluded… When I get my License...)

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sudhi Learns to Drive - 1 (Ignition)

Part 1 - Ignition

I've loved Cars since.. forever. Why, Me and Michael Schumacher even share the same initials - M.S. Burning rubber, scorching asphalt and pulling absolute crazy manouveres - believe me, I've done them all. I've been lucky enough to have driven a lot of cars in their prime speed all over the world, and have walked away unhurt. Believe me, Porsche Carrera GT does not handle well on winding and slippery roads. All was fast and well until that fateful day a few years back…. That day, when my brother got so frustrated that he hid his old PlayStation2 somewhere and broke the DVDs of Need for Speed and Burnout Revenge video games, that had almost burnt out. I was devastated. I was prohibited from driving even virtually, the only kind of driving that I knew. Speed was in my blood, nobody could take it away from me.

But they did. And ever since that time, procastination and laziness has kept the task - 'Get a Four Wheeler Driving License' figuring in my New Year Resolutions list permanently. There was a glimmer of hope last year, when a certain friend of mine told me that he could arrange for a 'quick' license within a week. The best part was, I did not even have to drive. As convenient as that sounded, where was the fun in that? Inspite of my driving skills (or perhaps the lack of it), I would have gone ahead and agreed to it (and perhaps gone ahead and got driving licenses for bus, lorry, train, plane, etc…). But thankfully for Chennai and its thousands of motorists, he left for Coimbatore, taking his well laid plans with him. Then things went into a lull for a few days. India won the 20-20 world cup, Tata's Nano was announced, and I saw an old RED FERRARI (Is there anyother kind?) painfully driven on the OMR that whet my appetite on thinking about buying a car soon.

I was debating with my friends, family and bretheren on which car to buy. I ooh-ed and aah-ed on the Skoda's, the CRV's and the Civic's on our roads. I thought about the Santro's, i10's and Swift's as well. But I realized that I was rich enough to buy only a Tata Nano or any other 'new' used-car in installments, that could be squeezed within my budget. Sometime back, when I was debating about the colour of my would-be Car, a friend of mine popped a simple question - "Do you know to drive ?". I shot back immediately - "No dude. Not even if it is pitched on a half-volley. Although, I can hook, pull and cut very well. Hit a guaranteed Sixer. You know I love the way Sachin played that drive in the…". "Daai…" Someone, who had mis-interpreted my innocent and frank answer to be our trademark mokkai, cut me short. "Do you have a license to drive a four wheeler ?"

And that is when I felt as if all the bricks in the Great Wall of China came crashing on my head. I realized only then, that my driving skills had not yet been proven worthy in the real world. And that was indeed a problem in the larger scheme of things. Determined to have it sorted out immediately, me and Shiva, marched onto the nearest driving school in our area on the first available weekend that we were free, which only happened to be last Saturday.

We found, Karthik Driving School in the vicinity and the extremely talkative - Mr.Karthikeyan, within. After having talked about the 10 years that he has been teaching driving, the apalling road behaviour, bad traffic, his children, his neighbour's children, the school they study in, the road leading to that school, and everything else under the sun, we confirmed his tutorship for the next 15 days and we were to start classes from the coming Monday at 6AM in the morning.

Aah 6 o'clock. This was going to be tricky. I hail from Ambattur and hence it may not come as a surprise that I catch my bus at 7:30 in the morning, when the other mortals (and the Sun) would just be rising from deep slumber. I had my alarm set at 5:30 everyday, which a few snoozes later, woke me up at 6 in the morning everyday. Now, for the next 15 days, I had to wake up at mid-night 5 o'clock. But the roar of a car's engine was waiting for me. That was drive enough for me. (pun intended ) I woke at 5.30AM sharp, the next day. :p

At 6 o'clock I was picked up by Shiva in his bike and we drove to the driving school to attend our first ever driving class. Our Guru, Karthik wasn't in yet. Standing next to a big heap of dust, we were about to call him up on his mobile, when a Santro with a BIG 'L' on it pulled up right before us. I was used to the Ferrari's and BMW's and Jaguar's and so a plain old Santro did not seem too exciting. But I was willing to make an exception and was about to pull the door open, when Karthik gestured us to wait while he showed us a mind-boggling magic trick.

He took a piece of cloth from the Santro and started waving wildly on the heap of dust that we were standing next to. A commotion of dust, dirt and mosquitoes bellowed up to the heavens while he circled that heap in a ritualistic towel dance. Magically a faint boxy shape seemed to emerge from that artificial dust screen. And slowly, to my horror, I saw something that I had been dreading. I saw a Maruthi Omni emerge out of the dirt. And from the wide grin on my teacher's face, I knew that this was our text book for this 15 day course. "Vaanga Saar, ukkarunga. Namma vandi dhaan" (Come sir, sit. This is our vehicle). Yeah right. The inside of that box/van, reminded me of the 'Bat-Cave' from the Batman movies, only that this had mosquitoes filling in for the bats. This was going to be a loooong fortnight…

(To be continued…)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Chronicles of a 'Non-Drinker'

I studied (well, so they say) for my engineering degree in Pondicherry. Four glorious years of my life were spent in this beautiful Union Territory, of pristine beaches, French architecture, tranquil places, and sweet people. And that’s not all what Pondicherry is famous for. Well, if you are even remotely aware of Pondicherry, you would be pretty sure what I am coming on to. Liquor. ( Booze / Thanni / Madhira )
Call me a wasted, tasteless bloke, who doesn’t know to enjoy life. But I have to admit that I have never tasted that amber liquid yet (nor have any plans for it in the future), inspite of being surrounded by bottles of thanni. Proud to be a teetotaler. “Yeah right” if that’s what you are saying now, don’t worry, because I get that line (and different tamil equivalents of it) all the time. But then that’s the truth, no cigarettes as well. Perhaps the biggest achievement during my college days ( Next to getting my B.E degree of course :) ) was to resist these very temptations even on being away from home and staying in perhaps the holy ground of drinkers. Well frankly, wasn’t much of a temptation either. Never did like booze and its manifestations on mortals (blame it on Pankaj Udhas if you want) or the smoke and things it does to the people around.
Alright. Before I chase away the perennial drinkers viewing my blog (and they are quite a substantial lot), let me clarify. This is not a lecture on the harmful effects of booze. Well.. not exactly atleast. You see, being a non-drinker among a heap of drinkers, does have some perks attached to it. This is just a harmless recollection of a few.
They say – When in Rome, be a Roman. Well I tried to. A Pondicherrian that is. But, remembering the brands and suggesting the side dish was the maximum I could go to. Well, you can’t be less educated than that if all your roomies are part of the tippler gang. The inhabitant of my palace, were a bunch of wonderful guys, with hearts of gold. Alas, hearts that can be melted by a bottle of beer. (Ya ya I know, beer is a cool drink. I’ve been told that a zillion times too. Hey wasn’t whiskey recently added to that list. Ow come on, give me a break…) They say that a few sips (or gulps) of the fluid harms no one. But then, a college goers mind understands “moderation”, only as much it understands the “Theory of Computation” lecture. So a college goer party’s liquor requirements at that time were either ‘Fulls’ or ‘Crates’ (Well.. it depended on the financial constraints as well). And it was those times, when I got reduced to the role of a bar-tender inside my own house. The reason for me being conferred the honorable role of a vending machine was apparently because I was impartial in the allotment of resources. Yeah right. It was one of those days, when I had loads of Pepsi to drink, and a huge variety of side dish to feast on, as I sat back watching the wonderful sight of a pack of perfectly normal men being turned into clowns and monsters in succession by an innocent looking smelly liquid. Hmm, I was in heaven. :)
There is something to this spirit that brings transformation to men. Once inside those craving stomachs of mortals, it just frees the mind and elevates it to a different plane altogether. And trust me, it is quite a funny ‘plane’. Trust me, you may never see the amount of emotional outpouring anywhere else than you can when a man is drunk. For some reason, one loses the inability to lie with a sufficient amount of booze inside. I wonder how long, before a polygraph is replaced by a mini-bar. And confessions of friendship, unrequited love for a friend, and life pledges for a fellow drinker are as customary in that situation as Mango Pickles are to a glass of MC. Romeo may have never professed love to Juliet as much as a drunk Raghu would do on a Saturday night to a sloshed Rajesh. “Machaan, nee enoda friend da.” (Dude, you are my friend) I cannot remember how many times I have been told this by the dude sitting next to me, just for passing him that half empty bottle of soda. If only everyone was as courteous when sober, wouldn’t we be the politest race to walk on this planet. And if you are the ‘un-drunk’ among these tipsy crowd, you’ll have a hard time remembering the love stories and crushes that everybody utters. Some with pain, some with utmost happiness. In simpler words, they provide you with the blackmail material when you desperately need a bike to go downtown, or you need somebody to buy you lunch from cafeteria. :) Like I said, it has its perks.
But out of my own experience of losing my pocket FM radio, I can say for sure that booze and technology don’t mix at all. If you are unfortunate enough to have a stereo, tv, radio, computer, a mobile, a whistle or even remotely anything that can play a tune – Beware. These guys can create a raucous, loud enough to wake up Pakistan. Ask my neighbors at Pondicherry. I guess they must have been the happiest souls to see us leave. Maybe their neighbors too. And if you are unfortunate enough to be at the helm of operating these gadgets at these times, get ready for some harrowing times. A DJ wouldn’t have change music that many time in an hour, as many you would in five minutes. I had a beautiful pocket size FM radio sacrificed to the fury of a ‘high’ roomie of mine, just because it did not play ‘Althota Boopathi’ when he wanted it to. Thank God, I did not have an iPod then. Occasionally you may be asked to turn to ‘Raj Sports’, ‘Channel Free’ (I later realized in the final year, that they had meant Channel[V]. However Raj Sports – I am still not sure) on the TV. What was I to do, launch a new channel? Their dance can put the nimblest of bollywood hips to shame. Shakira, move over. It’s the perfect comedy material for a dull Monday, if you can record it and save it. Although your computer / mobile can then become the target of many an evil eye, if word of your possession of their Saturday night jig, comes out. Or worse, your life may be at risk, if you even remotely mention about this to a girl.
Atleast these aforementioned atrocities were confined to the four walls of a room. But it becomes a serious pain in the neck when you are the only sober guy with a bunch of intoxicated maharajas on the streets of Pondy, each one, thinking of himself as the king of the world. I am always inducted in this gang, some times threatened into it, as I am by default assigned the task of bringing the sheep home. Atleast for that night, I become their Guardian Angel, herding them in an auto, explaining to the bemused onlookers, shutting up these chatterboxes shouting at the hero in the cinema theater, consoling the auto driver as somebody won’t stop giving directions to him from behind, I’ve done them all. In other words protecting the general public from these bunch of inebriated men who had beer flowing in their veins that night. Well, actually, vice-versa.
And then on having these guided these rudderless ships safely into the harbor, with the efficiency of a skilled seaman, I am sometimes more tired than them. After having laid down these spirit-filled bodies, in the nearest unoccupied ground space, I can only lay down next to them. And unmindful of the smell of whisky, beer, rum, cigarette smoke surrounding me, and the odd limbs of my neighbor resting on my aching chest, I can only sleep like a log, hoping fervently, that tomorrow will be a better day.
Usually, I am the last one to get up the following day, last one to wake up and see the sober bunch clinging to their heads with a bad hangover. Someone would give me a sly smile, and ask me – “what’s with you dude? Were you drunk yesterday as well.” I would have buried him alive at the very place, but then somebody else would interrupt. “Hey come on guys, he was the one who brought us safely home. We should thank him. Machi, lets have a thanni party tonight at t….”
Usually, at this point, I am either knocking the lights off my fellow room-mate who was bright enough to give that idea, or out at the bus stop trying to catch a bus to Chennai for the weekend. But I believe it is usually the latter. May God save the ‘non-drinker’. May God save this ounce of sanity in this insane world. Hic…

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Sivaji Movie Review

I am not an avid Rajni fan. I'm not a member of his fan club, nor am I someone who can spend a lot of his hard earned money to spend 3 hours in a theater to see the Super Star's movie on the first day. But take my word, the man has charisma. I have never seen a premiere show of any movie, Nor have I seen any movie on the first day of its release. But the hype surrounding 'Sivaji - The Boss', did whet my appetite a little. And the trailer doing rounds on all the websites, news channels covering it as primetime news, seeing my friends counting days for Sivaji's release could only increase my curiosity in the movie. I love Shankar's movies and A.R.Rahman is the god of music as far as I am concerned. So I couldn't afford to miss Sivaji. What if I was in London? With a little googling and some free time, I finally managed to book a few tickets for the preview show on the 14th in Feltham. I was going to see it a few hours before it was released in India, and the first show in the UK. Boy this was getting exciting. I was still wondering if it was going to live up to the unpreceedented hype it had generated.

Well ladies and gents, let me be the first one to tell you that Sivaji rocks - Big time. Its masala cinema and Super Star style at its best. It is more a Rajni film than a Shankar film. Rajni carries the entire film on his shoulder, and let me tell you, at almost 60, those shoulders are still strong enough to carry an entire film. He has put in a lot of effort in the dance and fight sequences and one can see that in the film. And with Shankar at the helm, he has managed to pass on a message to the public - Super Star style...

There are a lot of versions of the story doing the rounds on the internet, and believe me none of them are entirely true. There is not too much of a Shankar's type story to be honest. The movie begins with the hero behind bars (the theater went wild, even on seeing the hero's face covered during the intro, and this was in London. How I wish I was in India during this scene) with a smile explaining to his cell mate that he was here because he did good to people (Kind of reminded me of Manirathnam's Guru) and a flashback to explain what happened. Well the story is about a software engineer (ahem?) who after having studying, earning and saving a huge fortune at onsite (excuse the lingo - occupational hazard you see) returns to his homeland to do service to people. He plans to build a University and a Medical College and Hospital and give free education and healthcare to the needy. However there is one man who does not want Sivaji to succeed, and that man is Adhisesavan (Suman, in a well cast role), as that would hit his business of selling seats for huge capitation in his own college. The crux of the story is how Sivaji gets cornered by Adhi, becomes penniless and then post interval transforms into a one man government to do good to the people. I wouldn't go too much into the story, not that it would give away much, but because the small incidents in the movie are a treat to watch. Watchout for the Rajni Suman confrontation immediately after interval, the crowd went berzerk at the dialogues.

The first half of the film is a tad slow, but Vivek and Rajni rule the screen and it is a laugh riot. If you are a regular Sun TV watcher, then the pattimandram crew (Solomon Pappiah, Raja) is also a part of the comedy brigade in this movie. Vivek is almost in every sequence with Rajni during the first half as Rajni's young maternal Uncle. Its after a long time that Rajni has done so much comedy in a movie. Shreya plays Rajni's love interest Tamil Selvi and frankly she doesn't have much to do except look coy and pretty during the movie and glamourous and sassy during the songs, and she does a good job at that. Manivannan and Vadivukkarasi play Rajni's mom and dad desperate to get him married. Raguvaran appears in a couple of scenes and there are a lot of other actors playing a lot of small roles. There are a quite a few comic references to other actors and comedians in the movie for the sake of fun. Rajini even appears as a few yester-year greats in a sequence. And I can see a lot of youngsters popping in a chewing gum, Rajni style, already. "Enna adhurudhu la"

The second half is the powerful part of the film. If the first half was focussed on comedy, this is more of action. However there are not as many punch dialogues as one would expect in a Rajni movie, as Vivek says in the movie, that nowadays every small kid comes waving a finger and blasting out a punch dialogue. There are some over the top action sequences which define logic, but then it is a tamil movie so ideally you shouldn't be complaining. The last 30 odd minutes of the movie are definitely the ones to watch out for. One sees a totally different Rajini in those minutes. Backed up by some pulsating background score by A.R.Rehman the climax is Rajni at his peak in style and action. Barring a few close up shots, Rajni looks awesome and really young (and really white :) ) throughout most of the film.

The songs are shot well, but maybe the expense is not really justified. But then, that is Shankar's style. The adidhadi song had me excited like a young kid watching superman. Pure fanboy delight material. The songs would have had a lot of money gone into them for the sets and lighting, and that shows up elegantly on the screen. A slim Nayanthara shows up for the Balleilaka song, which I thought could have had a more rustic touch to it. The oru koodai sunlight song was... well, funny. It was fun to see a fair Rajnikanth jigging with wierd hairdo-s and white chics. A litlle overdone, but good nevertheless.

Finally the message of the movie is how black money is ruining the country. It stresses on the importance of paying taxes. Shankar's touches are clearly visible and it does give a deja-vu of the 'Indian' days. On the whole, this is a product that could be sold to the masses on wholesale. There is everything in it for the entire family audience and die hard Super Star fans. After a long hiatus seeing Rajni at his stylish best is definitely a treat to watch, and I am sure will keep the cash registers ringing. My humble verdict. All that hype has been justified by Sivaji. Rajni, Shankar and A.R.Rehman... Take a bow.

To add to that, there was a trailer of an animation movie by Rajni's daughter which could become the staple diet of Rajni's fans after Sivaji. It is an animated movie called Sultan. And Rajini stars in it as a Super-hero character called Sultan. The rushes look promising and the effects could give Final Fantasy a run for its money. That looks promising too. But for now. Its Sivaji all the way. Vartaa... Cool...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

When the Indian Flag flew 'upside down'

On Wednesday, when Sania Mirza won her first round match at the Forest Hills Women's Tennis Classic, '' reported this story in its sports section. I guess not many people noticed that in the fourth slide of that slide show, 'our' Indian flag was flying upside down.

If you see, the report reads -
" The Indian flag flutters alongside other national flags at the West Side Tennis Club at Forest Hills. "

Wouldn't it have been great if there was a note there pointing out the organisers mistake in having hosted the flag upside-down.

Well, I am no politician or a bureaucrat or any other high-ranking official to make a hue and cry on this one. But I am a proud Indian nevertheless. This flag is my identity. Its like sticking your photo in a passport, upside down. And that is why it seems so strange to me that nobody found this out. Maybe everyone was too busy staring at Sania.

I don't know about others, but I like my flag the correct way up.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Hunt... Play...

That is the rough translation of the title of the tamil movie that I got to see on its first day of release this Friday - Vetaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu. And luckily, I did. Had I waited for some more time to catch it, I would have definitely got no tickets, and would have missed seeing such a great movie for a long time.

Man... The movie rocks. If you had loved Gautham's last - Kaaka Kaaka, you will love VV. It is sort of a sequel to his previous 'Police Story'. The slogan for the movie says - "Another episode in a Police Officer's life." And if you are someone like me, who loves his share of 'serial killer' movies like - Silence of the Lambs, Seven, The Bone Collector, etc, then you are in for a treat.

This is maybe the first big tamil film to truly benefit from the TN state Government's law to have no entertainment tax for films with a tamil title. And also perhaps one of the few films that did not pose much problems to Kaml Hassan - title-wise. Barring the title, everything else has an international feel about it. Something that we've come to expect of Gautham. If you thought Surya was great in Kaaka Kaaka, check out Kamal Hasan in Vetaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu. For the 3 hours of the film's duration, he IS DCP Raghavan. For a man of his age, to look so cool and suave, is an outstanding achievement. His physique and charisma would surely put the 'new' heroes to shame. He simply rocks, big time.

Kamal's intro is cool. The fight scene during the initial credits, with Harris Jeyyaraj's - "Karka Karka..." singing in the background, sets up the tempo and mood for the film. DCP Raghavan comes to Madurai, to investigate the gruesome murder of Rani, daughter of the City Police Commissioner Arogyaraj (Prakash Raj) his close friend and mentor. Rani was brutally raped and body decapitated and her finger hung as a dristi kair along with three green chillies and a lemon, outside her house!

A devastated Arogyaraj and his wife immigrate to New York where they are butchered in their Long Islands house. This sets Tamilnadu police thinking and Raghavan takes up the assignment of tracking down the killer as it was Arogyaraj’s last wish. The rest of the film is how Raghavan with the support of Anderson, a New York police officer and the FBI tracks down the suspects who are serial killers!

There near his hotel room, he saves Aradhana (Jyothika), who tries to commit suicide because of a broken marriage. The two become friends and roam in the aesthetically shot New York city. Kamalinee plays Kamal’s wife who was killed by some Tirunelveli goons in an encounter, in the flashback. She looks lovely, and does good in the tiny role given to her.

New York looks beautiful in Autum, and the night time aerial shots are fantastic. Especially in the "Manjal Veyil..." song. I kept fantasising about when my 'on-site' trip would come. There is a cool joke in the movie - When Jyothika meets Kamal in a restaurant, she asks him as to why he is in New York. "Are you into Software.." she asks. "Enna software-a? Illanga. Naan Hardware. Police" quips Kamal. Jyothika is sufficient in her role of Aradhana, but she hasn't got much to do. Kamal and Jyothika's is a sweet, matured love story, but they lack chemistry. The background score is brilliant.

But what may put-off some people, is the violence by the killers. It has a graphic and gory depiction of the violence against women. Video footage, dim lightings, and the excruciating details of the murders give a chill. Body count is definitely very high in this movie. Remember Balaji, the friend of Surya's in Kaaka Kaaka, who betrays Surya and lets the villain know about his whereabouts, and later shoots himself when he finds his wife dead? Well he plays Amudhan. He and his friend, are the crazy maniacal serial killers. Their reasons for the kills are absolutely bizzare, but I guess that's what serial killers are. They are ok, but maybe a bit of over-acting. The second half lags a bit, but the ending makes up for it. Gautham plays with the audience in the last portion of the film, but sure does make us smile. Crisp dialogues, haunting camera work, and wonderful songs, comparisons with Kaaka Kaaka are inevitable. But Gautham outperforms himself, and has set even higher standards for his next films. This movie was a long time coming, but is absolutely worth the wait.

Gautham Menon and Kamal Hassan... take a bow.