Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A reunion

She was the first to enter. And deservingly so. For no one looked forward to this more than her. As Shahi entered Le Meridien , the grand re-union of old schoolmates of Alpha who came out of school in the year 1991 had truly begun. And then came yours truly. Drove for some five hours just for these three and a half hours with friends. And just as I entered the hall meant for our re-union, pat came the pat on the back. A white sari devil (Shahi) started what she was particularly good at; demonising me :-) with her “Akka” supremacy. And soon Chitra joined us. You take any movie; any language; A lady drives in a macho vehicle like Scorpio , she’s framed a bully. But Chitra was as effeminate as the roses spread on those Le Meridien tables. Sari clad Scorpio driving Softie. And as Chitra and Shahi were evaluating if yours truly had put on weight or not, Amutha entered with her dazzling ku …ku… errr… cute sari :-)Though she calls everyone “vanga ponga”, She will not even mind if you call her “vadi podi” but try spelling her name with a  ‘d’ in it, and then it shall be “poda vada” for you! And some one likes French… Prabhu came in with a French beard and confirmed his penchant for the French wine. (What about the French k…. errr, French culture , Prabhu? :-). The daring Thiruna or the sky jump fame Thiruna arrived ( Thiruna, you insist that everyone calls with this prefix, or else,what is the point in jumping from such a height :-) . And he believes in “seeing is believing”. Cos, he played a video of his skyjump in his laptop and laid down any photo trick speculations :-) ( and raised video trick speculations ???). It was great to see that this old friend’s smile had not lost one inch of its grace despite this many years . LT Sounderrajan entered, smiled; conquered; kept smiling; kept conquering; and came to form a bit late ( only when the desserts arrived) . Wanna learn how to keep smiling without talking and still conquering, ask LT!
Arun , the born organiser that he truly was, enquired his brother if all the facilities were arranged. And boy, sports truly helps you to keep in shape. Want a proof? just look at Arun; “looks the same” phrase is made for him. K as he is popularly called , K.Senthil is an out and out, field man  ( no Arun, its not the outfield that you field in :-)) and K loves to work to make others happy.Indhu came in a white sari ( Any hidden deal with Shahi?) She spoke in measured tones and refused to sing with her nightingale voice but still managed to convince us that she hasn’t changed one bit and she is the same sweet Indhu that we’ve  known her as always; ( My part of the deal kept, Indhu, now your turn to praise me !). If in guys, the “looks the same “ award goes to Arun, Sowmya will bag it for the girls quite easily. And Sowmya believes in “Talk less and eat errr, sorry,  listen more policy ! And Mr & Mrs. Anand arrived in style. It’s always nice to see love triumph. And this love has not only triumphed but has planted its flag abroad. And then came whatever these “Made for each other” had made; Junior Anand ( Sanjay) arrived in a superior style sitting . And last but still the least , Ranjith arrived ( I meant he looked the youngest :-) ) Right from actor Abbas to our very own Ranjith , all these guys grow till 25 and stop there. Wish I could do that!

After trying to pull each other in an inorganised manner, we were given an opportunity to do that in organised fashion by our lion hearted K. The awards ceremony. And boy, what a speech he gave before that! ( Arun, I still suspect you gave him some things out of the common menu to evoke so many philosophical quotes) . Stories on Love, Friendship, ego… ( I propose “Thathuvath Thalaivan” award in next get together for K). For getting that name tagged glass wonder, the award giver had to say a few nice words about the award winner! We all said a “few” nice words and then the pulling was in full frenzy. And Anand is like Dhoni when it comes to parties. Starts slow ; gauges the situation; and once in control, goes full bang at it ! And he had  a go on almost everyone! Right from recalling Shahi’s oil applied “rettai jadai” to K’s thigh piece order at a hotel , he was just too good ! ( And Shuba, you are right, he’s got an elephant memory but never seen any elephant as energetic as Anand was in the party :-). Rajini comes late but he still comes with the latest fashion. And Ranjith came late too. Anand demonstrated Ranjith’s handkerchief fashion to a hall full of laughter. Nothing including Amutha’s earrings  and Sowmya’s thigh patting were spared. K described an incident where 50 men came to hit them when he was with Arun and how Arun escaped leaving K behind. Arun coolly denied the escaping part and said that he had just sprinted the hundred metres faster than K. ( Got a political career in hand , Machi!)  The other story where Arun copied in Tamil exam with the help of Hindi language student  Prabhu, was even more better spiced. We laughed our hearts out . And Shahi’s children  watched us wonderingly “ How childish these grownups are…!” .The dinner was good; dessert was great; And then amidst all the laughter , as we all walked out of the hall, a question hung in the air …Will we get another chance?? If not to relive those wonderful school days, at least, to have such reunions....

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Review of Ravanan

Saw Ravanan yesterday. Not Ravan, but Ravanan , the tamil version. Me and Mani have a love hate relationship. I fell in love with him in my teens after Mouna Ragam and the love blossomed with Nayagan and Agni Natchathiram. And it peaked in Geetanjali. But as I came out of my teens, and as Mani’s staple one liners failed to spring the surprises that it evoked initially, my teenie adoration for Mani got lost somewhere in Manisha’s Pardah and since Bombay, I’ve maintained my distance with this director as he started cashing in on seasonal sensations. In Alai Payudhey, I had some fond memories of yester year Mani but by then I had begun to learn to expect less from him. In Iruvar and Guru ,he came out as a matured director  but that apart he hasn’t done anything good in the past decade. So as I walked in to watch Ravanan, I did not carry the Dickens famed novel “Great expectations” with me.

Ravanan is a take on Ramayan. Good. It is not an exact replica and has its own twists. Still better. But what does it have for us? Le’ts see… Vikram is the modern day Ravan. He is categorised as a Ravan just because he abducts prithviraj’s wife. And Prithviraj is categorised as Ram just because his wife is abducted. ( Guys, Wanna become a modern day Ram? Well, u know what to do! Let your wives get abducted. Two plusses. You become Ram; and you are free from your wife). And Aishwarya is the modern day Sita and again its just because she gets abducted. Other than the abduction, there is no other thing in the characters which resemble the ethical ones. The producers of the movie can run a contest for the audiences and ask them to correctly identify Vikram’s role. Who is he ? A naxalaite, terrorist, a forest smuggler, a robin hood or a plain tribal Rowdy. Because nowhere in the story you get to find out why Vikram has to be chased with so much force by a Superindent of Police. (Cinema has got tired of Inspectors and ACPs even DSPs have lost glamour! Now it is SP , my dear! But I pity the tamil audience; in the previous Prithviraj movie they had to watch him as a chocolate college boy and in this he is an SP and no get-up change whatsoever! ) So all prizes for guessing what is Vikram’s job! Anyway in the two hours of the movie all he does is say some buck buck to Aishwarya, dance , give some strange facial twists ( trying to make up for the lack of twists in screenplay, I guess!) and hurl bombs at police jeeps. And you never know whether he is good or bad. He chops the hand of his sister’s groom just because he ran away from police and he saves Prithviraj who murdered his brother. Atleast in Velu Nayakan’s case only he did not know whether he was good or bad. In this case, no one including Mani knows! Vikram abducts Aishwarya. He harnesses feelings for her but never does anything much except a few ogles. Aish manages well not to cross the lines of an honourable wife and at the same time keep us guessing with her half-eyed looks at Vikram. And Prithviraj and Vikram clash . Karthik plays the Hanuman and the old magic is still there. He appears in just a few scenes but definitely over shadows Prithviraj when he shares screen space with him. His introduction scene is good and it raises a lot of expectations but then, what can Hanuman do when Ram himself is confused to the core! Till Vikram and Prithviraj clash, its Ramayan. From then on its Maniratnamyan ( yarn?!) . Vikram saves Prithviraj. And Aish gets back to Prithviraj. And Prithviraj doubts her. ( I liked that lie detector simile for Agnipravesham; Good one, Mani!)  And Aish gets back to Vikram to find out why her husband doubted her and in the process leads Prithviraj to Vikram’s hideout. And Ravan is demolished by Ram. That’s the story!

Vikram has come up with yet another great performance. Whenever a maverick role is offered to him as in pitamahan or Anniyan, he sizzles and Ravanan is no exception. Aish plays her role well and maintains poise in a cheeky role . She looks too hot with her low cut blouses . A real hot Seetha J. And about Prithviraj, the less said, the better. And listen, all ye folks, whenever a female character has to be raped by many, call Priya mani ( You too , Mani!) . There used to be a time when Satyaraj was called rape Raj. I only hope Priyamani doesn’t get any such prefix. The only humour that I had while watching the movie was that whenever Ranjitha appeared on screen, a section of the audience were calling out Nitayanada’s name. AR Rahman has come out with some great background score . His songs are good but Mani plays them behind his dialogues (Why hire an Oscar winner to play music and then play that song with inaudible volume while your characters rant dialogues? Only Mani can explain). Like all other mani’s movies, the dialogues are sharp. The real hero of the movie is Santosh Sivan and his brilliant camera work. And all shot in India… The way the locales have been selected and the way those have been shot, you’ve got to applaud the technical brilliance.

The final say… like Mani doesn’t know whether ravanan is good or bad , I do not know if the movie is good or bad. Well, if you are after technical brilliance or you are the type who would be floored by Aish’ s eyelashes or cleavages, or if you are the type who would tap your foot for ARR or get excited at Vikram’s bak bak, then, it’s a good movie. If you look for a free flowing screenplay or some original confusion less content, then it’s a bad movie. But I guess, its worth watching once. And the last word… Vikram is Ravan, Prithviraj is Ram, Aish is Sita, Priyamani is Surpanaga, Karthik is Hanuman… well, one great character of Ramayan missing…? Ya , where is Kumbakarn? It is you my dear! As you wait and wait for Ravan to do something extraordinary, Beware of dozing off while watching Ravan!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Happy Birthday , Maestro!

Today is Maestro Ilayaraja's birthday. Ilayaraja has given us thousands of songs to rant about. If I had to write on them, probably it might end up as a book and not a blog post. So , I've just limited myself to think ten things that would not have happened if Ilayaraja had not been born......

1. We would have never got those great songs which filled our youth..even today, in southern india , most men and women remember their love along with associated Raja's songs of those period. ...that melody filled youth wouldn't have been there. Maybe south indians would have wooed our real life heroines with "sanam theri kasam" or celebrated a party with "Laila oh laila" and would have never had a feeling filled regional touch to their lives. Raja freed us from the Hindi hit addiction that the previous generation had got into.
2. We would have never got great singers like Malaysia Vasudevan, Mano, Swarnalatha, Sujatha and Harish Ragavendar ( all introduced by Raja). May be Chitra would have gone the MG Srikumar way and got tied to just malayalam and would not have become the popular singer that she is  today..Probably the lyricists in poets like Vairamuthu and Mu.Mehta would not have come out if Raja had not been there to launch them.
3. S.Janaki might have finished her career singing classical oriented songs like "Singara velana deva" and we would have never known what a versatile singer she was. Only Raja found that Janaki can coo with passion in "Ponmeni Uruguthey" and make us cry with " Chinna Thayaval". He even made her sing for a male!
4. SP Balasubramaniam is a great singer. Truly great...He was one among that era who would have survived without Raja as he even had a Hindi market. But SPB himself would accept that his career would have never been the same if Raja had not been there.
5. Eminent Lyricist Kannadasan had gone into tamil minds much before Raja arrived. But if Raja had not been there , he would have bid us farewell with some Shankar Ganesh cabaret instead of the ever resonating "Kanne kalaimaaney"
6. Directors of the genre like Maniratnam who relied more on background music than on dialogues would have never ventured out if Raja had not been there to support them with those brilliant re-recordings.
7. Actors of the genre like Ramarajan would have never been cast ( let alone have a market) if Raja had not been there for them to lean back on.
8. One Diwali saw Raja giving music to four movies ..."Thalapathy" " Guna" "Brahma" "Thalaatu Ketkuthamma" four different movies of four different genre but Raja got into each movie and came out with magic. Can you ever imagine any such Diwali now where all the films music were composed by one music director?  Raja matched his quantity with quality. The legend goes that Raja composed the tunes of all songs of Chinna Thambi in half an hour. Now here was a man who was truly gifted. Be it the urban classical "Sindhu bhairavi" or the rural pathos "Mudhal Mariyathai"  Raja instilled a life into those movies with his songs.Versatality, Thy name is Ilayaraja!
9. Those days, only Raja could make a musical casette like "How to name it " sell without any Hero's picture on the label. Today Thiruvasagam sells not for its pious poetry but for the man who weaved magic with it.
10. And for today's teens, if there were no Raja there would have been no Yuvan for you to tap your foot for "Where is the party"...

This day as I just think what all we would have lost if the Isai Gnani had not been born, I solemnly thank June second for giving us a musical blessing! And blessed we were all to be in an era when Raja's music ruled the hearts.

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