Monday, February 23, 2009

A R Rahman, take a bow!

"All my life I had two choices - between love and hate and I chose love"

He did it. My heart swelled in admiration and love when he said "ella pugazhum iraivanukkey". A true legend. Hats off to you Sir!

Saturday, February 21, 2009


A R Rahman has three nominations in this year's Oscar awards. This moment has been long reckoning in the illustrious career of ARR. From 'Chinna China Aasai' to 'Masakali' (Dilli-6), ARR has mesmerised us with his music.

It has been 18 years since his first movie, Mani Ratnam's Roja. Looking back, songs from ARR's oeuvre amaze us with the consistency and the abundance of hits. His music is the perfect unison of three traits every composer strives for: creativity, the undying spirit and the glorious uniqueness. With Rahman, you don't just hear the music, you feel it. You feel the soul of the song. Long after listening to the song, the rhythm and melody lingers within us in the background. Whether it is a fanaa or hamma hamma or thaiya thaiya...the music just reverberates.

I grew up listening to ARR's music. I was 7 years old when Roja was released. Having listened to many '80s Thamizh & Hindi cine songs, it is no doubt ARR has radically transformed the spectrum of Indian cine music. Music directors of pre-Rahman era (e.g. a Ilaiyaraja or a Lakshmikanth-Pyarelal or MS Viswanathan) had strict boundaries and dimensions in their music. IMHO, they were just, better, variants of their predecessors. No doubt they were geniuses in their own kind and did churn out numerous hits but majority of their songs were monotonic. Their approach appeared to be the same, and over the years people were sick of the crummy old tabla beats. I realise it is unfair to compare composers of different generations, but I feel ARR - when compared to other music directors - is more willing to experiment and expand his horizon. Some people look ahead but geniuses, like ARR, look far ahead than anyone can see.

ARR has ventured and adapted himself into different genres of music. Whether it is Carnatic music (Sangamam, Duet - saxophone combo with Kadri Gopalnath), or Hindustani music - ghazals, quwwali, or fusion or lately major Hollywood movies like LOTR sequel and Elizabeth, ARR embraces the genre. He is compulsively creative and his renditions traversed the across the music sub-sections of the country. Through music, I believe, he has united the musical-consciousness of India. Ravi Shastri once remarked that Sachin Tendulkar is sent from 'upstairs' to play cricket. In the same vein, I believe ARR is the 'ambassador of Providence' sent to reveal the unknown music within us. He is well and truly the symbol of modern Indian cine music.

I feel very lucky to have been born in the era of A R Rahman. He is a perfect role model. 2009 is packed with so many mega projects for Rahman. As a Rahmaniac, I couldn't be more happier.

Tomorrow is the Oscars Award ceremony. I am sure he'll win it. The Oscar deserves Rahman!

Anbu Thalaivaa
Vetri Nammake

Azhagiya Thamizh Magan Neethaney!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day

Valentines Day. Mmm...I thought of uploading a song from a movie aptly titled Kadhalar Dinam (Lovers' Day). I have chosen Mundinam song from Vaaranam Ayiram. It is a beautiful song. Simple lyrics, lyricist Thamarai's choice of words and play with words, make this song sensuous, poetic and befits the occasion - Valentines Day.

Raju has done a great job in translating the song. This is a direct copy paste from his blog.

Another quick and unjustifiably crude translation of a recent song which has captivated my heart.

M: ஹாய் மாலினி!
I'm கிருஷ்ணன்.
நான் இதை சொல்லியே ஆகணும்;
நீ அவ்ளோ அழகு!
எவனும் இவ்ளோ அழகா ஒரு ......
இவ்ளோ அழகைப் பார்த்திருக்க மாட்டாங்க
and I am in love with you....

After introducing himself, he says that no one would have seen such a beautiful.... (pause and a chuckle) such a beauty. What a way to say that she is the most beautiful (not just woman, but in the) whole world. Considering that this is their first meeting, that is a very powerful statement (albeit praising her external beauty) to flatter her.

முன்தினம் பார்த்தேனே பார்த்ததும் தோற்றேனே
சல்லடைக் கண்ணாக நெஞ்சமும் புண்ணானதே
I saw you yesterday and as soon as I saw, I lost (to you).
My heart was wounded like the eyes of a sieve.

Traditionally, the sight of a woman is compared to the arrow; so, it is as if so many of such arrows attacked his heart and wounded him, that his heart has thousands of such tiny holes.

இத்தனை நாளாக உன்னை நான் பாராமல்
எங்குதான் போனேனோ நாட்களும் வீணானதே

All these days, without seeing you
where (the hell) did I go? Oh, all (my) days have been a waste..

When a person meets someone and falls in love, he/she wishes that they spent all their goneby days with that person. It is not only the happiness of the present, and a dream for the future, but a frustration for the past too.

வானத்தில் நீ வெண்ணிலா ஏக்கத்தில் நான் தேய்வதா
இப்போழ்தே என்னோடு வந்தாலென்ன
ஊர் பார்க்க ஒன்றாக சென்றாலென்ன


You are like a moon on the sky; I wane due to longing (for you)
What if you come with me now?
What if we go out, with the world watching (or what if we go sight-seeing)?

Yeah, the last line can be taken in both the ways. The first one is about the Hindu tradition of going on a procession after the marriage, so that the neighborhood can see who has got married. The latter is about the wish of a person to roam around the world with his lover.

துலாத்தட்டில் உன்னை வைத்து
நிகர் செய்யப் பொன்னை வைத்தால்
துலாபாரம் தோற்காதோ பேரழகே?

After placing you on a weighing balance,
if gold is placed to equalize with you,
wont the balance lose, my beauty?

He is not talking about the shape of his girl (pun unintended); he compares the beauty of her with the beauty of gold. He says that she is so beautiful that, a balance designed to weigh human-like fairly large objects will still be too small to accomodate the enormous gold required to compensate for her beauty. Considering the density differences between gold and human, this is a huge claim indeed.. ;), and his girl is such a beauty.

F: முகம் பார்த்துப் பேசும் உன்னை
முதல் காதல் சிந்தும் கண்ணை
அணைக்காமல் போவேனோ ஆருயிரே

How will I not hug you, who looks at my face and talks
and from whose eyes the first love is oozing out?

Women respect and like men who look at their face and talk, bcos a large chunk of the men have been notorious in that aspect. Also, the girl's instant appeal with someone who is giving his heart for the first time to a woman is given importance. Also, this is the first response of the woman after hearing what the man has said. She just reciprocates to his feelins saying that she likes to hug him.

M: ஓ... நிழல் போல விடாமல் உன்னைத் தொடர்வேனடி
புகை போலப் படாமல் பட்டு நகர்வேனடி
வினா நூறு கனாவும் நூறு.. விடை சொல்லடி

I will follow you like (your) shadow; I will touch you delicately and move away from you as how the smoke does. (I have) hundreds of questions, and hundreds of dreams; pl. give (me) an answer.

The desperation of the hero is very much evident from these lines. He is already dreaming of her and a life with her. All he wants is the answer.. Of course he wants 'yes' to be that answer. One can compare this Q&A to the western culture of the woman answering the man 'yes' when he proposes, and during the wedding when she says 'yes, I do!'.


F: கடல் நீலம் மங்கும் நேரம்

அலை வந்து தீண்டும் தூரம்

மனம் சென்று மூழ்காதோ ஈரத்திலே

When the blueness of the sea dims,
the waves touch the far end (of the shore).
Wont the heart immerse (itself) in the wetness (of love)?

M:தலை சாய்க்கத் தோளும் தந்தாய்
விரல் கோர்த்துப் பக்கம் வந்தாய்
இதழ் மட்டும் இன்னும் ஏன் தூரத்திலே

You gave (me your) shoulder (for me) to put (my) head on..
You came near me holding my hands..
why are your lips still far away?

F:பகல் நேரம் கனாக்கள் கண்டேன் உறங்காமலே
உயிர் ரெண்டு உராயக் கண்டேன் நெருங்காமலே
உனை அன்றி எனக்கு ஏது எதிர்காலமே

I had day-dreams without sleeping
I saw two souls frictioning (against each other), without coming closeby
What is my future without you?
Only in the ultimate line of the charanam, she opens out her heart and gives the real answer that he wants to hear. By saying that there is no future for her without him, all the ambiguities of dating and courting relationship are removed and the love now reaches the mutually agreed state.

25 random things about me

I was tagged by Vaiji in Facebook to write 25 random things, facts, habits about me.

As I write this, I can only think of 8 things/facts about me. Let's see how I conjure up the rest (without sneek-peeking into Vaiji's list too much).
  1. I absolutely love the typical South Indian Filter coffee. I don't like Instant coffee. I am not a coffee addict, I am a kaapi-addict. Being away from home, I yearn for the magical cup (or davara-tumbler) of goodness. (pic courtesy Archana)
  2. KFC was my first job. Making Potato Gravy was my first task. It was yum!
  3. I blog. Writing for entertainment is a good time pass. Blogging is a great way to share/vent the observations/frustrations in life.
  4. I am a proud TamBram. I love the culture, tradition, literature, music....all the things that makes us, us.
  5. Having a crush or even liking a person whom you've never met or spoken to sounds crazy, but it is possible. When it happens, oh boy!
  6. I have three moles in my body.
  7. My Grandma, who left the earth last week, is one of the most determined person I've ever met.
  8. Good friends are hard to find. Best friends are much rarer.
  9. Lately, I've been having a lot of appreciation for the old adage "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence".
  10. My favourite part of the day is early morning.
  11. The next, say, five years of my life are going to be very exciting.
  12. Queenstown and Milford Sound are the most beautiful places I have visited.
  13. The sexiest and most attractive part of women's body? Hmm...I've finally decided it's her brain.
  14. Yellow is my favourite colour.
  15. When I say #14, I hate it when people giggle and say "Yellow Yellow dirty fellow".
  16. I love the smell of Jasmine and Petrol. Sunflower is my favourite flower.
  17. I can't stand the smell of ripe/rotten bananas.
  18. I am a creature of impulse.
  19. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar and I share the same birthday.
  20. I am an introvert.
  21. I had a wonderful childhood. Sometimes I wish I could relive those years again. I am very grateful to my parents for my upbringing.
  22. 5 movies I would like watch again: Iruvar, Fight Club, Memento, Aval Appadithan and Forrest Gump.
  23. 5 people, who are no more, I would like to meet: Winston Churchill, Subramanya Bharathi, my great grand-father, Akbar-the-Great and Adolf Hitler.
  24. I h8 it whn ppl ryte lyk tis.
  25. I believe A R Rahman is the best thing that has happened for Tamil cinema. ARR for Oscars. Jai Ho!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I see, but you 'no' see

We see strangers everyday. Some strangers are not absolute strangers because we tend to see them everyday e.g. in the bus/train while going to work, in the street, random person at work etc. There is no conversation apart from the odd 'Hello' when the eyes accidentally meet. You acknowledge that the other person exists. No one says a word. Not because they are bad or horrible, they may actually be genuinely nice people, but they are strangers.

When you happen to meet the same person again in a different place, what do you do?

Some people, like me, smile and say 'Hello'. They know the other person. According to them, their relationship with the person has changed from a stranger to 'this guy/girl from...' i.e. an acquaintance.

Other people just plainly ignore. They struggle, but still succeed, in avoiding eye-contact. Some people are adept in avoiding eye-contact. From their body language and facial expressions, you know that they 'know' but they still pretend that they don't 'know'. They recognise you and immediately pretend that they haven't.

Why? I do not understand this.

Is it:

a. fear
b. reluctance to talk until introduced
c. they just don't give a sh*t

Or am I missing a point altogether?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

RIP: Nagesh

Nagesh, one of my favourite actors, passed away today.

Nagesh was one of Thamizh cinema's finest comedian and character artist. He is one of the few actors who can make you laugh and cry at the same time. His movies with K Balachander (Edhir Neechal, Server Sundaram, Bama Vijayam etc) and Kamal Hassan (Aboorva Sagodharargal, Avvai Shanmugi, the unforgettable MMKR) and several other performances showed his versatility and sheer talent.

Nagesh, one of the gems of Indian Cinema. We will miss you!

Maanga Adi!

Thanks Kunal_clicks at Flickr

It was a hot Sunday afternoon. Channel Nine was showing the highlights of a beach cricket game between Australia and South Africa. This game was part of XXXX GOLD Beach Cricket Tri-Nations Series Summer played at Coolangatta Beach, Gold Coast. Jason Gillespie trotted in to bowl to a random South African batsman. There was no intensity in the game. The players were going through the motions for the sake of it. I was bored. The heavy 'Sunday Special' lunch made me feel dull and sleepy. Slouching on the couch, reminisce the cricket I used to play with my mates in Madras, I slipped into a nostalgic reverie...

Rewind back 10 years...

Madras. Summer holidays. Street cricket. Its them vs. us.
The best of five 'series' stands at 2 - 1 to our opponents. It's a must win game for us. We were confident and the intensity was high. I am A. I have B and C in my team. They have X, Y, Z. Its 6/6 (six overs per side). Z came up to me for the pakka street cricket version of toss - IN or OUT. Z showed his closed fist and asked "In or Out?". I said to C "Dei, nee sollu". C was the youngest in the team and had the reputation of calling it right when it matters. C cupped his palms under Z's closed fist (C does this so that Z does not cheat by hiding the stone between his fingers, if C calls in) and called "in". "Panni, epdi da eppavume correct-a solra" growled Z.

6PM. We won the toss. It was half-light of late evening and it wasn't going to get any better, so we chose to bat. It is an unwritten rule in street cricket that if you win the toss you, obviously, chose to bat. We would've chosen to bat anyway had we played with the Sun blazing on our heads. We were all out for a decent score of 31 with three deliveries to spare.

The light was fading. Since it was summer holidays, time was not an issue for us. All of us were eager to finish the game. But there was a problem - the state of our team ball. The rubber ball had a small superficial tear on its 'seam'. This is was the beginning of the end for the ball. From our vast experience, we knew all the balls need to split open is a powerful shot or to bounce of a sharp edge/stone on the road. As school kids we could only afford the ten-rupee rubber ball from naadar kadai. The reliable and longer-lasting Cosco or Jupiter tennis balls were a bit dearer.

Rubber balls always give up at the most inappropriate moment. This ball didn't fail to disappoint us. In the second ball of the innings, the ball announced its end with the 'pock' sound after it hit the deck. No one had any spare tennis/rubber balls. What to do? It was late twilight now. The light was fading. Our signal to finish playing was when Meenakshi Mami comes out with bucket of water and kola maavu (rice flour). Mami doesn't like anyone running over her kolam. Usually she'd say,"Pasangalaa, sandhyakalam. Iruttu ayidthu..ellarum aathukku pongo" and wait for us to finish. But today, she was a bit early for the kolam. Maybe she was in a rush. Kolam was drawn and she was off.

Coming back to the ball issue, none of us were willing to go. We were milling around wondering where we could find a ball. The chance of an angel handing us a ball on a silver plate was remote. Kids like us do not get extraordinary opportunities. We have to seize daily situations and make them favourable to us. We have to create/make our own opportunities. The house adjacent to our bowling crease was the residence of Viswanthan Iyer. I saw Viswanathan Iyer's grandson playing with a ball in their portico. Tling...bells rang. Bulbs flickered. I knew where our next ball was coming from. Getting the ball from this ten-year old was not an easy talk because he is a mini-Viswanathan Iyer himself.

Viswanathan Iyer (VI) was a retired man in his early sixties. He was known for his mercurial temper and angry outbursts. He was a man of many moods. VI was not only the supreme authority in his house -
he is also the great iyer-vaal of our colony. He treats cricket as a waste of time. He considers playing cricket, that too street cricket, inexcusable. VI proclaims he doesn't watch any cricket telecasts. But the Man is up to date with his views (mostly criticisms) on India's latest defeat. A common friend vowed he would never to talk cricket with VI after a peaceful conversation turned into high-pitched emotional monologue "Yenna captain saar indha Azharuddin. Prasad-a paarunga...Avan nadaiyum, avan moonjiyum. Thoongi ezhundhu vandha maadhiri podaran. Indha kammanatingallan India'ku aada vandhutaanga. These fellows are spoilt.". His face would become purple with rage when he recalled/quoted a spectacular only-india-can-do-it batting collapse "Ninnu aada matengaranga saar. Yedho vechada yeduka pora maadhiri, wicket thooki vitterinjitu poranga. Ivanga aadratha paatha, yennaku pathindu yeriyardhu". Since then, the common friend would think twice before entering our street.

VI, expectedly, was never happy with us playing cricket outside his house. He made a fuss whenever the ball went into his lawn. After VI did some home-renovations, he told us to play another place, may be in a ground. We chuckled and told him there were no grounds nearby. Back in our minds, we were like "aama, Chepauk Stadium, Nehru Stadium ellam tharandhu vechu engala "Come on, Come on" kuparanga paaru!, sariyaana tubelight mama neenga".

Street cricket layout

Coming back to the ball issue, VI's grandson, lets call him 'o' (for reasons which will be know soon), was playing with a tennis ball. I put to him an offer which was too good to refuse. The offer was: He would get a two gaajis - one over in the beginning of the innings and one over in the end. He can just sit on the compound wall and watch us play i.e. he doesn't have to field. "Naaa...amma kitta kett...", I intertupted him and said "Nee Amma kitta, aatukutti kitta, kettu vararthukula time ayidum. Ippo nee variya ilaiya?". He gave me a look which was a mix of surprise, excitement and suspicion. He agreed. o was an ordinary kid with no outstanding virtue of muscle or cricket-ability. o was our 'oppukuchappa'.

Game on. The target for X, Y and Z was 31 in 6 overs. B was our opening bowler and Y was the batsman in strike. B was our strike bowler and Y was their best batsman. The duel between B's bowling and Y's batting was stirring to watch. An outsider may not find the clash of B's bowling and Y's batting engrossing - let alone they realise there was a battle in the first place. For us, the game hinged on this battle. B and Y are good buddies off the field. The moment B, with a ball in his hand, marks his run up with a sengal and Y takes the leg stump guard, there was no friendship or fellowship between them. Fierce competition. The intensity raised a notch. Everyone was focused. No one spoke. This moment, this particular moment, where we are oblivious to the happenings around us, each and every person in both teams wait with a bated breath on what would unfold next is, for me, the essence of street cricket. Street cricket, in those moments, is more than a game. It is a feeling, a sensation. It is this passion which is the genesis of many fine Indian cricketers. There is no phenomenon like a street cricketer.

6.40PM. The score was 22 from 4 overs. They needed 10 runs from 12 balls with two wickets in hand. Easy you may think. Cricket is a funny game - always throwing up twists and turns. Y was batting. C bowled a half-tracker outside off stump. Y tried to loft it over the bowler's head but ended up getting a top edge. C back-pedalled, almost lost the ball due to bad light, but somehow sighted the ball and caught it in the last moment. We were back in the match. It was getting darker, but it did not matter to us. We just had to get one more wicket. We quickly got into positions. Just then o was called in by his mother. He quicky jumped of the compound wall, promptly took the ball from C and left. End of the day's game.

Thanks to Mai An Hoa Flickr

B, Y and I were going to watch India vs. West Indies Test at C's place. 8.30PM. We met outside C's place waiting for the match to start. There was a cool breeze, monotonously repetitive noises of night insects, the rustle of neem leaves - it was an idyllic evening. Y, sitting on his bicycle - Street Cat, said "Man, I almost had that shot...twas a pazham ball, if only had I watched the ball more closely, we would've won the game". I responded " were foxed by the pace, the lack of it. You did expect that ball to be a tad slower". X and Y nodded in muted agreement. B brought his bat (the free bat given if you buy Boost, one of the leading Health food drink) that night. He was shadow-batting and mimicking the stance, signature strokes of Tendulkar, Mark Waugh, Jadeja etc. There was a pile of jalli stones beside us. Y took the bat from B, grabbed a handful of jalli stones. With his left hand, Y tossed a stone in the air, as the stone rised up and came down, he gently stroked it along the road. Y displayed perfect execution of various strokes, the power in his hits increased with every stroke. B and I sat on the compound wall listening to crunching sound of stone meeting the bat and tried to spot each stone as it made its way to the street's dead end.

Suddenly, Y with a smirk on his face, chirped "Idha paar (Check this out)". He,once again, tossed a stone up in the air. This time the stone went little higher and away from Y than usual. Y attempted a flat batted hit, more like a tennis-forehand. The stone hit the toe-end of the bat and BANG! We looked at each other and ran.

Thank God it rained the next day. We knew we broke something in either VI's or Meenakshi Mami's house.

Two days later, we were back playing for the first time after that night. The incident was lurking in the back of our minds. C and X, who live in the street, did not mention anything to us. When we were just about to finish for the day, VI came outside. We were almost sh*ting in our pants expecting a dramatic denouement. "Dei pasangalaa, inga vangada. Rendu naal munaadi, naanga aathla illadha podhu, enga aathla thirudan vandhirdan. Idha paaru...(pointing at the front door) glass-a odachu, ulla vara try pannirkan. Door grill irudhadhu naala pozhachom. Indha area'la aal nadamattam romba jaasthi-a irruku. Neenga yaravadhu suspicious-a yevanachu paathela da?". Y, putting on a puppy face, in a beautiful Thirunelveli-jilla accent, "illa mama. Indha area-la kadavaali pasanga remmba jaasthi aitaanga! Nallaa-ve illa". VI sighed and said "Hmm...Seri, neenga pongo".

As we walked back, the three of us felt a heavy burden off our chests. That night, we assembled again outside C's place to watch the final day of Ind v WI test match. We were sitting on the compound wall just staring at VI's residence. I said to Y, "andha shot-a nee marupadiyum correct-a adikala...aana, machan, adhu Maanga adi".

Disclaimer: All characters are fictitious. Any resemblences are supposedly coincidental :D