Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Meen pidithu meendum...
Aatril vida aasai...

I was in my 7th standard and had my first road trip ever. Bal, Dad, Mom and I drove from Chennai to Trichy in our Blue Ambassador. I still remember that I had to give exams two days after I got back and I was trying to study during the drive down there. We were doing this drive so that we could pick up my older brother from his college in Namakkal where he had successfully completed a five year stint.

We reached Trichy's BHEL Township and met with some of daddy's friends. And after a break and some rest together we drove to Namakkal and picked up Shaw and came back to Trichy. In Trichy we visited some temples like Srirangam and Samayapuram...I love those places though right now they are nothing but a fading shadow in my mind. On our way back from Samayapuram we were driving parallel to one of Cauvery's tributary for a while, and mom decided to take a break and chill in the water. It was crystal clear water. I am not lying. Brown silt at your feet and two feet of clear water flowing in full speed to reach Cauvery at Srirangam...We played in water for a very long time with small fishes nibbling at our legs...my friend and I took a handkerchief...did some fishing only to let them go back into the water...it was sooo nice.

I wish I could do go back to those days as always...but then we have to live in the present with memories from the past...such is life...

Monday, June 18, 2007

This weekend was fun! I got loads of stuff done and had fun doing some of the things too...

Friday night was our date with AR Rehman and his group who are now touring the United States. I got home and changed into a white salwar (we were asked to wear white to show respect to the ambassador of peace-Rehman) and drove out to Garland's Special Events Center where we met with the rest of the gang. We were pleasantly surprised as the show started off on-time. This has never ever happened at any of the Indian shows I have been to.

Things I liked:
  1. Liked Hariharan
  2. The choice of Tamil songs were brilliant. And thanks for playing 4 Sivaji songs
  3. Starting on-time
  4. Chitra
  5. Vijay Yesudas

Things I wish were done better:
  1. Choose an auditorium that is meant for musical performances and not an indoor sports stadium.
  2. Better audio
  3. Introducing the singers might help as we did not know the names of most of the performers
  4. Not sing like 4 songs from Guru and that too repeat the song Dhumbaradhum...like two times.
  5. The background dance was boring and unnecessary
  6. The singers/performers did not connect with the audience at all. There was no audience involvement in the show. In south India you have orchestra's that play at weddings...they come, sing, and leave...this felt a little or a lot like that.
I know that these guys are tired as they have been doing this for like that 10th time or something but we also payed full fare for it and we deserve to get the best too. So sorry the show was just average and could have been better.

Anyhoo, Friday followed by Saturday saw me and Girish shop a bit during the day and in the evening we headed out to Irving so that I could join my friends to watch Sivaji while Girish hung out with Shahid. And boy did I enjoy Sivaji, the ambiance, the Super Star, the fun...It was good and it was not a bad decision for me to go alone. I enjoyed the movie without hearing any snickers or rotten comments about Rajini. If you are a Rajini fan then you must see the movie ASAP...it is worth it!

So there was my busy Friday and Saturday while Sunday turned out to be a more relaxed and chilled out day with a little shopping and hanging out with friends and a small jamming session in our house in the evening. Ya my weekend was really fun and chilled out.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sivaji - The Boss (2007) - Tamil Movie Review

Ranking: 4/5

Cast: Rajinikanth, Shriya, Vivek, Manivanan, Vadivukarasi, Suman
Director: Shankar
Music: A.R. Rehman
Produced by: AVM - 60 years of Entertainment

After a long wait Rajini's lastest released on 15th of June giving hope to all Rajini fans that another might also come along. After the disaster of Baba Rajini picked himself and got back on the top circuit once again with a Super Duper Hit - Chandramukhi and then followed it by pairing with Shankar for the very first time to create Sivaji-The Boss. And if you have any doubts about this movie becoming another block buster then rest your fears as it might even surpass Chandramukhi's raking.

Shankar as a director has definitely ran out of steam. His story is stale and the dialogues in the movie also sound like you have heard them before and indeed you have. If he tries and does anything different his movie flops so I guess he is sticking to his original formula and it is getting a little too boring. The only credit I will give Shankar is his creativity in comedy situations and the Rajini look that has been revived and the various style opportunities he created in the movie for us to cheer the thalaivar.

The real show stealer in the movie though undoubtedly is Vivek. His punch lines, one liners, comic timing are all one of the major features in the movie that keep it moving at a fast pace. Vivek deserves the applause and Rajini deserves more for letting Vivek share so much of the screen with absolutely no ego whatsoever.

Rajini movies are always a pleasure to be seen in a theater with the right atmosphere. A typical Rajini movie atmosphere starts with screeming, yodelling, whistling, throwing paper confetti and cash around in the theater. Too bad for the theater people but that is fine considering we get charged twice to watch a Rajini movie than any other film.

The minute the doors were opened to let us in the screaming and celebrations began. As we sat down and waited for the movie to start, catcalls and all the screaming continued from all corners of the theater. The trailer for Sulthan started and the theater was messy once again filled with paper flying around everywhere in the theater. And need I say how the first half hour of the movie progressed? I missed out on most of the dialogues and literally just watched the movie and hardly heard anything...

Anyway, the story starts with Rajini being led to jail in a hood and then he continues to tell his flashback story to a fellow jail inmante...Sivaji (Rajini) an NRI with a software background returns to Chennai to do something for the poor and underpriviledged. His aim for quite sometime in his life has been to start a free university, a hospital, and other such institutions to help reduce poverty in the country. He is ready to spend all his life savings to do so. In his first few days he learns that it is not going to be easy to deal with the politicians and the government officials and money was the only thing that got work done. Gritting his teeth he spends money to get his project on the ground and he does so making enemies with Adi (Suman). Adi himself is a goon turned owner of various colleges and hospitals in Chennai and fears a free competition from Sivaji might ruin his future and tries to hurdle all progress for Sivaji.

In the meanwhile Sivaji meets his love in Thamizhselvi (Shriya) and proceeds to convince her and her family to accept him as their bridegroom. Many comical situations arise through this alliance and it is a funny courtship for sure. Thanks to Vivek's presence too.

Does Rajini over come his difficulties and how does he tackle with Adi forms the second half of the movie. The first half of the movie is funny, witty, and fast paced while the second half of the movies shows the making of Rajini becoming the Boss to wreak vengence over Adi and his group of goons. This is where the movie gets a little Shankar stereotypical although Rajini has done his fair share to revive it a little bit.

The different get ups and make up one watches Rajini in this movie revives memories from past when Rajini played Billa, Ranga and such roles till date. There is a fair Rajini, a dark Rajini, a bald Rajini, to a Rajini looking like Sivaji, MGR and even Kamal Hassan in the movie.

Now lets talk about the music, my favorite song was Sahana, Balleilaka, and Vaji Vaji. Other than these three the rest of them were okay. Since I had heard that Shankar had spent some obscene amount of money to shoot these songs I thought that they might be something different but Balleilaka reminded me of Andankaka from Anniyan and both Vaji Vaji and Sahana reminded me of Anbe Anbe from Jeans. Like I mentioned before Shankar is running out of ideas and he is spending money on expensive but cheap looking sets. I am glad that he did not spend a lot of money on cheap graphics like he did in Anniyan.

The movie is a treat for Rajini fans but if you try to get some logic out of it or some reasoning I would really leave that part of your brain back home before leaving to the threater. A sure family entertainment and is bound to keep kids entertained too. But a few scenes towards the end of the movie during the fight scenes are a little too lound and unnecesarily long.

Enjoy Sivaji as it might be one of the last few movies that Rajini will be making. Sivaji-The Boss is a thorough entertainer...and for all all Rajini fans it is a must watch.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Parattai Engira Azhagusundaram (2007) - Tamil Movie Review

Ranking: 2/5

Cast: Dhanush, Meera Jasmine, Archana, Nazar
Director: Suresh Krishna
Music: Gurukiran

This is a real miserable, boring and sad story. What was the purpose or idea behind making this movie? Entertainment? I don't think so. Education? No way...Then what is the real purpose of this movie? To give everyone watching it a head ache. Ya that's it. I don't see any other point in making this violent movie. Sometimes filmmakers get carried away trying to make realistic movies.

The story is about Azhagusundaram (Dhanush), a village lad who moves to Chennai to earn some money without informing his recently widowed mother (Archana). Azhagusundaram and his parents are really close and loosing his father suddenly comes as a blow to him and his mother.

His mother also soon followes Azhagu to Chennai but with no information regarding his whereabouts. She comes in contact with Shwetha (Meera Jasmine) a journalism student. Shwetha takes care of Azhagu's mother and tries to help locate Azhagu in the big city of Chennai.

In the meanwhile Azhagu has been rechristened as Paratai and has secured a job with Khader Bhai (Nazar), a small tea shop owner. After Paratai saves enough money he plans to return to his village to meet his mother but on that fateful day he lands up murdering a local goon after being provoked to do so. Paratai gets arrested and comes out on bail. He tries to resume his normal life but goons from all over the city are either trying to hunt him down or try and make him a part of their gang.

Paratai also hears from the village postman that his mother is in Chennai looking for him. So Paratai begins his hunt for her too...Do the loving mom and son meet? What happens of Paratai forms the rest of the story.

Like I said in the beginning, if you don't have to then taking a miss on this one might not be a bad idea unless you are a die hard fan of Dhanush.

Cheeni Kum (2007) - Hindi Movie Review

Ranking: 3/5

Cast: Amitabh, Tabu, Paresh Rawal
Director: Balkrishnan
Music: Illayaraja

The trailer pretty much gives the entire premise of this movie. It is about a 64 year old man falling in love with a 34 year old lady and the opposition the lady receives from her dad who is only 60.

Amitabh plays Buddadeb Gupta a Chef and owner of a popular Indian restaurant in London. He prides himself on the culinary excellence his restaurant has maintained over the years and gets offended when one of his customers returns a plate of food as it did not taste authentic. Budha storms out and unforgivingly yells at Nina (Tabu) who promptly leaves the premises. Later on when Buddha checks with his chefs he realizes that a mistake has been made. His ego does not allow him to directly apologize to her but instead they become friends on his insistence. Nina is on vacation to London to visit her friend and she happens to live close to Budha's restaurant.

With loads of corny and cheesy dialogues written to evoke laughter their romance carries on without a name for a long time till they both realize what they have for each other. At the same time Nina gets a call that her father in India is sick and she has to get back immediately. Nina leaves and of course Budha follows her to India.

In India Budha faces his biggest hurdle of convincing Nina's dad Omprakash (Paresh Rawal). Om does not imagine Budha to be the boyfriend of her daughter and talks to him like someone of his same age until one day it is revealed. Of course you know what happens next...

The music by Illayaraja though rehashed from his previous hits in South is still refreshing to hear in the movie. The direction is smooth and simple but could have been done without the character of Sexy, Budha neighbor's daughter who is suffering from a terminal illness. Such kids maybe cute but they DO NOT act as a catalyst in the movie.

The first half of the movie is fast paced and quick witted too but the minute Paresh Rawal's character is introduced the pace of the movie slows down to a drag. The age jokes get a little boring after the first few are thrown at you and the Gandhian principles are not very well used in this movie either.

You can definitely watch the movie once if you are a sucker for romance/romantic movie else you can safely take a miss on this one.

Periyar (2007) - Tamil Movie Review

Ranking: 4/5

Cast: Sathyaraj, Kusboo, Jyothirmayi
Director: Gnanarajasekaran
Music: Vidyasagar

The movie is a biography on the life of Dravida Kazhagam's founder and leader E V Ramaswamy (Naicker) aka Periyar and his impact on India we have today.

Sathyaraj has acted as a villain, a hero, a comedian, and a few serious roles but this one surely stands apart as he dons the role of Periyar. When you look at him you think you are looking at the real Periyar. The makeup, body language and his acting skills convince you so.

Periyar fought to banish caste system in India. He worked hard and joined politics hoping it will help eradicate the main problem that dominated (and continues to dominate) India. But all his hopes were turned down when he realized that most politicians enjoyed the privileges that caste system provided them with.

Disheartened he started his own political party in South called DK and began his own political propaganda against caste system. He was the first to fight for reservation for the lower caste people. He disowned his religion and got rid of his caste name which was a part of his name and had many others do so too.

On the whole he was a very powerful and moving person with a independent reasoning that thought for the benefit of others in the society. A selfless person who lived and died never holding or competing for any political power...

A brilliant chronicle of his life and a must watch. It will surely make you learn a few things about your country that you did not know before. The music is suited to the era and has powerful messages in them.

Notes: Caste has always been an issue in India. By fighting and providing reservation did we really eradicate the caste issues?

Mayabazaar (2006) - Telugu Movie Review

Ranking: 3/5

Cast: Raja, Bhoomika Chawla, SPB
Director: Mohanakrishna Indraganti
Music: KM Radhakrishna

Raja, a do-gooder to the society is challenged with poverty from his very childhood days. He vows to become rich to help the poor and under privileged in the society. Raja grows up to become a car driver for a rich man with a kind heart. But Raja gets nothing for free. While at work dropping off his boss at the airport Raja meets a little girl who has been abandoned by her father. He adopts her as his own and together with his friend and roommate, Raja raises the girl. As fate would have it, the girl is inflicted with a deadly disease which if not treated on time may become terminal. For this he needs money and he tries his best to secure it.

Upon insistence from the girl Raja takes a trip to Tirupathi where he has a divine encounter with none other than Kubera, the lord of wealth. As the myth goes, Kubera after having given a lot of money to Venkatachalapathi to help in his wedding is still collecting the interest from the lord and travels back and forth from heaven every week carrying the load of the money on his shoulders. To get rid of this burden Kubera has to help a mortal with daily work till the demise of the person he chooses. He should also be careful to choose the best of the best mortal to help for. Obviously our hero Raja fit the bill in all the categories and he gets a visit from Kubera while he is standing complaining to God about not getting any help for the little girl.

Loaded with cash Raja gets the girl’s health taken care of first and then starts a small business which becomes a big hit and in turn he starts raking money that he spends for all the right reasons. At first Kubera is ok with the turn of events but later he gets bored doing the daily chores for Raja’s household. The only way he can end the misery would to be to ask Raja for his life in return for the favor he received from Kubera and Kubera does just that…what happens next? See the movie for an ending filled with more mythological characters.

Ofcourse there is a heroine in this movie…Bhoomika Chawla, she plays Raja’s love interest that follows him around videotaping all his good deeds and eventually joins Raja’s company as his personal secretary only to eventually fall in love with him and create the extra bit of drama.

The story is simple, it is actually not even a great movie but its clean and clear presentation makes it watchable. Of course, I like Raja which might bias my opinion, nevertheless it is good to watch when you are craving for a feel good movie. Everyone has done their role well though the directing techniques seem a bit archaic and the music is certainly forgetful. Let me know if you have seen this movie and think otherwise.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

It is twenty-two weeks today (June 12, 2007). I am becoming visibly big...my stomach juts out of most of my clothing unless I can hide it smartly. I gaining weight by the day (my doctor is not very happy about it) and eating a lot more than I ever did. But none of this matters as I am learning more and more about the whole baby thing.

I still cannot believe that the little movements inside my stomach is really a live human being in the making. It is inside a workshop where it is getting designed and fabricated as I type this. I cannot tell you how expectant I am to see the darling...all this is so magical and maybe this is what God is all about...Creation...and being a part of it makes me feel special too.

I hurt my left feet last week and now I am unable to do my regular excercise of walking and have been lazing around the house a bit too much. At the same time I am trying to get things organized for the baby. This week I hope to have the baby registry started and also decide on what kind of crib and bedroom furniture we want to buy.

The whole process is way too taxing only because of the wide choices we need to make...trust me there are way more options that what I really want. There are like 30 types of strollers, 40 types of cribs...the general way I like to choose things are by cost but then all of them are in similar price range too...so BITE ME! I am confused and sometimes feel too much under pressure. While all the baby-product companies are trying to reduce the pressure on the mom by providing her choices, they are actually doing the opposite....

Anyways...I saw this cute picture of how the baby might be looking at this time and I am so amazed how much he/she has grown in the last few months! Girish also felt the baby move/kick two nights ago for the first time. He was so excited...unfortunately everytime he puts his hand on my tummy the darling stops to move...he feels so bad and gives up after holding his hand still for 10 mins. I guess somethings are only for mom's pleasure just as somethings will be only for mom's displeasure in the future ;)

Signing off now but will write back more things soon and will also get a pic of my sonogram on here...