Saturday, December 31, 2005

Wishing Every one a very Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

New blog - Focus india

Focus india is a new group blog started by a bunch of us.I will be posting my political thoughts out there from now on.

Iam kicking of the first political post on that blog today.The topic is Tommy Hilfiger and the cotton farmer. check it out here

Monday, December 26, 2005

Anjan Das movies

Anjan Das's two movies

Iti srikanta and

Saanjhbathir Roopkathara

are up at alternate movies

Friday, December 23, 2005

Didn't know that there was a site called site now has become, the reason is on the old site.It says

"With our short-term goal partially accomplished, we now embrace our long term mission — to be cricket’s watchdogs by fostering healthy debates. 'You will be directed to shortly'.

Their short term and long term goals here.The site has 3,236 registered members.

check out this funny quiz at

Outlook has an article on Kumble, one of the most underrated bowler both in india and abroad.

Random notes on some movies

War of the worlds
If someone asks you which is the biggest comedy movie of 2005.You can name this one. This movie could be classified in pretty much all the genre, it is a family, drama, sci-fi, thriller, comedy movie which will horrify you in your dreams. Spielberg seemed to be running out of ideas .where is the creativity that made him take movies like duel. This movie has alien attack stuff routine. It first looked like spielberg was re doing his old classic 'encounters of the third kind'.But the movie was a family sentiment one.Alien tripods attack humans.......iam feeling weary trying to thinking about the movie and the story and iam actually not sure whether there was any story in the movie, if at all if there was any story i deliberately erased it from my mind. The climax is the most comical of the whole movie, the reason that they give for the death of the tripods is pathetic i was laughing out loud for 5 minutes. Spielberg thanxs for this wonderful comedy.

It had the easy feel & structure of a malayalam movie, but don’t have a clue why vikram choose to remake Thommanum makakallum of all the good Malayalam movies available. For there is nothing great about this story, it belongs to one of those pathetic malayalam movies.Compared to Thommanum Makkallum, pasupathy did a better job than lal and manivannan was no were near Rajan P. Dev, vikram was ok.

Who ever this guy shafi is, he seems to be very average with screenplay and pathetic with story. Hero and heorine are at logger heads. One day in order to take revenge at heroine's villain father, the hero ties the Mangal suthra casually on a street to the un expecting heroine. What does the heroine do?. She honors the sacredness of the mangal suthra and accepts the worthless rowdy as her husband and they lived happily ever after.

K.B style scene

scene 1 person X: For shafi creativity means...
scene 2 shafi buying vegetable: Kilo enna vella??

Amol Palekhar movies seemed to have grown leaps and bounds in its aesthetic contents. Paheli which follows his pleasingly picturised 'Annahat' is another great movie in the cinematography dept. For any movie shot in western india brings the magic of those parts with it.Amol palekhar gets my appreciation for not letting shahrukh khan hijack the movie with his so called ACTING. The movie based on the beautiful Rajasthan folk story duvidha, talks about a women who falls in love with a ghost.The ghost and the real person becomes metaphors for physical and spiritual, dream and reality etc. Above all the movie is about giving the choice to the women, which again follows the same theme of Amol's previous movie Anahaat.

A magical folk tale like this gives the freedom for the director to escape reality and traverse the magic land. But somehow Amol didn't play that card too much. Not sure whether it was because he didn' wanted his core theme of a women making a choice on her own getting lost in the excessive fantasy part of the story. Could have been a lot better, but none the less a nice and different movie.

Wax house
A thriller story about a bunch of people who get lost and end up in an isolated wax house and you guessed it right somebody kills them one by one, until the heroine the only person kills the bad guy and escapes. A ok movie, does its job of scaring people.

Another thriller starring val kilmer, J.It is about a bunch of FBI recruits who are taken to a isolated island for profiling practice. Some mysterious killer profiles them instead and kills them one by one and of course the heroine gets away at the end.was ok.

Sydney Pollack's interpreter is an ok one. Follows the story of an UN assembly interpreter who over hears an assassination plan. Not much scope for sean pean, so he is wasted. Not a big thriller but a ok movie.

Charlie and the chocolate factory
Jhonny Deep is awesome in the movie, through out the movie he expresses himself like a kid/girl. Otherwise its a kids movie which i might have enjoyed a lot, when i was 10 yrs old.

Two pathetic chick flicks.
Bewitched and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.Like the indian masala films there is a hollywood masala formula on how to take a chick flick and both these movies follow it to the core.It is better to watch a TV commercial over and over on an endless loop rather than watch these movies, you can save yourself the trouble of puking.

ONG BAK the thai warrior

The movie has a typical kung fu one liner story, which is to find an excuse for the hero to fight in different places. What makes the movie special is the supposedly no-string attached action sequence by the hero. But if you watch the movie as such, then the action sequence will hardly impress and the story will put you to sleep.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


Spielberg's movie munich is getting released tomorrow. It is supposedly based on the munich massacre of 1972.I feel both happy and sad.Happy that one of the greatest counter terrorist operation "Wrath of God"(iam not sure whether it has any connection with the famous werner herzog movie of the same name made in 1972) is being made into a movie and sad cause speilberg is making it.

The story of munich is the massacre of 11 israeli athletes at the munich Olympics by the Terrorist of the Black September group.Black september is a group connected with the PLO and 5 of its terrorist held isreali athletes at the olympics village hostage and then murdered them.The important thing was this that the, whole incident happened in front of millions of viewers world wide. All the media that was covering the olympics covered the massacre also.The operation ended with the terrorist blowing up the helicopter in which they were about to escape, killing themselves and all the athletes. PLO got it's media exposure. It was double happy, not only did they succeed in getting across there message to the world, they also made israel loose face before the world.

What resulted after that was the secret operation "wrath of god" ordered by the iron lady of Israel, Golda meir. THE most deadliest secret service organization in the world is not CIA or KGB, it is the MOSSAD. some of MOSSAD's operation or stunning & precise.The very existence of israel in a hostile neighbourhood has been the result of some great operations & intelligence information by MOSSAD.

By the orders of the prime minister The black September group was hunted down and the brains behind the operation including Yasser arafat's favourite Ali Hassan Salameh. The operation was meticulous, agents were sent world over they followed the suspects for months before the assassination attempt and there were some mistakes also. which exposed Israel’s intentions.

But their success made the terrorist go into hiding into various parts of the world.But MOSSAD came after them, directly with its agents and indirectly through some hired specialists. It is said that when a terrrorist is assassinated, the family of the dead athlete will get an anonymous call. The caller will just say that we want you to watch the TV news tonight, and when they do watch, the headlines will be that the terrorist responsible for the murder of their family member was assassinated that day.The telephone calls where supposedly made by isreali secret service.

It was an ambitious operation worth telling as a movie, watching the whole operation as a documentary in discovery channel itself was exciting for a MOSSAD fan like me.But the sad thing is that this movie is being done by spielberg. He will invariably muddle the movie with sentiments and elevated music and family drama. After watching war of the worlds iam little afraid about this movie, Actually and iam not able to overcome my nightmares of "war of the world" to go and watch this movie. I wish some european director had directed this movie in a cinema verite style.But only the usual spielberg/maniratnam style of taking a sensational story and messing it up with family sentiments is what is available.

Anyways,every operation by MOSSAD is an exciting novel. Forget the rober ludlum books, read books on MOSSAD operations .Read their role in safeguarding their country in "Oh Jerusalem" by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins. MOSSAD has numerous successful operations.

Some movie based on MOSSAD operations

Raid on Entebbe:

One of the stunning rescue operation every made. Israel commondo's rescued the passengers of an israeli airplane which was hijacked by Palestine terrorist and grounded in uganda.The ruler that time was Idi amin dada, who was sideing with the terrorist and was not co operating with israel.The operation was done without Uganda knowing anything, it was surprised when the rescue operation happenend. Dont want to give out how the operation was done. watch it.

There is another verison of the same operation "victory at entebbe",not sure about that one cause this is the version that i saw.This verison has some actors who took part in the real operation.

The Man Who Captured Eichmann

This is a movie about the post world war MOSSAD operations to capture the escaped NAZI generals.One of the important guy was Adolf Eichmann(played by Robert Duvall), who was the emigration officer responsible for sending the jews out of germany and then was responsible for transporting the jews to gas chambers. He seemed to have sent over five million Jews to their deaths by way of his trains. MOSSAD wanted him and whole isreal wanted him.He was hiding in Argentina, again MOSSAD planned the operation to perfection and gets him back to isreal without the Argentinean government knowing anything. How they transport eichman back to isreal is an interesting climax to the movie.



Well Jo is doing it.Check out this first musical collabration of the bloggers at jo's site.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Karuthu meeting

Karuthu Forum's first meeting will be held on 22.12.2005 at

Tag Centre,
69 (36), T.T.K. Road, (Opp. to: Shankara Hall),
Alwarpet, Chennai 18

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Z is another classic cinema verite style movie.It was a huge hit in US and was nominated for 4 oscars, including best picture and best direction. It got 2 oscars, for best foreign film and editing.

The movie is based on the real life incident of the assassination of Greek Leftist leader Grigoris Lambrakis.The movie starts with the assassination of the leftist leader by the right wing mob in a public place before the eyes of the police and people. The right wing group which is backed by the military makes everyone beleive that it was an accident. Pressure from the left wing brings in a judge to investigate the case.The powerful military tries to suppress the investigation, but truth is revealed by the efforts of a straight forward judge and a journalist.

What makes the movie interesting is its cinema verite style which focuses on the incident and not on the characters to present an engaging and energetic movie. It employs lot of rapid cuts. Where by, scenes flow into one another fastly. There is no setting up scenes are slow opening and gradual narration of the situation, the movies cuts from one incident to the other rapidly and maintains the edgy feeling all through out the movie.

Another great thing to the movie is that no country or place is mentioned, even though it is based on a true story the movie does not mention any place or country and it is taken in a way that everybody will relate to it with their own country and political situation. That is what exactly happened in USA, people in US related the Yves Montand character to JFK.The movie by making the story generic, has transcended time and has become a story of suppressed democracies all around the world, rather than the story on one single incident that happened in greece.

Z is always mentioned with battle of Algiers as a good example of the cinema verite style.Z also has other commonalities; it was also shot in algiers. It was a french movie about a greek incident shot in algiers.

Jean-Louis Trintignant

Unlike battle of algiers "Z" had some international stars like Yves Montand, Irene Papas & Jean-Louis Trintignant starring in it.Jean-Louis's acted in Eric Rohmer's classic "My Night at Maud's" the same year.

I wasn't aware of the fact that Greece was under military rule as late as the 80's.And how did that happen?. Same old story, a CIA backed coup.

The movie is simply an ode to democracy.

COSTA-GAVRAS was the son of a Greek leftist leader who was denied admission to study film's in USA cause of his fathers communist background.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Poetry - Pablo Neruda

And it was at that age...Poetry arrived
in search of me. I don't know, I don't know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don't know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
that fire
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
and open,
palpitating planations,
shadow perforated,
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesmal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
I felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke free on the open sky.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

It's a shame

Can the ganguly issue get any worse than this?.I used to respect Somnath Chatterjee, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee & Soumitra Chatterjee.They are all turning out to be bunch of jokers in this issue.It is a crying shame that this issue is going to be discussed in parliment.I think we can soon expect a discussion why mithun chakraborthy is not given Bharath Ratna in the parliment?.when a farmer is dieing every 22 hours in vidharbha,when there are so many pressing issues in the country to be discussed.The important thing that these benglai politican's want to discuss is why a poor performer like ganguly was dropped from the team.

Atleast this joke has opened a bigger discussion on the selection proses.The BCCI should come out with certain rules on the selection process.A criteria or a point system for selecting someone into the team.That would have prevented this whole controversy.The team would have dropped ganguly a few years back.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Emotional cricket

Ganguly sacking issue is being talked by everyone from film stars, MP's to the BCCI cheif. Just dont understand what all these people have got to do selecting a cricket team for india.This is far worse than the politics that is ruining cricket. Sourav has become the new symbol of Bengali identity which is being crushed by the rest of india. And bengali pride can be restored only if a no gooder like him is re instated into the team and plays for the country for the rest of his life.Seriously if not now, when can we drop saurav?.

The problem with indians is most of them are so emotional that they start thinking with their hearts and not with their brains. It does not matter that australia, england, south africa, pakistan all have a strong team now.All that matters is that the bengali pride should be restored, we will see to the performances later.

There seems to be total confusion from many of the peoples who are commenting. Many peoples are saying that he should have been given a honorable exit.Yes agreed, he deserves that.But when did saurav say that he is quitting from international cricket.If sourav would have told everyone that he is quitting at the end of this series or next series everybody would have understood it and let him stay.Only because he thinks that he has lot of cricket left in him, he has been dropped like any other non performing player.He can proove himself at the local level and come into the team when ever he wants.

The scare for most of the sourav fan's is that he cannot raise from his present level.If he really has that same batting fluency that he had few years before.He would score centuries after centuries in the duleep and ranji trophy and obviously he would be noted.But we all know the truth, he is not going to do it.It is going to take some time for him to get back his batting skills.He is not the old sourav he was.So with all the antics everyone is letting this non performer piggy back on his past records and the fact that he was one of the successful captains.

We cannot keep him for his old records or cause he was a former captain.The only reason why he was in the team was cause he was the captain and he was backed by dalmia, otherwise he should have gone long before for his non performance.

Saurav still contributes to the opposing team by his sloppy running between the wickets.You can see how double careful sachin is when they are both on the crease, and for that matter anybody else in the indian team is little doubtful when it comes to saurav.The reason why saurav cannot shine even in local matches is, even a rookie bowler from a tiny state knows how to get saurav out.He still hasn't corrected his big mistakes or even seemed to have made any efforts in that direction. Imagine you are making yuvraj and kaif sit in the bench when this non performing lazy guy is given the cap.

Kiran Moore and greg chappell have done what india needs.International cricket is not a Rajinikanth movie. There are no superstars in the team.A player should be evaluated only on the past 10/15 matches. Records should not matter.If he has been failing consistently he has to go and correct himself at the local matches and comeback, that holds good for sachin too.To put it simply, a player should make himself worthy of the indian cap which carries the aspirations of a billion people.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

China massacre's protestors

China shot down around 20 villagers of the Dongzhou province.They were demonstrating against the lack of compensation for land confiscated by the government to build a power plant.

Believing that local officials had stolen the compensation funds, farmers have staged protests outside the construction site since October. Local fishermen also charged that the project would spoil fishing in a lake.

The state-owned Guangdong Red Bay Generation is building the power plant as part of $US700 million government project to supply electricity needs to the region’s booming industrial and urban development.
The confrontation was typical of the tension across China between economic development, which runs about 9 percent a year, and farmers' desire to retain the land that they regard as security for their families. The tension is particularly acute here in Guangdong province and the Pearl River Delta, where during the past two decades of economic liberalization, factories and dormitories have steadily eaten away at the rice paddies, corn fields and fruit orchards that used to flourish in the warm, wet climate.more

Gael Garcia Bernal

The people who are seeking a fair trade by the WTO have some celebrity voices to support them.One of them is Gael Garcia Bernal the man who played Che Guevara in the Motor cycle Diaries.You may think he is supposed to change after understanding and acting the part of an inspiring character like che Guevara.But actually gael has been as activist for quite sometime.During the iraq invasion the atmosphere in USA was such that any one who spoke against iraq invasion was considered a traitor.Becuase of that the whole hollywood kept its mouth shut during the 2003 oscars. Nobody dared to open their mouth, which included many champions of free speech. Very few people expressed their opinions against the iraqi invasion at the oscars.Off course michael moore gave his famous impromptu speech and adrian broody his sentimental one.Other than them there was another person who stood up and talked against the invasion, it was Gael garcia bernal.He had became an international hit with Amores perros , Yu Tu Mamá También and was asked to introduced the Oscar-nominated song for the mexican film Frida.

Before doing that he gave a small speech.He didn't go ballistic like moore, he was calm and composed in the speech he quoted painter frida kahlo. "I don't paint my dreams, I paint my reality " and used that to say "The necessity for peace in the world is not a dream, it's a reality. We are not alone. If Frida was alive, she'd be on our side -- against war".

So he has been an activist for quite a while.His current support to the aid group Oxfam's campaign for fair trade at the World Trade Organization meeting in Hong Kong is kind of personal.He say's he was moved by the plight of his uncles, aunts and cousins whose farms are suffering under free trade.

"Bernal said U.S. corn imports flooding into Mexico at low prices under the North American Free Trade Agreement are driving Mexican corn farmers out of business, endangering a crop that has a long tradition in Mexican culture. He said the genetically modified U.S. corn doesn't taste as good as white corn grown in Mexico".
Read more about his views here

Us corn dumping in mexico
kofi annan urges to end trade distorting subsidies

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Thavamai Thavamirundhu

The movie is simply life through the lens. Cheran seemed to have started a new genre with this movie, i would like to call it Nostalgic-Realism. Lately his movies deal with themes that dig into every ones heart and bring out those treasured nostalgic/sentimental moments. His success lies in the way the script triggers those emotions in every one who is watching the movie. He was able to do that well in autograph, but in this movie even though he has done a good job, i feel it is little incomplete.

The movie narrates a story that you would have definitely come across somewhere. Somebody might have told you about their father or it might remind you off your own dad. A story of a typical indian father, who sacrifices everything for his childrens.It follows the life of Mr.Muthiah through the eyes of his son ramalingam.No wonder he was able to take a movie for 7 hrs.You can take a movie running for 1000's of hours if you start making movies about the sacrifices of an indian parent. But the movie will be remarkable only when it focuses on a well defined story. Cheran has failed here.He just presents a man life plainly and meanders into various things other than the idea of a father's sacrifice.

Autograph was a man's journey through his love life which comes to a beautiful conclusion at his marriage. There was a definite structure and end in autograph but TT lacks that. This movie could be ended in many places, like when the son takes his parents to madurai and makes them happy.They reap the benifits of their sacrifices.Happy days from now on, THE END.Or as soon as the father dies,when the father's important question is answered, when the father feels that he is complete.But cheran has dragged the movie 10 minutes after the death and shows how he takes his fathers responsibility, by which he is shifting the focus on himself than on the father.

Cheran basically failed to understand the fact that the hero is rajkiran and not himself. His major screw up lies there. The movie's central point being the father, it should stress more on him and his sacrifices. But cheran occupies as much time as rajkiran, in the movie.His love life and how he suffers in chennai plays out for almost 45 minutes. These scenes could have been edited and presented in a concise manner than the played out "kadhal" style city scenes. And i dont understand cheran's logic behind putting sabesh & co as music directors for a senti movie like this.

Well that is the bad part, but the movie has lot of good things to offer.First off all cheran has to be appreciated for taking a movie without heavy masala.There are so many stories in every family that could be told beautifully, but directors hardly venture outside the masala formulae. Cheran has showed that a beautiful movie could be made from simple, daily life subjects and still touch people deeply.

Another thing that i like about cheran and Bala is there realistic approach and their use of the backdrop. They go back to the roots.The effect of maniratnam on the contemporary tamil directors is, everyone is now trying to define "what is hip?".Visually pleasing movies with shallow, stylish characters and city backdrop have become the defacto standards for tamil movies.Cheran and bala are two guys who go back to show the tamil nadu that is beyond chennai.I was delighted to see the beauty of the ramnad/sivaganga district in the silver screen. The Noongu vandies and maavilakku made me wonder when was the last time i saw them in a tamil movie?.Jeez, how city centric tamil movies have become.If at all if you see a village it will be gopichettipalayam or kovur in tamil movies.Seeing Sivaganga on screen was very refreshing, it is one of those beautiful places not many people know about.The movie has excellent art direction too.

On the acting front cheran had made everyone act well.But he himself failed. Like illayaraja's who thinks that he has a great voice,cheran also is harbouring a wrong idea that he is a good actor.If some one is floating a petition pleading cheran not to act, count me in.Raj kiran has done a nice job and saranya was awesome. The last saranya movie that i saw was raam, where her acting was very good and now this movie has made her my favorite. There is an interesting scene where the dad rajkiran asks his son about his future. what kind of a work that he can do, where he can find a job etc. The mother saranya does not bother about anything, she cuts there conversation many times only to solve her biggest concern. what kind of a dish she has to prepare for her son. Her son's future does not matter, all she is worried about is what kind of a chutney she has to prepare for dosai.Yes this is a realistic movie.

The anni character was also good. Raj kiran has done a very good job,I wont use superlatives for his acting, cause this is how normal acting should be. Tamil audiences have been made to believe that over acting and dramatics are great acting. We need movies like this to show us that an actor's purpose is to get us involved in the story more than dramatics and self promotion. Imagine if raj kiran's role was done by kamala hassan(Its another thing that if he acted in this movie he would have acted the roles of the two sons also).He would have used a make up that will totally change him. There will be 20 interviews on how he was applying the make up for 3 hours and how much trouble he took etc.Which would have been totally un necessary to the movie. Can u imagine kamal doing a scene like raj kiran's chennai visit. There is not much of dramatic acting there, but those few words "Yaen pa ippadi panney" is enough, you can feel the pain of that hurt soul.If it would have been kamal, it would have become a dramatic crying(howling) and over acting scene. The story might not make an impact on you, but definitely everyone will come out and say what a great actor he is. The actor wins, the story suffers. In order to do these kind of characters you have to feel the character from within, in your soul and when you feel it inside you, big expressions hardly matters. Over acting and makeup gimmicks are for people who cannot feel the characters within them. Raj kiran, job well done.

Like the italian Neo realist Vittorio De Sica's classic "The bicycle theif", the question in this movie is also the same, being a good father.I can't recollect any tamil movie that was made on father son sentimental relationship like this.Its an area director's dont venture that much.I can only think of very few movies, like De Sica's "The Bicycle Thief", Roberto Benigni's "Life is beautiful" and Gul Bahar Singh's "Dattak".Cheran has ventured in that "road less traveled" and produced a nice movie, a movie that talks about a father who's whole purpose is to not fail in his duties as a dad.Raj kiran asks, THE important question at the end to his son."Did i fail to fulfill your wishes?". Essentially meaning Did i fail in my duty as a father?. A defining moment.The very purpose of that man's whole life is in question.What was the reply?. well you have to see that in the movie.

The movie has lot of holes and it could have been done in a better way. But compared to its contemporaries, it is a great movie. You may find some fault in this movie like me, but I dont think anybody can out rightly reject this movie. Cause it is bound to touch the heart of anyone who sees it, Which in itself is a success for the movie.I hope cheran will correct his mistake in the future, which includes putting a full stop to his acting career, and keep making quality movies. Overall, kudos to cheran for taking a movie which deals with an universal concept. All he has to do is polish the edges and make a well focused presentation to transcend the regional barrier.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

India: A million mutinies now

Who can tell,analyze and give various perspectives about charu mazumdhar, Periyar,bal thackrey, ambedhkhar, mahatma gandhi,Namdeo Dhasal, bindralwale and many more in the same book?.Only Naipaul can do that.

When i started reading the book I was still thinking of how to write a review for 'India: A wounded civilization', cause i was so overwhelmed by that book.He questions the basic indian pshyce and shakes the foundation of your thoughts.I was first skeptical of venturing into another naipaul book when i am still not completely out of his previous book.But unlike the wounded civilization, million mutinies wasn't that overwhelming.In wounded civilization, it was all naipaul's perspective, but whereas in million mutinies, naipaul interviews lot of people and there thoughts are are echoed by naipaul.Naipaul does put his opinions also but very less compared to wounded civilization.

I dont know how to classify this book, this can be called a travelogue, cause naipaul travels to bombay, chennai, calcutta, lucknow, kashmir and punjab.He gives us a background of the place and makes us meet various peoples from these regions giving a brief idea about these places.

But naipaul does not stop with a travelogue description, he goes about his business of analyzing and providing critical views on various subjects.We meet different peoples in these regions.A shiv sena party guy and a muslim who lives in a bombay slum.A mylapore brahmin and K.Veeramani of the anti brahmin Dravida party, journalist, politicians, publishers and many more.

Talking about the dravidian movement he comes to MGR and says this.
It was said that at his death some 18,000 files were waiting for his attention.One of the things he had done was to abolish Madras corporation.So madras was in a mess,with mounds of rubbish everywhere.It was as though this too, was part of the revolt of the south,this violation of the old ideas of purity.

Through these people he gives an idea about what is compelling these peoples to do what they are doing. what is going on in there mind.One important guy that he talks to is Mr.vishwanath who is the propreitor of women's era magazine.During naipaul's discussions with him, vishwananth utters some strong statements
The hindu religion is a conglomerations of faiths,500 religion or faiths.We've had reformist movements against orthodoxy.what happens is that every reform movement degenerates into a sect - the lingayats, the arya samajists everybody.Buddha rebelled.Mahavir , the founder of jains,rebelled.Guru Nanak rebelled.It is a long list.They rebelled and degenerated into sects and became as orthodox as the previous orthodox people.
I think religion is the greatest curse of mankind.It has killed more people, destroyed more property, than any other thing.Even today- northern ireland, middle east, hindu,muslims,sikhs, all fighting each other in india.The oldest profession is not prostitution.It is priesthood.

At first many of the topics that are covered seem unrelated.It looks like more of a political view of things happening all around india.But naipaul beautifully sums them up in the end.He looks at everything as india trying to identify itself, a country mutinying against its cultural baggage and past.The sign of change happening, the sign of growth and progress.

To most what happened in the punjab was a pure tragedy.. it seemed that sikhs bad brought this tragedy on themselves,manufacturing grievances out of their great success in independent india.It was as if there was some intellectual or emotional flaw in the community, as if in their fast ,unbroken rise over last century there had developed a lack of balance between their material achievements and their internal life, so that though in one way so adventurous and forward looking in another way they remained close to their tribal and country origin.

Dalip a reporter.
Because i was not impressed by bindranwale.I knew he was not guru gobind singh.I knew he was just being used by indira congress to harm akali party in punjab.He was an ordinary man on whom greatness was being imposed.why should the community accept him?.Why should general shabeg singh not judge him as a man?.why were people just impressed by his angry looks and the armed men around him?.He was not an intellectual, not a thinker, and he was not a pious man.

Talking about the british scholor he quotes from one of his letter...
Great 18th century british scholor Sir william Jones wronte in 1786 to his friend.I shall never cease thinking,that rational liberty makes men virtuous; and virtue happy:wishing therefore ardently for universal happiness,I wish for universal liberty.But our observations on Hindu is too just;they are incapable of civil liberty;few of them have an idea of it;and those who have do not wish it.They must, they must be ruled by an absolute power and I feel my pain much alleviated by knowing the natives themselves... are happier under us than they were or could have been under the sultans of delhi or petty raja.

"They are incapable of civil liberty.They must be ruled by an absolute power".The words expressing the imperial views of that time.But the sad thing is most of the countries below the equator havn't come to terms with not being ruled by an absolute power and civil liberty.

Naipaul talks a lot about Sir william jones who came ot india to make a fortune of 30,000 pounds and made 50,000 in 11 years.He also says he gave back to india a lot. William jones seems to have interacted with many sanskrit scholors and translated many plays like kalidasas's shakuntlam.

The point that made the biggest impact for me was when naipaul said that if not for people like sir william jones, he who was growing up in trinidad before independence could have never had a chance to read about a book like shakuntalam, cause sanskrit was supposed to be the language of gods and only priests and upper caste people could read it.

Another great example of his interesting observation skills.Gandhi the upper caste guy is bare bodied or scantly clad in the pictures where as low caste ambedhkar is in coat and suit.That simple observation makes you think so many things.The insecurity of a group, the way the society looks at them etc.

The book starts in bomabay and after reading few pages, i started seeing the similarities between it and sukhethu's Maximum city.I just wanted to make sure my assumptions were true and i saw this sukethu's interview.
Who provided literary inspiration for you and the book?

Joe Mitchell’s Up in the Old Hotel and Joseph Liebling taught me how to write about cities. Plus Ryszard Kapuscinski, V.S. Naipaul — I mean, lots of Naipaul. I read him like a textbook. I very much disagree with many of his political viewpoints, but that whole arc he has in the three nonfiction books on India — An Area of Darkness, A Wounded Civilization, and A Million Mutinies ...more

Another great book by the master.


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WTO:India Talks tough

The WTO talks are underway.A bunch of guys are going to decide the future of million of farmers around the world.The funny thing is that most of the big organizations are well represented by the western countries, but the developing countires are not.

Pascal Lamy

Pascal Lamy, WTO director general is a former trade commissioner for the European Union who took over the WTO post this past fall. As EU trade chief he twice called the WTO "medieval" after the failure of ministerial conferences in Seattle in 1999 and Cancun, Mexico, in 2003.

Good news is that india is talking tough.Commerce Minister kamal nath said.

No WTO process can isolate India. WTO talks cannot be completed without India on board. We are ready to take the blame if our concerns are not addressed. We are not here to make statement of good intentions in one area and have specificity in another area.

There can be no agreement in dribbles. There has to be specificity in the area of reductions in farm subsidy and market access in agriculture for developing countries.
We want to do what we are supposed to be doing. But what are you (developed countries) going to pay (as subsidies to farmers) is not acceptable," he said, adding Indian agriculture was not ready for subsidised imports.

With the present agrarian crisis happening in india.Lets hope the govt holds it's stands and not budge under pressure.

Monday, December 12, 2005

21 Grams

The movie starts with scenes of different characters going about there own life and with every incident you come to know that there is a big time and spacitial discontinuity happening in the story.You are left in a state of confususion cause you are not sure of the time period in which things are happening.By this time you should guess that there is some latin writter or director behind the movie.Yes that's right the movie is directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu,the mexican director of Amores Perros.Like Amores Perros this movie also involves 3 characters and one accident that binds them all.But this is very different from amores perros.

The three characters in this movie are Paul Rivers (Sean Penn) a mathematics professor on the verge of his death, ex-con Jack Jordan (Benicio Del Toro) who has reformed and have taken to god to save him and house wife Cristina Peck (Naomi Watts) who is happyily married.Jordon is the driver who causes an accident and it affects all there lives.Paul river fights for his life, naomi watts fights to forget the past and come to terms with her present while jordon's spirituality is tested after the accident.

Apart from the narration style the great thing about the movie is its cast.Three awesome performers have given wonderful performance in this movie.Sean,naomi and Bencio have done a wonderful job in this movie.Not many people are going to appreciate the narration style for sure.But even if you dont like the narration style, you can watch it for the acting.

The narration style actually does not add that much to the story like amorres perros.In this movie actually it dilutes the impact of many emotional scenes as the spacial and time jumps keep happing all through out the dont see a scene for a long time and before you could fully grasp it the scene cuts to a entirely different time and emotion.

All the characters in the movie represent certain things.Paul Rivers who knows the worth of a life is able to forgive, help. Cristina Peck who wants revenge represents hate and grief.Jordon represents guilt and repeant.Through these three people we go alternate between these emotions to understand the value of a life.

A movie is worth watching for the innovative naration style and the awesome performance of the lead actors.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

After the farmer's suicide........

In my previous post green revolution i wrote about the agrarian crisis that is happening in india and how it is responsible for the death of so many farmers. Actually that is only part of the devastating thing that is happening in the farming community.
More than 20 cotton farmers ended their lives – and many others continue to do so in the dusty villages of Vidarbha, after the NCF toured the region. One estimate suggests that a farmer is committing suicide every 22 hours, and that rate, fear farm leaders, would accelerate over the next three months. Vidarbha alone has reported 110 suicides since 2 June 2005. That is since the fresh agriculture season commenced in the cotton belt.

Sadly, even widows are following the footsteps of their husbands who ended themselves in the past seven years.

what happens when a farmer commits suicide?.Is all his problems solved?. Maybe all HIS problems are solved. But what happens to his children?. what about his wife?.what about the debt?.

India together has a very good article on this titled Vidarbha distress and the end of innocence .It talks about the families of the vidharbha area farmers who committed suicide.
Vidarbha - When cotton farmer Digambar Agose, 55, swallowed pesticide in Malvagad village near Mahagaon town in Yavatmal on January 18, 2005, his 12-year-old son Madhav became a debtor by inheritance. Today, ten months after his father committed suicide, Madhav toils from 6 am to 8 pm to herd the cattle of a big farmer for a paltry Rs 20 a day. Education? Forget it. He has to help his mother Rukmabai feed the family. Then, he has to tend to his three younger siblings......

In village after Vidarbha village, amidst the graves of farmers, young girls and boys are fast losing their innocence to a piling debt and daunting responsibilities, after the suicide of their fathers. In every farming family that has seen the headman commit suicide, the children have eventually dropped out of schools to take up the plough and work like the beasts of burden at tender age. Girls are among the worst hit. Problems prop up when they get ready for marriage. Finding a groom for a girl whose farmer father commits suicide proves to be tough. The prospective groom could reject the proposal for two more reasons: One, the economic compulsions of bride's family would force the marriage to be a low-key affair, and two it could shift some of family responsibilities (including debt of bride's father) on to the groom. "That's why many families don't report the suicides, fearing for the social ramifications," says a high ranking police officer who asked not to be named because the issue was politically delicate.more

Friday, December 09, 2005

Terrorist -1999

Terrorist by Santosh Sivan is another minimalistic & beautiful movie like Akale.The movie is a great accomplishment for Santosh Sivan, given its meager budget.

Loosely based on the incidents of the rajeev gandhi assassination by the LTTE suicide squad, the movie tells the story of malli. Malli is a hard core terrorist who is sent on a mission to assassinate a VIP.On the mission she discovers that she is pregnant.
In the world of malli there is nothing else but death and loss.She looses her father, brother, lover, friends etc and she is now made to choose between death or life for another life. what will she do?

The movie is an indian 'El Mariachi'.Shot in a sparing budget of 25,000$ and in 17 days, the movie is a study on how to make a movie look rich on a meager budget. I think santosh is far better than 'Robert Rodriguez' as unlike El mariachi this movie is rich and shot in 35mm. Sivan cleverly uses visuals and audio to avoid the expensive scenes without compromising on the story.

Santosh employs lot of point of view and mid range shots and rarely uses long shots on an incident.Long shots are used for scenes of beautiful sceneries etc. This repeated point of view shots and short, medium range shots are used to accustom the audience to closer shots. He then brilliantly extends this into circumvent expensive scenes.

For example malli and let guide lotus go through a keep seeing many short,mid range shots of malli and 'Lotus'.Then there is a setup scene where lotus points to malli a land mine trip wire and explains her how it will go you know by now, how the land mines go off. on a later scene they come to a place where the terrorist have set up a trip wire for military vehicles passing through a hear noises of a jeep/truck coming closer on the road.The camera moves to the direction of the vehicle.But it does not focus the vehicle , it focuses on the trip wire with the head lights of the jeep appearing, out of focus and blurry.This out of focus light move closer to the trip wire.Shivan does a montage shot here, he cuts to the close up of the lotus. you see his facial expression of shock and the sound of explosion and vehicle crashing, the shock of the incident gets to the viewer through lotus's facial expression. Lotus tells malli that because the jeep got blasted, the bodies would have scattered all over and there would be flesh and blood every where. So he tells her not to travel in that direction.They move on in a opposite direction.The scene ends.

So what is avoided here in terms of expenses??.You dont get to see the big explosion, no fire works, no upturned/burning truck or jeep, no extra's lying around with blood, no make up, no mutilated arms and body parts. Santosh achieves two things here one there is no gory violence that would run counter to the asthetics of the movie. Secondly no big expense on the scene but the same feeling is conveyed to the audience and they are convinced.

Off this whole scene you don’t even get to see a drop of blood. Santosh has to be appreciated for taking a movie on violence without showing much of violence.The regular movie's show violence for 2hours and 15 minutes and then spend the last 15 minutes explaining why violence is bad.But in this movie, you hardly see any violence, eventhough it has lot of scope for it.

There are numerous shots like this where the focus is on the characters and the bigger incidents happen in out of focus. Even when the movie goes to the climax where the vip is to be assassinated after garlanding. you dont see any long shots of big stage or decorations and a great crowd to welcome him, but you feel that it is happening. On one level for people in india and especially tamil nadu, the resemblance of the incident to rajeev gandhi's assassination will fill up the gap of the numerous people who were gathered there. The mind invariable imagines the crowd that was present at the rajeev gandhi assassination. Even if you are not aware of it, you are shown images of the the band playing , like 2,3 guys and the focus is on the band players with the audio of a big crowd around, then the next frame shows a bunch of females standing next to malli, say 6,7 women they occupy the complete frame. That is all the number of peoples you need to show that there is a crowd. And add to this the falling flower petals and the background music, you got a crowd. And again point of view shots of malli with the vip and the crowd out of focus and blurry, making your mind fill the blurry images.As the vip comes closer he cuts to a short range shot for the vip to come into focus and at that time again the frame is filled with vip and a very few people.The whole crowd scene is done.

Santosh sivan has not only used his camera techniques to overcome the budget constraints, he has used them to enhance the beauty of the movie also. The movie is a visual feast. It is one thing to go to an european country to capture the natural beauty and another thing to capture the beauty of an ordinary indian town. The movie has like 2 locations, some jungles in kerala and madras. A simple madras temple becomes beautiful in sivan's camera. But we should look at the efforts that he has taken to acheive that.How easy is it to capture the beauty of temple in a busy town??.It is definitely going to be hard so what santosh has done is he has shot the scenery shots mostly in early morning, as that is the time where there would be less crowd and it is easier to capture the pictures without any boy or a buffalo getting into the frame. you can also see scenes of airplane flying into the beautiful setting and trains crossing the bridge, which means some painful waiting and impromptu idea to capture the surrounding.

Off the whole 90 minutes of the movie sivan would have shown the close up of ayisha dhakhar atleast 15,20 minutes. He has used the beauty of ayeesha eyes to the hilt. By the end of the movie you will know the facial features of ayeesha by heart.Her expressive eyes and smile add so much to the asthetics of the movie.

It is easy to get distracted into the political environment of the movie, but sivan stays out of all the politics.There is no advice or taking sides in the movie, it clearly avoids the political side.I guess if he would have taken a pro tamilian stand, he could have made profit out of a beautiful masala movie that could whip up the sentiments of the tamilians and the general pity of indian mothers.

Sivan again stays clear of political, emotional scenes and concentrates only on the characters.He looks the story through there point of view, their losses, grievances, how they have changed etc. For example lotus the guide of malli talks like a matured guy and behaves as one for the most part, but when he sees a tree he becomes the boy that he is and starts swinging in that. Similarly malli even though a hard core terrorist, when she sees a new dress and various women posters in the room she becomes and average women posing like those womens in the poster with her dress.

The story beautifully counter points malli's action packed harsh background which is filled with death, blood and violence to the easy going, simple and loving world of the madras house filled with hope and life. From seeing children’s running with AK 47's in her old place she sees smiling kids neatly dressed in their uniform going to school.The old man at the house makes her understand the importance of love, the beauty of life itself.

There is a down side to the low budget also, from the leo toys type machine guns used to the irritating back ground music there are lot of bad things. And the budget constraint means the movie cannot have the luxury of doing a 2 and a half hour movie with slow opening and gradual development of the story or gradual transformation of malli. The movie starts right from the word go and things unfold fastly.It also meant that santosh has to keep the movie simple and not complicated it with too many moral questions and dramatics.So you will be disappointed if you are looking either for an action flick or a deeply disturbing war movie.It is a simple movie which tells the view of a terrorist to its best with the given resources.

A simple and visualy rich movie.

Cast and Credits:
Ayesha Dharker .... Malli
K. Krishna .... Lover
Sonu Sisupal .... Leader
Vishwas .... Lotus
Anuradha .... Sumitra
Bhavani .... Old Lady
Parmeshwaran .... Vasu
Gopal .... Gopal
Saravana .... Traitor
Anna Durai .... Photographer
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Bhanu Prakash .... Perumal
Vishnu Vardhan .... Thyagu

Excpet for ayesha dharkhar and vishnu vardhan everybody else are non professional actors.

Completely amatuer performance by sonu shishupal and rajamani the music directors of the movie. The background music is loud at many places, there are times you cannot hear the dialogues at all, the BGM totally drowns the dialogues. And there are some experimentive BGM's in the movie which were totally out of place.

John malkovich was so impressed by the movie that he wrote an article about the times.He kind of became a post-facto executive producer. The reissued film's titles read "John Malkovich Presents".

Terrosit movie homepage

santhosh sivan homepage

John Malkovich's article in Newyork times

john malkovich godfathered terrorist

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