Posted in Poem, Thamizh (தமிழ்)

தொடர்பகை

யார் தொடங்கினர் 
தொடரும் இப்பகையினை?
தெரிந்தால் ஒப்புக்கொள்ள 
பகுத்தறிவாளர்களுக்கு இங்கு
கொஞ்சம் பஞ்சம்.
தெரிந்து, தெரிந்த பகையை 
புதிய பரிணாமத்தில் விரித்து
பிரித்து, இன்னல் பல வளர்த்து 
மதத்தோடு மதத்தின் பலம் பார்க்கத்தூண்டும்
மந்தவாதிகளல்லவா நாம்!
Posted in Donald Trump, Humor - General, Short Story

The 100th Day

In the altar with Cardinal Daimonald Kertrump

                                                    Sketch By Ganpy

All days had been terrific till now. Hadn’t they been? Well, to be precise, there were rather many that were terrific till about 99 days ago. But there has not been a single terrific day since.

Today is the 100th day.

May be today is going to be different. At least, Daimonald Kertrump, the man at the helm is hoping it would be.

He calls his bird assistant and asks him to summon Prickly Reapus to the quad altar immediately. Then, he swiftly wears his orange mitre on his head, leaves the Bishops’ robes room and heads to the altar.

As Reapus enters the west nave, he starts walking towards the quad altar and when he is about 5 feet away, he notices that Bacchanal Sturanus, the Archbishop of White Supremacy is standing right behind Kertrump, holding the altar rail, trying hard not to make his state of stupor so obvious. His eyes are bloodshot red.

“I am so sorry”, says Reapus.

“Well, you should be..”, Kertrump.

“I didn’t know I was stepping on Mr. Jagged Koalemoshner’s toes. But, in my defense, My Lord, the Most Esteemed Cardinal, If I may say so, Mr. Koalemoshner’s toes seem to be everywhere. I mean, literally everywhere. May I ask, if it is even humanly possible? I would’ve asked him directly if only he could speak..”, Reapus trying to defend his actions.

“Didn’t follow a word of what you said. Before we speak on an important matter, I am gonna get me that caramelized drink from the south. Whatchamacallit? Hmm..Hey Reapus! Have you seen this? Look at this..I love this red button..”, Kertrump, with a childlike enthusiasm pushes the button.

Before Reapus gets ready to ask what that button is all about, he hears a loud groan of the slumping Bacchanal from behind.

“Bacchanal, You are so fat that you are casting your shadow all over me. Move away from the light. I don’t know which button I pressed…”, Kertrump, trying to locate the right red button.

“Where was I? Yes. It’s about that little boy Jagged. He is like my son. So, be careful what you want to bring to me about him Reap. It better have some real merit in it..”, Kertrump.

“Your Holiness, I have an urgent business to attend to in 15 minutes. If you’d let me, I will cancel that meeting, in the event, your eminence’s reason for summoning me here far exceeds the urgency of that of my oily conversation with one Mr. Trex..”, Reapus holding a palm sized device in his right hand.

“Yes. Of course. But we will be done soon..”, Kertrump continues.

“You know today marks the 100th day since I took charge of this Archdiocese. Before me, these churches were in a terrible shape. The congregation didn’t have proper seats to sit, the candles were half broken and people had brought candles from other places that shouldn’t belong here in the churches, the ceilings were so high, there were too many colors on the window panes instead of what God would’ve wanted — just white window panels, etc. etc. You know all that..?”

“Yes of course, Your Holiness..”, Reapus.

“Look at this church now. Isn’t it beautiful? Everything has changed..for the better..”, Kertrump’s gloating continues.

“Yes. You would be very right My Lord Cardinal. I will ignore the size of the congregation before you took over and what it is these days..”, Reapus.

“C’mon Reapus! I have had bigger congregations. When you walk out of the west nave, you should check out the pictures on the wall. But what I really want to know is why the Pope is so unimpressed with me? Why is the clergy not praising me?”, Kertrump’s voice shifts to a slightly sombre tone.

“My Lord! It must be the crooked path that connects the Vatican walls to the Basilica.. You should read the latest edition of the Vatican Journal..”, Reapus.

“When you say things like that Reap, I don’t know what to tell you or what to do with you. Do I look like I read? You know this is when I feel like I should say YES to Bacchana’s proposal. I won’t tell ya what it is…”, Kertrumper winks with difficulty.

“Well. My Eminent Cardinal, all I am saying is that the Vatican security has been infiltrated by fake sentinels and they are not letting real news reach the Pope..”, Reapus.

“That explains it. That explains it all. We can change that I think. We can kill those fake sentinels soon. But here is why I called you now. Since you are a magic man with words, tell me what is the one thing I can do on my 100th day that would make people forget everything that happened till now and they start talking about what happens today. In other words, what media considers as our 100 day achievements (as ridiculous as they sound), can easily be manipulated by this one thing I am going to do today. Or two things. I want to control their narraive. Like always..”, Kertrumper takes a sip of that caramelized sugar drink.

“Most Eminent Cardinal, I have a thought. Been thinking about it for a while. Here..”, Reapus, opening his phone.

All of a sudden, they hear a loud noise echoing through the high walls of the chamber all the way to the ceiling. It gets louder and louder as the bird assistant gets closer to the altar with a white phone in his hand. He is visibly panicking.

“Your Eminence, You must see this..”, the bird assistant stutters.

“Oh Shit..The wrong button..!!”, Kertrump starts trembling, as he brings his petite sweaty palms together and clasps himself tightly.

Posted in Poem, Thamizh (தமிழ்)

ஹேவிளம்பி

ஹேவிளம்பி

பெற்றது ஒற்றை வெற்றுத்தாள்
வெள்ளை வெள்ளையாய்
உற்றது மற்றொரு நற்பேறு
பச்சை பச்சையாய்
 
வன்மை இன்மையாய்
மென்மை முன்மையாய்
நன்மை பல விளம்பி
வரவேற்போம் ஹேவிளம்பிதனை !
 
 
Posted in AR Rahman, Movies - General

Kaatru Veliyidai


To describe Kaatru Veliyidai as a movie about love would be too simplistic. But it wouldn’t be wrong.

To do justice, I would go a bit far. I would say Kaatru Veliyidai can be described as a movie about emotional abuse, a movie about the potential trauma that a fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force goes through unknowingly, a movie about Stockholm syndrome and love, and a movie about testosterone dominant relationship where the male partner expects and takes things for granted.

If you like writing or have ever been fascinated with what goes through a movie script writer’s mind when he/she conceives an idea, develops conviction and goes on about writing a full movie script, then this movie would make you wonder what could have been the trigger for Mani Ratnam to write Kaatru Veliyidai.

Relationships are complex and there are many different dimensions one can use to weigh relationships. And certainly one can take many different points of view to look at the complexities of a relationship. As an avid Mani Ratnam movie fan, you’d think, Mani Ratnam has already dealt with so many different shades of relationships in his past movies. Even as late as his last movie OK Kanmani, where he dealt with live-in-relationships, he has pretty much looked at relationships from so many different angles. So I wondered if the trigger for this movie, Kaatru Veliyidai was really him wanting an another take on one of those unexplored complexities of a man-woman relationship or if there was something else.

Ravi Varman, the cinematographer of Kaatru Veliyidai must have had quite a ball. With so much of scenic landscape to play with, with so many close up shots to work on, with so many long takes to deal with, and most importantly with Mani Ratnam providing you the inspiration, what a lovely job it must have been to be behind the camera. He excelled in his craft and the movie was an absolute visual treat.

Aditi Rao Hydari is such a revelation. During her pre-release promo interviews which I followed, I could tell here is a girl who has her head above her shoulders, knows what she wants, etc. etc. But I wasn’t sure what to expect of her as an actor, on screen, other than bringing a fresh face to Tamil cinema. Aditi manages to surprise you. To pull off those emotions and the nuances in close-up shots are not easy and she has done it extremely well. “She was likable throughout the movie” would be such an understatement.

Her character Leela Abraham, is the victim of emotional abuse. A girl who has heard so much about her brother’s squadron colleague, the charming VC (Varun Chakravarthy) and the one whose spot her brother eventually took on that flight on that fateful day. She gets to meet VC eventually, after she graduates from medical school and she is completely in awe of him, with all the infatuation from childhood, culminating in an uncontrollable mixture of feelings for him. This mixture is certainly not love. Perhaps more than love. Perhaps less than love. Or love that is not what she had dreamt of till then. Or perhaps she doesn’t think she is ready to love another person yet. All these are evident because of her hesitation to say “I love you” to VC, who on the other hand, has been shamelessly saying “I love you” right from their second meeting.

Mani Ratnam leaves a lot for you to explore Karthi’s character (VC) on your own, other than the obvious references to VC’s chauvinistic, male arrogant instincts that come to play more often than not, when he is around with his friends/colleagues. A very typical fraternity club behavior – When you are around with your “guy” friends, you want to show off how much “your” girl loves you. When he is alone with Leela, he quite often exhibits a split personality – a possessive & a helpless lover, who is desperate for attention but he quickly changes into a controlling boyfriend, who doesn’t mind saying things that you want to hear. Even though we get a glimpse of his family and the complex relationship with his dad, the mentally disabled brother, etc., I wish Mani had given more food for us to explore those aspects that may have contributed to who VC is. Karthi pulls off a heavy role with a lot of intensity and charm. This is certainly one of those rare Mani Ratnam movies, where there were many lines to be rendered with many long takes and both Karthi and Aditi carried their roles with aplomb.

Leela’s parents on the other hand, come across unlikeable and Mani gives us very little room for us be imaginative here, except connecting the obvious dots and concluding that they hate VC because of their son’s death.

When the orchestral version of Vaan appeared throughout the movie in bits and pieces, I was longing for the extended version. If I remember correctly, the orchestral version appears in a little more complete form only towards the end and then you get to hear a 2-3 minute version of it during the rolling end credits. I really wish AR Rahman releases the extended version soon. The background score was extraordinary and the whole electric guitar bits he had used as his general Air Force and fighter pilot themes were stunning.

Now, the most interesting part of Kaatru Veliyidai for me was the unique IAF backdrop, the Kargil conflict, the POW situation, the great escape from Rawalpindi to India through Afghanistan and of course things that are related to the Air Force lifestyle. Why all these? That brings me back to the question I had asked earlier – What was Mani’s trigger for this movie? The Air Force backdrop and the conflict?? Or was it the elusive and insidious emotional abuses in a relationship, which we rarely talk about as opposed to physical abuses?

Kaatru Veliyidai is making us aware of the fine line that exists between possessive love and emotional abuse. And making us know that it’s as fine as the gap that exists between layers of a breeze. 

Posted in Poem, Uncategorized

Mansplaining Women’s Day

A Poem for International Women’s Day

Mansplaining Women’s Day

Listen, I am going to make it a special day,
You don’t know how much I know all that come your way.
So, I want you to forget all your strain,
And join me in my celebration of your pain.

Walk right through this door, watch out for your gown,
Oh, you didn’t tell me you were wearing cocoa brown.
I’d have asked you to pick something in burgundy,
To go with my tie, but who cares if we aren’t trendy?

Today is all about honor, so let me do you the honor,
And tell you what makes you the best in this corner.
Don’t yawn yet. With me darling? You still with me?
Do know that only you can make me the man I want to be.

Here. Here is a fine Syrah. Give it a try.
Any other night, I’d let you have your chardonnay, dry.
But tonight is your night, so experience the exquisite,
I bet you will thank me for this, till our next visit.

Where was I? Yes, honoring the fearless,
And those who stood up for your rights, no less.
For all that you are able to do now,
Many men must have sacrificed what and how.

Want another glass? Thought you’d be done with just one.
This Syrah, with its black pepper overtone, is strong even for men.
Always thought a lot of women wouldn’t have it in them,
You are special and I will never leave you, whatever may come.

Wish I could have some dessert with you and extend our stay,
But am so wiped out that I just want to thank you on this women’s day.

…Shall we….?

Posted in Humor - General, Movies - General

Jimmy Kimmel’s Morning At The Oscars

Where I imagine Jimmy Kimmel’s morning on the day of the ceremony, as he gets ready to host Oscars 2017

“So did Ricky Gervais really help you Chris?”, Jimmy Kimmel was quite nervous and he wanted to get some tips from Chris Rock.

“Well. Not really Jimmy. Why do you ask?”, Chris Rock on the other side of the phone, perhaps in Bahamas or Jamaica, but surely on a Carribbean beach sipping his colorful drink.

“I don’t have to be the one saying this to you, but as you know your ratings were down 6% from previous year’s..”.

Silence.

“Chris, I know it was not you. And it had nothing to do with you. I think people feel this whole Oscar thing is rigged. There is less and less credibility around the awards. Some folks even call this the Fake Awards show..”, Jimmy trying to cheer Chris Rock up.

“Huh..Who said that?”, Chris Rock.

“That’s beside the point. Just want you to know that Cheryl is extremely proud of how you conducted yourself last year and she sends her best wishes to you. She likes you man..”, Jimmy Kimmel, now ready to move on.

“Do well Jimmy. Think you have an easier job this year. Or not. I don’t know. It’s good that a white man is hosting it this year. That’s all I can say. Good luck brother..”, Chris Rock hangs up.

“Fake Awards show? Who said that Jimmy? Who?”, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the President of AMPAS, livid with anger.

“It’s a good thing that you are not on Twitter Cheryl. Let’s just say a man whose name would be referred to many times during the awards ceremony tonight without his actual name being called out, tweeted this out last night. You know who..”, Jimmy sipping his coffee while ensuring that his bowtie assistant was focused on his task of tying the knot.

“Oh Puhleeze! Not that we didn’t expect this, but doesn’t he have a more pressing job to do like sorting out his mess?”

“I wouldn’t know that Cheryl. Ok, I have an important question”, Jimmy going through his script on his iPad.

“Go on..”

“After Leonardo DiCaprio gives away the Oscar to Meryl Streep, I thought I could add this line, the one right here.”, Jimmy pointing at his iPad.
“..’Coz we all know what Meryl is going to say and how she is going to get a standing ovation..”,
 Jimmy, earnest as always.

“You presumptuous bastard!!”, Cheryl pats on Jimmy’s back with a fake fit of anger.

“Alright. Alright. I was just trying to be prepared. That’s all. You do think it’s a good line. Don’t you?”, Jimmy.

“Whatever Jimmy. You know what to do. Just don’t embarrass us that’s all”,Cheryl smiling and yet subtly giving her approval for that specific joke.

Both Jimmy and Cheryl decided to take a break. They closed Cheryl’s office door and started walking in the dark alley towards the kitchen area. The dark corridors were eerily dark even on an awards ceremony morning and this year there wasn’t even a power outage unlike last year.

Then all of a sudden, Jimmy tripped over an object which wasn’t quite visible in that darkness. He stumbled over the object, tried hard to balance himself, but failed miserably and ended up falling on that cabinet holding Jack Nicholson’s special drinks. The fall itself wasn’t too bad going by bodily injuries. Jimmy Kimmel just bruised his elbow thanks to the sharp edges of the cabinet. And the cabinet somehow survived the weight of Jimmy Kimmel and it didn’t move an inch. The small table next to it, which holds Mel Gibson’s Bible and Tom Cruise’s personal copy of Ron Hubbard’s Scientology scripture had been disturbed a bit as a result of the jolt, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed.

Jimmy suddenly felt a hand on his shoulders. Almost felt like it was trying to pull him up in a manner of helping him.

“Hey, Matt! What are you doing here?”, Jimmy puzzled to see his enemy standing right behind him.

“Jimmy, I came here to offer truce. I want to end our rivalry tonight on stage. And I then saw you and Cheryl walk towards the kitchen. I saw you take a stumble. Tried to help you man..That’s all. Hope you didn’t hurt yourself so bad that you have to withdraw from hosting tonight’s ceremony..”, Matt Damon, with a sarcastic look on his face.

Meanwhile, the flickering lights on the ceiling stablized a bit and there was better visibility on the corridor.

Jimmy looked up Matt with confusion and then he looked down to see the object he tripped over. Cheryl, who had gone ahead of Jimmy to get her coffee from the kitchen came running back after hearing all the noises in the corridor, with a cup in her hands. She too was surprised to see Matt Damon there.

Jimmy picked up the suitcase from the floor.

“This can’t be. Is this the PwC ballot case?”, Jimmy.

“What? Please don’t tell me that we have compromised ourselves..”, Cheryl, shocked in horror as she looks down.

The suitcase was wide open and the cards that hold the Oscar winners’ names were strewn all over the carpet. They hadn’t been sealed inside the envelopes yet.

“You miserable Matt! You damning Damon!
I know you did this. You did it to ruin my evening..”
, Jimmy started screaming with a maddening rage.

Matt Damon wiped the smile off his face, wore his shades, and started running towards the door.

Of the many cards that lay bare on the carpet, at least 7 of them had the same text on them.

“La La Land”.

Posted in Poem

Love

Love

The fragrance you emanate
From a budding heart as you flower
To all that spice you provide to my life
And to all that you cure 
Those pains, those aches 
How you destress me
How you purify me from deep within...
Clove, I meant Clove.
Not Love. Clove...

I am such a lousy Love Poet.
Posted in Movies - General

La La Land

lalaland

What is it about the protagonists of ‘La La Land’ that they don’t play well with others?

Mia (Emma Stone) is a barista at a coffee shop inside Warner Bros, and is an aspiring artist. She fails again and again in her auditions, but she insists on producing a single-woman show, written, produced, acted and even financed by herself. Even that one big audition that gets her through the barrier and makes her a success (of which we are left to imagine but do not actually get to see how big it is) involves her putting up a solo performance by delivering a monologue of her own making quite spontaneously.

Seb (Ryan Gosling) is a pianist, a Jazz traditionalist, someone who dreams of owning a Jazz club built in a way that it reveres all the jazz masters of the past, while keeping the tradition of classic Jazz alive. He struggles but continues to find solo gigs here and there. He makes compromises by playing  set list of Christmas tunes, even when his hands itch to play his own tunes at clubs, that don’t much care for Jazz, but at least he is happy to live the day by being a solo pianist, till he finds that once in a lifetime opportunity to get himself financially secure, even if it means he has to compromise.

And as strong as they are about pursuing their individualistic visions of their lives, both Mia and Seb just don’t play along well with others. It’s a struggle and it’s a compromise for them, every step of the way. So, finally when they meet each other and try to accommodate each other, they find it difficult.

Damien Chazelle pretty much lets us know what ‘La La Land’ is all about right at the beginning. A traffic jam on a freeway, results in an explosion of a massive dance routine featuring drivers from all the vehicles that are stuck there. It’s colorful and spectacular, what with the camera angles and the flash-mob style dancing absolutely making you stand up from your seats to break a leg, or jiggle I should say. Within 5 minutes, you are thrown into this fantasy world, which you don’t want to come out of anytime soon..or at least that’s what you are made to believe.

Because at that point, the director stakes claim that he would stay true to his artistic pursuit of making a musical, except that he really doesn’t end up making a perfect musical. There is about a 40-45 minute period in the film where there is no song and dance ritual. Not that it is bad, in fact, I quite liked that portion of the film, but somehow Chazelle was convinced that it was the right thing to do even though that was not really staying true to his pursuit of making a perfect musical.

The Music – Yes, the very essence of a musical.

Don’t get me wrong. I know I am not qualified to even write a short critique on any kind of music, leave alone for a musical, that too one that involves some classic jazz. So, this is simply a reflection of how I felt as a listener, while I was watching the movie. In short, the music didn’t really hit me. Before I went into the theater, I may have listened to bits and pieces of the music through trailers, TV promos, etc. even though I deliberately waited to listen to them all in complete form till I watched the movie. The only pieces that stayed with me were the ‘Mia and Seb Theme’ and the ‘City of Stars’. The former has a very simple, but a poignant & a sad hook and the latter to me is a dance around the same notes that make the former hook work, but in somewhat of a happier plane. When I came home and listened to the theme piece, I have to admit I was completely impressed.

Justin Hurwitz is of course going to grab many awards this awards season and he deserves them all, because he has been part of a successful musical. He and the director have definitely brought out the nostalgia aspect so very well and if you have any familiarity with that era of song and dance, there is is nothing not to like about what they have managed to pull off. Still, it was not enough to make me fall in love with the music.

If there is one thing Chazelle fails to bring out in this movie, it is to breather life into his characters. To put it differently, I think he fails to bring out the life of his characters. There were three scenes that stand out in the move to me, where he does do that very powerfully. I just wish he had extended that control he showed in those three scenes, to many more scenes.

The first scene is where Mia tells Seb how she hates Jazz by giving a glimpse into her past. What follows is a bit of mansplaining on Seb’s part, but I will let that go and won’t hold that against Chazelle. The second scene is where Mia asks Seb if this is really what he wants to do (when he surprisingly shows up at the apartment during the middle of his tour) and the third scene would be part of the climax, where towards the end, they walk away from each other after understanding where they are in their lives.

I just wish Chazelle had taken the emotional time needed to chisel out a few more scenes to bring out who the real Mia is and who the real Seb is – not just their dreams.

Finally, if someone asked me if the movie worked for me or not. I would say, yes it did. And the only reason it worked for me in spite of my above observations is because of the lead pair, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. They were splendid as Mia and Seb, and I am not sure if anyone else could have pulled this off so well. They are pleasant to watch and they carry the verve of the generation so well on screen.

In the end, La La Land is more about veneration of a bygone era. It’s a movie that adores the traditionalism of that era, be it in music or in mannerisms, be it in the methods or in the mechanics, but certainly not the spontaneity or the deep personal sense. In an effort to make a musical that reflects all that he holds dear from the 1960s, the nostalgia, the color, the choreography and the jazz, Chazelle ends up making a movie that fails to connect all the dots, and yet screams artistically to touch the visual sense of the modern moviegoers, who either have a personal connection to that era or those who find an exotic connection to the optics of that era by getting to live that colorful life, vicariously through the success of Mia and the unhappiness of Seb.