29th June, 2007 – May well go down in the annals as a day to remember. Certainly should in the book of great inventions. Most certainly should in the history records of cell phone evolution and Absolutely will as the first entry in the coolest gadget releases database. The day is here and it is time to reach ‘gadgetorgasm’ after holding on to the lust for six long months, specially in the case of these folks who have been standing in line since Monday.
Yeah..it is that time of the year!! If you are not familiar with that code, then do Strawberries and Cream ring a bell? Hmmm..slurpp. Wimbledon baby…!! Time to serve and volley.
Federer has won his first round match against the guy-whose-name-I-don’t-remember. Not a big deal, but he had to walk off the court a few times in order to let the guys who run in unison to move and remove the green covers when 5 drops of rain fall on the grass courts. Not a big deal again, but it takes almost 45 minutes every time they have to do this and in the process, they may actually let more than 5 drops fall on the ground.
Do the courts get soggy and slippery? May be.
Does it pose any risk to the players? Of course.
But should they put roof over the stadium? Yes – at least Federer favors it.
If they do that, then will take away the charm of wimbledon? Depends on who you ask.
As a traditionalist, I think it will. Wimbledon is all about unpredictable rain delays, washouts, umbrella hats and of course, the challenges of playing under these conditions. That’s what makes this tournament the holy grail of all tennis championships.
Rafa spoiled Roger’s chances at Roland Garros. But will SW19, which once was famously Becker’s backyard, turn into Federer’s more deserved front yard? Rain willing, we don’t have to wait longer than 14 days to find that out. For me, I am glad that I will at least be home that weekend to watch those final 4 games.
What is the yardstick to measure someone’s superstardom? Can media hype alone create super stars? An ordinary individual’s acceptance of someone as a super star cannot be mundanely achieved through a simple of process of harping the same tune about that someone’s docket to the star summit.
Super stars don’t just get introduced as ones. They achieve the imposing feat through a series of events and acts. And in all fairness, not all will agree with such an accreditation in the end. It is not a formal position that someone holds for neither a period of time nor an elected post where people & fans alike get to go through a formal voting process. It is merely a title, a perception, an act of reverence for what someone is, an intangible status or simply a virtual power given because many people feel strongly positively about that person or about what he does.
Circa 1980s – This was the period in Tamil cinema when there were two rather young, rebellious 20 something guys – with extremely contradicting personalities started their careers. And if Mani Ratnam were to make a sequel to Iruvar, I am sure this would be a great period to base it on. As a normal youngster who enjoyed watching movies, I reveled in watching Tamil movies – but one guy stood apart in terms of physical appearance. Kamal Hassan was the South Indian answer to fair-skinned North Indian actors. He spoke intelligently and came across as a well sophisticated individual – in other words, classier than the rest of his class. Which is why, the other guy in question, Rajni Kanth, who had none of the qualities that Kamal had, never was in my favorite list. In fact, in my formative years, there was always an influencing good and an evil factor in every field for me – MK (good) vs. MGR (bad) in politics, Kapil Dev (good) vs. Gavaskar (bad) in sports, Kamal (good) vs. Rajni (bad) in movies. The coincidence of it all is the “K” factor.
25 years later – Things in life are not so simply black and white anymore, as the graying cells would tell me and as my general perception of life around me evolves. So the good is not necessarily good and the bad is not necessarily bad. And most of the times, I have learnt to see things for what they are. I still am an ardent fan of Kamal Hassan the actor, Kamal Hassan the intellect, and Kamal Hassan the “cinematopedia”. But there is no longer an opposing personality because of the fact I like Kamal Hassan. The myriad transformations of my cinematic buds and the varying quest for all sorts of what is different have helped me appreciate not only cinema that is meaningful (in other words – stories that are realistic, well narrated sprinkled with no dramatization) but also cinema that is meant to be “not so meaningful”. Most of the movies made in India belong to the latter category.
Shankar is a director who has taken the purposefully-not-so-meaningful cinema to the next level. He is the master of providing fantasy cinema in a lavish background with imagination running like a wild turkey with no fences to bar it. Rajni definitely is an icon whether you agree with it or it. So is Kamal. But what Rajni means to Tamil cinema is entirely different from what Kamal means. And hence Rajni qualifies to be the super star as he can snap his finger on the screen for fun and be assured that thousands will take a cue out of it & call it “style”. And every time he does, he can be assured that the box office registers will ring in cash.
Sivaji is a movie that does not break any shackles and fits the above box office equation perfectly well. Everyone who was expected to complain has been complaining – that the movie belied their expectations. But who sets these expectations? Why imagine something on your own when the movie is made by someone else based on his imagination? Why not just check it out with no imagination on your own? Why not just judge a Shankarisque movie for what it is and indulge in the fantasies he set out to create for us, with a heavy tone of strong social message? Why not just sit back and enjoy the fantasy world of Rajni Kanth and his amazing power to sway his fans one way to another? Why not be in awe of the meticulous planning that went behind each and every frame – be it one of Thotta Tharani’s most imaginative & creative works in creating a Babylonian palace for “Vaaji Vaaji” or a highly fragile glass palace that breaks all walls of human imagination for “Sahana” Or be it the way a classic, yet stylish western story being told in a Rodriguez fashion (guitars and guns) in “Athiradee”? Why not admire the uplifting and foot tapping tunes of AR Rahman that pretty much blend well with the massy narrative of the movie…? Why not be in awe of the simple social message being told with grandiosity that only Shankar can do?
A review for a movie like Sivaji is not required. Because it is a purposeful-meaningless cinema….It is like watching Spiderman, Superman, Hulk, Silver Surfer, Terminator, Star Wars, Aliens, etc. and coming home with the satisfaction of having watched a good “Hollywood” fantasy flick. A similar yardstick is required for watching movies like Sivaji as they are the Indian equivalent of the above mentioned Hollywood fantasies.
………Larger than life, Affluent Fantasies in piles and Super Stars who can save the world!
Suddenly the month of June looks shorter than what it really is and I have my calendars full for the rest of the month. Have been doing some good reading of late – Finally, got around to read “An Equal Music”, a book which I purchased in 2000. Every time, I walked past this book shelf in my library that held this book, I invariably picked another one – call it some kind of block for Seth’s heavy writing. But once I forced my way through the first few pages and got myself into the characters and the backdrop of the story, I was longing for more. Vikram Seth is a true master craftsman.
That has brought me to flipping the pages of another serious book – Kiran Desai’s “Inheritance of Loss”. Another book that has been urging me to be picked from the book store for a few months now, but somehow I couldn’t do it till I had Vikram Seth slap me on my face for being ignorant.
Saw AR Rahman on stage for the fourth time – in Chicago last week. I feel terrible for all the performers and most importantly the sound engineers who are being put through this rigamarole of doing 3 contiguous concerts over a 48 hour period in 3 different cities. That showed in the sporadic buzzing of the sound system, which gave some spots of gray for the otherwise musically drenched minds to mulch over that night. A very good concert with well packed songs and handsomely arranged numbers. Well, in a world tour like this – you can always do better. I am sure they will, the next time.
The movie scene has been pretty good too – Spiderman 3, Ocean’s Thirteen, Babel, Secret Window, The Holiday and a few that are waiting to be seen. To top it all, there is Sivaji palying this weekend in Detroit.