Posted in Movies - General, Politics - General

Eulogy for Artistic Freedom

I have many things to say.  As the reader in you can guess, it is all about Vishwaroopam.

Before I start venting out, I would like to state for the record that I have seen the movie twice – in a sub-standard movie hall with no Auro 3D sound effects.

But I have seen the movie. Twice.

In what should have been a 2 part review of the movie I was planning on sharing here on my blog,  this now has to be more of an eulogy.

Eulogy for the great Thamizh artistic freedom.

Eulogy for the progressive Thamizh culture.

Eulogy for quite a few things that I was proud of associating myself with Thamizh Nadu.

Except that I am singing eulogy for all of the above with a hope that they will resurrect some time in future, even though they are dead for now.

Even if the political powers be (however megalomaniacal they are), somehow miraculously change their minds tomorrow and every hurdle is set aside for a smooth sailing of the movie, the scars that were incurred in the past one week or so will forever go down in the history of Thamizh artistic annals as something the Thamizh populace should be ashamed of.

Thamizh Artistic Freedom

How many times have we seen the Thamizh cinema push the envelope within the boundaries of Indian movie industry? Quite often.

Be it the 50s/60s when Arignar Anna & Kalaignar Karunanidhi, with the able support of thespians like Late Sivaji Ganesan, SSR, MGR, MS Viswanathan, Kannadasan, etc. had the freedom to express their rational and atheistic ideologies through socially relevant stories of the era and music they had created and the characters they developed or…

Be it the 70s/80s when K Balachandar, Bharathiraja, Mahendran, Balu Mahendra, etc., with the able support of a new generation of actors in the form of Kamal, Rajini, Sri Devi (to name a few) and music directors like Ilayaraja, had the freedom to develop highly individualistic women characters, a novel way of story telling and a new dimension in film music which were never seen/heard before…or..

Be it the 90s/00s when Mani Ratnam, Shankar, Gautham Menon and many more new gen Directors, with the able support of a revolutionary musical genius in the form of AR Rahman and poets like Vairamuthu, were literally able to take Thamizh movies to a nationally inspiring & envious level…or…

Be it the many writers and poets, who over the last 6 decades made such a huge impact in the literary world without any threat from any individual or communal forces that came between them and their creativity…

Thamizh artistic was never at risk. Never questioned and never threatened.

Progressive Thamizh Culture

My biggest pride of being a Thamizhian comes from the fact that the state is the only state which patronized atheistic leaders right from the 60s. Contrast that to 2013, when even in America, a Presidential candidate has to go out of his/her way to associate themselves with a church (yes, church). I had always taken immense pride in highlighting this progressive mentality of the Thamizh culture.
Jayalaitha was the first woman chief minister to be elected to office in the country, as far as I know..
And a few more…

Will they resurrect?

Without getting into the details, it is enough to say that what has happened to an individual artist like Kamal Haasan is a shame. A shame of the tallest order a state can punish an artist with. Questioning his secular intentions (when he is a self-proclaimed atheist), Questioning his integrity, Backstabbing him by instigating a few fringe groups and by simply trying to ostracize the man, what the Thamizh Nadu government is currently doing is state sponsored terrorism. In the process they have managed to kill all of the above – Artistic freedom, Progressive culture and Secularism. How? All by making a mockery of the judicial system. Now the question is when will they resurrect? Will we be able to resurrect them?

So Here I am with a hope that we will be able to resurrect all of the above.
But an eulogy is a must.

We deserve more.

The state deserves more.

The people deserve more.

And most importantly Kamal Haasan deserves more.

By the way, I  have already seen the movie Vishwaroopam in theaters.  Twice.

[Right. I said that already…]

Posted in Movies - General

Making a Mockery

I think it would be a long rant once I get started. For now, I just to want to share this picture to symbolically add my signature to the long list of protesters. Protesters who find the Tamil Nadu government’s action on “Vishwaroopam” appalling.
I will wait for the judicial verdict before I share my views on the movie, which by the way, I have managed to watch twice already IN THEATERS.

Posted in Politics - General

Constitutional Irony

Isn’t it an irony that in a Democracy, the very constitution that gives someone the right to express their opinions and show their dislike freely, is insulted & scarred, when the ‘freedom to express/speak’ rights of fringe groups and self-proclaimed cultural/religious warriors are misused to push a ‘democratic government’ to do the extreme of curtailing someone else’s right to express/speak freely?

Oh, BTW, Happy Indian Republic Day!

Posted in Movies - General

Zero Dark Thirty

Q: Has there ever been a manhunt in my
lifetime that I could directly connect with…more than

Q: Do I feel the same sense of anger and
relief after watching the movie, as what I felt back in 2011 when a
little past my dinner time, I got the first news about UBL having
been taken down through
A: No. Strangely
Q: If No, then do I find my feelings
towards UBL much more equanimous than ever

A: Sort
Q: Is it because the movie presented the
other side of the story?

A: No. Not at all. In
fact, the movie plot was exactly the opposite. Told from the
American point of view only.

Q: Then
did the movie present the not so pretty side of the American
approach to tracking down
A: I definitely wouldn’t say not so
pretty approach. But yes, the approach itself made me squirm a bit
– again not so much the fact that movie focused on the
Q: Has torture been glorified in the
A: Hmm. Yes. I have read all those
controversies around torture being glorified and all that. Really
though, it didn’t come across that way
Q: Did I walk out
of the movie with a justification of torturous methods adopted by
the US?
A: Not at all. In fact, the
opposite. And that’s the point.

Q: Did the movie touch upon all aspects
of the manhunt?

A: No. Only a part of the story.
A specific part about a specific lead.

Q: Did
the actors (including Jessica Chastain) do their job
A: Of course. Every one of
Q: What about Kathryn
A: What about her? After all she was the
one who made The Hurt Locker. Brilliant. The best female director
out there without a doubt.

Q: What
about the overall treatment?

A: If I think about it
just as a movie, I don’t think it was exceptional – although the
individual performances truly were. But because of the plot, the
context and the sentiments associated with such a plot, I have
absolutely no doubt that this movie will get into the list of
classics. Yes. In its own way, it will find a place in the library
because of the historic importance of everything associated with
the story.

Posted in Travel

Notes from the Road – Sri Lanka

Alright. I am technically off the road for almost 2 weeks but forcing myself to get this post out because I want to record my thoughts.

1) Sri Lanka turned out to be everything I expected it to be. Landscapes reminding me of Kerala while the people reminding me of Southern Tamil Nadu inhabitants. And the food – yes, the food, a delicious combination of Tamil and Coastal Andhra cuisines..
2) What struck me the most (never thought about it this seriously even though I know there a few other Asian countries who fall into the same category), was the fact that there was a lot of meat being consumed in spite of this being a Buddhist country.
3) The people are mostly polite, down to earth and pretty rooted.
4) The language brought back so many memories from my childhood days, when the first ever TV we got to watch at home was actually ‘Rupavahini’. Had a great time talking about those days with our tour guide and testing my memory at the same time.
5) The social friendly policies of the country (free education till college and free health care) have helped the country in many ways, especially with regards to the problems of urbanization. I think it is important for a country which is rich in natural resources such as herbs & spices to make sure urbanization isn’t a big issue. Talking about spices, their biggest claim to ‘spice fame’ is Cinnamon.
6) Cleanliness – Despite the fact that they have to deal with all challenges of being a third world country (poverty included), I was terribly impressed with one thing – overall cleanliness. If not at the Singapore level, the people seem to have better consciousness about keeping the surroundings clean than a few other comparable countries. That aspect, inevitably brought out a comparison between India and Sri Lanka. Well, that may be for another post but I did leave the country with my introspective mode turned on.

Posted in My Music

Eley Eley

When I first did “Pabo Bole”, I told myself that someday I would do a Thamizh version of the same. But I had always been a bit apprehensive about doing it because that song was my first attempt with another singer (technically second) and Ron, the singer, did more justice than what I had imagined when I composed that tune. He pretty much gave the song a new dimension which I didn’t know it had. After the vocal recording, everything sort of fell into place – the interludes, the choice of instruments, the chorus, the climax, etc.

Cut to 2012. For more than 2 months, I had been toying with an idea to do a song on “Tirunelveli”, my home town, for a family event. Somehow, I could never complete it. This song was so important to me that I didn’t want to mess it up – so I kept getting demotivated with every new idea that came about. Guess, it was meant to be. Because, one fine day, when I was playing Pabo Bole in my car, a thought flashed.
The rest is what you will hear below as “Eley Eley”. I will put together the lyrics soon.

For now, here it is: