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.
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.
இனியும் ஏது தோல்வியே கவியும் தூது போவதேன் காற்றே சொல்லும் வெறுமைகளா பொறுமைகளா நினைவே வெல்லும் வறுமைகளா வறுமைகளா இதையத்தைத் தொட்டுத் தொட்டு நீங்கும் மரணத்தை விட்டு விட்டுச் செல்லும் கனிமொழியாய் என்னை நினைப்பாய் தனிமையிலே என்னை சேர்ப்பாய் ஒரு கணமோ இங்கு மவுனம் மறு கணமோ நீ மறைந்தாய் பேசும் ஊமை ஆனேன் சோகம் தேடிப் போனேன் மலையின் மீதுள்ள சிகரம் கலையரசி தந்த பெருவரம் நிகழ்வு மறக்கவே பகடம் பலிக்கவே முழு நிலவு மெல்லத் தூங்க மேகங்களோ அதை மூட நட்சத்திரங்கள் கூடி தாலாட்டு ஒன்று சொல்ல காலைக் கதிரவன் அகல காக்கை குருவியும் பறக்க மகிழ்வு மிகையவே மனமும் களிக்கவே
A Poem for Donald Trump’s Presidential Inauguration
Each day as we go about our business,
tweeting past our older tweets,
RTing some or not,
about to tweet or tweeting.
Each day we encounter each other in twitter,
words incoherent or ungrammatical,
incomplete or insulted,
words to consider, reconsider.
We know there’s something better down the road.
We gather our equality, pride, liberty and justice.
To walk into that which we cannot yet see.
To find a place which is safe for
Our intelligence, our rationality and sanity.
On the brink of twitter horizon, on the cusp of fake news explosion,
May we take that next step.
[Inspired by Elizabeth Alexander’s Praise Song for the Day]
வீர விளையாட்டு எனநீர் கூவினால்
வீம்புக்காக வீரம் ஏனய்யா என்பம் நாம்
துள்ளி வரும் நீண்ட கால்களை இடை மறித்து
சுழன்று வரும் வாலை அடக்கிப் பிடித்து
திரண்ட திமிரை அணைத்து, கொம்பிலுள்ள பரிசினைப் பறித்து
காளையை அடகித்தான், உம் ஆண்மையை காட்டுவோம் என்கிறீரே
விழுப்புண்களுக்காக வீரியமாக உடல் வருத்தி
ஏழேழு தலைமுறை கலாச்சாரத்தைக் காக்க
நீர் படும்பாடு புரிகிறதய்யா
எம்பாட்டையும் தான் கொஞ்சம் கேள்வீரோ?
மிருகவதையை தடுக்கவும் மிருக மேம்பாட்டிற்காகவும் உழைப்பவர் யாம்
கலாச்சார சம்பிரதாய சிறப்பறிவோம் யாம்
இவையனைத்தும் பரிணாம வளர்ச்சிக்குட்பட்ட தென்பதையுமறிவோம்
அதை நீறறிவீரோ என்றறியோம்
உங்கள் மாடுகளையும் காளைகளையும் தெய்வமாக மதிப்பீராமே
பின் ஏன் அதைச்சீண்டி கோபமேற்றுகிறீர்கள் உங்கள் வீம்பு வீரத்திற்காக?
அதைச் சீண்டுவதற்காக சிலபலர் செய்யும் சேட்டைகள்
மிருக வதையில்லை என்றும்மால் கூற முடியுமா?
இங்கங்கு சிலபலர் செய்யும் சேட்டைகள் மிருகவதையே
அதை மறுக்கவில்லை மறைக்கவுமில்லை அன்பரே
எங்கள் வீரத்தை எம்மவரிடம் காட்ட உங்கள் அனுமதி தேவையில்லை
என்பதையாமறிவோம் அதை நீறறிவீரோ என்றறியோம்
தேசமெங்கும் வெவ்வேறிடத்தில் பற்பல பரிமாணங்களில்
நடக்கும் மிருகவதைகளைக் காட்டிலுமா இது மிகையென வினவுகிறம் யாம்
காளைகளைச் சீண்டுகிறோம் என்றெங்களடையாளத்தில்
ஒரு பகுதியைச் சீண்டுவது நியாயமா?
மிருகவதையைக் குறைக்க உம்மிடம் பேசத்தயாரய்யா யாம்
எல்லா மிருகவதைகளயும் சமசீர் தராசில் வைத்துப் பின்னர் எம்மிடம் பேசத்தயாரா நீர்?
[இவ்வுரையாடல் தொடரின் பலரும் மகிழ்ச்சி அடைவர்…]
A Jallikkattu Conversation
If you argue that it’s a display of bravery,
Then we would question the need for such false bravado..
You say that you would announce your masculinity to the world..
By tripping his long legs, By catching his swinging tail,
By embracing his dark hump,
By snatching the prize that’s tied to his horns,
And by bringing the raging bull under your control.
We understand that
All the rigor that your bodies go through for these war wounds
Are to preserve those century old traditions.
Now, will you step into my shoes and see it from my end?
I work hard for animal welfare and to prevent cruelty towards animals.
I understand culture, heritage and traditions,
I also understand that these things have always evolved and changed with times,
I hope you understand that.
We hear that you worship these bulls and cows,
Then why do you provoke them and flare up their anger?
Just so that you could exhibit your false bravado?
Do you agree what a few people do in order to
Instigate these bulls and cows amount to animal cruelty?
Yes. What a few do here and there certainly amount to animal cruelty.
We don’t deny it nor do we want to hide it, my friend.
At the same time, we know we don’t need your permission
To display our bravado amongst ourselves. I hope you understand that.
There are various animal cruelties of different magnitudes taking place
Around the country, every day.
We wonder why ours is being targeted when there are worse cruelties around.
In the name of preventing animal cruelty by pointing out these bull provocations,
Is it fair on your part to provoke us by banishing an important symbol of our culture?
We are ready to discuss and negotiate the animal cruelties that happen in our sport.
Are you ready to place all animal cruelties that happen in the country on the same weighing scale? If yes, then please come to the negotiation table.
I am not a journalist. I am not affiliated to any press or any media outlet. I am just a normal citizen of this great country of United States of America.
What America witnessed yesterday (Jan 11, 2017) during President Elect Donald Trump’s press conference (the first one he had after getting elected and the first one he had in last 5-6 months) is the beginning of the slow dismantling of Free Press.
I don’t care if you agree with a particular media outlet or a particular journalist’s opinion or not. You have every right to live in your own bubble and voice your opinion wherever.
But take a step back.
Kick that apathy out of the door for a second.
Keep your politics aside for a moment and ask yourself this simple question.
Why should any responsible citizen of this democratic country normalize this? If you say we should normalize this behavior and continue to give chances to this kind of behavior, do you even for a second realize what that kind of thought process leads to and more importantly do you realize by doing so, what values you as an individual will be passing on to your future generations?
Think about it. Read the history books to understand how every authoritarian regime around the world had come about.
Authoritarians don’t have any special power to create their regimes overnight. They feel the weakness of their citizens. They exploit them to their advantage. They understand the psyche of their subjects. They play to their vulnerable sides and take advantage of them .
And in the end, it is the citizens who succumb to the appeal and in the process pave way for an authoritarian to take over their lives. It’s us who voluntarily let an authoritarian take over our lives and let them build a regime.
It’s time now. To Fight. To Speak up.
For the next few years, or months or days, however long it takes to stand up against this man and his administration, which will do anything to crush the values of democracy that this country built 240 years ago and the ones that we continue to make better every single day. Because these values matter.
Let’s not forget that.
Fight for your right as a citizen and Fight for your fellow citizen’s right, equally.
And stand up for FREE PRESS.
Down with Authoritarianism and Down with Trumptarianism.
I will confess first. I am a huge fanboy of AR. But I have also evolved as a fan over the years. From just being a blind fan of his music to a much more nuanced fan of the technicalities in his music (as much as I could grasp), his thought process behind his compositions, his philosophy in life and in general, AR, the human being.
To wish any icon on social media or on the internet seems like a vanity seeking attempt, especially if I don’t know him personally. But this being AR Rahman’s milestone birthday, I decided to do just that. The irony!
My interest in music, my half-baked (or quarter or 1/8 or..) knowledge notwithstanding, can be divided into 5 phases..
I grew up getting soaked in Ilayaraja’s music (and MSV’s of course). And lots of carnatic music because of family surroundings and my own learning opportunities. The truth though was that most of my listening can be summed up as ‘casual exposure’.
2) Between 1988-1994
Serious listening. May be I was beginning to grasp the nuances better. And also because I was being exposed to a new world of music called classic rock. Thanks to the time I spent in Rajasthan during this time, I was exposed to more Hindi music than ever before (which doesn’t mean much if you spent all your time in deep south Tamil Nadu like I did.. till 1990). My half-baked music learning came very handy and I start analyzing. Even dabbled with making my own music. Just dabbled.
Completely absorbed by this storm called AR Rahman. Roja brought out the curiosity but Pudhiya Mugam sealed it. I became a fanboy. I must have listened to every song from every album of AR Rahman during this time for about million times. Life changing in many ways. Suddenly, I felt like I am hearing my own inner voice in music. Even though it was only for fun, I started making my own music in a much more “complete” way. They sounded terrible. Especially the ones I created during this time. But I got a kick out of making my own music.
4) 1998 to 2008
Digital music still new. My CD collection filled my basement and my fascination for AR’s music/experimentation continued to grow multiple times during this time. Being away from the country just made the bond even stronger. Also started listening to more contemporary western music, which internally made me appreciate AR’s music even more. And my own music creations got slightly better (even if I may say so myself).
Music streaming has completely changed the way I listen to music these days. Good or bad I don’t know. But I can listen to any music I want at any time without much effort. Thus resulting in me listening to lots of world music. The honest confession is that my comfort music is still AR’s. I am sure it will always be his music.
Just as a reflection of my own AR Rahman musical journey, I put together this Youtube playlist with 50 songs. These are songs that aren’t necessarily chartbusters. Less obscure in some ways.
Happy Birthday AR Rahman!
Thank you for shaping my musical appreciation of not just your music, but of any music.
At the edge of the winter sky, A quiet light, broken by the north winds. I breathe a longing haze, Through the shimmering icicles.
The shadows stand tall; Am lost in a gleaming thought, A shortcut between the sharpened edges. To get that perfect moon shot
A sneak peek into the first 7 days of President Donald Trump’s administration
If what we have seen of Mr. Trump till now is anything to go by, then we can expect the 45th President Elect of our country to disrupt how day to day activities of his White House administration are going to be performed. We have already gotten a hint, that he is going to do away with day to day press briefings. This means the entire White House press corps will be out of job. This also means there won’t be any WHCD, or will there be one without the President?
Also, my bet is on Trump to influence everyone in his cabinet to use social media for day to day administrative activities.
Here is a sneak peek into the first week of what the cabinet meetings/decisions/interactions would look like after Mr. Trump takes oath.
Jan 20, 2017
Mr. Trump, sends out a tweet in the morning, about how excited he is, how much he is looking forward to making America great again and why moving into the White House from Trump Tower is such a depressing thing to do for him. Then, he and his entourage, including his wife, children and grand children, make a grand entry into the National Mall area, either on a helicopter or on a horse drawn carriage with confetti. His hand picked cabinet is already there and they all are getting introduced to each other.
Then the oath ceremonies take place, including Kanye West singing the National Anthem. Ted Nugent follows it up with a two song performance where he uses an AK-47 as his percussion instrument. Then Andrea Bocelli brings the house down with 5 songs, that only about a dozen people seem to enjoy.
In the evening, Mr. Trump attends two presidential balls, both of which are telecast on facebook live. Kellyanne Conway is responsible for using Mr. Trump’s phone to do facebook live at both the balls. The evening ends on a happy note for team Trump.
Jan 21, 2017
The 45th President starts his presidential duties..
By 7 AM, he is getting on the nerves of Elaine Cho, the Transportation Secretary.
Jan 22, 2017
Rick Perry, the Energy Secretary, is itching to get some action.
Jan 23, 2017
Betsy DeVos, the Education Secretary has some big plans and she has been waiting for this day to make this announcement. As someone who has “devoted her life” for education and children, this is something she has really thought through.
Meanwhile, Scott Pruitt, the EPA Chief, much like Betsy DeVos, has spent most of his life working on Environmental policies, especially developing policies to bring catastrophes of the highest magnitude to this planet in the shortest possible time.
Jan 24, 2017
Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State, someone who is not new to oil, is already working hard and has embarked upon his first official foreign travel.
The Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin is ready to make a big policy announcement as well. He has been working behind the scenes on this for almost two months and it’s time now to make it officiail.
Jan 25, 2017
Must be a slow day by Mr. Trump’s cabinet standards.
Jan 26, 2017
This is the day, all of America would be shocked and surprised. VP Pence, decides to share the big news. One that fulfils a campaign promise. Yes, that’s right. Mr. Trump actually fulfils a campaign promise in 6 days. Just 6 days.
Jan 27, 2017
The first week is almost over and who better to round it off than Tom Price, the Secretary of HHS? Another campaign promise fulfilled. Whoa!
Jan 27, 2017
James N. Mattis, the Defense Secretary, has been asked to deal with some “domestic” issues. But no one really notices the massive national security risk this may have imposed.
Towards the end of the day, the White House counsel steps in to declare the results of the first week.
What a week!
Note: If you are wondering how those ridculously high numbers of likes for certain posts or comments came about, here’s the secret…
It’s the Russians. They hack into everything.
Disclaimer: This is satirical work. All images were created using a photoshop like tool and the views expressed in the images are fictional.