Sunday, August 31, 2014

Unobtainium aka Happiness – ramblings on happiness, hate and other things.

Of course, Unobtainium is a figment of man’s (esp. James Cameron’s) vast imagination. The element is apparently hard to procure; is vital for survival of mankind; is expensive and man by all means will try to obtain it- even if it involves murdering hordes of fluorescent-blue skinned Na’Vis. (with reference to Avatar, folks)
He's just showing off his bling.

And happiness? It shares most of the above mentioned characteristics of Unobtanium. Maybe not expensive for everyone and mostly, doesn’t involve killing (God forgive me for the ant-hill stampede the other day). 

In our pursuit of ‘happyness’, we have
  • turned into monks
  • sold our Ferraris
  • saw Kate wed William
  • welcomed the non-monopolization of Maggi noodles.
  • cheered the literal transformation of Kamal in ‘Vishwaroopam’, 
  • watched Modi’s acceptance speech
  • infinite scrolled our Facebook newsfeed.
  • dished out 83 bucks to enjoy the “magnum” royalty.

And there were things that hindered all our happy moments and happy meals as in -

  • the disappearance of the comic book seller behind Annapoorna.
  • the near-death experience of swallowing a few ml of dilute H2SO4 via pipette during Chemistry practicals.
  • the realization that Snape was a good chap only trying to help.
  • the bus ticket fare being raised from rs.3 to rs.7
  • the worm found in KFC chicken bucket.
  • Kejriwal-who??
  • losing your java phone of 5 years (it happened to me last week ;()

my lost Samsung Monte

There were of course, sadder more catastrophic-sounding events over the course of our growing-up years but to dwell on them or not is more of a personal choice.  

Now on a more serious note…Where do we measure the happiness quotient of young Indians exposed to multiple cultures and having diverse interests? Perhaps the Internet..? We Indians are awash with Smartphone savvists,  Meluha lovers, EPL followers, snicker bingers, tech prodigies,paperback readers, vigilant politicos, literary big-weights, uncanny businessmen, off-beat movie buffs and more- who are not hesitant to update their views online.  Unfavourably, we are also witnessing a surge in those who spew HATE like never before – the Netizen gundas who never realize that using words of profanity on fellow netizens isn't COOL.

Memes and trolls were created so that all of us can ‘ho ho’ at others’ expense. (The only thing that surpasses the number of trolls shared everyday must be the number of tasty and hearty oats variants released by every other company in recent days.)  Most of them are harmless and are lively examples of one’s wit and humour.  The rest of the comments, tweets and memes are biased, abusive or obscene.

Censoring of online comments is almost non-existent and makes lives easy for cyber bullies.  There is no substitution of cuss words with ****  or  %$&*%&! in sites like YouTube unlike those done in the  subtitles of television-aired movies(!)  Giving a comment ‘downvote’ or ‘mark as spam’ is a good option but is opted based on the views that it contains and not the vulgarity. Using a profanity-remover tool (if it exists) would be futile if words of any regional language gets typed in English.
why You so Mean?

 The music industry isn’t far behind with some singers coming up with two versions of the same song – one opening with the F word and one without it. (‘Tonight I’m Loving you’ -  Enrique Iglesias) Call me old fashioned for a twenty year old but I can't stand the sound or sight of the word, even if it’s misspelt as fcuk and sold as luxury watches.

Life will be pretty amazing if things on your ‘hate’list are less than the ones on your ‘love’list.  It doesn’t make sense to hate Justin Bieber but definitely makes sense to ignore him (that is, stop listening to his music). Opinionated people don’t make the best of people to hold lively conversations with. They may sound great on a talk show or a debate forum but never on a dining table. When you are with such sort of folks, you tend to feel the eeriness in the air (and sometimes lose your appetite).

Try hating less actors, authors, singers, serial artistes, acquaintances, politicians and see your life taking a turn for the better as you learn to look at the world in an unbiased way. Okay I’m sounding preachy but less hate is how I learnt to love life. Remember the platinum-coated words, it never hurts to be polite.   

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ponniyin Selvan play - a labour of love

“Kalki” Krishnamurthy is a master story teller with none to surpass him. People used to wait with bated breath for his novels serialized in Tamil weeklies for several years, just like how we wait to catch an episode of our favourite soap now. His magnum opus “Ponniyin Selvan” is a family-favourite.

An historical marvel contained in 5 stonking volumes, reading it evokes an array of emotions ranging from romance to martyrdom and plays out in our minds better than any movie ever did, thanks to a God given gift to mankind called imagination.

One of the many incredible aspects of the book is the amount of painstaking research ‘Kalki’ had put in to write the 2400-pages-long-epic. He is said to have read every piece of Sangam literature available on the era (upon which the book is set) and had even visited Srilanka a number of times to gather facts. No wonder all the effort has paid off so well – a gem of a book that is every Tamil book lover’s delight.

It has been exactly 60 years since the book was first published. Several unsuccessful attempts had been made to bring Ponniyin Selvan to the big screen; the last one to try was ace director Mani Ratnam. What if the series has been marked off as a tale too grand and expensive to bring on celluloid? A talented, fiery team from Chennai based production company SS International and theatre group Magic Lantern have pulled off the incredible feat of bringing it to the Stage.  

After a successful run in Chennai and Madurai, the team had landed in Coimbatore and staged three houseful shows on 3rd, 4th and 5th of July in Corporation Kaliarangam. Some from my college were provided with free passes on the first day of the play. I'm quite grateful that I was one among them.
What an evening it was! Unforgettable in the truest sense. To see all my favourite characters on stage (enacted by a bunch of talented actors) with friends who were deeply involved as well, was something that I would cherish for a lifetime. We created the same ruckus that we would do in a theatre whenever a major character was introduced, be it Arulmozhivarman or Aditya Karikalan. The female leads in the play have done justice to their parts and they looked ravishing indeed!The swordfights, the lovely set by Thotta dharani, the humour interspersed dialogues – all deserve a special mention!

Vandhiyadevan’s character appeared a bit more flirtatious than it did in the book but the audience seemed to love him! Though I personally rue Manimegalai’s omission, the play is an astounding display of hardwork and creativity in little under four hours. The biggest “Ah” moment in the play was the entry of an elephant and yes, it sure had its share of screen space (and claps)!! 

I hope more people take to reading Kalki's works after seeing this one of a kind play!!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Make way for Modi...why I think students voted for him!

There seemed to be a politician lurking in every student the past month. The Modi wave was clearly felt in KCT. Almost every student I knew voted for the BJP and each one gave a plausible explanation for the unanimous (!) decision.

Modiji, et tu? ;(

10 Things I think made Students** opt for BJP

1.Modi can speak. Yes, he can! /*He doesn’t speak the way Ranbir Kapoor does onscreen. So I have trouble understanding his Hindi*/

2. Manmohan Singh. Just look at how he's been called these days-  the puppet ruler, Sonia Gandhi’s spastic child, the silent spectator, solitary reaper (saw this one in Outlook), ‘mute-ant’ , male counterpart of twilight Bella,  etc..etc..He has been the new posterboy of Santa and Banta brand of jokes. 

3. Arnab Goswami… People believe he speaks right from the Upanishads.So hence goes the adage, "If one can’t duel  Arnab, he can’t rule the nation." #RahulGandhikiAag

4. 3G…3G..3G. Not many had an inkling of Coalgate or Adarsh.

5. 10 years of Congress. Nearly a decade of our lives (I mean those of us who have recently acquired the eligibity to vote), we have been seeing ‘Congress this, Congress that’. Before 2004, I don’t think 8,9 or 10 year olds would have made good political commentators.

6. Various Claims on how Gujarat is the “bestest” state in India.  

#1. Post on Facebook – China’s Bus Railway Transmit System “marketed” as Ahmedabad’s.

#2. The actual Ahmedabad’s BRTS –not bad looking either.

7. Riots? what riots?

8.  24 hours of Power Supply in Gujarat. Did I hear you right?!!

9. Congress is barely traceable in parts of Tamil Nadu. Loyalists perform CPR occasionally. In my extended family, there’s a Rajiv, Rahul and Indira. Just saying.

10. The 2014 Lok Sabha election was unlike the State elections where State parties had placed their entire bets on their election manifestos. Manifestos and verbal promises took a backseat since the promise of having Modi as PM loomed larger than any written statement. 

**you a  student?uh... Of course I'm not meaning you.

 But BJP eventually lost in Coimbatore constituency. People not residing in urban areas didn’t find BJP enticing enough and so for the first time, Green wave swept across Cbe. “ Amma to the fore in TN!” , “Jayalalitha struck gold – 37/39” screamed headlines.

 It was finger selfies galore on the day of election. I found one posting a finger selfie on FB and urging others to vote on April 24, the day TN geared up for the elections. The same guy posted a “Kaundamani” meme later that day mocking those who put up finger selfies! He might make a good politician in the days to come.

Note- I revere both Manmohan Singhji and Modiji but in different ways. PoSiTiViTy counts! for the next 5 years as well....

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Maan Karate - music review

Anirudh’s one of the rare composers who has made conversational Tamil sound more like music and it’s a good thing. His latest offering is “Maan karate” which has a sugar-and-spice combo of Sivakarthikeyan and Hansika in the lead with debutant Thirukumaran wielding the megaphone.

“Maanja” has Anirudh crooning to his own tune. It is peppy and believe this- it is a love track. Karky belongs to the breed of “research-poets” still left in Kollywood. All his research on the Madras dialect seems to have paid off for the Chennai lingo is transliterated in style.

The funky and the wannabe folksy “Darling Dambakku” (penned by Yugabharathi) scores with the brilliant vocals of the incredible but underutilized  Benny Dayal and ‘kamli’ Sunidhi Chauhan. Anirudh does throw surprises. Non-Anirudh moments such as ‘Did- I- just- hear- a- flute?’ and ‘was- that -a- Sitar? ’ were aplenty. The Reprise version of the song (the same track with the vocals replaced by Nivas and Kalpana) seems like an underperformer because everyone liked the original better.

“Royapuram Peter” marks the return of our very own Paravai Muniyamma! Sivakarthikeyan joins her and he doesn’t make a mess of the already messy lyrics written by RD Raja. Wish there was more to the song other than the electric guitar and P.M’s eclectic “come on”s and the ultimate “ok bye”!

Anirudh hands himself the mike (um… for the nth time) for “Un Vizhigalil”. Shruthi proves time again she’s beauty and talent combined.  The song is Western in soul with Carnatic interludes and they jam pretty well.  Though a tad difficult to hum, this track is perfect caller-tune material.

 Then there’s the antithesis of the soup song  “open the Tasmac” penned by Gaana Bala and surprisingly not sung by him. Gaana king Deva gives the song the right dose it needs. And we actually heave a sigh of relief- though it’s yet another “thanni song”, the lyrics aren’t exactly gloomy! The opening of the song is what makes “open the tasmac” click!

Verdict- 3/5

Maan Karate has some spunky and sprightly songs that might do justice to the movie’s story and its supposed quirkiness.
But is there any of Anirudh’s career best tracks in this album? I’m not sure…!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Social Networking 2014- Facebook ah? Whatsapp ah?

Admit it. Whatsapp has been eating into your Facebook time for quite a while now.

Though the stats say Facebook users are as active as ever, status updates like “Movie boring..zzzzz”(never mind the trailing lines “ the Cinemas with Cute Kavi, Bala Boyzz, Banu athai, Kowshi kutti” with the last two not being FB users) and “Had the craziest vaazhakka bajji ever! #semataste” are growing fewer in number. Credit goes to Whatsapp for its no frills status updates with huge user pleasing capabilities as in,

1. Nobody, I repeat, nobody can add a Vadivelu meme as a comment to your status.

2. Opportunities to start a Vijay Vs Ajith presidential debate are considerably less.

3. You don’t have to feel bad for a Selfie that has been “liked” only by 5 people.

4. You can get people to know the kind of loverboy you are by updating “For every beat, my heart keeps saying happy birthday to the one it belongs to… <3 <3 <3 “ without your mom/dad/uncle/HOD-cum-FB account holders snooping about.

5.All you have to do get someone’s number(smirk) is to be in the same group as he/she is etc..etc..

Facebook went through a slight setback when its “Home” User Interface had almost no takers. The idea of a FB live wallpaper sounded interesting but drew flak upon release. It would definitely be interesting to see your flirtatious FB chats suddenly pop up when your brother borrows your “Home” abled phone to play ‘Angry birds Star wars’ .

Privacy issues would continue to boggle FB this year as well (or for all eternity) since the social networker’s mind can hardly be appeased. Every time a poor soul blocks a contact, heaving a sigh of relief (‘very well! He can’t see my picture posts anymore but…darn! I can’t see his posts either!) and reluctantly submits to its consequences, she prays for an improvised, heartbreak friendly facebook. (She later pacifies herself by posting several photos. After all her life is an open book. Anyone can take a look…)

The emergence of the #hashtag in twitter has had amazing and at times appalling effects. It provides fodder for print media who have dedicated sections to such tweets tracked by hashtags. So we had hashtags ranging from the Good (#Uttarakhand, #ThankYouSachin) to the Bad (#NotaWimbledonbabe that referred to Grand Slam champ Marion Bartelli’s looks). Its popularity soared after Facebook borrowed the hashtags to add glitter to its gold. Ultimately, the realisation dawns the moment you find there’s a whole lot more to these symbols than just check your mobile balance.

The pinboard style Pinterest has garnered rave reviews for making us come as close as possible to organizing stuff that we find in the Internet. With the RSS feed taking a blow with the “death” of Google Reader, we seek better options to keep track of all that information out there.

Now, back to the FB Vs Whatsapp debate. We can for once liken Whatsapp to the Aam Aadmi Party. Eating into the votes of the giants(BJP and Cong.) was a piece of cake for the AAP** as was taking some of the sheen away from Facebook for Whatsapp. It is a universally acknowledged fact that Whatsapp isn’t superior to Facebook, it is only more convenient during crucial times when we get confused whether to pick the green shoes with the brown laces or the brown shoes with the green laces. The best solution is arrived at, the very instant we send photos of them to mom who helps us choose.(As always, mother knows best!)

**Written at a time before Whatsapp was acquired by Facebook and we all know what happened to AAP...