Friday, December 28, 2007

Vishal Bard, Wah Wah!!

Just listen to it. Now. It’s been close to two years, but the awesomeness, the orchestral and choral flamboyance, the wild and unfettered singing, the boisterous fun in this song hasn’t waned one bit. One of those songs that makes me frenetic; that makes me want to stand up and dance, my two noncooperative left feet notwithstanding.

I can't stop gushing about this man Vishal Bhardwaj. Four brilliant films and many wonderful music albums in his kitty.

On that note, do visit Vishal Bard Watch (from which I steal the pun for the title of this post), a blog started by Ramanand to follow the movies and music of the man, to collect news and views about him; also, watch his latest short film Blood Brothers.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Postmodernism as the path to shut up

True postmodernists tend to be utterly ambiguous, and when they write, they unrelentingly confound the readers; also because they’re not sure of what they want to say themselves. To think of this as almost a virtue, one tends to think, is the primary characteristic of a postmodernist.

Many a time, the postmodernist next door starts to write something down. He thinks he probably has something to say. You know, stuff one feels like saying. As he writes on, he realises the horror of what he’s writing. Sometimes gradually, but most times instantly. “Do I want to say this? Is this, um, right?” he wonders. And, invariably, he realizes what’s not so right with it. It could probably be right, but most often not so right as to write it down.

The height of postmodernism, one sometimes tends to think, is to just shut up. Which is what one usually does on one’s blog.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

It's not really Glen Drummond, and one knows it. It's Raaja. His genius. mabbu glass'la 'yA irukku?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Arbitrary musings on male chauvinism etc.

A few days ago, I had a weird argument with Mr. Sriram. I argued that he doesn't come off as a male chauvinist in the true sense to me, when he claimed that he is a male chauvinist with no reservations whatsoever. And, he came up with some reasonable points to back up his claim: he expects his wife to cook and maintain the house and all that jazz. Of course, well-informed folks know that most of his gibberish is vetti scene, but let me not cop out in that direction for the moment; instead, for the sake of the argument, assume that he's in fact being honest. My counter-argument was that it's only his way of getting away without doing that sort of work. Which only makes him a lazy ass. An escapist at best. Responding to this, he insisted that he truly believes that it's the wife's duty to cook food for him (and herself, I presume), but he confessed that he won't advocate it to anyone else. This total refrainment from the advocacy of his own notion of a wife's "duty," I thought, was a clincher to my case. (To his defence, he added that he won't advocate anything to anyone for that matter.)

Of course, whether or not he comes off as a chauvinist to his readers is irrelevant to me in all possible ways, but this got me thinking about male chauvinism and gender bias in general, and specifically in our social context.

[Please note, this fruitful discussion happened before he wrote that lousy post about saving rate, aachaaram etc. where he defended theettu, pathu and echchal, and justly earned the wrath of a well-meaning, unsuspecting lady who unfortunately expected him to make sense, no less. In fact, if I may play Freud for a moment, I'm positive that it's his defence mechanism that must have made him come up with something as weird as that post, after having been unable to convince me.]


So much for my musings on advocacy of one's beliefs. I don't really have a rigid notion of what's chauvinistic and what's not, and perhaps more importantly, who's chauvinistic and who's not; especially in a social setup like ours where the difference in the treatment of the two genders are so pronounced and deep-rooted. There's more to anyone's life and the man-woman relationships in it than what can be deduced by passing a judgement on what the person thinks about gender roles. There is more to a woman's life than what can be deduced by passing a judgement on how she is "oppressed" and "confined" to the role of a housewife in a patriarchal setup. It's even bizarrely high-handed (and insensitive) to even suggest that these unsuspecting women are definitively subordinated by virtue of their role as housewives.

To my mind, male chauvinism and gender bias exist in all shapes and sizes across all social stratas. Likewise, I am tempted to believe that some form of "real-world" feminism exists across all social stratas. It'd be incredibly naïve to suggest that mere societal conformance or yielding to a conservative mindset (or even possessing one) automatically translates to "oppressing" or "being oppressed."

[On that note, here's a somewhat related and even more incomprehensible post, where I had mused “on how words (especially if it is ‘one word’) can’t completely describe any man,” among other things. To grasp the the degree of incomprehensibility therein, sample this: “The validity quotient of any statement is definitely statistical; and that statistics differs with any physical parameter one can think of.” Wow. It's so much fun to quote oneself, I say.]


Let's take our own Tamil cinema. There is this superb folk duet, Kai Valikkudhu from the movie Kunguma Chimizh. (I haven't seen the film, nor the video of the song.) Now, the lyrics of that song will make many liberal feminists tear their hair out. (For better results, try directly reading the lyrics than listen to the song.) The lines of the song espouses many of the broad gender archetypes of our society. "Ammi araippadhu pombala velai dhaandi," the husband says, and if at all he chips in, it's said to be only a favour. Now, for a true feminist, this would most probably be deeply offensive, but I don't find it as problematic. In fact, it's these kind of portrayals that represent the reality of our society and the way it works. And, frankly, it'd only be naïve on anyone's part to judge the relationship between the two on the basis of what the two think about the gender roles and man-woman equation. On the other hand, I find the portrayal of the educated woman in a seemingly modern film like Kaakha Kaakha quite chauvinistic in the way it tellingly reduces the role of the woman (pun intended) to someone who the hero has to protect, who makes him vulnerable. Not to forget the way the film ends -- the hero's ladylove is dead ("killed" by the writer so as to make a martyr of him), but the hero has to go on. (Well, I am not accusing Gautham of being chauvinistic here, it's probably just bad writing.)


Some time back, a close acquaintance of mine (who, to my knowledge, is significantly liberal in her ideas) offered me a serious advice that I should go for an arranged marriage. Why, I asked. Because, in that case, the wife "will listen to me," she said. At the same time, she was all for a girl to go for a love marriage and found it only fair that she "does the talking" instead of "just listening to her husband" out of the marriage. Effectively, she advocated love marriages for women because the girl will be an equal partner or even have the privilege of "dominating the proceedings," even as she advocated arranged marriage for men. Needless to say, I was deeply perplexed. It's the same person who thinks it's appropriate for the man to "dominate" in an arranged marriage but also finds it as appropriate for a woman to "dominate" or at least "be equal to" the man in a love marriage. Now, is she a feminist, or one who reinstates -- inadvertently or otherwise -- the patriarchal system?


One is probably better off without making a point, but I am afraid I've made a couple of them in this post.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Aadum Neram Idhu Dhaan... Idhu Dhaan!

The genius touches one everyday. And, all one can ever hope is to chance upon as many of the innumerable instances of it as possible before one simply ceases to exist.

ஆடும் நேரம் இது தான... இது தான்!

Raaja's version of kaattuvaasi music has always been singularly special. The quintessentially Raaja-ish, otherwordly mood he gives to it, in the rhythm patterns, in the choice of instruments et al. rAman AndAlum, Asaiya kAththula, viLakku vaippOm, the list goes on.

This song is a sublime mix of the elements of this Raaja-tribal-ish music with typical western arrangements, creating sheer magic by the marriage. Every single note here screams genius. [1]

The song starts with a fantastic guitar piece, the guitar riffs wonderfully backing up the song from thereon. The unusually used guitar, the mystical flute and the offbeat rhythm patterns, all conspire seamlessly to create the otherworldly mood. Not to forget the urumi that joins the percussion in the second interlude and the tranquil flute that cuts through it.

The first interlude boasts of a great trumpet piece as Raaja plays with the rhythms, while the second interlude goes back to the otherworldly mood. And, there is that all-too-charming little piece of trumpet (followed by that seemingly nonchalant click of the guitar string!) that bookends the first couple of lines in both the stanzas (simply chorus chants!).

Wait, I've not even got started on the singing yet. P. Susheela's intoxicating singing and the intoxicated chorus chants [2] takes the song to a different level.

[1] – I wish some filmmaker does a Scorsese with the boundless reservoir of songs of Raaja, the kind that are simply not made anymore irrespective of the genre. I mean, let's suppose one is in want of a truly hip song, is it even possible for someone to get hipper than a Tholin Mele?

[2] – Where O where are the full-throated choruses of the yore? The ones with a very healthy dose of coarseness? Like the earthy chorus that so beautifully goes "Tharathaththa tharathaththa tharaththa thararaa" in the beginning of "Paada Vandhadhor Gaanam"? The so-sweetly voiced choruses of today aren't half as captivating.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Doctorate degree for Kanaga next year

Shilpa Shetty is now Dr. Shilpa Shetty. (Link via Confused.)
The Leeds Metropolitan University, apparently a leading university in the U.K., is conferring a doctorate degree on the actress, presumably for her eminent contribution to arts in India.

Now, anyone who's familiar with Shilpa Shetty's wide spectrum of works in Indian films (from "Chura Ke Dil Mera" of Main Khiladi Tu Anari to "Muthu Muthu Mazhai Muthaadudhe" of Mr. Romeo) would gleefully approve of this well-deserved conferment.
But, it's really a shame, that it required a foreign university to jump in and do this honour to the actress, who has served, and continues to serve, our own nation, in many wonderful ways, all these years.

Now, don't rationalize. They're not conferring this on her to atone for the rather unfortunate turn of events bordering on racial harassment that was inflicted on her in the now infamous T.V. show, Big Brother.
But, supposing that unfortunate incident did have an impact on this matter, I wonder what the degree of harassment and the resultant impact would have been if someone like Kanaga (yesteryear Tamil artist) went to participate in the TV show instead.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

சும்மாவா சொன்னாங்க பெரியவங்க...

Tch, chinna paiyyan… Ivan kitta poi idhellaam kettaa…” his amma often cut short any tangential discussion that bordered on his nuptial matters, much to everyone’s amusement. He was immensely amused himself. “How incredibly naïve!” he used to wonder.

He speculated, may be, to amma’s mind, he is akin to the typical village belle that one would see in a Bharathiraaja film, who, when reminded of her sexuality, would blush unreservedly and start, well, you know, dreaming. This annoyed him a bit. How the reminder itself is occasioned in those films further added to his woes. And, the suggestion that he might “get ideas” when given the right cues, made him indignant. Not just naïve, but also absurd, he asserted to himself.

When mothers patronize this much, can sisters be far behind? Elder sisters, as soon as they’re elderly enough – that is, once they’re married and start discussing velai vaasi and suchlike, acquire this outrageous, motherly attitude towards their younger brothers, out of immense affection and what not.

Like the other day, his sister offhandedly mentioned about this girl during the post-dinner talk on the current social affairs, suggesting to amma that she should consider her when his turn is up. A quick description of the girl is in order – damn pretty, fits quite well under the various models of orthodoxy and conventions the family conformed to, etc. And, this time, amma didn't hurriedly dismiss it. In fact, she seemed to give a serious thought to it, and he found it to be awkwardly funny.

And, naturally, he started weighing the plausibility of the option too. Looking back, he found, not once has he had thought of any particular girl in this refreshing angle – the angle of a “legitimately arranged” marriage to a singularly likeable girl. This angle itself wouldn’t have been one-hundredth as refreshing to him in usual circumstances. But, ‘likeable’ doesn’t even begin to describe this girl. ‘Gorgeous’ is the one that gets there, he said to himself. And, of course, as he mulled over it for a while, what loomed large in his mind was the utter ludicrousness of it all.

All this – the suggestion and the ensued short, serious thought – was over within two minutes and it has been three weeks since. Yet, that bit of ludicrousness in his mind hasn’t fully diminished yet.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


So, I’m tagged by Mithra. Yeah, yeah, I know, it is a teenager thing to do, and I constantly position myself as too old and numb for such stuff. But, silly, gentle emotions overtake snobbishness, when you’ve some idle time and your snobbery is getting you nowhere.

1. Players start with 5 random facts about themselves. The random facts must be both deeply philosophical and flatly ludicrous at once. (As a leeway, what the player says need not be random or factual as such.)
2. Those who are tagged must behave like nice people. They should post these rules, modifying them suitably if necessary, and their 5 random facts. They must not think of this as a teenager’s activity. Life’s all about such innocent fun (even if you’re in your late-20s, obsessed with more important things like the original identities of bloggers and blog-commenters, or in 30s and completely bald).
3. Players should tag 3 other people and notify them they have been tagged. (If they don’t feel like doing this, there’s another alternative: they should post 10 random facts instead of 5.)

Random facts about me:

1. Much as I project myself like someone who’s spontaneously absurdist in nature as far as life and such stuff go, I am deeply confused myself. Is the essence ananda or dukka, I kept asking myself and a dumbstruck friend for a few days when those two fancy words caught my eyes recently. Now, you tell me. Ananda ‘va, dukka ‘va?

2. I’ve this thing with wrappers of the things of the kind I cherish (and cinema tickets too). That is, I cherish things with their wrappers. So, even when I take off the polythene wrapper of a DVD I bought, I do that so carefully that I don’t tear it up more than just necessary, I keep the polythene wrapper safely in the shelf. I’ve the polythene wrappers of almost all the CDs and DVDs in my reasonably huge collection. (I even plan to revisit them sometime.)

3. Maths was my favourite subject at school and college (closely followed by history). When I was a little kid, I was fascinated to no end with numbers and patterns in them. A vintage example I remember is this: Exponents of 2 all miss being perfect numbers by 1. (Another favourite musing was this: While 5-times-5 was 25, 4-times-6 was 24.) I used to think I was special.

4. Until quite recently, I thought ‘vulnerable’ is an adjective used mostly in a derogatory sense!

5. In the past year or so, I’ve acquired this absolutely strange habit. Whenever I am writing something – a post, or, at times, even a comment, I search the web for various strings of continuous words (closed in double quotes) in what I’ve written to see if I am employing the words and expressions the right way, and get a precise idea of how expressions and figures-of-speech are being used as against how they must be used. Of course, the result of this is mostly nothing. (I did this a couple of times, even for this post. My grammar is bad alright, but this is too cumbersome an effort for nothing.)

I tag:
1. ‘I’ thambi; because, he’s jobless. (And, I could blackmail him to respond to the tag, by threatening to refuse to co-write the poignant story of a single Tamil boy who suddenly falls in love with a girl whom he last saw many years ago, that I’ve developed.)
2. Inlivenout; because, I think she’s basically a nice person. (She doesn’t have a blog anymore, so she can use my comment space. But, how do I notify her?)
3. Chenthil; because, I want to see an older and wiser man take up this thing so that I’ll stand naturally vindicated.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

When God was in pants

My posts on God often don't run for pages. Simple reason. I’ve nothing to say about Him. But, some times, reverence takes over common sense.
Anyway, this isn't like a pre-80s Raaja essential listening or some such. Listing four songs as “essential listening” is farcical. This is just a sample listening. But, I think it offers a chronological perspective on the early phase of Raaja. Or, so I wish.

1. Kannan Oru Kaikkuzhandhai
2. Vasantha Kaala KolangaL
3. Aazhakkadalil Thediya Muthu
4. Kanden Engum (A song that gave its dharisanam some weeks ago and has kept me in rapture since then; I had wanted to write the customary, short rave-post.)

Now, all these songs are MSV-ish – strictly melody-based, emphasis on tune and exquisite singing, minimal arrangements, no majestic orchestrations, no complex rhythm patterns, just simple and straight.
Long story cut short – and, MSV fans must pardon me here, I think, in these songs, Raaja wonderfully demonstrates with great flourish what all can be done in MSV-style compositions.
These songs epitomise the early, MSV-ish Raaja, for me, and demonstrate how He simply surpasses MSV at the latter's own game, so to say. (Yes, call me a fanatic.) Readers may please add what they think is “MSV-ish.” For chronology's sake, readers may limit themselves to pre-80s.
(A more fanatical way of putting all this is to challenge the reader to show me some MSV songs that match up to these. I’ll tell you upfront, I’d only be delighted. I must also add an escapist but true disclaimer here: I am not greatly familiar with MSV’s works.)

Of course, these songs, in many ways, carry the unmistakable Raaja stamp too. The preludes and interludes, even if “simple,” (by Raaja’s standards, that is) are mostly quintessential Raaja.
Also, please note, this selection is restricted by design to only those songs in which He “emulates” MSV, whatever that means. So, there's a reason why you didn't find His majestic, classical showdown-pieces or the path-breaking Raaja-folk pieces of the pre-80s.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

ஷவரம் பண்ணிக்கரதயும் உத்தியோகத்தையும் உட்டுட்டா, ஒண்ணும் வராது நோக்கு. மனச உட்டுட்டா மகா கஷ்டம்! Life goes on...

Bhashyam Iyengar, in Hey! Ram.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Giggle, and fuck the bigil.

Another hike. Giggle. Uncontrollably. And, fuck the bigil. Hedonism, here’s coming to you.

Update (on Apr 23, 2007; 6:46 p.m.): Woo hoo and all that. (Currently listening to Siru Ponmani. Anything and Ilaiyaraaja, I say!)

Friday, April 20, 2007

The road that's taken

It was a weird feeling. She even found it a bit hard to shrug it off. None of them, her friends, colleagues, various acquaintances, seemed to bear that sort of boisterous mood that they used to when in her company those days – when she was still “available.” Their unrelenting and irrepressible attempts at humour, with occasional “successes” – she'd give a snobbish, miserly smile which was still strong enough to have them in restrained rapture, the unconditional approvals, the matter-of-fact acknowledgements, were all missing. Instead, now, they were totally unruffled, cordial, all smiles, wishing her “all the very best!” (on all her future endeavours, some insisted). No cute silliness, just gentlemanly demeanour.

All this seemed to affect her in a mild – of course – but inexplicable way. She even wondered the possibility of one of these men classifying his relationship with her as “platonic.” Ah, ‘platonic,’ the word she endlessly made fun of, in her mind.

Not her fault really, she’s just so used to all such jazz. What a queen she was during her college days! The guys who showed no shame whatsoever in openly contesting among themselves to “get her,” the girls who tacitly acknowledged her “superiority,” all those crazy proposals, proposals so tedious that they were masterpieces in their own right. And, all the while, she was so level-headed leaving more men floored in the process.

And, now, she has this man beside her, who, to be fair to him, is smarter than it usually gets. Somehow, she wished he tried, visibly enough, to qualify himself for this. But, he seemed to be in no hurry. Instead, he was busy recalling some not-so-dull in-jokes with his friends. (“Some of my jokes are so ‘in’ that only I laugh at them!” he quipped to her asking for excuse, in between. She laughed.) She shrugged the thought off, smiling at herself, and waved her hand joyously when her eye caught a close buddy.

In a few moments, when she was introducing him to that friend, she couldn’t help but wonder a little, “So, just this man. That's it?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A very rough reminder

Oh, for god's frigging sake, the "controversial rain rule" that knocked out South Africa in the semi-final of the 1992 World Cup was NOT based -- I repeat, NOT based -- on the Duckworth-Lewis system.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Fuck pride.

"Now the night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting, that's pride fuckin' wit ya. Fuck pride! Pride only hurts, it never helps. Fight through that shit."

– Marsellus Wallace.

An all-time favourite line. Needless to say, "Marsellus Wallace was right." Always.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


O Lord!! *In tears*