Monthly Archives: December 2006

Nagercoil

I always smell Nagercoil before I see it. During this trip home, when the train chugged into my town, I smelled that distinct smell. It was barely dawn and I hardly could see 10 feet from the train. And yet, the feeling was indescribably good. As Woody Allen would say, wunnnderful!

I keep asking myself what is it about us that we yearn for things from the past. In a single word, the answer is nostalgia. There is not another feeling that makes us feel so good.

I am in Nagercoil for the next week. My plans after that are very tentative. I beg readers of this blog to be patient with my erratic posting. And Happy New Year to you guys. I am sure many of you are planning a blast. If not go ahead and have one. Don’t wave at these moments as they pass by.

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I fell ill

I have had a hectic month. Besides I fell ill. Now after spending three days in hospital last week, I am together again. I should be again posting regularly in the new year. Sorry to all the readers who kept coming back in the last few days. Good news is I have seen some good movies and will be posting about them.

Randoming again

Another blog about nothing much at all, except my thoughts, which opposite to everything I have learnt in Journalism School, are horizontal rather than vertical – inverted pyramid. This blog, never made public before, is from around the time G.K.Vasan quit as Cong Chief.

Have you ever felt the need to write? Like this bubbling, overflowing feeling that you have to spill your thoughts on paper or in this case onto a blog? What do you do then? Well I, for one, am gonna sit on it. Have a cup of tea, smoke a while. Sleep might come, after all.
What was the lead in the paper last night? EC is trying to get political parties to agree to something very simple: Spent only Rs 25 lakh on a Lok Sabha seat and Rs 10 lakh on a Assembly seat. But parties won’t agree. The debate is between whether a cap can be put on how much the candidate spends in addition to what the party spends or just one these. Bigger parties don’t want cap on candidate expenditure. The Left, as usual can’t agree on what it wants. Nitopal Basu wants a cap and CPI’s D. Raja doesn’t.
The other major story is that G.K. Vasan is being eased out of the top post in the TN Congress Committee. He is put in charge of the election panel, but an unknown, Krishnaswamy, will head the party in the state. It’s tough job, mine, to edit these stories. Because on the above stories, reporters write about 700 words each. Who will read this crap I don’t know. For me the story of the day was, a robot named after Philip K Dick, the short story writer, going missing. Now that I will read 200 words on that! On the EC story give me three paras. On G.K.Vasan give me one. I think papers should publish just two pages of news with no pictures. May be a graphic once in a while. Who approves?

*******
I kinda burned out. Will be back. see you after Christmas. BTW, I don’t believe in Christianity, but I like Christ. He was a good man. Have you read The Idiot?

E

Watched E yesterday. came back feeling very disappointed. this anti-hero thing is turning out to be the worst thing that happened to Tamil cinema in this decade.

Let’s assume that Danush in Pudhupettai was the prototype for this behavior. I get a creeping feeling that the anti-hero in his complex form is just gonna keep evolving for years until we are sick and tired of him. he will just get more and more vulgar and obscene as time goes by. In E, the hero justifies his lack of morality by essentially saying that he grew up in poverty, had no father and the villains are all anyway much worse than him. Here are the laws of behavior of the anti-hero and their love interests.

1. Guys are either mafia henchmen or smalltime porukki. They cheat and murder as if to make up for the time when heroes in Tamil cinema never murdered.
2. Girls fall in love with the porukki because they sense that beneath the gruff exterior is a good man.
3. Girls place smartness over goodness.
4. The baddies are only slightly worse that the hero. they dont even have the moral centre that heroes have. we identify with the hero not because we see ourselves in him but because they simply spend more time onscreen than the villain.
5. Girls make half hearted attempts to reform the hero, but are never successful.
6. Women are more brazen than men when it comes to sex. males in the audience are supposed to feel thrilled by the sexual permissiveness of the on screen female.

Sigh, I yearn for the days when the hero was the knight in the shining armour and the heroine was the damsel in distress. I yearn for the days when violence and revenge was a romantic idea and was not so cinematically real.

To be fair, there are wonderful moments in the movie. But all in all it just got too sick for me. May be the movie wasn’t funny enough or ironical enough or something.

A word on Devi Bala. Pathetic theatre. It’s in the basement, where there is no mobile signal and, worse, no oxygen. the sound was bad and from the back row about four inches from the top of the screen was cut off. I suppose it will be better when the renovation in Devi comes to an end.

My room

The bed in my room is six feet long. My life is spend in a 10 feet circle around it.

Kamal

(I was supposed to post this on Metblogs, but can’t finish now. May be you will read it. I intend to finish it sometime in the near future…)

I imagine a lean choreographer cycling to meet K. Balachander to get his first break in cinema as actor. I imagine this man, who looked a bit like Bruce Lee, to be passionate and talented. This man was to influence actors and audiences in India more than any other that come to my mind.

Born in 1954 in Paramakudi, Kamal Hassan had a spectacular debut in film, winning as a six-year-old his first National award. He would later dismiss his performance. “I was just following instructions,” he has said in many interviews.

After a brief period in which he was choreographer, Kamal entered the first great school of modern Tamil cinema – K. Balachander. Apoorva Raagangal, was a typical Balachander film, both experimental and contrived. The director, without really meaning to, was to introduce the other great star of Tamil cinema Ranjikanth in the same movie. Though Kamal had acted in many films before this one, it was this movie I imagine really launched his career.

Strangely enough, Kamal, however, kept his romance with Malayalam cinema alive. I imagine he would have loved its quiet, independent spirit. I have seen him in some of these films. His accent is deeply flawed, though his mastery over the language is admirable. It was, perhaps, this early flirtation that would enable the actor to emerge from Balachander’s shadow when his own box office power enabled him to turn producer first and then ultimately director.

Even as MGR and Sivaji Ganeshan’s star was on the decline, three films released in the late 70s would prove to be important for Kamal. Sigappu Rojakkal and 16 Vayathinile, his movies with the other great director of modern Tamil cinema, Bharathiraja…

On Mel Gibson

“There is a tendency, at least among journalists, to take Mr. Gibson as either a monster or a genius, a false choice that he frequently seems intent on encouraging. Is he a madman or a visionary? Should he be shunned or embraced? Censured or forgiven?

These are the wrong questions, but their persistence reveals the truth about this shrewd and bloody-minded filmmaker. He is an entertainer. He will be publicized, and he will be paid.”

A.O. Scott, in his review of Apocalypto.
Read the full article here. Another article here.