Tamarind City

I know what you are thinking… It has taken me far too long to read this book. A book which is about my favorite place on earth – Chennai. A book written by someone associated with my favorite publication – The Hindu.

I want to say Ghosh nailed it. But I can’t… He gets close though. The book starts off slow and Ghosh ambles on about his love for Chennai and we wait for the book to focus…. On chennai. It does and he ensures that he travels the breadth and length of the city. From St Thomas mount to Sriperambathur, from Mylapore to Marina, from Triplicane to T M Krishna, from Appa Gardens to Amma, from George Town to Gymkhana club. Sometimes we feel that he has rearranged the archives from S Muthiah’s archives. But most of the time he sticks true to his quest.

Ghosh misses two very important facets of Chennai – koyambedu and kollywood. The koyambedu market is definitely a landmark that should feature in a travel book and kollywood is the arm candy of chennai. How did he miss that? Editorial arm wriggling?

But Tamarind city brings alive the streets of Chennai – the cacophony, chaos and the civility. We are painfully modest, traditional yet tech savvy, loyal yet accommodating… Chennai is truly where modern India began.

I read this book on a train ride from munich to vienna and instead of dreaming about the sights in the Austrian capital, Ghosh made me wistful of my filter Kappi. That my friend is a good book.

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The long road HOME

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In less than a week, my son will step foot on the land that is a part of me. This city that defines me, the cacophony that am at ease with and the roots that I cling on to. He will see for the first time the walls that I grew up in, the roads I travelled and the extended family that raised me.

He is still too young to understand India – The myriad contradictions, the restricting culture, the frustrating traditions and the free flowing banter that borders on the offensive. But he will be old enough to get kissed every time a pair of hands pick him up, the affection that envelops him like a cozy quilt on a cold day, the aromas that linger from his parents childhood, the granny who wants to nestle him on her lap with her fingers lacing through his hair singing sweet lullabies.

His arrival will be celebrated like Diwali,his grandparents will wait on him hand and foot. The auto drivers will willingly take him on a drive, the flower lady will deliver extra garlands just for him to rip, the fruit vendor will give him bananas for free just by patting his cheek wishing him to grow fat, even the Ganesha in the corner will bat his lashes welcoming him home. Babysitting will be done without request, cows and dogs will parade for his meal time entertainment and the television will provide the much needed white noise. Here is where he will be the center of the world, the star of the show and king of an entire clan.

My son will love my city. The city that is a part of my identity and the language that I resort to in happiness and grief. He will see the grand marina – soak in its water and realize beaches have tides and warm water. He will step foot in countless temples with the puliyodharai and sakkarai pongal defining a new level of deliciousness. He will ride in all modes of transportation from cars to bullock carts. There will be shocks but there will also be surprises.

In less than a week my son will see where I come from. India – complex yet comforting, aggressive yet adoring, nosy yet devoting, confining yet generous. My hope is that on this long road home, he learns an important life lesson – To always look on the bright side.

ENDHIRAN – Get Ready folks!!!

ENDHIRAN – About time i wrote something about this movie. There has so much hoopla over it that i spent all my time reading about it, watching and revelling…now its time for my two cents.

I’m definitely not reviewing ENDHIRAN ..what can i say that you have not already heard.. 
Right from the time pictures leaked from Manchu Pinchu, audio launch in Malaysia, Trailer release – we have followed the movie’s release and when Endhiran hit theaters – it was Diwali a month sooner.

No, i don’t want to hear about the ticket price, his age, budget etc.. redirect to my review of Shivaji and you will know why.

Rajnikanth has a charm, a personality that will always enthrall his fans and when directors like Shankar understand that and deliver on our expectations, it is a bonanza. We get to see Superstar in our favourite avatars – If shivaji had Billa & Baasha to please our palette, Endhiran has Avargal, Mullum Malarum and the new age scientist. Aishwarya Rai is so tolerable in this movie that i almost like her.

Although Endhiran is not for die hard fans like me, it definitely is a movie par excellence and am i grateful that Kamal and SRK refused. It has set new standards, silenced critics and has once again proved us worthy of being Thalaivar’s fans :))

Next time Superstar movie releases make sure you get tickets FDFS, the crowd, mayhem and the screams will make you understand the adrenaline rush and the brand value of Rajnikanth.

Un Pear Sonnathum, Perumai Sonnathum Kadalum Kadalum Kai thatum… – Ithu eppadi iruku?

Raavanan – Plunges

Enough has been said about Ravan and Raavanan… from Big B to behindwoods everybody has lauded, raved and critiqued. So my review is going to be crisp…

Thumbs-Up

  • Vikram, Vikram and Vikram: He shines throughout the movie. The effort, portrayal and passion is flawless. The entire movie rides on his wide shoulders and when he plunges everything goes down with him. Makes me wonder if Abhishek would fit the bill…
  • Cinematography – Breathtaking visuals and never-seen-before angles. Applause to Santhosh sivan & Manikandan
  • Priyamani – She eludes strength and almost goes unnoticed, but deserves credit. Perfect, clean shot.
  • Rohini – Dubbing for Ash… its was not very easy for her but you win even when ash fails.

Thumbs-Down: (needless to say this is going to be long)

  • Story & Screenplay – Weak.. which is very surprising for Mani Ratnam as a director. He was the one who gave us everyday lives with finesse and conviction, made us beleive in the protoganists, perfect air-tight scripts. A big let-down.
  • Dialogues – For heaven’s sake Suhasini, please let us be… go do your talkies or something else….
  • Prithvi – Mani Ratnam movie was a feather on his cap but his role gets nothing but a big yawn.
  • Aishwarya – No expectations to begin with, except for her eyes, i can think of a handful of heroines who would have essayed her character 10 times better. Mani look beyond the bachan clan… there is talent, beleive me.
  • Costumes – Even i could have dressed up aishwarya better. She is a dancer but what is with the giant skirt salwars and 50s hair style? Nalini Sriram would have been a better pick.
  • Stellar Scenes – S-O-R-R-Y(Roja), Kambili poochi uruthu(Mouna Ragam), Thundering(Agni Natchathiram), Nee azhaga irukenu nenaikala…,Neenga nallavara Kettavara, En Devava konutiyeda.. No such scenes. SIGH.. Double and Triple SIGH!!!!

I could not categorize the music in either cases, BGM was good but songs do not mesmerize you except for a couple of them – Usure Poguthey and Veera. Partly to blame, is the humongous burden of expectation which Mani did not stand up to while picturizing them.

Lets hope next time around Mani takes the time to read my blog before directing a movie. WINK!!!WINK!!!