Monday, February 02, 2015

Brady's 4th

It's been a long time. I don't even know if the blog world still has some life in it or not(i still can't believe orkut is gone). I have been thinking about getting back to penning down my thoughts for a few months now and i couldn't have found a better time than now, i feel.

The New England Patriots are the Super Bowl Champions after exactly a decade! When i started following football seriously, Brady-Belichick combo already had 3 rings. I was an instant fan of Brady and eventually started rooting for Belichick and the New England Patriots. Over the last 9 years of following football, i have had 3 major heartbreaks(2 NE losses and 1 Indy win :P) and 7 minor ones. A 0-2 Super Bowl record is no fun. When the Pats lost the 2012 SB, i was really worried if i would get to see Brady win another ring. I did not lose hope though, much like the spirit of this NE team. There is always hope when Belichick and Brady are together and that's what they showed last night. 2 crucial interceptions would have crushed the spirit of most QBs. But, Brady is special. The kind of resolve he showed and the two 4th quarter TDs were testament to that. Belichick showed his master mind when he chose not to call the timeout with Seattle on the 1 yard line and very little time left on the clock. The pressure was back on Seattle and a "against the norm" throw call on 2nd down did it for the Pats. What a nice interception that was, by Butler! What stood out to me, was the post-match interview by Brady. When asked about what was running through his mind, when Kearse caught that weird catch on the last drive, he said "i thought 'that's unbelievable. Now we have to prepare for another drive and score.'". That's the kind of mentality he has. That's the kind of mentality Belichick preaches. It's never over. There is always hope!

Now, Brady's tied with 1 other NFL player for the most Super Bowl appearances, tied with 1 player for the most Super Bowl MVP awards and tied with 2 other QBs for the most Super Bowl wins. All this is more than enough to make him the best QB ever to have played the game, but i don't like these tied stats. Let's own it all, Brady! There's always hope!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Penthouse Pauper

Man 1: Do you know that there are thugs who kidnap children from the slums, blind their eyes, make them beg on the streets and get a living out of that? I learnt about it from the Slumdog Millionaire movie.
Man 2: I see. A tad worse than people who show the ill fortunes of slum dwellers in a movie and make millions out of it, definitely. The Penthouse Paupers are a little better.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Good Fortune

There are times when you just look up at the sky, and thank God with your arms wide open, for giving you enough sense to not pursue something that you were totally crazy about, which if you had, would have been devastating for you.

PS: visited India and had the best time of my life(in a long long time) for 46 whole days(Nov 24-Jan 8). it's official - i hate to be back here.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Happy Birthday, Kamal!

வயதைத் தொலைத்தவன் யாரு?


நீடூழி வாழ்க!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Happy Birthday, Shah Rukh

My birthday wishes to a warm and passionate actor.
God Bless.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Thursday, October 02, 2008

My Second Water Fast

...has just begun. Trying to replicate last year's effort. When i successfully completed it last time, i was hoping to do it more often, but never found the motivation. Hope i have the mental strength to go through it one more time... - (12:01 am)

(3:00 pm) - Not bad at all. But, this phase was relatively easy last year as well. After 7 pm is when the struggle begins...time to remember the Mahatma on his 139th birthday :)

(10:00 pm) - It's very hard to believe how easy it has been so far. This is so different from last year's experience where the temptation to give up was very high late in the evening.
After work, i went to the the San Diego State University, with a friend, to attend a speech titled, "Mahatma Gandhi and Religious Pluralism: The Relevance for World Peace", by Dr.Nicolas Gier. It was quite an intriguing speech which interpreted Gandhiji's stance on religion and equated it to Religious Pluralism. I was not very comfortable though, with some of the speaker's answers to questions that were clearly not from his area of expertise. I felt he gave an incorrect picture of Gandhiji's stand on non-violence, in particular. But it was good to see the audience defend Gandhiji. Sure it was a prejudiced crowd, but it was still a heartening sight. The speech was preceded by a Bharathanaattiyam performance by a couple of local girls, dancing to "Vaishnava Janato" and "Vande Maataram".
90 more minutes. I am starting to feel confident...

(12:01 am, Oct 3) - time for some well deserved pineapple juice...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sixty One

Happy Independence Day to all the Indians out there.

Happy 61st birthday, Independent India! :)

Monday, July 07, 2008

Wimbledon '08

What a Finals! It's always great to see these two challenge against each other(except on clay, ofcourse :P) and it was no different on Sunday. A 5-set cliffhanger which Nadal won 9-7 in the final set. Phew! What a relief, i say :D
Until the 4th set, the game was not very different from the '07 Finals, in which Federer won the 1st and 3rd sets in tie-breaks. Here, he won the 3rd and 4th sets in tie-breaks after losing the first two 4-6, 4-6. The tie-breaks were the highlight of this game, with both players producing some unbelievable winners. Thankfully for Nadal and me, 5th sets in Wimbledon don't have tie-breaks. ;)

Nadal had an excellent opportunity to wrap it up in the 4th when he served 5-2 in the tie-break. He served a double-fault at the wrong time and then went to net for a volley, only to see Federer whip an amazing backhand winner(passing shot) to bring the tie-break back on serve. Federer went on to win the tie-break 10-8.

At that point, it seemed like deja vu from last year's Finals. Federer annihilated Nadal in the final set last year and won the deciding set 6-2. This year he had to contend with a man who had gained a lot of experience over the past 52 weeks. Nadal was not going to give up. He was pretty much holding on to the game in the fifth when Federer fired some amazing aces. The eagerly awaited break came in the 15th game of the set. It was Nadal's golden chance to win the Championship, after failing to do so in three attempts earlier in the match(all on serve). He held his nerve and his serve and served it out like a champion, forcing an error from Federer, to win the set 9-7. Oh yes, Wimbledon's got a new champion!

This surely means the end of Federer era, atleast in my books. He has to lose the US Open later this year(a full year without winning a Grand Slam), and then it will take him a lot of time to understand what went wrong, by which time a lot more would have gone wrong! Well, it might sound like wishful thinking, but it has been my instinct for over a year now, that this was not far from happening. He will probably equal Pete's record of 14- maybe even better it by 1, but it will take a lot of self-confidence and a lot of luck to equal Pete's 7, let alone better it.

As far as Nadal is concerned, the future is looking absolutely bright! This was a worthy reward for his perseverance! He still has the goal of reaching the top spot. That will keep him motivated. He will also know that his serve needs to improve. He can't afford to lose crucial tie-breaks the way he does now. He is definitely not the classy type, like a Sampras or a Federer, but he is the type that is hard to beat and is always getting better. He has age on his side too. He will stay focused until he claims that coveted number one spot. How far beyond can he go depends on his focus "after" he becomes number 1. For now, it looks inevitable that he will be number 1 in about a year's time or sooner.

The Finals was absolutely worth spending over 7 hours on(rain delays and all)! Tennis rocks, thanks to contests like this!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Dhasaavadhaaram (Spoiler Alert)

Oam Namoa NaaraayaNaaya...

Yes. This movie is incomplete if we discount religion. This is an out and out religious movie. But wait, the religion being preached is not Sri VaishNavism, nor Saivism, nor Hinduism in general, nor Islam, nor Christianity, nor Sikhism. No, not even Science. The religion being preached is Humanism, a religion that must be preached and used extensively to convert indifferent masses into followers. It is the religion that our planet needs at this juncture. Faith in humanity is the need of the hour. So, why did i start the blog the way i did and not by saying "Hail Humanity" or some such thing? Because, being a follower of humanity does not mean that i cannot follow another religion. That is the beauty of humanity. It lets you live for yourself, as long as you care for others around you, as long as your religion does not forbid you from being compassionate towards fellow human beings. That is the top priority. As long as you follow the hierarchy, you can embrace any religion you want in addition to humanity. So, that is what the movie is trying to say, and i believe that everything in the movie can be explained using this theory.

It also says that men control the happenings of this planet to a large extent, whereas some things are out of their control. Owing to the inability to understand such exceptions, men must not come to believe that "everything" is being controlled by an entity that is not "human". It sounds atheistic, but it is not false. Most religions ask men to do their duty if they want to reach God's abode. So, in a way, it is a theistic viewpoint too. We are already beginning to see the beauty of this movie, i believe. There is a positive message for everyone- theist or atheist, Hindu or Muslim, as long as they choose to close their "moodakkaN" and see the movie using their "nyaanakkaN"!

Kamal, God and Religion:
There is a notion that Kamal is being anti-some-religion, instead of atheistic. Let us conduct a debate amongst representatives from different religions and castes to see if they can dispel that notion. This is just my imagination and in no way represents holistically how a member from any of these communities will behave typically. I let them take it away...

Muslim: What a biased movie! Everything happens because of PerumaaL? After all, Kamal was born as an iyengar, wasn't he? It's in his blood.
Vaishnavite: What on earth are you talking about? He shows that 200 odd Muslims are saved because they were inside a mosque. Obviously, he means Allah is the savior.
Muslim: What nonsense? He implies that it happened only because the Govindaraajar idol that made its presence in our man's household.
Christian: Oh yes. The Hindu God helps the Muslim family, and the mosque saves them all, thanks to Allah. He killed our representative, didn't he?
Saivite: Stop it! It is Vishnu who helps the family, not Siva. Saivites are shown as rowdies.
Vaishnavite: Is that right? It is only because of what the Saivite king does, does the statue reach the bottom of the sea, thereby altering the arrangement of the tectonic plates as time goes by, and causes the tsunami, thereby saving millions of lives that would have been lost otherwise, because of the virus. The only men with divine powers are shown to be the Saivites. Atleast, he showed the Muslims as ordinary men, and their God as supreme. But in your case, he showed that your men are by themselves Godlike in nature.
Saivite: Oh. But, the Sikh is the one who undergoes a miracle. Is his God better than our Gods??
Sikh: Oye, Oye. Were your eyes shut when he shows that the Hindu, comes into the dressing room and that is why our mundaa is saved??
Muslim: Nahin. He prays to Guru's photo. That is why he is saved. isn't it?
Sikh: Nice try! One small simran...matlab, prayer. That's all??
Saivite: What- that won't save the man? There was only one prayer for our God too. Only the Vaishnavite got many prayers.
Vaishnavite: Aahaa! Prayers! My foot! Everything was so ridiculing of our traditions and customs and most importantly our beliefs!
Muslim: Enough, man. Ridicule or otherwise. Everyone was saved only because of that idol and all the prayers that the heroine sang. There was no trace of any of our men doing namaas. Only the occasional "Ya Allah", and that too casually, almost mockingly.
Sikh: What about the truck which takes the police to the hospital, man? There is a Siva Linga picture in that truck. And we all know that the inspector diverts Fletcher's attention by handcuffing Mallika and also comes back in the end to tip off the hero to not goto the local police. So, Siva is also shown to be a savior.
Saivite: What? I did not notice!
Vaishnavite: Maybe you were too busy only noticing scenes where he was ridiculing the Saivites!
Saivite: What better are you?? Anyways, the scene following that, Kamal lands on a truck from the top of a bridge and there is "Sri Rama Jayam" written on that truck, along with Sangu and Chakkaram. What have you to say for that??
Vaishnavite: And the man poses like our Lord Ranganatha! Again thrusting his belief in, that man is God!
Christian: Dudes. What are you talking about man? What should i say then? Just churchbells a couple of times. That's all!
Sikh: Arre. The boat where the hero and the heroine and even the Hindu idol rest in the end is on top of a church, meaning that Jesus saved them all, including the Hindu God, isn't it?
Vaishnavite: Yes, yes.
Christian: What yes, yes? What about the Anti-Christ symbol?
Saivite: What is that?
Christian: The symbol on the hero's forehead, when a bullet scrapes his skin. He wears a bandage that symbolises Anti-Christ. So, the hero of the movie is against our God! Isn't that enough proof of what the man thinks about our religion?
Sikh: What are you guys talking about, yaar?
Muslim: I did not know that. But who is the hero of the movie? I thought it was your man Vincent only. He is the one who is called "Ulaga Naayagan".
Saivite: Oh, yes. Never struck me. I thought it was the scientist guy.
Christian: Yeah, right! Already he is shown as a Dalit. Now, you tell me he is the hero? Am not your bakra.
Sikh: What if he is a Dalit? He is shown wearing the cross. He is a Christian.
Christian: Well, maybe. But, he is a Dalit. What about the Fletcher guy? He is the villain and what first name did Kamal choose for him?? Christian! What blasphemy!
Saivite: Yeah, well. It's just a name. Don't read too much into it, man.
Christian: Just a name? Right! What about the hurried fashion in which he asks the priest to do the rituals and the way he shows his finger to Mallika when they get married? Dude. He has taken our customs for a ride!
Vaishnavite: Not as much as ours anyways.
Christian: Yeah, right.
Muslim: Forget it. What about the name of the monkey? Does that not show he is a Hindu devout.
Christian: What is special about Anu?
Vaishnavite: Not Anu. It is Hanu! He has named a monkey using our God's name!
Sikh: Ye Hanu kaun hain yaar?
Muslim: You keep quiet, man.
Sikh: Oh man! Gotcha.
Muslim: But he is a monkey-God, right? He even says that it is an intelligent monkey, meaning that your God is intelligent. Why do you feel bad when he aptly named the monkey, man?
Saivite: Intelligent? How about when he calls it "little devil"??
Sikh: Arre. That's just a joke, man.
Vaishnavite: I don't care. He's anyways an incarnation of Siva. So, it is the Saivite's problem.
Saivite: Oh, come on. Hanu...i mean, Hanuman is a devotee of Rama, who is an incarnation of Vishnu. It is your problem.
Muslim: Kyaa bakwaas hai yaar! I thought he was endorsing your religion, and you see it as a problem? Maybe we need better understanding of each other's religions.
Others: Yes, yes.
Vaishnavite (continues for a couple of seconds longer than the others): Yes, yes.
Christian: What yes, yes? Don't be a hypocrite. Admit that he showed your God to be supreme.
Vaishnavite: No, our God is not supreme.
Others: Aaah!!
Vaishnavite (embarrassed): I mean, Kamal did not show it that way at all!

Alright. I think they have shown us enough. They agree that they need to understand each other better. After all, they need to live in harmony if this country of ours is to prosper. They'll be fine, am sure.

I can safely say that Kamal is an atheist and is absolutely against the concept of God, irrespective of religion. That does not mean that he is intolerant towards believers. He is not. But, he sure wishes for a world where humanity stands at the top of all religions. He is definitely not claiming that man is God. Infact, he almost yearns for that to be true by pointing out how men are unable to control everything. So, when it seems like he is ridiculing God, he is only ridiculing the people who have blind faith in God. He cannot ridicule God, because he does not believe in God. Believers will do well if they understood this fact.

Very, very simple and straightforward. A group of scientists discover a virus that has the potential to kill millions of people. The bad scientist wants to sell it to a bad guy, Q, for money. The good scientist tries to save the world from this virus. He is followed by an ex-CIA agent, who is an ally of Q, who tries to get the virus and kill the good scientist. A lot of events happen, and millions of lives are saved in the end by a tsunami which destroys the virus but takes away thousands of lives in return...

60 crores was spent on the movie, and about 2.5 crores on Kamal's make-ups alone. What can you do with a few crore rupees spent on graphics? You saw that in the movie. I saw the movie in an ordinary theatre the first time and really felt embarassed by the graphics. I watched it in a very good theatre the second time, and the graphics looked way better! I have seen tens and tens of Hollywood movies with excellent graphics, and to my eyes, the graphics looked reasonably good. Imagine someone watching it for the first time in a tamil movie. It must have blown his mind off. The graphics are by no means perfect. But, they have done a pretty good job with the money they got.

"Kallai Mattum" and "Mukundhaa" are awesome. You'll start liking "Oh Oh Sanam" and "Ulaga Naayaganae" after a few times. I certainly did. The BGM was pretty good, except for that one chase scene after the inspector is sent off to the hospital. Fletcher chases Govind and the music makes you cringe. But, except for that one instance, the BGM was pretty good, exceptional at times.

Now, let us talk about the much-hyped aspect of the movie- its screenplay. It is not simple- given. But, giving up without even trying to understand what it is about is a bit disappointing. What the screenplay tries to say is that things of astronomical proportions do not happen just like that, spontaneously, by the flick of a finger, or atleast not specifically because a finger was flicked! The sequence of events happen in a particular order owing to small contributions by infinite number of factors. This is what "Chaos Theory" is about. An extension of that is the "Butterfly Effect", on which this movie is based. It says that a butterfly flapping its wings in Africa can cause a cyclone in America. Ofcourse, the butterfly by itself does not have the power to generate a cyclone. But, since it flapped its wings when it did and where it did, things happen in a particular sequence, the end result of which is the cyclone in America.

This can be explained by taking very many examples. Let's say am on my way to work in my car, and the car breaks down. So, i get down and board a taxi. The driver guy drops me off at my workplace, and heads out of the parking lot, when his cab gets hit by a truck. Now, he gets badly injured and loses a leg. So, he gives up being a taxi driver, and takes up welding, where he can do well without a leg. There he gets into an accident, and loses his vision. He lives the rest of his life under the care of his wife and son, who had to stop going to school and take up a job at a young age in order to support his family. The family that had a decent income and a content life is now in shambles. Why? Because my car broke down! Ofcourse, nobody intended it to be that way, but that's how it turned out to be. We can extend this even further to trace why my car broke down, and the "blame" will goto someone else. (It is a different thing that when we run out of people to blame, we resort to blaming God, the believers, i mean). I hope you get the idea. Now, Dhasaavadhaaram says exactly that in a very very commercial way! There are 10 Kamals and so many others who are responsible for the vial reaching the sea and the tsunami occuring at that same exact time.

I think tsunami is the confusing part for most. Although he doesn't say that clearly, it is obvious that the statue that sinks in the 12th century goes on to disturb the tectonic plates' structure in some small way, which centuries later erupts out as a tsunami. The fact that the statue comes out is an indication that it settled down somewhere near the epicenter of the earthquake that causes the tsunami. Ofcourse, Rangarajan Nambi delayed the inevitable(sinking of the statue), and also increased its mass, altering the position in, force with and time at which it would have landed on the ocean bed otherwise. Each of the other Kamal characters play their part voluntarily(Govind, Fletcher, Bush) and/or involuntarily(the others including Bush, Govind and Fletcher) and take responsibility for the end result. Worth the hype, i say!

Are the other characters(besides the ones played by Kamal) not responsible? Ofcourse, they are! So, why did Kamal play 10 roles and not 7 or 14? Because of the title! It is a movie which suggests that men are closest to being Godlike, that men control most of the happenings of the planet knowingly or unknowingly. There has to be a religious connection, and hence the title. Since the title was chosen to be Dasaavadhaaram, it was only apt that he did 10 roles. That can be used for commercializing the movie as well, and it is already turning out to be a mega hit for that precise reason. For those of you who are not very fond of Kamal, i empathize with your feelings. It was probably an overdose for you all. But, deep down, you must have enjoyed something about every single character of his in the movie, am sure. If not, it's debate for another day.

Now, let's take a look at some of the subtle things in the screenplay, things that play a part in making sure that the vial reaches the sea exactly at that time, thereby saving millions of lives, taking away thousands of lives which were going to be lost anyways(Ofcourse, Kamal doesn't stop short of blaming science as well, for failing to save the lives, when the satellites failed to do what they were expected to do). Let's forget some of the obvious ones like:
1. Avtar Singh's introduction scene at the airport, where he diverts the Singh inspector's attention and unknowingly helps Fletcher and Jasmine get away from the airport.
2. The truck which saves Kamal when he falls off from the bridge. If it hadn't been there at that time, Fletcher would have gone to Chidambaram and acquired the vial without any trouble.
3. The paatti dropping the vial into the idol. Otherwise, Govind could have gotten away from there before Fletcher arrived.
4. Bush letting the flight goto India.
5. Avtar coming out of the hospital, making Fletcher take the stairs because there are police around. Govind who is inside the elevator escapes because of that.
The not so obvious ones:
1. When Nambi is about to be dropped into the sea along with the statue, the king Napoleon makes gestures with his hands asking the boatmen to go further into the sea. Maybe if they hadn't, the statue would have landed in a different place in the sea bed and there wouldn't have been a tsunami, on that date and time at the least.
2. When Sairam sends 5 packages to India: The guy there says that he could try calling the airport and stop the package. Sairam tries to retrieve the receipt but notices that Kamal is getting away with his BMW and rushes out, forgetting all about calling the airport. Had the guy called at that time, the package might have not reached India.
3. When Yuka gets killed, Fletcher leaves a bomb in the apartment. That seems unnecessary. But, remember she tries to throw it at the helicopter and it narrowly misses? Imagine what if it had hit the target...Fletcher might have been dead, and it would have taken Mr.Q some time to find another man for the job, and who knows what that man could have done?
4. The elephant that goes wild: Fletcher almost grabs the idol, but the elephant doesn't let him grab it. If he had, end of story.

None of the characters in these scenarios intended to play a part in making sure that the vial reaches the sea during the tsunami. But, that's exactly the end result of their actions. Am sure there are many more such scenes. It'll take me a few more viewings to spot them all. But, to single-handedly come up with such a complicated screenplay and make it near perfect takes a genius. It took exactly that- a genius. I say near perfect because i noticed a couple of flaws in the movie.
1. "Don't ruin my weekend, man" - the guy says it on a Monday. It's near Christmas and it's presumable that that was the man's last day at work for some time. But, yes, it is far-fetched.
2. "Koormamaaga maNNil thoandRi boomi thannai meettaai" - The paatti poses as Varaagam when this line is sung. This is kind of unbelievable for me, coming from Kamal. Maybe they did not find an easy way to show a tortoise, to match Vaali's lyrics. The saving grace is that Asin does not point her hands towards the cloth screen for the audience to look at it, like she does for each one of the other avatars.

There is an argument on how ridiculous it is to show a bullet taking away tumor. First of all, it is not illogical. So, that cannot be considered a flaw. The scene, in my opinion, is there in the movie to depict that some things are not in humans' hands. Miracles do happen, and make a mockery of science and technology. This is another example to show that the movie is not totally atheistic. It tries to portray that while humans can control a lot of things in this planet, not everything is in their hands. To conclude...

What i heard the first time...

Asin: "neenga kadavuL illannu mattum sollaadhaengoaLaen" ("Don't you say that there is no God")
Kamal: "ayyayyo. naan kadavuL illannu enganga sonnaen? .......irundhaa nallaa irukkumNu dhaan sonnaen" ("When did i say that there is no God? I am just saying that it'd be nice if there was God")

What i have been hearing from the second time onwards...

Asin: "neenga kadavuL illannu mattum sollaadhaengoaLaen" ("Don't say that you are not God!")
Kamal: "ayyayyo. naan kadavuL illannu enganga sonnaen? .......irundhaa nallaa irukkumNu dhaan sonnaen" ("When did i say that i am not God? I am just saying that it'd be nice if i was!")