Dec 26, 2009

Star On-screen Performers 2000 - 2009

Another list of the Star On-screen Actors who debuted during 2000 - 2009

Hrithik Roshan – For sure, he made a dashing debut in Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai before stealing the performance in Koi mil Gaya apart from appearing a zillion forgettable movies.

Madhavan – The boy next door in Alaipayuthey performed extra-ordinarily in Nala Damayanti (Ramji Londonwaley) and many other Tamil movies.

Vikram – An actor who was overlooked for most of the last decade, had a new lease of life in Sethu and excelled in roles including Pithamagan and Anniyan.

Surya – An unlucky actor last decade, found his luck in Khakka Khakka and Nandha before settling for ‘Vijay’ish roles in Ayan and Aadhavan.

Dhanush – For someone thin and un-heroic like him, this Kadhal Konden star has come a really long way.

Jothika – My favorite female star had eyes and expressions that could speak a 1000 words and she made the best use of it in many many memorable movies.

Katrina Kaif – Not my favorite, but she sure has lucky charm to make any movie she stars in a hit; just hope her acting gets better too!

Priyanka Chopra – Surely a star-performer including her roles in Fashion, Aitraaz and What’s Your Rashee?

Preity Zinta – Though she debuted during the last decade, she made her mark in an un-wed mother’s role in Kya Kehna and then made herself a worthy star with movies like Dil Chahta Hai, Salaam Namaste etc.

Kareena Kapoor – Will never call her a good performer except for Jab We Met, but she has survived this decade and is going strong!

Abhishek Bachchan – Probably another actor whom Mani Ratnam gets the best out of (Guru and Yuva).

Asin – Kalpana in Ghajini is probably one of the most chirpy characters in recent Tamil/Hindi cinema; hope she gets more laurels.

Konkana Sen Sharma – No one could have enacted her role in Mr. and Mrs. Iyer or 15 Park Avenue or Life In a Metro or Luck By Chance; she is a boon to Indian movies.

Ranbir Kapoor – Almost written off after a dud in Saawariya, he is now the pin-up boy after an extremely enjoyable Wake Up Sid and Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani.

Emraan Hashmi – This serial kisser had good music and decent storylines in a few of his movies and made a mark.

Mallika Sherawat – Partially responsible for giving Emraan Hashmi a successful career; and no one can break the record 17 smooches on screen.

Star directors 2000 - 2009

Continuing with the list star performer this decade, here's a list of star directors who debuted during 2000-2009.

Rajkumar Hirani – For his Munnaibhai series which had a dose of message along with good humor, this director of 3 Idiots deserves a big applause.

Anurag Kashyap – For Black Friday, Dev D and Gulaal, all within a span of 3 years, this director has been a consistent experimenter; Indian cinema needs more people like him.

Ashutosh Gowarikar – Re-invented himself with Lagaan and went on to make Swades and Jodhaa Akbar before he faltered with What’s Your Rashee? (I loved the movie though!).

Sriram Raghavan – With Ek Hasina Thi and Johny Gaddar, this creative guy re-designed the genre of thrillers.

Shimit Amin – Surely needs to applauded for Ab Tak Chappan, Chak De India and more recently Rocket Singh.

Gautham Menon – Gave the real-life couple Jothika and Surya, a new lease of life with a fresh Khakka Khakka after giving a routine Minnale and before giving an honest Varanam Aayiram; looking forward to Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaya.

Jeeva – This late cinematographer turned director gave a realistic Ullam Kaekume and a creative 12B before passing away while shooting Dhaam Dhoom.

Selvaraghavan – Though I have never seen his earlier movies including Kadhal Konden and 7/G Rainbow Colong, he sure will find a watcher in me for his magnum opus Aayirathil Oruvan.

Bala – I haven’t watched a single movie of his either, but he brought the actors in Vikram and Surya to the forefront.

Farhan Akhtar – His name will surely be etched in golden letters in everyone’s cinema diaries for his evergreen Dil Chahta Hai.

Madhur Bhandarkar – By giving realistic movies about the showbiz in Page 3 and Fashion, he has establishing a fan following amongst the cine-goers.

Imtiaz Ali – Socha Na Tha was his best, Love Aaj Kal was practical, and Jab We Met was chirpy; he showed one could say simple stories in a different way with hilarious dialogs.

Karan Johar – Though he came around in 1998 with Kuch Kuch hota Hai, he redefined family dramas with Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham and also (falsely) showed the NRI families; turned into a successful TV host and a producer too!

Dec 25, 2009

Star Singers and Music Directors 2000 - 2009

While this decade 2000-09 was the time that I paid close attention to music, movies, and the trivia, there are many people that started off during this decade and have continued to excel in their respective fields. This list is not complete in any sense, and is just limited to Tamil and Hindi movie and music. I am just listing the names and a line about each of them, probably which catapulted them to a great position. I can probably write a blog about each of them. And no specific order as usual :)


Shreya Ghoshal – For her Dola Re to Jaadu Hai to Barso Re to her numerous Kannada melodies, she indeed was the queen of Indian music this decade.

Sonu Nigam – Though he sure was popular in the last decade, his popularity grew exponentially this decade, specially the title track of Kal Ho Na Ho and many Kannada songs brought him to the forefront in Indian music.

Harris Jayaraj – Entralled everyone with Vaseegara in Minnale (Zara Zara in RHTDM), and continues to do so occasionally when he doesn’t get repetitive.

Pritam – While his music being sourced from Korean/Malaysian music is a known secret, this man has carved a niche for himself in Hindi cinema and is unstoppable.

Himesh Reshamiya – For a nasal guy who braved to act, he has surely come a long way, with some foot-tapping numbers amidst noise.

Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy – The inimitable trio who started off just before the last decade ended, have redefined popular music by making it classy; and Kal Ho Na Ho, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom and many other albums are witnesses to that.

Vishal-Shekar – The duo behind quite a few wonderful numbers in the Hindi cinema including Tu Hai Aashiqui Hai and Om Shanti Om are not behind the trio either and excel in their own right.

Bombay Jayshree – The husky voice behind Vaseegara in Minnale (Zara Zara in RHTDM) was surely a welcome break from the sugary voiced female vocalists.
Yuvan Shankar Raja – Not exactly my favorite, but gave quite a few good numbers especially with the director Selvaraghavan.

Sadhana Sargam (in Tamil) – My favorite and will not be left of this list, got a big break in Snehidhane in Alaipayuthey with A.R.Rahman and went on to sing as many as 200 Tamil songs this decade apart from winning the National Aware and Filmfare Awards for the Best female Singer in Tamil. Quite an achievement for a non-Tamil singer.

Chinmayi – From Kannathil Muthamittal title track to Tere Bina and Mayya Mayya, and being a TV host, RJ and dubbing artiste, she’s made her presence felt well.

Dec 19, 2009

Two States

Accompanying me half way through my train journey over two states, this semi-auto-biographical novel 'Two States' by Chetan Bhagat was about his wedding with his South-Indian (read Madrasi) girl-friend with the consent of both families. Probably the first novel in a long time that I finished at one go, plus I am writing about.

Largely realistic, this novel starts off with the protogonist's life starting from IIMA and goes on to many cities including Delhi and Chennai. There are many instances that might irk the South-Indian reader in me (references to South-Indians and generalizing them), but he should be applauded for mocking at the typical Punjabi mannerisms and mentality, as well. This book clearly demonstrates, how an Indian marriage does not only take place between two individuals, but it is also the union of two families. This is handled really well, and I guess such writing comes only with real experience. Though based just 10 years back, the Indian society has changed a lot only in the past couple of years, and truly one needs to applaud the writer and his wife for braving through a lot of awkward situations.

A good light read and quick one too (I finished it in like 3 hours), but truly has all the essentials of a good movie - ample amount of romance, familial pressures, drama, comical encounters and more importantly, a touch of reality!

One thing that I really need to appreciate in Chetan's writing is the use of simple words that are used in day-to-day conversations (including the F-word) and this makes things easily relatable to. Though the father-son relationship becomes a little dramatic towards the end, I like the way the mother-son relationship including the taste of Punjabi greed is handled. Also, the money-thirsty nature of the protagonist (no offense intended) is also well showcased, the way the author apparently is in real life (in his own words). Also, the Tam Brahm situations are something that I see everyday in my family as well. Subtle references to IIT and IIM supremacy may not go down very well with the non-academic crowd, but will surely reach the audience it is targeted to.

Looking forward to read the other novel I bought - The Three Mistakes of my Life. May be on my way back! And also looking forward to Three Idiots, adapted from the author's Five Point Someone!

Chennai and me!

Chennai has always been a city that I could never relate to! I still don't know the reason why, but for a person from Bangalore who has never been in Chennai to appreciate living there, it has never been an impressive experience. Probably I might be wrong in saying so, since the places I visited such as the beaches, the temples and the VISA consulate were far far off from the 'happening' places.

The ever-crowded Ranganathan Street has offered a rich shopping experience to me, but not the same feel as shopping in a Bangalore store (I could probably liken it to Avenue Road shopping in Bangalore). And forget about the T-shirt section in those shops - do they even have some creativity in the wordings on those shirts? Lifestyle and stores in Spencer would definitely be better off though!

In addition, the food is something that all Tamilnadu restaurants fail on. Unlike the restaurants in Bangalore that offer you snacks and light meals throughout the clock, the restaurants I have been to in Chennai offer just meals during lunch. Any North Indian dish on the menu, is probably there just for the sake of completeness. And the world-famous Saravana Bhavan gave me such a disappointment, with no dishes on the menu except for their usual idli, dosa and uttappam.

Probably, Chennai has its share of warm people and good-natured ones! But, for a traveller who seeks good food and some happening atmosphere, Chennai failed miserably! I still love Coimbatore for that! Probably, I visited the wrong side of Singara Chennai! And probably I have been to Coimbatore too often :P

Un-noticed A.R.Rahman albums and songs

A post on largely unnoticed Tamil albums and songs of A.R. Rahman.

Anbae Idhu from Rhythm - This song depicting one of the elements of nature, sky was largely unnoticed. A song of sheer brilliance in terms of music arrangement, lyrics and rendition (except a few mis-pronunciations) was probably not picturised well and not shown on TV to make it popular among the masses. A classy song, and will always remain one of favorites.

I Miss You Da - This song probably features in an earlier post, but did people even know that this song existed? Too futuristic in terms of the music arrangement and the rendition, this song was probably the one well picturized song in the movie 'Sakkarakatti.' The singer and her alter-ego ooze passion into this song, and this song definitely deserved a better recognition.

Kaiyil Mithakkum and Nenjae Nenjae from Ratchakan were probably over-shadowed by the more popular Soniya and Chandiranai songs. One of the very few melodies that were rendered with a full heart by the singers.

Thigu Thigu from Ah Aah, just like I Miss you da had a futuristic feel to it, and a excellent instrumental arrangement, just to be ruined by a over-acting lead pair on screen.

Kadhal Vettukili from Parasuram was one song that I didn't know ARR had composed. One of the fast paced numbers and beautiful orchestration, was largely unnoticed yet again by the masses. Apparently, an RJ in Chennai plays this song often, since it is his favorite.

Kuliruthu Kuliruthu from Taj Mahal has such a wonderful feel to it, and the singers Swarnalatha and Unnikrishnan have done such a good job in this flawless melody.

Udhaya had a few good songs including the popular title track, but thanks to the delay in the movie release, the songs found a disinterested audience. Pookum Malarai is a wonderful track by Hariharan.

Not a comprehensive list as usual, but features a few of the missed ones. It's a nice thing to note that Mani Ratnam's songs have not found a place in this list. He somehow does just to the songs, though he might cut short a major portion of the song. This includes my ever-favorite Ay Hairathey Aashiqui in Guru, one song that I will never excuse Mani Ratnam for not picturizing completely.

Dec 7, 2009

Wake Up Sid! - A review

For a mind that needed some relaxation and a light movie to watch, I guess Wake Up Sid came as a refresher. Streamed on Netflix Instant Watch, I sat to watch it with no expectations (as always).

The character Sid was so close to relate to, especially with his happy-go-lucky nature and living on dad's money. I sure have done that, and I still am that way. Without having a clue of what to do next, the way he metamorphizes into a slightly responsible guy is portrayed so realistically. One thing that was praiseworthy was that, there was no drastic change in the guy's behaviour, while he begins working; he still is the same kid with some responsibility. A simple story, yet told in a such a beautiful and clean way. The relationship shown between the lead characters was a refreshing change. The college friends were definitely believable, and the best character in the movie apart from Sid and Ayesha, was the mother. A typical mom, who puts up with everything the son does, and greets him with a smile always. The father-son relationship in the end is shown so beautifully, and I guess this was better than the one shown in 'Bommarillu.'

Technically, the film was brilliant - amazing photography, locales, background and the music by the trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. I am sure Iktara will be the top-ranked song of the year. Lovely melody and blends so well to the mood of movie. (Just read that Iktara was composed by Amit Trivedi - the genius who composed for Dev D!)

I was not a big fan of Ranbir prior to this movie, but I changed my opinion. He proves that star-kids can be good performers too. He is too natural in the role, and I doubt if anyone else would have suited the role better. Konkana Sen-Sharma is as always, at her best. She sure has a wonderful resume to boast of, and I guess this will be one of the movies in gold.

A movie that Karan Johar and Dharma Productions can be proud of (after their Dostana - which I despise), and something that the debutant director can show off even after 10-15 years, and I guess it will be contemporary.

I wish I watched it in a theater, but I guess now that it is on NetFlix Instant Watch, I will watch it often :)

Nov 22, 2009

Life, people and relationships

Wrote this in a different state of mind - sounds a little stupid when I actually read it again - but here it goes!

Life sure teaches a lot of things. Failures always need not be the stepping stone to success. They can be a precaution to things that you might not want to land yourself in, a second time. Like 'once bitten, twice shy,' it is indeed hard for us to depend on someone or trust someone, if there is no one to actually help you in that when you need someone the most.

I am no expert in people psychology, but still can say that, most people in this world is self-centered and quite opportunistic. Gone are the days, when people who actually go out of their way to help people or make them feel good. A person who does this is probably one in thousand, and he better not expect such a help in return. Indeed, if he expects something, there is no bigger fool than him.

Not a great expert in love/romance either, but surely, for a relationship to work there needs to be mutual effort and interest, just more than attraction and feeling. Agreed that, you are attracted to a person and feel for the person, but that alone is not enough to sustain the relationship over time. (Having never been in a serious relationship, I might be wrong in saying so.) Just brought this topic up, since this sounds so hollow and that's probably the reason for many relationships breaking up and higher divorce rates. Just hope, people (including me) get to see a person beyond their looks and appearances.

Just feel that world can surely be a better place for all of us, if we are little more accommodating, helpful and don't expect much from others!

Nov 21, 2009

100th post

Apparently my 100th post on this blog (saw it after I wrote the blog!) - So dedicating it to just the number 100 :P

Nov 1, 2009

Social Networking and employers - my posts or my resume??

In an age of social media and networking, it is quite likely that your prospective employers want to know more about the 'Real' you, while they are considering you for a position. While it is understandable that they need to get a responsible person for the position, it is quite unreasonable that they go over your profiles and posts in Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, Myspace, Orkut and the like. Going over it in Linkedin, the professional site is understandable, but not the others.

These sites are more a platform to voice out your opinions on current topics and one definitely has freedom of expression and thought. Maybe using unparliamentary language, commenting abusively or posting pictures that ought to be private, is not a ethical thing, but having your own opinion on things is not wrong. Its your personal space and you have the authority to say things out.

If one is going to judge you based on your posts rather than your technical skills and people skills, it is indeed unfortunate. I would not call this kind of networking as a part of social skills (even though it actually is), since it is something that is private and a good line has to be drawn between professional and personal life.

(Thanks to Prathap for initiating this discussion and also to Harish for bearing with me in the discussion :).)

Sep 28, 2009

What's Your Raashee?

Disclaimer: The review follows the movie in terms of length :).

Braving the length of the movie and the not-so-good reviews it has been getting, I sat through 'What's Your Raashee?' (WYR?), with no expectations, though I knew Ashutosh Gowarikar (AG) would have something different to entertain with. For a person with an impeccable track record of three epic (long) movies, shooting (rather stretching) a romantic comedy should have definitely not been a hard task. After all Jodhaa Akbar, if set in modern times would classify as a romantic movie with hints of comedy thrown in between.

'What's Your Raashee?' will probably a film, that AG would definitely like to show to people that he is capable of not only period films, but also light ones. And he should definitely be proud of making Priyanka Chopra (PC) star in twelve different roles and extracting the best performance from her.

The storyline of the movie is quite simple. To obtain ancestral property, to help his brother settle his debts, Yogesh Patel (Hurman Baweja), based in Chicago, has to get married in 10 days. The wedding date is set, the wedding hall is ready, he just has to search for a bride. In trying something that is novel, he decides to meet just 12 girls, who are of twelve sun-signs and select one out of them. He meets the twelve and finds PC in everyone of them. How the proceedings go, how he interacts with each of them and makes a decision is what is told in a funny, at times over-the-top, and interesting manner.

Coming to PC, she is probably the heart and soul of the movie. Portraying varied characters, none like another, with respect to mannerisms or body language or the accent, is quite a hard task. Starting off with Anjali who attempts to show off a cool girl including the 'Mondates, Tuesdates' and 'No menson,' to the 15 year old Jhankana, she carries off all her characters with elegance. (details on all characters in the end). PC may be overlooked for awards, but she surely deserves praises for taking the challenge of acting in 12 different roles. (I personally feel, this movie and these characters were far better etched than Kamalhassan in 'Dasavatharam.')

At the intermission which comes after almost close to 2 hours, one thing that needs to be appreciated is that, not one character is shown as a perfect girl, and nor is someone shown totally bad to reject right away. It would have been a disaster if a few girls were eliminated at this point.

A three and half hour movie needed a tight script backed by dialogs which engage the viewer. At most times, the dialogs are quite hilarious though the screenplay tends to drag. But, AG can be excused from this, for providing good laughs all way through the movie. Also, the amount of the details provided to minutest things including the props on screen is really appreciable.

A.R.Rahman a regular in AG's films is sorely missed, and Sohail Sen is no ARR, but gives decent tunes which blend well through the mood of the movie. He sings a couple of songs, and AG regulars like Bela Shinde (Mann mohana in JA), Madhushree (Swades and JA) lend their voices to this movie.

Hurman as Yogesh is sober, and luckily doesn't have any heroics to display in this PC-dominated movie. I am sure AG would have to compromise, if he had any other actor play this role bending to the actor's stature. Yogesh's family members are quite funny, but do blackmail him emotionally most of the time, putting him in a tight spot. The families of the each of the twelve characters (wherever introduced) are mostly believable, show the typical Gujarati behavior. The regulars in AGs films are present in this movie as well. The cinematography is spectacular capturing a few locales in the songs very well.

What could have been better off in the movie was --- a tighter screenplay with less focus on songs for each rashee, and probably doing away with the detective sub-plot (which did invoke laughter at most times). One thing that's realistic, but something that I couldn't digest is – what happens to the rest of the suitors. In reality, I don't think any one goes back to check their status out, but here we've grown attached to each of the PC's characters and do want to know what has happened.

Verdict: It was repetitive and long, but refreshing and entertaining! :)

Roles of the suitors for Yogesh all played by PC:

Anjali (Aries) pretends to be this cool girl with English and many other things, only to flop at the end. You begin to sympathize with the character, and probably think if this is going to be the end of it.
The character Hansa (Cancer), the silent girl who comes out with the past truth is easily the girl, one would emphathise on (including Yogesh).
Kajal (Gemini), the chirpy college girl is entirely the opposite, with her spontaneous romance.
Sanjana (Aquarius) with whom he goes on a drive even after rejecting her (forced by her), is initially a weak character, which does evolve over time.
Rajni (Libra) is a no-non-sense ultra-practical girl who wants a marriage partner who will dance to her tunes. This was a little impractical with an agreement before marriage. However the song is quite imaginatively shot.
Chandrika (Pisces) believes in re-incarnation and thinks they were together in the past. A song that shows Yogesh like a South Indian hero, shot at exotic locales comes up. The only thing you remember about this girls is her dad that says 'Humari koi shaakha nahi hai'.
Mallika (Leo) is a good dancer, whom Yogesh falls for, just to be rejected for his show-off as an NRI with a delicate stomach.
Nandini (Scorpio) is a aspiring model (sober at home) who wants to use Yogesh as a ticket for an entry into Chicago fashion industry.
Bhavna(Sagittarius) is an astrologer who predicts something really ridiculous for Yogesh and seduces him, only to facilitate his departure from her house really early.
Pooja (Virgo), the doctor was the most realistic character and surely a contender if not for her 'Swades'hi dream. Kudos to PC for downplaying the character very well.
Vishaka (Taurus), the girl who tries to test Yogesh, if he is after her money, fails terribly in her attempt by acting crazily. I wonder why one would do such a thing. The song that comes in this segment is quite foot-tapping.
Jhankana (Capricorn) is an underaged girl forced into marriage, and is portrayed so very well by PC (supposedly a 27 yr old). The way she finally thanks Yogesh, saying she wants to study further is a bit emotional, but ends well.

Aug 31, 2009

Amma Un Pillai

Naan Kadavul is one of the movies that I might not watch ever in my lifetime, though I want to. Bala's movies are something that I so want to watch, since I know they are quite different from the run-of-the-mill movies. I was kind of scarred by the ending of Sethu (which was the only scene I saw in the movie), skipped Nandha (thanks to the trailers shown by Sun TV), and saw Pithamagan first half featuring Surya and Laila's comedy. I probably would have watched NK, if Ajith starred in it, since I was a loyal Ajith fan till a while ago. Unfortunately that didn't happen and Arya acted in it getting rave reviews.

The Maestro reworked on a few of his earlier scores and created magic with his music in this movie. One of the songs that will linger on in your mind for a long time is this song 'Amma Unn Pillai.'

This song starts with a gruffy Lata-Mangeshkar-kind-voice, and sails smoothly only to unravel that Sadhana Sargam is singing this song. Reworked from one of his songs in the early 80's Ilayaraja makes it very contemporary and probably apt for the movie.

The violin piece before the first charanam is a classic composition, and the interlude before the second charanam reminds you of the really good 1980's music. The interlude before the third charanam is something that you would have definitely heard in the movie climaxes, but the way the Maestro mixes it into this song is really superb. Hopefully this is picturized on screen well. That way Bala picturized a lot of his songs so very well including: Malaiyil Vethanai in Sethu, Mun Paniya in Nandha and Elangathu in Pithamagan.

One of the very few songs with three charanams these days had wonderful lines like --- 'Vidhi enum Ezhuthellam Vizhi neeril Azhiyum Or Neram,' and 'Jenmangalil Paavam Pen Jenmame, Bandhangal Endru Sonnal Thunbangale.' The latter one is true!

Not a typical song of Sadhana, this needed a lot of emphasis on the words, which she has not mis-pronounced the words, which is good (including the hard 'zh' in 'Vidhi enum Ezhuthellam Vizhi neeril Azhiyum Or Neram' ). Though she gets a little screechy in the high pitches, she maintains the sober tone of the song. I would'nt call it her best rendition, but it surely is one rendition, she will definitely be proud of. From a gruffy voice in the first line to a sweeter voice in the charanams, she sails through the songs very well. And she definitely puts in a lot of emotions into this song.

In a time of really past paced songs with non-sensical or non-decipherable lyrics this is sure to stand out :)

Aug 16, 2009

Reviews - Love Aaj Kal and Kaminey

Reviews for the two Hindi movies I watched in the theatre after a really long time. And I was looking forward to Kaminey for a long time!

Love Aaj Kal – A perfect example of how being 'practical' can unnecessarily complicate things. I wouldn't say it was a perfect movie or liked it entirely. The dialogues were one of the best in recent times. But the premise was a realistic one and something that everyone in the age group 20-30 faces, after all we are Mango people (Aam janta :P). Though, I wouldn't call it a tale of not-being-able-to-get-over-someone, that was what happened finally. The main characters were utterly selfish and this is true in today's life. The Punjabi kudi Harleen, actually a Brazilian model was the surprise package of the movie. Saif's Punjabi accent was something he could have improved on. Deepika Padukone was her usual wooden frame - looking good, but no acting skills to speak about. Her dialog on the second day of her wedding to Rahul Khanna- 'I have done a mistake, please let me go see Saif now, I will come back and apologise later' was enough to crack the entire audience. Pritam for once had a track that was not taken off any source. Loved the Twist song and the Rahat Fateh Ali Khan song. Rishi Kapoor didn't have a great role in the movie, but the way the second story was interwoven was really interesting. It was a good watch with interesting dialogues and decent touch of reality.

Kaminey – A movie you'll totally love or totally hate. Initially, I thought I was going to fall in the latter category, but surprisingly no! It was not an extra-ordinary tale, but was a dark (literally and on-screen) tale with each of the characters being selfish (yet again). The new style of story telling will surely will be a tutorial for a few film-makers. Fhahid.... oops Shahid Kapoor had the role of his career in this movie and executed it pretty well, both as Charlie and Guddu. As the Guddu character, he is shown as a simple NGO worker, and is pitted against Priyanka. Priyanka is shown as a talkative Maharashtrian girl, and had a few good lines for herself, though her role was limited on screen. Charlie is the 'F' for 'S' guy, with big dreams and trying to take a shorter shortcut to success. His characterization was near-perfect, both as a dutiful brother (son – as we are later told) and as a ruffian-in-the-making (is that word right?). Amol Gupte (the partial director of Taare Zameen Par) is in a nice 'Raj Thackeray' role. The movie subtly touches upon the 'Jai Maharashtra' issue, in addition to HIV prevention (Fatak songs) and drug peddlary. Though violent, it was not shown on screen graphically. Music as always in any Vishal Bharadwaj movie was top-notch. And in the end credits, the Mohit Chauhan song that plays should have found a place in the movie (in fact some romance shown in those credits could have been placed in between the movie.) The Dhan Te Nan song, the highlight of the movie found its place in the right portions in the movie and was used as energetically as it was sung by Vishal Dhadlani and Sukhwinder Singh. And I wondered why it earned an A certificate in India, and realized it, thanks to the 'intense' kissing scene between Piggy Chops and Shahid Kapoor. That one scene, though shot aesthetically, was enough for the movie to get an R rating. The dialogues were interesting yet again, and the timing sense was excellent. Overall an interesting watch, with a good time-pass element.

Jul 20, 2009

My favorite singers in Indian music - Part 2

Continuing with the list of singers whose voices ae special to me, next on the list is a immensely talented Shankar Mahadevan. With his 'Varaga Nadhi' (the first song of his that I listened to during on the Kargil benefit matches in 1999), 'Breathless' and 'Yenna Solla Pogirai', he surely captured the attention of the music lovers. As a part of the successful composition trio - Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, he has been able to deliver classy-yet-popular albums like Kal Ho Na Ho, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, Salaam-E-Ishq, Bunty Aur Babli, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom etc. Coming to my favorites in his CV, Enna Solla Pogirai - Kandukonden, Varaga Nadhi - Sangamam, Vennilave (sad version) - Minsara Kanavu, Hey Goodbye Nanba - Aayitha Ezhuthu, Merke Merke - Kanda naal Mudhal, Kadhal Vandhucho - Hey Nee Romba Azhaga Irukkey, Uppu Karuvadu - Mudhalvan and among his compositions I love the Hindi soundtracks in the movies mentioned earlier.

Karthik is yet another singer whom was unravelled by A.R.Rahman and I have a dedicated blog for this energetic singer, whose discography is filled with great numbers like Uyire En Uyire - Totti Jeya (one of my favorite non-ARR number of all times), Anarkali - Kangalal Kaithu Sei, Nendikitten - Star, Ale Ale - Boys, Oru Ooril - Khakka Khakka and many more. (I have purposely left out many immensely popular ones just to reduce the length of the blog).

Among the classical singers who've made their presence felt in film music, it is an undeniable fact that Bombay Jayshree is one singer, who made justice to her unconventional voice (for movies). Though Vaseegara - Minnale shot her to fame, it was Narumughaiye - Iruvar which was her first film-song and it will be remembered as a evergreen classic by music enthusiasts. In her not-so-extensive discography, she has had numbers like Uyire En Uyire - Totti Jeya, Ondra Renda - Khakka Khakka, Suttum vizhi - Ghajini, Paartha Mudhal - Vettaiyadu Vilayadu, Uppu Kallu - Karupasamy Kuthagaidhaarar (my personal favorite), Yaaro manadhile - Dhaam Dhoom, Minnalgal Koothadum - Polladhavan, Thithithidave - Janaa etc. With her really unique voice, I am sure she has a fan following in Hindi, thanks to her only song - Zara Zara (Vaseegara in Hindi).

Shreya Ghoshal with her wafer-thin yet divine voice is one of the great discoveries in this decade. Her Jaadoo Hai Nasha Hai - Jism, made a otherwise normal song (due respect to the sultry Bips and John), an instant hit and made the careers of the two stars in the song along with Shreya's (though she sung in Devdas earlier). She has been a regular in the Kannada films with her excellent diction in Araluthiru and Ivanu gelayanalla in Mungaru Male and Male Ninthu - Milana. In Tamil, she has been successful as well and pretty decent in her diction. And she does sound good with Sonu Nigam, who could probably be the next singer-jodi.

Just that Sonu Nigam thinks he has sung enough and is not singing too many songs these days. He is a classic singer too with many songs including the unforgettable title track of Kal Ho Na Ho.

Among the other popular singers, I have like the following singers at one point of time or the other.
Kay Kay - Alvida (Life in a Metro), Pani Thuli (Kanda Naal Mudhal), Khuda Jaane - Bachna Ae Haseeno.
Sujata Bhattacharya aka Madhushree - Tehzeeb ghazals, Sandai Kozhi/Kabhi Neem Neem - Aayitha Ezhuthu/Yuva, Tumhen Aaj Maine Jo Dekha - Kuchh Naa Kaho, Marudhaani - Sakkarakatti, In Lamhon Ke Daaman - Jodhaa Akbar.
Harini - Nila Kaigrathu - Indira, Sudum Nilavu - Thambi, Theekuruvi - Kangalal Kaithu Sei, Enakena Yerkanavey - Parthen Rasithen.
Mahalakshmi Iyer - Bol Na Halke - JBJ, Kandukonden title track, Yaaro Yarodi - Alaipayuthey, Velli Malare - Jodi.

With due respect to S.P.Balasubramanyam, S. Janaki, K.S.Chitra, K.J.Yesudas, Alka Yagnik, Kavitha Krishnamurthy, Udit Narayan who have sung innumerable songs, it was a kind of monopoly with these singers in till the early 1990's. These singers have had their gems in the past and in current times as well. But, it is just the fact that they had far more opportunities than the current singers to showcase their talents.

Thanks to the numerous reality shows and talent hunts, there are new singers introduced in every movie. It's just that not everyone sustains for a long time. Among the recent singers the following captured by attention greatly. I might have just heard one of their songs ;)

Benny Dayal - A singer who was brought out best in Sakkarakatti, Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na by A.R.Rahman with songs like Chinnamma, Taxi Taxi, Pappu Can't Dance, Nazren Milaana
Naresh Iyer - The guy who didn't win the Indian Idol but won the Indian hearts with Roobaroo - Rang De Basanti.
Sowmya Raoh - The voice that made Shauk Hai from Guru sound so special
Krish - An Harris Jayaraj import who sounded great with Bombay Jayshree in Yaaro manadhile -Dhaam Dhoom, Minnalgal Koothadum - Polladhavan.

Javed Ali - Arziyan - Delhi 6, Jash-ne-Bahaara - Jodhaa Akbar.
Saindhavi - Kelamal Kaiyile - Azhagiya Tamil Magan, Andankakka - Anniyan

For those who might doubt my music sense/appreciation skills (:P), this is in no way, a comprehensive list of my most-liked singers. It is probably a subset of that :)

Jul 12, 2009

My favorite singers and their songs in Indian film music - Part I

Till early 2000, I paid no attention to the music credits of an album/movie. I really didn't realize the importance of the singers contribution to the song. This could partially be because of my lack of exposure to music apart from Ilayaraja songs which (until then) featured the usual SPB, KJY, S. Janaki and Chitra. A.R. Rahman did introduce new singers in every album of his, but as I said I was not exposed too much to his songs.

Alaipayuthey's music in March/April 2000 made a big difference to my ears. The Bru coffee commercial with 'Snehidhane' in the backdrop made me wonder who sung this song. It surely was not Chitra, Sujatha, Kavitha Krishnamoorthi, Nithyashree or Harini (the ones that sung a lot of songs then). It surely was a North Indian singer, but not Alka Yagnik. I got the cassette of Alaipayuthey along with Kandukonden (both of them musical wonders) and went over the cover and it was a singer named Sadhana Sargam. I was like - 'Have I heard her before?, Why hasn't she been singing too many songs?.' Right after that I saw she had Konjum Mainakkale in Kandukonden. I started liking her a lot after 'Anbae Idhu Nijamthana' - which was a totally overlooked song in the album Rhythm. The instrumentation in the song is near perfect.
It was then that I started following the singers and I can proudly say - I can recognise most of the singers in songs (atleast until 2005 or 2006, now there are lot new singers).

Sadhana Sargam - She was, is and shall remain one of my favorite singers in Indian music. Her tamil pronunciation may have not be good during her initial years, but for a North Indian - she surely sings better off now with the subtleties in zh, la, and La these days. And probably, I didn't really understand the lyrics of the songs. She won a national award for rendering a Tamil song 'Pattu Solli', I felt it was not her best and definitely had better songs before that and after that. A few of her songs (actually many of them) which are my favorites (in no specific order) can be found at the end of this blog (I removed it from here since it was a tad too long list :P ):

In most of the songs, Sadhana was accompanied by Hariharan, who happens to be another of my favorite singers. Hariharan, introduced to the regular people like me by A.R.Rahman in Roja is probably one singer who does a lot of improvisations on stage and never will his rendition on stage sound like the actual one. With a crispy voice, he had gems like Pachai Nirame (Alaipayuthey), Vennilave, Poi Solla Koodathu Kaadali (Run), Uyire (Bombay), Ay Hairathey (Guru), Thottal Poo Malarum (New), Irava Pagala (Poovellam Kaettupar), Kandukonden, Nila Kaigiradhu (Indira), Nahin Samne (Taal), Yamuna Theeram (Anand) and many more. I was lucky enough to watch him perform live in Phoenix and also had a picture taken with him.

In 2002, I awaited for the movie that stirred up emotions - Kannathil Muthamittal. The title track sung by Chinmayi and Jayachandran was simply spectacular, and the versatile Chinmayi found a fan in me. Her song for the TV soap - Anbulla Snehithiye is probably one of the very few title tracks of soaps that was remembered for its softness and sereneness (as opposed to the loud ones). Chinmayi has evolved as a successful film singer, RJ, TV anchor, dubbing artiste apart from the classical singer and dancer she originally is. A few of her songs that are my favorites - Tere Bina (Guru), I Miss you da (Sakkarakatti), Oru Nanban Irundhal (Ennake 20 Unakku 18), Santipomma (E20U18), Oru Deivam Thantha (Kannathil), Sahana Saaral (Sivaji), En Uyir Thozhiye (Kangalal Kaidhu Sei), Enna Ithu (Nala Damayanthi), Enadhuyirae (Bheema). As a dubbing artiste she did a real good job in Jillunu Oru Kadhal, amongst many others. She also was a good anchor on the show Airtel Super singer.

Speaking of Super Singer, the three judges on the show - Unnikrishnan, Sujatha Mohan and Sreenivas have been my favorite singers at some point of time. Unnikrishnan had gems in Ennavale (Kadalan - his very first song), Narumughaye (Iruvar), Kuliruthu (Taj Mahal), Sudum Nilavu (Thambi), Verenna (Minnale), Poovukkul (Jeans), Kaatre En Vaasal (Rhythm), Thirakadha (En Swaasa Katre), O Vennila (Kadhal Desam), Thendrale (Kadhal Desam), Veesum Katrukku (Ullasam), Nejodu Kalanthidu (Kadhal Konden).

Srinivas - the melody breaker 'Netru Munniravil Unnil' in Snehidhane is probably the only male singer with such a soft voice who made it big by singing select songs that provided justice to him and the song. His 'Mangalyam thanthunanena' will probably have taught most people (including me) the unforgettable wedding sthotram. 'Kaisi Hai Yeh Rut' from Dil Chahta Hai is one of the unforgettable melodies in Hindi cinema. Add Azhage Sugama (Paarthale Paravasam), Ennai Panthada (Ullam Ketkume), Kadhal Solvadhu (Badri), Chotta Chotta (Taj Mahal), Alangatti Mazhai (Thenali) to the list of my favorite songs. His one minute song - Mouname Unnidam from Mozhi was a good one and and fitted well in the movie too. The fast-paced Asathura in E20U18 was yet another song by this soft-spoken singer.

Sujatha mesmerized everyone in Netru Illada Maatram from Pudhya Mugham. Re-discovered by A.R.Rahman in Pudhu Vellai Mazhai (Roja), Sujatha was an integral part of many good albums that came out in the late 90's and early 2000's. Poo Pookkum Osai (Minsara Kanavu), Athisayam (Jeans), En Veettu Thottathil (Gentleman), Nejodu Kalanthidu (Kadhal Konden), Aasai Aasai (Dhool), Ishq Bina (Taal), Paadava (Little John), are few of my favorite songs of this ever-smiling singer whose daughter is beginning to make waves in the music world.

To be continued.... with many other singers and their songs.

Sadhana Sargam favorites:

Vennilave (Chanda Re) - Minsara Kanavu (Sapnay)
Chudithar Anindhu - Poovellam Kaettupar
Snehidhane (Chupke Se) - Alaipayuthey (Saathiya)
Anbae Idhu - Rhythm
Anbae Sugama and Azhage Sugama - Paarthale Paravasam
Dil Mera Ek Tara - 16 December
Pehla Nasha - Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander
Akkam Pakkam - Kireedam
Swaasame - Thenali
Amma Un Pillai - Naan Kadavul
Udhaya Udhaya Ularaile - Udhaya
Naina Neer Bahai, Piya Ho, Aayo Re - Water
Poo Vaasam - Anbe Sivam
Merke Merke - Kanda Naal Mudhal
Ragasiyamai and Un Perai Sonnale - Dum Dum Dum
Aao Naa - Kyun Ho Gaya Naa
Kitni Baatein - Lakshya
Kuch Naa Kaho - Kuch Naa Kaho
Gup Chup Baatein - Love You Hamesha (unreleased)
Ahista Ahista - Swades
Pani Katre - Run
Manmadhanae - Manmadhan
Kaadu Thiranthe - Vasool Raja MBBS
Kadhal Vandhadhum - Poovellam Un Vaasam
Kadhal Vettukili - Parasuram
Enadhuyire - Bheema
Kalaiyil Dhinamum - New
Thigu Thigu - Ah Aah

And I guess this list got a little too long :) .

Jun 24, 2009

Tamil Radio - New links

The Aahaa FM link in an earlier post does not work anymore.
But here's a new link to listen to Aahaa FM, Sooriyan FM and Radio City Chennai.

There is a registration procedure for it, which is free!

Enjoy maadi :)

Recent memorable movies

Some movies that I watched recently and thought were memorable for some reason...

Fashion - A typical Madhur-Bhandarkar movie focussed on the Showbiz, had powerful performances from Priyanka Chopra and Kangana Ranaut. And not to forget, some good music as well. A confident Piggy Chops surely walked away with lot of trophies for this one :)

Dasvidaniya - What I expected to be a tear-jerker was a total surprise. With its amazing cinematography and good performances by the lead and the supporting cast (mainly Vinay Pathak and the female actor who played his mother), it was good weekend watch. Another form of bucket list and well made to suit Indian audience unfortunately found very few takers in the box office. Who appreciates off-beat movies anyways?

My Brother Nikhil
- A very sensitive film with a protagonist who is HIV positive, and how his sister and friend stand by him and fight till the very end. I simply admire Sanjay Suri, Purab Kohli and of course Juhi Chawla for enacting the roles with such maturity. Hats off to director Onir for giving this masterpiece to Indian Cinema. My eyes were totally moist during the movie and after that too!

Varanam Aayiram - Not a favorite of everyone, the movie indeed was colorful and packed with emotions and at times things went overboard. But the genuineness of the director trying to portray a father-son relationship in that way needs to be appreciated. Whether it was completely realistic or not, is yet another topic. The music made the movie memorable too :)

Abhiyum Naanum - A counterpart of Varanam Aayiram -a father-daughter story told from the father's view. An interesting aspect was every daughter could relate to the movie and so did every father. With a near-perfect performance by Prakash Raj and ably accompanied by Aishwarya, though this movie could not recreate the magic of Mozhi (director Radha Mohan), the director needs to praised for providing clean entertainment. Trisha could have enacted the role a lot better.

Delhi 6 - I like and dislike the movie. Initially, I didn't realize what the movie was about, but later realized there were layers underneath and there was another interpretation of the movie within. I like it for making me think and I hate it for the same reason. A.R. Rahman had good music on this one, and there were used efficiently in the movie.

Mumbai Meri Jaan
- An excellent portrayal of the aftermath of the Mumbai blasts and its effect on the lives of 5 individuals. A different and effective attempt, and good performances by Paresh Rawal, Kay Kay Menon, Irfaan Khan and Madhavan.

Changeling - A pretty slow movie and you know the theme of the movie from it's trailers itself. Angelina Jolie did great in the movie with her subtle emotions and with the 1920's style of dressing and mannerisms. It indeed was a depressing at times, but am sure it was a well-crafted and well-made movie. And Angelina sure deserved an Oscar nomination for this one.

I also felt Tehzeeb and Subramaniyapuram were different in their own right. But (with due respect to the directors) I didn't feel they impacted me too much :)

Mere thoughts...

No one really cares about one's success in life if his personal or professional life is not happy.

A stroke of good luck can revive someone's professional life. A stroke of bad luck can bring down someone to shambles. Usually it is hard work and some bit of that is attributed to one's success in professional life.

However, from my experiences, success in personal life is very different. Personal life need not just include the significant other or companion or spouse, it will also mean one's parents, siblings. good friends and the like. Your close ones are not going to be happy seeing you in a sad state of affairs. A family will always support its member, irrespective of the state he is in, and try to help him out in the tough situation. Luck doesn't usually impact one's personal life, but the person himself is capable of making a HUGE impact.

Come what may, trust yourself and know that people are on your side for support! There will be shortcomings. but surely there is light at the end of the tunnel!

A lot happens in life for one's good! Things that happen, happen for good! Things that don't happen, have not happened for the better... there are better things awaiting :)

Feb 21, 2009

Elections - India votes soon!

It was since 1996 elections that I have been following the politics in India. And during the last elections I did vote and was very happy that I did that. Every citizen has a voice in the democracy which is a government by the people, for the people and of the people.

But is that the case in India - the world's largest democracy anymore? A lot of political leaders have made democracy - by money (buying votes), of money, for the money (corruption) making it more - 'BUY' the people, 'OFF' the people and 'FAR' (away from) the people.

Am sure, I am yet another mute spectator in this game, seeing money bags roll over between political parties and the leaders, religion and caste-based politics ruling the roost here. What qualification do - a tainted former Indian cricket captain and a cine actor who was in jail for the bomb-blasts have to contest the elections?

I love my country and sure want a knowledgeable leader leading it, and not a person who is in power for monetary benefit. Some day, surely, I want to make a difference to this scenario. Everyone is hoping for a change, but the change is yet to come to India. Hope it does sooner than later! This entire generation of politicians needs to go and the next generation (not hierarchical) should take up the reins.

Jai Ho India!

Slumdog - worth the hype?

It in fact was one of the very very over-rated movies I had ever seen. Especially with memories of India still afresh in my mind, it showed India in such bad light. India sure has its elements that were not showcased in the movie. For a lead actor who could not act for nuts, for a non-realistic quiz show host (can anyone mock at the contestant that way), and for a 1980's movie storyline of brothers seperated while young, it sure was a disasatrous package. If at all there was anything that made up for all this was the sincere portrayal of the roles by the kid actors. They were the best things about the movie :) .

And though I am really really happy for A.R.Rahman for getting an Oscar nomination, a BAFTA amongst many other awards, it honestly was not his best scores. With his best scores noticed in India itself being a great thing, I am glad he found his recognition outside the world. I personally like O - Saya and Latika's theme from the soundtrack and it sure deserves an applause. I hope to watch A.R.Rahman perform during the Oscar ceremony on TV :).

All said, Slumdog Millionaire is not an Indian movie - but just a movie based on India. I would call it 'Over-rated load of over-emphasized crap!'. Come on there are far far better movies, or may be was director Priyadarshan said - the ace director Mani Ratnam should have directed the movie and I am sure we Indians would have liked it too!

Tour India - 2008-09

It has been so so so long since I blogged. I was on travel to India and then the busy semester took over. A lot of developments in the world ever since then.

The new year started off great for me enjoying my stay at home, eating everything I wanted except that I did not put on weight at all. With five and half weeks at my disposal, I raided every food joint possible and every cloth store possible. My shopping streak began the very first day, and went on till the end. With my sis and mom having vacation during this break, it was good fun and there was never a boring moment.

Catching up with good old friends was something I did quite a bit. I did get back to the 6th sem project days and 8th sem project days when I met my project partners. It was a memorable meet and Praneeth (one of my friends)actually did retain the 6th sem project model to gift it to Ratheesh (other of my friends). It was good fun!

Also a trip to Vizag was so memorable with me seeing the sunrise at the Bay of Bengal on two days (I did get up at 5:00 am to see that!). Also, a submarine museum that I could have never dreamed to see otherwise, was there too. We did visit Borra caves and Arakku valley (supposedly the shooting spots for most Vijay movies).

I also made a small kutti trip to visit my grandmom in Mettupalayam, and I was happy that I made one. A trip to Shirdi was on the cards, but didn't materialize thanks to my energy drain-out.

Of the many other things I made the trip, there was my dental treatment. I can now have icecream and cold stuff :), without pain in my cavity. Thanks to my frequent dates with the dentist :P.

with yet another semester into its fifth week, it sure is a hectic semester with me needing to proceed with my research quick :)

I miss India - for more reasons than one! ;)