Dec 31, 2010

2010 - In a Nutshell

-       A memorable year, a year that I’d want to relive
-       A year that almost showed me the light at the end of the tunnel in my research,
-       Also, finally showed me the way the tunnel called professional life, and I hope to traverse the path and reach the destination soon.
-       A year that I saw God; attended one of the concerts in Jai Ho concert tour and witnessed some A.R.Rahman musical magic, in person.
-       Showed me how addicting a gripping TV series can be, and also probably showed why leaving a few things open-ended, is good. And the TV series is Lost. Never before and never again will I be able to see 10 episodes of a TV series back-to-back.
-       Showed me that I can have ‘followers’; I’ve spent a good amount of my 2010 on Twitter, and had a good time conversing with like minded people (a blog post on that coming up)
-       And the year I gave up on my friends, oops Facebook. I am a #youremember on Facebook now.

Dec 18, 2010

Amit Trivedi – Music with a difference

Considering the plethora of talent in the Indian music industry, thanks to the numerous talent hunts, it is not often that a singer or a music composer leaves an everlasting impression on you, in the very first song or album. With A.R.Rahman probably being the only exception who made it big in his first film composition Roja, I am sure many talented composers have come, established themselves after a couple of movies, and stuck on as a few of the reliable music composers before fading away or getting stereo-typed with the same music genre forever.

In 2009, there was a new composer who came with a promise and had a good outing in a relatively less-popular soundtrack in Aamir, which probably didn’t make a name for itself as much as the movie did (Trust me, Aamir has wonderful soundtracks including a great Sufi composition). Amit Trivedi, who calls A.R.Rahman as his god, made his presence felt in the Indian film music scenario with the cult classic Dev.D (an Anurag Kashyap movie that I am yet to watch), and instantly struck a chord with the youth of today with the number ‘Emotional Atyachaar’. The movie had a total of 20 songs in different genre and a majority of them became chart-busters, apart from blending well with the movie and its theme (from what I hear).

A musical journey of Dev.D began with Nayan Tarse, which floored me with just the attitude of the singer himself, following which I moved on the classically rich ‘Paayaliya’, which featured the best usage of the instrument Veena in recent times. ‘Dil Mein Jaagi’, ‘Dhol Yaara Dhol’, ‘Duniya’, ‘Ek Hulchul Si’, and ‘Yahi Meri Zindagi Hai’ had a fresh feel to them, which was probably earlier seen when A.R.Rahman first composed for Roja. And it came as no big surprise when Dev.D won the coveted National Award for the best Music of 2009, after being ignored by most award ceremonies, that relegated it to just a background score, rather than considering it as a complete album.

Amit Trivedi could have been yet another one-film wonder following Dev.D (or a two film-wonder considering Aamir). There were no albums from him for close to 18 months except the soulful ‘Iktara’ in Wake Up Sid and a composition ‘Bombay Bombay’ in the movie Striker. He made a wonderful comeback with the albums Udaan and Aisha in the summer of 2010. While Aisha was a routine romantic comedy with the storyline based on the premise of Emma, it had some immensely likeable music including the evening melody ‘Sham Bhi Koi’, the Punjabi dance number ‘Gal Miththi Miththi’, and a peppy title track. My personal favorite from the album was ‘Lehrein’, which features among my favorite tracks of all-time, for its sheer brilliance with the violin and Anusha Mani’s amazing vocals.

Udaan, as such, is a movie that moved me emotionally, because of its coming-of-age theme, which was very well-accompanied by the soundtrack that featured a gem of a track ‘Aazadiyaan.’ It will be blasphemy if I don’t mention the main strength of the movie apart from the performances. It is its subtle music. Probably the best example for a movie where silence is used as the strongest emotion, and its remarkable how Amit Trivedi underplayed the background score such as to make an everlasting impression on the audience.

At the fag end of the year 2010, Amit Trivedi struck back with another album ‘No One Killed Jessica’, which is currently on my ‘now-playing often’ playlist. The songs Yeh Pal, Dua and Aitbaar have grown on me instantly, while Dilli has been catching up too!

Amit Trivedi, the rightful successor to A.R.Rahman, you sure have arrived, and we just hope you don’t fade away or get stereotyped. Best wishes for a successful long musical career, we sure want to hear more from you!

Nov 22, 2010

New blog on A.R.Rahman music

Along with another friend, I've begun blogging about my thoughts on A.R.Rahman music at a new location. We hope to have regular posts there (much more often that what I have here).

Here's a link!

Oct 6, 2010

Good times....

I've been blogging a lot more compared to 2009, and on a few topics I'd never have thought I'd blog about. For instance, I'd never have penned something about my parents, if not for BlogAdda's Father's Day and Mother's Day contests. If not for their 'Moments of Madness' contest, a lot of my childish stuff would have never gotten showcased to the blogger world. And to think about it, I won an award for that entry too!

Life has many small things which are beautiful, worthy of some expression of thought! And a blog helps realize those.

Thank you BlogAdda, for featuring me as the notable newbie of the day! Something that made my day!

Oct 3, 2010

Endhiran - A True treat to the Rajini fan boy - PFC review link


“Originally published on”

Here's a link to my review on Endhiran. My second post on Passion for Cinema :)
(Broken link)

For more than two years, a Tamil movie that has been in the spotlight even during its making process itself is Endhiran or Robot. An idea of the late Tamil writer Sujatha, was in the process of being visualized on screen by Shankar, who calls it his dream project as well. With the initial choices of the protagonist being Kamalhassan and Shahrukh Khan, the role finally ended up going to the Rajinikanth, with whom Shankar had previously worked with the blockbuster Sivaji. In addition to the buzz that surrounds any Rajini movie and a Shankar movie, this movie was the talk of the town for its budget alone. A staggering Rs. 185 crores!!! While movies like Ghajini and 3 Idiots boasted about their revenue to be above Rs. 200 crores, here’s one movie made on a comparable budget. While it is no unknown fact that a portion of the budget went to the female lead Aishwarya Rai and the music composer A.R.Rahman, it still is a budget that’s probably not going to be surpassed until Shankar surpasses it himself.

While I choose not to review the movie completely or divulge the storyline, the movie Endhiran is a must watch for just it’s grandeur. The old formula of many movies ‘No logic, only magic’ holds, and full credit must be given to Shankar for being able to realize his imagination on screen wonderfully.

The movie involves Dr. Vaseegaran (Rajini) who creates a robot Chitti (Rajini again) and how his life, and more importantly the robot’s life changes through the course of learning how to live in the world of humans, is what forms the crux of the movie. Sana (Aishwarya) is the ladylove of the scientist and is one of the reasons for the change in Chitti’s life.

Special effects and animation play a major role in the movie and these are truly inspired by Jurassic Park, Godzilla, Terminator and the like. But, what must be appreciated about this movie is that, the special effects don’t look forced or artificial, and hence it looks like a top-class movie technically. Whether it’s when there are hundred guns in Chitti’s hands, or when hundreds of Chittis make many different formations in the climax sequence, the special effects are one among the best seen in Indian cinema.

Coming to the performances in the movie, it sure is Rajini’s way all through the movie. As the robot scientist Vaseegaran, he’s underplayed the role with no heroics or unnecessary dialogs. He sure looks good with the new hairstyle and beard, apart from the cool scientist glasses. Chitti, the robot, on the other hand is what makes the movie what it is. Whether it is the comical instances during the first segment of the movie or the time when he realizes a few human feelings or when he gets on to be the destructive Robot, it sure is one of Rajini’s best performances. Be it the sarcasm, the style, or the evil laughter, it is a Rajini that has not been seen on screen in a long time. This can definitely be said that no actor (even Kamal or SRK) would have fitted this role or carried out this role this way. Just for the fact that this is a Rajini movie, and audiences consider him to be a larger-than-life actor, this works.

Aishwarya Rai is the same pretty lady who made her appearance in Shankar’s Jeans more than a decade back. While, she does look slightly aged, and has very little to contribute to the movie, a lot of focus is on her during the song sequences, which are of Shankar’s signature style. With her voice dubbed (Savitha), she does get on to the nerves at most times, and it almost seems like a competition to the role of Asin in Dasavatharam (in terms of irritability!).

Danny Denzongpa as the competing scientist and Vaseegaran’s professor Dr. Bohra also has very little to do in the movie which is dominated by a destructive Chitti in the second half. The comedians Karunas and Santhanam have literally nothing to do, and the supposedly comic scenes are not funny either.

The other hero of the movie is cameraman Ratnavelu. In capturing the wonderful locales of Machu Pichu in Kilimanjaro and in the locales that come in ‘Kadhal Anukkal’ song, he’s done a really stunning job. While paying attention to the computer graphics on screen, is really easy to lose focus on the scenes captured, and he sure makes each frame look wonderful, without hurting the eye much.

The music by A.R.Rahman is surely not his best (which has been the case in the recent years), and a lot of songs seem to be forced into the second half of the movie (four of them). My personal favorites Arima Arima and Kadhal Anukkal have the expected grandeur on screen, the former technically and the latter visually. Shankar, as always, has shot each of the songs aesthetically, and the location for Kilimanjaro and Kadhal Anukkal are locations that are new to the Indian audience. Cutting down songs like Chitti Dance showcase, Irumbile Oru Irudhaiyam would have made the second half crisper.

Director Shankar is one person who has a good vision, both in terms of screenplay, and in terms of delivering what the audience will like. He utilizes the on-screen image of Rajini to the greatest extent possible and it sure works! While, a compromise was seen in Sivaji taking this image into account, I feel this movie gave the perfect opportunity to Shankar to show his skills as a director directing a star of Rajini’s stature.

Endhiran is best watched in a theater, with audience who cheer for every scene in the movie. And it sure deserves it! It sure made the Rajini fan boy in me and many others satisfied. As a friend puts it, ‘If Endhiran cannot satisfy a movie experience, nothing can satisfy. Dot.’

Sep 21, 2010

A soul departs, the voice remains....

Not many would have missed the female voice in the Rangeela track - Hai Rama. A voice, that along with the versatile Hariharan, made a thumping impact on the audience, and give Urmila Matondkar a new voice on-screen. It was Swarnalatha, a singer who made quite an impression on the music lovers in the country by this track.

The music fans in South India knew her as the singer of 'Aattama Therottama', a popular number from Captain Prabhakaran that was made lively onscreen by Ramya Krishnan. In a very unconventional yet charming voice, Swarnalatha achieved a breakthrough in the early 90s with her rendition of Poovoma Oorkolam, and there was no looking back. She was also the female vocal lead for the song Raakamma Kaiya Thattu (Dalapathi) that went on to become one of the top songs in a poll conducted by BBC.

As a Rahmaniac, I've listened to a lot of her songs ever since A.R.Rahman came into the limelight. Starting with Usilampatti Penkutti in Gentleman till Kummi Adi from Sillunu Oru Kadhal, Swarnalatha has been an integral part of his albums for more than a decade. Listing a personal favorite among them is a difficult task, however the two songs that will remain closest to my heart are Evano Oruvan from Alaipayuthey and Poraale Ponnuthaayi from Karuthamma. She also won a National Award for the Best Playback Singer - Female for the latter song. A few of her popular tracks include Mukkala Mukkabla (Kadalan), Maya Machindra (Indian), Kadhalenum Thervezhudhi (Kadhalar Dhinam), and Kuchi Kuchi Rakkamma (Bombay).

Though I am not a music expert, it was clearly evident that Swarnalatha was one of the very few female singers who could reach the higher octaves with ease, especially in songs such as Mel Isaiye (Mr. Romeo). And she voiced for my favorite actor Jyothika in Poovellam Un Vassam for the song Thirumana Malargal Tharuvaya, too! And, one song that I loved after repeated listenings (thanks to Sun Music) is 'Maalaiyil Yaaro', and I still feel no one else could have done justice to that song other than Swarnalatha.

It was from A.R.Rahman that I got to know that this singer with a unique voice and a humble nature was no more. It was a moment of sorrow for me in an otherwise joyous 'once in a lifetime' experience of an A.R.Rahman concert. You will be missed by us, but your songs will remain etched in our hearts for the years to come!

In her own lines,
'Andha Kuzhalai Pol Azhuvadharku, Athanai Kangal Enakillaye'

(From Evano Oruvan - Alaipayuthey, which translates to, I just have two eyes to cry, unlike the flute with many eyes (referring to the holes in the flute)).

A few of my favorite tracks featuring a few popular ones and a few unnoticed gems (as always):

Evano Oruvan - Alaipayuthey
Ulunthu Vedaikaiyile - Mudhalvan
Kuliruthu Kuliruthu - Taj Mahal
Thirumana Malargal - Poovellam Un Vaasam
Poraale Ponnuthaayi - Karuthamma
Senyore Senyore - Kannathil Muthamittal
Hai Rama - Rangeela
Madrasa Suthi Paaka Poren - May Maadham
Hai Rama - Rangeela
Sunta Hai Mera Khuda/Sollayo Solai Kili - Pukar/Alli Arjuna

Aug 25, 2010

Indian Sports: Beyond Cricket?

At the recent world conference on Mathematics, the World Champion in chess, Vishwanathan Anand, was not conferred a PhD in Mathematics. And the reason for this was that, he is not an Indian. It was after some enlightenment that he is indeed an Indian, that this folly was realized and the HRD ministry tendered an apology to the Grandmaster.

(Image Courtesy: 

Such is the state of a sport (and its stars), other than cricket (and of course the cricketers). For a person who used to look upon Mr. Anand as an inspiration to achieve greater heights in life, this was indeed a great disappointment. Agreed that the nation eats cricket and sleeps cricket, but it sure needs to have people in responsible positions who can think beyond cricket.

And to top it all, Mr. Anand is a part of the 'Olympic Gold Quest' that has been formed to support the country's elite sportspersons and talent towards the Olympic endeavor. It would indeed be a slap on the face of the government, if Mr. Anand continues to serve on this Board. But, I sincerely hope that Mr. Anand continues to serve on this board, because that is the only way for a sportsperson from a non-cricket background to get into in the spotlight despite the step-motherly treatment by the corporate sponsors and the government agencies.

If Mr. Anand not staying in India is a reason for this non-Indian stature, why raise make a fuss about an ABCD Sanjaya Malakar on the American Idol or Sunita Williams' India trip? They don't even represent India, and the government and the media put them in the spotlight for so long.

Indeed this step-motherly treatment towards the sportspersons of merit must stop! I am sure there are lot more Saina Naiwals, Vijender Singhs, Abhinav Bindras, Sushil Kumars and others hidden in the country, thanks to this form of ignorance in India. And they need to be unearthed!

Jul 20, 2010

Indian Media - Does it report responsibly or does it just sensationalize?

(This is an entry to BlogAdda's contest 'Is Indian Media misusing its freedom?' sponsored by

No serious news follower would have missed the expose carried out on a self-styled god-man by a leading Tamil entertainment channel. A late night crime reporting show that it was, brought out the hidden life of the god-man and showed his non-celibate side being in compromising positions with a yester-year leading actress. For a show that is at 10:30pm, though we don’t expect non-nature audience to be viewers of this show, it was indeed scandalous on the part of the new channel to air an almost X-rated video footage on national television. And the following day, the channel lost it totally. The footage of this tape found its way into the most watched news bulletin in Tamilnadu and by the Tamil speaking population across the globe. Following this, this footage made its way into every other news channel in the country. Whatever may be the gravity of the situation, there are indeed some ethics that a television channel would want to follow, in at least censoring the segments that may be X-rated. Was the channel working towards the expose of the god-man genuinely, or was it working towards sensationalizing a not-so-important issue and gain target rating points (TRP) to boost its advertising revenue? This is a question that even a non-MBA graduate can answer.

26/11/2008 is a date not many people would be able to forget. The Mumbai attacks on this day made it to the news channels all over the world, with some major reporting all around the round. The media sure had its moment of glory, by capturing the footage of a terror-accused, something that even the police couldn’t get. But, what was disappointing about this reporting was that it was also probably one of the most irresponsible reporting by the Indian media. The blasts had disturbing images of dead and charred bodies, injured people and more importantly that of people, whose loved ones were dead in the blast. The news channels didn’t show any responsibility in censoring out these disturbing images on national television for a while. Also, just to gain TRPs and once again sensationalize this national disaster, all the news channels began interviewing the victims of the blast and the loved ones of the dead ones in the blast. The last thing that some one who is in such a situation would want to do is to explain what happened inside the hotel where the blasts took place. Whatever happened has happened, and we need to take steps to get these people to lead a normal life. Instead, the news channels only ended up grilling the already depressed minds of these people, just to make their own bread and butter out of these victims’ grief. It was also a very disgusting sight that the editor/owner of one of India’s leading news channels brushed aside a witness’ statements, just because it was not sensational enough for him to air it on his news channel and moved on to the next witness. What responsible media would have done and should have done is to help the help people in the blast area get back to normalcy, and aid in the police and army’s rehabilitation efforts.

A Hindi movie made based on a popular and best-selling Indian ‘novel’ garnered a lot of attention in the media and amongst the public. The reason – the book’s author was unhappy that he was not given enough credit for his contribution to the movie and that the film’s producer and director took credit for the story. The author raised a hue and cry about this situation, resulting in press conferences given out by both parties – the book’s author and the film’s production team. In one of the press meets, the film’s producers lost his cool at the media and asked a reporter to shut up. And this was enough for the news channels to magnify this issue and blow it out of proportion. At the end of the day, we are not too sure who gained from this – whether it was the producers of the movie that made more than Rs. 350 crores, or the author who found a new fan following. But surely, the media houses which kept track of every single movement that the two parties made, thus made sure that the viewers have their eyes glued to the screen, as thought there was a natural calamity, and eventually made idiots out of the idiot box viewers.

Off late, a news item that’s garnered national attention is not that of any national calamity or disaster, but that of the marriage of the captain of the Indian cricket team. The Indian cricket team skipper married his school friend, and this was enough to have our news channels splash pictures of the bride, the groom and the many link ups that the captain had. After all, a wedding is a private life event and anyone not invited to the wedding should respect the privacy of the bride and groom parties. Instead, the media goes into the details regarding who was invited to the wedding, who made it to the wedding, and more importantly where the couple first met and how their relationship blossomed. This was the exact same situation that happened when a former Miss World got married to the so-called first family of the Indian cinema, or the actress who made it big, thanks to her Big Brother win due to the racist slur got married to a London millionaire. I am sure the Indian public deserves better food for thought, than the generic gossip that cricket and Bollywood have been churning out for decades.

There’ve been many instances apart from these where the media has misused its freedom of reporting, expression and thought. These include instances where a former prime minister of India voiced out curse words against the current chief minister of Karnataka, the publishing of photos of a dead model in compromising positions with her significant other, or creating a ruckus thanks to intentionally misread celebrity twitter statements. Sadly during an election, the opinion polls of each of the news channels show a different figure thanks to the different political parties that they are biased towards. (This is the case not only in our country, but also in the so-called developed nation, United States of America.)

Thanks to the mushrooming of TV news channels every day, it seems like anyone with a good command over English, an opinion and with some financial backing can open a new channel of his own. And to maintain their position in the TRPs they end up resorting to cheap gimmicks. This needs to change! The news media in India needs to understand that the thoughts of the Indian public have grown beyond what it sensationalizes, and responsible and unbiased reporting is what the public demands.



Jul 13, 2010

Moments of Madness

(This blog was one of the winning entries in the Moments of Madness contest by BlogAdda.)

Trying to categorize moments of madness can be quite challenging, especially in the life of a person who provides entertainment to his friends around, with his unintentionally funny antics. Listed below are a few of the trivial events in my life, which have brought the retarded nature in me to the forefront, and made me get amused at my own doings.

Cart thieves

A graduate student in US, who does not have access to a car to go to the nearby grocery store invariably struggles in carrying the couple of gallon-cans of milk, juice cartons, watermelons, along with other stuff, back home. Usually we pick up things from a market that is open beyond midnight, the best time for us poor souls, and walk all the way back home carrying them. A few stores would let us take the carts back home and pick up the carts the next day. But a few stores that weren’t generous enough, would have a magnetic sensor in their carts, and the cart would not move past the stores’ interiors.

A couple years back, myself and another partner in crime bought half the items in the store and not being able to carry the stuff, tried to lift the cart across the wall and miserably failed. This was a disastrous experiment and I vowed I would never try it again. But, 'laziness overcomes any vow'. Once again, we (a group of four this time) were there and as usual swiped our credit cards away to glory. I tried an age-old tested experiment on the cart then, just for fun. I lifted the cart’s front wheels and just pushed the cart, which stood, on its rear wheels alone. The trick worked, the cart wheels were not locked by the magnetic sensor.

Later, when we were on our midnight trip to the store once again, each of us took a cart to try the trick, and the trick didn’t work. The cartwheels were stuck. But my accomplice in crime saw a unique thing. It was just the front wheels that were locked, that too only from in front. So she gave us the ‘Nobel Laureate’ idea of pulling the cart backwards. And the cart moved with ease. Even though it meant complicated handling from our side, it did save us that day from having to lug back the groceries home.

Jump to (from) death

The time was 12:40am. The store that we frequent closes at 1am. It is only past midnight that, either me or my good friend would end up discovering that our houses will soon be drought-affected and we need to get some basic food. Basic food in some cases also includes watermelons, ice creams, flavored yogurt and more, thanks to the wonderful 45 degree centigrade summer weather we are in.

That night, to fight against the impending drought, we decided to make the trip to the grocery store. It was also a known fact that a goods train that would run longer than ten episodes of ‘Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’, would pass near the store, thereby blocking access to the store. Hence we hurried up and walked towards to the store, only to hear the train engine from a distance. The Usain Bolts that we are, tried to run towards the track hoping to cross it before the train arrives. And we were probably a couple of meters away from the crossing, and we saw the train approaching, slowly though. Just like how a hungry monkey jumps to catch its food, no matter what the circumstances are, we just ran in front of the train to cross the track, with no thought of what might actually happen. And when I next opened my eyes, we were there, present on the other side of the track. And we looked back at the train, and it turns out that it had stopped midway. You surely can imagine the look on our faces then!

White Water Rafting with a White face

Once on a trip to the Great Smoky Mountain national park in Tennessee, we had dedicated an entire day to trails, hikes and white water rafting. The not-so-adventurous person that I am, didn’t want to venture into white water rafting. But my ever-persuasive friends (who doesn’t have such friends?) somehow convinced me into this. Upon reaching the spot and paying for it, we were made to sign an agreement that read: ‘I am responsible for my life, and severe injury or death may result in case of unforeseen circumstances.’ My heart skipped a beat, and I wanted to get away from them there as early as possible. But, I put up a brave face and got into the bus that took us to the river, where we were instructed on how to row and also provided some safety tips.

We got to our raft where our instructor made the five of us sit in appropriate positions, such that the raft was balanced. Two of the braver friends made it to the front, followed by the girls, followed by the instructor and me. Apparently, the level 3 and 4 rapids were the most common ones that day, and my heart skipped another beat (though I later learnt level 5 and 6 were the harder ones). Having heard horror stories about the instructors having to abandon a drowning rafter, in order to save the rest of them on the boat, I made up my mind to hold on to the grip on the raft. Wait – there was no grip or handle on the raft, all that I could do was to lock my foot inside the raft safely. Having done that, we embarked on our journey, and our instructors gave us good instructions, and we had a good time. There were three instances were the raft was about to capsize, but it ultimately didn’t happen. But my friend in front lost quite a bit of her hair, as a result of me trying to hold on to it for grip. And the end of the rafting trip, I vowed I would never ever go on one again. This nerve-racking experience was sufficient for a lifetime! The pictures taken during the rafting showed me as a white-faced coward, much to the amusement of my friends.

Good deeds Eclipsed

Recently, I was at the cinemas with two other friends to watch ‘The Karate Kid’. Walking towards the theater from the parking lot, we saw a girl in her teens trying to get a few chairs out of her car, and she requested us for help. Assuming the chair was for her old parents or handicapped friends, we helped her carry the chairs. On the way, upon enquiring what movie she was going to watch, I got to know it the teenage girls heartthrob Robert Pattinson starrer Eclipse, the third installment of the Twilight Series. I got a suspicion then, since the first show of the movie was not going to be screened until midnight. We continued talking, and took her chairs along and she pointed to her friends who were waiting there in the line to get the tickets. And who were the friends? Two other girls who surely were Twilight fans, and were munching away pop corn and chips to glory. That was the moment! I was mad at this girl, not for having made us carry it, but for having made us carry it for these two useless friends. And I got another reason to hate the Twilight series!

Final moment of madness

It was 11am. I’d just then woken up, for the nocturnal person that I am. It takes a while for me to get out of the bed and head to perform my mandatory morning chores. But on that day, I was fresher than ever, and I wanted to get the maximum out of the remainder of the morning, in terms of work. Heading to the restroom, and realizing after a flush that the water tank in the restroom is not getting filled up, is not the best thing that could happen to a person on a Monday morning. I open the tap in the washbasin and I get the coolest breeze of air that even my air-conditioner has failed to produce. And you surely can imagine the moment of madness then! I will not get into the details of the events that followed, but I sure realized that, it’s for a reason that people have said –‘early to bed, early to rise.’

This blog is in response to the BlogAdda contest ‘Moments of Madness’ sponsored by Pringoo.

I am Man

I am Mad
I am Mad

Jul 11, 2010

Old wine in a new bottle, hoping it ages better!

I started writing my blog in 2006, and blogged regularly in 2007 and 2008, before taking a hiatus in 2009. And in 2010, I am back, thanks to the wonderful contests by BlogAdda and IndiBlogger.

It was meant to be a personal blog, and I had my name and sister's name together as the blog URL. However as time passed by, the blog seemed to cover a lot more thoughts than I'd imagined it to cover. Hence I'm renaming the URL of my Untitled Blog to Untitled-Thots.

And by doing this name change, I've lost all the comments that have been posted on my blog. Especially the few recent blogs had a lot of comments, thanks to better readership via BlogAdda. I am hoping those comments are restored by Google soon. Else, I shall take this as a clean slate and blog better and a lot more! (Google/Blogger restored the comments recently!)

Thank you for visiting my blog!

Jun 29, 2010

What Women Want - A guy's perspective

(This Blog is an entry to the BlogAdda contest ‘What Women Want’ sponsored by Pringoo)

Mystic girl

Mystic girl
Mystery girl

If there is a question that even the creator of mankind would be baffled, it is probably this very one, ‘What Women Want!’ This is probably going to be the toughest thought process that I’ve ever undergone and would probably undergo in a while. The output has not been quite as expected, since a friend of mine, a woman, herself told, women themselves are not sure of what they actually want.

And, I am going to be taking extreme caution in wording this post, because I definitely do not want to earn of the wrath of the fairer sex, for this expression of my thought! But, with the explicit frankness in my way of expression, I’ve ended up in awkward situations quite often, and I can expect it to happen now as well.

I have made good friends with a few women/girls that I’ve interacted with in my life and of course my mother and sister are an integral part of my life, and hence have personally noted a few key points. Professionally as well, since my PhD advisor is a woman, I have been able to observe carefully what Women want in professional life too. However, it is indeed going to be hard for me (or for any guy) to really answer this question. I’d treat this subject from various points of view, as in ‘What Women Want’ from different aspects in life, and ‘What Women Really Want’.

What a Woman wants from her career is independence and self-esteem. Clichéd it may sound, since this is true in the case of a man too, but it is indeed true that a Woman who is a working professional certainly on the path towards independence, especially in a gender-biased society (not anymore!) like ours. In trying to prove her merit to her peers and superiors, she probably wants to prove she is as good as any man who would do the job. What can be a little disturbing in these cases at times, is that, there might not be any competition from the opposite sex; but still there is a competitive spirit and a ‘feel of being important’ that exists within a woman just for her to show her worth.

What a Woman wants from her family and siblings is unconditional love and support. Again, in the gender-dominated Indian society, girl child was not preferred a few decades ago. The reason for this being, the belief in parents that the son is going to care for the parents in old age and the high costs associated with marrying a daughter off. These beliefs have been broken and are no longer valid in today’s scenario. All that a girl needs these days is supportive backing in the form of basic education and moral support while she evolves to be an educated woman. There have been instances, where so-called dependable sons have disowned parents, and many a time, a daughter has come to the rescue of the parents. This unconditional love and support has quite often helped a Woman realize her career goals.

And, as a mother, the contribution of a Woman to the lives of her children is immense. Writing about the role of a woman as a mother, might fill up this entire blog. I briefly mention it, even though I understand that motherhood is an important phase in a Woman’s life. What a Woman wants from motherhood is a worthy contribution to mankind, a daughter or a son who will make her proud in the years to come, and her living a fruitful one.

The toughest part is to answer what a Woman wants from her personal life, or more specifically her partner. This is probably a question, the answer for which is not known to most women themselves. In trying to reach out to extra-terrestrial men, whose species are not found on earth any more, Women end up leaving out or rather ignoring the worthy mortals who might be able to make their lives together an memorable one. The amount of expectation that a Woman has from a man, to even consider him as a friend, let alone a significant other is quite complex. (I will not deny that men have comparable amount of expectations, though!) A Woman probably looking at a secure future would want a partner who is well settled in life, and probably placed in a respectable position. With this, what they also expect is good looks, hospital manners, and someone who respects their views and thoughts. A good combination this might actually sound, is probably only attributed to Rama of Ayodhya, who existed centuries ago. Hence affected by the harsh reality in the nature of guys, a girl may settle down for a compromise either in looks or in profession, the former being more common and with a hope of transforming a Mr. Okay to a Mr. Right. Also, a Woman doesn’t want to be viewed as an object of lust or attraction. However, they do want to be noted as a beautiful Woman. This would probably be possible, if a Woman is dignified and graceful in looks and attire, as opposed to the contrary these days.

In a lighter vein, Women do not want the ‘safe’ guy as a boy friend, but as a husband yes! If a guy is to qualify a boy friend, the guy must not be boring and a Woman will be willing to accept a lot of compromises in profession, looks or views, as long as the guy knows how to keep her happy.

Finally, what a Woman wants of herself is a question which a woman herself might have trouble answering. However, it might seem that a woman would definitely appreciate the following: a caring family that is supportive, a loving guy to spend the rest of her life with, a respectable career position that does a justice to her potential, and above all a life that when looked back at, should not be a cause of any repentance.

Jun 21, 2010

Appa – To my Father

When I wrote the post ‘Amma – to my Mother,’ I knew that this post was soon coming up, just for my father. And BlogAdda came up with this contest to mark Father’s Day, thus helping me get rid of my laziness and get this post out faster.

(Image Courtesy: Kannathil Muthamittal - A Tamil movie by Mani Ratnam, one of the few recent movies to explore a father-child relationship)

To a father, who made a lot of sacrifices professionally and personally, the only thing I could do was to help him realize his dreams, in the form of my success. I might not have been able to succeed a full hundred percent, but he still is happy with the few little things in life that bring joy to him, in the form of this daughter and son’s achievements.

Being a person who was forced to study borrowing books from the library, give up an M.Tech seat in the prestigious IIT-Madras (now Chennai), or give up on an fully-funded PhD offer from University of Florida upon landing up with a government job, my father made sure that his children do not have to undergo any of these and get better facilities in life. I am sure any father of this generation does this, and it is indeed heartening to see a lot of us trying to fulfill our parents’ dreams.

Just because I said I needed company while preparing for my class 10 exams, my father pursued an MBA course (via correspondence), and ended up working harder than me at the age of 43. When I was in class 12, whether it was an early 5:30 am tuition that I needed to be dropped off at, or picking me up from there after a long day at work, he did it all without a showing any sign of tiredness no matter how hectic his work would get. It was indeed a moment of pride for him and a sense of unattainable happiness for me, when my father went to pick up the academic achievement award from my engineering college (since I was in the US). I then thought I have at least been able to do to this bit for the sacrifices you made for my sake. And to add to this, my sister topped her class in Class 12 exams, the same year, and there was my proud father, picking up another award, on my sister's behalf! This is probably a moment that he might have not anticipated, but surely wished, when he picked my sister or me from the doctor's hands when we were just born.

With multiple books being prescribed for a single course in class 11, 12 and in engineering, I was told by my father, 'I so wanted to read all these books back then, but couldn't. I want you read them all, so I'm going to get them all for you!' I would stand at the bookstore every time, me standing short of words, and thinking of this: 'you never buy clothes for you at all, and say you have enough new clothes, while the last one you bought was a good six Diwalis ago!'

For my graduate studies, I chose to come to the US with my father's (and mother's) encouragement. Being in my final year of engineering, I got busy with the project, seminar and coursework. Getting to the US on an F1 visa demands a lot of paper work in terms of financial documents and other paperwork. For a VISA interview in June, my father had to literally run around starting March to get all the paper-work including bank statements and chartered accountants (CA) statements ready. I am sure, most of us have an idea of how effective the banks or CAs can be, and he showed no sign of taking a break till it was all done. All that I had to do was, to sit with him in the hotel room in Chennai on the day before my VISA interview, and he went over the documents explaining them one-by-one. I was really surprised and probably even shocked at the amount of effort he had put in to get each of the documents, and the amount of detail that he provided. Especially after seeing many of my friends running around all by themselves to get these documents, or even worse with parents asking them to take a job after engineering, I felt really lucky to have a father like him.

I have always had this respect for my father for the reason that, he made sure my mother got back to studies after she got married to him while in the first year of college. It was probably under forced familial circumstances that he had to marry her, but ensured that my mother's future was not going to be in the kitchen and in the backyard of our house. She went on to get three professional degrees and become a well-qualified teacher.

Also, a father's role is quite important in the upbringing of his children. I discussed this point with director Onir (of My Brother Nikhil fame) in a conversation on the micro-blogging site Twitter. He agreed with the fact that, if a father helps in the household chores at home and spends a lot of time with his children, it helps in the better upbringing of the children. The children will make sure that they help their spouse in managing the house later on their life and probably bring up their children that way too, thus creating a good example for the generations to come. By believing in division of labor, my father usually helps my mother, (a working woman) in many household chores, thus setting a good example to us. There are a few guys even in this so-called modern age, who delegate their wives to just household chores, without giving them a chance and forget that the wife needs to have a life too! He values her independence too, and helps her take a break from the routine chores by making/getting breakfast and cleaning up the house on most days. From a very young age, my sister and I have helped our parents together in managing the house, and I am quite proud of this fact because, this helped me be a lot more independent when I got to the US for my graduate studies.

He surely respects my sister's independence and mine too. As with many parents, with a set of restrictions (which I feel is mandatory while growing up), we have evolved to be young responsible adults. Depending on what was considered a necessity and what was a luxury, my father helped us by marking a good line between the two of them, and this aspect has helped me a lot in the recent days. By being open about every aspect my life, I seek advice from him, because I believe that he is my best role model. I truly value his words of advice that have come at the right instance.

I surely cannot take after this wonderful gentleman, who has been instrumental about every success in my life, stood by my failures, adequately handled my ignorance, put up with my childish pranks to this day and more; men like him are not made often. The only thing I can say to him is – Appa, I am really blessed to have a father like you.


I wished for

Jun 6, 2010

Raajneeti – My View

Having seen the trailer of Raajneeti earlier in January this year, the movie with the usually non-performing Katrina Kaif in a lead role seemed to instantly capture my attention. Prakash Jha, the director of the movie has had great reviews on Gangajal (which I am yet to watch), and this definitely made me look forward to the movie more. The star cast of the movie – Ajay Devgn, Arjun Rampal, Katrina Kaif, Manoj Bajpai, Nana Patekar, Naseeruddin Shah, and Ranbir Kapoor seemed to a different blend of performing stars and eye candy stars, and was another thing that made me curious of how the star cast was going to be used.

Having seen it now, I surely am not disappointed by the movie. It deals with the current state of Indian politics, with corruption, dynasty-based politics, sex, exploitation of backward castes, and more importantly the opportunistic politicians. The story line of Raajneeti seems to be a routine one, liberally borrowing from Mahabharatha and Godfather, and the movies inspired by these, such as Dalapathi, Nayagan, Sarkar, Sarkar Raj and the like. Definitely a long watch at 3 hours (with no interval here), the movie seemed to have some good writing, cinematography, music and above all performances.

Ajay Devgn, Manoj Bajpai, and Nana Patekar are all seasoned actors, and a great performance is always expected out of them. And they do not disppoint. Manoj with great political aspirations exactly portrays what a neglected son of a politician would do. Ajay Devgn as Sooraj, the leader of the Dalits gives a realistic performance, but surely looks worn out in a few scenes. Nana Patekar as the party mentor, play crucial role in the movie proceeding and gives an underplayed but splendid performance. Naseeruddin Shah comes in a cameo is wasted in the role; just wish we got to see a little more of him.

Ranbir Kapoor as the silent mastermind behind all of the happenings, emerges as the new find in Raajneeti. He was surely good as the boy-next-door in Wake Up Sid, but this movie definitely brings out another dimension in this immensely talented actor.

Arjun Rampal, without his usual wooden expressions, gives a great performance as Prithvi. This is surely one of his best roles, along with Rock On! His characterization was quite interesting, as he oscillated between being a person with gray shades to a really good person. His outfits in the movie were too cool and definitely benefited his characterization.

Katrina Kaif doesn’t really have much to do in the proceedings of the movie initially, but surely has come a long way from the non-performing eye candy she used to be. Also, without her British accent, she definitely made a mark as the Indian political dynasty’s bahu (daughter in law). She had some really good ethnic outfits in the movie too!

The others stars contributed well to the movie as well, and definitely made a mark in their roles.

The movie as I said, reflects the state of Indian politics very well, and some scenes in the movie can be related to what we see in the TV news daily, especially during election times, when the dealings between political parties is in a denomination no less than tens of crores of rupees. The opportunistic attitude of the Indian politicians, and the state of how the wives of the Indian politicians retire to their fate and play a fiddle to their exploits, is quite well depicted too.

I loved the song Mora Piya, sung by Kavita Seth (of Iktara fame), and a few others running in the background. There were no full-fledged routine songs, which usually act as filler to a loose script. The script in this movie was quite tight and never was there a boring moment. The cinematography employed two schemes - a fresh theme for the outdoors, and a sober kinda nostlagic theme for the indoor scenes, and I loved it.

Raajneeti, despite it’s three hour length is a good watch for the performances and more!

(Image Courtesy:

Jun 1, 2010

The Better Images from my Third Eye

Having done a lot of travel in the past couple years in India and abroad, I got some great opportunities to visit some extra-ordinary locales. I carried a camera to most of the trips, as any other traveler who considers it to be a key accessory. For that particular moment, our eyes are the best cameras and capture the images of the scene better than any other camera, especially with the imagination of the human mind. With a camera, one takes pictures to almost recreate the scene along with the imagination that one had, so that they can be viewed even after many years. The camera can definitely be called our third eye too!

I am not a professional photographer and all of the pictures here were shot with a point and shoot camera. With the perception and imagination at the moment of shooting, I would call these pictures as a few good pictures that I might have taken. This blog entry is a part of Travel Photos contest organized by Blog Adda. I am sure there are better pictures and posts accompanying the pictures, but as always I am happy to be a part of this contest.

This first picture was shot at the Great Horseshoe Bend in Page in Arizona (US), when I went on a road trip with a few friends in July 2009. This is a place where the mountain is shaped like a horseshoe magnet, and the river’s trail follows the path of a horseshoe as well. The water flow from above looks to be really smooth and serene, but upon close observation you definitely see the water currents and turbulences. I’d liken this to the human mind, which has a lot of activity going on within. But the person’s face at the first glance, doesn’t give a clue of the happenings in his mind (unless he is overtly expressive).

This second picture was shot at the Paddington Underground Railway Station in Great Britain in Dec 2008, when I was in London for a day during transit. The thing that captured my attention in this picture was the fact that this train station reminded me of the Indian train stations during monsoon, with the rain water around. The Britishers surely inspired a lot of things in India including the train system. Another generic observation in this picture is that the people are awaiting the next train with some concern over the time of arrival, and are all set for yet another working day.

This third picture was shot during the London transit as well, and I saw an advertisement hoarding on a bus, and it encouraged recycling. Though, all countries are now encouraging recycling, I have not seen many effective signs either in the US or in India that probably reaches out to the high school/college students in a casual way. Instead of having movie posters or consumer product advertisement hoarding on buses, we’d rather have a hoarding that’s dedicated towards a cause.

This fourth picture was shot at one of the natural wonders, Grand Canyon in Arizona (US). The Canyon itself is a great wonder, and an entire lifetime is not sufficient to visit the Canyon and explore all parts of the Canyon. This is one of the scenic points in the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, called the Angel’s Window.  A natural window like formation, that it is, stands out from the rest of the Canyon. This is formed over a millions of years due to the wind and probably water forces. The texture of the material that made up the formation is what captivates me the most, with the layers of limestone and other material withstanding all the heat and the cold, and sculpted into such a formation. How I wish, the human mind also took both positive and negative forces and made itself into an admirable entity.

The last one, probably being the most clichéd picture, is that of a sunrise as seen of the Bay of Bengal in Visakhapatnam, shot in December 2008. With the waves from the sea, hitting the rocks on the sea shore and the sun rising with it’s own grace forming a wonderful and colorful texture in the sky, a day cannot begin better than this. It is also an indication of the nature’s fact that, there is always a chance to begin everything afresh and proceed in the right direction, irrespective of the what happened prior to it.

I will soon be getting an SLR, and it will probably provide a new dimension to my creativity with my third eye!

May 27, 2010

Alaipayuthey – Waves of Feel-Good Romance (My first PFC Post)


“Originally published on”

This was a post published on Passion For Cinema (Broken Link), one of the websites which aims aimed at spreading awareness about good cinema.
In 1984, a genius director Mani Ratnam made his debut in a Kannada movie called Pallavi Anu Pallavi. In that movie, he embarked on a new journey with an entirely different genre of filmmaking. He ventured into the waters of Tamil cinema and made everyone turn around with his simple and subtle Mouna Raagam. As the name suggests, it is a ‘silent melody’, and this sure holds good as an adjective for Mr. Ratnam too! A brilliant post on the movie was posted on PFC recently. A short but effective romance segment in Mouna Raagam (a few bits borrowed from Pallavi Anu Pallavi) showed this man’s taste for romance. Without going overboard, he handled the romance in all of his films really well. Here’s mentioning a few more of his movies that had a very different and memorable approach romance segments: Roja, Kannathil Muthamittal, Nayagan, Bombay, Dalapathi, Geethanjali, Aayitha Ezhuthu/Yuva. Though, romance was not the main premise of most of these movies, these segments can be regarded as a few of the best-handled romance segments in Indian films.

In 2000, the ace director came up with an out and out romantic movie called Alaipayuthey (remade as Saathiya by Shaad Ali in 2002). With movies with heavy subjects such as Bombay, Dil Se and Iruvar being his past outings, this movie came as a surprise to everyone. I first saw this movie as a 15 year old, and I repeatedly watch it, and each time I watch it, this movie gives me a different perspective, even ten years after its release. A tribute to this evergreen movie follows, with the disclaimer that no amount of applauding will suffice for this brilliant effort by Mani Ratnam.

Alaipayuthey is initially the simple story of Karthik (Madhavan) and Shakthi (Shalini), who meet, fall in love, get married without informing parents and live separately with their parents. This is probably where a regular Tamil/Hindi cinema would end with the couple uniting. But, Alaipayuthey goes on to discover what happens when the couple moves in together, how the romance changes post marriage and times get strained too, and finally how the couple re-discovers the love that is lost between them.
The Mani Ratnam in this movie is definitely the hardcore romantic, and as always pays attention to the simple detail in day-to-day life. A movie based on war/politics maybe difficult to make, since it is really hard to imagine on that large scale and portray the same effect on screen. But what is more difficult is to compile casual happenings of everyday life, and present it in a way that the audience is not bored, but instead remark saying ‘Hey that happened to me too!’, ‘Why did the girl behave this way?’, ‘We faced similar troubles too when we ran away from home and got married!’ etc.

The romance segment, creative as it could ever be, took place with mostly the Chennai electric train stations and trains as the background. Karthik’s character is almost carved out of the same mould as that of Mouna Raagam (Karthik) in Mouna Raagam. His playful attitude when Shakthi first spoke to her, screaming ‘Yay, Ava Enna paatthu pesita’ (Yay, She talked to me), is probably the reaction of every guy in his late teens or early twenties. The responsibility he showed (within that childish nature) was well demonstrated by the fact that he introduced her to his parents in a house ceremony, with some comical moments. Waiting for his wife for two hours immediately after marriage was bliss to him, but eventually that changed, probably thanks to the boredom setting in after wedding. The final moments of the movie where Karthik talks to Shakthi while on her hospital bed are probably the cutest and the most romantic segments in the entire movie. Karthik appears as the caring husband just waiting for his wife to talk them. Madhavan scores a hundred percent in that scene.

Shakthi on the other hand is this simple homely girl, who definitely longs for Madhavan, yet hides it within herself due to familial pressures, but later succumbs to the love with Madhavan, asking him to marry her. A similar character portrayal was seen in Bombay, Saira Banu (Manisha Koirala), but it is definitely not right to compare the two characters in entirety. The transition from the pampered and playful girl to the girl-in-love and then to the ‘almost’ neglected wife is so very well very ‘lived’ by Shalini. The scene were Shakthi hands over a burning newspaper to Karthik saying, ‘Indha chuda chuda news’ (here’s your burning hot news) was one among the many interesting post-marriage scenes. She should definitely be proud of her performance in this movie, which was her swan song too.

Every form of relationship along with the relationship between the lead pair was very well developed and portrayed realistically. Whether it was Karthik’s father pointing at his carefree and careless attitude, Shakthi’s mother talking to her and sister Poorni during breakfast, or the girly talk between Shakthi and Poorni at bedtime, each of these seemed so natural and unforced into the movie. A few memorable scenes also include, the marriage registrar asking one of Karthik’s friends if this is a marriage without elder taking part and saying there is a different thrill in that too, the lady in the bus that conversing to Madhavan and Shalini saying she is married for 15 years, or Shalini’s potential suitor ‘Evam’ Karthik voicing out his reaction after his father decided to ask for Shalini’s hand in marriage for his son. In addition, the interactions between Madhavan’s friends were something we would have definitely seen at some point of time in our lives.

A few characters might have got very little screen time, but each one of them definitely captured our attention. Each of the supporting characters SwarnaMallya, Vivek, Ravi Prakash, Jayasudha, Sukumari, Pyramid Natarajan, KPAC Lalitha alongside the other characters including Madhavan’s group of friends, all of these people have contributed in their might to this legendary movie.

The tribute to this movie will be incomplete without the mention of the contribution of the off screen technicians. A.R.Rahman had one of his best soundtracks in this movie, and the songs are a favorite even to this day. These included the soulful Evano Oruvan, where Shakthi yearns for Karthik’s presence, Snehidhane where Shakthi meets her ‘secret friend’ Karthik, the chirpy wedding song Yaaro Yaarodi, the colorful Pachai Nirame, and the mischievous Kadhal Sadugudu. The background score was effective, and contributed to the theme of the movie so very well. The cinematography by P.C. Sreeram was out of the world, especially in the song ‘Pachai Nirame’, where he brought colors alive on screen. This cinematography has been adapted by a lot of movies, even 10 years later. Crisp editing by A. Sreekar Prasad ensured that the segments were all short and effective. The movie had a non-linear screenplay, with flashbacks interspersed between current happenings, and this surely was one among the first Indian movies to adapt such a technique.

All in all, no amount of writing would do justice to this magical masterpiece of Mani Ratnam. Such romantic movies are not made everyday. Even if they are made, they do not cause an impact, like Alaipayuthey! Not even its remake Saathiya!

Cast/Crew of Alaipayuthey:

On screen:
Madhavan, Shalini, Jayasudha, SwarnaMallya, with special appearances by Arvind Swamy and Khushboo.

Off screen:
Mani Ratnam  (Direction), Mani Ratnam and R. Selvaraj (Writing), A.R.Rahman (Music), P. C. Sreeram (Cinematography), A. Sreekar Prasad (Editing).

May 11, 2010

Amma - To my mother

For a mother, every child is special. And for every child, its mother is special. The first of the many people in my life, my mother always has a special place for everything that she did, is doing and will do for me. Every mother is perfect in her own right, and the best mother that child could have got. I am writing this as a tribute to my ever-caring, ever-loving, and ever-forgiving mother. This blog post is for the Mother's Day contest on, but as always I'd stay content just with this opportunity to write a tribute to my mother.

In many language

In many language

For every mother, sacrifice begins with childbirth. A mother will go to any extent to ensure the child's happiness and well being. Right from the time at the labour table to the admission at a kindergarten school, a child spends most of its time with its mother. When a child leaves for kindergarten school, the slight concern on every mom's face is a witness to how much they care for the child. Following this entry into school, many people including teachers, friends, inspirers and motivators come into the life of a child. But one cannot deny that a mother is, all of these things, put into one.

My mother is my first teacher, best friend and a constant inspirer and motivator. For the fact that I could begin my schooling early, she took a transfer to a different city, and was away from my father for a good two years, managing her life and my initial years brilliantly. The family would be re-united every weekend, thanks to the innumerous trips, my father or my mother and I would make. As a single child for 4 years, I yearned for the company of a sibling, and that was the sole reason for my mother to give me the much-needed company of my life, my sister Nikila. I will always be thankful to her for giving me this yet another important person in my life. Not to mention the complications she had during my sister’s birth and a few devastating happenings in life following it, my mother has risen past all odds and continues to do so.

One of the very few ladies to ride a two-wheeler back in the eighties, she has always been the independent woman, which every young woman of today would take inspiration from. A lot of my female friends say that they look up to my mother and seek inspiration and advice from her on how to lead a successful professional and personal life.

As a high school teacher, she has seen every type and stage of adolescence right from the early eighties till now. And this has made my growing up process very simple. At every stage of my teenage and now during my early adulthood, my mother has been the person who spoke to me about the most delicate matters, which any one else would hesitate to talk about. A few things cannot be talked even to the best friend; but to my mother, yes.

Though, I am surely the pampered and the spoilt kid even to this day, I definitely had a few restrictions in life, which probably made me cringe at that point of time, but definitely appreciate my mothers efforts for keeping it that way. Compared to my other friends who had a lot of independence from their parents (read mothers), and eventually went astray, I can probably say I was given the right amount of independence, and this indeed has helped me become a bit more responsible and an independent individual now.

It is after coming to the US for my graduate studies (almost 5 years back), that I was able to see how big a role she played in my upbringing and how well she had groomed me to face the real world. I might be the childish person even now, but I now see how my mother hid my childishness into the mould of a responsible adult, such that the responsibility surfaces whenever required. This was specifically pointed out by a few of my friends’ mothers and this definitely made me feel really blessed to have such a mother.

To end this post, I not only salute to my mother for all the sacrifices she did in order to ensure a better life for me, but also to the many other mothers who were a part of my life during different stages in my life. This blog post is also dedicated to every single lady teacher in my life, my first employer at ASU and my PhD research advisor at ASU.  You all have been instrumental in making every aspect of my life a successful one.

Quoting from a song in the Tamil film 'New',

‘Imai Pol Iravum Pagalum Ennai Kaatha Annaiye, Unadhanbu paartha pinbu adhai vida vaanam bhoomi aagum siriyadhu’
‘You protected me like an eyelid all day and night, seeing your affection even the sky and earth are belittled’

(All rights of the song rest with lyricist Vairamuthu, composer A.R.Rahman and the film maker S.J.Suryah)

Apr 21, 2010

‘India after Gandhi’ by the Man of Modern Middleground - Ramachandra Guha

He was someone, about whom I had heard from people who read his books, and people who attended his talks. Having not read any of his books, I went in with an open mind to hear someone speak about modern-day India. Mr. Ramachandra Guha, the author of India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy gave a talk here at ASU, and I am producing almost a transcript of the talk.

All rights exist with the speaker, and certain errors might have crept in while writing the blog. My opinion on a few statements is also interspersed within. (Will write a opinion blog soon)

Mr. Guha began the very well attended talk with an unusual statement ‘India is the most unnatural nation.’ He mentioned that other countries usually have a ‘shared language and faith and a common enemy.’ With this, he gave examples about the British and the French and their mutual conflicts. A critical analysis of Pakistan being a superbly European nation, especially with the political system there, was interesting. In contrast, Indian does not privilege a specific religion, and has the largest population of Hindus, Christians (more than Australia), Muslims, Sikhs etc., more than any other country in the world, he said.

Due to the collective leadership in this ‘multilingual political unit’, we also see the denomination in 17 languages on an Indian currency note. Hence he again stressed on the fact that India is the most unnatural nation, and the ‘World’s least likely democracy.’ Unlike the US elections where the candidates are identified by their political party or name, he emphasized that it was the political party symbol in Indian ‘democratic’ elections that reached out to the millions of people. He commented on the Indian democracy to be a 50:50 working democracy in typical Johnny Walker (Bollywood) style.  He next drew reference to the Florida election in 2000, and mocked Indian democracy probably works better than that.

Following this, he provided an instance where non-Indians endorsed the Indian system. JBS Haldane, a Scottish biologist who immigrated India and embraced the Indian culture, apparently answered a journalists question on moving to India, by saying ‘60 years of wearing socks is enough. ’ The opinion that India is a better model for world organization than any other country in the world, being the closest approximation to the free world is definitely true. JBS Haldane also mentioned that this model may break, but it is still a good experiment. In response to a professor from Berkeley who labeled India as a ‘land of scoundrels,’ Haldance mentioned that it was better to be a scoundrel in India than elsewhere.

It is this part of the talk that actually got me immersed into it completely, and that Mr. Guha has simple yet effective instances to drive in a point.

Mr. Guha next made a thought-provoking and simple analysis of the problems that plagued India, each and every decade after its independence. And each of these problems has ‘tested the democracy of this single unified nation’. It was the communist approach that a few politicians adopted, taking inspiration from China and Russia that plagued India right after its independence in the late 1940s. Following this, we had the conflict of language leading to formation of separate states in the 1950s, and the Burma/China conflict and drought in 1960s. The emergency decade of 1970, where Ms. Indira Gandhi imposed a curfew on basic right of life was yet another disturbing phase in Indian history, followed by the Sikh riots in 1980. The rise of Hindu fundamentalism leading to the Babri Masjid-Ayodhya riots in 1990 coupled with the never-ending Kashmir border issue with Pakistan made our problems worse. And this decade was filled with terrorist attacks all over, the Godhra riots in Gujarat and the instability in Kashmir. What I’d have probably liked to hear is how India actually bounced back from each of these problems as an emerging superpower today.

The next interesting part of the talk was the five major conflicts and challenges that India majorly faces. He listed the five points and commented he on each of them.

1. Identity politics involving language, caste and religion: the fact that Kannada speakers in Bangalore are in minority and feel insecure, underlines this point. Similarly, the Hindu caste system which almost got abolished in the city culture and the competitive fundamentalism between religions is yet another challenge.

2. Border States: India being ‘50% democratic and 80% united,’ has more Christians in Kerala who where there earlier than in Europe, apart from Muslims and Christians living united, with the highest literacy rate. Mr. Guha also provided an instance where he saw a Rajasthani pickle seller amidst booksellers in a big fair in Kerala, thus showing more diversity. Contrastingly, two neglected states Nagaland and Manipur along with the troubled state of Kashmir demand for separate country status, which is not idealistic.

3. Instability on neighboring country: Compared to Canada which is the luckiest country in terms of borders (with the not-so-troublesome US below and Arctic Circle above), India has Pakistan (political anarchy), Srilanka (recovering slowly from the civil war), and Nepal, which makes contributes to our troubles.

4. Growing Maoist insurgency in the heart of India (almost 1/5th of India) is another  concern.

5. Abuse of natural environment, and domestic resources has cost India a lot in the bargain. Indian cities are known for the highest pollution, dead rivers, and non-existent forests. With this, the never-ending environmental crisis is threatening the economic development of the nation.

I couldn’t help but agree with Mr. Guha on all of the five topics, but somehow felt that the lack of efficient leadership and corrupt political system was another factor affecting India’s growth. But Mr. Guha conveyed that point at the end of the talk.

The final point of the talk was on how India can become a 60% democracy, since 100% democracy is practically impossible and 60% is good enough for the country’s growth.  It all depends on the state, private enterprise, and the civil society, of which the latter two were not present earlier. And now we have ‘an active civil society, good private enterprise and a corrupt state.’ It is this system that needs cleaning now, in my opinion.

Mr. Guha ended this talk with a statement by Ashis Nandy (Political psychologist): “In India the choice could never be chaos and stability but it could only be manageable or unmanageable chaos……….”

He answered a few questions from the audience; one of the answers included ‘US is both a democratic and an imperialist country,’ and pointed out instances where it tries to be democratic and other cases where it is imperialist.

For a change, a speaker was not too preachy and not boring, and kept the attention of both Indian and non-Indian audience occupied for the entire 45 minutes. His skill of providing an example to prove a point with subtle humor is definitely commendable.  Another point to be noted is that, he never targeted a country/group directly; instead he posed a real instance and mocked at them. I am sure such skills are partially natural and partially acquired with experience. He truly is the ‘Man of Modern Middleground’

At the end of the talk, I purchased the book and got the book signed by him and spoke a few words. The final remark from this cricket-lover was that ‘Tendulkar is the greater cricketer than Ponting, and the only mistake Tendulkar made was to evade customs duty for his Ferrari. Ponting has not faced his own Aussie Bowlers, while Tendulkar has.”

A refreshing, and a thought-provoking talk! Cannot wait to read his book!

(Photography credit: Arvind Ramachander, Cricket Credit: Akshay Pulipaka, Nilotpal Chakravarthy)

Apr 15, 2010

A Tribute to Anil Kumble

This post is not about a man, but about a hero, a legend or whatever superlative adjective you can use on a person who has had a positive impact on your life. I once had a blog-post on him when he bid goodbye to what he did best, and it indeed was a very sensitive topic for me to write. But I jumped in joy, when I heard of his return to what he did best, but in a different form.

(Image Courtesy:

This blog post is for a contest on, I'd stay content just with this tribute to the greatest leg-spinners ever in the world of cricket. (I'd definitely love to win the nice memorabilia, though!) I will borrow liberally from my previous post, but will definitely have new stuff.

Though Anil Kumble, a fellow Bangalorean, debuted in 1990 in international cricket, it was during the 1993 Hero Cup final against West Indies at Kolkata (then Calcutta), where he had an unbeatable bowling spell of 6/12 (Courtesy: Neil), that I noticed this legend. That was actually the first match that I watched enthusiastically, religiously and there was no looking back until 2003. That bowling spell could probably not be bettered by any bowler then or now, and still remains one of the finest bowling performances ever.

For a nine-year old in me then, Anil became an inspiration to strive hard and achieve the best in life. A young lad from my own city garnering national and international glory and fame was a moment of pride for all of us. He also happens to be be from the same school I studied (I believe he studied till 7th Std), and that's another trivial link I will always treasure. I also happened to see him as the Chief Guest for my school's Sports' day function. He was really polite, humble and gave a really 'inspiring' speech! I don't really remember what he spoke in his speech, but I would say that was probably the first speech that I listened to completely!

In his career, Anil has has a series of highs and lows. While he was held at the top for his highs and criticized for his flaws, one can never debate on the fact that, he always played for the team and never was concerned about individual records or personal glory.

Records kept tumbling when Anil was in his best form, and Anil Kumble was the leg-spinner that couldn’t be paralleled by anyone else. Shane Warne – the legendary Australian spinner was probably the only person that he could be compared to at that time.

A 10-wkt haul in a test innings is something that every bowler would dream of getting at least once in his career. However, this great spinner was the only one in 50 years to achieve it and the second person in the history of test cricket. His last test was at the same venue he achieved it (Feroze Shah Kotla grounds, Delhi), what a great way to wrap up an illustrious career which could have lasted way longer than what it actually was, especially seeing his performance in the IPL 2009 and 2010.

He also surpassed Kapil Dev's record of scalping the highest number of wickets in test cricket (434) and went on to join the elite 600 test wickets club along with fellow spinners Muttaih Muralidharan and Shane Warne in January 2008. I believe he is the highest Indian wicket taker in test cricket, and I doubt if any bowler of this generation will surpass that one.

The only disappointment was that he didn’t have a hat-trick in his career. Also, I guess the BCCI pressure late in his career must have forced him to call it quits from the tests. I usually never like to associate cricket or any other game with regionalism or politics, but surely Kumble was indirectly a victim of this and had to play second fiddle to many other under-deserving players in the team then.

In lighter vein, for people who don't know him too, the Anil Kumble Circle (on MG Road near BRV) in Bengaluru should strike a thought in their mind :), of who this man was! Sincerely hope that the Metro Rail construction in Bengaluru doesn't make this landmark disappear.

(Image Courtesy:

In 2009, I was really happy to see him back in the cricket world in the form of the ever-entertaining IPL. He drove our Royal Challengers Bangalore team into the finals and such was his leadership quality, which was also demonstrated during his short stint as the test caption in 2007-08. From a team that was ranked 7th amongst 8 team in IPL 2008, Anil Kumble has come a great way in charging them to a consistent #2 in the 2010 edition of the IPL. And it will not be wrong if I say, this IPL has re-kindled the cricket-lover in me, and this is all thanks to Anil Kumble.

The two bowlers – Kumble and Srinath made me watch cricket, or in other words as in the Coca-Cola ad then – Eat cricket and Sleep cricket. The 1996 World cup in the Indian sub-continent was a showcase for them. I still remember the time I used to write captions from the ads then on my cricket bat, and stick the cricketers’ stickers on my bat. I used to think, these guys would play for India forever! How I wish it was true!

Kumble's cricket (regular first class/ODI) will be missed by everyone, and it is definitely a pleasure seeing him perform in the IPL the past two years, even after retiring. As one of the many fans who watched cricket solely for the competitiveness and the people who played for the team and not for themselves, I bow down to this greatest legend ever.

Mr. Anil Kumble: They don't make cricketers, leaders, gentlemen, and selfless people like you anymore! May God shower the choicest blessings on you!


Wide Angle By Anil Kumble
This entry is posted as a part of the Contest by