Thursday, June 18, 2015

Kaka Muttai (Crow's Egg)-Tamil Movie

This off beat film is about 2 Under privileged brothers who are known as Periya Kaka MUttai and Chinna Kaka Muttai because of their habit of stealing Crow's eggs from the Nest and gulping them raw that sends  shock waves in one's body as this is something which is not very common and seen!
The slum where these boys live with their mother and grand mother depicts extreme poverty with unclean surroundings and free flowing sewerage that is unique to that world!  Their father is in Jail for some unknown reasons and the mother struggles to get him released from the prison for which she has to pay the lawyer his fees, that is hard to generate. The boys are left free to play and collect char-coal from the railway tracks from the goods train that spills blocks and pieces of charcoal on the tracks while passing and this gives the boys some small cash that helps them for the day's expenses.
The projection of poor and the less privileged class living in unhygienic conditions and struggling to lead a normal life makes you sad and think.

The story starts when a Pizza hut springs up at the spot where these boys used to steal Crow's eggs and play. The Pizza shop is inaugurated by film actor Simbu who sits inside and eats a portion of Pizza served to him, happily waving to those children standing outside the shop, who look at him with awe and water in their mouth yearning for a piece of Pizza!    The subsequent accumulation of Rs 300 required for buying a Pizza by selling charcoal and doing all errands evokes good sense of humour, laughter, thought provoking and touches the soul. The Manager of the Pizza shop slapping the elder brother and pushing him out of the compound, the boys trying to buy a new set of clothes from the city centre, Mylapore is enjoyable and speaks about the capabilities of the director in his job. The grandmother making dosa with dressings of vegetables used in Pizza show cases the affection and love between them and the efforts made by the grand mother to go to any extent to please her grand children!  When the boys point out the difference that there were no  noodles(melting Cheese), the grand mother tells them that that happens only when the food goes stale!

The introduction of local goons protected by a politician and how each one tries to en cash a situation to make money without letting it known to the other is hilarious.  The greed to make money by hook or crook and the story wound neatly around it adds to the fragrance of the story and the capability of the Director who is updated with the current affairs.

Finally, the boys are able to realise their dream of entering the Pizza shop and eat their share of Pizza like the actor Simbu.  The innocence of the boys unable to sit in the A/c comfort and not able to relish the Western delicacy in comparison to the Dosa that their grand mother gave touches your chord somewhere and places affection above all feelings!

The film starts a bit slow but towards the interval picks up and keeps you entertained throughout.
The camera man takes you right inside the area and makes you a part of the dwelling community, making you feel the life of a slum dweller!  The Railway yard and the picking up charcoal that have fallen on the railway tracks brings in an aroma of charcoal mixed air that is experienced when you cross a railway yard!  The subsequent  death of the grand mother is elaborately shown a bit loud, a tragedy that could have been little subdued.

The under privileged boys' dream of having a Pizza sitting in the air conditioned shop and subsequent realization of the same at the end sends a meaningful message to the young children watching the film! Yes, You can do it if you have the will and determination!

A good film, well taken and directed, as good as the film Slum Dog Millionaire!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Beliefs, myths, Religion and its impact on the society

I fondly recall the early 80s of Chennai Cinema when Stalwart directors like K Balachander made movies that often stirred some controversies and made people debate over it.  Door Darshan was the only channel that encashed this time slot and consumed most of the Sunday afternoons that forced people to sit in front of the idiot box and hear people debating if what Sujatha did in "Aval Oru Thodarkadhai" was just or against the culture and traditions?

Last week, I attended a wedding of my classmate's son in Chennai.  This youngster, educated in the
U S , picked his own partner, an American, went through the day long rituals that was totally mixed with tradition, loud chanting of Vedas and Mantras by learned Priests from the Brahmin community, who struggled to pronounce the name of the bride but were seen happy to solemnize the marriage that cemented the bond in the marriage from India to the U S A.  The girl's parents were too eager to perform the rituals though they did not have any clue of Kulam or Gothram that is repeatedly chanted during the rituals.  Bare bodied, the Americans presented a look that was pleasing to the eyes and the on lookers like us immediately accepted their presence and  embraced them  to our fold.  The Americans did not have Poonal (sacred thread) that is considered as a basic step in the conduct of marriage amongst Hindu Brahmins!  They, however, wore Pancha gachham veshtis and the women in traditional silk Sarees that added color and sheen to the function.  The marriage of hearts concluded and everyone present there were happy to taste the delicacies of South Indian cuisine and left happily.

On the flip side, I am puzzled over a subject of controversy triggered by one of the 5 gurus of Hindu cult that follows Shankaracharya, subscribe to their Peetams or abodes and views.  My friend's daughter who is a Tamil Brahmin, deeply in love with a Classmate of hers from the school and vice versa are now settled in the U S since the past several years continuing to foster their love and affection ever since.

Now that they are nearing the end of their 20s they approached their respective parents and expressed their interests of getting married as they knew each other for more than 12-15 years, pleading and swearing  that their love is genuine!  The boy's father decided to meet the Guru and seek his approval as both the boy and the girl belonged to the same Gothram! The Guru trashed the idea of getting married into the same Gothra!  The  Guru replied that he will not support marriage in same Gothra when the father asked the Guru if there was any way out to make this marriage happen? Now that the Guru was in no mood to approve the match, the Boy's parents are up with a dagger against the girl and her parents and give emotional  threats if they proceeded with the wed lock!  They boy is in a huge dilemma as to whom to support  if he had to choose between his lady love and his parents.  The boy who had come up with a mind of getting engaged left without even proposing!  The girl is shattered and trying to reconcile hard to the new equation of life  missing someone with whom she has been in touch and love since the past 12-15 years!

The parents of the girl are so upset with the boy that he was unable to take a decision and pondered if he would bring this topic over and over again with their daughter accusing her of splitting the family, if at all they get married? The boy's parents are happy that their son left without getting engaged or married against their wishes and that they could get him married to a girl of their choice.  Both the houses represent a scene of repentance and the family shattered.

A small stand taken by the Religious Guru resulted in complications and tensions in the hearts of so many in the families.  The friends of the family are in state of disbelief that something like this could happen during this modern era where people are educated and moving forward both economically and socially!   Hearts that yearn and love  each other is the real marriage and not the one where the hearts don't match but the parents force it on to the children making an unpleasant happening.  I have known several people getting married outside the cast and living happy, outside the boundaries of community and religion but married happily!  The priests performed the Indo-American Marriage last week happily and what does the Guru has to say about this happening? will he ostracize the priests for having indulged in Anti-religious activities and shun them from the title of Priests to perform rituals connected with Hinduism in the future? Our religious heads must evolve and accept such marriage of hearts and bless them instead of creating disturbances in the families that will lead the younger generation to unsubscribe to believing such religious Gurus  and their abodes that exists only on the foundation of trust by people. The recent arrest of self styled god man Asa ram Bapu has raised many eyebrows and question the basics of our trust in Religious cult. Time is not far off when these Mutts and religious heads will have to bow to the ever changing wants and living of the society and find some means to evolve whereby both the belief and trust in Religion are  maintained and fostered well to peculate the benefits to the future generations.

Marriage as an institution is in grave danger these days looking at the level of independence that is enjoyed by both the boy and the girl.  Many arranged marriages have failed and many love marriages have also failed.  True love is the one that sustains the weather of times and stands by each other!  In order to protect the institution of marriage, the Gurus will have to adapt to the new circumstances and not get frozen away in time.  When Love emerges supreme, the Gurus must bless them and encourage them to forge into an alliance of marriage as that is the only way legacy can be nourished and protected.

This Thodarkadhai has to find solutions soon and there is need for society to discuss and debate about it.  Every story has to end and it will be extra ordinary to see the same end well!  Will our religious leaders and society change for good, better and the best?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Hindu Dharma Paripalana Trust, Besant Nagar

                                      Hindu Dharma Paripalana Trust, Besant Nagar, Chennai

This trust was formed mainly to help Brahmin's in performing the religious rites of departed souls, situated next to the Besant Nagar crematorium in Chennai.  The Charity trust has rooms where one can perform according to Vedic rites for which they charge a fee of Rs 1000/- per day(3-4 hours).

Today, There was a death in my friend's family. A friend who lost his dear sister battling the dreaded Cancer.  After the cremation, the Pandit/ Shastrigal suggested that we book the accommodation for the 10th, 11th and 12th day rituals connected by paying the necessary advance amount of RS 4000/- to the Hindu Dharma Paripalana Trust.  I sent my assistant to do the necessary booking.  He came back with a form asking details about the person dead, the name, address and tel no of the performer of rites and other details and demanded Rs 12000/- for confirming booking.  The mental condition and stability of a person standing on the Cremation ground, emotions pouring out and looking lost is not in a position to think of anything else other than paying whatever is demanded by the Trust administrators.  Accordingly, an amount of RS 12000/- was sent through the assistant who came back with an official receipt for RS 4000/- and a scribble at the back stating Rs8000/- without any details or signature of any one who have accepted the money.

I decided to confront the Trust that boasts of Hindu Paripalanam which can be understood as protection to Hinduism or propagating Hinduism as to how and why they have issued money receipt for only Rs 4000/- instead of RS 12000/- that they collected?

I got the shock of my life when I saw for the first time dozens of Iyers and Iyengars standing and working together with full co-operation when in reality it is otherwise?  When I asked the Iyengar Priest- looking fellow about the anomaly I found in the receipt, he snapped at me saying its how this functions!  When I introduced myself  belonging to Aam Aadmi Party,  he summoned another guy who had horizontal stripes of ashes on his forehead who intercepted me asking if I could  ask the same question to the priest who conducts the last rituals and whether I demand receipt from him?  I was baffled with the way they argued with me adamantly saying that receipt for the balance amount of RS 8000/- charged for paying to their workers can not be given.  In the meantime, 3-4 more horizontals and verticals joined them and started arguing with me at the top of their voice defending the extra amount taken by them for which receipt was not issued.  I simply said I don't mind paying the amount but all that I need is a receipt. I asked for the Trustee's name and telephone number and very promptly came the reply that he was in the U S.  I told them that a trust will have more than a trustee and asked for other names and telephone numbers.  Fearing a lost battle, they asked me if I would like to cancel the booking and take refund of the entire amount paid?  I replied in negative and warned them that this kind of attitude will not find favours with the on coming generations and ultimately, they will stand as a cause for the downfall of Hindutva and Dharma!  The cumulative sin of destroying Dharma and Satya will rest upon them portraying as Priests but doing activities that belittle them.

Becoming nervous, he opened the drawer and returned the extra amount of RS 8000/- charged saying that he will collect the same from our priest when he comes there for the rituals!

What surprises me is the co-operative  joint operation of this racket by both Iyengars and Iyers alike who have formed their own club to fleece people who come there bundled in emotional reservoirs and whose thinking capacity is reduced to minimal due to circumstances.  These crooks know that people charged with emotions will not think or hesitate to spend and strike at this opportunity to rob them!
There is absolutely no difference between a road side chain snatcher and the Brahman administrators of Hindu Dharma Paripalana Trust at Besant Nagar.  Hope wisdom dawns on them with god's grace?
May these people turn into human friendly and act as messenger of gods specially considering the noble service attached with the rituals for the departed souls!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sensational Sunidhi Chauhan @ I I T Sarang festival 11/01/2015

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My wife was absolutely excited right from Morning and was eager to go with me Sunidhi Chauhan at the I I T Saarang festival.  Honestly, I was not at all excited about the show as I had heard legends like Kishore Kumar/Rafi/Manna Dey/Mahendra Kapoor/ Shreya Goshal/Sonu/ Rehman/Hariharan Shankar Mahadevan and several stalwarts from the Tamil film Industry.  I had rated Sonu Nigam as NO 1 entertainer so far and kept thinking that Sunidhi will be yet another female singer from the Bollywood who will be good to listen to!  The show started a bit late and the hype was constantly being created about Sunidhi's arrival and start of the program.  Sunidhi arrived to a thunderous applause and whistle of more than 5000 pair of hands absolutely ecstatic!  The smartly dressed, gorgeous looking Sunidhi was right in front of us showered by glittering lights and focus lights from the top and sides adding to her charm and beauty that escalated the interests of the crowd more and more.

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There was a Boom and Dhoom when she entered the stage with her peppy, energising song" Dhoom Machale" which she sang with such ease and perfection to make the audience go wild, clapping, whistling and dancing!  The interaction with the audience was just amazing when she made the audience sing portions of her song and promptly gave a good chit to Chennai audience for their taste and calibre to sing!  At one stage, she asked the girls present to whistle and showed them how to whistle that was quite a mind blowing whistling act!!  The bonding with the audience grew further with every song that she rendered.
It was an awesome sight seeing a young lady controlling the entire crowd of 5000plus and make them go bonkers!!  Usually, when a singer exhausts his/her singing quota, he/she  resorts to jig saw puzzle of swaras or notes to twine around a song just to establish his grammar of music and to tell the world that he is a trained singer just to be one up on someone who is also a good singer, not trained in grammar!  Sunidhi never utilised this build up and concentrated only on her powerful, cultured voice and her physical attractive body to captivate the audience with her Tumkas and shakes that complimented her singing style!!
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I could compare this beautiful singer with the Hollywood singing sensation Beyonce in her way of rendering, dressing up and presentation!  Each time she shook her head to support a vigorous note, the hair would fly and bounce back adding glitter to the singing style.

She sang many of her hits like Kamli, aaja Nachle, crazy kiya re,desi girl, dance pe chance that made the crowd absolutely stunned and crazy.  She kept on interacting with the audience and involved them in singing with her that was a key to success of the program.  The crowd kept on yelling Shiela and she yielded adding lots of spice to the song and ending the song giving credit to her own self instead of Shiela and she truely deserved every bit of it.  she sang uninterupted for nearly 2 hours both with singing and dancing and talking to the crowd and left us wondering the quantum of energy that was in store of this young, petite lady who stole the hearts of everyone present at the venue. She was assisted by Rakesh who sang a couple of duets(Dilliwali girl friend/neem ke pakode, main tho evain evain lut gaya) with her and was equally versatile in his rendering and dancing with Sunidhi.  The duet was enacted well adding variety to  singing that amused the audience more!  The more than 50,000 watts of amplified sound stirred the hearts whenever a base chord was struck during the show creating an awesome sensation!

At the end of the show, I thought this young lady is the best and surpassed all my expectations ! yes, she is a singing sensation much ahead of any singer that I have heard so far!
Sunidhi is the best Judgement delivered so far in the world of Music!  My wife is  always  right!!!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Julie........ a....a......a.... I love you

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It was 1975, the period of Emergency where there was a feeling of insecurity and fear amongst people. No one dared to go out alone at night and people scrambled to their homes, if it was nearing dusk.  All these things happened in Delhi where more than 4 persons were not allowed to gather or meet in public!
The best relief came in the form of a great Love story film"Julie" that starred Actors Lakshmi and Vikram with some memorable romantic songs that is even remembered and sung today in most households!  The music was by Rajesh Roshan, Uncle of Hrithik Roshan and Brother of Rakesh Roshan who gave us some real hot numbers in the film!

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I asked my wife whom I was dating then to accompany to watch this movie in a theatre popularly known as Rivoli in the Connaught Place area. She reluctantly agreed to go with me for this movie, well before our marriage apprehending flaks from people who might see her with me watching this movie as it was quite a bold theme for those days as it essayed about college days love affairs and getting pregnant before  marriage which was considered as the greatest sin in the world that was unpardonable by elders of communities. The movie depicted a bold theme of an Anglo Indian Girl, Lakshmi getting involved with a Hindu Boy, Vikram and the remaining unfolding of romance, drama, climax etc..  Lakshmi was a well known South Indian Actor who had also acted in the Malayalam version of this film that was titled "Chattakari" that ran for several months and became a super hit prompting producers from the Bollywood Industry to remake it in Hindi.  Surely, this film was a great hit in Hindi too!!

Last week, I and my wife decided to go for the Hindi Film PK when we bumped into this famous actor Lakshmi of Julie fame who had also come to watch the same film with her husband Siva chandran who also happens to be a Tamil actor of 70s!  She readily agreed to pose for a photograph with us.

My heart sang "My heart is beating, keeps on repeating.... I am waiting for you!!" The song sung by Preeti Sagar created waves not only because of its captive tune but also for the fact that it was an English song introduced in Hindi films by Rajesh Roshan, describing the life style that Anglo-Indians enjoyed living with!  Lakshmi as a seductive Anglo-Indian girl lived her role with justification!!
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  Deep inside,  my heart started singing" Bhool Gaya Sab Kuch, Yaad nahin Ab Kuch, par ek nahi baat na Bhooli.... Julie ..... I love you!!" yes, it was a song that captivated and enthralled so many young hearts during those times and made every man wish for a girl friend like Julie!!!  Lakshmi still looked the same with her polished, shining skin intact except for the untimely intrusion of age that elevated the star to the title of "yesteryear actor".  It was a pleasure to meet with the actor after such a long gap which fondly kindled the glorious past of my life! Nevertheless, , I stood firmly convinced about  the fact that my wife still looked best, dignified and pious and gave the same feeling that we had some 40 years back for each other!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

English vinglish

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M E A Higher Secondary School in Delhi attracted most of the South Indian kids in the early 50s and 60s as it was known as a School that imparted and trained students to shoulder higher responsibilities in life.  The School boasted of at least 15-20 students who appeared in the Merit list of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) year after year till the early 70s.  The School got rechristened as DTEA Higher Secondary School in the year 1969 to grab a donation of Rs 1 lac announced in one of the Special felicitation function organised to honour the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Sri M Karunanidhi who laid a condition to showcase the word Delhi Tamizh as the first two words describing our  School.  So much love for Tamizh and its people living more than a thousand kilometer away from the main Tamizh land known as Madras!!

Tamizh was given prominence than Hindi or English in the School and the teachers aligned themselves to this concept.  Naturally, the ability to speak English or fluent Hindi was weak amongst the Tamils living there although they could manage very well with that little knowledge that they were acquiring in the School.  In fact, the Hindi spoken by South Indians used to be known as Madrasi Hindi as the locals never knew that there were 5 states beyond Central India that spoke and nurtured 5 different languages which was totally different from each other!!  Down below Vindhyas, people were called Madrasis!!

It is during these times that children like us were very much put under pressure from our parents who insisted and encouraged us to speak in English.  We were studying in Tamizh Schools and felt happy and comfortable to speak in Tamizh.  Most of my classmates were so bad in Hindi as well and could not come to terms with grammar that was quite unique!  I knew of a neighbour,  a lady who had just moved in from the then state of Madras bargaining with a Banana vendor " 12 Ana darjen ku devu na devu, devatti povu"!!

My father who used to work for Hindustan Times often insisted that I speak in English to my friends who came to my home to play when we were studying in secondary classes.  The result was very clear- my friends stopped coming to my house!!

Once my neighbour, a sardar named  Jagmohan Singh who used to frequent us regularly,  came to my house on a Sunday to play with me and my friends. He had seen the famous epic movie "Ramayana" that got released in Liberty theatre near my house in Karol Bagh, the previous evening!  As usual, We got to listen to the story narrated by the Sardar in Hindi when my father appeared suddenly and encouraged my friend to narrate the story in English!  The plot was how Hanuman ji carried both Ram and Lakshman on either of his shoulders and flew in the air to carry on the fight against Ravana, the abductor of Sita mata!  My father wanted to ensure that the story came in English and stood there!  A bit aghast, the sardar continued the narration with such ease- " Ram sitting here(showing his left shoulder) and Lakshman sitting here(showing his right shoulder) and Hanuman Aasmaan mein Uding(meaning Hanuman took to the sky)"!!!!  This evoked peels of laughter not only from my father but also from all of us who had gathered to listen to the story!!  The incident became so popular that even till this date, we mention about this whenever there is an occasion to remember this or narrate.

One of our classmates, who never missed an opportunity to visit Kali Temple on Baird Road, every Friday, could not afford college education and  learnt Type writing and shorthand. He went for an interview with a multinational company on Curzon road.  It was winter time and the interview was set up early in the morning at 9 am. He promptly reported for the interview on time and the Manager asked him to relax and warm up.  Not understanding what the Manager meant,  he dashed across to the corner of the room where a room heater was on and placed his hand before it to warm up.  The Manager started laughing and quipped  if he would take home a chair if he asked him to take his chair before commencement of interview!!  Later on when he narrated this to all our classmates, everyone laughed but learnt something quietly.

The difference between present and past tense was difficult to understand in our younger days.  Once the English class teacher asked one of our classmates- What is the past tense for I made a mistake?Promptly came the answer from the boy" I was made by Mistake"!!!! The teacher laughed and the entire class just because the teacher laughed!!!

My cousins who were in Delhi studied in a convent school where English was just the basic language. Going to a convent School also required quite a bit of that extra money which only a few could afford!  All my cousins numbering 4 used to speak, sneeze and cough in English and I always thought it was some thing like the 9th wonder of the world.  All that I could converse with them was a simple Yes or No.  My father used to visit their house often talking both me and my sister along so that we could interact and play with all my cousins and in the process learn English!!  Though a brilliant idea from the elderly point of view, it pushed us back in terms of complex and soon we hated visiting their home just because they would breathe, talk and eat only in English which was alien to us!!

There were an Anglo Indian family residing just in front of our home which had a boy and a girl of our age group.  My father encouraged me to talk to them in English and I used to dread them not because of anything but for the fear of speaking in English!!  I could never go beyond single words like Thank Q, yes, no, good morning and good night! Not only me but all my schoolmates were shy enough to avoid such confrontations with people who could converse in English!  My School head master Sri Ramakrishnan, whom the boys had named "Velakkennai"(castor oil ) used to beat us with a scale if found talking to any North Indian and his only view was that We, the south Indian boys would get spoilt!!!  The punishment that the students got from the English Teacher Mr Saxena every day for mispronunciation or wrong usage  will run into hundreds of pages if narrated!!  At the end of the day, now when we look back, our heart humbly thanks all those teachers and the parental pressure and directions to make us what we are today!  English is quite an easy job and a way of life!!