Mouna Guru – A Silent Tale of Kollywood Storylines

At the outset, I must thank my friend Sudhir, for booking the tickets and taking me to the movie. But for him, I’d not be writing this.

First off, this is not a review of the movie. I dont ever remember having reviewed a movie – and I find myself faltering even at the thought of doing so. This is my personal take on what the film – it’s storyline, cinematography and artistic elements – speaks of the age of maturity in Tamil cinema.

Ages ago, a film without at least 3 dance-numbers was hardly imagined – and for people who imagined stories like that, producers shook their heads. We’ve come a long way from that – but still, you know, there are elements of a film that are going to be here for long.

Mouna Guru, if there was one word I’d pick to describe, would be described as different.

It’s not just about songs, usual commercial elements and stuff, though. It would still be a great flick, commercially!! But there’s something about the film that speaks a very positive tale of Kollywood storylines – and that is precisely what prompts me to write this.

Let’s start from where movies usually start – script.

Scripting A Thriller – Without the Side-effects
Thrillers are not new to Tamil cinema. But thrillers of the MounaGuru type are.

Think about Easan, or Yudham Sei, or if you remember, Satham Podaadhe. These are not commercial flicks in the “commericial” way of speaking but these films are commercial-material for sure. MounaGuru is standing proof that Tamil cinema is breeding it’s own master storytellers who can produce storylines that are not only gripping – but are well adapted to our culture, demography and taste.

One negative aspect of Tamil cinema has been adrenaline-triggered storylines which often defy logic, commonsense or physics or all of them. But tales like MounaGuru are those little blobs of positivism in story-telling that are truly realistic.

The Integral Factor – Music
I have been trained in music for sometime so I tend to hear the film than see it. Thaman had already made one of the finest impressions in me with his score for a documentary (Mittai Veedu, directed by Balaji Mohan). His score has this strength, and life, that is often found wanting in many of the present-crop composers. As the movie began, music took me by surprise. In these modern times when appreciation for background scores has become prevalent and common, Thaman is surely going to make a huge mark in the industry – or at least, I hope so. We need thinkers like him amongst composers.

That’s another wonderful part of storytelling that has continuously grown in its magnificence and subtler aspects. While the big-banner films with their big-banner composers still remain the often-spoken about, films like Nadodigal (music director, Sundar C Babu) have proved that the background-score of a film is definiltey witnessing a revolution in terms of ethnicity and importance.

MounaGuru’s songs are not widely different or unique – or perhaps, they did not register a chime in me – but the background-score is definitely a work that should be commended. There are ample silences – and there are ample sounds at apt frames.

Hero Is Not Superhuman
Now, this simple aspect, we’ve all been missing for decades. Heros take on dozens of well-built goons single-handedly. A very normal Sam Anderson (the Tamil guy) is far more powerful than your Superman – and we’ve been quite okay with it for all this time. It was time realistic protagonists came up on the screen, right? No. We are still quite far from that part of maturity in film-making – but of late, there have been enough movies in Tamil cinema to put things in perspective… a normal human becomes the protagonist – so you find the hero of MounaGuru getting overpowered by the bad guys easily in many places.

And oh yes, I think the gun-shots stopped with about 8 or so bullets in one scene where the hero shoots at the bad guys. Usually, in our films, a normal service-issue pistol is made to shoot unlimited rounds of bullets (or until a twist in the fight-scene is required, when suddenly, after about 20 rounds, the magazine goes “prematurely” empty!)

Cinematography – A Poetry On Its Own
There is nothing immediately stunning about the cinematography – but it sure is different from what one would usually expect. Sudden glimpses of poetic or artistic angles are frequently seen. There aren’t many locations to shoot in the movie – the script does not require them – but whatever locale has been captured, has been done so artistically.

 

Realism is good. Gripping realism is better. A thriller with a gripping realistic base is far better. It is little things like these that made me like MounaGuru.

But it’s a film with real and obvious problems of its own, too. Arulnidhi has certainly matured from his previous venture – but a lot is left undone in his acting. And then there is Iniya – whose potential to portray has been largely left untapped – especially in comparison to her abilities showcased in Vaagai Sooda Vaa.

I have a strong feeling of disapproval when very potential comic actors (or the good guys) take up the negative roles and perform excellently. The dislike that arises when such things happen is a proof of the excellent performance by the actor in question – and John Vijay definitely hit the right chord. His team of villains was a perfect one – with each one adding as much emotion as is required to make it look very real.

Of all the things I liked, it was Uma Riaz Khan’s character itself and the meticuluous portrayal.

I’d like MounaGuru to stand as an example for the way Tamil cinema has matured over the past few years – as compared to decades of commercialism with infrequent masterpieces here and there.

The Tragicomedy of a “Martial” Status

Married or Single or Both? :P

Married or Single or Both? πŸ˜›

That must’ve been “Marital Status”, eh? πŸ˜›

I dont know why my brain works at a snail’s pace when I want it to work like those supercomputers up in the third floor of Google’s HQ.

But I know why my brain works almost like those supercomputers when I dont want it to work at all – empty mind, devil’s workshop or something of that sort, huh? May be.

So yeah, I was idle – idling away the time without even an idli to feed my stomach. Strange how stomach, mind, purse and everything seems to be empty at the same time.

That was when a strange analogy – yeah i think that’s the word “analogy” – hit me like a truck. (that’s just a figure of speech I wanted to use. The analogy in question never really hit me, no flash bulb suddenly glowing few inches away from my head)

Worried or Single?

Worried or Single?

Single or Married? What’s the difference other than the happiness quotient?

Let’s be naiive – very naiive – and say celibacy is one of the differences, okay?

Hey dont laugh that hard!! This is India, I am from Chennai – a comparatively conservative metropolis and yeah, I am very sarcastic at times.

But besides that, there must be something that defines – or differentiates – both, right?

I think hard, not because I am concentrating well on these things, but because there’s a martial exercise going on between a couple whose marital status would be Married had Facebook not got me confused with its huge list of relationship statuses.

Facebook Sure Knows About Relationships!

Oh yeah I get the answer.

But to understand, unfortunately, you should have been in Chennai, seen the two landmarks I am going to speak about. Well, dont worry, I will make it as clear as I can – which means you might end up understanding nothing.

Okay. Screens up on The Analogy:

Single is like the sub-way bridge near Loyola College.
Married is like the over-bridge in Kodambakkam.

Absurd though it may seem, I kind of felt it would be nice to do this analogy here – rather than in a seminar (few years in the future) where I’d be kicked out for this.

Single is living happily and then paying the price for that later. Well, yeah, that depends on how we look at it but it’s like the Loyola College sub-way, sweetheart.

You go down easily – no effort at all. Cyclists would clock 40km/hr and a crazy cyclist would overtake a share-auto. That’s the easy part. Those are the youthful days. Single and happy.

After you hit a stage where you cross the threshold of marri”age” and live the life of ‘conformed old bachelor’ (I am reminded of Prof. Pencier teaching us My Fair Lady – no he wasnt a bachelor, the character in the play was) – now, after you hit that stage, your journey becomes a bit tough. Solitude mostly, I guess. You have to climb uphill, mate.

Marriage is just the opposite – but I am just talking about the theoretical part of it guys. Anyone taking this stupid blogpost as advice and marrying that ‘right’ girl/guy would be doing so entirely at his/her own risk πŸ˜›

Marriage – the initial stages after the initial infatuated and intoxicated stages(!) – is a toughie. You gotta adjust with things you might dislike. You get to know a side of the spouse you never knew existed. You gotta compromise quickly if you want to save the marriage. Lots and lots of responsibilities. And oh my god – kids! Kids are fun as long as you’re not responsible for their behaviour for the rest of – say – ten or so years.

Yeah that last line goes out to every bloody girl I see who says ‘Oh I love kids so much!’ Oh come on, you’d hardly know what it is to raise a kid till you do that yourself in the next twenty years. Your entire existence has been twenty-odd something, so would you stop making it look as if kids are toys! πŸ˜›

So yeah, marriage is the Kodambakkam over-bridge. You climb up hard and sweaty – tough and tougher as you get up. And after that peak, it’s easy way down. If you did your job right, your marriage would probably be happy in the second stage of it. Kids would be in super-duper companies earning paychecks in lacs, you’d have been to foreign lands (where else? the same bloody story, States ku poitu vandhen, London ku poitu vandhen, Singpore ku poitu vandhen!) and all that.

After some thought, I think the analogy for marriage is kind of suspiciously ambiguous. Going down after going up.. does that ring an alarm? Oops!

An oft-quoted saying comes to my mind. I dont know if it’s George Bernard Shaw who said this, but here’s how it goes:

Marriage is like a golden cage. Those outside want to be in the cage, and those inside want to get out.

The Play Queue Lets You Get Things Done!

You probably already know this: music makes you work better, faster – and sometimes with greater efficiency. And this post is nothing new when it comes to that fact.

But I just thought I’ll blog about something that I only recently found – and this is a simple technique which has helped me improve the way I work – in those rare occasions when I choose work πŸ˜‰

All these music players have this play queue right? (Oh yeah, I heard iTunes doesnt have one. Really, Apple? Not sure of latest versions but the last time I saw, iTunes didnt have a queue :P)

So what I do is, queue up some 15 songs – which comes to around 1 hr and 30 minutes or so.

And I work till the last song in the queue.

As simple as it sounds, for the past few days, this has somewhat worked in my favor.

I am still experimenting it though. Like, I add songs that are slow and track how much work I get done. So far, the pace of the song has had little effect on the amount of work – but as I am typing this here, and a song with a fast tempo is going on, I see that my typing is faster too!! πŸ˜€

Like it? Use it. Hate it? Never mind πŸ˜› That probably works only for some. But thanks for reading this πŸ˜€

The Bloody Universe As We (Dont) See

(photo credits)

Modern physicist have this strange ability to make everything look as complex as it can get – and then as an icing on the cake, declare in wonderful and poetic language, this is just the beginning.

One of the reasons – besides Quantum Mechanics and Samkhya Philosophy – which prompted me to change tracks after completing my graduation in physics (yeah, even I am surprised how I did graduate!) was this whole discussion about the beginning of the Universe. All these Big Bang and Big Crunch theories – of whose intricacies I came to know, at best, only through A Brief History of Time – are cool, fun, interesting and readable only in the newspapers. These journalists give you the most toned-down version – spiced with cool elements πŸ˜‰

So this morning – following day before yesterday’s random reading on the words of physicists eating each other’s mind out – I read another piece about inflation of the cosmological kind.

Now dont get me wrong – I am not a nerd, and I dont read such pieces. It was the caption that prompted me to go ahead. πŸ˜› The “crackpot” reference got my attention and I wanted to see what the guy had written.

Well, all I was left with was a huge sigh. At least when I was in fourth grade, or till the time I was schooling, I thought I had a somewhat good understanding of our universe. The Universe, as we see, was a simple thing till then.

Today, I can boldly declare, not just me, but probably even the scientists dont know sh*t about our universe. Guys who fund all these researchers, companies that are pouring trillions into finding out how the universe was actually created – or at least, how it began – I dont know how these guys understand what the physicists tell them. And seriously, if I was a physicist with these results in hand, I would have a tough time trying to convince and persuade the sponsor to shell out money for my research πŸ˜‰

For now, scientists tell us there could be multiverses (multiple universes, yeah, as if one universe isnt enough to comprehend). The physics involved at the Big Bang, or seconds before are not only complex – they seem bloody impossible πŸ˜›

What I dont understand is, why did the Universe come into existence in the first place? Ah, I know, scientists push that question into the domain of philosophy and religion. At least, philosophy will try to rationally answer that question. Religion!! Ahhh!! Kill me!!

The Curious Case of Climate, Cosmos and The Hairline

(photo credits)

Some great saint, who probably never existed on earth, once said:

the rate of a receding hairline is exponentially proportional to how much you worry about your receding hairline.

I dont let my mom watch me comb my hair – which, yes, I do infrequently because I still have quite a lot of hair left over my head.

That is because if she watches, she makes it a point to make a point about the possibility of me becoming bald much like my dad – and as a positive proof of her suspicion, indicates a partly receding hairline right over, yeah, here.. here.. and here too. Period!

Out here in my family, bald head is a hereditary phenomena. Even paternally related cousins follow this trait. These guys, I hear, are of the Vishwaamitra Gotra (yeah I come from a Brahmin family, although most of my friends would agree on my being the odd-man-out in my family) and seeing these cousins I sometimes wonder if even the sage Vishwaamitra himself was bald! πŸ˜›

Anyway, the oft-quoted thing is not to worry about receding hairlines – because the more you worry about it, the faster your hairline would recede. Which brought me, incidentally, to two similar phenomena – although both being quite serious (so to speak) than a receding hairline 😐

1. Climate change skeptics – who said Al Gore was sick, panicking the whole world because he never made it to the Presidency, who said Climate Change scare was almost a farce, who said the global warming up was quite normal and nothing to worry much about, who devised several parameters, instruments and methods to show that the existing methods of climate change counters are actually BS – have finally been forced to come out with the truth. All the Hollywood-type nightmarish scenes of climate change effects which we have become quite used to could actually be the scene your son, grandson or great-grandson (if the human species lives till then) would see for ‘real’ πŸ˜›

The final conclusion was that the rate of climate change is actually faster than what was before a century or so. Faster climate change means faster effects πŸ˜€ Yeah, I am smiling because we dont give a f*cking sh*t about all the climate change stuff and I dont want to act like all the hypocrites making startling points in forums, discussions online – all sitting in an air-conditioned room, throwing plastics all around and not giving a sh*t about proper waste disposal.

2. The other thing which takes on a similar hue is something for which three physicists have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for this year. Reading this news item, of which I couldnt make a head or tail of, I have partly decided to drop out the ‘Bachelor of Physics’ part of my Educational Qualification section in my resume.

The basic idea, however, lies in the concepts of multi-verse, expanding universes, and the rate of expansion. Here again, the idea is similar to the previous cases – one, the expansion is happening, and it is happening faster every passing second (or nanosecond, or picosecond for all you astrophysics freaks).

After much deliberation, I couldnt decide on what to worry more about πŸ˜›

Well not everyone gives a sh*t about climate change. Over seventy percent of those who actually give a head about it are only concerned with numbers and the graph-charts.

Rapidly expanding universe? So what?

Receding hairline? Oh. My. God?? Ah, come on. I have better ‘creative’ things to worry about πŸ˜€ Like the “receding battery time” on my laptop. Seriouslyl, I gotta check out why my laptop would give me only 30 minutes of backup 😦 πŸ˜›

Catch you later. Thanks for reading πŸ˜‰

Oh No!! Another Post On IndiBlogger Meet

Location: Hyatt Regency, Chennai | Time: 1330 hours | Day: 9th Oct Sunday

If you are on the IndiBlogger scene, the title of this blogpost might be your first reaction seeing this post. But I am ready to take the risk of writing the post. Oh yeah, another question that might pop-up is: Why a blog-post so late!!??

College exams have this strange ability to put the most important work – like writing about my experiences at my first blogger meet – on back-foot. Technically, I should have posted this along with dozen other bloggers who wrote about the IndiBlogger meet right on Monday after the meet. Besides citing the college exam schedule, I must also admit, I am quite busy being lazy.

Hotel Hyatt Regency is a new star-hotel in the city’s long line of multi-star hotels. I dont know much about this hotel except for the fact that I have been watching it being built since a long time – primarily because I used to be very regular to college in the first year, which means I commuted on the route this hotel is situated on πŸ˜›

That IndiBlogger – India’s largest blogging network – along with Tata Motors chose this as the venue for the meet was awesome – because it gives me a chance to enter these 5 or 7 (or 14 or 100 doesnt matter as long as it’s a number, right?) star hotels. Frankly, the very thought of being inside these places makes me shiver a bit. Top it with the air-conditioning effect, and you have shivering doubled.


The Entrance to the Hotel Hyatt Regency. Something like a monolithic structure from the age of Neanderthals? Stonehenge? :P

Strangely, I was neither early nor late. A dozen other bloggers had already arrived at the venue. The term β€œballroom” brings images of huge, or very huge, and imposing rooms where you could arrange a mini-cricket (if the guests were kind enough to permit a lapse of civilized behavior :P) but this ballroom was more of a simple, elegant and calm room – both in structure and sound πŸ˜€

But, one look at the ceiling, and nightmarish images of Hollywood scenes where the chandelier falls down with a mega-shatter (orchestrated wonderfully with multiple slow motion cameras) popped up. While on one hand it was a beautiful setting – glowing glass rods like giant optical fibers – and on the other, it was kinda unnerving.

I introduced myself to another blogger – an entrepreneur in charge of a start-up company – and we got talking. Since this was my first blogger meet, I didnt have the option of seeing familiar faces πŸ˜› So I kept looking everywhere basically to take in the scene and setting. Tata Motors – the official sponsor of the IndiBlogger Chennai Meet – had done the homework in marketing their latest SUV, the Tata Grande.

One of the interesting things I found was the banner which had the photo of half of the SUV with the text They Tried To Fit Me Into One Banner, That Didnt Work Very Well. Other than that, the other interesting thing was the potato-fry-roll like stuff which was available during the tea break. Unfortunately for me, I chose to take just one of those in the first serving. Darn! I am still wondering why I am often shy when it comes to matters of food πŸ˜›

Oh yeah, they activated the WiFi for us to tweet about the IndiBlogger meet, or for us to share photos on Twitter among other things. Problem was, it worked only for a select few – like those who had the iPhone or the iPad (yeah, richie rich bloggers :P). There were many with the Android smartphones too – one of them (I’ll never know which) was the reason why my mobile phone got connected to the WiFi. That person’s Android WiFi was acting as an Access Point which helped my phone get connected through that AP. πŸ˜› Whoever it was, thanks a ton mate πŸ˜‰

The fear of torrent downloads: (and the general accepted fact that we Indians, no matter how far we get in technology and blogging meets, might suddenly turn out to be super heavy users of torrent technology when it’s available for free)

I dont know the name of this blogger but he was gracious enough to let me click this pic. He had to pose for many others too, I guess πŸ˜€ (to those who are not familiar with Chennai bus routes, 29C is the number of a bus plying in the city, that crosses the maximum number of women’s colleges)

Another blogger I met made a funny remark for this pic:

He said this looked like someone tore apart many paintings and then fixed them on this wall – having jumbled the pieces πŸ˜€ I concurred completely.

Finally, the star of the event πŸ˜€

The IndiBlogger meet was – no doubt – a successful one with loads of experiences I’ll carry with me – at least till the next meet here πŸ˜‰ All thanks to the man behind the network – Renie Ravin – and the whole team that arranged, managed and brilliantly held the meet.

The Great Chutney Nation

If you hail from India, especially the South, one thing you could not have missed – or in more recent times, one thing you should not have missed – is something that we so fondly call, chutney. Yada, yada, chutney has become world-famous and it’s reach and popularity has – well, not crossed that of the Pizza – but at least, it had its reach, right? πŸ˜›

Oh yeah, like pizzas, chutney varieties are numerous actually. Thankfully though, no restaurant – as far as I know – provides you with a full list of chutneys and gives you the freedom of choice. One of the hardest things I find in the pizza restaurants is choosing the right pizza πŸ˜›

Chutneys, ah, they come in red, white and green mostly in all the south Indian restaurants. The red, white and green, I used to think, signify the tricolor (almost) and I used to get patriotic at the thought of the “patriotic flavor” (or fervor πŸ˜‰ of the restaurants. It was not until I began understanding the workings of a restaurant – many times a bourgeoisie capitalism – that I knew it was just an attractive decoration to the plate. πŸ˜›

Yesterday, as I was musing about the chutneys and this post, I couldn’t help asking my mom how many varieties she knew of. She paused a moment before answering, and then said, “Fifteen or so.” My mom probably learnt the art of making chutneys from my paternal grandmother, and by personal experience, I know my grandma knows at least 3 times as much as my mom knows. Down here in South India, every household mom/woman would know at least 5 or more varities of chutneys. Don’t be surprised if they knew 10 or even more – it’s quite common πŸ˜›

As for me, I dislike a large section of the chutney varieties. My personal favorites are just a handful of them – and my dad’s preparation of one specific chutney is a top ranker. Be it dosa, idli, vadai, uthapam – or in rare cases, even if it sounds funny and strange, chappathi – chutney makes a good combo with all of these. (Yeah, the last one is surely awkward, but I know people who do that – chappathi+chutney) πŸ˜›

I believe chutneys sprang up somewhere in South Asia. They remain most popular and common here in South Asia, Southern India but their fame has spread far and wide across the globe. Wikipedia says chutneys began traveling continents as early as the 17th or 18th century.

Here’s a sample of what Wikipedia says about the Chutney varities in India:

My taste buds are usually tinkled by the mention of pizzas and garlic bread. This time, I guess for the first time, they are tinkled by all this talk about chutney. Hope Mom and Grandma never get to know of this because my image back home is “the chutney hater” πŸ˜›