Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Random Musings on Tamil Songs/Movies - 3

A convicted killer on death-row is allowed to get out of jail and get married before his execution --- the mind boggles--- wait there’s more --- only it turns out that his bride wants to kill him personally (she couldn’t wait for the Electric Chair) on their wedding night!. Why? Apparently to avenge her brother’s death. Has a collection of some nice songs though…

Another of those soulful singer Mohan’s movies – this one is where he never gets to see Amla’s face – (love is blind aint it?). What the… This song shot in the heydays of Ooty …I think someone should go back to Ooty and make a film there – it would look nice and fresh after the overkill of all those foreign locales.

There is this scene in Vetham Puthithu – when Satyaraj glimpses Amla hiding in the temple and to “protect” her falls at the feet of the villagers begging them to forgive his son for trespassing – try as I might I couldn’t succeed in explaining to a “coconut” brained character the cultural and aesthetic sensitivities of the scene…similarly with “Mudhal Mariyadai”…though Ms. Coconut fell for the traditional folksy thingy song…but wouldn’t admit it in a million years.

Another favorite Satyaraj moment is from “Kadalora Kavitahigal” when he goes through the motions of rinsing his mouth/ washing face with a pot of water – only the pot is empty and his mother looks aghast… I don't really like song - but was considered the best song
from the movie.

My best song from Nayakan – in Nee Oru Kaadhal Sangeetham especially where the pigeons come into the house seeking shelter from the rain outside… and what a voice SPB at his best.

Another must listen of SPB is from Nizhalgal - Ithu Oru Pon Malai.. Even Nizhalgal Ravi's dodgy acting doesn't detract from the melody - better than anything Rahman has composed except perhaps Roja's - Chinna Chinna Asai and Puthu Vezhai Malai.

...and before Shankar Mahadevan's Breathless there was SPB with Mannil intha kaathal from Kelladi Kanmani and here's SPB singing that song live.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Before Facebook...

I lost touch with my closest childhood friend. We grew up in a rather lonely place and only had each other for company.

I moved and for a while we wrote sporadically to each other and managed to meet once in India just before she left for France. Then I moved out of India and that was that.

Years later one boring afternoon just for fun I googled her name - and came across a website that featured a newsletter from the town she was living in. She is an artist and there was write-up on her exhibition.

I emailed the editor with the long story about how we knew each other and the man was kind enough to send me her address (the postal kind). I promptly wrote to her (I confess I used the PC to type out the letter) and a week letter found her email in my Inbox. We caught up on the missing years, exchanged news on friends and family, and have promised to meet up some time.

I am now trying to track 2 other classmates - no luck as yet - they are not on Facebook either!

Have you visited this site - pioneered by the red paper clip guy. I had the good fortune of meeting Kyle and he was kind enough to go out after his talk to the nearest bookstore - buy copies of his books - autograph and hand them over to the people who had requested for them!

You don't get many people like that!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Oil, Boil, Toil and Trouble

This post was inspired by Shyam's post on baths!
“Rapunzel, Rapunzel – let down thy locks.”
When Mom appeared bearing a steel katori clenched with tongs – Rapunzel knew she was in for the weekly torture installment. She cursed her Mom for being so old-fashioned that she wouldn’t permit Rapunzel to chop off her locks. She double-cursed her dance teacher for being in cahoots with her Mom, “We are doing Nala-Damayanthi this year you know, keep her hair long.” (That the Damayanthi role never materialized and Rapunzel was relegated to being an obscure courtier, ironically her locks tied up and hidden inside a cardboard crown is a different story altogether.)
Anyway Rapunzel was duly escorted to the backyard and made to sit on the lowest of the four steps that led to the sunny area paved in huge cobblestones. There was a metallic plonk as the katori full of hot castor oil was placed down. Then Grandma and Aunt R coolly dispatched Mom and set themselves on the top-most step.
Grandma pulled at the left braid and Aunt R the right and mercilessly unbraided the plaits like they were some rugged sailors unfastening ropes tied to the sails in stormy weather. Without any warning the hot oil would suddenly be applied to Rapunzel’s scalp. Castor oil is evil smelling and must be the world’s thickest substance. Applying it to one’s hair feels like one is applying a gooey mass of honey and not just that it tugs at the roots, when your hair is whisked in the opposite direction it feels like a bunch of nasty imps are trying out moonwalking on your scalp!
Centuries later the last of the oil is drained out of the cup and Rapunzel’s tresses are tied up in a style that would make Medusa seethe with envy. Rapunzel is strictly instructed to stay put on the steps and bask in the sun. She morosely watches the maid washing clothes, secretly wishing the clothes the maid was hitting against the washing–stone were Grandma and Aunt R, as the oil drips down her nose and chin.
Meanwhile Mom puts in an appearance again as she scurries too and fro carrying coconut husks and bits of firewood to heat up the water in a copper cauldron. For mysterious reasons the electric geyser is never used to heat up water for washing off castor-oil infested persons. Aunt R is busy too, mixing shikakai powder in a brass bowl. Shikakai is a fine brown powder that burns and stings your eyes and is apparently the only stuff on earth that will get the castor-oil off you. It is mixed into a paste like consistency that resembles a bowl of mud.
The next step of the ordeal is being made to sit on a low stool as Grandma pours mugs of hot water on your back and into your hair. Observe Mom has done the disappearing act again! Aunt R will then proceed to rub in the Shikakai paste into your hair. She acts like Rapunzel has about a 100 years worth of grease that must be scrubbed off at any cost and I am not exaggerating when I say if any of my North American neighbors had heard the sounds emanating from the bathroom they would have called 911.
No matter how tightly Razpunzel squeezes her eyes the insidious shikakai particles manage to sneak in – Grandma finally grudgingly hands her a mug of water to rinse out her eyes. The last mug of water is poured and Mom is here again – with two towels. She and Aunt R squeeze all the excess water out of Rapunzels’s locks and Mom then proceeds to wind the thinner of the towels around the tresses with a skill that would have earned her a fortune if mummy embalming were still in vogue.
Rapunzel semi-dried with gritty pieces of shikakai that even 4 buckets of water could not dislodge is led to the same steps on the backyard. You get the routine now, Mom vanishes Grandma and Aunt proceed to unravel the bound up hair. Rapunzel is made to stand and bend her head – her hair is brought up from behind her head and made to fall in front of her face. The towel is used to smack the hair hard and just when Rapunzel is convinced her neck is going to be stuck in this awkward position forever she is set upright and given a vigorous towel rub.
She is then left to wallow in her red-eyes and sore scalp for the sun to dry what ever was left of the moisture. The small mercy is that she is allowed to read – now that there is no oil to spoil the pages.
And did you think this was over? Once your hair is dry the ordeal continues with Aunt R combing out all the snarls and knots – did we mention her gentle tugs and soft touches – obviously not because they just didn’t exist. Once all the arduous work was done Mom arrives (fanfare) and proceeds to put back Razpunzel’s tresses in its usual 2 braids and as a sort of consolation prize affixes a strand of malli (jasmine)to the freshly laundered locks.
(Years later – Rapunzel (sporting a shoulder length bob) – knows she would be willing to pay a King’s ransom if only she could have her hair massaged and washed by Aunt R and Grandma.)

Acacia Concinna is a small shrub-like tree which grows in the warm, dry plains of central India. For centuries the people who have had access to this tree have used its pod-like fruit to clean their hair. They collect, dry and grind this pod into a powder which is considered a superior cleanser for "lustrous long hair" and has been reported as "promoting hair growth and preventing dandruff". Because of these benefits, this powder was named "shikakai" which literally translates as "fruit for the hair" .
Typically, shikakai is mixed with water to make a paste which is worked through the hair. It lathers moderately and cleans hair beautifully. It has a natural low pH, is extremely mild, and doesn't strip hair of natural oils. Usually no rinse or conditioner is used since shikakai also acts as a detangler. This ancient product is probably the world's original pH balanced shampoo.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Balloon Boy and the 12 Monkeys

Was watching a re-run of "12 Monkeys". I am really fascinated by the concept of time travel. I found this site that attempts to scientifically explain time-travel and also points out all the bloopers in time travel movies. A lot of it went over my head and I will have to re-visit to understand properly!

Anyway - in "12 Monkeys" the whole world watches agog at rescue attempts of a boy supposedly trapped in a well - only it turns out the boy was hiding in a barn and it was a prank all along...sound familiar?

Although the entire movie is a fantasy after all the part I found very hard to suspend reality was where they showed animals could survive in the city streets for years!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ek Ladaki from 1942 - A Love Story

Remember Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 (the first few lines?):

"SHALL I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimm’d:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade..."

I always felt the lyrics of "Ek Ladaki" were inspired by that sonnet. For the edification of my non-Hindi speaking friends here are the lyrics with a sort of tranliteration...

ek ladaki ko dekha to aisa laga...
When I saw this girl, she seemed to me like... (Shall I compare thee?)

jaise khilata gulaab:
like a blooming rose

jaise shaayar ka khvaab
like a poet's dream;

jaise ujalii kiran
like a glowing ray of light;

jaise ban mein hiran
like a deer in the forest;

jaise chaandani raat
like a moonlit night;

jaise naramii baat
like a soft word;

jaise mandir mein ho ek jalta diya
like a lamp burning in the temple.

ek ladaki ko dekha to aisa lagaa...
When I saw this girl, she seemed to me like...

jaise subah kaa ruup
like the beauty of the morning;

jaise saradii kii dhuup
like winter sunshine;

jaise viinaa kii taan
like a note from the Veena (a stringed musical instrument like the Sitar)

jaise rangon kii jaan
like the essence of all color;

jaise balakhaayen bel
like a twisting vine;

jaise laharon ka khel
like the play of waves;

jaise khushbuu liye aaye thandii havaa
like a cool scented wind.

ek ladaki ko dekha to aisa laga... When I saw this girl, she seemed to me like...

jaise naachataa mor
like a dancing peacock;

jaise resham kii Dor
like a silken thread;

jaise pariyon ka raag
like a melody sung by fairies (heavenly creatures not the earthly types);

jaise sandal kii aag
like the fire of sandalwood;

jaise solah singaar
like the sixteen (traditional) ornaments of beauty;

jaise ras kii phuhaar
like a refreshing mist jaise :

aahistaa aahistaa badta nasha
intoxication is slowly building up...

Monday, March 8, 2010


This post is dedicated to my co-worker and dear friend D! Now I am probably going to make her blush - but for the record let me say that it is a pleasure working with her - she's realiable and efficient and a wonderful person with a great sense of humor!!

I had lent D and her family "Taarae Zameen Par" (by the way they are not Desi and have spent a good part of their lives in North America). They really enjoyed it and fell for little Darsheel.

I then lent them "Black". D's siter was most nonplussed to see good ol' Rani Mukherjee walking like Charlie Chaplin and that comment had us in total splits. Not only that they just couldn't get over the over-the-top melodrama. So much for Bhansali's "sensitive potrayal"...

I am now planning to inflict "My Name is Khan" on them - and can't wait to hear what they have to say - provided they are able to get through the movie ofcourse...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Working Gal

Just after I completed my last post - I happened to watch "Working Girl". It's a movie from 1988. Like "Prada" - this one is about an ambitious secretary who wants a better job.

It seemed to me that Melanie Griffith just sleep-walked through her part. expressionless with an idiotic excessive clearing of the throat that made me want to hurl the remote at the TV. Harrison Ford was really really trying his best - but Griffith offered no support at all.

Sigourney Weaver was good - but not really her fault the scriptwriters messed up - towards the end when asked how she came up with an idea - she should have come out with a brilliant answer - she's not supposed to be stuck for words!

Overall not a bad movie and Carly Simon's "Let the River Run" - rocks!

Off to watch the Oscars - I predict "Hurt Locker" will win...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Devil in the Details

Which one was better - the book or the movie??

I preferred the movie. In the book Andrea comes across as a whining self-absorbed loser. In the movie she is smart and resourceful and (so-what's-wrong-with-that) wants to get ahead in life. She does not sell her soul for a pair of Jimmy Choos as implied!

And if you thought Miranda's demands were unreasonable - well I once knew a very rich man who had his staff doing the craziest things for him...

*Key in all my telephone contacts into my car phone
*Scan all my family photo albums and put them on DVDs
*Make sure I get Cranberry juice and my vitamins every morning get the picture...

One thing though I found Nigel's (Stanley Tucci)clothes to be totally wrong - I mean the man is in the fashion industry and he dresses like a 1950s solicitor???

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Afternoon Gnap or How to Steal 40 Winks at the Workplace

The "Gnap" part is from "God of Small Things" - an no, I am not a fan and I did not like that book.

Well – not all of us folks is lucky to have a cabana a la George in Seinfeld where we can happily retire to our little nap boxes...when we want to grab the good old shut-eye.

Hmmm…then again here are some creative ways to sneak in some naps.

Method Uno

Rub some chilli powder/ pepper powder into one and only one eye. (ouch – no pain no gain remember). Ensure that your bloodshot-eye is visible to boss and snitches (hence the one-eye – 2 such eyes have a high probability of being misconstrued as the effect of an over-indulgence of C2H5OH).

So when you are ready for the 40 – display an eye-drop bottle prominently – as in the first object visible in your cube – and then take the classic eye-drops to be administered pose…and do your zzzz thing.

Method Alternato

Pull out as many wires you can from behind your PC. Drop down under your desk to fix your sleep.

Method Trios

Record sounds of furious keyboard clacketting, record screen of zillions of lines of code being typed, replay the lot, while your slumbering self is draped artistically in corner of chair with baseball cap donned to obscure closed eyezz…


Thou shouldst NOT snore.

Sweet dreams…