Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Grandfather's stick -Children's book from Tulika

My Grandfather'S Stick [Tamil: Yenn Thathavin Oonrukole]

Children have such a vivid imagination that they leave us stumped most times. Show them a pencil and they will show you atleast 5 different uses to it besides writing on a paper. Such is their power of imagination. In this book "My Grandfather's stick"[published by Tulika], the author takes us on a journey where the little girl makes use of the stick for things beyond helping a person walk.

One moment, she transforms into a horse rider, flying off into air on the stick[that has become her horse] .. And then, she is off camping in the wild with the stick holding up her tent while she gazes at the stars in the night sky. 

Zip zap zoom!! the stick is now a Magic wand and she is weaving magic all around... or maybe the stick will grow a pair of wings to help her fly high above the sky all the way to the moon.

Oh wait, she is not done yet! She uses the stick as a magical pencil to draw in air- a beautiful house, slide to play in, an elephant or a cycle, flowers, birds, they all come alive through the stick. When she is feeling playful, the stick becomes the line that she has just crossed on the athletic field to become the Champion!! :)

Now, how about a ride in the river, lets use the stick as the oar to move the boat along.. Row row row the boat...gently down the stream... 

Wonder what next....

She dreams the stick becomes a tall finger so she can reach for the star, maybe even touch it..oh wow! But finally, when her grandfather uses the stick to help him walk, she is the happiest... Such simple pleasures of joy derived. 


The next time you see a child playing with a stick or a box, pretending it was something else, dont interrupt them. Let them enjoy their dream, ask them to share their dreams with you... You never know, they might give you ideas! :D 




Such simple words written in both English and Tamil, the book is perfect for those who are just beginning their reading journey.. And for parents who wish to teach their child both English & tamil... Nandini Nayar weaves magic through words yet again... :)

Story- Nandini Nayar
Age - 3+
Pictures- Kshitiz Sharma
Translation- Malarvizhi
Published- Tulika PublishersLanguage- English/TamilFormat- Paperback
Price: Rs85

The review was also posted on BookRack....

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Saiyuki Trio

It was one of those emails listing down the events of the day across Chennai. I always skim through them, and delete the mail. But last evening, for no reason, the words "Saiyuki Trio" caught my attention. I read on to discover it was a concert to be held at Alliance Francaise at 7pm and it was open to all. The thought then faded away as i got busy with work and other activities. Around 6.45 i suddenly remembered "Saiyuki Trio", and made a dash to get to the venue. Since it was short walk from home i wasnt too worried!! 

But it was the very evening when Madam Chief Minister, Jayalalitha had decided to grace a Christmas Celebration happening near home. And the streets looked like the entire city had been kicked out of their homes, there were people everywhere, along the bridge, on the street, up and down the staircases and just about everywhere. Resembled an army of ants crawling across a piece of cake, trying to sneak in a nibble.

So, i was there at the Edouard Michelin Auditorium on the top floor, only to hear the MC announce "we are running a bit behind schedule as many are stuck across town due to unavoidable circumstances [read as JJ's visit across town]...  So, i sat there and waited .. waited... and finally, 7.20pm the trio came onto the stage set for them.

[L to R]Prabhu Edouard, Nguyen le and Meiko Miyazaki... 
[Image courtesy:]

It was one & half hours of beautiful  soulful music.. Each piece was unique, and it was a different kind of an experience... There was a piece they performed called "Sangamam" [which literally translates to Confluence, coming together] that had been composed by Prabhu....

Sangam.. Sangeetham..Sabdam..Santhosham..
Sangam... Ananda Sangam... [was how the verse went]

The Trio from various corners of the world have come together, and the music that was born out of their confluence was truly divine..... 

The Trio were- 
Mieko Miyazaki from Japan who played the Koto, a large String instrument with such ease. She has been playing this since the age of 9 and has won many accolades back in Japan... A petite lady, she also had a voice that had us all mesmerised.... 

Nguyen Le, born in Paris to Vietnamese parents played the Guitar... He is renowned for the album Purple that was released celebrating Jimi Hendrix's music...

and finally, our very own Prabhu Edouard who hails from Trichy, but has made France his home [been there since 1975] who plays the Tabla among other similar instruments.. He also plays with Hindustani flutist Hariprasad Chaurasia. He had the audience zapped, chanting, singing, clapping and ofcourse laughing away with his quirky comments...

 The Koto [Japanese instrument] 
[Image Courtesy:]
 There was this one piece composed by Mieko which she narrated as a story...

"Many many years ago, there was only One God.. he then created two gods- a man god Isimagi, and a woman Isimani.... 

One day the husband looked at his wife and asked her "My Darling, how is your body?"
She replied "My darling, my body is good, but i feel something missing"
He then told her "My darling, but i have something too much in my body, i will give you some of it to make that something missing go away" 

[now, we all knew what she was talking about and there were a few surprised gasps and chuckles among the audience..... ]

And then Mieko blushed and told us how "The husband gave his wife some of the too much that he had and then she made many babies, who are believed to be the islands of Japan"

During the course of the song, there was a section where Prabhu and Mieko belted out words and sounds that described the scene going on between the husband and wife.... It was amazing at how they were able to bring out such strong feelings through simple words and chants....

Prabhu then took the mic, and made light of the performance that had just happened saying He and Meiko were just artists, their relationshop was purely professional and that after the show he would go home to his wife and she to a different hotel... moments during the concert........

Here is one of the pieces they performed- Sweet Ganesha....

You can listen to some pieces here and some of their other performances here

The Edouard Michelin Auditorium is a fairly small one, but i have seen it go through transformation over the years, now there is Air conditioning, nice plush seats have replaced plastic chairs and the ramp outside replaced with stairs, a nice door and an overall good feel. Oh, they have also installed an Elevator...   

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Mentor Your Mind, Tested Mantras For the Busy Woman by Mamta Singh

The book i received had a very interesting title, albeit long, it had me curious to see what the pages held within... It was-  
Mentor Your Mind, Tested Mantras For the Busy Woman 
by Mamta Singh

Genre: Self help
Pages: 168
Published by Sterling Publishers

This book is a guide, rather a handbook for every woman who feels she is busy and has no time for life! There are some woman who am sure will call this book their Bible, it all depends on how much it helps you or not! 

I found it quite fascinating. Within the first few pages, it becomes evident that the Author has done her share of research or belong to the sect of women who needs some insights and tips on dealing with their crazy schedules and lives. 

For the urban women, the women of today, who look forward to carrying off the corporate job, and manage their homes, taking and maintaining their body is an essential aspect, it is not enough just being healthy.  

This book is divided into three broad categories- Mental Fitness.. Physical Fitness and Spiritual Fitness! Each of these talks about the areas that fall within and that needs to be addressed....

We see in our daily lives how many people inspite of being "Fit" fall ill, or suffer from ailments. This is primarily because of the unhealthy lifestyle, eating habits, or no control of the mind. The book talks about how valuable it is to control our mind, rather to mentor our mind, give it the guidance it needs to help detox the body, mind and soul.  

Be it Meditation, or Physical Exercises, the chapters contain not just guidelines or explanations, there are surveys and questionnaires to allow us, the readers rate ourselves. This gives much more depth to the lessons held within the pages, the words make more sense and they help us get clarity on what we need to do, or which direction to take. 

In the chapter" How can you tell it is time to see a doctor", the Author talks about various circumstances and how people react to each of them... With a little summary at the end of every chapter, there are little points given that will help make ones life better, giving them  better health , both physical and mental... 

There are interesting quotes scattered through the book, take a minute to read them, think about them and see what they really mean.... 

“The walls we build around us to keep sadness out also keeps out the joy.” ~Jim Rohn [this is a quote at the beginning of Emotional Fitness Category]

 If work or life has been bogging you down and you are looking for something to help make your daily life better, then i suggest you pick up this book and spend some time reading through the words.... There are tips, guidelines, schedules, examples, surveys and so much more that will help us define our lives and work towards making them better!  

To Summarise- The book address 6  key mental maladies, 6 of the worst emotional afflictions and offers 7 spiritual self-service techniques that  the urban woman are most commonly faced with. And this has been done via - 3 simple self-evaluation questionnaires; 13 easy-to-follow step-wise action charts, and illustrations; 20 mentoring  based schedules; and then there are the detailed 16 explanatory tables....  I can promsie you this- the book is not boring, the book is not preachy or like a lecture! It is interesting and well chalked out... 

Hats off to the Author Mamta for coming out with this book, keeping it simple and straight forward!! Good luck! 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Missing Varrun by Amar Agarwala

Format:  Paperback
Publisher: Leadstart Publishing Pvt Ltd
No. of Pages: 326

Genre: Fiction

On reading this book, i realized it was all about the beautiful connection between a husband and his wife, a father and his daughter; a father and his son; and a grandfather and his grandson.... it was all about Bridging the distance... Reconnecting with people who mean a lot and about a family that is living in different parts of the world and their stories.... !! 
The book opens with  the protagonist waiting to meet his wife Amaya on her last day at the school. The story then goes towards the home she has created in Ceuta and her circle of friends and family and ofcourse him... 
He hails from Bengal, lives with his mother but through a mysterious act of fate meets this charming Spanish girl, falls in love with her and makes her his wife.. Their love goes beyond religion, nationality, lifestyle and so much more, which is what brings them together and keeps them apart...As their marrried life progresses, they pick up a small flat where they move to, stretching the little money he makes, while she goes on to look for opportunities. And one such lands on her lap, albeit it is in Spain... He agrees, she goes back to her hometown with their 2 children and he visits once a year to spend time with them. Yes, they live apart pretty much through the year...
Living alone, he gives up their apartment, moves back in with his mom and continues to pass each day....    The story weaves beautifully between the dusty lanes of Kolkata and the scenic sites of Spain... The big farewell get together they have at home the day Amaya retires, the way the entire family comes together, their love, connections... As days progress, Amaya tells her husband she wants to return to India with him, and she is sure of her decision... He hesitates, but relents... No sooner does the couple get back together that destiny plays a evil game and Amaya passes away, leaving him alone once again... 
He returns to Kolkata, gets on with his life, all the while missing his wife and his kids and grandson Varrun... The skype calls, the emails and chats continue and so does their life... he reminisces of the children growing up in Kolkata, his son's best friend who is a reason for him to visit once again[for her treatment] and their chauffeur, who has been around forever, who was at Amaya's beck and call..
Amar has woven a beautiful tale via this book, he has managed to capture the emotions and turmoil that people go through when relationships are broken, the difficulties in a long distance relationship and that of a yearning man who wants to reach out to his family but is dealing with life.... Its a good read, and am sure looking forward to Amar's next book...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mayakkam Enna

So, it was weekend and we were looking at the movies that had been released to see what we could catch... Since my Saturday was packed, we decided to hunt for tickets for Mayakkam enna for sunday.... The only theater that had tickets was AGS, Navalur OMR.. "What the heck, lets go check it out" we said in unison and i went on to book the tickets!!

The ride from Nungambakkam to Navalur took about 40mins, the theater complex is beyond Sathyabama College and Asiana Hotel... It sits majestic but only on entering did we realise it was barren [ empty...] but for the 5th floor with movie screens and the floor below- meant for Food court with 3 outlets..! The theater was huge, but the crowd was a very local crowd.. Infact two guys who came and plonked in seats behind us were DRUNK and belting out all the choicest colourful Tamil swear words!!

We sat back, sipped on our drinks and hoped the movie was worth the drive.....

Starring: Dhanush, Richa, Sundar Ramu and a whole host of others i have never seen before!!
Director: Selvaraghavan

Selvaraghavan and Dhanush have come together to release a movie that is all about a young boy finding his dreams and the hurdles he has to overcome and the people who stand by him through the ardeous journey.... Just that i get the feel Selvaraghavan has this streak in him to mess with people's head along the story....

The Story-Karthik Swaminathan (Dhanush) is a young boy who is passionate about photography, living his life on his own terms.. His friends call him "genius" and pretty much all they did through the movie was sit around drinking and bad mouthing others.... The same happens when Sundar brings his new girlfriend Yamini [Richa] who is met with sneers and flurry of not so pleasing words!

Anyways, back to the plot, Karthik works hard, takes photographs of just about everything that catches his eye, but it fails to give him a break.. He works hard and wants to leave a mark as a photographer.  Though he does portfolio and weddings assignments, his passion is wildlife photography.

Even though their 1st meeting was bitter, for some reason Yamini is drawn to Karthik and tries getting close to him, going on to tell him she loves him and not Sunder..  After quite a bite of drama between the friends, Karthik & Yamini get married. Karthik one day goes to meet a renowned photographer Mathesh Krishnamoorthy [Ravi Prakash], who gives him a project to prove his worth.. Alas, Mathesh kicks Karthik out saying his photographs were crap, but then one day Yamini asks Karthik to pick up the National Geographic magazine in which his very photograph is published but with credit to Mathesh.. This drives Karthik over the edge, he falls down, and becomes mentally unstable- an angry violent drunk young man!!

Yamini sticks with him no matter what, sends out his photographs to every magazine and publication in hope of getting him a break.... Which eventually happens via the Kumudam magazine at an ad agency... 

In between, there is a lot of drama between the couple, the scenes that had me wondering what is up with Selvaraghavan, why does he want to mess with our heads like this? show some gruesome scenes[ a miscarriage, blood stains on the floor] and sights..... But i guess that is the turning point in the movie where even though there is a rift between the young couple, there is a breakthrough in Karthik's life and he goes on to reach great heights....

The movie is painfully slow, very dark [literally- no lighting] in many scenes and sometimes you wonder where the fastforward button is... But one thing for sure, the movie is packed with emotions and drama... 

I loved the locations and cinematography wherever there were scenes with Danush heading off for a photo shoot... The lighting, settings were lovely in those locations!!

But there were some scenes, little things that had me wondering "Why oh why... what do the directors think when they are making the movie...." Do all movie makers assume Audiences are stupid, or that they dont notice these small nuances?

  • The maple leaves falling in the forest.... 
  • A Cormorant posing for Danush in the middle of a forest 
  • The mystery behind what happens to the cars? [in the scene where Danush goes to pick up Yamini who is stranded with a car breakdown in a bus stop and then he runs away the minute they kiss which is interruped by a call from Sundar]

Newcomer Richa has done a good job of being this "stiff upper lip, i have an attitude" kinda girl.... Danush has acted well, essayed the role to perfection i would say.... but this is not a movie for all...

If you enjoy movie about Friends
If you like Danush...
If you have been humming the songs from the movie..
If you enjoy watching people sit around drinking for hours
And if you are prepared for selvaraghavan's style... Go watch Mayakkam Enna!! else, give it a miss!!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ides of March

Starring- George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour, Paul Giamatti, Evan Rachel Wood, Marisa Tomei
Directed by - George Clooney

Trivia on ides of March :-
The Ides of March (Latin: Idus Martiae) is the name of the 15th day of March in the Roman calendar, probably referring to the day of the full moon

In modern times, the term Ides of March is best known as the date on which Julius Caesar was killed in 44 B.C. Caesar was stabbed (23 times) to death in the Roman Senate by a group of conspirators led by Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus.

The Movie

The Ides of March takes place during the frantic last days before a heavily contested Ohio presidential primary, when an up-and-coming campaign press secretary (Ryan Gosling) finds himself involved in a political scandal that threatens to upend his candidate's shot at the presidency.

The movie is a thriller that is centered around the political campaign of Mike Morris [George Clooney], the Pennsylvania governor who is also  a Democrat eyeing the President post. Before he can go on to acquiring the President's seat, he needs to win the Ohio elections, where it is evident he needs the support of the influential Senator Thompson (Wright).

The campaign is managed by veteran Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and the younger smart Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling). Thompson, the senator seems to be leaning towards Morris' rival Senator Ted Pullman, whose campaign is managed by Tom Duffy (Giamatti).

. Though Paul agrees that Duffy has the “brains”, Paul continues to  maintain that he has the “balls" along with the brains, which is Stephen.  Stephen does what he believes in, unlike Paul who will do anything to WIN... As the campaign progresses, one fine day Duffy invites Stephen for a meeting and offers him a job, which is where the twist in the movie takes place. And before Stephen could share news of this meet with Paul, the story hungry reporter Ida Horowicz (Marisa Tomei) threatens to publish news of the meet about Stephen consorting with Duffy, which he rebukes in return getting blackmailed by Ida to squeal something from the inside...  
Stephen gets close to Molly, an intern with their campaign office, eventually discovering a deep dark dirty secret related to Morris... This however does not end well, Molly dies and Stephen then takes this opportunity to corner Morris... 

The Ides of March  is a movie that is slow, but yet paced well.. Every scene has been thought through, every dialogue delivered after much planning.... Each of the cast has done a commendable job, keeping their emotions in check, delivering crisp dialogues and emotions...
George Clooney has held the role of Governor Mike Morris, a politician with a drive to win beautifully.. The interview on TV where he talks about banning death penalty and yet when asked about how he would react if someone attacked/misbehaved with his wife, without batting an eyelid he replies he would avenge her dead and go to jail...  

Ryan Gosling has proved he can take on versatile roles and deliver them with finesse. I recently saw 2 other movies of his- Drive and CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE....  
The movie is based on a stage play, Farragut North by Beau Willimon,  George Clooney and his co-writers Grant Heslov & Willimon (who  had infact spent quite a bit of time working for Hillary Clinton) have beautifully crafted the movie, where the main role has been essayed with ease by Clooney...  

Ides of March Trailer... 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Oh here is Superman, well not really
Oh wait, is he Robin hood, nope, not really
Oh then he is a man in disguise, doing good, nope, not really
he is simply Vijay... the actor!!
and then there are a zillion others who come and go in the scenes!! 

The Story is of how a imaginary character created by Bharathi [Genelia] comes to life via Velayutham[Vijay] and fights against all the evil [the muslim terrorist, fake note printing, corrupt consciousless Home Minister...]

The movie opens with Bharathi and her two friends [journalist] working towards bringing to light the evil going on underground, but the villains kill her friends, and hurt her pretty bad, tossing her into the river, assuming she is dead.. She manages to write a note saying there is a person who is born to kill all the evil and signs off saying "velayutham" seeing the Vel in a nearby temple.. Much to her surprise, there is a man named Velayutham who seems to be doing exactly what she had in mind....

Velayutham is a milk man from a small town, creating havoc in the name of love for his sister [ Saranya Mohan] much to the chagrin of the villagers, who are just waiting to kick him out. The antics he does for his sister are howlarious and heart warming to see the amount of love. He has taken care of his sister since their parents left them, bringing her up, and getting her married to a suitable boy. Oh, and there is Vaidehi [Hansika Motwani], the pretty village girl who has a thing for Velayutham but he does not bite the bullet and keeps dodging her...

The movie then moves to Chennai where Vijay lands to encash the chit he had been collected over the years for his sister's wedding where he meets another investor, and ofcourse Santhanam, the small time theif who is terrible at stealing... Under the pretext of taking care of Velu and his family, Santhanam gets them to stay with him in hope of doing away with the 15lakhs once Velu encashes the chit fund....

The twists and turns that occur from the time Velu lands in Chennai to his sister's wedding is a mix of uneblieveable acts, gimmicks and acrobatics...  Director Raja seems to have been inspired by Vikram's Anniyan to a point where he gets Velu into a costume complete with a sword and has him flying in air, riding a horse out of nowhere and discovering evil men everywhere he lands.... Starting with Velu getting off the train and riding off a bike parked in the station waiting for someone to pick it up, which had a bomb that explodes just as Velu abandons it in the chase after Santhanam, to returinng a suitcase that his sister spots in the crowded Ranganathan street, leading him to follow the bad man and return the suitcase, wherein the bomb explodes at their abode where they are busy stashing away Fake notes.... 

The grand finale that takes place in the Stadium where the Home Minister promises to reveal the identity by making the Muslim terrorist dress up in Velayutham's outfit and conning the audience, which fails miserably leading to the truth coming out in the open...

There are so many scenes in the movie that made me wonder - what was Raja thinking when he took on this script....

No Doubt this is a good come back for Vijay... but there are so many parts in the movie that are just wierd, unbelieveable and funny[not in the haha funny, but what the hell kinda funny]...

A meeting called by the Home Minister with NOT a single COP in sight
An auditorium full of people and not a single guard
A knife plunged into Genelia, but she comes out like nothing happened
A fair and city bred looking Hansika who is the daughter of Bhaskar in a village 
Good to see Pandiarajan back in the big screen... 
and there is only so much that Santhanam can also do to keep the audience awake!! :D

Too much ....I just dont buy it!!!

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Tower Heist

There is Eddie Murphy... Wait, there is Adam Sandler... Oh, hold it there, there is Alan Alda too.. Now, a movie with such fine actors has to be fun filled right? Well, that is what i thought before sitting down to watch Tower Heist...  What i ended up thinking towards the end.. well, read on...

The movie opens with Arthur Shaw [Alan Alda] who plays chess daily with Josh [Ben Stiller] and who promises to help triple the pension money of all the staff at the Tower apartments faking a kidnapping, which is when his true colours are unveiled.

Apparently, he was faking a kidnapping to flee the country to escape from all the frauds and federal charges. Josh and others feel it is a mistake, but soon realise it is indeed True and that Shaw has made all their money vanish into thin air...

Since all the Tower employees are good hard working souls and they trusted Josh with their pension, it is now Josh's turn under the spotlight where he is made to feel guilty for trusting Shaw with the money... When Shaw is put under house arrest, Josh along with  the new elevator operator Enrique Dev’Reaux  and Charlie, the concierge with a very pregnant wife march into Shaw's apartment under the pretext of making breakfast enquiries and bash up the Ferrari he has parked in his apartment that he claims belonged to Steve McQueen... The trio are fired and banned... 

That night while getting drunk with FBI agent Claire [Tea Leoni] that he gets an idea on how to set up a Heist and get back the money Shaw stole from them... he puts together his Oceans Team, oops heist team - Enrique, Charlie, Mr. Fitzhugh [Mathew Brodrick who seems to have aged and looks 200],ex-wall street guy who has just been evicted from his Tower apartment,Slide [Eddie murphy], his next door neighbour who is forever getting into trouble and decide to break into Shaw's apartment and hunt down the Safe where he feels the money is tucked away....

As the movie rolls, we get such strong traces of Oceans 11 that it is hard to focus on Tower heist.... The plan, the tricks, the little twists and turns are all good, and well chalked out which keeps us in the edge of our seats, sometimes rolling with laughter and other times wondering will they pull it off... Pretty soon we discover the other characters who are part of this plan... Lester, the adorable doorman and the spunky lock picking "i want to get married to retain my visa" Odessafrom Jamaica.... 

The scene where Eddie Murphy orders them each to shoplift an item worth $50 is howlarious....

For some strange reason, i was also reminded of Ben Stiller in Night at the museum while watching this... probably his style of acting or delivering dialogues....

This is a movie you will enjoy while you are watching it,  you just might not remember it too long, or go around recommending your friends watch it... but what the heck.. value for money :)

Go enjoy.... just dont have expectations.. any!!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

I Am

I had been listening to I Am's OST for a few months and finally i found the movie, it was one movie i was looking forward to watching...!! The movie is about 4 individuals, it is 4 stories, it is 4 lives, ... it is all about PEOPLE!! Though the people involved in the plot are from different corners of the country- Kolkata, Bangalore, Srinagar and Mumbai, with the stories ranging from artificial insemination, child abuse and gay prostitution, they're connected by a common thread of disenchantment.

Onir's I AM opens with a Rabindranath Tagore's quote from Gitanjali, 'Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high...'
Meet the ‘I’s:

I am Afia

The 1st story opens with Afia [Nandita Das] looking for a sperm donor to fulfill her wish of getting artificial insemination done. She meets her doctor, and insists on meeting the man before taking a call, which is how she meets Purab Kohli. They spend time getting to know each other, breaking barriers before going ahead with the procedure. Their relationship goes through a transformation at the fertility clinic while waiting for the doctor to come in.

I Am Megha

Megha [Juhi Chawla] is a Kashmiri Pundit battling with life and emotions after having been chased out of Jammu & Kashmir when the military took over the land. She goes back, meets their Muslim family friends Manisha Koirala but interacts with them quite curt and to the point. There is a lot of anger and resentment in her voice during the one day she spends in town. 

I Am Abhimanyu
This is a story on Child abuse..the victim is Abhimanyu [Sanjay Suri] who grew up abused by his step-father on a day to day basis... He grows up bitter, severing all ties with his family, quite unsure of his sexual preferences..  The entire movie flows through the stories, while showing the different phases in Abhimanyu’s life, as the abused child going on to a manipulative adolescent and thence to whining adulthood, in a very short share of the total running time. It is only when his mom calls to announce his step father's death that he finally confronts his demons and lets it all out to her...

I am Omar
This is probably the most devastating story in the movie, the one that will shake you up. It is about Gay relationships and this plot is about  Jai (Rahul Bose) and Omar (Arjun Mathur)... Jai, who is obviously doing well in life meets Omar at a coffee shop one lazy evening. He is drawn to Omar, takes him out and giving into his strong feelings, wants to go all the way. Omar convinces him to just get naughty in his car, only to get accosted by a vulgar homophobic cop, who scares Jai beyond repair. It is later than Jai comes to know Omar is a con and was playing him all along... Abhimanyu Singh as the cop was so ruthless and brutal with his foul language and crude behaviour, quite revealing how people react when they come across a Gay guy...

I AM is more than a movie, it is not exactly a documentary either. It tells the tales of people we meet on a daily basis, but whose lives are so deep, and go beyond what we see on the surface.  Each and every story has its own unique rhythm. The emotions and feelings, the experiences that each of the actors portray is quite surreal, making us think while the credits roll on the screen at the end of the movie... 

Cast : Sanjay Suri, Radhika Apte, Shernaz Patel, Anurag Kashyap, Rahul Bose, Arjun Mathur, Abhimanyu Shekhar Singh, Nandita Das, Juhi Chawla, Manisha Koirala, Purab Kohli & Anurag Basu
Music : Amit Trivedi, Vivek Philip & Rajiv Bhalla
Director : Onir
Producer : Onir & Sanjay Suri

Siya Seth Decides to Die by Sneha Mehta

Siya Seth has committed suicide. After her death, she decides to bare it all, telling the world her story. Siya, a school girl [17 years of age] was a victim of parental abuse since she was 8. Though she tries doing everything possible to gain her some peace and comfort, her hidden secrets keep haunting her, not letting her rest, driving her over the edge at the end. 

Review of Siya Seth Decides to Die...Pages 255. Rs 100
Publisher- Diamond Books, Delhi

When i 1st read the title, i was taken aback. Made me wonder if the author had been inspired by Paulo Coelho's Veronica Decides to Die, but as i read through, i realised this is fairly different.  

The opening lines -

“Life sucked me dry. I felt like a diagonally parked car in a parallel universe. People rolled up, collided, had accidents, and recovered; while I lay bruised. externally and internally. Seen and unseen. I committed suicide. For my own good.”

had me engrossed.. Though i kind of knew where the story was headed, i was curious to see how Sneha's novel would be... 

Siya seems to be a a regular teenage rebel, one who is very bold, and yet on other hand she is coming to terms with adulthood, trying to deal with changes in her physical appearance and inside of her. She goes on with life, with only a best friend- Reva.  

Although she has it all, Siya does not seem to live in peace. There is something that is haunting her, giving her sleepless nights and endless nightmares. She even dates the good looking Randeep, which does not sit well with her best friend Reva. She bunks school, bribes a policeman in Marine Lines, bluffs her way through the day, visits a man who is proficient in Past life related issues, who claims to heal her soul for just Rs999. But, none of this seems to help... And we, the readers wonder why?!

Siya is a depressed teenager who has a dark secret buried deep inside her heart. She is depressed, lonely and sad. She is also stinking rich, an only child and has servants attending to her day in and day out, so nobody can understand why a filthy rich and good looking teenager could be miserable. As readers we do know it has to do something with her dark secret.

No prizes for guessing what Siya’s dark secret will know it if you have read the blurb on the back cover of the book, or if you read through the 1st 50 odd pages.  The book starts off strong, but after a while makes us wonder where it is headed. Siya takes her own sweet time in revealing the truth, and what was really going on in her life, and why she committed suicide. 

The abuse, the victim and the culprit, the emotions running high and the society's role in all of this could have been highlighted better. I felt the plot kind of fizzled out after a point, and the extent of Siya's trauma dint come through the pages.  Also, there were quite a bit of grammatical errors and typos here and there, which the author and editor should spend time in polishing! 

But hats off to Sneha for taking such a sensitive and prevailing issue and attempting to bring it out to the world!

About the Author

Sneha Mehta is a student of organizational psychology and a freelance writer. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Vaagai Sooda Vaa- Its all about Learning!

Direction: Sargunam

Music: Gibran
Cinematography: Om Prakash

Cast: Vimal, Iniya, K. Bhagyaraj, Ponvannan, Thambi Ramaiah and others

After watching Kalavani and enjoying it, i knew i wanted to watch Vaagai Sooda Vaa... Vimal and Sargunam seems to be a good combo...

As the screen came to life and the movie began, it was obvious this was a movie set in the 1960s or 70s...  Bhagyaraj is seen making a promise to his wife that he will get his son a Job with the Government office, that of a teacher atleast and have the family name held high among his clan....

While waiting for the Government job to fall in place, Veluthambi[Vimal] joins the  Grama seva and aims at spreading the value and importance of education. He is sent on an assignment to the desolate village called Kandeduthankaadu near Tanjore. Though he is reluctant, his father[Bhagyaraj] urges him to take it up atleast to gain experience as they cannot afford the 100Gms of Gold asked as bribe for the Government job.  He lands in this village that is filled with families who are into Brick making.

He is offered the shack that was used to store the goat, much to the chagrin of the man in charge of the goats[ few scenes where the goat is sent to chase him around are so howlarious]...Anyways, back to the story, he then seeks out Madhi[Iniya] to offer him meals daily [she is quite the cheeky one, gives him pot of ragi porridge with green chillies and when he goes complaining to the women of the village, sneaks in and replaces chillies with some meat only to take them away again as soon as the women leave]... Madhi falls in love with him, dreaming of their life together....

With time, he realises the kids in the village would rather play around or go work in the Brick stacking unit than come study.. he tries to lure them by offering to tell stories, but he is unable to come up with an interesting story....

And in between all this, there is one man [Elango], who looks insane , walking around chanting "i hear birds, i hear them all around me" living near the entrance of the village.. One night he comes to visit  Velu telling him "you should not go, i shall leave" and the next morning passes away...

 There are powerful enemies lurking about... The local bigwig JP (Ponvannan) who treats the villagers like slaves and demands they repay him if they say a word against him... and the last thing he wants is for them to learn and become educated. It is only when Velu puts out a challenge to the villagers on the number of bricks laid out that the villagers understand how they are being conned and the women instantly agree to send their children to study...   

The arrogant owner (Ponvannan) now locks horns with Velu, sending out his goons to kick Velu out of the village. but he is saved by the gang that opposes Ponvannan, the man who redeems the villages of their dues as well. 

Meanwhile, Velu gets a letter that the Government job has come through and gets set to leave the village... As he is bidding goodbye, he tells the kids who have by now become attached to him that he will be back soon... One kid, comes upto him shows a slate with his mother's name written on it [albeit with a tiny error] and then drops some coins into his hand and tells him to bring back a notebook to write in... This tugs at Velu's heart and he goes to the bus stand and tells his father he cant leave this village now... Not when they are ready to learn...

Alas, he returns to the goat shack only to be told by the village medicine man that a letter came for velu, which he read that said the Grama Seva is unable to pay him what was promised and that he should pack up and leave....  

Having given up the Government job and with no pay from Grama Seva, Velu continues to teach the children of the village... The beautiful turn of events is when the villagers come together and payhim from their petty earnings.

The movie has quite a few touching scenes and moments...It has been set in a village that is in the middle of nowhere and is completely barren.... It is a slow movie, but gains momentum in the 2nd half... I enjoyed the movie immensely...  Do watch it!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Muran- sleek and smooth...

Genre: Thriller
Directed by:  Rajan Madhav 
Cast:  Cheran, Prasanna, Jayaprakash, Nikitha, Hari Priya, Suma
The story is fairly simple: it is about these 2 guys, who are poles apart in terms of their personalities and how fate brings them together, leaving one of them no choice but to follow suit... The 2 men are Nandha [Cheran] and Arjun[Prasanna] 

The movie opens with Cheran and some others sitting in a table having a drink while Prasanna is standing on the ledge asking a waiter to count to 3 so he can jump down and hopefully fall into the Swimming pool.. he is piss drunk and not in his senses, but hell bent on doing this feat...   

And the following day it so happens that Arjun gives Nandha a ride to Chennai when his car breaks down [no thanks to a bunch of drunk driving rash on the highway].. With time, they start sharing their life stories... As the flashback unfolds, Nandha passionate about music, plays the guitar talks about being married to  Indhu (Nikitha) who hates music, wont give him a divorce till she gets her hands on her father's possessions and is possibly having an extramarital affair. Nandha is vexed with his marriage, but then he smiles once again when he meets Lavanya (Hari Priya) with whom he develops a strong bond and possibly even love.

On the other hand, there is Arjun, son of a millionaire and, all he wants to do is party and blow money [kinda like Ranbir in Wake up Sid]. He talks about how his father Devarajan (Jayaprakash) has ruined his life, the love he had for Linda [who worked in his dad's office and who was forced to have sex with his dad during an official trip and thtereon committed suicide].. Arjun talks about how Nandha can move on with Lavanya if his wife was taken out of the equation and how his life would be better when his dad is removed from the picture.  

Arjun loves Thrills, while Nandha is a "play it safe" kinda guy. But Nandha realises Arjun is serious about this plan of his... But then, he walks away giving Arjun the number of a leading psychiatrist to seek out!!
This is where the movie takes quite a turn and twist.... One day, as Nandha goes about his routine he receives a call that his wife met with an accident and has died.. He is stumped and shocked.. That evening, he receives a surprise visitor... no prizes for guessing.. it is Arjun who comes to say "no need for Thank you" :-)

It is then that we feel chills down our spine, wondering what is Arjun really capable of! Arjun has actually put his words into action, proving he was serious and that he now expects Nandha to do the 2nd part of the deal- kill Devaraj.... Nandha does try, but fails and then calls it quits!
And as days go by.... he comes to know what Arjun is capable of , the extreme he goes to which leaves Nandha with no choice but to follow suit and go kill Devaraj based on the plan laid down by Arjun... What happens next is the grand climax and finale... let me not spoil it for you....

A friend mentioned that the movie was inspired by Hitchcock’s film, Strangers on a Train (1951).. Now since i have not seen this, i quite enjoyed it and felt the movie had a very Hollywoodish touch to it, the sleek neat way of execution, with each scene flowing smooth...  

Its a movie that will have you glued to your seats, wondering what next.. who will kill whom... if Nandha or Arjun will get caught.... 

The songs are ok, i dont really remember any of them...

Plot is good, the pace is maintained through the movie... 

Cheran and Prasanna have done an amazing job, doing justice to their roles to the dot.. Prasanna as a bad guy is quite a feat, it suits him!!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Let the rain kiss you by Vibha Vyas

The book is about a girl, rather girls, and about how in a family of girls, each one is of a completely different personality. The book is also about siblings, the relationships , the mother daughter connection, and the impact Rains have had on this Sahni family.

Narrated through the voice of Kittu[Kirti], the tomboy of the family, the one girl who stands out from the lot, the one who has made it on her own, with grit and gumption.

The story is about Kiran who commits suicide giving into a battle that she feels she has lost and has no idea how to deal with failures.. It is also about her father who shuts himself out on her death, stays in her room but eventually proves he cares and loves his other daughters. 

It is about the mother, how she favours one child over the other, how she treats the one daughter, Kajal who is fair and beautiful better than the others, how the girl, Komal who is dark and not so pretty is made to do all the cooking and other errands around the house, while others enjoy a carefree life.

There is also the tale about the grandmother, a mother in law, and a mother, who is the backbone of the family, who has been through a lot, had to deal with the battles of the country, seperation from her family, the sister who makes an appearance later [who has converted to a Muslim with whom Sumitra breaks all ties then and there]

And then there is the rain... Sweet little drops of water that dont seem to bring anything but bad luck and pain to this family. Everytime there is a wonderful function or moment about to happen, the pitter patter of rain is a sign that things are about to go wrong. Everytime it rains, the mother and grandmother are petrified and hold their hearts in their mouth with fear, anticipating the worst.
The characters in the book are-
Sumitra: The matriarch, the woman who holds the Sahni Family together.
Krishnakant: Sumitra's son who often leans towards the mother when battling with the wife.
Naina: The mother, a very frustrated wife, and with big dreams for her daughters
Kiran: Naina and Krishnakant's first daughter. Smart, talented, good at studies, but knows nothing but winning. 
Kajal: Second daughter, very beautiful, and very aware of her beauty  and the power it has over men
Komal: third daughter An average[dark] looking girl. Extremely talented in singing, but does not sing at home since her dad bans it, stammers when nervous and an amazing cook
Kirti (kittu): the youngest of the Sahni clan. A rebel, a fitness instructor by profession and hell bent on creating her own identity
Ranbir: A businessman who was chosen for Kajal but ends up marrying Komal.
Vinayak Kapoor: A family friend of the sahnis.
Urmila: Vinayak's wife and almost a member of the Sahni family , who encourages Komal in her singing pursuits.
The book is a good read , it is a book that will have you wondering what next in the pages...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Engeyum Eppothum

My uncle called asking "ethavathu cinema irukka, nalaikku polama?" and that was all i needed.. After a quick check with some friends on which movie to pick, i spoke to uncle, mom & dad and booked tickets for Engeyum Eppothum at Satyam Cinemas 12.15pm Show... It was the 1st time Dad and uncle were heading to Satyam, so there was an added splash of excitment amidst us.
After watching the movie, i am sharing my review ... 

Directed by M. Saravanan
Produced by A. R. Murugadoss
Starring : Jai
Even before the credits rolled in, we saw the Fox Studios come alive on the screen. Must say, it was a proud moment to see Fox coming into the Tamil movie scene as well.. This is Fox Star Studios' first Tamil production in association with A R Murugadoss!! Kudos!!
So, what is the movie about?Well, it is a love story, not one, but 2, oh wait.. i think it is 3 or 4 :-)
And then there is the Bus accident that kind of ties everything together

Whats the big deal about this, you might think.. But you need to watch the movie to know why!!
Everyday we watch new channels showcasing incidents of bus accidents and train colisions and we feel sorry for those who lost their lives and for those who have been left behind. We do wonder what kind of life they had led, or what they were embarking on the journey for.

Well, this is exactly what M.Saravanan has done through this movie. He takes us forward, giving us a closer look at the lives of those who were in one such accident, and shows what their lives were like, the work, romance, problems they faced before and why they were on the bus in the 1st place..

With just a handful of characters, the director has created a movie that is not only fun, filled with life, humour, romance, emotions and one that has the audience reacting in every scene..  What begins at the Bus stand is a journey with so many twists and turns, that at the end we are all holding our hearts in our hands,wondering where this is going.... 

The Movie
Amudha (Ananya) comes to Chennai from her village to attend an interview. Stranded in CMBT bus stand, she takes her sister's advice and seeks help from a stranger Goutham (Sarva) to find her way around the city and reach her interview on time. She is very scared and reluctant at the beginning, but soon warms up to him to a point where she gets him to take her not only to the interview, but to her sister's place.. She insists on travelling by Share auto, reports to her sister about her suspisions about him, and judges him through the day..  
Amudha returns to Tiruchy eventually, but realises she has fallen in love with Goutham. She then heads off to make the journey to Chennai to find him[so much so she does not even know his name], just when Goutham boards the bus to visit her in Trichy[ all he knows is her name and that she is from Tirchy]  
 As a new day dawns, in Trichy, another romance is spurting off between Kadhiresan (Jai) and  Manimegalai (Anjali). They aare such contrasts in their personality that it makes us chuckle everytime they meet, and every dialogue Manimegalai thrusts on him.. Their romance takes off rough, but soon finds smooth roads, and finally they decide to visit the village near Trichy to meet Kadhiresan's parents.
This is when tragedy strikes... Near Villupuram, both the buses collide. What happens then is the crux of the movie...

The director takes us back to each of their lives, giving us a glimpse of what was going on before the accident before he brings us back to the scene of the collision... 
 It is amazing to watch Manimegalai take charge and order people to be taken to hospital, including Kadhiresan, who is hurt and bleeding from his ears... Goutham spots Amudha on the bus, injured and sends her off to a hospital... The finale is at the hospital.... Do the couples unite or do they have to go their ways heart broken? Who survives? who doesnt? Who are the other passengers on the bus and what was their connections?
Watch the movie to know more.. 
Good stuff
The movie is probably the only one i've seen in years that is as close to reality as possible...  
Very well made .... 
And the characters are all etched out perfectly... 
The Govinda Song
Wish the director dint show so much goriness of the accident, but i guess its needed to hit the reality button home
In the scene where Amudha and Goutham travel around the city to get to the place of her interview, the maze thry travel left me puzzled.. ---->>> From CMBT to Egmore [saying it is Kilpauk]---> from there they seem to go to R A Puram and then to Nungambakkam high Road and finally to Ethiraj Salai [which is supposed to College road]
Again in the scene between Manimegalai and Kadhiresan WHO ARE IN TRICHY, she takes him shopping to ESPIRIT, Khader nawaz khan road[spending 150bucks on auto], blows Rs6000, and then hops across to Barista [above Best wishes, nungambakkam high road] and then she heads off home [in Trichy] and he goes home[in Trichy]
Movie makers- please understand that your audiences do NOTICE things, minute details and we are not DUH!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mankatha- Game of In or Out

"Mankatha"- the title says it all...  Ajith has pulled off quite a performance in his 50th Movie and Arjun along with the rest of the team adding to it, although i wonder what was the reason behind making this movie in  the 1st place!

After Chennai 28 that was based on Cricket, Venkat Prabhu has taken on yet another sport as the theme for his next movie-"Mankatha".. It is based on the sport that involves Money and the Men involved.  

Vinayak mahadevan [Ajith], a cop suspended for letting a Terrorist go is the KING MAN in this plot... He plays a Bad ass who is focussed on nothing but MONEY.. The movie is Ajith all the way- with his loud laughs, body language, suave moves, and dialogue delivery.... and ofcourse it shows very obviously that Venkat Prabhu has tried very hard to portray Vinayak as Danny Ocean from the Ocean Series, and it kinda obviously falls flat...

Coming back to the story, Vinayak goes about his days meeting people, and enjoying a carefree life, that also includes his gilfried Sanjana (Trisha) who is the daughter of an influential local goon Arumuga Chettiyar (Jayaprakash of Yudham Sei fame).

Vinayak is a fun guy, who will do anything for money, but goes about it quite smooth- befriending the right kind of people, tech savvy enough to plant bugs to learn about the plan others are making and all the while living his life to the full...

The movie loosely involves the Betting that goes on  in the IPL matches... Assistant Commissioner of Police Prithvi (Arjun) is given the case to end the betting scandal.

Arumuga Chettiyar discovers that Rs 500 crores is the money involved in the betting for the Final IPL match. He uses his nexus with underworld in Mumbai and tries to route it through his recreation centre- Golden Theater in Mumbai.

He has a team of young guns, amongst who Sumanth (Vaibhav) is Arumuga Chettiyar's protege. Sumanth makes a plan with the Police officer Ganesh (Ashwin) to loot the money. Also joining them in the plot are Mahanth (Mahanth), who runs a bar in Mumbai and Prem (Premgi Amaran) an IIT pass out who's recently landed in Mumbai with money dreams in his eyes.

Vinayak comes to know of their plan and takes over as the leader guiding them through the loot, till one morning he along with Ganesh and Sumanth land at the place where the booty is stored to discover it all gone! Mahath and Prem have gone missing which makes it obvious that they have disappeared with the cash.  

This is when Arumuga Chettiyar begins the hunt for the treasure, interrogates Sumanth by threatening to hurt his wife and chases after the gang to repossess his loot. Vinayak follows every move of Arumuga Chettiar, and this is where the chase begins to heat up ...  

Some interesting dialogues in the movie--

* Thappu seiyurathellam sernthu senjuringa aana thandanai mattum thaniya avanukka?
* Sathiyama inimey kudikkavey kudathu da.
* Oh.. Sanjay Ramasaamy.. Mel maadi. Avar marakkurathukulla pooidunga.

* Inimey namma ellam thanni adicha, orey brand aa maintain pannanum. Mix  panna kudathu.

* The King!! No no no.. The King Maker!!
* Over confidence udambukku nallathu illa King Maker.
* Cha cha cha cha Ivan ippadi solla mattaney? Yeppudi solluva sollu…
* Money money money money money Ummah
* Vaada Bill Gates!!
* Action King!! I’m impressed!! Gimme More!!
Let me not reveal the spoilers... but Ajith and Arjun have managed to pull off the twist in tale quite well... Venkat Prabhu has created a movie that shows of Ajith's various facets... which have also been delivered well.. The movie has strong traces of Ocean 11 series, and Italian Job as well.. It does have a Hollywood style direction as well, which was good to see in a Tamil movie...I know i have said this earlier, but heck, i cant get over the similarities ....

I wish movie makers realise they can create movies without song sequences and the audience will still enjoy them... A background score would have been good enough.... In this movie, i felt there was no need for a heroine leave alone half the tracks belted out, some of which made no sense..!! Again, Venkat Prabhu has created another song like the Saroja Samaa nikalo with this "Machi open the bottle" for Premji...

The bloopers during the credits are worth a watch... yet another 1st in the Tamil film industry!! This was the best part about the movie!! but then being able to endure 3hours just for a few laughs?!!

Friday, September 02, 2011

You Can sell by Shiv Khera

"If you think you can - you can !
If you think you can not - you can not !
And either are right !"
Shiv Khera

After the success of You can Win, Shiv Khera is now back with You Can Sell...  The front cover of the book has the title You can win and the byline- "Results are Rewarded, efforts arent" , which is the crux of the book.. which is the truth of the world!! 

If you want to: 
Gain success and avoid pitfalls 
Meet and exceed your goals 
Establish credibility and grow 
Gain a competitive edge
Learn the qualities of a winning professional
This Book is For you! [is what the back cover starts off with........]

Shiv khera sure has a way with words and well, am sure many are eager to learn the Art of selling for who this book will be a bible! 

Giving a brief sneak into those Who are not selling, Shiv Khera goes on to talk about how our mind works, how we should think, and the ideas that need to be encouraged from within us for us to succeed in life. 

This book is a hardcore seller when it comes to giving people little tips=- starting with one's physical appearance, the attitude, posture, the way we smile and the art of convincing others to buying what we are selling.. It could be a product, it could be a strategy, it could be a service... The bottom line is, if you want to sell something, anything, you need to be convinced enough to talk about it.. You need to beleive in it before you can sell it to others..

Dont simply sell the product, sell the experience
Dont simply talk about the benefits and advantages of a service, convince the other person they cannot grow/develop/excel without it
Dont sell blatantly, but smooth talk to have the other person BUY! 

I felt the book was a bit too much, maybe its just me, but i did get comments from others i spoke to on how Shiv Khera's words are worshiped.. So, if you are looking for something to carry in your pocket, to give you an instant boost of adrenalin or give you a helping hand in dire situations, then go ahead, read this book.. Otherwise, keep this to refer in case you have doubts or going through a rough patch to give yourself hope!